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NOV|DEC 2017


Class Act

Wellesley welcomes first transgender student Merry Makers Favorite holiday happenings

Hit the road Social New England summer getaways Networking Boston’s great big Stonewall Meetup scene Vets Kickball On the forefront of history for all Ten new teams in town LGBT Bio‑Techies Year in Review Stronger than ever At the epicenter of together industry

Thanksgiving Treat

Signature recipe from top chef

Nutcracker Alternatives More seasonal dance

Bold and Beautiful

Poet-musician Mary Lambert

The Perfect Holiday Gift Another reason to get excited for the holidays









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Boston Spirit Magazine supporters

From The Publisher How can it be? How can it be that 2017 flew by so fast? How can it be that Boston Spirit is entering its 13th year? How can it be that the President of the United States ... don’t get me started! It’s amazing how fast the time flies, but what a year! Some of the highlights included our largest LGBT Executive Networking Night ever with about 1,200 attendees along with 54 exhibitors and our featured speaker Kathy Griffin. Kathy was great! She was funny, honest, humble and genuine. It was an amazing night and we are already looking forward to our 2018 networking night. Stay tuned for a big announcement coming soon. We followed up the networking night with a historic presence at the Boston Pride Parade. Boston Spirit partnered with the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, Celtics and Revolution, marking the first time that all five major professional sports teams in Boston took part in the Pride parade. The teams all loved it and, judging by the reaction we got from the people lining the streets that day, everyone else loved it too! Hopefully we can come up with bigger and better surprises for the 2018 parade. While we are very excited about 2018 and all that it will bring, it is also important to


remember that we are coming up on the holiday season very soon. Many of you can’t wait as it means lots of parties, gifts, dinners and time with family and friends. Like you, I also look forward to this time of year—as do my 12-year-old daughter and my 10-year-old son! However, for many among us this time of year is a real struggle. Please remember to take some time to check in on any family/friends that might be having a tough time getting through the holidays. You’d be amazed at how much a quick visit or phone call can lift someone’s spirits—and make you feel better too! Finally, on behalf of everyone at Boston Spirit, I want to thank all of you for your continued support. We never lose sight of the fact that we could not publish the magazine or have our events without you. Thank you for sticking with us. Have a wonderful, happy and safe holiday season. We’ll see you in 2018!

David Zimmerman Publisher

American Heart Association




Boston Pops


Brian Gerhardson - Ameriprise


Broadway in Boston


Burns & Levinson, LLP


Celebrity Series


City Winery


Club Café


Destination Salem


DJ Mocha


Dover Rug


Eastern Bank


Fenway Health


Foxwoods Resort Casino


Landry & Arcari


Long’s Jewelers


Lucia Lighting


Marriott Copley Place




Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams


Morgan Stanley Wealth Services


Museum of Science


Partners Healthcare


Peabody Essex Musem




Provincetown Tourism


Ross Simons


Seashore Point


Seasons Four


TD Bank


This Free Life






W W W. D OV E R R U G . C O M

Contribute your opinion:

As We Go To Press … Are you sick of people complaining about Boston’s lackluster gay bar scene? Have you tired of those bemoaning New England’s reputation as a frosty, unwelcoming Yankee social society? You can stop right now. That may have been true before, but today, it’s: #FakeNews. Chris Juliani and Dan Batterman and a host of other local LGBT social entrepreneurs have arrived. Welcome to Greater Boston’s vibrant Meetup communities! These new groups confronted all that naysayer negative talk and turned it around. Our managing editor’s eye-opening story on this growing local phenomena is worth your read. “I had a rule,” explains Juliani, “of putting yourself in the place of someone new to town.” Celebrating its 10th year, Juliani’s Boston Gay Women’s Meetup Group boasts over 4,000 members. It is working! Many others are working too! There are more than 500 LGBT Meetup groups in the Greater Boston area, many with more than 1,000 members. “Oh my God, if I’d only known it was so much fun, I would have come years ago!” is the reaction of one first-time attendee of The Boston Gay Professionals Meetup Group, which Batterman has led for nine years now. If you haven’t been to one, don’t delay! Interested in meditation? Try OutBreath. Like board games? There’s Queer Boston Board Gamers. How about the outdoors? Check out the Greater Boston Cycling/Outdoor Fitness Group.


Looking for a new job? Try Batterman’s Boston Gay Professionals Meetup. Hoping to find love? Try, well, just about any of them. Madeleine Ashley, an organizer at MadFemmePride, seems to sum up the experiences we heard from many of the meetups: “A lot of relationships have blossomed too, though we don’t necessarily advertise that.” Still not sold? Then, flip to our Merry Makers story, in this issue, where you’ll find a cornucopia of other possibilities for socializing. Some have been around for decades, including the Celebration of Life at the Boston Living Center and the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus concerts. Still grousing? There’s our worldclass LGBT athletics teams, with a new kickball league we also feature in this issue. And, you can whine all you want about Boston’s nightlife, but Chris Harris Presents still packs them in on weekends. If you’re still groaning, perhaps participants in the upcoming New England Leather competition (highlighted in our calendar section) would be happy to put you in your place. Look! No more excuses. “La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.” (Hands over my ears). “I’m not listening!” I’m not listening to any more groaning about the lack of dating opportunities or the cold social milieu. It’s done. It’s gone. It’s over. That’s so last year. Happy 2018!

James Lopata Editor

We’re a community of many communities.

Together we celebrate that being yourself is just being human.

Member FDIC | TD Bank, N.A.



Hit List


Class Act

NOV|DEC 2017 | VOLUME 13 | ISSUE 6


How Ninotska Love—transgender refugee from Ecuador and Wellesley College sophomore— learned to thrive, not just survive

Hit List Thanksgiving Treat Chef Nick Ski Utah

8 10 15 16

Making it Personal Senior Spirit The Coming Back Out Ball Newsmakers | New Hampshire Newsmakers | Maine Newsmakers | Rhode Island Newsmakers | Vermont Newsmakers | Connecticut From the Blogs

18 20 20 22 23 29 30 32 34

Grab your poles—it’s ski season again



Thanksgiving Treat


Meet the Merry Makers


‘Stronger Together’ Stories of 2017


Notable newsmakers from a challenging year


Beating Hearts


Dance Masters


Lovers and Other Strangers


Two first-rate gay films explore passion in all its forms Peter DiMuro and David Parker bring ‘The Nutcracker’ alternatives to BCA Bridget Barkan’s view of the world—with music—comes to Oberon

Making Our Own Communities


Merging Identities


New League in Town


Images and Icons


On Greater Boston’s LGBT Meetup sites, real-time, unplugged social networking is just a click away

VGL Kickball provides relaxed sports option for Bostonians


Meet the Merry Makers

LGBT and Jewish identities intersect at the Boston Jewish Film Festival Boston artist Annette Lemieux makes art from film history


‘ Beating Hearts’

There’s Still Heat in ‘Desert Hearts’ Groundbreaking classic gets a new restoration




Behind the scenes of some of the season’s most beloved LGBT traditions

New League in Town

New England Events


Gay Bowl XVII Summer Sports Tea Dance Harbor to the Bay Gay for Good Boston Volunteers at Braille Press HRC New England Dinner Hartford Pridefest ‘New Traditional’ Open House Design Tour de North Shore HistoryMaker Awards

87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95

Same Love, Bold New Album




Marriage-equality anthem artist Mary Lambert unites music with spoken word on ‘Bold’ tour


Same Love, Bold New Album



Good loves. Good celebrates. Good takes a stand. Eastern Bank stands proudly with the LGBT community today and every day as we work towards a more equal tomorrow.

SPOTLIGHT Trending STORY Scott Kearnan

Hit List NEWS, NOTES AND TO-DOS FOR EVERY GAY AGENDA raising $1 million to fund this initiative for the PalmerWarner House in the town of East Haddam, former home to preservation architect Frederic Palmer and his partner Howard Metzger from 1945 to 1971. The house is set to become a testament to the lived reality of midcentury gay love and contains a treasure trove of original documents, photos and even discreetly worded letters sent between the men during WWII. More:

DIVE DEEPinto the underworld with out Boston Globe reporter Emily Sweeney. In October, Sweeney released her latest book, “Gangland Boston: A Tour through the Deadly Streets of Organized Crime.” The tome takes readers through a photo-laden history of the Hub’s seedy side, investigating the roots of the city’s Italian mafia and Irish mob connections, and mapping out the local sites where deals were struck, men were made—and bodies were buried. More: bostonorganizedcrime. com BUZZ BYHoneycomb Café, a

new lesbian-owned spot that recently opened in Dorchester’s Savin Hill neighborhood. Spouses Lara and Nicole Miele (whose last name appropriately enough means “honey” in Italian) opened the farm-to-table restaurant with a farm-to-table philosophy, and work with local farms to source New England-grown ingredients for breakfast and lunch bites. There are plenty of coffee and espresso drinks too, giving residents of the neighborhood’s gay nook a great new hive for hanging out. More:

CLICK OVERto Kikipaedia,

a new online platform that lets LGBT folks find nearby bars, events and other inclusive points of interest in Boston, NYC and smaller cities throughout the region. Founder Mike Burns launched Kikipaedia as a website, though a smartphone app is in development, and allows users to contribute reviews and tips related to LGBT venues—and upload additional events. It’s still in beta mode, but if Kikipaedia can cultivate a strong user base, maybe going online will finally help us get out more. More:


Landmarks, a preservation society that is seeking to open the state’s first historic site dedicated to LGBTQ history. The organization is currently

SLEUTHE YOUR WAYthrough the next installment of the “Provincetown Mystery” series by Cape Cod author Jeannette de Beauvoir. Last month, de Beauvoir released “Murder at Fantasia Fair: A Provincetown Mystery,” the second entry in her new collection of whodunit page-turners, each


NOV|DEC 2017 | VOLUME 13 | ISSUE 6

Spirit magazine. 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



Tufts University based around a different P’town theme week. The debut mystery, released earlier in 2017, was “Death of a Bear.” The goal is to release two books annually, and upcoming themes include Women’s Week, the Portuguese Festival and, of course, Carnival. More:

LISTEN UPto “OneGayGuy,” a new LGBTQ-themed podcast from Andover resident Michael Kimball. Kimball has released 42 episodes since the podcast debuted earlier in the year, covering topics that range from bullying to HIV prevention, opining on matters of politics and religion, interviewing subjects like Miss Gay America 2017 and Worcester-raised gay rapper Cazwell, and even giving guests an overview of gay bathhouse etiquette. It’s just one gay

guy’s point of view—but it’s an entertaining one to hear. More: thesunshineclubpodcast.libsyn. com

TAKE NOTEof the two New England schools to make the list of Top 25 LGBTQ Friendly Schools compiled by Campus Pride. The annual roster, which evaluates schools based on inclusive policies, programs and practices, included Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst in this year’s lineup. In addition to their current LGBTQfriendly climates, Campus Pride called out the schools for their historic commitment to diversity: Tufts founded its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center in 1992 and UMass established its Stonewall Center in 1985. More: [x]






SPOTLIGHT Cuisine STORY Scott Kearnan


¼ cup sugar ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as canola 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 recipe Pickled Shallots (see below), drained ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint (about ¼ bunch)

Thanksgiving Treat MYERS + CHANG EXEC CHEF SHARES SIGNATURE RECIPE, RELEASES FIRST COOKBOOK Myers + Chang, a funky, pan-Asian upscale diner in Boston’s South End, is one of the city’s hottest restaurants. It’s also a popular date night pick for plenty of the neighborhood’s gay couples— especially on Monday and Tuesday nights, when the high-energy eater offers its weekly “Cheap Date Night” dinner specials. But with her first cookbook now fresh off the printing press, out chef Karen Akunowicz hopes romance-minded duos can enjoy a Myers + Chang-style experience at home—and tear a page out of her date night traditions with her own spouse, L. J. “A great date night dish is something you can make together,” says Akunowicz. “It’s sexy to cook for someone, but it’s even more sexy to share in it together.” For that, fawning foodies can pick up “Myers + Chang At Home,” the cookbook that Akunowicz authored alongside the restaurant’s eponymous owner, star chef Joanne Chang. Akunowicz, Myers + Chang’s executive chef, has earned raves for her work at the restaurant—plus two “Best Chef Northeast” nominations from the James Beard



Chef Karen Akunowicz

awards, the Oscars of the food industry, and a stint on Season 13 of Bravo’s “Top Chef” TV show. “Myers + Chang At Home” collects dozens of recipes for some of the spot’s most beloved dishes, including twicecooked lamb belly stir-fry, the first dish Akunowicz added to the restaurant’s menu six years ago, and signature sweet and sour Brussels sprouts that she and L. J. share with family each year as part of their own Thanksgiving traditions. (It’s a recipe she came up while visiting restaurants during a wedding-dressshopping excursion in NYC.) Akunowicz, a self-described proud queer femme, is sharing that recipe below with Boston Spirit readers. In fact, she’s eager to get all these recipes dishes in the hands of those who adore them. And her cookbook, a two-and-a-half-year labor of love, holds a special place in the heart of Akunowicz, a voracious reader whose mother was a librarian. “Going into a bookstore and seeing my name on a book feels amazing,” says Akunowicz. “I’m almost 40 years old, but I still want my parents to be proud of me!” Mission accomplished, chef. [x]

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce until it is in the consistency of thin maple syrup, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside. This is the hot and sweet sauce, and it provides the sweet component to the dish. It can be made up to 3 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. In a wok or a large, heavy, flat-bottomed skillet, heat the vegetable oil over high heat until it shimmers, about 1 minute. Throw the Brussels sprouts in the pan and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. The oil will splatter, so be careful! Don’t stir for 2 to 3 minutes, allowing the Brussels sprouts to fry and char on the bottom. (You may even want to walk away so you are not tempted to fuss with them.) Once they are charred on the bottom, start stirring them every minute or so until they soak up all the oil, about 3 minutes more. Add about ¼ cup water to the wok and turn down the heat to medium. Let the water evaporate, shaking the wok and moving around the Brussels sprouts so they can finish cooking. Taste one to see if it is cooked; you want it to be cooked through but still have some bite. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a large bowl and toss with the hot and sweet sauce, shallots and fresh mint. Serve immediately.

PICKLED SHALLOTS (start at least four hours in advance; makes about 1/4 cup)

cup unseasoned rice vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 medium garlic clove, smashed 2 large shallots, very thinly sliced into rings


In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and garlic and heat over medium-high heat until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Let cool completely and transfer to a bowl or storage container. Add the shallots and soak in the pickling liquid in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 1 week. The Pickled Shallots can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Strain and remove the garlic clove before using.



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What is TRUVADA for PrEP?

Who should not take TRUVADA for PrEP?

TRUVADA for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a prescription medicine that is used together with safer sex practices to help reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 through sex. This use is only for HIV-negative adults who are at high risk of getting HIV-1. To help determine your risk of getting HIV-1, talk openly with your healthcare provider about your sexual health. Ask your healthcare provider if you have questions about how to prevent getting HIV. 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.

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. ® Also take certain medicines to treat hepatitis B infection.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION What is the most important information I should know about TRUVADA for PrEP? Before taking TRUVADA for PrEP: ® You must be HIV-negative before you start taking TRUVADA for PrEP. You must get tested to make sure that you do not already have HIV-1. Do not take TRUVADA to reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 unless you are confirmed to be HIV-negative. ® Many 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 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: ® You must continue to use safer sex practices. Just taking TRUVADA for PrEP may not keep you from getting HIV-1. ® You must stay HIV-negative to keep taking TRUVADA for PrEP: ® Get tested for HIV-1 at least every 3 months. ® If you think you were exposed to HIV-1, tell your healthcare provider right away. ® To further help reduce your risk of getting HIV-1: ® Know your HIV status and the HIV status of your partners. ® Get tested for other sexually transmitted infections. Other infections make it easier for HIV to infect you. ® Get information and support to help reduce risky sexual behavior, such as having fewer sex partners. ® Do not miss any doses of TRUVADA. Missing doses may increase your risk of getting HIV-1 infection. ® If 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: ® Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. TRUVADA is not approved to treat HBV. If you have HBV and stop taking TRUVADA, your HBV may suddenly get worse. Do not stop taking TRUVADA without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to monitor your health.

What are the other possible side effects of TRUVADA for PrEP? Serious side effects of TRUVADA may also include: ® Kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to check your kidneys before and during treatment with TRUVADA. If you develop kidney problems, your healthcare provider may tell you to stop taking TRUVADA. ® Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat. ® Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: 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, or stomach-area pain. ® Bone problems, including bone pain, softening, or thinning, which may lead to fractures. Your healthcare provider may do tests to check your bones. Common side effects in people taking TRUVADA for PrEP are stomach-area (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? ® All your health problems. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have or have had any kidney, bone, or liver problems, including hepatitis. ® If 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. ® If you are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. If you become HIV-positive, HIV can be passed to the baby in breast milk. ® All the medicines you take, including prescription and over-thecounter 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. ® If you take certain other medicines with TRUVADA, your healthcare provider may need to check you more often or change your dose. These medicines include certain medicines to treat hepatitis C (HCV) infection. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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

I'm active, not unaware. I know who I am. And I make choices that fit my life. TRUVADA for PrEP™ is a once-daily prescription medicine that can help reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 when taken every day and used together 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 for PrEP.

Ask your doctor about your risk of getting HIV-1 infection and if TRUVADA for PrEP may be right for you. Learn more at


This is only a brief summary of important information about taking TRUVADA for PrEPTM (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.

(tru-VAH-dah) MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT TRUVADA FOR PrEP Before starting TRUVADA for PrEP: • You must be HIV-1 negative. You must get tested to make sure that you do not already have HIV-1. 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. While taking TRUVADA for PrEP: • You must continue to use safer sex practices. Just taking TRUVADA for PrEP may not keep you from getting HIV-1. • You must stay HIV-negative to keep taking TRUVADA for PrEP. Get tested for HIV-1 at least every 3 months while taking TRUVADA for PrEP. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you think you were exposed to HIV-1 or have a flu-like illness while taking TRUVADA for PrEP. • 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: • Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. TRUVADA is not approved to treat HBV. If you have HBV, your HBV may suddenly get 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.

ABOUT TRUVADA FOR PrEP TRUVADA for PrEP is a prescription medicine used together with safer sex practices to help reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 through sex. This use is only for HIV-negative adults who are at high risk of getting HIV-1. • To help determine your risk of getting HIV-1, talk openly with your healthcare provider 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 certain medicines to treat hepatitis B infection.

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. • Use TRUVADA for PrEP together with condoms and safer sex practices. • Get tested for HIV-1 at least every 3 months. You must stay HIV-negative to keep taking TRUVADA for PrEP.

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF 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. • Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat. • Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: 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, or stomach-area pain. • Bone problems. 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. • 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-positive, HIV can pass to the baby in breast milk. 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 FURTHER REDUCE YOUR RISK • Know your HIV status and the HIV status of your partners. • Get tested for other sexually transmitted infections. Other infections make it easier for HIV to infect you. • Get information and support to help reduce risky sexual behavior, such as having 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. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn more, including how to prevent HIV infection. • Go to or call 1-800-GILEAD-5 • If you need help paying for your medicine, visit for program information.

TRUVADA FOR PREP, the TRUVADA FOR PREP Logo, the TRUVADA Blue Pill Design, TRUVADA, GILEAD, and the GILEAD Logo 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 2017 © 2017 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. TVDC0131 07/17

SPOTLIGHT Cuisine STORY Scott Kearnan

Chef Nick GORDON RAMSEY SURVIVOR HOPS OUT OF THE FRYING PAN INTO ALL-STAR ‘HELL’S KITCHEN’ SEASON Chef Nicholas Peters Bond can take the heat—so he’s heading back to “Hell’s Kitchen.” Bond, a 28-year old gay chef from Newburyport, Massachusetts, is one of 16 talented toques, all alums of Gordon Ramsay’s popular TV cooking competition, that have returned for the show’s first “All Stars” season. “Hell’s Kitchen All Stars” brings together popular former contestants from throughout the Fox series’ 12-year history, giving them a chance to win a head chef position at Ramsay’s new Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. “Chef Nick,” as fans know him, finished a strong fifth-place in his 2015 run on the show, so place your Vegas-style bets that he goes far this time too. “I felt more confident in my skill set this time around, because I’ve been through it before,” says Bond. “At the same time, the competition was a lot harder.” He’s also hoping that another pass through “Hell’s Kitchen” could give his professional plans a TV fame-fueled shot in the arm—the kind that he knows he didn’t exploit to its fullest advantage the first time around. “A lot of the other contestants really used the show to their advantage,” says Bond, recalling the fellow competitors from his original “Hell’s Kitchen” go-round. “But they lived in major cities. So they used it to the best of their abilities. They got press from it, they road that train. I basically went back to regular life.” Regular life, though, is pretty exciting. Outside the kitchen, a lot has changed for Bond since his reality TV debut two years ago. He’s now married to his husband, Michael, a senior product manager at Cambridge’s Online Buddies Inc., the company behind gay apps Manhunt and Jack’d. They’re also brand new foster dads to a three-month old daughter whom they hope to permanently adopt. And after taking chef roles at North Shore restaurants like Sea Level Oyster Bar in Salem, Peters is now in the process of launching his own catering business. Ironically, “Hell’s Kitchen All Stars” pits Bond against his former boss at Sea Level Oyster Bar, Burlington, Massachussettsbased chef Jennifer Normant. (There’s

Chef Nick Peters Bond also another Newburyport chef, Elise Harris, competing on the show, giving the Bay State’s North Shore some generous representation.) But overall, even as an out chef tossed into a reality TV petri dish with a group of strangers, Bond says that the dynamic with his cast mates was a positive one. It was even better than his initial experience, when he does recall one uncomfortable moment. “I had a little issue one of the contestants making a little side comment to me,” says Bond. “During the first episode, we’d never met one another before—and after talking to us for a while, one of the contestants said to me, ‘So, are you going to be on the guys’ team or the girls’ team?’” Bond didn’t take the remark too much to heart. “I got that she was just trying to be snarky.” After all, he’s comfortable in his own skin now—even if, as for many LGBT people, it

was a journey to get there. Bond fell in love with food when he was a child, cooking alongside his grandmother. But he admits that maybe, on some level, he was drawn to the kitchen as a distraction from certain feelings about his sexuality. “I wasn’t necessarily conscious of it at the time, but looking back—I was always in the kitchen, where you’re always busy, constantly doing something,” says Bond. “I think it was a deflection from thinking about how I was really feeling inside.” Now he’s happy, married and a new dad, with a supportive family, a burgeoning business, TV fans—and a second chance to take the top spot on one of TV’s most cutthroat competitions. However “All Stars” pans out, though, his personal storyline is already a successful one. “Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to be a chef and I always knew that I wanted to be dad,” says Bond. “I’m living the life I always wanted.” [x]

NOV|DEC 2017 | 15

SPOTLIGHT Travel STORY Scott Kearnan

Ski Utah Grab your poles—it’s ski season again Of course, New England is full of fantastic options for hitting the slopes. And round these parts, you could also plan to ride the trails alongside some fellow LGBT skiers and snowboarders. OutRyders is a great LGBT ski group that organizes day trips, overnights and other social events at New England locales, and Winter Rendezvous Gay Ski Week, a popular annual series, hits Stowe, Vermont again January 17–21.

topography and the presence of a certain Salt Lake, Utah’s snow averages around 8.5 percent water content, an ideal number for skiing, with just the right balance of powder and salt. That means trails get a dense snow base covered by fluffy stuff on which to ride. There are also about a dozen ski resorts within an hour of Salt Lake City’s airport, so you won’t have to go far once you get there.

But when your glutes have graduated from the more modest mountains around here, a far-flung ski trip may be in order.

Now let’s deal with the proverbial and political elephant in the room: Yes, Utah is a GOP stronghold with a large Mormon population, so the conservatism runs deep. But even here, times are changing—especially with younger generations that cluster around the ski towns and run

For that, we say: Ski Utah. The 45th state is number one when it comes to snow quality. Thanks to the local


many of the mountain resorts, trendy restaurants and hip bars. LGBT experiences vary outside these bubbles—or rather, snow globes—but if you’re visiting for the excellent skiing, you’ll likely find plenty of friendly places and faces to make the trip worthwhile. Ready to ride? Here are three very different destinations for every style of skier:

POWDER MOUNTAIN Is bigger always better? No. But it is when it comes to Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah. Despite being the largest skiable resort in North American—about 8,000 acres!—Powder puts a strict cap on day

tickets. Only 1,500 are sold daily, ensuring that guests enjoy this uniquely rustic, backcountry-style spot sans crowds. The terrain is varied but good for novices and New Englanders raised on smaller mountains. And though the low-frills resort stands out for its celebration of unadulterated natural beauty, it’s adding a bit more pizzazz via Summit at Powder Mountain, an upcoming sustainable community of micro-cabins, eateries, shops and art spaces. Stay: The neighboring city of Ogden hosts an annual Pride festival for Northern Utah’s LGBT community. The contemporary Courtyard Marriot offers affordable rates right by the adorable downtown. Eat: Roosters Brewing Company has great comfort grub (and a big gluten-free menu) plus suds made on site. Drink: Discover New World Distillery, offering tours and tastings of their awardwinning botanical gins. See: North Fork Park is a rare designated Dark Sky Place, a light pollution-free zone with incomparable stargazing.

SNOWBASIN RESORT Snowbasin in Huntsville is the kind of resort where hardcore skiers and their weekend warrior pals would both be satisfied. Sixty percent of the 106 trails are designated as “intermediate.” Snowbasin keeps an active calendar of special events, and there is a fun après ski scene at Cinnabar, where live bands jam and whiskey is sipped. Snowbasin hosted the speed events in the 2002 Winter Olympics, so naturally they have a strong instruction program offering lots of lessons for adults—and kids, if this is a wintry vacation for a queer-headed fam. Stay: The Bigelow Hotel in Ogden is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its Italian Renaissance Revival architecture, unusual in Utah. Eat: Ogden’s Tona is an excellent, upscalecasual sushi bar with sophisticated, citified vibes. Drink: Grab a drink on Ogden’s only rooftop bar, Alleged, housed inside an infamous former brothel. See: Check out who shows up by using Ski Butlers, a service that delivers ski and

The Bigelow Hotel [TOP] High West Distillery [BOTTOM] snowboard equipment to your hotel room, so you don’t need to tote yours from home.

Stay: If you’re living like a movie star, stay in one of the pricy but awe-inspiring condos rentable through Resorts West.


Eat: Deer Valley’s Mariposa restaurant, regarded as one of the finest in the state, offers elegant small plates and a big wine list in a cozy, fireplace-warmed dining room.

Ski like a Hollywood star at Deer Valley in picturesque (and pretty high-end) Park City, annual host to the famous Sundance Film Festival. Deer Valley trail-blazed the American luxury ski resort when it opened in 1981, and it still offers topnotch amenities today: take “Ski with a Champion,” its one-of-a-kind, one-on-one opportunity to get a full-day lesson from Olympian Heidi Voelker. Today Deer Valley is annual host to the World Cup of freestyle skiing—and Park City is host to Elevation: Utah, a massive party-packed gay ski week that next goes down February 22–25.

Drink: High West Distillery creates awardwinning whiskey and serves it in a stylish saloon that brings together bourgeoisie and hipster crowds. See: The site of the 2002 winter games is now Utah Olympic Park, where the seasonspanning activities include tubing, ziplining, and a ride down an actual Olympic bobsled. [x]

NOV|DEC 2017 | 17

SPOTLIGHT Stage STORY Scott Kearnan a vehicle for self-expression when he was a child. He wrote his first play when he was in second grade after his grandmother suffered a massive brain aneurysm while he was home alone with her. “It was really traumatizing, and I wrote my first little play afterwards as a way of dealing with grief,” says Urban. “I don’t know why I wrote a play. I’d never even seen a play.” He actually didn’t see one until college, when Urban became an English major after initially pursuing chemical engineering at his parents’ suggestion. He grew up in a conservative Roman Catholic household with a military dad who was the Republican mayor of his hometown. Urban’s sexuality caused great conflict, and he remembers hearing how members of his extended family spoke about certain minority groups—early experiences that informed Urban’s writing and his identification with characters who struggle for acceptance. Yet even in theater, Urban sees obstacles to diversity both on stage and behind it. Tokenism is not true pluralism, he says.

Ken Urban PHOTO Kevin Thomas Garcia

Making it Personal MIT PLAYWRIGHT KEN URBAN SEES THE BIG ISSUES OF THE DAY BEST PLAYED OUT IN EVERYDAY SCENES To Ken Urban, the personal is already inherently political. In his works like “A Guide for the Homesick,” which wraps its world premiere at the Huntington Theatre Company in early November, Urban, the newly appointed head of playwriting at MIT, shows brain and heart. But he doesn’t like to be too on-the-nose. “All of my work comes back to the personal,” says Urban. It’s been a big year for the award-winning gay playwright. Besides his MIT appointment and “Guide,” he premiered another show, “Nibbler,” a science-fiction coming-of-age sex farce, off Broadway in February. His first TV pilot, “The Art of Listening,” has been optioned by the UK’s ITV network. And he’s working


to mount the world premiere of “The Remains,” a South End-set play about gay divorce (inspired by Urban’s own) in 2018. Urban certainly has strong feelings about the state of the world and the state of American theater. But great stories are timeless, he says, and interrogate important themes without being too narrow in target. “For instance, I don’t say, ‘I want to tackle the presidency of Donald Trump,’” explains Urban. “I want to tackle personal stories that hit on all the issues that we’re thinking about during the presidency of Donald Trump. Issues like civic responsibility and what it means to come out and be a gay person in the 20th century are all in ‘Guide.’” Urban, born in New Jersey and raised near Philadelphia, discovered the arts as

“People are saying they want diversity, but American theatre is addressing it in a very narrow way,” says Urban. “Producing one play by a black writer or Latino writer per season is not diversity. And perhaps the most distressing thing is that everyone’s voice sounds the same—because, for instance, if they want a play by a black writer, they want a very specific kind of play. They don’t want something that challenges their expectations of what a black playwright is supposed to sound like.” Urban, who also taught at Harvard University from 2006 to 2014, has experienced similar preconceptions as a gay man. He recalls early reaction to “Sense of an Ending,” a play he wrote for an all-black cast. “People kept saying, ‘I don’t see you in this play,’” recalls Urban. “They’d say, ‘if only you had a character who was a white gay man.’” Now, in his role as a MIT senior lecturer shaping the next generation of playwrights, Urban wants to emphasize to his students that, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the story. Being personal doesn’t mean being pat. “One concern I have right now is that there will be a whole lot of plays about Trump, none of which will be very good,” says Urban with a laugh. “A good story touches on what’s happening in the world regardless of when you read it. A story like the ‘The Glass Menagerie’ still speaks to me.” “The plays I’m drawn to feel like they’re engaging with the big issues of their time but are still timeless.” [x]

L ! A N KS I F E E W


GEORGIA O’KEEFFE Art, Image, Style DECEMBER 16, 2017–APRIL 1, 2018

161 Essex St. | Salem, MA

The Peabody Essex Museum organized It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection. Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation provided generous support. Media partners: Boston Spirit, iHeart Radio and Independent Outdoor. Georgia O’Keeffe: Art, Image Style is organized by the Brooklyn Museum with guest curator Wanda M. Corn, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor Emerita in Art History, Stanford University, and made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts. Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch, The Lynch Foundation and Fay, Susan and Appy Chandler provided generous support. Media partners: Magic 106.7 and Northshore Magazine. The East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum provided support for both exhibitions. Attributed to Karoly Grosz, The Mummy (detail), 1932. Produced by Universal Pictures, printed by Morgan Lithograph Company, lithograph. Courtesy of Universal Pictures Licensing, LLC. Courtesy of the Kirk Hammett Horror and Sci-Fi Memorabilia Collection. Tony Vaccaro, Georgia O’Keeffe with “Pelvis Series, Red with Yellow” and the Desert (detail), 1960. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Courtesy of Tony Vaccaro studio.

SPOTLIGHT Senior Spirit STORY Bob Linscott

Senior Spirit

The Coming Back Out Ball GLAM EVENT DOWN UNDER FÊTES LGBTI ELDERS WITH INCLUSION AND ACCEPTANCE In October I was asked to represent Fenway Health, The LGBT Aging Project and the city of Boston as a keynote speaker for a national conference on LGBTI Aging in Australia. This included being a guest of honor at an inaugural event in the City of Melbourne—The Coming Back Out Ball. These events provided an incredible opportunity to collaborate with our Australian colleagues around the innovative work in the field of LGBT aging both countries are undertaking. It was also an incredible opportunity to look into the lives and lived experiences of LGBT elders and their care providers on the other side of the world. This issue’s Senior Spirit column features The Coming Back Out Ball. In the next issue, I’ll share my take on the various resources, programs and agencies involved in LGBT

aging across Australia highlighted in the two-day conference. The Coming Back Out Ball was the premiere event for the Victorian Seniors Festival, a month-long celebration for older Victorians and presented in partnership with the Third Annual National LGBTI Aging and Aged Care Conference. The location of this event was itself a message of inclusion and acceptance, held in the glamorous and historic Melbourne Town Hall, which was lit up in rainbow colors for the night. The Victorian state government was a principal funding partner. Tristan Meecham, founder and artistic director for All The Queen’s Men, a group that is dedicated to social equity through community engagement and the arts, envisioned the event to honor the lives and lived

experiences of LGBTQI elders. Over the past few decades Australia has been going through a public process of undoing past wrongs to groups like the Aboriginals and to LGBTI elders. The evening’s program featured some of Australia’s greatest artists, including opera legend Deborah Cheetham, the Coming Out Ball Orchestra led by Dr. Kathleen McGuire and the legendary performer Carlotta, who’s infamous show “Les Girls,” which started in 1963, was the inspiration for “Priscila Queen of the Desert.” The evening’s program alternated between performers, government officials and videotaped testimonials from local celebrities and LGBTI elders. Some of the acts had guests on the edge of their seats like the Performing Older Women’s Circus, which

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The Coming Out Ball is the premiere event for the Victorian Seniors Festival in Melbourne, Australia. PHOTO  Bob Linscott. is an acrobatic performance done by older women in their 50s and 60s. Another act featured a high-wire contortionist performing in red heels on a trapeze high above everyone’s heads. Other acts—like Carlotta and New York performance artist Lois Weaver as Tammy WhyNot and her sexy cowboys—had folks rolling on the floor. One of the most moving moments of the evening was when Tristan stood alone on a platform in the middle of the ballroom and spoke about his gratitude and pride for LGBTI elders. He honored their experiences that shaped the rights and acceptance we have today. After he finished, he jumped

down and ran table to table with the microphone introducing us to a number of his beloved LGBTI elders, all in their 80s and 90s, who each spoke about their lives. As a spectator to the whole event, I don’t know what impressed me more: the quality and caliber of the performances or watching the joy in the eyes of the seniors as the night went on. This event was about them and for them, and they knew it. I can’t think of a better way to honor a group of LGBTI elders, and with such style! There was one more element that really stood out to me. The event was not limited

to LGBTI elders; a great many people came from much younger generations but everyone partook in the merriment with equal gusto. And it wasn’t just LGBTI people in attendance either. Since this was part of the Victorian Seniors Festival, it was attended my quite a number of straight members of Melbourne’s senior and artistic communities. It was an evening of diversity and inclusion at its finest! [x]

Bob Linscott is assistant director of the LGBT Aging Project at Fenway Health.

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Newsmakers | New Hampshire Headlines from the Granite State

Republicans and allies who support equality under the law for all, free markets, individual liberty, limited government, and a strong national defense.”

Carly Fiorina at the LCR national dinner in D.C. PHOTO Michael Key/Washington Blade

A VIEW FROM THE TABLE At the September 27 national organization of the Log Cabin Republicans’ annual Spirit of Lincoln dinner in Washington, D.C.—held this year at the Trump International Hotel— New Hampshire State Senator Dan Innis told the Washington Blade “we shouldn’t be crying” over Trump’s record on LGBT rights at the event, even if his record isn’t exactly a cause for celebration.

“[The dinner] was not about stoking more divisions within the GOP, or even amongst our members,” Angelo said. “It was about being unified in celebration of our four decades, and I think that’s what we saw here tonight.”

The September 28 Blade article found Innis’s “positive things done for our community” part debatable, noting Trump’s record on LGBT issues during his first nine months as president: “revoking Obama-era guidance assuring transgender students restroom access in schools, ordering the U.S. military to ban transgender service members and staffing a Justice Department with attorneys arguing against legal protections for gays before the federal judiciary.” That said, Trump-bashing was not the point of the evening. “We’ve gone on the record in the past praising Trump when he needs to be praised and we’ve criticized him when criticism was due,” said LCR President Gregory T. Angelo.


SANDERS FOCUSES ON LGBT RIGHTS LGBT rights were at the forefront when Senator Bernie Sanders swung through New Hampshire Labor Day Weekend, making stops at a breakfast event in Manchester and a rally in Concord. Manchester resident Nikki Casey, a member of the advocacy group Rights and Democracy, described the rally as being all about “trans rights, the LGBT community, working families, the environment, public education. We’re just here as a collective working on these issues to get people involved in a grassroots level and trying to win elections.”

“He’s done some positive things for our community, but again, the more he gets to know us, I think the more he’ll see that we can be very important to him and the Republican Party—and we are,” Innis said. Innis added, “I think one of the nice things is that we have a seat at the table at the White House—something we haven’t had in a long, long time.”

PHOTO courtesy of NH1

State Senator Dan Innis. PHOTO courtesy

HORN, PALARDY ELECTED LCR NH CO-CHAIRS Former two-term co-chair of the state’s GOP Jennifer Horn and New Castle businessman Doug Palardy have been selected by their peers to share the helm of the newly formed Granite State chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans. Also elected were Manchester residents Molly Kepner as vice chair and Adam Lord as treasurer and Dylan Cruess of Bedford as secretary. The New Hampshire chapter was formed earlier this year and held a kickoff event in May, attracting top elected state Republicans. The group describes itself as “LGBT

Warming up the crowd before Sanders was attorney and executive councilor Andrew Volinsky, who addressed transgender rights issues and increasing the minimum wage. “If you’re working on any of these issues, stand up now and give yourselves a hand,” Volinsky said. “The only way we’re going to make a difference on any of these issues is if we work together.”

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE GAY MEN’S CHORUS For their 20th anniversary, New Hampshire’s Gay Men’s Chorus is presenting a string of concerts from Nashua and Portsmouth to Concord and Manchester. They’ll also warm hearts at interfaith services commemorating World AIDS Day at Granite State assisted living centers. For details, go to [x]


Newsmakers | Maine

News from the Pine Tree State been released being investigation, but the individual has been served a department harassment warning that forbids contacting Wilson.

HIGH SCHOOL CROWNS TRANSGENDER TEEN HOMECOMING KING He’s a dedicated student athlete who loves Christian music, soccer and snowboarding—and Noble High School in North Berwick, Maine just voted this transgender 17-year-old their homecoming king. Stiles Zuschlag told the Associated Press that he believes love and tolerance motivated his classmates to support him. “Hate” flyer distributed in Brunswick.  PHOTO courtesy Kathy Wilson

ANTI-LGBT FLIERS DISTRIBUTED IN BRUNSWICK A Brunswick resident distributing fliers equating the LGBT community to communism was apprehended by police on September 11 on Maine Street in Brunswick.

“The fact that I can be a face for transgender kids struggling, or people who are going through a trial—they’ll see in the end that they can get through,” Zuschlag said. “No matter what, it has to get better.”

“We’ve been hearing from elementary schools around the state who want to make sure that they have culturally specific information to best support trans students. With this grant, thanks to the Maine Community Foundation, we will be providing training and ongoing support to educators, administrators and school staff at six to eight rural elementary schools beginning this fall,” said Jeanne Dooley, Out Maine’s executive director. The funds come thanks to the generosity of the Cummings Fund and the Lawrence P. Ralston Fund as part of Maine Community Foundation’s Regional Grant Initiative. With offices in Ellsworth and Portland, the Maine Community Foundation works with donors and other partners to improve the quality of life for all Maine people. To learn more about the foundation, visit www. To learn more about Out Maine, go to

“I’m a transgender boy ready to change the world for the better. I’m gonna spread love where there’s hate,” he tweeted on Oct. 7.

Fliers had also been left at the Burger King on Bath Road and on Brunswick Town Councilor Kathy Wilson’s car, which sports a rainbow bumper sticker. “I do take it as a threat, only because of my experience all these years,” Wilson told the Portland Press Herald in a September 15 report. “I am very, very active in the gay community and everybody knows about it.” The Press Herald went on to say that the fliers “were emblazoned with a logo for ‘The Forest Brothers,’ which was originally a group of Baltic-based resistance fighters who fought against Soviet-era invasion and occupation forces. Whether there is a more modern version of the group is unknown.” Neither the Southern Poverty Law Center nor the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine recognizes this group, according to the Press Herald. Brunswick police sent details on the person distributing the fliers to the civil rights division of the Maine Attorney General’s Office for review. The name of the person has not

Stiles Zuschlag PHOTO Deb Cram/AP

“JOYFUL, JOYFUL” SUPPORTING YOUTH IN RURAL SCHOOLS This fall, Out Maine began putting to practice a $10,000 grant to bring more training and support to under-resourced rural schools. The goal is to create safe spaces for LGBTQ youth, especially transgender students, in elementary schools.

The Maine Gay Men’s Chorus is presenting its annual holiday concert, “Joyful, Joyful,” Decemer 8–10 at First Parish Church, 425 Congress Street, in Portland. Show time is 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, December 8 and 9, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday, December 10. For tickets, go to [x]

NOV|DEC 2017 | 23

SPOTLIGHT News STORY Kim Harris Stowell

Newsmakers | Rhode Island

pre-show cocktail party and a meet and greet with the cast after the show. For more info, visit

This Just in from the Ocean State


SAFE SCHOOLS The state’s education commissioner has adopted a statewide policy to protect transgender and gender nonconforming students All Rhode Island school districts are required to adopt new comprehensive policies affirming the civil rights of transgender and gender nonconforming students. Intended to foster safe, inclusive and affirming learning environments for all students, the policy came about as a result of pressure from the advocacy community.

Babies for Us is a support agency for lesbian families.

BABIES FOR US Babies for Us—a family growth program dedicated to providing emotional and financial aid to lesbian couples seeking to begin biological families—is hosting an LGBTQ business networking event on November 8 at the Colosseum in Providence, with an after party at Free Play Bar Arcade. The goal is to raise financial support for Babies for Us couples. The money raised will go directly to helping a lesbian couple have their own biological child. The group invites LBGTQ business owners to attend and promote their companies. The networking event will include games, music, photography and snacks. The price of admission will include two free drinks and admission to the after party at Free Play Bar Arcade in Providence. Find more information on this group at

Providence Gay Men’s Chorus

Michael James Sypniewski, “Princess Pearl of Providence,” passed away at home surrounded by his loving family, on September 20. Born on June 5, 1965 in Warwick, he lived on the East Side of Providence most of his life. While he worked as a Special Security Officer for Citizen Bank, he appeared in many productions as “Princess Pearl of Providence,” several recordings of which can be found on YouTube. Michael had a wealth of friends, both old and new. He will be dearly missed.

Districts can adopt the state’s model policy or they can create policies of their own, provided that the local policy is aligned with the state guidance. The model policy highlights many issues facing these students, including confidentiality, access to facilities, participation in school programs and dress codes, and the ACLU of Rhode Island will work closely with school districts to monitor their progress.

QUEERS TO THE HOLIDAYS! Just about everyone will be getting into the act this year to ensure a warm, happy holiday season for children and families affected by HIV/AIDS. There will be Toy Drives at the Eagle, the Stable and the Alleycat, as well as Giving Trees at several locations around the state. The Granddaddy holiday fundraiser is, of course, AIDS Care Ocean State’s annual Adopt-a-Family Program, where a $50 donation ensures that a Rhode Island family will have heat, warm clothes and a holiday gift. ACOS will also be the beneficiary of a November 9 performance of “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” as well as an evening to celebrate the return of “Kinky Boots” to the Providence Performing Arts Center on December 8. This event will feature a

Princess Pearl

PGMC PRESENTS “KALEIDOSCOPE” Make plans to head down to Beneficent Church, 300 Weybosset Street in Providence, on the weekend of December 7–10, as the Providence Gay Men’s Chorus presents their annual holiday performance. Called “Kaleidoscope,” this year’s program promises holiday standards as well as a few surprises. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit [x]

NOV|DEC 2017 | 29

SPOTLIGHT News STORY Rob Phelps Both schools were steadfast in denying military recruitment during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era—even as most other schools with nondiscrimination policies under the guidance of the Association of American Law Schools bowed to the 1996 Solomon Amendment allowing the secretary of defense to withhold federal funding to schools that refused to comply.

Newsmakers | Vermont

Green Mountain State Update MILITARY RECRUITMENT ON CAMPUS AND TRANSGENDER BAN Should law schools with nondiscrimination policies cooperate with military recruiters when the US Armed Forces denies transgender people their right to serve?

Two law schools are currently contemplating that question. Vermont Law School and Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota, are considering reversing their policy of allowing military recruitment on their campuses in light of the current administration’s ban on transgender troops.


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“President Trump’s ban on transgender people joining the military is of grave concern,” Vermont Law School Director of Communications Maryellen Apelquist told the Washington Blade in an August 30 report. “The Vermont Law School administration will take a hard look at the details of the policy to determine if our discrimination policy will allow military recruiters on the VLS campus.”

BUILDING A ‘MO’RESLIENT’ COMMUNITY Celebrating and supporting the LGBT community is among the primary focuses identified by some 265 people surveyed for a new community initiative in the works for Morrisville and Lamoille County. A $150,000 Promise Community Grant is funding a group of volunteers that conducted the survey. The group, called Mo’Reslient, came together to identify the resources their community most needs and implement them with the grant money, according to a September 14 Stowe Today report. Along with the Promise grant, Mo’Reslient is partnering with another group—E=MC2 (Everyone Equals Morristown Community Center) to build a home for the initiative. Along with LGBT support, the volunteers are focusing on kindergarten preparation, the


Vermont Pride establishment of a youth zone, and support programs for fathers as primary goals; they say they’re open to serving all sorts of community needs.

VERMONT COMMUNITY FOUNDATION AWARDS $65,000 For the sixth year running, the Vermont Community Foundation awarded $65,000 in grants and scholarships to the state’s LGBT community. Eighteen nonprofits— including the Vermont Pride Festival and Parade—will split $55,000, and $10,000 is going toward five high school senior scholarships. Nonprofit awardees span health, youth, housing, social networking, social justice and arts initiatives, including (for health:) AIDS Project of Southern Vermont, HIV/HCV Resource Center, Twin States Network, Vermont CARES and Vermont People with Aids Coalition; (for youth:) Outright Vermont, Wonder and Wisdom and the Common Ground Center; (for housing:) John Graham Shelter; (for social networking and other services:) Green Mountain Crossroads and Pride Center of Vermont; and (for arts:) Chandler Center for the Arts/Vermont Pride Theater Festival, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, New England Youth Theatre, Vermont

Performance Lab, Vermont Stage Company and the Women’s Freedom Center’s film festival. Scholarships will be awarded to two seniors at Harwood Union High School and one senior each to Randolph High School, St. Johnsbury Academy and Williamstown Middle High School. For more, check out vermontcf. org/samara.



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12.17 BebelGilberto

12.19 ShemekiaCopeland

RECORDSETTING PRIDE IN BURLINGTON More than 900 people marched in the Pride Vermont Parade and Festival in Burlington on September 10—a crowd 25% percent larger than the previous year, according to organizers. And the festival that followed in Battery Park brought out and estimated crowd that topped 2,000. “Everything that’s been going on in the world and with Trump’s negativity that we see a lot—bringing people together and having a space where everyone can come is really important,” Taylor West of Craftsbury told a reporter from for a September 10 report. “You see a lot of love here and I think that’s something that everyone could use.” [x]

Outright Vermont LGBTQA youth group. PHOTO Alexandre Galliez


11.10 11.14 1.6 2.3 3.3


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SPOTLIGHT News STORY Natalie Nonken

Newsmakers | Connecticut Articles from The Constitution State

Here, audiences can meet other locals in the LGBT community. The pre-show cocktail party begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by the performance at 8 p.m. The next event is slated for November 2 with a performance of “Romeo and Juliet.” the final show in the 2017 line-up. For details on the 2018 season, LGBT nights and tickets, go to

OUTCT HOSTS HUMP DAY HAPPY HOUR Frederic Courtland Palmer and his partner, Howard Allison Metzger and [RIGHT] Palmer-Metzger House

FIRST LGBT HISTORIC SITE Major fundraising is underway for the state’s first historic site dedicated primarily to LGBTQ history. The Palmer-Warner property, located in East Haddam, was the home of the preservation architect Frederic Courtland Palmer (1901–1971) and his partner, Howard Allison Metzger (1925–2005). Dating back to 1738, the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Palmer and Metzger owned it since 1945. When Palmer bequeathed the 50-acre property to the historic-preservation organization Connecticut Landmarks, he stipulated that Metzger be allowed to live there until he died. “We have an intact history for them, which is rare for an LGBT property,” Erin Malueg, the manager of the Palmer-Warner project, told the Hartford Currant in an October 7 article. “We have letters and diaries dating from 1942 to 1961.” “Howard was in the Merchant Marines during World War II. When he was on the ship, Westport Playhouse


he was having his letters read, censored. The letters that Frederick sent to Howard when Howard was in New York were very deep and emotional and loving: ‘I love you so much’ ‘We’re like one person in two bodies.’ When Howard was on the ship, the letters were like ‘I went to the bank, I was in the garden.’ But I think they had a little code. He would write ‘take care of yourself, you know what,’” Malueg said. “The opportunity here is not only to tell Frederick and Howard’s story,” Sheryl Hack, executive director of Connecticut Landmarks, told the Hartford Currant. “We want to provide a safe space for individuals and couples to tell their own stories.” Connecticut Landmarks is currently raising $1 million to convert the barn on the property into a visitor’s center. The preservation of the house will be funded largely through an endowment left by Palmer.

PLAYHOUSE HOSTS LGBT NIGHT OUT Westport Country Playhouse is designating one night of each production to be LGBT Night OUT.

On the last Wednesday of every month, OutCT hosts a Hump Day Happy Hour. Sky Casper Events and Anthony’s Pink Drink Club team up to put the events on, often holding them at Fleming’s Steakhouse in West Hartford. The event is an opportunity to meet and greet, enjoy a drink and get to know others in the LGBT community in Connecticut. November’s Hump Day Happy Hour will be held on the 29th, and December’s on the 27th. Go to for more.

ODES TO JOY The Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus is presenting “Twinkle: A Celestial Celebration.” The holiday show features holiday classics with a twist, plus the area premiere of “Stargazing” by James Eakin. Shows run December 10–17 in New Haven. For details, go to And over in Hartford, “From Tinseltown to Times Square: A Holiday Adventure” offers more seasonal showstoppers performed by the Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus December 8–10. For tickets and details, go to [x]


From the Blogs

Jim Morgrage [FAR RIGHT] and Harbor to the Bay cyclists. PHOTO courtesy H2B classified documents to Wikileaks in 2010 that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan.

HARBOR TO THE BAY TOPS 5 MILLION The annual Harbor to the Bay (H2B) ride just passed a major milestone in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Weeks before the annual ride, its fundraising surpassed the $5 million milestone for four of the hardest working local organizations that are helping people living with HIV/AIDS and racing toward a cure: Fenway Health, The AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, the AIDS Action Committee and Community Research Initiative. What makes this even more amazing, says H2B president Jim Morgrage, is “that there is no paid staff organizing this event. It is a grassroots endeavor put together by members of our community that care deeply about those living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS and have made it their mission to not stop until there is a cure!” On Saturday, September 23, 240 riders and over 200 crewmembers completed the 2017 H2B ride. Its full route runs some 125 miles from Boston to Provincetown. Each year cyclists can also opt to take a 68-mile alternate route from the upper Cape on out to P’town. For details, including how you can participate in next year’s H2B, check out

Chelsea Manning PHOTO courtesy Agence France-Presse

HARVARD RESCINDS FELLOWSHIP OFFER TO CHELSEA MANNING After announcing that Chelsea Manning would be a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, the university swiftly disinvited Manning from the fellowship—at least in name. It stripped Manning of the honorific title but maintained its request to have her give a speech and spend a day speaking with its students. Harvard’s original invitation met a swift backlash. Just hours after the press reported Manning’s fellowship, Michael J. Morell, a former deputy director at the CIA under President Barack Obama, resigned as a fellow. Morell had been serving as a nonresident senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Later that day, CIA director Mike Pompeo, a Harvard Law School graduate, withdrew from a forum he was scheduled to appear on that night. The controversy, of course, goes back to Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, having turned over hundreds of thousands of


Just before leaving office last winter, President Obama commuted Manning’s 35-year prison sentence down to roughly seven years served. While under custody, Manning came out as a transgender woman and suffered severe persecution while incarcerated at the men’s military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, which Obama noted in his statements related to the commutation. Twice, Manning attempted suicide. Her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction, Obama also pointed out. Harvard Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf of the university’s Kennedy School of Government took full responsibility. “I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a visiting fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility,” he wrote in a statement. “I still think that having her speak in the Forum and talk with students is consistent with our longstanding approach, which puts great emphasis on the value of hearing from a diverse collection of people,” he added. For her part, Manning tweeted that she is “honored to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting fellow” and appears to be still planning to accept Harvard’s invitation to spend a day at the university meeting with students and speaking at the Kennedy School’s public forum even without the honorific title in question. Among the 35 visiting fellows Harvard announced with Manning are former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and

Hillary Clinton’s openly gay 2016 presidential campaign manager Robby Mook.

MARRIAGE EQUALITY HERO EDITH WINDSOR DIES AT 88 In mid-September, we mourned the passing and celebrated the life of Edith Windsor, whose landmark case led the Supreme Court to federally recognize same-sex married couples and grant equal rights to federal benefits previously restricted to heterosexual couples. “I lost my beloved spouse Edie, and the world lost a tiny but tough as nails fighter for freedom, justice and equality,” Windsor’s wife Judith Kasen-Windsor told NPR in a tribute to Windsor. “Edie was the light of my life. She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community which she loved so much and which loved her right back.” Windsor’s legal fight dated to the mid-1960s when she met her long-time partner prior to Kasen-Windsor. That partner, Thea Spyer, proposed to Windsor in 1967 using a diamond pin in place of an engagement ring because the ring would have “lead others to ask some questions the pair couldn’t easily answer,” recalls NPR’s Nina Totenberg, who had interviewed Windsor at the time of her SCOTUS victory.

Edith Windsor and Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at GLAD’s 2013 Summer Party in Provincetown. PHOTO Boston Spirit file photo. Nina notes there was nowhere for the two to marry at the time; it would take decades— and one “lousy prognosis” for Spyer’s multiple sclerosis—before the pair finally headed to Toronto to obtain their same-sex marriage, which was also recognized by New York. Two years later, Spyer died. “And in the weeks afterward, as Windsor looked at the bills she now faced, she was confronted with a terrible truth,” notes the NPR story. “The law known as DOMA, passed in 1996, barred her from receiving the federal tax benefits of marriage, no matter what New York said. ‘It’s heartbreaking. It’s just a terrible injustice, and I don’t expect that from my country. I think it’s a mistake that has to get corrected,’ Windsor told Totenberg.

“And so, she decided to mount a legal fight to correct it herself. “After her case worked its way through the appeals courts, the Supreme Court decided in late 2012 to take it up. At the time, some gay-rights activists worried it simply might be too soon to have their day in court, concerned—as Mary Bonauto of [GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)] put it at the time—that the Supreme Court would want to be sure ‘they are not too far ahead of public opinion.’ “In the end, those worries did not come to fruition. The high court decided 5–4 to overturn DOMA in 2013, dealing same-sexmarriage advocates a landmark victory.” [x]

Summer’s After-Party:

Provincetown There’s a particular beauty in the sunset, when the seasons begin to change in Provincetown. Could be the way the sun shifts in the sky, or the surprising warmth that emanates from that great ball of fire above you. The light is especially bright against the deep blue sky and the cold but inviting body of water in front of you. This time of year, there is the added lucky feeling that you’ve been invited to the quintessential after-party. You know, that sense you get after all the crowds have gone, and you get to sit back and relax with the insider group. The people that truly belonged at the gathering.

whether your oppositesex friend is your spouse. It’s clear that he’s your friend, and she’s your wife, (partner or girlfriend.) Not that anyone here would care either way. The people of Provincetown simply recognize your right to your own identity.

Beginning just after Labor Day and especially as the months pass into November and December, Provincetown feels like its true self. The place where more queer people call home per capita than anywhere else on the planet. Where the post-gay phenomenon got started and there’s no one asking

It’s in the fall and winter, that artists in Provincetown really get their juices flowing. More photography is taken and landscapes painted during these months than the ten arousing weeks of summer. The confluence of the open-minded atmosphere and a pristine natural world imbues artists with an unrivaled creativity.

They strive not only to appreciate the unique world around them, but to contribute to it. The frigid air sharpens the details of their setting, freezing perfection in place. Nature takes center stage once again and she dominates the conversation in all the watering holes throughout the town. It’s a bone-chilling cold that comes up on you like no one’s business and pulls you into the nearest bar, café, eatery to warm up with spirits or home-cooked goodness. Visiting Provincetown from October-March, becomes an honor-badge worth excursion and one that offers something more than what you’ll find during the heart of summer. A sense of place. An understanding that this was what America felt like for the visitors of the Mayflower that sailed the icy blue ocean

and landed here. Unlike other vacation spots that board themselves up for the winter, leaving visitors to fend for themselves, Provincetown calls out to visitors to become one of the locals. Cozy up with the people that make this place so unique and listen to the stories that beat off the well-trodden Commercial Street. Listen for the voices and songs of the people that lived here before the crowds began to show up for summer frolicking. You can hear it all in the wind and surf. You can feel it as you take your loved one for a romantic stroll. The surprising beauty of this moment, with the sun’s warmth and the simple act of walking simultaneously through past and present. It is clear that while summer in Provincetown reverberates with thumping life, winter exposes its heart.

Provincetown Film Society November 24 Drag Brunch November 24 Lighting of the Lobster Pot Tree November 25 DECEMBER

THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN: Quality not quantity is the mantra of the shoulder season in Provincetown. Restaurants, galleries, bars and shops have special hours. Guest houses, inns and hotels are open with special rates and packages. For more information, visit CALENDAR OF EVENTS N OV E M B E R

The Provincetown Farmer’s Market, Saturdays 9am – 3pm November 4 & November 11 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm Mr. New England Leather November 17-19 Lighting of the Pilgrim Monument November 22 Pilgrim 5K Trot: PAAM Fundraiser November 23 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm Benefit Online Auction:

Holly Folly Stroll December 1-3 Boston Gay Men’s Chorus December 2 Wicked Winter Wonderland Provincetown December 2 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm Drag Brunch December 2 Holiday Concert, PAAM December 16 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Canteen Holiday Market, First Light Provincetown December 29 @ 11:00 am – 8:00 pm Drag Bingo December 30 First Light Provincetown Weekend December 29-January 2 JANUARY

Polar Bear Plunge January 1 First Light Fireworks FirstLight January 1 5:30 pm Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend January 12-15 FEBRUARY


the holidays. Thanksgiving Holly Folly First Light

Valentine's Day Weekend February 9–14 Presidents' Day Weekend February 16-19 Snowbound Leather Weekend XII Snowbound February 22-24 MARCH

Out of Hibernation Ursamen March 17-19 April Miss Gay Massachusetts US of A April 14-15 Gays for Patsy Annual Stomp: A Hoedown in Ptown! April 27 – 29


FEATURE Community STORY Rob Phelps

Making Our Own Communities


QuICK (Queer Inclusive Climbing Klub). North Shore LGBT Social Network meetup. LGBT Travelers of Boston meetup. Outbreath members at fifth annual LGBTQ Meditation Retreat.

On Greater Boston’s LGBT Meetup sites, real-time, unplugged social networking is just a click away The big city can be a lonely place for a newcomer. Even lifelong Bostonians can feel disconnected now and then. Maybe you’re newly single and looking to make new friends, or it seems like life’s got you in a rut. Or maybe everything’s going great and you want to share good times with new friends, expand your social circles, try something new, or get back into some favorite old activity you haven’t done for a while.


For the LGBTQA community, has grown into an essential, incredibly easy-to-use tool for engaging in real-time, face-to-face, social networking. It’s a place where anyone interested in virtually anything can quickly find groups of likeminded individuals and join right in. Meetup’s philosophy is simple: “When we get together and do the things that matter to us, we’re at our best. And that’s what Meetup does. It brings people

together to do, explore, teach and learn the things that help them come alive.” The site has over 32 million members and more than 250,000 groups with over 500,000 events taking place in 182 countries. In the Greater Boston area alone, there are over 500 LGBT-related Meetup groups offering hundreds of events on any given week to thousands of local members. You can join book clubs and sports clubs. Find spiritual enlightenment and engage in political action. Make friends and just

NOV|DEC 2017 | 39

The Boston Gay Professionals Meetup Group hang out. Catch a movie. Play Scrabble. Grab a beer. Or learn French. Go rock climbing or skinny-dipping. Learn something new or hone your expertise. There are even groups that travel together to the farthest reaches of the globe and another that simply strolls around Boston Public Garden. Some groups have thousands of members, others less than 100. Membership is free. (Group leaders pay a modest monthly service fee and sometimes ask for donations from members to help cover event costs.) Once signed up to a group, members can find, join and even initiate events, which tend to attract more intimate numbers. Recent events for the 347-member North Shore LGBT Social Network, for example, include a “Friday Night Bite” at Bit Bar in Salem, a “Game Night at the Castle,” a house party in Beverly, a breakfast club in Salem and the list goes on. The 532-member-strong QuICK Climbers (Queer Inclusive Climbing Klub) group had a “Weekly Climb at Brooklyn Boulders” in Somerville, another climb at MetroRock in Everett and an “Outdoor Camping & Climbing Trip” to New Hampshire among their recemt activities. To learn exactly how this phenomenon works, Boston Spirit caught up with a few founders, organizers and members of the largest and longestrunning local Meetup groups.


Without a doubt, Boston is one of the gay-friendliest cities on the planet. But let’s face it; that reputation hasn’t always extended to being the friendliest gay social scene. Blame it on our cold New England winters, or on old Yankee traditions, or on our Pilgrim roots. Or better yet, call it a misconception that needs correcting— which is exactly what Dan Batterman, Boston attorney and organizer of The Boston Gay Professionals Meetup Group, has been busy doing since 2008. “How people often perceive the gay scene in Boston has to do with our limited bar scene,” he says. “Over the years, as we’ve gained greater acceptance in society, we moved into other places. This group is designed to take advantage of that—to let people know there are other places we can go that don’t have to be strictly gay related.” Batterman recalls one guy who’d been a member of the group for about three years before he finally showed up to a typical networking event of some 40–70 guys. “Afterwards, he told me, ‘Oh my God, if I’d only known it was so much fun I would have come years ago.’ So that’s kind of what I’m fighting—this prevalent attitude in Boston that you can’t meet people in the bar scene.”

Friendly and welcoming The friendly, welcoming attitude of the some 3,500 members who belong to the Boston Gay Professionals Meetup Group is what long-term member Bill Anderson, a biologist who teaches at the university level, cites as one of his favorite things about the group. Bill joined around the time the group started in July 2006 with about 15 members, he recalls. He met Batterman, ironically, in the bar scene at Club Café. Anderson credits Batterman with rapidly expanding the group’s membership. From the time Batterman took over as the group’s organizer, he has been at almost every gathering, Bill says. Batterman

Dan Batterman PHOTO Rob Phelps greets new members, introduces them around, and makes sure everyone feels comfortable and is having a good time. (Now that the group is so big, Batterman shares that job with a team of event hosts and assistant organizers, who he says he can’t thank enough for their positive energy and dedication.) Tom Gunning, a healthcare professional from Brighton who joined the group last April, agrees. “People are there to make friends and connect with people. Not that that doesn’t happen in bars, but they come to this group for the express purpose of enlarging their social circles and, since everybody is likeminded, it’s a very easy venue to do that there. I’m a life-long Boston resident, and it’s probably the least ‘Boston-like’ gathering in terms of people being very open and friendly and not cliquey.” “And then there’s the breadth of representation of people in the community,” says Anderson. “We have people in the financial services, in academia, in medicine, and law; you name it. When you chat with these people, you really encounter a very interesting cross section of the city. There are all different backgrounds and professions represented there, which is great.” “I’ve had people contact me,” Batterman recalls, “and say, ‘Oh, I upholster furniture, is this a group for me?’ or ‘I’m a student’ or ‘I don’t currently have a job,’ and I say, yes, absolutely this is a group for you.”

“Being professional doesn’t necessarily refer to an occupation—like an engineer, attorney or doctor,” Batterman says. “Being professional is an attitude as well. Basically, anyone who wants to socialize, make some contacts and make some friends, and wants to see what’s out there in the community should join the group.” “I tend to be an introvert as a rule. Dan was very welcoming and people were easy to talk to. So I kept coming back,” says Vincent James, a university admissions director who is now an event host for the group. “What happens is, right away you start seeing familiar faces among the new faces, and that’s what makes the group work. I’d say about a third of the people that show up for any meetup are there for the first time, which says a lot about the community and word of mouth.”

How it works The Boston Gay Professionals Meetup Group typically hosts two networking/social events per month plus a few special events in relaxed settings like the lobby of The Liberty Hotel or a new restaurant in town. Batterman keeps the venues fresh. Most meetups are weeknights, after work, but occasionally there’s a special weekend event. The 40–70 attendees who show up to each gathering represent “all ages and all walks of life, occupations and backgrounds.” Some members come from Rhode Island, others from New Hampshire— “all over New England,” Batterman says. The core group is from the Boston area, but “because Boston is an international city, visitors from Ireland, England, Jordan, even a member from Iraq— come to meet people and hopefully take some friendships back to their home countries.” The focus is on socializing and networking so, aside from a popular wine-tasting event, the meetups generally don’t involve activities that would pull focus away from it members. “We tried a theater night,” Batterman recalls. “It was fun but the members really prefer spending the time talking with each other. “ After all, there are plenty of other great activity-specific Meetup groups members can also belong to.

Guy Arias, an engineer for an orthopedic implant manufacturer who lives on the South Shore, has been a member for about five years. He says each meetup is about fifty-fifty networking-socializing. Arias says he’s picked up some great business ideas from chatting with other members. He also captains a small charter boat business. “So I was able to book a couple of small charters with people that I became friends with in the group. It was really nice to be able to get together on my boat and go for a ride.” Gunning describes the networking part as “secondary” for him. “I don’t think I’ve passed out one business card. For me, it’s really been about making great social contacts and that’s what keeps me coming back, at least in the six or seven months I’ve been involved.” Anderson found both a mortgage broker and an attorney through the group. “I think it’s a wonderful Rolodex of professionals in the area,” he says. Members find it as rewarding to share as much as to gather professional advice. “A couple weeks back, there was a new member who graduated from college and just moved to the area. We all got to chatting with him to try and help him with employment opportunities based on his background,” Anderson says. “Because I’m a litigator, my professional life has a lot to do with creating conflict,” says Batterman. “The nice thing about the Meetup group is that I can do the complete opposite and bring people together.” “Dan is the glue that makes the whole thing work for everyone,” says Vincent. “He has the focus. He has the attention to details. He’s happy when everyone is having a good time. And the group is fitting a really important niche. The people at the meetups—you won’t see at the bars. They don’t have time for that. They just want to come to a place, unwind, have a drink and then go about their business. It’s capturing a cohort of gay men that you wouldn’t see anywhere else. That’s the appeal.” “I can’t give Dan enough credit,” Anderson says. “I would guess it’s a labor of love for him to bring people together and see them thrive. I would hope the atmosphere that’s currently in the group stays on in perpetuity.”

The Boston Gay Women’s Meetup Group

The Boston Gay Women’s Meetup Group has grown to more than 4,000 members since Chris Solea Juliani launched it in January 2007. Now the CEO and founder of Boston Chair Massage, Juliani didn’t always feel part of the community here. Back in 2007, she recalls, she had just moved to Jamaica Plain and felt isolated. “I’d heard great things about JP, but I found out pretty fast you needed to have your community already to have it be awesome,” she says. Juliani wanted to make things awesome. So she created what at that time was called The JP Women’s Group on Meetup. She recalls her first meeting: “I’m not great at talking in front of large groups, so I posted on the site, let’s gather together to get ideas of what we want. I’d say at least 70 women came out. We held it at Spontaneous Celebration in JP, and we all sat in a circle. We tossed around a ball and whoever caught the ball spoke. It was really good.” The first gatherings included bowling and dodgeball meetups—dodgeball is still one if the group’s most popular activities. Members gathered in Juliani’s living room to watch “The L Word” together. And a gratitude group formed that still meets regularly at the Arlington Center where members share stories of gratitude in their lives. The meetup grew quickly. “We started getting requests from people in Boston and Newton and all over, so we switched names to be all-inclusive of women all over the area,” Juliani says. A quick glance at upcoming events includes “Cribbage in Lowell,” a “Lesbian Pool Party,” an “Eat and Play Retro Video Games @ A4cade,” “Paintball in Tewksbury,” a dodge ball game, a spiritual talk, a dance party—and the list goes on. Juliani’s goal was to create a community in her new life. In doing so, she found so much more. Just a month after she started the group, she met her wife-to-be, Kristen,

NOV|DEC 2017 | 41

at one of her meetup gatherings. In 2009, the two married and had two children, twin girls. And as Moms, the couple, she says, grew more interested in “Mom groups.” So Juliani, though still a member of the group she founded, passed the organizing responsibilities along to others. And now that her girls have turned six, she and Kristen have started to look beyond the Mom groups. “Maybe a book club,” she says, “something that socializes on a regular basis.” “One of the funniest parts of the story,” she says, “is that I chose two women to lead the group who Chris Solea Juliani [RIGHT] and Kristen Juliani. became a couple also having met through this group. That was six Most important to Juliani is that the or seven years ago. And now they passed group’s members feel like they belong to the torch on to two new women who met the community. “I had a rule back when I through the group. We’ll see if the trend was running the group of putting yourself continues with the new organizers,” she in the place of someone new to town,” she says with a great big smile. says. “Any member who posted an event

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“ I’ve made some great friends through The Boston Gay Women’s Meetup Group and found my life partner. It was a little bit of a risk at the beginning, putting myself out there, but here I am now! ” Chris Solea Juliani had to agree to be at that event to welcome the other members.” That goes both ways, she adds. She advises new members to reach out to event organizers, get their phone number so they can text them if,


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for example, they arrive at the event site and can’t find the group. Over the years, she’s taken phone calls from women in crisis. “Maybe they’re out in Western Mass., feeling isolated, like they didn’t have a lot of community and looking for resources.” She would help them network around and find other meetups—and other resources— closer to their area. “I’ve made some great friends through The Boston Gay Women’s Meetup Group and found my life partner. It was a little bit of a risk at the beginning, putting myself out there, but here I am now!” Juliani says. “There I was, single in JP and I wanted a community, and now we’ve had over 1,500 meetups over the past 10 years with more on the schedule coming up. It was well worth it.”

MadFemmePride: Friendly, Diverse, Queer/Femme Community “I went to a meetup for the first time right as I was coming out. The purpose of me going was to make queer friends,” says Madeleine Ashley, who came to Boston as a masters degree student in counseling psychology. “I actually volunteered at my first event—handing out nametags—which I’ve since learned is what Meetup organizers flag as ‘organizer potential.’ But I didn’t know that at the time. I just thought it would be easier to meet people if I had a job,” she says. Ever since that first gathering seven years ago, Ashley—now a teacher and the lead singer, manager and song co-writer in the Boston rock band Unstraight—has been part of a team of organizers for MadFemmePride, a group that began in

February 2005 and, with well over 5,000 members, is currently the largest meetup in the Boston area. Along with hosting the group’s gathering, the organizers “scout locations, think of fun things to do, organize them, and are present at every event, handing out nametags, running mingling activities, and greeting people so that everyone feels welcome. The group is very accepting,” she adds. “Nobody’s going to be turned away if you’re not femme. You just have to be supportive of queer femmes. It tends to be more people who identify as queer femmes, obviously, but it’s not like it’s limited.” “People really do make friends in this group,” she says. “We get a lot of people who find social situations hard. So they come to MadFemmePride and they can meet a friend or just meet people to talk to. It’s not necessarily like you have to push yourself in this group; at a lot of the gatherings, there’s activities to take part in, which makes it easier.” MadFemmePride’s gatherings include a long-running book club, dance nights, “crafternoons,” “stuff swaps” and all kinds

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MadFemmePride Organizers, including Madeleine Ashley [FIRST ROW, FAR RIGHT]. of other social activities. They always march in the Pride parade “and we have a presence at the Dyke March as well. We have a picnic, and everybody’s welcome to come march with us and sit with us. Sometimes at big events people feel like they’re alone, especially if they’re new. They don’t feel alone once they come join this group,” she says. The meetup’s signature event, which Ashley organizes, is its Big Queer Show. Held every year one week before Boston Pride, the night opens with a mingling hour before the bands take the stage. Ashley’s own band, Unstraight, is among the line-up of groups with self-identified queer rockers that play at the show. “We also invite community orgs like Fenway Health and the Bisexual Resource Center to have tables so people can connect with community resources,” she says. Ashley describes MadFemmePride as “a queer, femme-centered community that is pro-trans, pro-woman and pro-femininity for all folks who

“ People have made great friendships. A lot of relationships have blossomed too, though we don’t necessarily advertise that,” she adds with a grin. “Mostly, people come and feel part of the community. ” Madeleine Ashley support femme-positive queer space.” This meetup prides itself on being open and welcoming to anyone “on the queer,

questioning, LGBTQIA spectrum who wants to meet new people, mingle and experience a little bit of the MadFemmePride friendly magic that makes our diversity-conscious, radically inclusive community so special,” she says. Like most meetups, the group is all volunteer. None of the organizers are paid for their time or work. “We do have a small budget but that’s so we can provide some of the craft supplies for the ‘crafternoons,’ pay fees to march in the parade, or put a deposit on a space,” she says. “We’re very grassroots. We’re not even registered as anything.” The focus is on personal networking. “People have made great friendships. A lot of relationships have blossomed too, though we don’t necessarily advertise that,” she adds with a grin. “Mostly, people come and feel part of the community. They feel welcome, I hope, especially if they’re new or questioning or unsure or whatever. It’s a really valuable space.”

OutBreath: LGBTQ Meditation Community

Executive coach, management consultant, author and founder of The Boston Computer Society, Jonathan Rotenberg co-founded OutBreath in July 2015 to bring together and support the region’s vibrant and growing community of LGBTQ people interested in meditation, mindfulness and Buddhism. The group’s story began in the 1990s when Buddha Buddies, an earlier meditation group in Boston popular in the mid-’90s dissolved. The sudden absence left Rotenberg and his friends “feeling bereft and lost. Our own gay identities had been our entry into Buddhism,” he says. Through Buddha Buddies, they’d discovered LGBT retreats, a community and experiences where they could talk

Outbreath meetup at Boston Women’s March for America. about issues of gender and sexuality from a spiritual perspective. In 2009, Rotenberg and his friends started OutBreath, now well over a thousand members strong. A quick glance at the schedule shows 28 upcoming events, including “Insight Meditation: A Beginner’s Workshop” in Cambridge, “Sunday Morning LGBTQ Sit and Schmooze”

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on the South Shore, “Shambahla LGBT Meditation Group” in Brookline and “Greater Boston’s Men’s Sangha.” “Sangha means community in Pali, which is the language the Buddhist teachings are in,” Rotenberg says. “First and foremost, we want OutBreath to be a really friendly, fun and accessible place for anyone who has any interest in learning

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15 Strength in numbers Jonathan Rotenberg about meditation, mindfulness or Buddhism. For anyone who’s felt interest but didn’t know where to go, we really want to make them feel extra welcome.” The same goes, he says, “for people that have some experience with meditation and want to develop their practice into their lives. It’s beautiful to see people supporting each other through meditation.” “Meetup for us was like a dream come true,” he says. “We had been struggling to find a good technology platform to do what we wanted in terms of offering multiple programs each month. We were looking for a way we could have a lot of different organizers and be able to independently announce events, recruit volunteers and send out emails. Before Meetup that was a very difficult thing to do technologically.” “I would like to be able to do more sophisticated email communications, like being able to use graphics, create newsletters and facilitate more of an online community,” he adds. “In one sense, it’s great that once you set up an LGBTQ Meetup group you’re part of a massive network of millions of users and they publicize your group to other Meetup groups too, so people just naturally hear about what you’re doing through Meetup. That’s great. The downside of it is that we are losing the direct

communication that we had [for the original pre-Meetup Buddha Buddies group] in terms of having everyone’s email addresses, having more flexibility communicating with them." Meetup stores that information and keeps it private—a good thing, except keeping it private from organizers too makes things a little tricky sometimes. “If we wanted, for any reason to move to a different platform, we wouldn’t have access to all the contact information,” he says, echoing a criticism that many group organizers share: Meetup is a fantastic platform, but at some point each organizer wants to take it further, to tailor their individual sites to better serve their members. Given the rapidly developing nature of technology in this Meetupera we’re living in, however, it’s pretty likely that Meetup is hearing this criticism loud and clear. “Overall I think Meetup is a fantastic service,” he says. “I am a big fan. Its founder and the company really understand building communities. It’s a great thing for the LGBT community. I encourage everyone to join Meetup because there’s so many ways to connect with other LGBT people.”

In the Greater Boston area, more than 500 LGBTQ-related Meetup groups host hundreds of events on any given week to thousands of local members. Typically, only a few-to-a-few-dozen members show up at any given gathering—unless it’s a special occasion like a dance party or concert, where there might be upwards of about a hundred. But there’s definitely strength in numbers: the larger the group, the more likely every one of its events will be well attended with plenty of new and familiar faces. Here’s our list of 15 of the largest groups—each with over 1,000 members—within 25 miles of Beacon Hill, plus a few words about each from their organizers. You can find them by going to, selecting your location and entering their group name. And of course there are hundreds more awesome area meetups of close to this size and fewer members too; just check out, enter your location and key in a search term like “LGBT” and get ready to meet some fantastic people.

1 Mad Femme Pride

4 The Boston Gay Professionals Meetup Group “Femme-Friendly events 5,118 MEMBERS

for all who support and respect freedom of gender expression, especially femme visibility.”

2 The Boston Gay Women’s Meetup Group 4,195 MEMBERS

“An inclusive group for women of all ages and backgrounds who identify as gay, queer or transgender women.”

3 The Non-Scene Gay Friends of Boston 4,113 MEMBERS

“Activities for new and old friends separate from the gay bar ‘scene.’”


“An outgoing and friendly group of all ages and from all walks of life, occupations and backgrounds.”

5 Greater Boston Cycling/Outdoor Fitness Group 2,588 MEMBERS

“Bring your sense of humor and desire for adventure because, yes, we even get lost sometimes as we explore new routes together.”

6 Boston Lesbian Happy Hour 2,520 MEMBERS

“A group for friendly women to meet at venues that serve alcoholic and non-alcoholic libations and sometimes food.”

7 Boston Queer Adventurers 2,456 MEMBERS

“A group for queer and queer friendly people to get together for fun adventures like bowling, camping, kayaking, paintball, laser tag, hiking, dining and more.”

8 Boston Pride Meetup 2,275 MEMBERS

“An LGBTQA social group that enjoys casual gatherings from happy hours to community picnics, sports, movies, museums and more.”

9 Boston LGBTQ & Friends 2,234 MEMBERS

“A place for all LGBTQ people to socialize in a safe and welcoming environment.”

12 OutBreath: LGBTQ Meditation Community 1,354 MEMBERS

“A vibrant, growing community in Boston for all LGBTQ people interested in meditation, mindfulness, and Buddhism.”

10 Queer Boston Board Gamers 2,159 MEMBERS

“Weekly game nights, including including board games, card games, strategy games, word games and more.”

13 LGBTQuincy Meetup

11 The Boston Dyke March 1,558 MEMBERS


“A social group for LGBTQ residents of Quincy, Massachusetts and the South Shore meeting in Quincy’s great local pubs, restaurants and public places.”

14 LGBT Travelers of Boston 1,124 MEMBERS

“A down-to-earth, friendly, and fun group of LGBT travelers from all over the United States. We like to see, taste, drink and explore the world.”

15 Bi Community Activities 1,092 MEMBERS

“A safe and supportive space for bi-identified people, their partners, interested allies, and those who wish to socialize in an inclusive LGBT community.” [x]

“A group for organizing, activism, politicizing, socializing, and staying tuned in.”

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FEATURE Sports STORY Tom Joyce

New League in Town Eight Boston teams gathering for Sunday afternoon games. PHOTO courtesy Anthony F. De Louise

VGL Kickball provides relaxed sports option for Bostonians Sundays in the fall on Boston Common give locals a chance to appreciate cool weather and the autumn foliage. While some people may walk or jog through the Common to appreciate this, there are also about 130 people who come to the Common’s softball field to play kickball in the Varsity Gay League. The league, which features eight teams with 15–17 players per team, prides itself on being LGBT friendly and as being an alternative to some of the hyper-competitive gay sports leagues in the city. “It’s a sport that has a very low barrier for entry, so it’s really open to a lot of people,” Tony De Louise, the Boston-area director of the Varsity Gay League, said. “I think other sports that require more skill like soccer and football might intimidate a lot of people. It drew a lot of people out. It’s


good for them to be able to get outside, meet new people and play sports.” This is the first season for the Varsity Gay League in Boston and De Louise got his position running it because he also has a management position with the Boston Strikers, a gay soccer team in the city. The dynamic of running a kickball league might be a little different, but it is still a challenge he enjoys. “It’s great,” De Louise said. “It’s really exciting. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and thank us for doing this and say they’re having so much fun. They’re able to get out and meet people. That’s great to see.” “The gay sports community in Boston is very friendly in general,” he added, “so I was very happy to bring kickball and make that a part of the sports.”

The games themselves are capped at 50 minutes long or after seven innings, whichever comes first, and the season runs eight weeks (six weeks of the regular season, plus two weeks for playoffs) from September to November. In its first Boston season, the league did not take long to grow in popularity. In August, the league held two free scrimmages—and a handful of players convinced their friends to join the league. “It was very grassroots,” De Louise said. “We didn’t have to do a lot of recruiting. A few people started talking to their friends about it, and then it kind of spread like wildfire. I was a little nervous about more people registering since we only have one field.” Although most of the players on any given team knew each other heading into the season, the league got close to 30 “free agents” who helped fill spots on teams of old friends.

Luke Augustino, the captain of “Faces Loaded,” brought eight of his friends in to join his team, and he said he has made eight new friends since he only knew half of his team prior to the season. “Most of us on my team haven’t played kickball since middle school, but it was still something we wanted to go out for,” Augustino said. “There’s a few other sports leagues in Boston, but they’re really competitive. This one is just a really nice and easy way to get out on a Sunday with a bunch of friends and meet new people.

It’s all about camaraderie “It was kind of clear we’d be getting to meet some new people,” he added, “plus through friends of friends you get lots of new connections. It’s been great.” Following the game, the teams go out together for drinks at the team’s sponsor, Cathedral Station. So while opposing teams battle on the field, there is no animosity when the games are over. “Even between teams, the camaraderie is great,” Augustino said. “The games can

Josh Pelletier . PHOTO courtesy Anthony F. De Louise get a little intense sometimes but after the game, we’re all friendly.” Since kickball is a sport children can play from a young age and the Varsity Gay

League got high participation numbers, they take players of varying skill levels and athletic backgrounds. “We’ve got some very athletic people,” De Louise said, “and then there’s people who have never played a sport ever. It’s great to be able to bring them all together like this.” “We just want to give people another option to be engaged,” he added. “We want it to be a way for people to make friends and stay active.” Nationally, the Varsity Gay League— which exists in 10 cities—has done more than provide locals with an opportunity to play sports. They have also given back to the community. This year, they have raised over $23,000 and have partnered with Stonewall Sports and Hotmess Sports in Nashville to benefit the Montrose Center, an organization who provides mental health services for the LGBT community in Houston, Texas. Although the Boston league started up in the fall this year, in the future there will be three sessions per year for VGL kickball— winter, summer and fall. [x]

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FEATURE Academics STORY Kim Harris Stowell

“ To hear my story,” Ninotska smiles, “you probably think I am a badass. Not true! I have been terrified for so much of the journey that got me here. But I have been true to who I am. I always held onto that. ”

Class Act How Ninotska Love—transgender refugee from Ecuador and Wellesley College sophomore—learned to thrive, not just survive Ninotska Love knew she was a girl when she was five years old. She remembers sitting in the Catholic boy’s school, gazing across at the girl’s school, wishing she could be there instead. “My body,” she says, “did not match who I was.” This is never an easy realization to act upon. And it didn’t help that she was growing up in Ecuador, a culture with strong gender role stereotypes. “It was a macho world. Boys and men are expected to be very masculine. Still,” she adds, elucidating the powerful character trait that may well have saved her—and indeed gotten her to where she is today—“I always stayed true to myself.” It was an awkward, uncomfortable childhood, she says. Her community frowned on her, labeling her a Maricon, an offensive slur referring especially to those men who appeared wimpish or queer. She found a more welcoming group among the girls in her town—and she always felt loved by her mother—but she dreamed of a life where she could be the woman she was, living fully as herself in public.


Once she made it through high school, Ninotska began taking classes at a community college in a small city nearby. It was here that she had her “first gay club experience.” It was to represent a major turning point in her life. “I could be free,” she says with a smile. “I met trans women. I could dress as myself.” The drag stage at the club attracted her, and she convinced the club owner to let her perform alongside the male drag queens. And she was a hit right from her first performance, appropriately a lip sync to “I Will Survive,” or “Yo Viviré” as it was popularized by Cuban singer Celia Cruz. Ninotska became a regular on the club stage.

Flight from Ecuador Then she was kidnapped. Although she does not like to talk about the experience, she says she was held captive by “men who thought I deserved to die because of who I was, because of what I was.” Amazingly, she was able to escape, but she knew from that moment on that she

needed to leave Ecuador, and she set her sights on the United States. In the next year, she was able to get a visa to go to Mexico—made easier because of a widespread outbreak of swine flu that was keeping tourists at bay. Although the trip was harrowing—she recalls walking through desert lands, past people’s abandoned belongings and even what appeared to be a skeleton—she made her way to the Rio Grande and the U.S. border. To say that fortune was smiling on her would be an overstatement, but she was determined to reach her destination. After paying a man to transport her across the river in his canoe, she was chased by immigration police and forced back into Mexico. She tried again the next day and was able to sneak through. “Those people who helped me,” she recalls with emotion in her voice, “they were putting their own lives at risk. I am so thankful.” The first days were rough. She credits her strong will and her belief in herself to getting her through it, but describes it as a dark time. She stayed one night at a hotel where people were packed 20 to a room, and a man next to her boasted of being a murderer. Another shady character came along, selling fake passports, which she purchased. Finally, she was able to make a tearful phone call from Laredo, Texas to her mother back home in Ecuador. “Mama, I did it,” Love remembers saying, “I’m in America.” She was 19 years old. As she ventured north, traveling costs were eating up all the money she had brought with her, and there was often not enough for food. She made it to North

Carolina, where she was able to stay with a relative for a short period of time. She got a job cleaning college dormitories, and then another at McDonald’s. But it was crowded at the small house, and she yearned to be in New York City, “the city of dreams,” and soon she was on her way again.

A first Thanksgiving When she finally got to New York, she looked up another connection—a cousin’s former boyfriend—and was offered a place to stay in the attic in

his building. That attic was where she observed her first Thanksgiving, and she was indeed thankful, but scratching out a living was difficult. She found another McDonald’s job, plunged herself into learning to speak English and eventually discovered the New York City LGBT Center, another turning point. “I am so grateful to the Center,” she says. “Everyone was amazing. They gave me so much help, but they also really inspired me to think about my purpose. I knew then that I wanted to help people.” She began volunteering at the

Center, handing out condoms at events and helping whenever she had the time. She was referred to the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, where she was able to meet with a psychologist and start a program of hormone therapy, her first steps in the transition to affirm her gender identity. Through the Center, she also met John Sanchez, an attorney who helped her to apply for asylum. He also helped her to change her name and gender markers. “That man, he made me cry my eyes out,” she remembers appreciatively. “He helped me so much, and he made me

NOV|DEC 2017 | 51

“ I am going to the same school that produced Hilary Clinton. The sisterhood here, and the empowerment of women is so important to me. These women are killing it! My job is to absorb as much as I can, learning from my professors but also my fellow students. ” even more determined to find my place in the world.” Meanwhile, Ninotska was working long hours for low pay and no health insurance. She had paid for her genderaffirming cosmetic surgery out of pocket, about which she is very proud, but she knew she wanted more from life. Attorney Sanchez and the Center staff had lit a new fire within her that spurred her on to return to pursuing an education. After two semesters at LaGuardia Community College, she made it into the honors program and was able to attend a summer program at Vassar College, giving her a first taste of a private American college campus. She began to set new goals. This led her to the Kaplan Educational Foundation, an organization that seeks to eliminate barriers to education for overlooked and underserved students. Executive Director Nancy Lee Sánchez recalls meeting her while delivering a presentation to high achieving students at LaGuardia. “When you meet Ninotska,” Sanchez says, “you understand she’s on

a path to achieve the most she can achieve as soon as possible. She arrived a little after the presentation started and quickly raised her hand to say, “I’m sorry about being late, but I couldn’t miss this!” She had been working with us by phone on her application to our program, as she wanted to explain why she had different names on her academic records.” Ninotska was accepted to the program and worked with Sanchez on her personal goals. She knew she wanted to be an advocate for the LGBT community but was still struggling with how to talk about her own experiences, due to the complex intersectionality of the place in which she found herself; she was a refugee fleeing oppressive and dangerous conditions, an immigrant trying to learn English and adapting to a new country, a transgender woman, an adult learner, and a firstgeneration student with limited resources. Any one of these factors could have prevented her from achieving her highest potential.

“For an entire year,” Sanchez says,” we worked with her in identifying top colleges where she’d be able to develop her voice, engage in intense critical thinking and be challenged. We knew she needed to attend a school where her identity could be shared and celebrated, and where she would get the support services needed to thrive, not just survive. Wellesley College was the perfect place for her, and I remember her feeling instantly connected to the school when we took her there as part of the college visits we do with each of our scholars.”

Making the grade The college application process itself was difficult to navigate, compounded by Ninotska’s complicated story. Particularly difficult was the Common Application, which

asked questions about her gender, worded in such a way that—in order for her application to even reach a women’s college—she was forced to lie. But Kaplan went above and beyond, advocating for her directly with the school. And the Common App. is today much broader in its gender identity options, thanks, in part, to Ninotska’s input. “My life completely changed when I found Kaplan,” says Ninotska. “They supported me both educationally and personally.” She was able to apply to be a Davis Scholar, a special program at Wellesley designed to accommodate women pursuing an education at a nontraditional time in their lives. Needless to say, she was accepted as a Wellesley student and began classes as a sophomore in September. “As soon as I got here,” she says, “my feet rooted like a

tree. Everyone was so supportive and welcoming. I think back to when I was cleaning dormitories and how I am a Wellesley student now. I can take any classes I want. I can go to the dining hall. Thinking about where I’ve been, that is a big deal.” She has not yet declared a major, but she is considering women’s studies or pre-law. “I am going to the same school that produced Hilary Clinton,” she exclaims. “The sisterhood here, and the empowerment of women is so important to me. These women are killing it! My job is to absorb as much as I can, learning from my professors but also my fellow students.” Says Dean Susan Cohen, director of the Davis Degree Program, “Ninotska brings to Wellesley not only her extraordinary experiences but also the intelligence, empathy

and imagination that will let her build on those experiences and use her education to make a positive difference in the world. It took enormous courage and strength for her to realize her own identity in the face of substantial obstacles, and she is determined to help reduce those obstacles for others. I am confident that she will take full advantage of what Wellesley has to offer inside and outside the classroom.” “To hear my story,” Ninotska smiles, “you probably think I am a badass. Not true! I have been terrified for so much of the journey that got me here. But I have been true to who I am. I always held onto that. And when I hear stories in the news, like about the Dreamers, the young people that would be affected by changes in DACA, I cry for them. I want to do everything I can to be ready. I want to change the world.” [x]

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SEASONAL Holiday STORY Scott Kearnan

Meet the

Merry Makers Behind the scenes of some of the season’s most beloved LGBT traditions Deck the halls and grab your jingle balls. The holidays are here, and they’re queer—if you know where to look. Though this time of year is filled with many timeless traditions, LGBT folks have often felt left out. Some are made to feel unwelcome at their family’s Thanksgiving table. Others are alienated by religious customs. Many others simply find it difficult to channel holiday cheer during a time when the rights of LGBT people, and other marginalized groups, feel increasingly under threat. But one of the greatest things about being gay (or bi, or trans, or…) is that we also get to build chosen families within our community, with whom to share in the joy of the season. So here are a handful of LGBT-oriented local traditions to light up your not-so-silent nights. They flame brighter than a Yule log, and we love it.


Celebration of Life This year, the Boston Living Center marks the 30th anniversary of an annual tradition—and maybe, just maybe, the birth of a new one. Once again, the BLC, a community and resource center that provides support and services for HIVpositive members, will host the Celebration of Life, a yearly event that turns the Hynes Convention

Center into a massive dinner party for members and their guests, giving those living with illness—many of whom may be dealing with other issues, like housing instability or addiction—a supportive respite from a world that can still stigmatize. But for the first time since it launched in 1988, the Celebration

of Life was actually held in a private home, a grassroots effort to bring HIVpositive men together for comfort and support during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Of course, much has changed since then—and so has the BLC. Davino says the organization has evolved to recognize the changing face of the disease—communities of color are now disproportionately represented in new infections, for instance—and evolve programs and services. There’s a larger emphasis on nutrition and wellness services, recognizing that HIV-positive people, with proper care, now live much longer lives.

of Life will not be held in conjunction with Thanksgiving. Instead the event will take place on December 14, reframed as a more general “Holiday Party.” Depending on how the party plays out, it may or may not be a permanent move, says Marc Davino, vice president of development and communications at the BLC’s parent nonprofit Victory Programs. The BLC is also looking to host its largest crowd to date—1,000 people—and has set a fundraising goal of $135,000 between corporate sponsors, individual contributors and the donated “tips” secured by over 300 volunteer servers from their supportive friends, family and coworkers. The timing change was a necessary one because the Hynes Convention Center, which has donated the space to the BLC for decades—saving about $50,000 for the organization, says Davino—was unable to accommodate the usual date. The move received the thumbs up from an advisory board of BLC members and from the sister of the late Peter Clark, a founding BLC member who helped launch the annual dinner. The first Celebration

The Celebration of Life has a chance to evolve now too. This year’s dinner will feature sing-alongs and drag entertainment—including performer Verna Turbulence, whose out-of-wig alter ego, Daniel Faucher, will receive this year’s Peter Daniel Clark Award for his advocacy on behalf of those with HIV/AIDS. For the past 20 years, Faucher’s “Drag Brunch” events have raised between $10,000 and $15,000 annually for the BLC. Owing to the early, devastating impact that AIDS had on the gay community, LGBT folks continue to be heavily represented among BLC supporters, says Davino. Perhaps it is also because we have an acute understanding of what it means to feel alienated and stigmatized. “So many [LGBT] people know what it is like to be without family support, and to be left totally on your own,” says Davino. This year’s Celebration of Life also marks a personal anniversary for Davino. It will be 10 years since he first attended dinner as a volunteer, joined by his mother. He came on board the organization shortly after, but the dinner still holds a special place in his heart. He keeps a thank-you note from a grateful guest on his desk as inspiration and motivation. “The love you feel in that world is incomparable,” says Davino. “It doesn’t feel like a job.”

Community Servings’ 25th Annual “Pie in the Sky” The Boston Living Center’s Celebration of Life isn’t the only foodfocused event for the HIV-positive community that is celebrating a milestone. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Pie in the Sky, a fundraiser founded by Community Servings CEO David Waters as a response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The annual event takes Thanksgiving dessertmaking off our shoulders by selling pies professionally baked by dozens of participating restaurants. In its first year, the effort sold about 1,000 pies and raised approximately $25,000. A quarter-century later, it sells over 21,000 pies and raises approximately $800,000 annually for the Jamaica Plain-based organization. Community Servings has evolved and grown too. It began as a coalition delivering hot, nutritious meals to those homebound with HIV/AIDS, but has since expanded its services to care for clients—over 90 percent living in poverty—with more than 35 different life-threatening illnesses. Now about 560,000 free meals are delivered to 1,850 people per year over 300 square miles of eastern Massachusetts. Earlier this year, Boston Spirit talked to David Waters about the impetus behind Pie in the Sky, which he launched in 1993, six years before he became Community Servings’ CEO. “I was starting out in theater and restaurants during that scariest time of AIDS, and there was a tremendous amount of loss in those communities,” he said. “Both communities were early to galvanize. I came to Community Servings to find my own response to the fear of HIV.” Pie in the Sky has been an amazing response, any way you slice it. For more information or to order pies, visit

For more information on the Celebration of Life or to volunteer, visit

NOV|DEC 2017 | 55

Toys4Joys Between office holiday shindigs, Christmas cocktail parties and New Year’s Eve celebrations, social calendars tend to get crammed full during this time of year. But we’ll always make time for Toys4Joys. Over the last 15 years, this annual toy drive has grown from a simple, heartfelt home party to a full-scale holiday extravaganza that brings together hundreds of giftbearing guests (mostly gay). Over 3,000 toys are collected annually, delivering smiles to underserved kids via beneficiaries like the Boston Housing Authority and the Teddy Bear Foundation for Foster Children, another gay-founded effort led by Lawrence’s Tim Davis, a former foster child himself. And as its good works have grown, so has its reputation. Toys4Joys, held this year on December 8 at Boston’s Revere Hotel, has become one of the season’s most anticipated gay social events—in part because it never forgot its smaller, communitybased beginnings.


“We’re not a formal event. We’re more like a huge cocktail party, and we try to not make it feel too corporate,” says Toys4Joys founder James Rifino. Before Toy4Joys was filling up hotel event venues, it started as a small Christmas party at Rifino’s home in 2002. His intimate group of guests brought toys and gifts to donate, and by 2007 he had assembled a board of fellow gay professionals to transform the event into a large-scale public bash. Toys4Joys is now a 501c3 nonprofit, and highest-level sponsorships go for $7,500. Rifino is ripe with ideas on what to do next. In the future, he hopes to expand the Toys4Joys mission beyond its current status as a gift-giving Secret Santa for kids who would otherwise go without. He’d like to see Toys4Joys eventually support homeless LGBT youth by partnering with LGBT-owned businesses that would be willing to offer employment opportunities and professional mentoring. That would help these teens get off the street,

get back to school and begin rebuilding a life. “I’m pushing 50 and my husband is 53. Both of us grew up during the AIDS epidemic, when a lot of people perished,” explains Rifino. “A lot of the people that came before us, that could have been mentors, are not here today. We’re old enough now and in a place where we can be that for the next generation.” Though the event certainly attracts its share of allies and support from the local business community, that dedication to LGBT community is a big part of its continued success. “People still feel like they can go to our event and it will be a predominantly LGBT group,” says Rifino. “I think that makes a huge difference. It’s wonderful that we’re incorporated into society now, but there’s very little left that feels our own.” And around the holidays, especially in contentious political climes, that sense of kinship is especially important. Rifino says he is “beyond familiar” with the

Hope for the Holidays Toys4Joys does a tremendous job in its mission of bringing holiday merriment to less fortunate kids, but there are many more ways to make meaningful contributions to a variety of causes this winter. Here are three more upcoming events that will give you a chance to give back and do good.

Sojourner House Masquerade Ball Friday, November 17, at the Providence Biltmore, Providence RI

experience of being disappointed by the politics of certain blood relations. That makes time with chosen family all the more important. “I think it gives everyone a little more comfort and cheer when we have our own holiday party together,” he says of Toys4Joys’ emerging local legacy as a gay holiday gathering. “You can enjoy the holidays in a non-political atmosphere where you probably don’t have to worry about frustrating conversations.” “As a community, we are chosen family. And there is more to be said for that today than there has been in a long time.”

For tickets to Toys4Joys and information on sponsorship and donating, visit

Although domestic and sexual violence epidemic is most widely associated with opposite-sex couples, research shows that domestic violence occurs at equal or higher rates in same-sex relationships—and LGBT people often face additional stigma and lack of resources when trying to find help. The 1976-founded Sojourner House stands out for taking the fight against LGBT partner abuse seriously. The organization is credited with launching the Ocean State’s first lesbian advocacy program in 1995 and gay advocacy program in 2003, and offers dedicated LGBTQ+ services. Support their work alongside 400 other guests at this annual black-tie masquerade ball, a Hollywood-themed affair with live music, neo-vaudeville performers, and a cake competition. LuLu Locks will emcee and local drag legend Miss Kitty Litter will make a special appearance. Tickets:

Boston Trans Day of Remembrance Sunday, November 19 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston Here’s a simple way to support trans people: Show up. While the holidays are a time for celebration they’re also a time to offer solemn reflection on the year that was, the friends lost and the work that needs to be done—especially on behalf of our community’s most marginalized members. Trans people continue to be disproportionately targeted for violence: 2016 saw a record 27 transgender people killed by fatal hate violence nationwide, according to

GLAAD. It’s impossible to know how many others may go unreported or misreported. Every year, the worldwide transgender community and its allies gather for a day of remembrance, a tradition inspired by the 1998 murder of Rita Hester, a trans woman from Allston. Bostonians can show their support with this service and vigil followed by a community potluck and hosted by the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. Look out for similar events in cities throughout New England. More info, or to make a donation:

Triangle Community Center’s Gay Santa program Getting gifts is great. But for those in need, knowing that someone cares is also invaluable. Offer both by signing up to be a “Gay Santa” with the Triangle Community Center, which for nearly 30 years has been the only organization in Connecticut’s Fairfield County exclusively focused on the LGBTQ community. The center coordinates an array of programs and services, but during the holidays it accepts letters from LGBTQ youth and LGBTQ persons in need—those who are homeless, low-income, or otherwise lacking support—for gifts that cost up to $100. These handwritten requests are then paired to a “Gay Santa” (that could be you) who purchases the gift and mails or delivers it to the center. During a holiday dinner and party on December 20, the letter writers receive their gifts—and the comfort of knowing that someone out there wanted to help. Be that somebody, and sign up today. To sign up, email: katelyn@

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The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus Even those of us who love the winter holidays usually hate thinking about them before we have to. There’s just something enervating about seeing Santa Claus decorations in stores in September.

hit the stage in December for its winter show, titled “Believe.” 2017 was the BGMC’s 35th anniversary year, and this holiday spectacular will add another notch to its broadening, Saint Nick-sized belt of successful seasons.

of the holidays, we see so much good going around us.”

But for Reuben Reynolds, music director of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, looking (far) ahead simply goes with the territory.

“Believe” will interpret traditional holiday songs in new ways and offer caroling-style context to modern tunes. Expect a reimagining of Schubert’s 1825-composed “Ave Maria” to coexist with Sinead O’Connor’s 1997 release “This Is to Mother You.” The BGMC concert will also include a number of songs from the film “The Polar Express,” says Reynolds, including the Josh Groban tune “Believe” that inspired the concert’s name.

“We try very hard to not be specifically political,” says Reynolds. “But we try to remind people that ours is a welcoming and inclusive community, where they can come together and celebrate both their differences and likenesses—a place where the marginalized can come and feel the warm embrace of community.”

“I’m already planning our holiday program for 2018!” says Reynolds. For once, we totally get it. After all, we look forward to the Chorus’s winter concerts every year too. For many, it’s an annual tradition to file into Jordan Hall to see those rows of 200-plus dapper, tuxedoed performers singing yuletide favorites and seasonal surprises—punctuated, of course, by some festively attired dancers to stuff a little extra gay glitter in our sonic stocking. We’ll have our chance again soon. Reynolds may be planning for the far future, but the BGMC will more immediately

Reynolds says the message of that song summed up the spirit of the show. “It’s a wonderful sentiment,” says Reynolds. “That you already have everything you need inside of you, if you listen to your heart. During the special time

“ We try very hard to not be specifically political. But we try to remind people that ours is a welcoming and inclusive community, where they can come together and celebrate both their differences and likenesses — a place where the marginalized can come and feel the warm embrace of community.”

Reuben Reynolds Music director of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus


He knows that for many LGBT people, that uplifting message feels especially welcome at the end of a particularly turbulent year.

Even if the concert isn’t overly political, the BGMC certainly has a tradition of using music to open hearts and minds in important, impactful ways. This is the same group that delivered CDs of the song “Marry Us” to Beacon Hill lawmakers back when they were debating equal marriage in Massachusetts. It’s the same group that became the first LGBT chorus to tour the Middle East two years ago. And next year the chorus will travel to

Not-So-Silent Nights South Africa, where their concerts will raise money for an organization that helps relocate persecuted LGBT people from other African countries. Back at home, the BGMC continues to make its mark just by singing out, singing loud and singing proud—with plenty of signature festive fierceness. “We always try to include new holiday music that talks about our lives and experiences,” says Reynolds. This year, for instance, they’ll perform a song called “Merry Christmas, I Win,” by artist Ernie Lijoi. “It’s told from the viewpoint of a bitchy queen talking to her friends, saying ‘I got a mink, you got a rabbit, I got diamonds, you got Zirconium,” he laughs. It’s merry—and very, very gay. “You’ve got to own it!” says Reynolds. Sing it, sister.

The BGMC presents “Believe” at Jordan Hall in Boston from December 10-17. For tickets, visit

Besides the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, New England is lucky to have a number of LGBT groups that will keep us wassailing between the region’s cities. Here are a few carol singers to catch.

Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus— “Twinkle: A Celestial Celebration” Let the stars guide you to New Haven to see this chorus recently voted “Best Vocal Group in Connecticut” by readers of “Connecticut magazine.” Their awesomely astronomical holiday show will feature twists on holiday classics plus the area premiere of “Stargazing” by James Eakin, voted one of the top 10 works for a men’s chorus and orchestra by the American Choral Directors Association. When: December 10–17. Where: New Haven, CT. How: Tickets at

Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus—“From Tinseltown to Times Square: A Holiday Adventure” Enough with the hymns! Though we’re all for traditional songs, film and theater have produced some of the most memorable contemporary Christmas classics. The HGMC will take you on a show-tune-filled spin through seasonal appropriate tunes. When: December 8–10. Where: Hartford, CT. How: Tickets at

Maine Gay Men’s Chorus—“Joyful, Joyful” The Pine Tree State isn’t just a great place to find a Christmas fir. It’s also where you’ll find the MGMC and its annual holiday concert. Following recent years’ themes like “Snowfall”

and “Winter Wonderland,” 2017’s “Joyful, Joyful” promsies a night of holiday tunes to put a spritely spring in your step. When: December 8–10. Where: Portland, ME. How: Tickets at

New Hampshire Gay Men’s Chorus— “Celebrating the Holidays” Give a standing ovation to this group. Not only will these Granite State singers bring their 20th anniversary holiday concert series to multiple cities throughout New Hampshire, they’re also performing several special outreach concerts. They’ll commemorate World AIDS Day at an interfaith service in Concord, and brings smiles to elder residents at three different assisted living centers throughout December. Good going, gents. When: December 2–10. Where: Nashusa, Portsmouth, Concord and Manchester, NH. How: Dates and tickets at

Providence Gay Men’s Chorus—“Holiday Kaleidoscope” Head to Little Rhody to hear the big voices of the PGMC. The 40-plus member chorus’s “Holiday Kaleidoscope” will celebrate the full spectrum of our community, and for a good cause: the Friday, December 8 concert will benefit the RI Parkinson’s Association. When: December 7–10. Where: Providence, RI. How: Tickets at

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amazing insights By Lisa M. Cukier, Esq. Donald E. Vaughan, Esq.

Fatebook: Control of Electronic Data and Social Media Sites When You Are Gone As 2017 draws to a close, you may be thinking about goals and resolutions for the coming year. Estate planning may not always be top of mind when it comes to a New Year resolution, but it's important to consider it a priority, particularly for same sex couples (especially ones who are not married) and as our lives become more complicated and increasingly digital. We've written before about specific concerns for same sex couples to consider in planning their estates, but one emerging trend is how to deal with the "digital assets" one has. It seems members of the LGBTQ community may be even more digitally connected than the general population, making this issue all the more important to us. Did you know digital assets now account for a significant part of an individual's estate? They consist of digital media rights that can be inherited. Digital estates can include data stored on cell phones and laptops, banking and investment accounts, music purchases from iTunes and apps like Spotify, email accounts, and even audiobook collections. Passwords, encryption so�ware, computer crime regulations, and data privacy laws can make it nearly impossible for a loved one or executor to access these assets a�er your death. Planning ahead can help to make an inherently difficult situation a little bit easier.

Here are some useful tips to help you when planning your estate in the digital age. • Make an inventory and a secure list of passwords for digital/online accounts. Make a list of your online accounts, so your loved ones know what you have and where to find it. Be sure to include usernames and passwords for all of your electronic devices; insurance plans; and bank, utility, email, and other significant online accounts you use. (Yes, Grindr, Scruff, GirlfriendsMeet and the like all fall within this category.) Having access to a username/password makes it much easier for an heir to access these programs, and allows them to print out hard copies of financial records and statements ...continued

in case the account later gets deleted. In addition to banking, you should also include things like airline and hotel reward programs, photo-sharing websites, etc. Once you have a full inventory of accounts and passwords, store them in a locked file cabinet or home safe. • Consolidate your accounts. Some accounts can be consolidated. Combining financial accounts not only makes them easier to keep track of, but can also make it easier for your loved ones to find information a�er you're gone. If you insist on having multiple accounts across different banks, make sure the individual account information is listed as part of your inventory. • Make a list of bills that are paid online. Not having access to the deceased's online accounts could mean bills that are normally paid online go unpaid. The estate is responsible for existing debt, so missing payments could cause a huge headache for your beneficiaries. This also can prevent recurring bills that may be set to "auto-pay" from continuing to be paid a�er the service is no longer needed, such as newspaper and magazine subscriptions. • Provide instructions for social media and email accounts. Somebody will have to make decisions regarding what to do about your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Facebook allows an option to report a user's death or setup a memorial page, while Twitter can either be shut down or given to somebody else to take over. Consider who you are connected with on social media before making any decisions. You may be friends with people who would only know something happened to you via social media. Then, write down what your preferences are going forward. They will need your login and password to delete accounts. • Provide access and instructions for sentimental family assets. Digital photography and videos allow for the simplicity of access for everyone. Instead of fighting over who gets the photo of Mom and Dad on their 40th anniversary, a simple fix is to set up a family photo-sharing site. Websites like Shutterfly and Photobucket allow users to upload photos that can be viewed by everyone who has login information. Photos can then be ordered as hard copies right from the website. • Beware of fraud. A�er a loved one passes and you've been able to access the information necessary, make sure you shut down and close accounts for security reasons. Prevent identity the� and fraud by notifying credit card companies and other lenders that the person has died. The company will then report the status to the credit-reporting companies and it will become part of their file. If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, the SSA should also be notified. • Provide consent in legal documents. Work with an estate-planning attorney to update your wills and powers of attorney. Make sure you give lawful consent for providers to give the contents of your electronic communications to the appropriate people.

As digital assets change, the laws surrounding them are changing as well. Talk with a Burns & Levinson attorney about what steps you can take to ensure your digital assets are properly inherited. Lisa M. Cukier • | Donald E. Vaughan •

The Gold Dust Orphans Sometimes you feel like a “Nutcracker.” Sometimes you just feel like a nut.

Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” that gets Landry’s ticklish treatment.

Thankfully, during those latter periods, we have the Gold Dust Orphans. For several decades now, the frequently freaky, always irreverent, spectacularly subversive theater company founded by writer, performer and director Ryan Landry has been a reliable and wellrespected source of satirical shows that are soaked through and through with a queer sensibility. And the annual holiday productions are probably among audience favorites. Whenever we’ve needed a break from straight-laced suburbanites and Tchaikovsky scores, we’ve had uproarious Orphans shows like “Silent Night of the Lambs,” “All About Christmas Eve” and “Rudolph the Red Necked Reindeer.”

“My part-time Provincetown pal Ryan

The tradition continues this winter, when the Gold Dust Orphans kicks off a month-long run of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jesus?” at the end of November. Like most Orphans shows, the production will put satirical spins on familiar source material, imbuing edgy comedy and timely commentary along the way. In this case, obviously, it’s Bette and Joan’s camp classic “What


“ If displaying that truth onstage in my work means offending someone, I really can’t and absolutely will not feel bad about that. Nor will I make apologies for the truth. The truth must always win over everyone’s feelings, including my own.”

Ryan Landry artistic direct of the Gold Dust Orphans

Murphy has gone and done ‘Feud’ based on the backstage story of ‘Baby Jane,’ and all the queens are once again drooling over the story,” says Landry. The show also interweaves elements of other classic films like “Shadow of a Doubt,” “The Best Years of Our Lives” and “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte.” It’s been a good year for the Gold Dust Orphans. The troupe brought “Greece,” its fun mash-up of Trojan togas and a 1950s sock-hop, to a theatrical run in NYC’s East Village. Next up, the company will take on tour “5 to 9,” a

hilarious glimpse inside the lives of Donald Trump’s three overworked secretaries, reaching cities like New Orleans, San Francisco and Los Angeles. And spring and summer of 2018 will see a brand-new musical marriage of “Brokeback Mountain” and “Oklahoma!” that is aptly titled—wait for it—“BROKELAHOMO!” But the holidays are a special time for Landry. After all, the very first Orphans production was a holiday show: 1995’s “How Mrs. Grinchley Swiped Christmas.” Thus began a journey that took its creator well past his own humble holiday beginnings. “I grew up in a trailer park, so Christmas was always a bit cramped,” says Landry, reflecting on his own holiday memories. “When dinner was over, I would turn my attention to the lights on the tree, staring at them for the longest time until my eyes crossed, praying the colors would turn into a space ship and carry me far, far away.” “What can I say? I was a weird kid.” We’re so thankful for it. In a world of increasingly sanitized humor, Landry remains an evangelist of queer culture’s more provocative side. “My work

“White Christmas” The Ogunquit Playhouse gets plenty of gay guests, given that it’s located in one of northern New England’s most notable LGBT getaway locales. But take note: It will actually perform its production of Irving Berlin’s classic “White Christmas” at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It’s a mustsee—just remember to show up at the right place, lest you be left in the cold. When: November 29–December 17. Where: The Music Hall, Portsmouth, NH. How: Tickets at

“A Christmas Story, The Musical”

The Show Queen’s Christmas List doesn’t exactly set out to offend,” he says. “It is a merely a reflection, a true testimony on how I see the world.” “If displaying that truth onstage in my work means offending someone, I really can’t and absolutely will not feel bad about that. Nor will I make apologies for the truth. The truth must always win over everyone’s feelings, including my own.” That’s not to say his art is inconsiderate. For instance, he says he consulted transgender friends about the title of 2015’s holiday show, “Little Orphan Tranny.” After reading the script, he says, “they were all happy to realize the true message of the story—which was that, though we all have struggles, we must all remain equals.” And however you package it, that kind of message is one hell of a holiday a gift.

For more info on the Gold Dust Orphans and to purchase tickets to “Whatever Happened to Baby Jesus?” visit and

“A Christmas Carol” Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future at this 40-year Rhode Island tradition, a live presentation of the Charles Dickens classic. To keep thing interesting, this year Trinity Repertory Company has invited community groups from across the state to perform in the show. See it on November 17 or 18 to catch members of Youth Pride. When: November 9–December 31. Where: Trinity Repertory Company, Providence, RI. How: Tickets at

Hurry! Before Fox airs its live television musical in December, be first in line to see the stage adaptation of this time-honored tale of a boy, his BB gun, a bunny suit, and a tawdry lampshade shaped like a leg. You’ll be humming tunes like “Major Award” and “Sticky Situation” all through the end of the year. When: November 9–12. Where: The Hanover Theater, Worcester, MA. How: Tickets at

“ELF the Musical” The 1940s gave us “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The 1980s gave us “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” And the Aughties gave us “Elf,” the funny Will Ferrell-starring flick that became a modern holiday classic. Now the musical version has arrived, like a bowtopped gift from the North Pole. It delivers the same slyness, sweetness and silliness of the movie. When: November 28–December 1. Where: Wang Theatre, Boston. How: Tickets at

“Christmas Queens”

“Urban Nutcracker”

Category is: Mistletoe eleganza! Join alums of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on a national tour filled with festive, fierce and flipping funny holiday-themed outfits, song and dance. Line-ups vary by city, but Boston will get season four winner Sharon Needles, season five winner Jinkx Monsoon, season nine runner-up Peppermint (‘tis the season!) and season-spanning standouts Willam, Manila Luzon, Ginger Minj, Thorgy Thor and Phi Phi O’Hara. “Drag Race” judge Michelle Visage hosts, and we can’t wait to shantay our way over. When: December 19. Where: Royale, Boston, MA. How: Tickets at

While the Boston Ballet’s annual production will never get old, sometimes it’s fun to remix a classic. The “Urban Nutcracker,” now in its 17th year, is the creation by Tony Williams, the first African-American principle dancer in the Boston Ballet—so you can expect that kind of topnotch talent in his company. Fusing modern elements like hip-hop dance and Duke Ellington with classic ballet, it’s a phenomenal take on a tradition. When: December 19–31. Where: John Hancock Hall, Boston. How: Tickets at

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Holly Folly For many LGBT folks, a summer trip to Provincetown for Carnival is a rite of passage. But on the other side of the calendar is another tradition, one that shows off the best parts of P’town in a totally different light—and, well, with a few more layers of clothing on. For several decades, Holly Folly has been the jolliest time of year to visit. The Provincetown Business Guild bills the weekend-long winter event series, which runs this year December 1–3, as the world’s only LGBT-focused holiday festival. It captures the tip of Cape Cod’s crook at its coziest. Waterfront businesses dress their buildings to the nines with sparkling decorations. Inn fireplaces crackle while guests gather around pianos for sing-alongs. There is a holiday revue at the Crown and Anchor, a Snow Ball dance party at the A-House and a Jingle Bell Run down the middle of Commercial Street that ends (where else?) at a champagne brunch. And that’s just for starters. “The whole place is just full of cheer,” says Robin Lapidus, executive director of the Provincetown Business Guild. “The goal is to


increase opportunities for people to experience Provincetown and all its fabulous LGBTQIA flavor in any season.” Helping that along is news that this year, for the first time, Bay State Cruise Company is extending Boston–Provincetown shuttling on its Fast Ferry through November 5. If ridership is strong enough, says Lapidus, they will extend it through Thanksgiving. While that won’t quite get you all the way to Holly Folly, it’s a show of the town’s commitment to making off-season travel even easier. Which makes sense, because Holly Folly in particular is an excellent boon to local businesses. Visitors who want to make headway on their gift lists are encouraged to take advantage of the Holly Folly Shop Hop, a raffle with tiered prizes based on shoppers’ cumulative receipt totals. Many businesses that are otherwise shuttered for the winter season reopen just for Holly Folly, an investment of time and staffing resources that shows how successful the event remains—and how committed Provincetown is to keeping this holiday tradition alive.

First Light Provincetown There’s also the even newer tradition of First Light Provincetown. The third annual installment of P’town’s New Year’s festivities will include fireworks, a polar plunge in the ocean and plenty of dance parties. Indeed, the years ahead look bright for Provincetown. Although it has long been recognized as America’s oldest continuous art colony, in 2017 Provincetown was officially designated a Massachusetts Cultural District, which makes the town eligible for a host of new grants.

First Nights 2017 has been quite an—eventful!—year. That’ll happen, when you have a Twitter triggerfinger in the White House. This year was also a wake-up call to LGBT folks that the progress we’ve made can’t be taken for granted. So let’s march into 2018 with renewed purpose— and yes, optimism too. To get things off on the right foot, here are a few ways to celebrate the New Year in cities around New England.

Boston First Night New England’s largest city will host its annual line-up of free events, from a midnight light show in Copley Square to art and musical performances held in venues throughout Back Bay. Of course, you’ll also want to check out the special festivities that go down at favorite gay bars like Club Café, where the New Year’s Eve parties are always packed. More:

That said, there are some challenges in continuing to expand Provincetown’s vibrant calendar. Lapidus says many local business owners are concerned about new limitations on H-2B visa holders, international workers who comprise a huge swath of seasonal staffs in places like Provincetown. These workers are vital to the summer season and special events like Holly Folly, she says.

First Night Burlington

“It’s not cheery to talk about, but anyone who cares about P’town needs to call their reps,” says Lapidus. There’s also the Guild’s goal of maintaining and protecting Provincetown’s historic LGBT identity even while embracing increased tourism from allies. For starters, in time for Holly Folly the Provincetown Business Guild will debut a new “LGBTQIA Welcome Center” on Commercial Street, says Lapidus. “When people come here, we want them to feel like they’ve come home,” says Lapidus. “We’re your extended family.” And boy, does it feel fine to be home for the holidays.

For more information and full schedules of events for Holly Folly and First Light Provincetown, visit

First Night Northampton The “lesbian capital of America” will host its 33rd “First Night” festival, hosted by the Northampton Arts Council. Buy a button for access to all the arts events, and plan on “ooh!” and “ah!” over fireworks displays and the yearly midnight “ball raising” at the Hotel Northampton. More:

First Night Hartford Connecticut’s capital will be in the spirit for its 29th First Night festivities, which include not one, but two firework displays throughout the day and night. From horse-drawn carriage rides to ice skating in Bushnell Park, there’ll be plenty of charming options — and you can close things out at the city’s last 7-days-per-week gay bar, Chez Est. More:

Vermont’s biggest city makes the arts the focal point of its annual event, which it bills as the longeststanding private New Year’s Eve celebration of its kind in the US. Music, dance and theatrical performances take over about 17 venues across the city and run for about 13 hours of fun and celebration. More:

First Night Portsmouth This adorable New Hampshire seaport is also host to the Granite State’s only First Night-affiliated series of events. Launched in 1986, First Night Portsmouth fills the town with fireworks, musical performances and more. Close things out with cocktails at The Red Door, a gay-friendly lounge that always books the best DJs in the city. More:

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SEASONAL Scrapbook COMPILED Rob Phelps

‘Stronger Together’ Stories of 2017 Notable newsmakers from a challenging year

Looking back over the past year, it’s hard not to view just about everything through a political lens. And— though we’re thankful for many great stories that gave us all a chance to take some well-deserved breathers—that might not be such a bad thing. If there’s any silver lining to the regressive policies and actions of the new administration that swept into Washington back in January, it’s the strong sense of new activism that has emerged in the resistance movements across the country and around the world. If we learned anything from the events that shaped 2017, it is that we truly are stronger together. Here of some of our favorite standout stories that prove exactly that:

Women’s March

New activists

“We can whimper. We can whine. Or we can fight back! We come here to stand shoulder to shoulder to make clear: We are here! We will not be silent! We will not play dead! We will fight for what we believe in!”

“If you’re disappointed in your elected officials,” President Obama said in his farewell address, “grab a clipboard, get some signatures and run for office yourself.”

On January 21, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren cried out these words over the Boston Common to a crowd The Boston Globe estimated at more than 175,000 people strong. All told, the Boston Women’s March for American—plus events all over New England, in the national’s capital and around the world—brought together an estimated 4.5 million women, men and kids to stand up for shared progressive values and to protest the draconian party platform put forth by the Republican party under the Trump administration. Speakers at the Boston march also included Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. As Boston March organizers put it, the day was for everyone—“women, immigrants, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQIA … all of us.”

Enter Boston’s Emerge class of ’17, which doubled in applications for its training program after the election. The national women’s public advocacy group Emerge preps those interested in entering public life though an intensive six-month (January–June for this post election surge) training program for Democratic women who plan to run for office or take a seat on a local board or commission. To accommodate the demand of nearly 50 women, the Bay State group decided to add a second class instead of turning away applicants. “Emerge has really tried to step up and expand their offerings after the surge of interest following this election,” notes Gretchen Van Ness notes, the first openly gay president of the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association and cofounder of the national LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal. Van Ness is also one who felt moved to do something positive the morning after the 2016 presidential election. And she’s fired up about Emerge. “There are women in this group who want to run for their local human rights commission or their local school board all the way up to people who want to run for state rep and Congress,” she says. “This is the coolest thing about the new activism. People are looking at what we can do about the things we care about most.”


Bruin slams homophobia Boston Bruin Brad Marchand’s social media swipe caught the attention of ESPN after Marchand responded to a Twitter message that attacked him with a homophobic slur. Here’s what Marchand shot back to the tweeter: “This derogatory statement is offensive to so many people around the world, [you’re] the kind of kid parents are ashamed of.” When interviewed about the exchange by, Marchand said, “I want to stand up for what I believe in, and I don’t think it’s right when people say things or bash people because of their sexual orientation.” ESPN followed up by asking Marchand how accepting pro hockey players would be when a teammate came out. “Guys would accept that, no question,” replied Marchand. “We’re a team in the [dressing] room and a family. It doesn’t matter what different beliefs guys have, or where they come from, or whatever the case may be.” “One of the better two-way players in the league,” noted the January 17 ESPN report, “[Marchand] won a Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011 and the World Cup of Hockey with Team Canada [in 2016].”

Puerto Rican culture

Considering Matthew Shepard

The Theater Offensive and Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion (IBA) presented Boston’s first-ever Saint Sebastian Festival (Festival de San Sebastian), an event full of folklore music, dancing, a community parade, “cabezudos” (giant dancing head puppets), theater, poetry, performance, artisan crafts, salsa music and a live Saint Sebastian installation.

On February 5, Berklee College of Music hosted the Boston premiere of “Considering Matthew Shepard,” a threepart fusion oratorio composed by Craig Hella Johnson, who conducted the vocal ensemble Conspirare in the performance.

The festival brought Puerto Rican culture and flair to Boston’s South End on January 28, with a particular homage to Saint Sebastian’s gender fluid nature.

Performed in Boston’s Jordan’s Hall, the 30-singer ensemble accompanied by an eight-instrument chamber group, performed the composition that interweaves passages from Shepard’s personal journal with news reports, interviews and poetic texts. Shepard’s mother, Judy, attended the performance, seeing the production for the first time. Berklee President Roger Brown and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh made introductory remarks, welcoming Johnson and Conspirare to Boston.

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Southie Pride The blowback came swift and harsh. When the Allied War Veteran’s Council of South Boston notified Outvets that its leadership had voted 9–4 on March 7 to exclude the LGBT veteran’s group from returning for the third year to march in the 116th annual Boston Saint Patrick’s Day Parade—just a week and a half before the event—the news was met with sharp rebuke. Criticism came from government leaders like Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, U.S. Congressman Stephen Lynch and Senator Edward Markey. All of these officials and more said they’d boycott the parade if Outvets was denied its place. Corporate sponsors like Stop and Shop, Anheuser-Busch, the Dedham Institution for Savings and Boston Scally Co. withdrew their support. Media outrage came from The Boston Globe, New York Times, Washington Post, Advocate, CNN and many other outlets. Their reports went viral across social media. Perhaps most telling, Southie residents cried “enough already,” the Council’s decision was making their neighborhood look bad, and they wanted Outvets back in their parade. As pressure mounted, pubic and private meetings took place and the story made headlines in the national spotlight. And so parade organizers took another vote. This time, on March 10, the vote came out unanimously in favor of inviting Outvets back in. Unconditionally. With a permanent place in the parade.

Tears of gratitude Hat Sister Tim O’Connor accepted The Congressman Gerry E. Studds Award on behalf of he and his late partner John Michael Gray at Fenway Health Men’s Event in early March. There was hardly a dry eye among the more than 1,300 gay and bisexual men, transgender people, friends, supporters and volunteers that packed Marriott Copley Place’s ballroom as O’Connor and Gray’s dear friend Angela Menino, wife of late Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, presented the award to Tim. Comedian host John Early, the First Class Band and Concetta provided the entertainment. And the food, cocktails, schmoozing, and dancing was as fabulous as ever at this annual black-tie affair. The event raised more than $700,000 for Fenway.

“We are encouraged by the further actions of the Council to reform their policies and procedures regarding management of this historic parade,” stated Outvets in a press release announcing their victory. “These changes will make the parade more inclusive and transparent for the entire community.”

Beacons of Light In late March, Senate President Stan Rosenberg was the guest of honor at MassEquality’s annual signature event. A great night to honor champions of our community, Beacons of Light celebrates the exceptional leadership, voice and advocacy of individuals and organizations that have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to bettering the lives of the LGBTQ community. Rosenberg was presented with MassEquality’s Political Icon award. The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and


Transgender Youth (BAGLY) received the Community Icon award, and the Lesbians of Color Symposium (LOCOS) Collective received special recognition. Voices Rising women’s chorus serenaded the festivities.

Record-breaking benefit More than 1,200 lesbians, bisexual women, transgender people, friends, supporters and volunteers attended the 2017 Dinner Party. Ann Maguire received the Dr. Susan M. Love Award. Lea DeLaria headlined, and the First Class Band and Concetta kept everyone dancing into the wee hours. A record-breaking $575,000 in cash and pledges was raised to support the life-saving services and programs at Fenway Health.

Connecticut bans conversion therapy It’s official. As of May 10, it became illegal for mental health professionals to practice conversion therapy on LGBT youth. Governor Dannel Malloy signed the bill into law after a unanimous vote from the state’s Senate. Connecticut is the ninth state to ban the practice. Other states include New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Vermont, Oregon, California and New York (by executive order). The District of Columbia has also taken action, along with three cities—Seattle, Miami Beach and Cincinnati. “This is supported by the science,” Governor Malloy stated publicly as he signed the bill into law. “It’s supported by our cultural awakening and awareness that we are a society of many different players and very different folks, and we shouldn’t try to make everyone just like us. We should recognize that some people are simply not us, but that doesn’t make them bad and it certainly doesn’t make them mentally ill—and it certainly should not subject them, anyone, to therapies that we know don’t work and aren’t supported by science.”

nAGLY hosts Holliday Tony and Grammy winner Jennifer Holliday took center stage at the North Shore Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (nAGLY)’s 25th anniversary soiree in mid-May. Not only does the awesome organization do great work on behalf of the region’s queer youth making silver celebration a headline grabber, but we had to give them extra kudos for hosting the original “Dreamgirl” star. Earlier this year, Holliday made headlines pulling out of as a headliner at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration citing her LGBT fans for giving her the inspiriaton her to reconsider. At nAGLY’s fête, Holliday joined “Glee” star Alex Newell, a North Shore native along with New England cabaret legend John O’Neil and other popular performers on the night’s entertainment line-up. nAGLY rocks!

Kathy Griffin wows networking night


Featured speaker Kathy Griffin wowed a crowd of more than 1,200 LGBT professionals and friends at Boston Spirit’s 11th annual LGBT Executive Networking Night at the Marriott Copley Place on April 26. More than 45 exhibitors mixed and mingled with attendees at our annual night of networking, socializing, food tasting (gratis local culinary entrepreneurs) and seminars led by some of the region’s most prominent business experts in their fields—the largest networking night in New England for LGBT professionals.

NOV|DEC 2017 | 69

Thwap! heard round the world Back in April, queer-identified teacher Nikos Giannopoulos traveled from Woonsocket, Rhode Island to Washington, D.C., where he and educators from all 50 states were honored at the White House’s annual Teacher of the Year awards and individually photographed with the president and first lady. By June, Giannopoulos’ photo was released and immediately went viral across the Internet. It was even picked up by outlets ranging from the “Washington Post” to “Cosmopolitan.” In the photo, Giannopoulos stands beside a grinning Donald and Melania Trump in the Oval Office. In his hand is a black lace fan, a gift from his partner, snapped open with a flourish to help Giannopoulos strike a fantastically fierce pose. Giannopoulos’s unapologetically queer attitude, set against the backdrop of an

administration proving itself antithetical to LGBT equality, is a juxtaposition that feels both humorous and heartfelt.

Trump was brief. When he first entered the Oval Office, he says, Trump noticed his fan. “He said he liked it,” recalls Giannopoulos. While waiting his turn for a photo, a staffer asked him to put it away—but when he was finally standing beside Trump, the teacher made the game-time decision to ask the president if he could pose with the fan.

“The fan represented the joy of being yourself,” says Giannopoulos. “It represented the joy of being authentic, of being you, and of loving who you love. I don’t know too many men who carry around a black lace fan, so it was also a celebration of gender nonconformity.”

He said sure, and the rest is history.

Giannopoulos’s actual encounter with

Boston Pride With a theme of “Stronger Together”—a slogan shared by Pride events throughout New England and beyond—tens of thousands from all stripes of the rainbow flag filled the streets of Boston for the 47th annual parade on June 10. More the 300 groups marched in the parade,

including a float with 29 survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. And Boston Spirit scored a first in the 75-year history of the parade by partnering with the Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, New England Patriots and New England Revolution to bring, for the first time ever, the five professional sports organizations marching together at Boston Parade.

Boston Spirit Sunset Cruise Hundreds of happy cruisers set sail aboard the Provincetown II for Fenway Health and Boston Spirit magazine’s Summer Sunset Cruise on June 14.

Queer Prom for Woburn High grad

A benefit for Fenway Health, the cruise is a yearly tradition that brings our vibrant community together to close out Pride Week, celebrate the start of summer and support the lifesaving work of Fenway Health.

This fall, as students around the country headed back to classrooms, 18-year-old Quinn Raines settled into her freshman year at Salem State University, where she plans to major in French and minor in secondary education.

A special shout out to Bay State Cruise Company, DJ Mocha, Jules Catering and the Sister of Perpetual Indulgence for all their help and support!

And as Raines struts across campus in her high heels, she’s doing so with a bit more confidence than she might have managed in years past. That’s because


she ended her high school experience as one of just six LGBT seniors around the country who were surprised by Buzzfeed with an invitation to the popular website’s inaugural queer prom. Buzzfeed selected Raines, a pansexual transgender woman, from among thousands of LGBT teen applicants across America. Raines was flown to West Hollywood (along with her chosen date, best friend Afsoun

Transgender rights for all Another first was marked on the steps of the Rhode Island state house when some 200 people came out to oppose President Donald Trump’s Tweet-announced ban on transgender people serving in the military. Many in the crowd noted that this was the first event in support of the transgender community to exclusively feature members of that community as speakers. Event organizer Nika Lomazzo stated from the outset that this demonstration was not exclusively about the military but about supporting all trans people and opposing Trump’s attempt to victimize and scapegoat them. “Let us be clear,” said Lomazzo, “that every time a trans person steps out of their house, it is an act of not only bravery but revolution.”

transgender rights, from the recent legislative victories in the area of trans rights in Rhode Island to the prejudice that trans people face every day. Ethan Huckel, board president at TGI Network of Rhose Island, said, “Trump calls for a ban on trans people in the military, and I see the right of trans people to exist

The event addressed a full range of

Rhode Island bans conversion therapy It was unanimous! On July 19, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed into law a measure that bans the widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy for minors. Raimondo announced via Twitter that she signed the measure, retweeting a Human Rights Campaign sticker declaring “Victory for LGBT youth in Rhode Island.”

more broadly being threatened.” A trans activist from Massachusetts, Milá Kingsley shared a terrifying story of having been threatened with physical harm for being trans barely a week earlier. And Tatiana Jones, a Transgender Peer Outreach Worker at Project Weber/RENEW, said, “Trans women, particularly trans women of color, face discrimination, marginalization, sexualization every day.”

Coming together over service ban Anyone still in doubt that President Trump’s Twitter finger signifies a dangerous disregard for the American people he was elected to serve can look no further than his sudden ban against transgender service men and women.

The bill, HB 5277, was approved by the Rhode Island Assembly in May by a 69–0 unanimous vote and by the Senate last month before it reached Raimondo’s desk for her signature.

Without warning—even to many top military brass—and characteristically without any plan or any sign of serious study, Trump announced in a Tweet a reinstatement of the ban on transgender military serving in all U.S. armed forced. That ban had been lifted during the previous Obama Administration.

Raimondo’s signature not only makes Rhode Island the 10th state in the country—in addition to D.C.—with a ban on conversion therapy, but also makes the state the fourth this year to ban the practice for youth.

Thousands of service people currently deployed around the world woke up one morning back in the summer to the unsettling news that their careers were in jeopardy.

Zarrin), where she and a handful of other queer kids enjoyed expert makeovers and attended the kind of inclusive prom experience they are too often denied.

This includes an estimated 15,000 active duty service people according to Mason Dunn, campaign co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts. Added to this group is a very conservative estimate of up to 4,000 reserves, according to

the PBS Newshour. U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts weighed in on Trump’s decision shortly after Trump’s Tweet: “It sounds like the same argument used against African-Americans, used against gays, used against whoever else—simply people who are willing to put their lives on the country, which by the way, is far more than President Trump has ever been willing to do.” Officials across New England echoed Moulton’s sentiment from social media platforms to state house and Congressional speeches. Connecticut’s Governor Dannel Mallory signed an executive order that reinforced the state’s nondiscrimination rules in the Connecticut Military Department. GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the ban. And the fight goes on. [x]

Buzzfeed filmed the stories of the selected students—from surprise invitation to prom court crowning—for a series of YouTube videos about the event. Raines says that YouTube and other social media sites were among the few available resources when she was coming to understand her transgender identity, and she hopes that the videos in which she stars will have a positive effect on other young people. NOV|DEC 2017 | 71

CULTURE Cinema STORY Loren King

Beating Hearts Two first-rate gay films explore passion in all its forms Two very different, equally powerful films—Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s lush and luscious love story “Call Me By Your Name” and French director Robin Campillo’s Paris-set tale of love and AIDS activism “BPM” (Beats Per Minute)— head to Boston after making a splash on the festival circuit. Both are must-sees for LGBT cinephiles. I saw both films and interviewed the directors at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. “Call Me By Your Name,” which opens in the area in early December, had strong word-ofmouth after its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where it garnered rave reviews. Set in Northern Italy in the summer of 1983, the film stars Armie Hammer as 25-year-old doctoral student Oliver who arrives to intern at the17thcentury villa where classics professor Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg, terrific) is vacationing with his wife (Amira Casar) and their 17-year-old son Elio (breakout star Timothée Chalamet). The sumptuous film builds slowly as Elio and Oliver swim, dine al fresco, bicycle, discuss music and


literature and, finally, allow their discreet flirtation to blossom into passionate romance. The sun-drenched beauty of the setting recalls the films of Merchant Ivory; it’s no wonder, since the script is by gay screenwriter James Ivory and it recalls “Maurice,” the classic 1987 film which Ivory directed. Guadagnino is also gay; Hammer and Chalamet are not but their love scenes, while not especially explicit, are sensual and mesmerizing. Audiences won’t soon forget what’s come to be known as the “peach scene,” a languid moment of erotica that should become a classic in the LGBT film canon. Guadagnino discovered André Aciman’s novel back in 2008 when he was making “I Am Love” with Tilda Swinton (she also starred in his “A Bigger Splash” last year). At the time, another director was attached to “Call Me By Your Name” but Guadagnino helped with some locations in Italy and was given an executive producer title. Eventually, the first deal fell apart but Guadagnino remained close to the project. “One day, I was with James [Ivory] who

While not especially explicit, the love scenes in “Call Me By Your Name” are sensual and mesmerizing. Audiences won’t soon forget what’s come to be known as the “peach scene,” a languid moment of erotica that should become a classic in the LGBT film canon.

I’ve known for many years. He was part of the project and we said, ‘let’s think of how we would do it.’ So he and I wrote the script [on our own]. Then we tried to make it with James directing but it was difficult to put together. The market is a strange beast. Eventually, I became the director and it became a small, small, small thing with a little amount of money.” His influences included not just Merchant Ivory movies but Italian and French classics. Guadagnino says he was drawn to “the possibility of telling this story through the lens of directors I love: Bertolucci, Renoir, Rohmer … the tone was that. James wanted to make it in Sicily

“Call Me By Your Name.” [OPPOSITE] “BPM” (“Beats Per Minute”)

and I moved it to the North of Italy.” Key for Guadagnino was the casting of Hammer and Chalamet. “Timothée and Armie, that was a big boost for me. Timothée was really perfect; I wanted to work with him in every case and I was inspired by the magic of Armie Hammer,” he says. “Call Me By Your Name” is about first love and a powerful gay romance but it’s also about culture and family—a conversation at the end of the film between Elio and his father is unlike any you’ve ever heard in a movie. “How beautiful is culture? You make culture in every possible way,” says Guadagnino. “The transmission of culture, the transmission of knowledge, I believe, is the heart of this film. … It’s about family; a place where oppression can be played out but also a utopic vision of a better society, in which generations directly and indirectly share knowledge and that’s, for me, very important and beautiful that I try in my own life. “The film is about empathy. If we would all be able to call ourselves by each others’ names, there would be no wars,” he says. “Imagine Donald Trump saying to a shoeless Mexican man who’s trying to cross the border, ‘call me by your name.’ Imagine how he’d learn about life.”

Beauty and love springs from political activism in the age of AIDS in the equally extraordinary “BPM” (Beats Per Minute), slated to open in Boston at a later date. It follows a group of early ‘90s ACT UP members in France as they take direct street action to the offices of drug companies, confront government officials, squabble and forge passionate alliances with one another. Director Campillo, whose made the excellent “Eastern Boys” (2013), a thriller about young Russian hustlers and the older man who becomes involved with one of them, based “BPM” on his own experiences. “We learned from your country first; I was a young gay of 20 in 1982 when AIDS [first became known]. It was a shock. It changed my life to a new dimension, like a nightmare,” he says. A decade later, he joined ACT UP, he says, and “became militant. I re-invented myself because I wanted to be active, not a victim. Then I went back to cinema.” He says thought for years about making an AIDS-themed movie, but not until Campillo seized on the idea of the collective did “BPM” begin to gel. “The collective was what I wanted to talk about because that’s when we decided it was a political thing, not just a disease.”

He structured “BPM” around a core of young activists, led by the outspoken, handsome Sean (Argentinean actor Nahuel Perez Biscayart), who eventually begins a relationship with new ACT UP member Nathan (Arnaud Valois). From the high-energy demonstrations that often end in arrests to lively confrontations within ACT UP meetings to the quieter moments of intimacy between Nathan and Sean, whose sex scenes are as charged as those in “Call Me By Your Name” are languid, Campillo’s naturalistic style makes these events feel immediate. The film is, in many ways, about being young, with all its passions and hope and foolishness, says the director. During his years in ACT UP, “We never talked about death,” he says. “We were too young to die but the good thing is we were young enough to cope because we had a future, possibly. I’d never do it today at my age.” Campillo spent a long time on the casting process and allowed the actors to make the characters their own. “You’ve got to have good actors. I had to find young people, mostly gay; and it was amazing to see these young people who could embody the people we were,” he says. “It was a way for me to say goodbye to my youth.” [x]

NOV|DEC 2017 | 73

CULTURE Dance STORY Loren King

Dance Masters Peter DiMuro and David Parker bring ‘The Nutcracker’ alternatives to BCA It’s not like Peter DiMuro, once of the regions’s foremost choreographers and dance innovators, to take a break over the holiday season. Instead, DiMuro will again bring audiences an alternative holiday show that celebrates inclusivity and family in all its forms—of course, with music and dance. His “Funny Uncles Cabaret,” on a bill with David Parker’s “Nut/Cracked,” runs December 14–16 at the Boston Center for the Arts. DiMuro, who for four years has been executive artistic director of the Dance Complex in Cambridge, which celebrates 25 years this season, and Parker, both gay and both respected dancers-choreographers, have known each other for 30 years


and often presented works in repertory through Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion, a Performing Arts Resident at the BCA. But this year, their shows will share a single ticket, with “Funny Uncles Cabaret” in the program’s first half and “Nut/ Cracked” in the second. It makes sense, since the works, although very different, complement each other. It’s fitting that two longtime figures in the Boston dance community would have a little fun with the ubiquitous holiday extravaganza “The Nutcracker,” which is the bread and butter of many ballet companies. Adding another layer, DiMuro and Parker’s creative visions are both through an irreverent LGBT lens: “family tradition” can often be an isolating term. These

“Gumdrops and the Funny Uncle” (2016)

no-less-family-friendly shows broaden the definition of family and recognize that holiday events can sometimes be isolating and alienating. “Funny Uncles Cabaret,” which features singing and dance from renowned cabaret artists and dancers from DiMuro’s company, evolved from DiMuro’s dance piece “Gumdrops and the Funny Uncle,” set during the winter holidays and about the struggle of inclusion and exclusion familiar to LGBT. This show itself grew from the holiday staple “The Nutcracker.” DiMuro in 1988 played Uncle Drosselmeyer, the magician character, in a Boston Ballet production. In 2013, he reprised the iconic role with José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker.” It is the uncle, DiMuro says, who must let Clara go off to the land of sweets while he exits the stage after Act 1. “Gumdrops” became a meditation about family, about being an outsider within the family, and about letting go. “It was created at a time of great sadness,” says DiMuro who also by 1990 was

creating impassioned performance pieces about the AIDS crisis as an emotional response to grief and loss. It was around that time, some 30 years ago, that DiMuro and Parker met. Both performed throughout New England including doing numerous benefits for Community Servings, a local organization close to the heart of Joan Parker, David’s mother. “In my own way, I used the deep feelings around the AIDS crisis to be a deeper choreographer,” he says. Dance allowed him to approach grief, loss and anger abstractly rather than directly, he says. This year’s incarnation, “Funny Uncles Cabaret,” is a hybrid of “Gumdrops and the Funny Uncle” and “Everyday Cabaret,” another ongoing Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion production. The holiday cabaret is more playful and celebratory but still retains some of “Gumdrops” melancholy—there will be Judy Garland songs, after all. “Nut/Cracked,” directed by Parker and Jeff Kazin and choreographed by Parker, combines tap and modern dance with percussion that mixes Tchaikovsky, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller, among others. Parker and Kazin have performed the show around the world for the past 15 years. DiMuro, who grew up in a tiny town in Illinois—where his father, who had grown up in East Boston, served as the chief of police—earned his MFA in dance from Connecticut College under Martha Myers and a BFA in theatre from Drake University. One of his most pivotal roles was his 10-year tenure as performer-choreographer-collaborator with Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, where he later served as the company’s artistic director. With Lerman and the company, he toured internationally, creating works with the professional core company but often expanding to the larger community to include various members of all ages and backgrounds. Lerman’s philosophy, method and approach continues to impact his work. “I saw her vision for dance, there were no barriers to dancing,” he says. By including different communities in the programs it created natural diversity. “It was professional in the widest terms,” he says. “It was about living as well as dancing.” [x]

Peter DiMuro Dance at Boston’s Hatch Shell 2017. PHOTO MCI Photography David Parker and Jeff Kazin PHOTO Yi Chun Wu “Nut/Cracked” (2003)

CULTURE Performance STORY Loren King

Lovers and Other Strangers Bridget Barkan’s view of the world—with music—comes to Oberon Bridget Barkan remembers when her father took her to see Lily Tomlin’s onewoman show, the Tony Award-winning “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, on Broadway. “It changed my life. It was everything I wanted to do but with music,” says Barkan. “I went to dozens of Broadway shows as a kid; my parents were creative and funny and I was an over-the-top child. By my early 20s, I knew I wanted to create a show.” There were creative detours on the road to her solo performance. Barkan has been acting in films, commercials and TV shows (she had a guest spot on “The Knick,” and a recurring role as the onelegged hooker on “Law & Order: SVU”) since she was a child. As a singer (“I have a


big, old soulful voice,” she says which has earned comparisons with Janis Joplin’s famous pipes), Barkan toured the world with pop/glam band and LGBT favorite Scissor Sisters, opening for Lady Gaga. She remembers performing with Scissor Sisters at Boston’s House of Blues. She’s also sung with Lily Allen and recorded with legendary house DJ and producer Todd Terry, in addition to releasing her own albums and singles. A New York native, Barkan moved to Los Angeles after the Scissor Sisters tour to pursue music. But she realized she wanted to create her own solo show, so she headed back to New York where she “lived as a gypsy for three years” then nabbed a gig at the downtown cabaret Don’t Tell Mama.

Bridget Barkan

A sold-out engagement at Joe’s Pub followed, which led to Barkan’s participation in the inaugural class of Pub Club, the Joe’s Pub Artist-in-Residence Program. Her 2015 residency allowed Barkan to develop four shows that flirted with burlesque, puppets and stories of love and food addiction. It all eventually evolved into her current show, “Dear Stranger, I Love You.” Barkan brings this “living alternative cabaret show” to the American Repertory Theater’s “Glowberon” series at its Oberon nightclub on November 16 at 8 p.m. Barkan credits producer Quinn Cox, whom she met at Joe’s Pub, with inviting her to perform in Provincetown’s Afterglow festival, which Cox founded with “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” creator John Cameron Mitchell. Afterglow shares a talent pipeline with Joe’s Pub and both

are direct links with the Cox-produced “Glowberon,” which showcases edgy contemporary solo performers, usually part of New York’s downtown scene and usually queer, in one way or another. Her encounters with strangers makes up the show’s structure. Barkan recreates conversations with characters such as the 60-something woman she met while auditioning for a Janis Joplin show who didn’t care that she might be a little too old to play the rock star. But larger themes emerge about the search for self and the importance of community. “The show reflects where I am in my life. In my own heartbreak, I found solace in being of service to others and the community,” says Barkan, who is candid about the love addiction that caused her to gravitate to unavailable men and the 12-step recovery program that helps her cope. “The self reflection delves into childhood, career, God, spirituality— it’s an evolving piece,” she says. She also performs original songs that cross genres from hip-hop to blues and keeps things lively with the use of video, costume changes and audience participation.

Barkan loves collaborating, as evidenced by her years performing with bands. But like her inspirations Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg and Laurie Anderson, her singular struggles and view of the world form the basis for her comic vision and she’s likable enough that the audience willingly goes along for the ride. She’s grateful to her acting career (“acting paid for college,” she says) but she acknowledges the downside of competition that can produce a crisis of identity for creative people who seek validation externally. “Who am I if I didn’t get that part?” she says. Besides performing, Barkan works with youth and has been an activist all her life. She admits that making art just for herself doesn’t feel right—she aims for the bigger purpose of finding the truths that connect us all. “That’s what moments with strangers is,” she says, noting that she’d just had an illuminating conversation with a security guard. “There’s gold in everyone. If you can find what connects you to other people, that’s your way in.” Lily Tomlin would no doubt approve. [x]

Bridget Barkan



Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese House @ Peabody Essex Museum


CULTURE Cinema STORY Loren King

Merging Identities LGBT and Jewish identities intersect at the Boston Jewish Film Festival At this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, Ariana Cohen-Halberstam, artistic director of the Boston Jewish Film Festival (BJFF), ran into James Nadeau, executive director of Wicked Queer: The Boston LGBT Film Festival. They’d both just seen the hot new film “Call Me By Your Name,” recalls CohenHalberstam. She praised it for being a great Jewish film while Nadeau raved that it was a memorable gay film. That intersectionality, says CohenHalberstam, is one of the hallmarks of the BJFF which runs November 8–20. The program is made up of films of all genres that look at the world though a Jewish lens, but what it sees is as varied as life itself. There are three strong LGBT titles in this year’s festival, all of them co-presented with

Wicked Queer. The most Boston-centric is “Pinsky” (screening Nov. 18 at the Somerville Theater). It’s a comedy about a 26-year-old queer woman, Sophia Pinsky (played by Newton native Rebecca Karpovsky, who also co-wrote the script with Amanda Lundquist, the director of the film). When Sophia’s girlfriend breaks up with her on the same day that her grandfather dies, her life starts to unravel. She moves back to Boston and into the home of her overbearing Russian-Jewish grandmother. As Sophia tries to make it as a stand-up comic, her grandmother tries to fix her up with eligible men. The comedy “was an obvious choice for us because it’s set in Boston,” says Cohen-Halberstam, who describes “Pinsky”


as a “young, hip comedy with a ‘Broad City’ feel.” Also screening in the festival is Arab-Israeli writer-director Maysaloun Hamoud’s debut feature “In Between” (screening November 11 at the MFA and November 18 at the Somerville) about three unconventional Palestinian women sharing an apartment in Tel Aviv as they try to balance traditional and modern culture. One of the roommates is Salma (Sana Jammelieh), a lesbian from a Christian family who works as a DJ and bartender. At work she meets and begins dating an attractive young doctor (Ahlam Canaan). Salma can’t resist provoking her conservative family and brings her new girlfriend to dinner just as her parents are planning to set Salma up with another potential husband.

“In Between” has generated praise at other international festival screenings for its depictions of strong, modern, sexually active women living independently in cosmopolitan Tel Aviv, whose lives and stories are rarely depicted on screen. Director Sandy Chronopoulos ’s documentary “House of Z” (Nov. 14 at the Coolidge Corner Theatre) is a candid, behind-the-scenes look at the life and work of fashion designer and “Project Runway” judge Zac Posen. With a wealth of photographs and film footage, “House of Z” begins with Posen’s high school years as a gay, dyslexic outsider. With the support of his family, Posen launched his own fashion line and, at 21, was embraced by famous friends including Claire Danes and

“In Between” centers on three Palestinian women, including a lesbian DJ from a Christian family, living in an apartment in Tel Aviv. [TOP] Rebecca Karpovsky co-wrote and stars in “Pinsky.”[ABOVE] A scene from “House of Z,” a documentary about Zac Posen. [OPPOSITE-LEFT]

Natalie Portman (interviewed in the film). But with his meteoric rise came a terrible backlash and later a falling out with his family, whose members are also interviewed in the film. Fashionistas will delight in the spectacular red carpet moments, the dish and the on-camera chatter from the

likes of Naomi Campbell and André Leon Talley. But “House of Z” is most riveting when it peeks past the glamour of the runway and the red carpet to show audiences the personal side of Posen as a dedicated master craftsman and businessman. [x]

NOV|DEC 2017 | 79


“The Watchers” (left panel), by Anette Lemieux

“Spin,” by Annette Lemieux

Images and Icons Boston artist Annette Lemieux makes art from film history Scout Finch, the young, tomboy narrator of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” and a character assumed to be modeled on Lee herself, is more than a literary icon; she’s a LGBT icon, too. Scout is the main reason that “To Kill a Mockingbird” ranks 67th on the Publishing Triangle’s list of The 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels, issued in 1999 and rich with classics of the LGBT literary canon. The 1962 movie version of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” starring Gregory Peck in his Oscar-winning role and featuring the memorable Mary Badham as Scout, further elevated the character to cultural icon status. Many believe the book


earned more readers because the film is so beloved, rather than the other way around. Scout endures as an iconic figure and she’s a prominent presence in Boston-based conceptual artist Annette Lemieux’s first solo museum exhibition in Boston in more than three decades. “Annette Lemieux: Mise en Scene,” on display at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston through March 4, 2018, is inspired by the films Lemieux was drawn to as a child growing up in Connecticut. The artist, who teaches at Harvard University, is the recipient of the 2017 Maud Morgan Prize. The MFA’s biennial Maud Morgan Prize “honors a Massachusetts woman artist who has demonstrated creativity and

vision, making significant contributions to the contemporary arts landscape.” In the MFA exhibit, Lemieux turns familiar images from cinematic history into stand-alone objects and prints. Three films—Fritz Lang’s “M,” Robert Mulligan’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and François Truffaut’s “Fahrenheit 451”—are represented by Lemieux’s new conceptual work. A fourth film, Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 satire “The Great Dictator,” is central to her 1994 print series “Censor (A-E),” in which Lemieux imposes black censor bars across images of Chaplin as a Hitler-like dictator. The wall text gives important context to the work: “The Great Dictator,” though praised by critics, was banned in many parts of Europe and Chaplin himself was later censored when he was accused of being a communist sympathizer during the McCarthy era. The British native was exiled from the United States in 1952. Despite the seeming topicality of the exhibit, Lemieux isn’t considered an overtly political artist. It is worth noting,

however, that in 1989 she canceled her show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in solidarity with gay artist Robert Mapplethorpe after the Corcoran, fearing protests, pulled a retrospective of his work. This was during the brouhaha over erotic content in the works of several artists who had been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Aside from Lemieux’s personal stances, it is nearly impossible not to see allusions, both overt and subtle, to social and political issues such as government repression, racism and classism in her art. “Spin,” a series of three images from “To Kill a Mockingbird” of Scout nestled in a tire, a pivotal moment in the film right before she accidentally rolls into feared neighbor Boo Radley’s yard, are arranged to convey motion. The three color panels are placed next to a piece of black velvet with bleached stripes—a literal whitewashing—that suggests a number of readings of the piece, including the creation of white narratives over black lives and histories. Nearby, a corner of the gallery houses an actual mise en scene where objects float in an area of memory. The corner is adorned

Annette Lemieux with wallpaper that looks like it’s from a child’s bedroom. On the floor is a childsize wood figure, a replica of the tiny soap dolls that Scout finds nestled inside the trunk of a tree (put there by Boo) as gifts to her and to her brother Jem. There are also two balls on the floor and two balloons overhead, which represent Elsie Beckmann, the child who was the first victim of the kidnapper in “M,” Fritz Lang’s 1931

landmark of German expressionism and one of the first films to deal with mental illness and pedophilia. On another wall is a large canvas titled “Area of Refuge.” The print is a photograph of Harper Lee revisiting her childhood home in Monroeville, Alabama—a simple image that, with the title imposed on the print, raises ideas of what it means to be home and what it means to take refuge. Other new works in the show also deal with the issue of censorship and are inspired by “Fahrenheit 451,” François Truffaut’s 1966 film based on Ray Bradbury’s book about an authoritarian future when human life is highly regulated by government-controlled televised media, sedative drugs and book-burning raids. The dual panels of “The Watchers” is Lemieux’s direct visual quote from the movie’s opening credit sequence. It shows a series of buildings all affixed with antennas. The grid pattern of the image recalls the TV color bar, which served as a mode of calibrating all television sets to present the same color and audio during transmission. [x]

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CULTURE Cinema STORY Loren King

There’s Still Heat in ‘Desert Hearts’ Groundbreaking classic gets a new restoration This one’s easy for the L on your holiday shopping list, and maybe for a few GBTs, too. Janus Films and The Criterion Collection in November issued a new, restored version of Donna Deitch’s classic “Desert Hearts.” A crossover hit when it was released theatrically in 1985, “Desert Hearts” is widely regarded as one of the best LGBT films of all time. The DVD’s new bonus extras include a conversation between Deitch and Jane Lynch, who is among the movie’s legions of devotees. “I chose Jane to have the


conversation … she’s a friend of mine and she always used to say ‘Desert Hearts’ was her favorite movie. She’s so smart and so funny and a wonderful activist,” says Deitch, who appeared in Provincetown last month to host several “Desert Hearts” screenings during Women’s Week. The DVD also boasts new interviews with the film’s stars, Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau, and a short program, “Remembering Reno,” featuring Deitch, production designer Jeannine Oppewall, and cinematographer Robert

Patricia Charbonneau [LEFT] and Helen Shaver in “Desert Hearts.”

Elswit, who supervised the film’s new 4K digital transfer. For the uninitiated, “Desert Hearts,” adapted from a novel by Jane Rule, is set in 1959 Reno as straitlaced East Coast professor Vivian Bell (Shaver) arrives to file for a divorce. Staying at a local ranch, against a breathtaking desert landscape and with a kicking country music score, Vivian catches the eye of the younger free spirit Cay (Charbonneau), who works at the local casino, an attraction that rattles nerves as it grows stronger. “Desert Hearts” is revered as a seminal LGBT film but in the 1980s it was a commercial risk. Deitch had to raise the money to produce it herself. “I had investor

parties all over the country, formatted on the way people had Broadway backers parties,” she says. “I had a very controversial subject matter than no one had done before,” says Deitch, who’s since enjoyed a long career as a television director, winning an Emmy in 1999 for the movie “The Devil’s Arithmetic.” “I studied Hollywood love stories because I wanted it to be accessible [and] universal. I wanted those triggers working; you need to be rooting for [the women] to be together, so it was conscious on my part. I used to be an experimental filmmaker; it’s not that I don’t know how to get experimental, but I was consciously not doing it for this movie.” Even on a lean budget, Deitch assembled a stellar creative team that included editor Bob Estrin; Oppewall, whose production design on “L.A. Confidential” and “Seabiscuit” would later be among her four Oscar nominations; and Elswit, who became Paul Thomas Anderson’s go-to DP and an Oscar winner for “There Will Be Blood.” One can imagine that, today, actresses would be clamoring for the rich, “edgy”

roles of Vivian and Cay. But in the ‘80s, recalls Deitch, all the film’s actors, even those in straight roles, were warned that appearing in a “gay film” would be career suicide.

“But after all that, I still ended up with the very best actors I could possibly have in every single role,” she says. “So maybe it worked to my benefit. I ended up with totally brave, totally committed actors.” Deitch credits Shaver and Charbonneau for elevating the “Desert Hearts” love scene, among the most erotic in any commercial release. It unfolds slowly, with just ambient sound: passing trains and outside noise; breathing and gasps. “I wanted music all over that movie but not in that scene,” says Deitch. “It was the heart of the movie. That was my intention. It had to happen; without that, there’s no story. To me, it was inconceivable to have two women and not have a hot love scene; the power of the scene lies in the progression of the sexual and the emotional at the same time.” The new attention focussed on her classic has spurred Deitch to finish the script for a “Desert Hearts” sequel. It will be set in New York in 1968 to 1970, during the burgeoning women’s movement, she says. [x]

NOV|DEC 2017 | 83


CALENDAR Kinky Boots Discover the multiple Tony-winning musical that made Cyndi Lauper the first woman to score the award solo in the Best Score category. “Kinky Boots” follows the unlikely camaraderie between Charlie, the hapless inheritor of his father’s English shoe factory, and Lola, a towering drag queen whose knack for designing high-heeled sequined boots might be the key to saving the business. Along the way, Charlie and Lola must contend with a few workplace hazards—like some homophobic townies that staff the factory. This rousing, kicky affair leaves audiences inspired. Dec. 8–Dec. 10

Boston-based drag performer Dusty Moorehead came up with a killer concept for the new nightlife series “Get Dusted.” Each installment typically takes places on the fourth Thursday of the month (though November’s date is a Thanksgiving-related exception). And every time, Moorehead brings to Boston a different internationally recognized drag star to perform alongside a handful of Boston-based notables and a few up-and-coming queens building their names. November’s headliner is “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Trixie Mattel, while December lures another soon-to-be-announced headliner. Add a dance party helmed by resident DJ Ian Diver, and “Get Dusted” sparkles as one of the freshest LGBT experiences in town. Whisky Saigon, Boston

Drag Me to Brunch

Get Dusted

Thursdays, Nov. 30 and Dec. 28

Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence, RI

Doors at 10:30 PM. Tickets $10; $20 for meet & greet

The quandary: Some of us are well past our up-all-night party days, but still love a regular reason to check out a great drag show. The solution: “Drag Me to Brunch,” a downtown daytime revue that goes weekly in November after building a successful following throughout the past several months. Destiny Boston and Dee Dee de Ray host the series, which taps a variety of other local queens for fun, frisky performances that pair perfectly with mimosas and a brunch menu. French toast with a side of “Lady Marmalade”? Yes, please. Sundays, 11 am–4 pm, show at 2 pm

Carrie Nation, Boston

Reservations recommended, 617-227-3100.

Grunt Get ready to make some noise at this brand new dance party that brings the kind of furry ferocity you’d find at P’town’s Bear Week to the middle of Downtown Boston—all year round. DJ Brian Derrick has launched “Grunt,” a night of tribal beats and dark, progressive vocal house classics that lures burly boys and their admirers. Come to dance, come to drink or come to cruise—just come, because the scene is sweaty and sexy enough that you might even be able to tear your eyes away from Grindr for a night. Who needs apps around all these chaps? Saturdays (except first each month)

Alley Bar, Boston

No cover

Mr. New England Leather Weekend Take out the black leather and boots. The fifth annual installment of this social and educational series for the leather community has returned, and it’s ready to bestow the 2018 title to the next deserving mister, who will go on to compete at Chicago’s International Mister Leather in May. In addition to the parties and workshops, new this year is a fetish film festival presented in partnership with the Leather Archives and Museum, which is focused on the history of New England’s leather communities, plus a yearly silent auction benefiting AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod. Friday–Sunday, Nov. 17–19


Culture Club Break out your eyeliner and wrist bangles, because one of the most legendary bands of the ’80s is back. Earlier this year, gay icon Boy George finished as runner-up on the final, Trump-less season of “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Now he’s leaving the boardroom and heading back to the stage, performing hits like “Karma Chameleon,” “It’s a Miracle” and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” for audiences who grew up with—and probably came out to—these classic pop tunes back in the Reagan years. Boy George, we’ve missed him—blind.

Elton John It’s not often you get an audience with the queen, so—ante up. Tickets aren’t cheap, but Elton John is a living entertainment legend and one of the most iconic gay performers of all time. It’s worth a royal fortune to see the original “Rocket Man” tickle the ivories, clear his throat, and offer the kind of reliably outstanding performance only John can deliver. This “Wonderful Crazy Night Tour” will support his latest album of the same name, but expect to sing along to hits from throughout his five-decade career. Don’t let the sun go down on a night with music royalty. Friday, Nov. 17 (Portland); Saturday, Nov. 18 (Bangor)

Cross Insurance Arena, Portand, ME (Nov. 17); Cross Insurance Center (Nov. 18)

Thursday, Nov. 16

Mohegan Sun Arena, Ucasville, CT


Tegan and Sara This sister act continues to inspire us. These openly gay, identical twin sisters have carved quite a career, going from indie synth-pop darlings to globally touring artists and activists. Proof of their popularity can be found on their latest album, “The Con X: Covers,” which celebrates the 10-year anniversary of their breakthrough album by tapping nearly 20 outspoken LGBTQ artists and allies, including Cyndi Lauper and Sara Bareilles, to cover songs from the original record. Proceeds from the album will benefit their just-launched Tegan and Sara Foundation, a nonprofit fighting for social justice for LGBTQ girls and women. Tonight they bring their “X” tour to Boston. Thursday, Nov. 9

Orpheum Theatre, Boston

Outryders Opening Party Winter is coming (that’s not a “Game of Thrones” reference), and it’s time to spend another season hitting the slopes with OutRyders, New England’s largest gay ski and snowboard club. OutRyders organizes gay ski outings, both day trips and overnights, to the region’s best mountain resorts—plus other social outings, from movie nights to brewery visits— that’ll keep your social calendar from going into hibernation. Grab your poles and head to this annual kickoff party, where you can learn more and meet some of the crew, and make plans to hit the trails with some new best friends and snow bunnies. Friday, Nov. 10, 7–10 pm

Club Cafe, Boston

An Evening with Melissa Ferrick She’s one of the most prolific contemporary singer-songwriters around, with one of the most rigorous tour schedules. We’re not sure how out artist Melissa Ferrick does it—but we’re sure glad she does. Ferrick, whose music has never shied away from delving into personal territory and gay themes, is also an associate professor at Berklee College of Music, the same school the Massachusetts native attended when she was building the foundation of her career. But tonight Ferrick will trade the classroom for the new Boston location of City Winery, a small chain of restaurants and live music venues that hosts nightly shows from genre-spanning musicians, comedians and other performers. Saturday, Nov. 25

City Winery, Boston

SCENE Sports PHOTOS FLAG Patrick Lentz

Gay Bowl XVII Progin Park | Lancaster | October 6–8, 2017

More than 36 teams from 26 cities across North America came to Boston for some seriously fun competition at the National Gay Flag Football League’s 17th annual Gay Bowl, hosted this year by FLAG (Friends, Lesbians and Gays) Flag Football Boston. Gay Bowl first took place in Boston and moves from year to year to different host towns throughout the United States and Canada each Columbus Day weekend. This year, more than 900 players competed for the championships titles: the New York Warriors took home the Mens A title; the LA Express Blue won the Mens B; the Motor Coty Hitmen captured the Mens C; and the Denver Mile High Club Blue scored the Women’s title. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft cheered all the players at the big closing night event. The Patriots are an official sponsor of Gay Bowl XVII. Along with hosting and playing, Boston’s hometown team, FLAG Flag Football also volunteers more than 1,400 hours of community service each year and provides support, including academic scholarships, to LGBTQ youth programs.

NOV|DEC 2017 | 87

SCENE Benefit PHOTOS Patrick Lentz


Summer Sports Tea Dance dbar | Dorchester | August 29, 2017


3 [1]



With perfect weather, more than 500 members of the Greater Boston LGBTQ sports community celebrated the final days of summer and supported Victory Programs’ mission to open doors to recovery, hope and community for individuals and families facing

Bachelors Christian Grenier, Izzy Berdan, Dominick Schnare, Raul Gonzalez and Jarrett Hanley. Bachelors and Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Cole Pelham, Austin McEntee, Danny Tyrrell and Kim Herrig.

homelessness, addiction and HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. The event drew a lively crowd with a live DJ, dancing, outdoors games like corn hole and giant Jenga, a gourmet food truck, an on-site raffle and for the first time a bachelor auction featuring five eligible gents paired



[5] [6] [7] [8]

Danny Tyrrell, Tom John Mershon, Matt Martel, Austin McEntee, Cadien Shaw, Mike Brothers, David Lopes and Marc Lewis. Maria Manuela Almeida [FAR RIGHT] with friends. Kyle Hamilton, Mike Brosseau and Robb D’Agostino. Alan Caskey, Mark Gallagher and J.J. McGregor David Lopes and Francisco Morillo.

with prepackaged date-night delights, including an afternoon sail, dinner and a show and tickets to Lady Gaga’s “Joanne” world tour. Guests were also invited to participate in a superhero-themed costume contest.






SCENE Fundraiser PHOTOS CRI staff

Harbor to the Bay Boston to Provincetown | September 23, 2017

Twenty bicyclists took to the roads and trails between Boston and Provincetown on a 125-mile route to fundraise for Community Research Initiative of New England during Harbor to the Bay’s 15th annual charity ride. CRI’s riders and 29 crew members raised more than $60,000 for the organization’s lifesaving research, outreach programs and services. Overall this year, some 240 riders and 200 crew raised more than $400,000 for four AIDS service organizations in Massachusetts, including Fenway Health, AIDS Action Committee, AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod and CRI.

NOV|DEC 2017 | 89

SCENE Community PHOTOS Courtesy of Gay for Good Boston

Gay for Good Boston Volunteers at Braille Press National Braille Press | Boston | September 28, 2017

Gay for Good Boston volunteers gathered on an early autumn evening at the National Braille Press to assemble more than 200 copies of “Diary of a Worm” for the Children’s Braille Book Club program. Gay for Good aims to energize and mobilize the LGBT community to interact with the greater community by volunteering their time to various social welfare and environmental service projects. To find out how you can join in their next community endeavour, go to


SCENE Gala PHOTOS Courtesy HRC New England

HRC New England Dinner Seaport World Trade Center | Boston | October 7, 2017

One of the largest LGBTQ fundraising events in New England, the Human Right Campaign New England Dinner brings together nearly 1,000 people each year to celebrate and support HRC’s efforts towards acheiving full LGBTQ equality and civil rights. This year’s gala honored the actress and Lexington, Massachusetts native Rachel Dratch with its Ally for Equality Award.

SCENE Pride PHOTOS Courtesy Capital City Pride

Hartford Pridefest Pratt Street | Hartford, CT | September 10, 2017

Thousands of LGBT people and friends came out in Connecticut’s capital city to enjoy a four-day, fun-filled festival featuring over 100 local vendors, community organizations, artists and performers plus a brunch, a bar crawl and a Saturday night bash at Hartford City Hall.


SCENE Fête PHOTOS Joanne DiFrancesco

‘New Traditional’ Open House Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Signature Store | Boston | August 17, 2017 On Thursday, August 17, the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Signature Store in Boston hosted an open house to showcase their fall collection, “New Traditional.” The event, which lasted all day, included a special VIP event for designers where they were treated to hors d’oeuvres, signature traditional cocktails with a “new” twist and a private tour of the new collection.


The fall collection features designs with the same clean aesthetic for which Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is known, enhanced with evocative elements to capture the essence of home in a way that is both timeless and timely. INFO@MOCHADJ.COM

SCENE Design PHOTOS Joanne DiFrancesco

Design Tour de North Shore Designer showrooms | North Shore | September 20, 2017

Three top North shore home design showrooms—Landry & Arcari Rugs and Carpeting in Salem, Lucia Lighting + Design in Lynn and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams in Burlington—joined forces to host an exclusive invitation-only bus tour for a select group of interior design professionals. “This Old House” TV personality Kevin O’Connor played host to the event, entertaining the guests as they traveled to each destination. At each location, the designers were treated to gourmet food and drink, gifts, a tour and a special presentation on the latest and greatest home products and design trends for the fall.

Lucy Dearborn of lucia lighting + design and Kevin O’Connor of “This Old House.”

Megan Meyers [LEFT] of Megan Meyers Interiors and Linda Holt of Linda Holt Interiors.

Shendel Bakal of Shendel Designs with the Landry & Arcari rug she won on the bus.

Jerry Arcari of Landry & Arcari Rugs and Carpeting.

Eileen Patterson [LEFT] of lucia lighting + design and Lori Scholz of Lori Scholz Interiors.

Pam Thompson (left) of 92.5 radio’s “The River” and Mary Algiers of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.


SCENE Fête PHOTOS Matt Kurkowski/

HistoryMaker Awards Club Café | Boston | October 11, 2017

Larry Kessler, a monumental figure in Boston’s LGBTQ community, received the HistoryMaker Award at The History Project’s annual awards fête. Kessler was the founding director of the AIDS Action Committee, guiding it through the crucial first decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A proclamation from Mayor Marty Walsh was read declaring October 11 as Larry Kessler Day in the City of Boston. The citation cited Kessler as “a public beacon of love and hope.” Allison Wright, an attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) received the Lavender Rhino Award, given to emerging leaders in the LGBTQ community. Wright has primarily dedicated her work to addressing issues impacting LGBTQ people of color. Founded in 1980, The History Project is one of the nation’s premier independent LGBTQ history organizations, with archival collections totaling more than one million records. Cynthia McCratic, Eva Boyce, Karen McManus, Joyce Kaufman and Philip Robinson.

Janet Dendy, Karen Dendy Smith, Anne Callahan and Jim Gibson of Kor group.

Ricky McFaline Figueroa and History Roland St. Jean, State Representative Liz Malia and History History Project board member Project co-chair Andrew Elder. Project board members Orlando Del Valle and Libby Bouvier. Mark Krone and Harry Collings.

History Project board member Neal Kane and Ibrahim Sundiata.

Gary Sandison, Cheryl Schaffer, Larry Kessler and Jim Carroll.

Carisa Cunningham and Allison Wright. History Project co-chairs Joan Ilacqua and Andrew Elder with Larry Kessler.

NOV|DEC 2017 | 95

CODA Song STORY Scott Kearnan pace. It was stressful and there was a lot of anxiety. I can’t express how much happier I am now, going at a slower pace. [SPIRIT] A lot of already-marginalized groups are feeling particularly vulnerable in the Trump era. Where is your head with things? [LAMBERT] I’m really grappling with it. As

Same Love, Bold New Album Marriage-equality anthem artist Mary Lambert unites music with spoken word on ‘Bold’ tour It’s been five years since lesbian singersongwriter Mary Lambert hit the pop mainstream with “Same Love,” her Grammy-nominated collaboration with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis that wound up an equal marriage anthem. But she’s just as determined to use her music as a vehicle for social justice. Last month, Lambert reunited with Macklemore for a controversy-courting performance of “Same Love” at the National Rugby League Grand Final in Australia, just ahead of a country-wide vote on whether to allow same-sex marriages Down Under. She’s released a single, “Secrets,” about dealing with mental health issues, and she’s been candid about overcoming childhood sexual abuse by her father. And on November 15, Lambert brings her “Everybody is a Babe Tour” to Sonia, a new live music venue in Cambridge. For the tour, which follows the release of her new EP, “Bold,” Lambert tapped nonbinary singer-songwriter Mal Blum and a host of guest spoken word poetry artists to accompany. (Lambert is also preparing to release her own book of poetry.) The idea,

she says, is to create a supportive space that affirms the beauty of people of every color, size, sex and gender identity—and give her fans a place to laugh, cry, and sing along. Hopefully we’ll be seeing even more of Lambert now that the Seattle-raised artist lives near the lesbian locus of Northampton with her partner, Michelle Chamuel, a Bay State native and runner-up on NBC’s “The Voice.”

someone who has been repeatedly violated by men—and I have a very strained relationship with a lot of men because of that—to have this president, the way he is with the repeated misogyny and complete lack of human understanding—it’s an ongoing emotional experience that is pretty painful. A lot of people are feeling that way. I think about that second debate, the way he was leering over Hillary—I couldn’t stop crying. I know that feeling, and I feel like every woman watching on the right side of history was feeling the same way. I haven’t quite woken up from that. As artists and activists, we have to take turns between being charged up and calling to action, being immersed in activism and advocacy work, and then being tired and needing a break—just looking at pictures of cats online. Otherwise you’re going to burn out, and you’re no use to anyone.

[SPIRIT] How is it affecting your work? [LAMBERT] I think the plight of an artist

is, “Do I get involved socially? Do I write political songs? What is my role in this weird dystopian state we’re in?” I think to [SPIRIT] So what brought you to Western Mass? myself, “Gosh, do I have to do promotion? [LAMBERT] I fell in love! I met my partner Do I have to talk about myself and my while I was on tour, and I was driving fucking pop songs right now, when the through Western Mass when the world is exploding?” It seems so trivial. leaves were turning—I’d never been So I think about how I can affect change to New England before—and I just in the world, I think about what I can felt like everything was telling me I do to be of service. I believe that the was supposed to be here. I love the best way to change the world is through seasons. Seattle will always have a empathy, and the best way to encourage place in my heart, but I love the snow. empathy is to learn about vulnerability, and the best way to teach vulnerability is [SPIRIT] “Bold” is your first EP since leaving Capitol to be vulnerable yourself. That’s where Records. How does it feel to be on your own? all this stems from, and it’s the best [LAMBERT] There was a period of time way for me to move through my life. when—I wouldn’t say I dreaded touring, but it really took a toll on me. I remember I [SPIRIT] What can fans expect was in the middle of a run and I was going from your show at Sonia? to be able to go home for Thanksgiving for [LAMBERT] Half my work is upbeat pop the first time in three years. I got a call from songs, and the other half is poems. It’s my management saying, ‘the label wants like, I try to tell jokes and then—here’s you to go to Australia for Thanksgiving.’ a song about cancer, enjoy! I think it’s I didn’t want to be crying about a trip interesting that there’s a fine line between to Australia! I was so unhappy with the laughing and crying. think these shows are going to be fun and cathartic. [x]

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Boston Spirit Nov | Dec 2017  

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Nov | Dec 2017 issue of Boston Spirit magazine