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Victory for LGBTQ Youth Massachusetts bans conversion therapy
Surviving Stonewall Honorary Boston Pride Marshal Dale Mitchell
Let Us Introduce You Upcoming leaders and unsung heroes
ON VIEW MAY 11–D E C E M B E R 1, 2019
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AMERICAN ART Selections from the
CAROLYN AND PETER LYNCH COLLECTION
A Passion for American Art: Selections from the Carolyn and Peter Lynch Collection is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum. Jennifer and Andrew Borggaard and Kate and Ford O’Neil provided generous support. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.
161 Essex St. | Salem, MA pem.org
MEDIA PARTNERS Frederick Carl Frieseke, On the River (detail), 1908. Oil on canvas. Collection of Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch. Photo by Bob Packert/PEM.
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From The Publisher 14 years. Last month Boston Spirit celebrated our 14th birthday. Amazing. Where did the time go? To give a little context, George W. Bush was the President, the number one song in April 2005 was “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent (I am sure it was a great song, although I have to admit I have never heard of it), the top movie was “Sin City.” Pope John Paul II passed away during the month, and Prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles. Perhaps not the most memorable month as far as world history, but certainly one that I will never forget. We are so thankful and humbled to be able to continue publishing the magazine and producing our events throughout the year. The only way we can do any of these things is with your support. Many of you have been with us from day one, others have joined the family at other times. Whenever you came onboard please know that we are happy to have you and we hope you’ll stick around. As is tradition with our May/June issue, we have some amazing local people that we have profiled for you. Many of these folks you probably don’t know, but they are all doing great things in the community. Take a minute and get to know them and learn about their work … just in time for Pride. As is also tradition, we will have our annual Boston Harbor Sunset Cruise on June 12. This is always a fun night with great music, great food and great views of the city skyline. And, even better, every dollar from your ticket goes directly to Fenway Health. See page 29 for more details. We have some other very fun events planned for the fall so keep an eye out in the next few months. Lastly, everyone at Boston Spirit would like to wish all of you a very happy, healthy and safe Pride season. We look forward to seeing you at the parades and festivals taking place throughout New England.
David Zimmerman Publisher
2 | BOSTON SPIRIT
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As We Go To Press I love our “Let Us Introduce You …” feature. It comes out every year in our Pride issue—which you’re holding now. I’ve been a journalist in the New England LGBT community for over 15 years, and there are still new names that I don’t know—and should know—and that you should know too! Consider Charlotte Robinson, CEO of OutTake Media and Emmy winner. She is responsible for the lauded short film “Outtake” and many other powerful platforms for LGBT voices, including a podcast series featuring over 500 celebrity interviews. I never knew the powerhouse behind it all. It’s Charlotte. I’m thrilled to know of her now. And even more thrilled to be able to share her with you. And then, of course, there are emerging leaders. Consider Shaunya Thomas. She’s been making waves for more than seven years now as president and founder of Lesbians of Color Symposium (LOCS) Collective, which recently held its seventh annual symposium at Harvard Law School. Then there are amazing folks whom I’ve known for a while, but didn’t realize more people didn’t know. Dan Batterman fits into this category. If you don’t know about his Boston Gay
Contribute your opinion: firstname.lastname@example.org
4 | BOSTON SPIRIT
Professionals networking group, you do now. It’s the hottest regular meeting place for career development in social settings for the LGBT community. And there’s a whole bunch more. You don’t need me to go on about all the rest. The fascinating profiles of people you should really know starts on page 42. It’s a great place to begin your Pride celebration. Pride is an apt time to, as the name says, take pride in many of the great things that are happening in our diverse LGBTQ community. Helping us here at Boston Spirit to celebrate, will be US Representative David Cicilline (D-RI). He will be our guest speaker at our huge annual Executive Networking Night on May 2. Be prepared to hear this Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus co-chair talk about how the Caucus has more members than it ever has. Let’s also celebrate the passing in Massachusetts of “An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors”—or the bill banning conversation therapy, as it is better known (see story on page 38). It’s been a long time coming. But the Bay State finally brought a legal stop to this cruel practice.
And regardless of what you think of his politics, the fact that an openly gay man is a viable candidate for the presidency (Pete Buttigieg—who’s already visited Massachusetts for his campaign), is kinda beyond comprehension for someone like me whose first Pride in the 1980s featured no corporate sponsors, because major brands were scared to affiliate with a bunch of perverts—like me. Sure, there’s plenty to grouse about in 2019, but there’s also a lot of good going on. As activist Arline Isaacson said with regards to the victory in the Bay State on banning conversion therapy: “Isn’t winning great? We need wins these days, with all that’s going on in DC.” We’ll take all the wins we can get. Let’s be proud of them. Let’s keep building on them. Yes, that’s it. Have faith. Take heart. Take pride.
James Lopata Editor
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Mile High Maven
Friendliest Leagues in Town
Let Us Introduce You
Contents MAR | APR 2019 | VOLUME 15 | ISSUE 2
Hit List 10 May Flowers 12 Mile High Maven 14 NoHo Pride 16 A Match that Sparked a Movement 20 Marshaling a New Era 22 Newsmakers | New England 26
Seasonal Let Us Introduce You
Bernadette Peters is Back (in Boston) Where She Belongs
Life after Broadway
The View from Here
Broadway’s Finest Flock to Provincetown
‘Hedwig’ Creator Headlines in Provincetown
Broadway legend returns to open Boston Pops 134th season Paula Vogel’s ‘Indecent’ comes to Boston in full Broadway form
Friendliest Leagues in Town Gay Dodgeball brings childhood favorite to LGBTQIA community
Lea Comes Home
Legendary performer opens her own nightspot in the heart of Provincetown
Victory for Bay State Youth
Mass. legislation bans anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy
Max Vernon’s punk musical ‘The View Upstairs’ reimagines a forgotten piece of LGBT history Art House series kicks off with ‘Fun Home’ star Beth Malone
PIFF showcases LGBT talent, on stage and on film Berklee College musical theater professor releases hot new album
Bernadette Peters is back
6 | BOSTON SPIRIT
Life After Broadway
New England Events
Men’s Event The Dinner Party Race for the Tiara Victory Programs’ Dinnerfest North Shore Pride Networking Event ‘Catalysts of Change’
99 100 101 102
A Gleeful Voice
Jane Lynch sings the American Songbook at the Boston Pops
A Gleeful Voice
Be free. Be forever proud. We believe everyone should be free to be themselves. Today. Tomorrow. Forever.
SPOTLIGHT Trending STORY Scott Kearnan
Hit List NEWS, NOTES AND TO-DOS FOR EVERY GAY AGENDA
Congressman David Cicilline
code, emphasizes itself as a safe space for all identities to gather for dance parties, board games, pajama parties, and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewings. (Miss Congeniality winner Ivy Winters paid a recent visit.) More: troupe429. com
EXPAND YOUR CIRCLE OF LGBTprofessionals at the
13th annual Boston Spirit Executive Networking Night. This year, Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline, co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and a strong critic of the current administration, will offer the event’s keynote address. Held 6–9 p.m., Thursday, May 2, it’s a great chance to meet other LGBT leaders while mingling over cocktails and checking out opportunities from dozens of exhibitors. RSVP: bostonspiritmagazine.com
HAVE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE,
because the fifth-graders of Connecticut have elected the state’s first openly-gay “Kid
Governor.” 11-year-old Ella Briggs was elected by thousands of students in 87 schools in an annual civics program created by the Connecticut Democracy Center. Briggs ran on a platform of LGBTQ youth safety, and declared at her inauguration that she wants to be America’s “first lesbian president.” In her role, Briggs, who has dealt with bullying herself, “will begin important conversations with students and adults” about keeping LGBTQ young people safe. We’re already betting on Briggs for 2046. More: ct.kidgovernor. org
GET TO KNOWSir Babygirl,
aka Kelsie Hogue, a Hanover, New Hampshire-based performer making waves in the increasingly exciting
Sir Babygirl landscape of buzzy queer pop. The binary-busting singer, who came up in the DIY scene of Boston’s artsy Allston neighborhood, makes candycoated earworms laden with rich emotion—skillful, smart productions that just scored her a recent spot at South by Southwest, one of the country’s most important music fests. Her new album, “Crush on Me,” has been receiving raves—for good reason. More: sirbabygirl. bandcamp.com
BE INSPIRED BY DANCEthat celebrates expression for everyone. Abilities Dance Boston is a new performing company founded by Ellice Patterson, a dancer whose frustrations elsewhere
SWING BY FOR A COCKTAIL
at TROUPE429: LGBTQ Bar & Performance Space, bringing a Brooklyn-cool vibe to western Connecticut. (It’s the only nightly open queer bar between New Haven and NYC.) The gay-owned space, named in reference to a Stonewall-era
Abilities Dance Boston
PUBLISHER David Zimmerman EDITOR IN CHIEF James Lopata MANAGING EDITOR Robert Phelps [email@example.com] ART DIRECTOR Dean Burchell CONTRIBUTING LIFESTYLE EDITOR Scott Kearnan [firstname.lastname@example.org] CONTRIBUTING ARTS EDITOR Loren King CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alyssa Gillin, Tom Joyce, Nina Livingstone, Natalie Nonken, Kim Harris Stowell CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Joel Benjamin COVER PHOTO Tina Turnbow ON THE WEB [bostonspiritmagazine.com] TALK TO US [email@example.com] EDITORIAL CONTACT [firstname.lastname@example.org] PUBLISHING AND SALES CONTACT [email@example.com or 781-223-8538] THE FINE PRINT Boston Spirit magazine. A Division of Jake Publishing, LLC Published by Jake Publishing, LLC. Copyright 2004 by Jake Publishing, LLC. All
MAY| JUN 2019 | VOLUME 15 | ISSUE 3
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
10 | BOSTON SPIRIT
inspired her to launch her own organization supporting artistic opportunities for all, regardless of mental or physical ability. Patterson recently told Boston’s WBUR that she also wants to address the disparity in disability activism by focusing on “trans people of color and queer people of color with disabilities.” Music to our ears. More: abilitiesdanceboston.org
PICK UP A BOTTLE OF QUEER-MADE WHISKEYfrom
Privateer Rum, an Ipswich, Massachusetts maker of award-winning craft spirits. In May, Privateer releases its very first whiskey, an American single-malt, as well as a limited run of Navy Yard rum boasting a top-shelf “bottledin-bond” designation that the U.S. government bestows only spirits that meet super-strict standards for authenticity. Privateer’s president and head distiller, Maggie Campbell, is a queer woman making big waves.
BE DAZZLED BY“Leading Men,” the new novel from Boston author Christopher Castellani, artistic director of Grub Street, the country’s largest creative writing center. The tome looks at the relationship between playwright Tennessee Williams and partner Frank Merlo, an actor. It revolves largely around a fateful summer in Italy, when the pair meet a beautiful future film star, Anja Bloom — and winds up a sweeping story of love, loss, and loneliness. More: christophercastellani.com [x]
SPOTLIGHT Design STORY Scott Kearnan
Andrew Anderson. PHOTO Cheryl Richards
May Flowers TIPS FROM A FLORAL ARRANGING GURU TO COLOR YOUR SEASON You know the saying, “April showers bring May Flowers.” Well, move over, April. Meet Andrew Anderson, the florals guru behind Ilex Designs in South Boston. As head designer for the full-service florist and event design company, he brings truly stunning flowers to May—and every other month, for that matter—whether he’s managing gardens for clients, filling private homes with fresh arrangements, or creating truly wowworthy displays for weddings and other functions. For Anderson, who was raised on a small farm in Vermont, flowers are just another medium for expressing his creativity. Growing up, he was fascinated by everything from fashion to drawing, to photography—plants came later, although a green thumb certainly seems to run in the family. Anderson’s dad is a horticulturalist, and his uncle has a doctorate in the breeding of chrysanthemums. Anderson—who grew up in a religious household—was also the one who planted the seed for other members of his family to come out. He is one of four kids, three of whom are gay, and his father has a gay sibling and a bisexual sibling. Even his uncle “officially came out after I did,” says Anderson.
12 | BOSTON SPIRIT
Since 2004, his Ilex Designs has been doing impressive work with flowers. But now that spring and summer are here, we asked Anderson to share some fun tips and tricks that readers can keep in mind when beautifying their home with blooms. Whether you’re outfitting your summer place in Ogunquit or finding ways to invite Mother Nature into a downtown condo, here are a few ideas:
Consider your inspirations. Before deciding how to fit florals into your home, build a Pinterest board that culls ideas from elsewhere. Anderson also asks his clients to ask themselves questions that get to the heart of their individual aesthetic—everything from “Who is your favorite fashion designer?” to “What colors are in your home?” Ditch the mason jars. They’re “so last year” says Anderson. “They’ve been a trend for a few years, and it’s time to let them go.” Though the vessels have been popular with hipsters, current floral trends are already fairly “bohemian,” says Anderson, who is seeing “lots of loose layers of texture and foliage.” He recommends grounding those looks in a simple, more sophisticated container. Don’t overdo it at dinner parties. No need to throw a cornucopia in the middle of the table setting. Anderson prefers to create a striking scene with candles, and “tucks in” minimal flowers throughout.
Check what’s in your fridge. You might find something fun and surprising to add to your arrangements. Lettuces look great with flowers, says Anderson. So do herbs like rosemary and basil, though he recommends staying away from more fragrant flowers, so scents don’t compete. Try air plants. These low-maintenance plants—that don’t grow in soil and can be watered from a running sink—are great for novices. They’re also great for small-space living, since they can be tucked into nooks and crannies, or set in unusual vessels. At his home, Anderson keeps one in a Murano ashtray. Have fun with succulents. Because they retain water for longer periods of time, they’re also great starting plants. Anderson suggests finding succulents of different shades and textures, and layering them in interesting ways. Levitate. Not exactly. But use wall planters to beautify city decks and other spaces with minimal floor space. “Use the right kind of plants that will cascade and spill out,” says Anderson. Keep trim. One common faux pas? Leaving stems too long in a vase. “Don’t let them splay out in weird ways,” says Anderson. “Cut them a little shorter, keep them closer to the neck of the vase and let them be a small mass of flowers. A small pop of color does wonders.” [x]
Create depth and dimension with tone-on-tone color.
T H I R T Y
Y E A R S
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BOSTON | NATICK | BURLINGTON | MGBWHOME.COM
SPOTLIGHT Comedy STORY Scott Kearnan
Mile High Maven SAUCY STEWARDESS FROM DOWN UNDER, PAM ANN, LANDS IN P’TOWN This summer, if you see a buxom babe strutting around Provincetown with big hair, a brassy attitude, and the knee-high leather boots of a 1960s-era airline stewardess, you might think you’ve bumped into a particularly fetching drag queen—or at the very least, an extremely fashionable Cape Air attendant. Wrong! It’s just Pam Ann (aka Caroline Reid), the Australia-born comedian whose colorful, campy ensembles and saucy, quickwitted humor—all based around her inventive, air hostess persona—have endeared her to gay audiences, in particular. Her latest live show, “Buckle Up, Bitches!” will fly into Paramount at the Crown & Anchor June 26–July 27. And she’ll fit right in with the fleet of “Drag Race” contestants and other talented panty-tuckers taking over Commercial Street venues. “My entire life,” answers Pam Ann, when asked if she’s ever mistaken for a drag queen. (To be fair, she’s a kitsch character with an over-the-top wardrobe and frequently foul-mouthed comedy. It’s not much of a stretch.) 14 | BOSTON SPIRIT
Besides, Reid came up through the gay clubs of Sydney back in the ’90s. “I was raised by drag queens, trans people and gays,” she says. Clearly, the community has raised her well. She’s sold out theaters around the world, shared a stage with Cher, and was tapped by Elton John and husband David Furnish to perform aboard a private chartered Boeing 737 as part of the latter’s 40th birthday festivities. She even had her own talk show Down Under. There’s no doubt that Pam Ann is a natural showgirl. To that end, she takes some inspiration from the attitude of her biggest LGBTQ icon: “Madonna. Because she goes to the beat of her own fucking drum.” Still, Pam Ann won’t offer too much detail on what she has in store for “Buckle Up, Bitches!” If past performances are any indication, though you can probably bet on a mix of stand-up and audience interaction (So bring a sense of humor about yourself, too.)
“My comedy is observational and improvised so I have no idea what to expect myself,” offers Pam Ann. “Expect the unexpected!” Something you shouldn’t expect: a trigger warning. Pam Ann refuses to rein in her provocative approach to humor. That’s increasingly rare in the era of social media, when comedians and other performers— even the kind of famously unfiltered drag performers who helped raise Pam Ann—are self-policing to avoid causing offense. “People are offended at a pair of shoes these days,” says Pam Ann. “I just do me. I don’t really care what other people think. If I did, my career would’ve ended 23 years ago.” “Clean or PC comedy is just safe and not authentic,” she continues. “Nothing is off limits in my eyes.” Well, not exactly everything. “There are certain things I won’t say— purely because I find them boring!” Boring? Now that is a notion that truly offends. [x]
STANDS STRONG Good gets things done. Good never gives up. Thatâ€™s why Eastern Bank was proud to support a Yes on 3 vote that upheld Massachusettsâ€™ non-discrimination laws to protect our transgender friends, family and neighbors. Because we believe that doing the right thing is a good thing.
Join us to make a difference at joinusforgood.com
SPOTLIGHT Travel STORY Scott Kearnan
Familiars Bloke [BOTTOM] HERO Barber & Mercantile [TOP]
A GREAT LGBTQ PLACE TO PLAY AND STAY IN WESTERN MASS. Northampton, Massachusetts is famously LGBTQ-friendly. But if you need some specific suggestions on where to eat, play and stay—allow us. Here’s a guide of 10 must-know businesses and collectives when you visit—for the annual NoHo Pride celebrations, perhaps, which go down on May 4. (See Calendar listing on page 98 for more details.) Belly of the Beast: Farm-totable dining baits monstrous appetites to this cute, hip yet homespun restaurant that recently hosted a special dinner to benefit Black and Pink, a network of LGBTQ prisoners and allies. The from-scratch, seasonal fare changes often—and ranges from pork fat brownie bites to noodle-filled bone broth soup. More: bellyofthebeastma. com. Bloke: Mix and mingle with queer lads at Bloke, a signature (five years running!) party from Rebel Rise Entertainment, a nightlife events biz founded by Ken Rooney. It’s a DJ dance party held on the first Saturday of every month at Bishop’s Lounge, a friendly and spacious bar. More: facebook.com/ rebelriseentertainment. Familiars Coffee & Tea: Earlier this year, the new LGBTQ owners of this historic 1930s train car an interior makeover and refreshed identity. As
select rooms, required to meet the needs of famous guests like Melissa Etheridge and David Bowie. More: hotelnorthampton. com.
Familiars, it’s still a friendly spot, a retro-hip hangout for sipping 30 different loose-leaf teas and drinks made with famed Counter Culture coffee— plus all-day breakfast and lunch noshes. More: familiarscoffee. com.
Progression Brewing Company: The craft beer scene continues to explode across Massachusetts. This Northampton newcomer celebrates “balanced values of business, family, community, and humankind”—you know, by gifting us with some great ales, stouts, and porters to share over bar snacks and board games in their cool taproom. More: progbrew.com.
Greens Treat Suites: For serene accommodations, check out Greens Treat Suites, a charming little setup run by longtime couple John Sielski and Jim Dozmati. Choose the two-bedroom Mountain View Suite, with its own living room, kitchen, and lovely rural vistas; or the Bamboo Suite, cloistered in a bamboo grove with a kitchenette and cedar-lined, rain-water shower. More: greenstreat.com. HERO Barber & Mercantile: This LGBTQ-owned boutique is stocked with wares from artisans across the country, with a focus on rustic-chic stuff like beard kits, hardwood sunglasses, and campfire-scented candles. The spot has also added a full-service barber shop, so now you can get groomed while gift-shopping. Heromensgear. com. Hors D’oeuvres Entertainment: Looking to party with some of the coolest queers in Western Mass? You’ll find them wherever drag performer Hors D’oeuvres is hosting a party. Besides serving as
GREENS TREAT SUITES
16 | BOSTON SPIRIT
entertainment director for Noho Pride, Hors D’oeuvres is the force behind “Bon Appetit Burlesque” revues and “Maim that Tune” drag shows in Northampton. More: houseofhors.com. Hotel Northampton: Stay in the heart of quaint Northampton at this historic property set, a beautiful brick building with an air of low-key Yankee class. The hotel has all the modern amenities, from hotel-wide Wi-Fi to private balconies in
Northampton is known for its progressive politics and high number of same-sex households, so you’ll find plenty of LGBTfriendly lodging when you’re looking to explore this artsy area tucked into the foothills of the Berkshires. But for a truly unique experience—something that feels like an especially awesome Airbnb find—lay your head at the super-secluded Greens Treat Suites. It’s a charming little setup run by John Sielski and Jim Dozmati, a loving couple of 39 years. The husbands live on a quiet side street just outside of downtown, where they run two self-contained, ultra-private accommodations: the Mountain View Suite,
Sugar Biscuit: Keep an eye out for DJ LeFox, who runs the Sugar Biscuit queer dance parties. They’re typically held on First Fridays at the Basement, an unsurprisingly barebones bar, and tend to spin soulful house, ‘80s throwbacks, indiepop, and diva anthems. More: facebook.com/djlefox. Valley Queer Yoga: This collaborative effort rolls out the yoga and welcome mats, building a network of classes specifically oriented toward queer and trans practitioners in the Pioneer Valley. Classes are typically held in neighboring Easthampton and Greenfield, both easily accessed when you need to center yourself in Western Mass. More: valleyqtyoga. wordpress.com. [x]
where two bedrooms, a living room and full kitchen enjoy lovely rural vistas, and the Bamboo Suite, a hideaway cloistered in a bamboo grove with a kitchenette and cedar wet room with rainwater shower. (It’s a good place to get some romantic ideas.) The gents are congenial hosts, and at these adorable accommodations from which to explore, your only neighbors will be the chickens: Sielski and Dozmati run a small CSA program from the picturesque garden on property.
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PRE-BROADWAY WORLD PREMIERE NOVEMBER 30 - JANUARY 5
PRIDE IS POWERFUL. PRIDE IS STRONG. PRIDE IS SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE.
SAVE THE DATE
2019 LGBTQ PROFESSIONALS NETWORKING NIGHT LGBTQ COMMUNITY AND ALLIES WELCOME DATE: 6|25|2019 TIME: 6:00PMâ€”9:00PM WHERE: MIT Media Lab, 6th Floor 75 Amherst Street, Cambridge, MA 02139 REGISTER AT CAMBRIDGESAVINGS.COM/PRIDE
SPOTLIGHT Books STORY Scott Kearnan
A Match that Sparked a Movement ‘TINDERBOX: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE UP STAIRS LOUNGE FIRE AND THE RISE OF GAY LIBERATION’ In June, LGBTQ folks will reflect on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. But only four years after those riots in NYC, a different gay bar—this time, in New Orleans—was the site of another incredibly important, if tragic, and galvanizing event. In “Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation,” Boston author Robert W. Fieseler rebuilds from the rubble of history the circumstances surrounding the titular arson that claimed 32 lives in June 1973. The Up Stairs Lounge torching was, until the June 2016 massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, the deadliest single attack on LGBTQ people in American history. Yet the circumstances remain as underreported today as they were in the initial aftermath of the catastrophe, when media outlets and New Orleans authorities obfuscated or outright ignored the fire’s connection to a maligned (and criminalized) gay community—one that was still taking its earliest steps out of the city’s shadows. “An interesting parallel between the Up Stairs Lounge and Pulse, is the way that religious forces and conservative media outlets
worked to try and take them away from queer people,” says Fieseler. In the wake of Orlando, some pundits questioned the relevancy and importance that the killing zone was a gay club, all-lives-matter style. Following the Up Stairs Lounge fire, city officials talked about the fatalities mostly in terms of fire code reform—if they talked about them at all. That’s probably because, although no one was ever charged for the Up Stairs Lounge arson, all the evidence suggests that it was a retaliatory act by Rodger Nunez, a belligerent bar regular who was ejected earlier that day. That this was likely “gay on gay” crime was seized upon by some to dismiss homophobia as a factor, says Fieseler. But the author is careful to contextualize the act within the deeply closeted culture of the Deep South in the 1970s, and the kind of internalized self-hatred it fostered, particularly for the bar’s working-class clientele. “I’m mostly a subculture reporter,” says Fieseler, whose new tome is a finalist for the esteemed Edgar Awards, presented by the Mystery Writers of America, as well as the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction.
“I’m very interested in exploring societal subterranean, and I also happen to be a gay person. I knew eventually I’d like to have a story where I get to focus on queer life when it was a subculture, when it was hidden.” Fieseler sifted through reams of research and—over the course of several slow, trustbuilding years—interviewed many actual Up Stairs Lounge survivors. Besides sharing their memories of the bar, its patrons, and the tragedy itself, they were able to illuminate the author on the ways in which the event mobilized an uprising. In the aftermath, national gay leaders descended on New Orleans. Communities in different cities activated, raising emergency relief funds and organizing blood drives for victims— even as some bodies of the deceased went unclaimed by embarrassed families. The impact of the heartbreaking event reverberated among activists for years to come. Though conversations were rarely easy for those who lived through the fire, these shared stories have helped Fieseler create the definitive account of a pivotal, profound event in LGBTQ history. They also offered a form of closure for the author, who grew up a closeted kid in the Midwest, and regrets that he never had the chance to learn about the experiences of his gay “uncle”—actually, an aunt’s brother—who died of AIDS when Fieseler was 13 years old. “It all came crashing down that I was a gay person, and the only other gay person I knew had died of this terrible disease,” explains Fieseler. “It’s like I was given the prospect of this mentor, and then had that person ripped away from me.” Writing “Tinderbox” allowed Fiesler to dive deep into the unique experiences of a gay generation, before it was decimated by the epidemic. Readers will be similarly struck by the instructive lessons of strength, resilience, and community-building they showed in the darkest of times. “I had the sense more and more that something very vacuous inside myself was being healed by these conversations,” says Fieseler. From the ashes, renewal. See page 88 for information on “The View UpStairs,” a musical inspired by the events, presented by Speakeasy Stage Company in June. [x]
rwfieseler.com Robert W. Fieseler. PHOTO Ryan Leitner
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SPOTLIGHT Community STORY Bob Linscott
Ethos Pride Luncheon. PHOTO Courtesy Ethos
Marshaling a New Era HONORING ONE MAN’S MISSION TO CHANGE HOW WE CARE FOR OUR LGBT ELDERS This year marks the 49th anniversary for the Boston Pride Parade and the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. With such a focus on the rich history and legacy of the LGBTQ community, it is fitting that the person selected to be this year’s grand marshal is Dale Mitchell, who has dedicated his career to the lives and visibility of LGBT older adults, like the ones who fought for our rights decades ago. Mitchell is the executive director of Ethos, a local elder service provider in Jamaica Plain. When he took on that role he realized he was in a position that enabled him to make significant changes in the elder care network, specifically making the entire network more welcoming and inclusive for LGBT older adults. He realized that he was risking not only his career but his reputation. Thankfully that never concerned Mitchell, and in the last 25 years he has brought about a monumental systems change around the care for LGBT elders that has never been seen before. Over the years many have wondered what inspired Mitchell to dedicate his life to the advocacy for LGBT elders. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that he was present for
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the Stonewall Rebellion, but his inspiration may also be connected to own family legacy. His own grandfather was arrested and ruined for sodomy, a dark family secret that his mother never shared with him until a few years before her death. The memory of his grandfather was practically erased from his family’s history. In 1993 Mitchell took over the helm of Southwest Boston Senior Services. He quickly began work to rebrand his agency with a better name, Ethos, and a missiondriven tagline: “Care, Compassion and Community,” which has underscored all their work. Mitchell quickly realized that not only his agency, but the entire elder service network was not equipped to service LGBT older adults. Stories were surfacing of home care aides taking out Bibles and asking LGBT elders to repent. This population, marginalized and aging alone, was in desperate need of culturally competent care, and the current system was doing nothing to address this. In 2001 Mitchell and his colleague, David Aronstein, decided to address this by launching an LGBT Aging Summit, which
drew over 100 professionals from the elder service network, as well as community members and allies. It was through this summit that The LGBT Aging Project was developed. One of the first tasks of The LGBT Aging Project, under Mitchell’s leadership, was to develop a training to sensitize elder care providers to the unique needs of LGBT older adults. Once developed, the training was piloted on his own staff and a host of LGBT-friendly programs and services soon followed. In a matter of years LGBT older adults, who had once been invisible and marginalized were now folded into a vibrant and growing movement. Seeing the success of the training and outreach in his own catchment area, Mitchell began to lobby the state for funding for this training to be available to the entire elder service network and the LGBT Aging Project was off and running. In his 25 years as executive director, Mitchell made milestone accomplishments that first established Ethos as a truly welcoming agency, and his accomplishments also had an impact on the entire state of Massachusetts earning the designation of being the best state to age in for LGBT older adults. So many of his accomplishments were groundbreaking for the state and were firsts in in
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infrastructure that it would be too difficult to stop this momentum.
Some of these accomplishments include the creation of the first federally funded LGBTfriendly congregate meal program, Café Emmanuel, founded in 2004. Now these LGBT-friendly community meals, currently 23 across the state, have become a signature mark for Massachusetts. In 2014 Mitchell successfully lobbied the legislature for a statewide Commission on LGBT Aging, the first of its kind in the country. Other major accomplishments followed, including the inclusion of four questions relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in the state’s elder service intake questionnaire, a change that brought more visibility and critical resources to LGBT older adults. In 2018 Mitchell received a $100,000 grant to launch Age Well Equality, which is a unique collaboration of providers and consumers to promote the development of a regional LGBT-friendly aging services network.
At this point Mitchell has no specific plans for retirement. He looks forward to managing his own life instead of managing a whole organization and a mission. When asked how he feels about transitioning from a position of control over home care to one day needing to be a recipient of that care, he pauses. “Well, regardless of who you are it is a bit scary to have a total stranger enter your home and be the one thing that stands between aging in your home and being sent to a nursing home. But I am particularly thankful for one of my achievements. When that homecare worker comes into my house I will ask them if they had the LGBT training and if they say no…I’ll sue that agency!” And he begins to laugh.
Also in 2018, after a 10-year effort, Mitchell helped usher an LGBT training bill into law. This bill requires all elder service providers licensed by the state to receive a mandatory training on LGBT aging, finally opening the doors to culturally competent and inclusive services for all.
Dale Mitchell at Ethos SeniorPalooza senior prom. PHOTO Courtesy of Ethos. As with the reign of so many charismatic and influential leaders, at some point they all need to slow down. This fall Mitchell broke the news that many had been bracing for. He will retire this September. Like many in the field of LGBT aging in Massachusetts, Mitchell also worries who will pick up this torch and keep it moving forward after he retires because these are uncertain times. But Mitchell hopes that he built up enough
For now, Mitchell is looking forward to being the grand marshal, and he has been practicing a variety of waves for the parade. When asked what he thinks his grandfather would say about all the work he has done for LGBT elders in Massachusetts, a huge smile comes across Mitchell’s face. “Beautiful. I think he would say it’s beautiful.” [x]
Bob Linscott is assistant director of the LGBT Aging Project at The Fenway Institute
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SPOTLIGHT News STORY Rob Phelps, Kim Harris Stowell and Natalie Nonken
Newsmakers | New England Despite, Collins long-time record of LGBT support even before signing onto the 2019 Equality Act—including for transgender military personnel, marriage equality, early calls to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and advocacy for the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, all of which earned her HRC endorsements over the years—in his October 2018 statement, Griffin urged voters to vote out all the senators who suported Kavanaugh. Many in the LGBTQ community agree, with Collins the target of sharp criticism. [RP]
Sen. Susan Collins. PHOTO courtesy collins.senator.gov
ME | Pine Tree State COLLINS ONLY GOP SENATOR TO BACK EQUALITY ACT Say what you will about Senator Susan Collins of Maine’s disappointing vote in October 2018 to confirm Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court—in March 2019, Collins became the only US senator to sign on as a sponsor of the comprehensive LGBT nondiscrimination Equality Act of 2019. The Republican senator also signed on as the lead GOP sponsor of the bill. “It is time we ensure that all people are judged on their talents and abilities, and have full access to the services they need and the opportunities they seek. This bill marks the beginning of that process, and I urge my colleagues to join me as we take steps to build bipartisan consensus around the Equality Act,” Collins wrote in a statement issued from her office. Only a few months before, HRC President Chad Griffin wrote in a statement: “In one of the most consequential vote of her lifetime—and of her constituents’ lifetimes—[Collins] has opted to back a dangerous, unqualified nominee who repeatedly lied under oath and has multiple credible allegations of sexual assault. The harmful consequences of Sen. Collins’ decision to support Brett Kavanaugh will last decades.”
NH | The Granite State
group called the “Hidden Faithful” (clergy who wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons)—stated: “Regardless of the outcomes of General Conference, we will remain ordained by the same grace that was poured out upon you at your baptism. Neither of those blessings is revocable by human votes. We will remain in ministry with and for you and the LGBTQIA+ kids who will no doubt continue to be born into homophobic churches within and beyond the UMC connection.” Wrote Girrell and Delmore in a West Lebannon Valley News op-ed, “[W]e are and will remain a people who can lead the way in love and service, and live together in our differences. We give thanks for the Upper Valley community, and that we are a place where differences are celebrated rather than feared.” [RP]
RI | The Ocean State Sean Delmore and Becca Girrell. PHOTO Facebook
PREVAILING AFTER UNITED METHODIST DECISION After United Methodist Church delegates voted in Saint Louis in late February against observing marriage equality and ordination of LGBTQ ministers, Granite State clergy members—and many parishers—reacted in dismay but also with perseverance. Prior to the vote, a letter from the United Methodists Queer Clergy Caucus, signed by 129 LGBTQ and allied clergy— among them Rev. Becca Girrell of United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Rev. Sean Delmore of White River Junction (Vermont) United Methodist Church and a New England
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BILL TO EXTEND BENEFITS FOR LGBT MILITARY In early April, Warwick’s Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson filed legislation with the RI General Assembly, extending veterans’ benefits to gay or transgender members of the armed forces denied honorable discharges based on sexual orientation. The House subsequently passed the bill. The legislation, if passed in the Senate and signed into law, would permit former
Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson. PHOTO Twitter
members of the armed forces who received less than honorable discharges based solely on sexual orientation to receive earned veterans’ benefits as if their discharge had been characterized as honorable, including housing and employment veterans’ preferences. Vella-Wilkinson, a retired Navy officer, explained that just because gay members of the armed forces can serve proudly and openly since the 2011 repeal of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell,’ many gay service members were unceremoniously discharged and denied benefits for decades. The bill is cosponsored by Representatives Christopher T. Millea of Cranston, Evan P. Shanley of Warwick and Joseph S. Almeida and Anastasia P. Williams of Providence, and has been referred to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. [KHS]
LGBT PARENTAGE ACTS South Kingstown’s Rep. Carol McEntee has introduced two bills designed to ease the path to parenthood for LGBTQ Rhode Islanders. First, the Rhode Island Parentage Act ensures that all parentage statutes apply equally to LGBTQ parents. Notes GLAD, “These critical reforms recognize the diversity of families in Rhode Island and ensure that all children can have their legal parentage established regardless of the circumstances of their birth. The current Rhode Island parentage law is out of date and unconstitutional.” Equally important, the Rhode Island Confirmatory Adoption Act streamlines the process for adoptions, eliminating
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home study, waiting periods and other requirements that currently create barriers to LGBTQ couples. The current process is “slow, expensive and difficult to navigate,” GLAD finds. “The current system creates barriers and delays for families in securing their children, leaving children born to LGBTQ families vunerable.” [KHS]
VT | Green Mountain State LEADING IN RURAL LGBT POPULATION GROWTH LGBTQ people are breaking the queer-equals-urban-only stereotype all over the US, from Montana ranchers to Green Mountaineers, and Vermont is leading the way across the USA. This according to a new report from the Movement Advance Project. “Vermont leads the country with the greatest concentration of rural residents—93 percent of counties are majority rural—and has the highest proportion of LGBTQ adults living in any rural state, at 5.2 percent, according to the Williams Institute,” notes USA TODAY, summing up the Green Mountain portion of the MAP report. “The state is regarded as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly in the USA—it was the first state to allow civil unions for same-sex couples in 2000.” The report, “Where We Call Home: LGBT People in Rural America,” details “how many LGBT people live in rural areas and why they live there; the experiences of LGBT people
living in rural communities; and the social and political landscape in rural America” and provides “a robust set of recommendations for improving the lives of all rural residents, including LGBT people.” MAP is an independent, nonprofit think tank with a mission to provide “rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all.” [RP]
CT | Constitution State STONEWALL, MUSICALLY FÊTE The Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus celebrates the 50th anniversary of Stonewall with a performance called “As You Are: 50 Years After Stonewall.” Show times are 8 p.m. on May 18 and 4 p.m. on May 19 at the Theatre at the Co-Op (Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School) in New Haven. Says the CGMC, “The Stonewall riots are widely seen as one of the most pivotal moments in LGBTQ history.” With this concert the group “pays tribute to those heroes who have championed the movement through history, and celebrates the songwriters and performers who have created incredible moments in those five decades, not just for LGBTQ people but for marginalized people everywhere.” The Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus welcomes new male members of all orientations (age 18+). Rehearsals are Tuesday nights in New Haven. More at ctgmc.org. [NN] [x]
Green Mountain Crossroads Summit. PHOTO Courtesy Green Mountain Crossroads
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FEATURE Sports STORY Tom Joyce
PHOTOS courtesy of Gay Dodgeball Boston
Friendliest Leagues in Town Gay Dodgeball brings childhood favorite to LGBTQIA community Keith London wanted an inclusive league to complement his already successful kickball league, so he went with another childhood favorite. Two years ago, London founded the league Gay Dodgeball, which features leagues across the country, including Boston. It was the second sports organization he started with teams in the city as his Gay Kickball also has a healthy presence in the city. “Boston specifically has just been one of the best cities,” London said. “Everybody wants to be involved with the community—and that’s great. The more players involved, the more fun we have and the stronger it makes the community. I’m very grateful.” “During the winter I thought, ‘What are we gonna do?’” he added. “These people
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still want to hangout. Well, dodgeball is kind of like our sister sport, so I thought we should do dodgeball—and it’s going pretty well.” The dodgeball league’s rules are simple enough to follow. Each week, teams play 50-minute games against one another with 13 players on each side (or a minimum of eight). Every time a team knocks all of the opposing team’s players out, they get a point, and they keep playing. After 50
minutes, the team with the most points is the winner. “It’s definitely a workout,” London said, “But we definitely promote it as for everyone. But the league got bigger than we expected, so we made two divisions: a competitive one and a fun, social one. That kind of keeps the people who want to be the all-stars in their own division, and the people who join who want to make friends, they have one too.”
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The league, which operates in both the summer and winter, had eight teams last season. However, since the kickball league has 100 more players this season than it did last season and there is significant crossover between the two, London is expecting increased participation this upcoming season—which will run from July 11 to August 29; the season starts in less than two weeks after the spring kickball season ends. That said, many players will jump from one season to the next. “I definitely see it,” London said. “But some people love kickball. Some people love dodgeball. So some people just join one or the other, but some people like both. And they like both, we have that for them.” One thing that London said stands out about the dodgeball league on the positive side is the camaraderie. He noted that while he has played in some LGBTQIA sports leagues that are tribal, that is not the case here. “Something I didn’t like about some leagues is that one team will go to this bar, another team will go to this bar and then you never really get to make a family out of the whole league,” he said. “So we’ll go to one bar and really take it over and pack the place. It’s great to see the different colored
shirts talking to each other and hanging out. It’s great to build friendships across the whole league.” That said, the reception to the league has been overwhelmingly positive—and London relishes his role in helping people make connections in the community. “I’m the one who gets all of the emails, but for the most part, it’s been really good,” London said. “I see on Facebook, being friends with people around the country,
these free agents who signed up that I put on a team, and now they’re hanging out with these people and have friends in the community. And I think it’s so important to have that core group in the community and it’s a big responsibility for me. But I love that I’m able to make people feel like they’re part of the community.” [x]
www.gaydodgeball.com/boston.html; https:// www.gaykickball.com/boston.html
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FEATURE Business STORY Loren King Lea DeLaria PHOTO Tina Turnbow
nightspot, renaming the space The Club, with dining (a kitchen has been installed where the front bar was) and entertainment. DeLaria will perform regularly there starting Memorial Day weekend and on weekends throughout June. Broadway and jazz A-listers will be showcased over the summer. “I could tease you with names like Dani Brooks, Uzo Aduba, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Gavin Creel but I don’t have set dates,” she says. “But I can assure you they will all be there.”
An old-school supper club
Lea Comes Home Legendary performer opens her own nightspot in the heart of Provincetown Lea DeLaria’s Provincetown life has come full circle. The award-winning actress, comic and soulful jazz singer has entertained audiences at just about every venue in Provincetown starting with the Pilgrim House in 1984. She was the sole entertainer in a Town Hall show at the debut in 1984 of Women’s Weekend. “The only other event they had then was a lesbian whale watch, which, by the way, gave me more jokes than you could possibly imagine,” says DeLaria. “I played everywhere; I even played the Gifford House in ’92. You name a spot in town; I played there.” Even after DeLaria’s star rose with her 1993 appearance on “The Arsenio Hall
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Show” as late night’s first openly gay comic, she still played gigs in Provincetown. Even after “Orange is the New Black,” the game-changing Netflix series on which she played butch prison inmate Carrie “Big Boo” Black for five seasons, earning her two Screen Actors Guild awards and legions of new fans, she headlined at Town Hall and the Art House. But starting Memorial Day weekend, DeLaria will be performing in her own Provincetown nightclub. DeLaria purchased the Pied, a waterfront property in the town center that had long been the town’s sole lesbian bar. She bought it from long-time owner Susan Webster and revamped it into a swank
The Club is the fulfillment of a longstanding dream for DeLaria. “I feel like I’m home. This is the club I’ve always wanted to see in the place where I always wanted it to happen,” DeLaria said in an exclusive interview with Boston Spirit. “It’s going to be an old-school supper club, which is something that’s been missing in the town. There are a million dance clubs but not a place where you can get great meal and see a great show.” The town, she says, has been enthusiastic and supportive of her new endeavor. The Provincetown Licensing Board in January approved the transfer of the common victualer and alcohol licenses to DeLaria’s company, A Lea DeLaria Joint LLC. The process was emotional for DeLaria. “I knew everybody on the [various town boards] and I said to them, ‘I’ve led a gypsy life. Provincetown is the closest thing to a home for me.’ That I get to come back and live my life’s dream means a lot to me. I teared up. It was lovely.” She credited her partner in the venture, Frank Christopher, founder in 1999 of the popular Smoke Jazz & Supper-Club Lounge in New York. Christopher will manage The Club. “He’s been coming to P’town for summers forever, and seven years ago bought a house in Truro. He loves the town as much as I do, but he doesn’t have the association that I do,” she says. “They don’t call him the mayor; they call me the mayor.” Besides DeLaria, who’ll be backed by her own, all-female band, other entertainers slated to perform at The Club are New York cabaret artist Justin Vivian Bond in June, local favorite Billy Hough every
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Tuesday starting in July, jazz vocalist Leslie Harrison on Mondays and Natalie Joy Johnson of Broadway’s “Kinky Boots” on Wednesdays. They will be accompanied by The Club’s house band of “world class musicians,” says DeLaria. DeLaria revealed a special engagement that will run for five weeks from August through Labor Day. She and Rachel Bay Jones, Tony Award winner for “Dear Evan Hansen,” will perform the Las Vegas nightclub act of jazz-swing greats Louis Prima and Keely Smith, with DeLaria singing Prima and Jones as Smith. The idea has been percolating since DeLaria and Jones performed the song “That Old Black Magic” together. “We are both huge Louis Prima and Keely Smith fans. We have been talking about doing this for ages, and we’re doing it in P’town,” says DeLaria.
Politically speaking On weekends in June, DeLaria will take the stage for two shows: her popular David Bowie set from her 2015 album “House of David” at 9 p.m. and “the best of Lea
DeLaria” with comedy and music at 7 p.m. If one thinks her new role as entrepreneur has tempered DeLaria’s brash commentary about politics or show business, think again. “I’m going to talk openly as a queer for a moment,” she says. “There were a lot of movies and TV shows last year about [gays] and all were directed by, written by or starred straight people. We are being written out of our own narrative. This is especially happening to lesbians. People were up in arms about ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ but no one said anything about ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me,’ ‘The Favourite’ or ‘Colette.’ Hollywood is two-faced when it comes to women and queers.” “There are plenty of us openly gay actors who have proven ourselves a million times over. I’ll get in trouble for this but, you know me, I speak my mind: ‘Angels in America’ comes over from England and they cast a straight British guy in one of the most important roles while Jesse Tyler Ferguson sits around twiddling his thumbs. He’s a Broadway star and five-time Emmy nominee who would have killed to play that part. We have to start
standing tall for each other in our community and pointing these things out.” She’s just as outspoken about the current political state. At a recent show at Joe’s Pub in New York, DeLaria sang a parody of the Pink Floyd song with the lyrics, “All in all, you’re just another prick with no wall.” There was a nervous moment, she says, when Trump’s government shutdown threatened The Club’s progress on its licensing. Even though all permits were granted, the shutdown put The Club six weeks behind schedule, she says. “We are opening Memorial Day weekend come hell or high water. We are doing it and calling it ‘Fuck Trump Weekend.’ Even this is affected by his hypocrisy.” The Club will have an area featuring memorabilia that covers DeLaria’s career as a Provincetown favorite. “We’re going to put a poster from Town Hall, pictures when I played the Pied, some awards. I’ve always felt that I was part of this town,” she says. “I want to be worthy of the nickname ‘the mayor of Provincetown.’” [x]
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FEATURE Politics/Health STORY Rob Phelps
Victory for Bay State Youth Massachusetts legislation bans anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy Ten minutes to midnight on July 31, 2018, both the Massachusetts house and senate moved the bill to ban anti-LGBT conversion therapy on youth into its final stage before enactment. It was the last day of last year’s legislative session. Julian Cyr, state senator from the Cape and Islands, grabbed the paperwork and rushed it back for final approval in the house, a formality since the votes were already there to send it to the governor’s desk. “Run!” cried Arline Isaacson, president of the Mass. Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, recalling those harrowing minutes. “Once the clock stuck midnight, most legislators would be willing to let the session run a bit longer, which they normally do,” she told Boston Spirit. “But then Jim Lyons [the now-former representative from the Essex district] stood up and said, ‘If you try to move this bill, I’m going to add 53 amendments and bring it to a halt.’ And that’s how the bill died last session,” Isaacson said. More than seven years of advocacy to bring the bill that far was put on hold.
38 | BOSTON SPIRIT
Moreover, as Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis of Framingham told the house floor nine months later, now in its current legislative session: “Every day we have put off the passage of this bill, more lives have been put at risk. We know the statistics. LGBTQ youth are already at higher risk for depression and anxiety and suicidality.” “And while we got close to banning the barbaric, outdated and scientifically debunked practice of conversion therapy [last year], we were ultimately unsuccessful. Even here in Massachusetts, there are people and organizations committed to taking our society backward, back to a time in which gender roles were rigidly interpreted and enforced and marriage and family were narrowly defined,” he said. A few weeks ago, success came at last. With the bill prioritized in the current 2019 session, it sped through the house in March, winning a vote of 147-8, and later that month in the senate an overwhelming 34-0. In early April, Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill—“An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors”—into law.
Rep. Jack Lewis, Rep. Sarah Peake, Deborah Shields, Rep. Kay Khan, a bill supporter, Holly Ryan, Arline Isaacson and Speaker Robert DeLeo after house votes to ban anti-LGBT conversion therapy. Photo courtesy Arline Isaacson [TOP, RIGHT]Michael Adam Ferguson at house hearing on Beacon Hill. [TOP, LEFT]
Massachusetts became the 16th state in the US to ban the harmful practice.
Discredited ‘treatment’ By 2019, it has been widely published that well-respected organizations like the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatricians and the National Association of Social Workers had all thoroughly discredited the so-called “treatment” of anti-LGBT conversion therapy. Sadly, this hasn’t stopped people from practicing it. And “it’s not practiced by disinterested professionals,” Isaacson
said. “It’s practiced by people who believe LGBT is a condition that must change.” Opponents of the legislation assert that the bill would prevent professionals from discussing sexuality and gender identity with young people altogether. “This bill does not do that,” Isaacson stressed. “We would never want a practitioner to not be able to talk with a kid and help them figure out who they are. We just don’t want them undergoing the abuse of being told that they’re horrible human beings and destined for terrible, sad, lonely, loathsome lives.” “Practitioners of conversion therapy are not helping people figure out what their authentic self is, which is what any good therapist would do,” she explained. “They come in with the predetermined outcome that to be LGBT is bad: it’s sick, it’s an illness, a disease, a sin, and it must be cured.” “And to put a kid through that kind of treatment,” she said, “even if you set aside the religiosity part of it and just focus on telling a kid that their life will be miserable for being who they are, for their
sexuality or their gender identity, is absolutely cruel. It is a form of child abuse.” The evidence from the professional organizations noted above shows that LGBTQ kids who undergo conversion therapy wind up with depression that leads to selfharm, including drug addiction, alcohol abuse and suicide, in addition to the layers of self-doubt and trauma these young people carry into adulthood. “It’s long since time to pass this bill,” Isaacson said.
A hard-fought win For almost eight years, Isaacson and fellow advocates worked tirelessly on Beacon Hill to ban conversion therapy on minors, bringing bills to the floor over four legislative sessions. The bill ran up against a mostly unspoken but implicit sentiment in the state house that only one LGBT-related bill could move forward each year. To no small degree, Isaacson said, the slow march forward is due to the sheer time and effort it takes to move
important progressive legislation. But it’s still frustrating, to say the least. “For this bill, it was rough going at first,” she said. First, they had to convince legislators that it was a legitimately harmful practice, and then they had to prove the practice even existed in the state. Time and again, Isaacson heard, “Oh, it’s a terrible practice, but they don’t do that here, do they?” By then, conversion therapy had become socially unacceptable, she said, and a lot of its therapists had “gone in the closet … sometimes literally,” so they weren’t always easy to find as examples. Finding survivors willing to testify proved equally challenging. “We couldn’t get some to testify because they were so traumatized,” she said. “To talk about it was to relive the pain and the trauma, and they just couldn’t do it.” At the recent house hearing in March, Michael Adam Ferguson, now a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience at Harvard Medical School who’d previously gone through years of conversion therapy as a young man and struggled to overcome
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it, testified with his husband J. Seth Anderson, a graduate student at Boston University researching the history of conversion therapy. (See page 66 for more on the couple.) Ferguson’s years of conversion therapy had brought him “to the point where I was having frequent and intrusive fantasies of self-harm in conjunction with the abuses I was experiencing from conversion therapy providers,” he said. “Once everything had unraveled for me and I realized I had been heavily investing the better part of a decade of my life, and also enormous financial resources, into these dead-end practices, there was just this massive sense of turmoil.” Reliving both the trauma of the treatments plus the turmoil of its aftermath is hard, he acknowledged. “But we had to testify. We just had to,” he said. And so he and Anderson rearranged their busy schedules to make it work. “I want to make it exquisitely clear that nothing short of a national cessation of conversion therapy should be the goal,” he said. “We need to stay mobilized and stay active until these practices are eliminated from our social fabric.” Because the advocates had to pull this last hearing together so quickly, they couldn’t bring in as may people and groups to testify on behalf of the bill as they had in the past. “There were easily a dozen more organizations that would have testified if they had more time,” Isaacson said. And the same went for grassroots support. Still, they had the momentum and the votes this time. It had taken years to convince the legislators, then years to line up not only enough votes for a majority but to override a potential gubernatorial veto, then to craft a bill in anticipation of legal challenges. With right-wing groups around
the country aiming to litigate against such bills, “we drafted this one ‘prophylactically,” Isaacson said; it has to stand up in court all the way up to SCOTUS, if necessary. Isaacson credits the continuous support of Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo plus newly elected Senate President Karen Spilka, “a longtime committed pro-LGBTQ advocate.” “We are also incredibly grateful for the dynamic bill sponsor Rep. Kay Khan from Newton who worked so closely with the bill and was constantly pushing the house to take it up,” said Isaacson. “She was dogged in her advocacy, and we love her for it.”
Celebrating victory “To the youth living in fear that those who claim to love them most are going to force you to change who you know you are at your core … I hope you hear from everyone each and every day of your life, there is nothing wrong with you, nothing is broken, and nothing needs to be fixed. You are great just the way you are, and you deserve more than just being tolerated, you deserve to be loved, to be supported, to be respected and yes even celebrated,” Rep. Lewis said in his address on the house floor just before the vote. “Isn’t winning great?” said Isaacson. “We need wins these days, with all that’s going on in DC.” “Sometimes you work on legislation and you hope it will make a difference. We know this bill is going to make a huge difference in the lives of so many kids. So many fewer young people are going to be forced to go through this torture,” Isaacson said. “It’s a good day, when you can stop that from happening.” [x]
Questions to Ask Your Partner Before Tying the Financial Knot WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE AND MONEY, TYING THE FINANCIAL KNOT INVOLVES ADJUSTMENTS AND COMPROMISE.
By understanding expectations, setting common goals, and mapping out life as a couple, you can build a healthy financial foundation for the future, together.
When two become one Creating a life together brings with it a whole new meaning to the word compromise: morning bathroom time, the “good side” of the bed, the TV remote, Saturday plans, and holidays with family. While you want to keep things exciting in your relationship, unexpected credit card debt is probably not the surprise your partner is looking for. To avoid letting money become a sensitive topic, rather than a means to supporting your desired lifestyle, lay it all out from the start. As a unit, you will share everything, including family responsibilities, money values, credit histories, budget restrictions, and spending patterns, so don’t be shy when it comes to sharing your financial hopes and fears. Since finance can often be a source of relationship stress, one of the best things you can do to help ensure the success of your relationship is to get comfortable talking about money. Here are 10 questions to help you get the conversation started around your financial well-being as a couple:
What are your life goals and dreams? What are some of your earliest money memories (both good and bad). Did your family talk about money growing up? What were those conversations like? 3. Do you have any outstanding debt or obligations I should know about? If you do, how do you want to handle them? 4. If you were to receive a $1,000 windfall tomorrow, how would you spend it and why? 5. What are your professional goals? How do you want to balance career and family? 6. What does your dream retirement look like? Do you even want to retire? 7. Do you want us to live in the city, the suburbs, or a more rural area? 8. If we do plan on having children, how do you envision us sharing parenting responsibilities and what values do you want to pass on to our children when it comes to money? 9. How do you envision dividing household expenses? Will one of us take the lead financial chores such as paying bills, tracking expenses, and managing our budget? 10. If one of us were offered a career opportunity in another city or country, how would we handle it?
Opening up about one another’s expectations can help make “the money talk” a healthy part of your routine, rather than a hot topic. Get in the habit of discussing your finances and addressing any concerns or questions on a regular basis to avoid unexpected arguments or unnecessary stress on your relationship. Don’t underestimate the importance of listening. Everyone approaches their finances differently, so be respectful of your partner’s expectations and money habits, even if they are different from your own. The key is to be honest with each other in order to find a healthy and happy compromise. A Financial Advisor can help you create a plan that incorporates your shared goals as you chart a new path together.
Michele B. O’Connor CFP® Executive Director— Wealth Management Financial Advisor Morgan Stanley 53 State Street 39th Floor Boston, MA 02109 Tel 617 589 3297 morganstanleyfa.com/michele.oconnor
Article by Morgan Stanley and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor Michele O’Connor. Michele B. O’Connor is a Financial Advisor at the 53 State Street Boston branch at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”). She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 617 589 3297. Her website is www.morganstanleyfa.com/michele.oconnor This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. The information and data in the article has been obtained from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of the information or data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. It does not provide individually tailored investment advice and has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. The strategies and/or
investments discussed in this article may not be suitable for all investors. Morgan Stanley recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a Financial Advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Michele O’Connor may only transact business, follow-up with individualized responses, or render personalized investment advice for compensation, in states where she is registered or excluded or exempted from registration, www.morganstanleyfa.com/michele.oconnor. © 2018 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC. CRC 2160678 07/2018
SEASONAL People STORY Scott Kearnan PHOTOGRAPHY | ART DIRECTION Joel Benjamin
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots—but LGBTQ history continues to be made every day. In this year’s installment of our annual “Let Us Introduce You” feature, we spotlight over a dozen New Englanders who are making waves in their very different fields: from activism to the arts, from politics to podcasting. Each person, in their own way, is making a difference—and helping us march forward, as the fight for equal rights goes on. 42 | BOSTON SPIRIT
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Shaunya Thomas PR E S I DE NT AN D F O U N DE R OF L E S BI AN S OF COLOR SYMP OS I UM ( LOC S ) COL L E C T I VE
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Growing up as a self-described “navy brat,” always on the move, helped Thomas learn to be quickly adaptable to change. On the other hand, she says, it led to an unstable childhood and made it difficult to plant roots in a community. Today, the LOCS Collective founder has created an organization where building community is paramount. She works to unite, celebrate, and empower queer women of color and their allies in a state where spaces to do so are few and far between. The group recently hosted its seventh annual symposium at Harvard Law School, tapping dynamic, high-profile speakers to discuss disparities around access to resources. The LOCS Collective will also host June’s State of QTPOC Affairs, a consortium of LGBTQ+ people of color discussing challenges and strategies, and organize October’s inaugural Melanin Pride Festival, supporting storytelling and social innovation through film, performance art and more. Next up, Thomas is launching events and programming dedicated to issues like economic literacy, as well as mental health support groups. She’s also working on a docuseries and film about queer women of color in Massachusetts. We’ll say it now: Two thumbs up.
SHAUNYA ON …
THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ISSUES AFFECTING QUEER WOMEN OF COLOR RIGHT NOW: “The lack of economic equity; the access to affordable education; and mental health disparities. Given how quickly the gap is widening between the nation’s top earners and everyone else, women of color, communities of color, and low-income individuals are vulnerable to gentrification, lack of resources, and many other challenges. As a community, we have to unite, to show up at the polls, and to advocate for each others’ needs—especially those of women of color, communities of color, and low-income individuals, because this is our collective responsibility. It is imperative that we not leave anyone behind—and be the voice for those who have been silenced and upon whose backs this nation has been founded.” HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE ALLY: “Allies are accomplices who recognize, acknowledge, and utilize their privilege to move forward anti-oppressive movements. They know the issues that continuously marginalize our communities and understand and combat the movement to affect systemic change. I believe the first step, and perhaps most important step in this process, is to listen to our stories, our voices and our experiences—really listen.” HOW BEING A PART OF LGBTQ+ COMMUNITIES IMPACTS HER WORK: “I want to foster
communities that I want to be a part of—and that our future selves will want to be involved in—and build partnerships that permit opportunities for underrepresented groups within the QTPoC community to flourish. We have to do this as a tribe: ‘The lone wolf perishes, but the pack survives.’”
A QUEER HISTORY MOMENT THAT MOST IMPACTED HER: “Black Lives Matter is one of the
most powerful and impactful movements. Queer women of color started BLM and have helped it be a catalyst of systemic change. BLM mobilized communities nationally and globally to fight against white nationalism and white supremacy, the same as the ancestors before them in the Black freedom struggles that fought for gay rights for people of color. Additionally, BLM is personal to me, particularly in the work it does to end the killings of unarmed Black folks by police. As a mother of a Black sun and a mimi—or grandmother— to a grandsun, you cannot imagine how painfully frustrating it is to prepare them for this world, where they will be treated differently based on their race and gender. BLM demonstrates, once again, that when we as women/people of color and accomplices stand up, others follow; movements are made and change begins.”
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Daniel Batterman AT TOR NE Y AN D OR GAN I Z E R
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OF BOS TON GAY PR OF E S S ION A L S Daniel Batterman’s career revolves around the Internet. But in his personal life, he’s using the world wide web to help LGBTQ folks build positive connections offline. Today, the Boston lawyer concentrates on technology and Internet law, helping clients navigate issues around intellectual property, trademarks and more. Human relationships, though, are where he shines. On a professional level, Batterman says he’s most proud of the seven years he spent working at Boston Juvenile Court, representing families—including victims of child abuse—during lengthy, emotionally draining trials. “It was the most important work I’ve ever done, since it was about representing society’s most vulnerable members,” says Batterman. When he’s not working, he runs Boston Gay Professionals, a 4200-plus-member group accessed through Meetup.com. (Batterman says a separate website, BostonGayProfessionals.com, is coming soon.) The group hosts twice-monthly networking events at restaurants and other local venues to help LGBTQ folks foster new friendships and career networks—without being stuck behind a screen. Sign us up.
DANIEL ON …
CHALLENGES IN THE LEGAL WORLD: “I haven’t encountered much explicit homophobia in the legal profession here, but I know stuff was said behind my back—isn’t it always? When I was job-hunting, I listed a Law Review publication on my resume that I wrote about Colorado’s Amendment 2, which was a big anti-gay law in the 1990s. Potential employers could have connected the dots and figured out I was gay, and some people told me not to include it on my resume. But if a law firm didn’t want to hire me because of that I didn’t want to work there anyway. I’ve actually had a bigger issue professionally with anti-Semitism in Boston, given some comments that partners at my first law firm made. It was really surprising to hear that type of anti-Jewish sentiment. I mean seriously: If there are no Jewish lawyers in a law firm, how good can the firm really be?” WHY HE RUNS BOSTON GAY PROFESSIONALS: “When the group started it was about giving people
a friendly alternative to the gay scene so they could meet without the awkwardness that comes with standing around in a club staring at people. But due to the huge influence of smartphones, the growth of social media and the advent of hook-up sites like Grindr, the group’s purpose has taken on a new meaning. I’m trying to get people to put their phones down for a little while and simply talk face-to-face—and I recognize the irony of using the Internet to get that message across. But loss of those basic communication skills will have a detrimental long-term impact on all facets of society. The group can’t change that overall trend, but it can at least emphasize the importance and effectiveness of more personal face-to-face interactions when creating meaningful relationships. I also like to think that we New Englanders are more substantive than the sum of our social media, but time will tell. I might—for a lack of a better term—be chasing rainbows.”
HOW BEING GAY IMPACTS HIS WORK: “Many LGBT clients like working with lawyers who are part
of our community. There’s a sense of connection and comfort from the shared experiences that many gay clients and lawyers have had, whether spoken or not. And since we’ve experienced all sorts of additional adversity to get to where we are in life, as a lawyer I find the insight that you gain along the way makes you more sensitive to addressing a client’s needs.”
A SURPRISING FACT ABOUT HIM: “Ironically, even though Boston Gay Professionals has become the largest gay networking group in New England, I’m actually an introvert at heart and a bit shy. Socializing takes a lot more out of me than people might think. When I’m not at a group event, I’m not too social and enjoy my solitude. Go figure, right?”
MAY| JUN 2019 | 47
Billy Dean Thomas R E COR DIN G AR T I S T AN D COMP OSE R
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The stage name is an intentional nod to a Black wizard from the Harry Potter series — and no wonder, because Billy Dean Thomas is casting a spell on music fans. The non-binary artist—dubbed “the Queer B.I.G.”—is a rising star in Boston and beyond, thanks to the kind of passionate, socially conscious hip-hop featured on the debut EP “Rocky Balboa.” This red-hot, Harlem-raised performer, who earned a scholarship to Smith College, has performed everywhere from the Museum of Fine Arts to NBC’s “The View”; earned coveted artist residencies with organization like the Theater Offensive and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; and was recently awarded major grants from the Boston Foundation to complete a new album. Thomas’s latest record—“2 the World,” available May 17—will integrate elements of danceable house music. It’s a kind of catharsis for communities exhausted by daily assaults on lives and dignity. “I am very autobiographical so I will often communicate my vulnerabilities or stories that I hope my LGBTQ+ family hears,” says Thomas. “I hope it makes someone feel like they are less alone and can overcome anything.”
BILLY DEAN ON …
MUSIC AS ACTIVISM: “Music absolutely builds connections regardless of language, age,
race, etcetera. I believe it is the most universal tool for understanding and experiencing collective emotions. Through music you can change perspectives, allow people to visualize your story, educate folks with history and draw parallels. It is the tool that I use to motivate myself to overcome systemic challenges as well as internal challenges. I always hope that my story resonates with folks to be agents of change in their own lives.”
INDUSTRY CHALLENGES: “I think one of the largest challenges as a performer has been
getting booked for the quality of my work as opposed to the optics that my presence as queer, female bodied, artist of color brings institutions. More specifically, I struggled for a long time with taking gigs because I was only being hired for Women’s History Month, an all-female lineup, or a diversity day, event, or issue. As a non-binary artist, it was frustrating that folks were misgendering me or not including me in regular programming without it being the one month to highlight folks. I also think it is a nationwide issue that many institutions do not value artists as business professionals or care to pay them in a way that is suitable for their craft. I hope that in the near future more conversations between artists and institutions are held to clear up the lack of understanding about each viewpoint and learn how both parties can be the most successful together.”
THE NEW ALBUM: “I am excited to channel coping mechanisms through house music. I am
on a journey towards more positive mental health and nothing makes me happier than house music that makes me want to dance. I also think we are reliving the ‘70s, and with all of the really awful things happening in the news—LGBTQ+ folks of color being killed, erased or silenced—there’s too much to bear and continue to relive. I need coping mechanisms— so I am making them.”
LGBTQ HEROES: “I think having the courage and strength to walk around anywhere as a
person whose gender-queerness and expression is not passing and not white, is a radical act that impacts me every day. Seeing other LGBTQ+ folks out living their best lives— despite the acts of violence committed daily with a gaze, a comment or a weapon—is truly inspiring. Sometimes I forget how radical it is for us to just be.
Because each relationship matters.
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Hershey Hirschkop E X E CU T I VE DI R E C TOR OF SE ACOAS T O U TR IG H T
50 | BOSTON SPIRIT
Hirschkop was showing her activist stripes as early as elementary school, when she was the only girl allowed to wear pants in the classroom—because she refused to go otherwise. By the time she was an out lesbian high schooler in the late ’70s, she was finding support in community stewards—from Cambridge’s famed feminist institution, New Words Bookstore, to the owners of Boston’s long-lost lesbian bar The Saints. Now Hirschkop is paying it forward as the newly named head of Seacoast Outright, a 1993-founded nonprofit helping LGBTQ young people in southern New Hampshire. Armed with decades of experience in activism around queer and feminist issues, as well as affordable housing development, Hirschkop is helming the organization as it hosts its fifth annual, fast-growing Portsmouth Pride celebration in June, kicks off a capital campaign to secure a new headquarters for its youth groups and other ongoing programs, and launches a strategic planning process to outline new efforts, like cultural competency training for social workers and mental health providers. She’s bringing a wave of fresh energy to Seacoast Outright.
HERSHEY ON …
HER FIRST POST-COLLEGE JOB AT GAY COMMUNITY NEWS: “I went in as a lesbian feminist, albeit a liberal democrat really, and came out a proud radical. I really cut my teeth there as an activist, in not only being part of the LGB Movement—T was barely mentioned at the time, sadly—which had been gaining momentum, but in getting to shape the issues themselves. The newspaper was always grappling with what news to cover and how. Should the Lesbian SM group get to meet at the Cambridge Women’s Center? Why was the war in Nicaragua connected to our own fight? It was a time of great growth, personally and politically, and was the start of my understanding of the connections between class, race and gender.” THE IMPORTANCE OF SEACOAST OUTRIGHT IN THE TRUMP ERA: “There is the emotional toll.
Can you imagine the message a transgender kid gets when the President of the United States bans someone like them from serving in the military? Or when a teenage lesbian can’t get good medical care because Planned Parenthood is now closed? Or a gay boy isn’t taught anything about his own sexuality at his high school sex ed class because the conservative right believes in teaching them to be abstinent? This fight exists in so many places and on so many levels, and the best thing we can do is teach our kids how to become activists and advocate for themselves.”
HER LGTBQ ICON: “Nancy Wechsler [writer and activist] was at Gay Community News when I began there. Politically, she’s always been my hero. She works hard to live a responsible life, where decisions about where we work, and what we do, matter. Not everyone has the luxury of choice, but I do around many things, and so I try to emulate her in making choices consistent with my values: working at places that do good work, mitigating our good fortune in owning a home by sharing it with others, speaking up about systemic injustice, participating in local government, demonstrating and even getting arrested for something you believe in.” THE QUEER HISTORY MOMENT THAT MOST IMPACTED HER: “This sounds ridiculous, but it had
to be the first lesbian kiss on network TV. I thought we’d really made it then—we hadn’t— but I’d been waiting my whole life for this and everyone was buzzing about it. It was just a small step toward our representation in the media, though, and it was years before we got The L Word, which, like it or not, was an entire TV series about lesbian, bisexual, and trans women—who never seemed to work and sat around a coffee house a lot.”
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Reginald “Reggie” Mobley PR OF E S S ION A L CO U NT E R T E NOR
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Music has been part of Mobley’s life ever since he was a child growing up in Gainesville, Florida, and singing in the church choir—when he wasn’t discreetly trying on his grandmother’s many “Black church lady hats” and jewelry, that is. Today, he’s an acclaimed classical singer who travels the world constantly to perform for audiences like Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. In one recent twomonth tour alone, he performed all-Bach programs at 26 concerts in 16 international cities. Closer to home, Mobley recently recorded a project with Coro Allegro, Boston’s queer and allied classical chorus, about the life and death of Ugandan LGBTQIA activist David Kato. Mobley was also the first Black musician to lead a concert by the city’s esteemed Handel + Haydn Society, with which he launched his Every Voice project to amplify representation of people of color, LGBTQIA folks, and others in the classical music sphere. “I sought to break the walls of cultural gentrification,” says Mobley. He’s out to prove the arts are for everyone.
REGGIE ON …
FALLING IN LOVE WITH CLASSICAL MUSIC: “I found myself listening to the local classical radio station and heard Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi for the first time. I don’t know what it was, but there was something about baroque music that caused every atom in my body to vibrate in sync with every falling fifths sequence and ostinato bass line. And nothing in my life will ever disprove the unexplainable wonder that is the fugue. There has never been a thing in my life that has ever made me feel so understood and connected to something as the weaving of four independent lines into polyphony. There was something in this practical magic that I understood better than any spoken language.” MUSIC AS ACTIVISM: “I hope to show everyone that music has and always will be for
all people. Sound can’t be owned, and yet it does belong to all of us. There’s a power in music, and it ties us to who we were and always will be. From 16th-century queer nuns, to 18th-century freed Black slaves. From 19th-century Jewish conductors, to 21st-century trans composers. We’re all connected. As countries are born and fads live and die, styles change and people evolve. But the one constant, the thing that connects all of us, is that emotions will always stay the same.”
FITTING IN (OR NOT) TO THE QUEER COMMUNITY: “Despite my absolute pride in who and what I am, I’ve never felt entirely comfortable in the queer community. I think it is largely due to: one, not really knowing that I actually existed on the asexual spectrum; and two, being a large black guy tends to miraculously render you virtually invisible and seemingly worthless in gay communities in the South—and even more in Boston. But feeling like an outsider in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the Black community, is only a feeling. Whether I feel welcome or not, I exist as a member of these communities, and I’ll always speak my truth on their behalf and try to help in any way I can.” HIS LGBTQ ICONS: “I think Paul Lynde is still the greatest expression of pink to ever stand in front of a camera. You don’t really see that kind of sharpened wit anymore. He was as close as we’d get to a modern-day Oscar Wilde, with quips so sharp, they would never get through TSA. It’s a far cry from the state we’re in now, where too many of our gay celebs and influencers only have enough command of the language to constantly say, ‘Please like and subscribe!’ Yet still, I celebrate their stories and their strength.
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Jackie Maurer F O U N DE R OF U P B E AT C YCL IN G
54 | BOSTON SPIRIT
Maurer knows what it’s like to not fit a certain mold. She was bullied growing up, she says, for being a sports-loving tomboy, not having trendy clothes like her classmates, and sticking out as a white girl in a majority-minority neighborhood and schools in Hartford, Connecticut. And yet, despite being “stuffed in the closet” as a lesbian in 1980s workplaces, this daughter of a civil rights activist and progressive minister managed to build a successful career in finance; served for several years on the board of BAGLY (Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth); and recently built a brand-new business dedicated to her love of fitness and cycling. With Upbeat, her spin studio in Arlington, Massachusetts, she once again breaks the mold as someone who “doesn’t fit the body stereotype of a fitness instructor,” says Maurer. She works hard to build an inclusive, unintimidating space for others— and to give back to the community through UP4Impact, her studio’s philanthropic program that donates studio space and instructor time so organizations can host fundraising rides, and develops its own benefits for nonprofits like the Women’s Lunch Place.
JACKIE ON …
SETTING UPBEAT CYCLING APART: I’ve envisioned it as a fun and inclusive place to exercise where you don’t have to feel intimidated by the “beautiful people.” In my opinion, everyone has the right to exercise and should exercise. Not being already fit with 2-percent body fat or a ripped athlete should not create a barrier for regular people to go exercise. I differentiate Upbeat by making it welcoming in every way I can think of to do that. ... I tell clients all the time, “bring what you have, do what you can,” paraphrasing the great Arthur Ashe. Neither I or my instructors pressure people to do a specific effort, move in sync or use embarrassment or humiliation to make someone work harder. There’s no pressure to look a certain way or wear certain clothes. HOW BEING A PART OF LGBTQ+ COMMUNITIES IMPACTS HER WORK: Being part of the
LGBTQ+ community has made me understand issues of openness, fairness and creating a welcoming environment. I just believe that people ought to be comfortable and treated well and they shouldn’t have to worry about “fitting in” or “sticking out.” Clearly in my early life those were issues for me, so creating a space that is open to all is very satisfying. I love the variety that we have in our clientele and the interesting interactions I get to have with people in the studio.
HER LGBTQ ICON: Martina Navratilova is the icon who I admired coming up. She one of the first “out” female tennis players in a sport that was homophobic and filled with feminine, delicately built baseline players. But Martina was a pioneer for female athletes who amped up their fitness and strength, and featured a power game. I also remember her as the first female tennis player to wear shorts during match instead of a skirt. In the age of Serena and her like, we forget that Martina was one of the first to have a power game and her level of athleticism. A QUEER HISTORY MOMENT THAT MOST IMPACTED HER: Participating in the 1993 LGBT March
on Washington was transformative for me. At that time, I was somewhat complacent about being gay. It was a personal thing to me not something political or about rights. When I went to the March, I was “woke.” … The March was an amazing experience. It felt like every gay person in the world was there that day and I felt empowered, aware and activated as a member of the community for the first time.
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Majenta with a J DR AG AR T I S T
56 | BOSTON SPIRIT
By day, Michael Histen has an awardwinning career in digital product design. But by night, Histen channels that boundless creativity into drag as Majenta with a J—a colorful queen who is making quite a splash. In her first year of performing, she won the inaugural season of Boston Drag Gauntlet, a multi-week live competition held at Jacque’s Cabaret in Boston, and now performs every Monday night at the Fenway-side Machine nightclub. Using her body as a canvas, Majenta stages smart, surprising, subversive numbers: think “All I Want For Christmas is Du Hast,” a Mariah Carey-Rammstein mashup that transformed the diva’s bubbly holiday tune into a dark, edgy ode to the folkloric Christmas monster Krampus. Saint Nick, meanwhile, would appreciate Majenta’s charitable nature: Since last summer, she’s donated all her tips to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit working to prevent LGBTQ youth suicide. Alongside queen Georgia Flu, Majenta recently launched a YouTube channel, “Face Down Queens,” recapping fashions from the current season of Boston Drag Gauntlet. Next up: “Before Me,” an album of electropop music created in her pre-drag days. New tunes are coming, too.
MAJENTA ON …
THE IMPACT OF RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE: “RuPaul’s Drag Race has made drag more interesting
to more people, which I view as a net positive. In some circles, Drag Race is perceived as creating a bunch of carbon copy drag queens, but I haven’t seen that happen here. A huge portion of the Boston drag scene is very encouraging of outsider, weird, genderfuck-style drag that you don’t see depicted on Drag Race.”
COMING OUT AS A QUEEN: “Coming out as a drag queen at age 36 was surprisingly a lot like
coming out as a gay teen. I didn’t tell many people at first, as I didn’t want to deal with any questions or judgment—I just wanted to explore, and see how I felt. I found that doing drag made me think about my own gender in a way I never had before. I started wondering if I was drawn to drag because I had some latent question about my gender identity, and that thought scared me at first. I didn’t want to question that part of myself. But ultimately, I realized that this was not a matter of my gender identity. I was drawn to drag because of the outlet for creative expression—and that much of what is perceived as “for women” is just a societal construction that was fucking with my sense of self.”
HER LGBTQ ICONS: “The icons I’m drawn to are those that live boldly and see creative expression as an imperative. I’ve been obsessed with Madonna and Bjork since I was a teen, as they seemed endlessly creative and so eager to knock down barriers of what was expected of them—both sexually and creatively. Although it’s cliché for a drag queen to say this, RuPaul has constantly inspired me to challenge myself and question the limits of selfperception. Beyond celebrities, I think of people like Harvey Milk, Marsha P Johnson, Larry Kramer, and Del Martin—activists who paved the way for us and should not be forgotten. And I have to give enormous respect and love to people I’ve met locally, such as Just JP and Neon Calypso, who have used drag to draw attention to issues around race, class, and identity. They inspire me daily.” A SURPRISING FACT ABOUT HER: “When I was a kid, I was actually terrified of drag queens!
They seemed one step removed from clowns, who still scare me. Now I wonder if I was just scared I would see myself reflected back?”
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A Perfect Getaway
Something for Everyone Arts & Culture, Outdoor Adventure Dining, Lodging & Shopping
Experience the drama.
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Spend a day in Old New England
AnnuAl EvEnts Along thE trAil
Marisa Tomei in The Rose Tattoo, photo by Daniel Rader
Free Concerts at Windsor Lake – Weds. June 5 - August 28 – natourism www.explorenorthadams.com 4th Annual Berkshire Mountains Faerie Festival – June 15, 2019– Adams, MA www.berkshiremountainsfaeriefestival.com 43rd Yankee Engine-uity Show – Orange Airport – June 28 - 30, 2019 – www.cmsgma.com Wilco Solid Sound Festival -June 28 - 30, 2019 – www.massmoca.org
Bridge of flowers
21st Eagle St. Beach Party – Mid-July – 413-664-6180 – www.explorenorthadams.com 34th Green River Festival – July 12 - 14, 2019 – 413-773-5463 – www.greenriverfestival.com
wHite water rafting
45th Adams Agricultural Fair – August 2 - 4, 2019 – www.adams-agricultural-fair.org 41st Annual Bridge of Flowers Road Race – August 10 – 413-625-2526 – www.shelburnefalls.com North Adams Downtown Celebration – August 14 (rain date 15), 2019 – 413-664-6180 www.explorenorthadams.com Reggae Festival – August 17, 2019 – http://Charlemontreggaefest.com – 860-208-6438 102nd Annual Heath Fair – August 16 -18, 2019 – www.heathfair.org 257th Hardwick Community Fair – August 16 - 17, 2019 – www.HardwickFair.com 19th Annual Iron Bridge Dinner – Mid-August (Sunday) – 413-625-2526 – www.shelburnefalls.com North Adams Motorama – August 24 - 25, 2019 – www.northadamsmotorama.com
Franklin County Fair – September 5 - 8, 2019 – 413-774-4282 – http://fcas.com Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show – September 8 - 9, 2019 – www.nbmcub.webs.com – 413-663-8430 FreshGrass Music Festival – September 20 - 22, 2019 – www.massmoca.org Athol Fall Festival – mid-September – www.northquabbinchamber.com/fall-festival/ Old Deerfield Fall Craft Fair – September 21 - 22, 2019 – 413-774-2739 – www.deerfield-craft.org North Quabbin 21st Garlic & Arts Festival – September 28 - 29, 2019 – www.garlicandarts.org 58th Annual Festival of the Hills – Conway, MA – October 6, 2019 – www.festivalofthehills.com
64th Fall Foliage Parade – October 6, 2019 – 413-499-1600 www.1berkshire.com/calendar/fall-foliage-parade/ Ashfield Fall Festival – Columbus Day Weekend October 12 -13, 2019 – www.ashfieldfallfestival.org Mt. Greylock Ramble & RambleFest – Columbus Day October 13 - 14, 2019 – www.exploreadams.com
CasUal & elegant dining
25th Cider Days – November 1 - 3, 2019 – www.ciderdays.org Crafts of Colrain – November 9 - 10, 2019 – 413-624-1200 – www.craftsofcolrain.com Old Deerfield Holiday Craft Fair – November 16 - 17, 2019 – 413-774-2739 – www.deerfield-craft.org Shelburne Falls Moonlight Magic – Friday after Thanksgiving Nov. 29, 2019 – 413-625-2526 www.shelburnefalls.com
Holiday Walk – 1st weekend – 413-458-9077 – www.williamstownchamber.com
More than a trail...a journey
A short Drive to A World Away
To experience a unique mix of natural beauty and world-renowned cultural and historic attractions, blaze the “Highway of History” and discover the four-season vacationland along the famous Mohawk Trail, Route 2. Stretching from the Massachusetts-New York state line to Shirley in Central Massachusetts, the 100 miles of East-West highway is a vestige of early American life when people traveled by foot or on horseback. The Mohawk Trail provides the traveler of today with well over 100 attractions: country inns, world-class museums, gift and antique shops, hiking trails, and public and private camping areas nestled amid the seasonal changing beauty of the Berkshire Hills, the Connecticut Valley, the Johnny Appleseed Trail and the Quabbin Reservoir. The Mohawk Trail helps you take a break from your everyday life. As you drive along its meandering roads beside crystal clear streams, and over forested mountains you will arrive at places that will change how you see the world, from the perfectly preserved history of Historic Deefield to the latest contemporary art displayed in the spectacular factory setting of MASS MoCA.
Staying overnight There are a variety of lodgings in the
Mohawk Trail Region ranging from the comfortable and well-priced motels to quaint bed & breakfasts to unique inns with a European flair. There are accommodations set on the edge of rivers, in 100-year-old historic structures and in settings that let you step out the door to breathe in a wide vista of the Berkshire hills.
Enjoying food Out here in the wilderness of western
Massachusetts we are very close to locally grown produce. Many restaurants in the Mohawk Trail Region satisfy the locavore with farm-to-table specialties. In the growing season the roadside farm stands and farmers’ markets are teeming with fresh produce: crisp apples in a bushel basket, the smell of fresh cider, pumpkins stacked in a tall orange pile, pick-your-own berries. Local wineries offer fun tastings in any season. During Maple Sugaring season, usually around the month of March, the sugaring houses are boiling down sap to produce the amber delight that sweetens many dishes.
atre to internationally acclaimed musicians, dancers and performance artists.
historic sites The Mohawk Trail offers opportunities to trav-
el back in time. Historic Deerfield is a village of perfectly preserved pre-Revolutionary houses. Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams focuses on the railroad and industrial heritage of North Adams, and in particular, one of the great engineering wonders of the world, the Hoosac Tunnel.
historic Deerfield Deerfield, MA
Natural beauty, Art, music & theater outdoor adventure Perhaps no other road in the world can and family fun match the amount of great art that can be Hike the spectacular trail system on Mount seen in the museums along the Mohawk Trail: from Renoir, Degas and the Old Masters of Europe...to the most evocative and provocative art being made today. With exciting new exhibitions each season, these museums are not to be missed. The Trail also offers first-rate performances year-round, from Tony Award-winning the-
North Adams, MA
Mohawk trail region of Massachusetts
Greylock, the highest mountain in the state and other glorious peaks along The Trail. Admire the stunning views at the Eastern, Whitcomb and Western Summits on the Mohawk Trail. At Salmon Falls, on a nearly dry river bottom, are ancient potholes eroded in granite by gyrating stones of the Glacial Age. And at the Natural Bridge State Park, you will find the only water-eroded marble bridge in North America, a 550 million-yearold geological wonder. River-lovers have particular reason to explore the Mohawk Trail. Rafters and kayakers get their thrills on the Deerfield River, a major whitewater rafting course, while a leisurely excursion down the Connecticut River on the river boat Quinnetukut offers a different perspective on river fun.
Towns to stop at, places to shop, studios to visit Located in the small towns along The Trail
are the shops, studios and galleries of many very talented artisans. Potters, quilters, metalworkers, glass blowers, and jewelry makers offer a unique shopping experience. Candle-making and candle shopping are important attractions to the region.
Bridges to cross, monuments to view A covered bridge, a former trolley bridge
converted to a garden and a bridge built by the builder of the Golden Gate and the George Washington Bridges cross three rivers in the region. A unique memorial to the Native Americans, who were the first to cross the Mohawk Trail, stands in a park at the edge of The Trail. A bronze Elk stands near the highest point of the Trail erected by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
Bridge of Flowers Shelburne Falls, MA
www . mohawktrail . com
Charlotte Robinson C E O OF O U T TA KE ME DI A
60 | BOSTON SPIRIT
Before she launched her own LGBTQ media venture, Robinson had already enjoyed a decades-long (and Emmy-winning) career as a radio DJ and pioneering TV camerawoman, audio engineer, and eventually, editor for ABC, NBC and CBS. At the last, she worked on popular soap operas like “Guiding Light,” as well as CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. But the Newton, Massachusetts native wanted to build something of her own. In 2004, the self-described lesbian “rebel with a cause” produced a well-received short film, “Outtake,” about marriage equality in Massachusetts. It inspired the creation of Outtake Blog, a LGTBQ news resource; and Outtake Voices, a podcast interview series that has featured over 500 celebrities, LGBTQ activists, and allies to date. Millions of listeners have heard Robinson chat up everyone from Golden Globe-winning actor Kyra Sedgwick to original “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” star Ted Allen. Robinson is now prepping the launch of a “boutique-streaming network” to “spotlight independent producers’ work and host original storytelling.” She’s a mover, shaker, and storyteller.
CHARLOTTE ON …
GROWING UP AND COMING OUT: “Since I was four years old I knew I wanted to work in
TV. Fortunately, I participated in Harvard University’s experimental continuous learning program, which taught me decision making and how to set goals at a very early age. As for my sexuality, it was the sixties and everyone was exploring who they were and what they wanted in life. I always tried to find like-minded people, and was very fortunate to have fabulous mentors that supported my journey. I came out in the ‘70s but could not come out publicly until the ‘80s for fear of being fired from my employment.”
HOW SHE CHOOSES HER STORIES TO TELL: “Outtake is fed by organizations and publicists. We receive about 100 requests a day. We have our favorite PR people that provide us with fabulous guests for Outtake Voices and consistent strong relationships with LGBTQ orgs that are mutually supportive. In these difficult political times, the most important stories are positive and inspirational stories. I’ve always understood that the media is extremely powerful. Unfortunately, it has somewhat backfired by electing Trump. I hope that Outtake continues providing some sanity for people living in an insane world.” HER MOST CHALLENGING AND EXCITING INTERVIEWS: “The most challenging interviews are
on the red carpet. We’ve covered the red carpet for GLAAD’s Media Awards in NYC and The Dinah in Palm Springs for years. We’ve also been involved with the Provincetown International Film Festival. When you have about 50 interviews within an hour it’s exciting but it can also be challenging interviewing celebrities with difficult handlers. With our weekly podcast on Outtake Voices, my favorite interviews are always my most current.”
A QUEER HISTORY MOMENT THAT MOST IMPACTED HER: I remember where I was when
Stonewall happened. I had just graduated Newton South High School and I was at our summerhouse in Rocky Neck, East Gloucester. I hadn’t dealt with my sexuality at that point. I heard about it on the radio. I didn’t talk to anyone about it but it was really unsettling to me. Ten years later I marched in the 10th anniversary NYC Pride Parade. I remember how it was so important to be out and march in that parade but frankly I was scared someone at CBS would see me marching and I’d be fired. It was extremely difficult to be yourself in those days. I met a few people while living in NYC that were at Stonewall like Stormé DeLarverie who ignited the Stonewall riots.”
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Jordan Bailey OW NE R AN D E X E CU T I VE CH E F AT L UM I Ãˆ R E R E S TAUR ANT
62 | BOSTON SPIRIT
Bailey is finding professional and personal success by finally pulling back a curtain— and letting people look inside. On a literal level, Bailey parted the heavy street-side window drapes after purchasing Lumière in 2016, a few years after he started working at the acclaimed fine-dining restaurant in Newton, Massachusetts. It was a way of reflecting his move toward a more comfortable (but still-elegant) neighborhood-friendly vibe. The 31-yearold chef, who worked his way up through roles at several acclaimed eateries, has wound up rejuvenating a longstanding restaurant by making it feel more open. More metaphorically, he’s allowing people to see the real him, too. Bailey recently came out as gay after years of struggling with his sexuality—and following a marriage to a woman that gave him his beloved son, Luka. Now the proud dad and super-talented chef is starting over, finding great success, and serving as an inspiration to others. Even today, many people struggle with the anxieties of coming-out—but this Lumière owner is illuminating a path forward.
JORDAN ON …
FALLING IN LOVE WITH FOOD: “My dad remarried a French lady, so I started going to France when I was a little kid. I grew up eating Campbell’s tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches—which is great. But I got to go over there and see all this stuff I’d never seen before. It just blew my mind. And I grew up as an avid fisherman with my dad. That’s what got me excited about it all.” BALANCING THE BEST OF OLD AND NEW AT LUMIÈRE: “Everything on the menu is mine, and I’m really proud of it. But it’s been really hard, because Lumière has been such an institution for so long. To get outside the box can be frustrating at times. Lumière is traditionally very serious and calm – the complete opposite of me. But the people I feed are incredibly important. Not everything needs to be trendy and loud. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel.” COMING OUT: “I came out a year ago, basically. I knew I was gay when I was eight. I went to
summer camp and I was in love with this little boy. Somebody outside my family told me it was wrong. And for some reason I believed it. This past year has been really nuts. I got lucky, one of my hostesses is a big drag queen in Boston. She’s had all these lovely people here to hold my hand. Here I was, this straight dude forever. All of a sudden, I’ve got my Subaru with a baby seat and three drag queens in it, and we’re coming home from Machine at three o’clock in the morning. It was so much fun. But of course, all the self-hatred and selfloathing comes back at times. I think it’s important to say that; there are so many people who go through it.”
FINDING SUPPORT: “I think it was subconscious, but I’ve always had older, grounded gay men in my life. They’ve always been there for me. And when I came out to them, they were like, ‘we all knew.’ But they knew I needed to come to it on my own. I was blessed with that. Many people don’t have that. When I came out, so many of my younger friends were going to the Black Party in New York, or on Grindr 24/7. And I’m like, ‘oh, this is gay society? This is really scary, and not me.’ There’s stuff that’s very jarring to me, but I’ve had good guides to help me navigate. I don’t have to be like everybody else. I spent my whole life being someone else. I’m not going to keep doing that.”
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Justice Ameer Gaines QU E E R J U S T IC E COOR DIN ATOR AT PR OV I DE N C E YO U T H S T U DE NT MOVE ME NT ( PR YS M ) , AC T I V I S T AN D AR T I S T
64 | BOSTON SPIRIT
The name says it all. Justice Ameer Gaines fights for fairness on all fronts. Through the PrYSM program Queer Transformative Roots, Gaines is developing a campaign to challenge housing instability for queer and trans people in Rhode Island’s capital city: One goal is to develop collective or cooperative ownership models to combat homelessness and gentrification. Criminal justice system reform—moving toward abolition—is also a priority for Gaines, who worked with the coalition that passed the Providence Community Safety Act, one of the most comprehensive police accountability laws in the nation. Gaines has been a leader with many other grassroots movements as a board member of Direct Action for Rights & Equality, and even ran for Providence City Council. Art is also a kind of activism, and Gaines—a grand marshal at June’s Rhode Island PrideFest—is a poet whose lauded work reflects elements of the queer, Black, transfeminine and genderfluid experience. Most recently, through the presentation of “Anthem,” two nights of theatre and poetry (with artist and educator Chrysanthemum Tran) at American Repertory Theater’s Oberon venue.
JUSTICE ON …
ART AS ACTIVISM: “Art allows a person to express or experience meaning in ways that the rules and structures of our world don’t typically allow. I believe poetry has the particular power to explore the way words and feelings refract each other, visually, sonically, and spiritually. Poetry can access truths that language otherwise has difficulty reaching.”
ANOTHER POSSIBLE POLITICAL RUN: “I have not decided if I’d run for any office in the future.
If I chose to, I’d have to make that decision with the communities that I’d be representing and working with. In the current world we have, I’m looking for candidates that are actively engaged in their communities and committed to undoing institutions of oppression. I’m looking for candidates who will be unyielding on issues of racial justice, economic justice, and environmental justice. Marginalized communities can no longer afford hesitant advocacy under the guise of pragmatism. We need bold and innovative leadership that will prioritize the people most negatively impacted by our institutions and will champion changing those institutions.”
AN IMPORTANT LGBTQ+ MENTOR OR ICON: “This is a really hard question for me. I’ve always said that my queerness is a community project. I wouldn’t be who I am without the powerful and tender people in my life who’ve helped me to become. There are so many queer folks and women in my life and in my past who’ve pushed me and supported me in figuring out myself. I can’t begin to think of how to name them all and thank them all.” AN LGBTQ+ EVENT THAT MADE A BIG IMPACT: “The first Pride I attended was in Providence in June 2015. I marched with PrYSM, well before I worked with them. PrYSM had made a lightbox float to honor trans victims of violence that year, along with portraits of trans women of color. Through the whole march we were chanting protest songs, raising signs against transphobic violence, and handing out flyers about the Community Safety Act and other campaigns. We were making a statement and being true to the origins of Pride at Stonewall. This moment changed my understanding of what it meant to be queer. I got to be my whole self at the Pride. I felt so much joy in being with my community. I got to express my rage and pain at what was happening to my community. And thanks to PrYSM, I got to be visible on my own terms, something trans women almost never get. That day also happened to be the first day I expressed to someone that I was a woman.”
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Michael Adam Ferguson and J. Seth Anderson ACADE M IC S AN D ANT I - CON VE R S ION T H E R AP Y AC T I V I S T S
66 | BOSTON SPIRIT
MICHAEL ON …
These husbands are united in love—and on the front lines of major ideological battles. In 2013, Ferguson and Anderson became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Utah, where both grew up in Mormon households—and wrestled with the conflict between religious dogma and sexual identity. Ferguson attended worship services that promised to pray the gay away, and even put himself through a so-called conversion therapy program that baited vulnerable clients with pseudoscientific claims.
STRATEGIES FOR FIGHTING CONVERSION THERAPY: “I find that when I explain conversion therapy in terms of consumer fraud, people get it. I break it down and say: If you were advertising any kind of commercial product and said you had particular success rates or outcomes for it—and every single person who used this product says it doesn’t work, that’s fraud. Taking some of the religious, cultural and social-values components out of it, and just saying, ‘we can all agree that fraud is a bad thing.’” THE URGENCY OF ACTIVISM RIGHT NOW: “I am highly concerned about the ongoing culture wars between science and religion. What I think we’re seeing in America, and a lot of western countries, is a war of competing epistemologies. A meta question is unresolved, which is: what are the valid ways in which we can even know the truth? I think that the fault line I see growing and widening between science and religion is really dangerous—and really necessary. I feel particular urgency around doing work to resolve the communication lapses between scientific and religious communities.”
Ferguson wound up the named plaintiff in a landmark legal case that shut down the conversion therapy provider on the grounds of consumer fraud; he and Anderson, a historian whose doctoral dissertation is about conversion therapy, have become vocal activists—and recently testified on Beacon Hill to galvanize support for the recently-passed ban on such practices in Massachusetts.
SETH ON …
A SURPRISE HE’S LEARNED FROM RESEARCHING CONVERSION THERAPY: “I always thought science came after the gays—that once the homosexual was discovered as a species, as Foucault says, doctors and psychoanalysts started asserting, ‘this is wrong and we have to fix it right now.’ What I’ve seen is how much more fluid and dynamic the early period was. There were LGBTQ people working with doctors, trying to make sense of themselves and their experiences. I see it now more as a compassionate move, which sounds weird— because it becomes something really bad and gross.… Early efforts were not necessarily malevolent.”
There’s more work to do, says the couple, who continue to advocate for loopholefree legislation and educate around the issue through scholarly papers and live panels. Ferguson, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School, also studies the relationships between cognition and religiosity, and launched the Luminous Brain—a nonprofit producing related podcasts and live events.
HOW THE OPPOSITION IS CHANGING ITS TACTICS: “A couple things come to mind. One is the
slipperiness of language. No one who offers what we call conversion therapy says, ‘come to us for conversion therapy!’ But they’ll say things like ‘gender wholeness therapy.’ ‘Safety’ is the new thing. Something that’s even more dangerous is challenges to bans on the basis of First Amendment violations. It seems the charge they’re making is that these bans put limits on speech of therapists to talk with clients. I think that’s a scary threat.”
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Neal Minahan ME M B E R OF F IN AN C E COMM I T T E E S F OR MAS SACH U SE T T S SE N ATOR E L I Z A B E T H WAR R E N , CON GR E S S MAN J O E KE NNE DY, AN D AT TOR NE Y GE NE R A L MAUR A H E A L E Y ; CHA I R OF T H E MAS SE QUA L I T Y PAC BOAR D ; AN D BAG LY BOAR D PR E S I DE NT
68 | BOSTON SPIRIT
Minahan wears many hats. His first: a football helmet at a Catholic school in Massachusetts, where the still-closeted team captain launched a now-annual “Awareness Day” featuring speakers on social issues like homophobia. That commitment to advocacy guided Minahan through a career as an attorney. His prolific pro bono work earned an award from the American Bar Association, and led to groundbreaking legal victories— including a landmark decision in favor of a transgender prisoner’s right to receive hormone treatment. During Minahan’s time as board president of BAGLY, the Boston Alliance for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Youth has significantly expanded statewide services and programming, doubled its budget, established a health clinic, and opened a large new community center in downtown Boston. In his role with the MassEquality Political Action Committee, Minahan throws weight and resources behind electing pro-LGBTQ candidates, shaping platforms, and ensuring legislative victories. He’s served on Elizabeth Warren’s finance committee since her senatorial campaign—and is firmly focused on her bid to become our first woman President.
NEAL ON …
ELIZABETH WARREN: Senator Warren has been an advocate of the LGBTQ community and, in particular, a big supporter of BAGLY -- both personally and politically. In 2013, she asked me to represent BAGLY at the U.S. Capitol and present on LGBTQ youth issues before the Senate Democratic Caucus. … In her first year in the Senate, Senator Warren reached out to see if she could march with BAGLY in the Boston Pride Parade and has marched with us during several Prides since. What I always find remarkable is that she does it with little fanfare or campaign signs, just her, her husband, and a few staff marching under the BAGLY banner as allies and in solidarity with our young people.
HOW BEING A PART OF LGBTQ+ COMMUNITIES IMPACTS HER WORK: My work in the LGBTQ
community has made me a better and more thoughtful professional. As part of the senior management team at a Healthcare company, I understand that social justice initiatives and, in particular, diversity initiatives are vital. Executives are often taught to rely on our own judgment and “gut reaction” when making decisions, but my work in the LGBTQ community makes it clear that listening to different perspectives will reveal new ways of doing things and help avoid unforeseen negative consequences.
HIS LGBTQ ICON: “Grace Sterling Stowell, the founding Executive Director of BAGLY. She
helped create the organization in 1980 and, frankly, is the sole reason BAGLY is what it is today. She has been dedicated to the cause of LGBTQ youth for four decades and has changed tens of thousands of lives. … Grace is a unique leader who exudes patience, compassion, quiet determination, and humility. She is the source of BAGLY’s staggering growth, particularly over the past decade, despite external economic and political challenges. She rarely seeks or receives the recognition that she deserves – she just does the work and stays focused on the next goal.”
A QUEER HISTORY MOMENT THAT MOST IMPACTED HIM: “It was St. Patrick’s Day, 1995. I was 18
years old, a freshman at Columbia University, and had just come out that year. I had recently joined the campus LGBTQ organization, who were planning a protest of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. We made signs and I bought a green T-shirt with a pink triangle on it that said something like, “I’m Irish AND GAY!” … People stared, glared, and snickered. One woman spat at me and said something horrible I won’t repeat, but won’t forget. I was a sixfoot-two, 270-pound lineman and I could not have felt more vulnerable. … That day taught me the importance of community and gave me a deeper understanding of privilege.”
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Rep. Jeff Currey CONNE C T ICU T S TAT E R E PR E SE NTAT I VE
70 | BOSTON SPIRIT
Currey’s role in politics is both part of a proud history—and a rare exception to the rule. He says that since 1982, a member of the Currey family—who have always “put public service above all else”—has held an elected position in East Hartford. And yet, this gay, second-term representative is currently one of only two openly LGBTQ members of the Connecticut General Assembly. We’re glad we have him on our side. Currey led the passage of legislation banning conversion therapy for youth in Connecticut in 2017. Now, alongside out co-sponsor and newly-elected Representative Raghib AllieBrennan, Currey is championing legislation that would expand access to PrEP to young people; establish a first-of-its-kind, statewide LGBTQ Health & Human Services Network; and end the use of the so-called “gay panic” defense for those accused of a violent crime. Currey says that, in his middle school days, he was bullied so badly that he even contemplated suicide. Now, he’s thriving— and making the Constitution State a better and more equal place for everyone to live.
REP. CURREY ON …
PASSING THE CONVERSION THERAPY BAN: “I think education was essential to the amount of support it received. Some colleagues had questions or things that they believed to be fact, that simply just needed to be clarified. Once we cleared the knowledge hurdle, we found the support. I hope that other states looking to do the same know that the ‘ban’ is the first step. It is a long journey towards a complete and total ban that includes every component of conversion therapy. Despite the ban being in effect here in Connecticut, it still includes a religious exemption.” EXPANDING ACCESS TO PREP: “Currently in our state, youth can consent to HIV treatment
only after an HIV diagnosis. My proposed bill with Rep. Allie-Brennan, HB 6540, would allow minors to access PrEP without parental consent. I firmly believe this will positively impact the unfortunate, increasing trends we are seeing. Throughout the process, we continued to see resistance to the legislation on the grounds of ‘parental rights.’ We’ve continued to educate people that these were often kids who didn’t have the support of parents to consent to preventative measures. Oftentimes, these kids are thrown out of their houses, essentially disowned from their families.”
HIS MOST REWARD ACCOMPLISHMENTS: “Personally, my family offers so much joy: Being a
devoted son, brother, and guncle is one of my favorite accomplishments. Professionally, having the opportunity to assist on the campaign for Connecticut’s first LGBTQ+ Kid Governor, Ella Briggs, was an opportunity I will never forget. To watch the next generation of our LGBTQ+ leaders rise up and find their confidence to be authentically themselves is amazing. And to see over 6,000 fifth-grade students voting for a candidate who ran on the platform of LGBTQ+ rights is mind-blowing—and something that never would have happened when I was a fifth-grader.”
A QUEER MOMENT THAT MADE A BIG IMPACT: “I also perform with the Hartford Gay Men’s
Chorus. In the spring of 2018, we performed the New England premiere of “Two Boys Kissing,” a piece of choral theatre based on the Lambda Literary Award-winning novel by David Levithan. It was narrated by a Greek chorus of six men who died of AIDS in the ’80s. The audience was given a look at the struggles many of us faced during our respective journeys through boyhood and beyond. It was cathartic in a way that I will never forget.”
TAKEDA PROUDLY VALUES DIVERSITY & THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY
Takeda values and embraces the diverse and unique skills, experiences and backgrounds of our employees and community. As one of our longstanding commitments, diversity is a respected part of our local culture and greater worldview. To maximize the quality and talent available to help us conduct our business, our Supplier Diversity program develops and maintains partnerships with diverse suppliers who meet our requirements in their offerings. Our Supplier Diversity program is a reflection of our core values: Integrity, Fairness, Honesty and Perseverance. These values describe who we are, how we treat one another and the way we conduct ourselves – in the company, in the community and in our business environment. We invite you to visit our website at www.Takeda.com or contact us at email@example.com for more information.
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Wendy Foster PR E S I DE NT & C E O OF BIG BR OT H E R S BIG S I S T E R S OF MAS SACH U SE T T S BAY
72 | BOSTON SPIRIT
WENDY ON …
Foster was raised in an affluent Republican suburb in Connecticut, where gay people were spoken of only in pejorative terms; the public library’s dated books—where she turned for guidance while struggling with her sexuality—only discussed homosexuality as a mental disorder; and her gradual coming-out led to rejection by friends. But, she says, “Growing up with a sense that I didn’t quite fit in gave me a compassion for others on the outside looking in.”
COMING OUT AT BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS: “At my first interview, I let the receptionist
know that I was there to see Larry Makowski. The receptionist hesitated and looked at me quizzically saying, ‘There isn’t a Larry Makowski who works here.” I panicked. Was I at the wrong place? Then she said, “Oh! You mean Larry Seamans! He just got married and changed his last name.’ I sighed in relief. A little while later, I am in the interview. I congratulate him on his marriage and say, ‘How wonderful and progressive that you have taken your wife’s last name!’ Larry replies, ‘Thank you! It is very exciting…but I took my husband’s last name.’ I both died of embarrassment—how could I, of all people, assume he would be married to a woman—and leaped for joy. I immediately came out!”
UNIQUE CHALLENGES FACING LGBTQ YOUTH: “Research shows that LGBTQ youth
Today, this former vice-president at America Online is building networks of support for thousands of young people with one of the country’s largest youth-mentoring organizations. During her tenure, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay— now celebrating its 70th anniversary year— has increased service to children by more than 100 percent. They are working toward the goals in their Operation GO BIG! fiveyear sustainable growth plan, which include growing to serve 5,000 youth annually over the next few years, and raising millions of dollars to support the organization’s work. When she’s not in the office? You’ll find Foster hanging with Shanell, her own “Little Sister” or nearly nine years.
experience extremely high rates of bullying, depression, and homelessness. They also face disproportionately high levels of juvenile justice system involvement, physical and mental health risks, barriers to educational attainment, and challenges accessing safe and supportive services. Being matched with a supportive adult in a mentoring relationship can help LGBTQ youth deal with these challenges.”
HOW BEING A PART OF LGBTQ+ COMMUNITIES IMPACTS HER WORK: “Being different in our
society in any way from the majority “norm” requires you to know yourself and embrace yourself in ways I don’t think people in the majority have to do. There is struggle and often pain in that but such strength and power too. Being gay has given me a compassion and understanding of what many people who are marginalized or oppressed have to go through and how hard the struggle can be that I would never have known had I not been gay.”
AN LGBTQ PERSON WHO MADE AN IMPACT ON HER LIFE: “In 1991, I was in my late 20s and
deeply unhappy. During a business lunch one day, the new supervisor was casually asked, ‘so tell us about yourself.’ He talked about growing up, his professional career trajectory and then without hesitation said, ‘and on a personal note, I am married—to my husband, Paul.’ Given my closeted status, I immediately panicked. At the same time, I absolutely marveled at the ease with which this person revealed himself ... I will never forget that moment and will always be so grateful to that man for his authenticity because it was a personal turning point for me.”
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Robert P. Mitchell AS S I S TANT DE AN F OR DI VE R S I T Y R E L AT ION S AN D COMM U N ICAT ION S AT HAR VAR D U N I VE R S I T Y
74 | BOSTON SPIRIT
At the end of June, Mitchell will start a new chapter of his life: retirement. For the last decade, Mitchell brought to America’s oldest university communications experience honed in high-level positions: In the 80s, he was press secretary to the mayor of Philadelphia, and before heading to Harvard, he was a senior manager in corporate communications for Nike. Mitchell, who is gay, counseled and supported college administrators and other leaders around issues and initiatives designed to drive diversity and inclusion. That’s encompassed an array of efforts— from helping to produce Harvard’s LGBT Film Series, which kicked off with a screening and conversation with actor Alec Mapa, to organizing Diversity Dialogues, forums that cover everything from transgender rights to race relations. Outside his official job description, Mitchell has found many other ways to help make Harvard more welcoming to underrepresented people. With a co-chair, he revitalized the moribund Association of Black Faculty, Administrators and Fellows, an employee resource group—and developed a consortium of similar groups representing Black, Latino, Asian, LGBTQ and other communities. Grade: A-plus.
ROBERT ON …
A MAJOR MOMENT OF PRIDE IN HIS WORK: “I was instrumental in helping bring a collection of letters written by Black women soldiers to the archives of the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard. A dear friend of mine, who started a campaign to deliver hair care products to Black women soldiers around the world, received hundreds of letters from the recipients. In many, they not only expressed gratitude, but talked about their personal military and family lives. A few years ago, my friend was deaccessioning many things in her collections and was looking for a home for the letters from soldiers. … They are now a part of the [Schlesinger] permanent collection.” WHAT A TYPICAL DAY LOOKS LIKE: “I am in constant contact with people who work on diversity issues inside and outside of Harvard. It could be a lunch with the director of the Harvard College BGLTQ Student Life Office, working with the head of the Harvard College Women’s Center of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations to promote an upcoming event, or working with a columnist from the ‘Boston Globe’ who will moderate the upcoming Diversity Dialogue panel.” HOW BEING A PART OF LGBTQ+ COMMUNITIES HAS MOST IMPACTED HIS WORK: “Most of my
identity that informs my work is being a Black man. I know what discrimination is from that perspective more than any other. And, much of the most difficult discrimination I have experienced directly has come from the white gay community. I will never forget the humiliation of being denied admission to some gay clubs in the 1980s. I was actually told by one club’s doorman that management had instructed him to card only blacks and women! In the 1990s, when publication such as “The Advocate,” “Genre,” “OUT” and others flourished, I almost never saw positive images of black men in those magazines.”
FIGHTING DISCRIMINATION: “I am keenly aware of how insidious and pervasive
discrimination can be. I don’t want others to live it, experiences it or feel it. So, I try, based on my own experiences, to understand how some of the even seemingly simple things can impact others. When I was chair of the Association of Black Faculty, Administrators and Fellows, I knew, and still know how important that group is for helping people navigate a large, mostly white institution. From that position, I was advisor to the Latino ERG when they began their organization process, then later to the Asian association.”
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Linda Estabrook E X E CU T I VE DI R E C TOR OF T H E HAR T F OR D GAY & L E S BI AN H E A LT H COL L E C T I VE
76 | BOSTON SPIRIT
It’s been 30 years since Estabrook took the helm of this 1983-founded, LGBTQ health organization in Connecticut’s state capital. Only the second executive director in its history, she steered fantastic growth for the HGLHC, which began as a small, volunteerlaunched operation out of Community Health Services. Now it’s a complete dental facility and clinic with STD testing and prevention programs. There’s also a second location in Manchester, offering support groups, case management, meals, and other services for those living with HIV/AIDS. Estabrook is always thinking about what the community needs. In the mid-90s, she founded a still-running Queer Prom, giving LGBTQ teens in the Hartford region a safe, inclusive place to celebrate. And in 2007, she created “Transgender Lives: The Intersection of Health and Law Conference.” Now an operation of the CT TransAdvocacy Coalition, the conference features an array of programs and guest speakers. The HGLHC has also become part of Project KEEP (Knowledge Eventually Empowers People), a collaborative project with other local health-related organizations that is working to better connect HIV prevention and stigma reduction programs to communities of color.
LINDA ON …
THE COMING OUT EXPERIENCE: “Coming out has been a varied journey of decades. Having been the executive director of an LGBT health organization for almost 30 years, you would think there is no more coming out that can happen. But there is—like the time I was planning an open house to celebrate my new home just a few years ago. I went across the street to my neighbors to let them know that it was going to be a busy day with cars and people, and they were welcome to come over. When I got back to the house I realized I was wearing a Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective t-shirt. And I realized that I had just come out to my new neighbors. This made me laugh.” THE GROWTH OF HGLHC: “The secret to the success of expanding the work of the Health Collective: watching for and taking advantage of opportunities to obtain funding; taking leaps of faith; working with many amazing people over the years who brought their skills and talents and ideas and drive to the organization. There have been times when I have needed to step back and evaluate my continued work at the Health Collective. I never just wanted to ‘tread water’ from one day to the next. Each time I needed to ask myself the real question, “can I re-commit myself to this work, to these people, to this organization?” Each time the answer has been yes. When the answer is no, then I need to step away.” FOUNDING THE TRANSGENDER LIVES CONFERENCE: “I was working on my Master of Public
Health when I decided to do an independent study about transgender individuals as related to health issues and health care. I knew I needed to know more and I was very much influenced by some amazing transgender individuals I knew through my work at the Health Collective. My takeaway from the independent study was that transgender individuals needed to know more about health and law, and that providers needed to know more about the needs of transgender individuals. So the idea was born to create the conference, to provide an opportunity for providers and transgender individuals to learn more about how to navigate the complexities of not fitting easily or neatly into the traditional binary boxes.”
BEING PART OF THE LGBT COMMUNITY: “We are an amazing community! … Even in the face of discrimination and violence and hate, and the devastation of HIV/AIDS, we continue to celebrate who we are; we laugh and dance; and we are integral to the life of the broader community.”
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DJ Stevie Psyclone E NT E R TA IN ME NT MAN AGE R AT CL U B CA F Ã‰
In a time when gay clubs are dwindling, this beat-dropping DJ is building buzzy new spaces—and rejuvenating old favorites. A love for peppy, playful pop music— from now-classic Britney to brand-new Carly Rae—led Stevie to cofound “So Hot Saturdaes,” a monthly LGBTQ dance party at Dorchester watering hole Peggy O’Neill’s. The series has been so successful, it helped inspire the spot to recently rebrand as Blend, a full-blown gay bar that is already among the most vibrant in Boston. In addition, Stevie now oversees the entertainment at decades-spanning Club Café, a Boston landmark. He personally DJs the spot’s new “Anthem Fridays” series, and is developing a whole calendar of additional weekday events—like “Movie Herstory Theatre,” screenings of iconic gay movies with dinner, drinks, and drag queen accompaniment. Stevie’s success even caught the ear of one of his favorite pop stars: Kesha. He was one of just three DJs across the country chosen to spin on her “Weird & Wonderful Rainbow Ride,” a five-day cruise to the Bahamas that featured guests like Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness.
STEVIE ON …
THE IMPORTANCE OF GAY NIGHTLIFE: “Since I came out, the LGBTQ+ community and
specifically the nightlife community has been like a second home to me. The bulk of my adult friend groups I owe to nightlife and the community. It’s kind of crazy to think about. That’s why when I see people talking poorly about nightlife, it is hard to not get defensive. I owe my friends, relationships and now all my income to nightlife. I think we as a community really need to band together and support events we like and not put down ones we don’t. They all have a place and if we say bad things, they might not be around forever. I think that’s why I want to work towards creating inclusive spaces, doing events for underrepresented members of our community and raising money for LGBTQ nonprofits. I believe if I push all the good parts as much as I can, people have to support.”
HIS LGBTQ COMMUNITY MENTOR: “My biggest mentor in recent years has definitely been
DJ Susan Esthera. She has taught me so much—not only about DJing, but in preparing me to take her role as entertainment manager at Club Cafe. When I was first starting out, it was little things: “How much should I ask when I DJ?” And then big things like dealing with tough situations in nightlife. I don’t think she realizes how much I look up to her and admire her.”
THE QUEER HISTORY MOMENT THAT MOST IMPACTED HIM: “One of the most impactful things for me was the Pulse Shootings. It is an extremely dark part of our history and still a very fresh wound. I was in Orlando just a week before it happened. I had people calling me, asking if I was okay because they knew I was in Orlando. I think it hit so close to home because I have always viewed clubs as a safe space and a place of normalcy. For someone to take away that safe feeling, and for our government to still do nothing regarding gun control, is disgusting to me. New Zealand was able to ban semi-automatic weapons within 72 hours after the mass shootings that happened there. I think not only our community, but the entire country should really work toward this.” A SURPRISING FACT ABOUT HIM: “People often ask where my DJ name came from. It used to be my AIM screen name. I went with ‘Psyclone’ because I always wanted my super power to be to control wind—and I thought it would be ‘cool.’”
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Tim Kelleher CO - F O U N DE R OF BOS TON YO GA U N ION
80 | BOSTON SPIRIT
Yoga has a way of healing bodies and minds. That’s what it did for Tim Kelleher—and now he’s helping others find their way to a better, more balanced life. In February, armed with nearly two decades of study and experience, Kelleher opened Boston Yoga Union with his business partner, Emily Tevald. Kelleher draws on a wide range of styles to create joyful, powerful classes at the inclusive studio. As a gay, married father of two, he knows how necessary it is to carve out time for a calming practice, and to build community: He and his husband created a small group of two-dad families, Double Daddies, that now includes 40+ families in Greater Boston and plans several events annually. But as he marks his 17th year in recovery, Kelleher also knows the profound impact that yoga can have on all people—including LGBTQ folks—who are moving past physical and emotional trauma. That’s why, besides hosting annual retreats to Cuba, Kelleher created his Recovering Yogi classes— monthly, donation-based workshops designed to highlight yoga as a form of support in recovery.
TIM ON …
COMING OUT: “I grew up with loving parents, in a nice house, with every opportunity. The
forced Catholicism left a little bruise, so I didn’t come out to myself until 1993 or so, and it was a few years of in and out and experimentation until I settled on an identity that felt like home. As a young gay man, my identity was really wrapped up in the club scene, and though I had many gay friends and relationships, it wasn’t until I got sober at 25 that I really find a community of gay men who helped me figure out how to love myself, love other men without sleeping with them and represent the community well.”
HOW YOGA HELPED HIS RECOVERY: “I was a dancer as a young man, then struggled with my
addiction for many years, and when I got sober at 25, I landed in a residential treatment program north of Manhattan. I was pretty broken, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I went to a yoga class at a local gym and had an experience of feeling safe in my body, and safe with my thoughts, which was revolutionary for me at the time. As I began to learn and cultivate my yoga practice, it became a vital component of my mental and physical well-being. I made my body strong, learned how to watch my mind without reacting, and started to cultivate a sense of connection to community and the greater good.”
HOW BEING LGBTQ IMPACTS HIS WORK: “As a gay man, I am hyper aware of how I am
received. The remnants of growing up in a community which didn’t always feel welcoming run deep, and quite frankly, sometimes this whole country feels like that. I think a lot about how people feel coming into our space at the studio and about having representation on our staff. Maintaining a welcome and safe space for all orientations, colors, genders, and body types—really, all humans—is a key part of our mission as a studio. We hope we can serve as a refuge.”
HOSTING RETREATS IN CUBA: “We were the first American group to go on a yoga cultural
exchange. Cuba is unlike anywhere else on earth, and it teaches non-attachment with joy and a sense of humor. Even with its many difficulties and complexities, it is a rich cultural exchange. I have taken nearly 100 students over the year. We eat amazing food, practice with Cuban student and teachers, dance Salsa in Havana and swim in the pristine sea. It’s a singular trip.”
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CULTURE Music STORY Loren King
“ I’m always so excited to work with the orchestra and with Keith [Lockhart]. We get to play as one... He’s got that sensitivity and it’s just great. The orchestra follows him, and it’s beautiful; everybody breathing together like that.” Bernadette Peters
Bernadette Peters is Back (in Boston) Where She Belongs Broadway legend returns to open Boston Pops 134th season Fresh from following Tony Award-winner Bette Midler in the iconic role of Dolly Gallagher Levi on Broadway, two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters brings a song repertoire spanning her five decades as a Broadway star to the May 8 opening of the Boston Pops spring season. “I’m always so excited to work with the orchestra and with Keith [Lockhart]. We get to play as one—he’s listening to me, because often I don’t do a song the same
82 | BOSTON SPIRIT
way twice,” says Peters in a telephone interview from her home in New York. “You really have to listen to me because it may come out different, depending on what little vein of emotion I’ve found and I’m going to follow it and so he follows it. He’s got that sensitivity and it’s just great. The orchestra follows him, and it’s beautiful; everybody breathing together like that.”
The event is a homecoming for Peters who opened the Pops 2012 season at Symphony Hall with Lockhart conducting. She also performed with Lockhart and the Pops at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago in 2017. For this season’s opener, Peters’ longtime pianist Marvin Laird will be onstage with the Pops orchestra under Lockhart’s direction. With a resume that includes Broadway shows by composers Andrew Lloyd Webber (“Song and Dance”), Irving Berlin (“Annie Get Your Gun”), Jerry Herman (“Hello, Dolly!” and “Mack and Mabel”) and most notably Stephen Sondheim, there will no shortage of signature songs for Peters to perform. “Keith will look over the song list and make suggestions,” says Peters. “I will see what he suggests. The ‘Dolly’ songs are new; I just put them in and I’m enjoying how much audience seems to like them.” It was Midler, Peters says, who encouraged her to take over the role of matchmaker Dolly Levi in Jerry Herman’s classic musical starting in January 2018 until the show closed last summer. At a recent solo concert at the New Bedford’s Zeiterion Performing Arts Center. Peters sang two songs from “Hello, Dolly!”—the playful “So Long, Dearie” and
the poignant “Before the Parade Passes By”—to enthusiastic ovations from the crowd. Peters says she was especially pleased because “So Long, Dearie” isn’t as well known as “Parade.” It’s also “nice to have a lighter moment because then I do ‘Send in the Clowns,’” she says. “I figure out the arc of the show, where you can lighten it up and [where] you can keep going down an emotional path… You figure it out; if it’s too much for me, it’s probably too much for the audience, too.” Of course, Boston audiences can expect plenty of Sondheim. Peters is one of the foremost interpreters of the composer’s songs, having starred in the original productions of “Sunday in the Park with George” and “Into the Woods,” and revivals of “Follies,” “A Little Night Music” and Sam Mendes’ 2003 production of “Gypsy.” Peters brought her trademark grit-laced vulnerability to the iconic role of Rose, earning widespread critical acclaim and her seventh Tony nomination. Besides her two Tonys, for “Annie Get Your Gun” in 1999 and “Song and Dance”
in 1986, Peters also was awarded an honorary Tony in 2012 in recognition for her charitable work. With her friend Mary Tyler Moore, Peters founded Broadway Barks to promote the adoption of shelter animals. Proceeds from her three children’s books—she says signed copies will be available at the Pops concert—go to the charity. She’s also been a long-time supporter of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Standing Tall and Actors Fund of America. In 2012, Peters wowed the Symphony Hall crowd with her wrenching versions of “No One is Alone” from “Into the Woods” and “Losing My Mind” from “Follies” in which she depicts her character’s emotional breakdown. “She gets up that day, and the song is about her life, her pain and suffering,” says Peters. “I have to sing about things that are deep to me. I see no reason to sing unless I am involved and connect with the material.” Peters’ show is first of 10 eclectic programs that Lockhart will lead at
Symphony Hall this season, which runs through June 15. Tony Award-winner Leslie Odom, Jr., who so memorably played Aaron Burr in “Hamilton,” returns to the Pops June 5 and 6 for a centenary tribute to Nat King Cole and to sing many of his own favorite Broadway songs. There are an impressive number of Boston Pops debuts, including singer, violinist and banjo player Rhiannon Giddens who will curate and perform in a four-concert overview of American Roots music. The Grammy winner, who made her highly acclaimed Boston Pops debut during the 2018 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, returns June 22 and 23 with her band for a weeklong Pops residency, “Redefining American Music.” She also curates a program that spotlights overlooked African American musicians. Broadway vocalist Darius de Haas and pianist Lara Downes join Giddens and the Pops for music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Billy Strayhorn, Eubie Blake, Florence Price, Hazel Scott and more on June 24 and 25. [x]
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CULTURE Theater STORY Loren King Adina Verson and Katrina Lenk in “Indecent.” PHOTO Carol Rosegg
Life after Broadway Paula Vogel’s ‘Indecent’ comes to Boston in full Broadway form Paula Vogel’s Tony Award winner “Indecent” is a true story set in 1923 up through the early rumblings of World War II in Europe. But its themes of homophobia, censorship, anti-Semitism and the transformation power of art are as immediate as today’s images of a MAGA rally. For the Pulitzer Prize-winning, out and outspoken playwright Vogel, “History plays are always about the present moment. History is one way to open a conversation; music and comedy are another way…we’re so polarized that if you write a contemporary play about any of these issues, you are preaching to the converted to look the present moment in the eye.
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With ‘Indecent,’ we used everything in our theatrical truck of tricks to make it a theatrical journey we do want to go on.” Vogel constructed “Indecent” as a play-within-a-play, with music, about Sholem Asch’s 1906 Yiddish drama “God of Vengeance.” In its English-language debut on Broadway in 1923, the show was shut down for controversial story lines including a lesbian romance and the mostly Jewish actors tried for indecency. The US government by 1923 had enacted laws restricting immigration and many of the actors returned to Europe as it was falling into fascism. But they continued to champion and stage the play.
“The convergence of issues that occurred in 1922 and 1923 are occurring now,” say Vogel, a longtime resident of Wellfleet. “Censorship happens in an atmosphere when the oxygen is replaced by hate. There have been productions of ‘Indecent’ where cast members have gone onto the stage during crises like the [Pittsburgh] synagogue shooting to say the line, ‘It can’t happen here’ in front of an audience.” “Indecent” marked Vogel’s long-awaited Broadway debut in 2017 after some 22 plays, including her 1998 Pulitzer Prize winner “How I Learned to Drive.” “Indecent” won two Tony Awards, for director Rebecca Taichman and lighting designer Christopher Akerlind. It closed later that summer, but continues to be produced around the US and the world, from Omaha, Nebraska, and Boise, Idaho, to South Korea, Israel and Prague. “Indecent” will have its Boston premiere in a fully remounted Broadway production, featuring Taichman’s direction; Akerlind’s lighting design; David Dorfman’s choreography; music by Lisa Gutkin and Aaron Halva; set design by Riccardo Hernandez; and costumes by Emily Rebholz; as well as many members of the original Broadway cast. Performances began April 26 and run through May 25. Vogel hasn’t seen the show in its Broadway incarnation since “Indecent” closed in August, 2017. “This will be a return to home. We were asked by Huntington to bring back and recreate the production we put together; with the same cast, musicians, choreographer…for more than three years,” she says, as Indecent traveled the long road to Broadway from workshops to critically acclaimed runs at The Vineyard Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse. “The Huntington is near and dear to my heart,” says Vogel, whose play “A Civil War Christmas” was staged by the Huntington in 2009. “[Artistic Director] Peter DuBois and I worked together when he was a grad student; I have family in Boston; I live in Wellfleet and have an apartment in Providence so I’ll be there to see it with so many of my friends.”
Company of “Indecent” PHOTO Carol Rosegg
A renowned teacher of playwriting at Brown University and Yale School of Drama, Vogel began rehearsing and writing “Indecent” at a very different time in modern history but one with the same urgency about hate groups and anti-immigration. “I was alarmed at the growth of white supremacy and anti-immigration under George W. Bush— our blaming immigrants has been happening for some time, not just with Trump. And the growth of anti-Semitism never goes away,” she says. “But now we are witnessing strongmen being elected in Hungary, Poland—we’re witnessing a fearful election in Brazil. I’m afraid we’re in that period again of the pendulum swinging and how do we get it swinging in the opposite direction?” Despite the darker elements in “Indecent,” Vogel is heartened by the universal positive response. “In different communities, the way into the play is not Yiddish. In La Jolla, first generation Asian, Latino, Latina [audience members] came up to me and said, ‘This is my mother’s, my father’s, my
grandparents’ story.” One of the most gratifying reactions came from Sholem Asch’s granddaughter who came to see Broadway production. “She said, ‘my grandfather just received a standing ovation,’” says Vogel. “I’m so glad family sees it that way.” She is currently working on three new projects, including “Cressida on Top,” which was recently workshopped at Center Theatre Group and the Goodman Theatre, and a new play commissioned by Center Theatre Group and Second Stage Theater. That means she doesn’t often attend productions of “Indecent.” “You have to think the next thing you write is the best thing you write, so I have to keep going on with new pages,” Vogel says. “Indecent” was the result of seven years of labor. “You never think when you start that it will see the stage. So the fact that it has a life after Broadway is great for my heart.” [x]
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There’s a story in every mile North of Boston! Located only 30 minutes from Boston, the region offers 200 miles of coastline, restaurants, cultural sites, attractions, performing arts venues, and more. North of Boston has a story in every mile … and welcomes all visitors to create their own adventure! Located only 30 miles from Boston and stretching to the NH border, the region is perfect for a leisurely drive along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway. Set against a rocky shoreline and The Great Marsh, New England’s largest salt marsh, the Byway traverses fourteen North Shore communities. Discover historic seaports, colonial era farms, lighthouses, village and city centers, and a wealth of period architecture. Get out on the water on a schooner sail or paddle your own kayak or SUP. Bask in the sun on a singing beach. Eat lobster, fried clams or the freshest of local produce. Go for a hike or bike ride. See whales so close you can almost touch them.
Learn about the Witch Trials of the 1600s. Explore a secret staircase. Lose yourself in a museum. Take in a musical at a theater in the round or a concert at a venue overlooking the ocean. Shop at former mill buildings and quaint stores for antiques, art, and the perfect keepsake. From small town celebrations to cultural festivals to America’s oldest agricultural fair, there are many options for fun. Come discover what makes the 34 cities and towns of Essex County so unique. Please visit northofboston.org for more information and a full calendar of events.
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CULTURE Theater STORY Loren King
Max Vernon “The View Upstairs.” PHOTO Kurt Sneddon
The View from Here Max Vernon’s punk musical ‘The View Upstairs’ reimagines a forgotten piece of LGBT history Performer and writer Max Vernon wanted to create a show “that felt like a cult musical—“Rocky Horror,” “Hedwig” or “Hair”—something that felt subversive, sexy and a little wild.” Vernon discovered an obscure piece of LGBT history that fit with his punk aesthetic and turned it into the unlikely musical “The View Upstairs.” It was as an undergraduate in sexuality and gender studies at New York University that Vernon, 31, first read about the deadly 1973 fire, the work of an arsonist, that swept through the gay bar The Upstairs Lounge in the French Quarter of New Orleans, killing 32 people. He was surprised that no one, not even his esteemed professors, knew anything about the event.
“This was before the Pulse [nightclub shooting] so 32 deaths was by far the worst massacre in the LGBT community at the time. No one was talking about it; none of my professors had heard of it,” says Vernon. “I’d dedicated four years of my life to this field and not even [scholars] knew about this event in our history. Why has it been forgotten?” Singer/songwriter Vernon, by then, was performing concerts around New York City. He pushed his knowledge of The Upstairs Lounge fire “to the back of my mind,” he says. “Finally, in grad school [at NYU], I presented a bunch of ideas that I wanted to write for my thesis and the fire was way at bottom of list. I thought,
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‘It’s a horrible idea; there are a gazillion ways to get it wrong; I don’t want some gay ghost hovering over my bed at night saying, ‘You fucked up our story,’” he recalls. “I had so many excuses why I didn’t want to write it.” But Vernon did compose “The View Upstairs,” which opened off-Broadway in 2017 and has now been produced around the world including runs in London and Australia. Boston’s SpeakEasy Stage Company will premiere “The View Upstairs” May 31–June 22 under the direction of Paul Daigneault in the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. Vernon, who lives in New York City, plans to attend one of the Boston performances. The show may center on a tragedy, but Vernon’s goal was “a weird cult musical” that celebrates community and survival. It’s something he knows about. His love of music and performance—in April he concluded a month-long residency at renowned Joe’s Pub in New York—was shaped by his outsider status as a kid
dividing his time between his divorced parents and their residences in New York and Los Angeles. “Musical theater was my very first love. In a pre-Lady Gaga world, I was showing up to school wearing eye makeup and kimonos and bondage boots. I was bullied at 11, 12, 13 years old, so I divorced myself from musical theater and got into art and punk and fashion,” he says. “I was a disaffected fashionista punk who wanted nothing to do with theater.” He brought that sensibility to “The View Upstairs” and says he hopes it will reach audiences who feel distanced from traditional theater. Vernon’s original songs in the show reflect his musical taste that includes David Bowie, Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Laura Nyro, Elton John, Stevie Wonder. “These were the influences that I grew up on,” he says. “I channeled all that into an original score.” He also drew on the inherent theatricality of The Upstairs Lounge and its trash/glam aesthetic. “It looked like a bordello. There were red velvet curtains and
“ This was before the Pulse [nightclub shooting] so 32 deaths was by far the worst massacre in the LGBT community at the time. No one was talking about it; none of my professors had heard of it. I’d dedicated four years of my life to this field and not even [scholars] knew about this event in our history. Why has it been forgotten?” Max Vernon kitsch knickknacks; the detritus and the beauty coexisting. It felt theatrical and musical to me,” he says. But it was also 1973, just four years after Stonewall. Bar raids were still common; homosexuality was illegal in Louisiana. “You could be arrested for wearing clothes of the opposite gender. As someone who wears eyeshadow nearly every day of the week, my ass would have been arrested,” says Vernon whose other “weird cult musicals” include “KPOP,” “The Tattooed Lady” and “Show and Tell.” The Upstairs Lounge had numerous fire code violations including no fire escape and metal bars on its second-floor windows that prevented patrons from fleeing the blaze. No one was arrested and police did only a cursory investigation, says Vernon, though it is commonly thought that a disgruntled hustler who had just been turned away from the club set the fire in retaliation. But Vernon also found much to celebrate in the idea of this queer safe space where, each night, regulars including drag queens and the bar’s piano player joined in singing the bar’s theme song, “United We Stand” by the Brotherhood of Man. “Apparently, a lot of bars at the time had theme songs that
represented ‘them against the world,’ the idea that inside [the bar] was home, you could be free. Many bars had songs that patrons sang every night. One of the things I found haunting was that just 30 minutes before the fire, the patrons sang “United we stand/divided we fall/and if our backs should ever be again the wall/we’ll be together.” In the show, Wes is a modernday, gender fluid, hip gay man who is mysteriously transported back to The Upstairs Lounge in 1973 and meets the club’s colorful denizens. The “time travel” device reflects Vernon’s interest in creating fantastical musicals. “If you don’t like time travel, well, don’t see my other musicals about tattooed ladies, robots and the apocalypse,” he says. “I’m obsessed with magic devices. I’m like, ‘Get that realism out of musical theater!’ I’m not interested.” He wants young LGBTs who connect online rather than inside baths and bars to imagine what it would be like if they were “thrust back to when it was illegal to be in a bar like that, with no [cell] phone, and be forced to commingle.” They just might end up singing together. [x]
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CULTURE Entertainment STORY Loren King
Broadway’s Finest Flock to Provincetown Art House series kicks off with ‘Fun Home’ star Beth Malone
her Art House debut in Provincetown. Malone’s intimate, engaging set included musical influences from Barbara Mandrell, Brandi Carlisle, Pink and Paula Cole — and of course in a little “Fun Home.” This season, Malone returns to kick off the Art House season with Seth Rudetsky on May 25 and 26. Malone made her Broadway debut in 2006 in the shortlived Johnny Cash jukebox musical, “Ring of Fire.” When “Fun Home” lyricist Lisa Kron saw Malone perform an early version of her own story in New York, Kron invited her Gavin Creel
Beth Malone Beth Malone’s Tonynominated role as authorcartoonist Alison Bechdel in “Fun Home”—Broadway’s first lesbian leading character—was a career milestone for her as a performer. The Tony-award winning Broadway musical, based on Bechdel’s graphic novel-memoir, also deeply connects to Malone’s own personal journey. Malone took audiences on that musical voyage which included comical tales of her own coming out in the 1980s and how it impacted relationships with her family, in her one-woman cabaret show “Beth Malone: So Far.” She performed the show in 2017 at
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to audition for “Fun Home” which took Broadway by storm in 2015 winning five Tony Awards including best musical. Most recently, Malone played the Angel at certain performances in the Broadway revival of Tony Kushner’s landmark AIDS-themed play “Angels in America.” The twin 120-seat theaters at the Art House since 2011 have showcased stellar stage entertainment in the heart of Provincetown. The Broadway@ The Art House series is responsible for bringing artists including Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Chita Rivera, Christine Ebersole and Sutton Foster to town. This season is no exception, with more acts to be announced. After Malone launches Broadway @ The Art House, Gavin Creel will perform with Seth Rudetsky on July 5 and 6. Creel won the Tony Award for his performance in the 2017 revival of “Hello, Dolly!” on Broadway, and was nominated for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Hair.” He’ll be followed by Melissa Errico (July 21 and 22) who’ll perform her critically acclaimed new CD “Sondheim Sublime” with Tedd Firth at the piano. Known for her starring roles on Broadway in the musicals “My Fair Lady,”
Melissa Errico “Anna Karenina,” “High Society,” “Dracula,” “White Christmas” and “Amour,” which earned her a Tony nomination, Errico recently appeared in London to sing her versions of the classic songs on “Sondheim Sublime.” Last summer she earned raves for her starring role in the Irish Repertory Theatre’s production of the musical “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” written with Alan Jay Lerner, which boasts one of Broadway’s most beautiful scores including the
Learning is a journey. It starts with curiosity and builds. Learning is the driving force behind transformation. It has the power to rewrite the way we think, feel, and act. Each of us are learners and every day we encounter new learning moments. What we do with those moments is the difference between failure and flight. For when we embrace the process, what we learn about ourselves may surprise us—
Varla Jean Merman
Bianca De Rio
song, “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?” Liz Callaway, a Tony nominee for “Baby” and also a star of “Cats” and “Miss Saigon” on Broadway as well as the singing voice in many of Disney’s animated films including as Princess Jasmine in two of the “Aladdin” films, appears August 16 and 17 with Alex Rybeck. Cabaret legend Marilyn Maye, who’s become an Art House favorite, returns August 28 - Sept. 1 with Billy Stritch. Meanwhile, the second stage of the Art House will feature the one and only Varla Jean Merman with her new show “A Star Is Bored” (June 21 Sept. 6) with Gerald Goode at the piano. Merman (the drag creation of actor Jeffery Roberson) is a drag superstar who’s been performing new, original campy and raucous music and comedy shows in Provincetown each season for more than years. Roberson is also a heralded stage performer. Roberson in 2010 won an Elliot Norton Award for Best Musical Performance in “The Phantom of the OPRAH.” He returned to Boston in the
fall of 2011 to star as Mother Superior in SpeakEasy Stage’s acclaimed production of “The Divine Sister” by Charles Busch. Merman joins Jinkx Monsoon and Liza Lott for the parody “The First Wives Fight Club” written by Merman and Peaches Christ and running from July 3 - Sept. 5. Monsoon’s new solo show “Together Again, Again!” with Major Scales runs July 6 - Sept 8. Also on the schedule: Miss Conception’s new solo show, “TV Land,” runs June 29 Sept. 8. The Kinsey Sicks return to Provincetown with an all new show, Naked Drag Queens Singing, from June 30 - Sept 8 and Steve Grand’s new solo show runs July 2 - Sept. 5. At Town Hall, RuPaul’s Drag Race Champion Bianca Del Rio returns on July 15 with an all new show “It’s Jester Joke.” Provincetown is the first stop on Bianca’s 2019 North American tour. [x]
we discover our own potential and grow. So, what does it ultimately mean to be The Learning Company? It’s about activating students’ curiosity, elevating their teachers’ potential, and transforming leaders into visionaries. Together, we are shaping the future of education, one learning moment at a time. Join our team—we are hiring! Visit careers.hmhco.com
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CULTURE Film STORY Loren King
‘Hedwig’ Creator Headlines in Provincetown PIFF showcases LGBT talent, on stage and on film Actor-writer-director John Cameron Mitchell, who gave the world the iconic East German trans rocker Hedwig, is the Filmmaker on the Edge honoree at this year’s Provincetown International Film Festival. Mitchell directed and starred as Hedwig in the landmark 2001 musical about a transgender punk-rocker from East Berlin who tours the US with her band as she recounts her life story and pursues her former lover/band-mate who stole her songs. There will be a screening of the new Criterion Collection 4K remaster of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” which earned Mitchell best director honors at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival as well as a best actor Golden Globe nomination and which soon earned cult hit status. The 2014 Broadway version won four Tony Awards, including Harris as best actor in a musical and Best Revival of a Musical. He was honored with
a special Tony Award in 2015 for his 2015 Broadway return to the iconic role he created. Cult film director Waters, a Provincetown fixture who’s been part of the annual Provincetown International Film Festival since it began, will interview Mitchell on stage June 15 at Provincetown Town Hall. What’s sure to be a lively conversation between two gay auteurs is the centerpiece event of the festival, which runs June 12–16. Mitchell wrote and directed the queer indie, sexually adventurous classic “Shortbus” (2006). He also directed “Rabbit Hole” (2010), adapted from David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play and starring Nicole Kidman in an Oscar-nominated role as a mother coping with grief in the aftermath of an accident that killed her young child. At PIFF, Mitchell will be talking about his new project, “Anthem,” a recently launched six-hour, 10-episode musical
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podcast with 31 original songs. Mitchell wrote the anthology with Bryan Weller and directs the series which in April began streaming in the Luminary platform. The first episode was a star-studded affair, featuring Glenn Close, Patti LuPone, Cynthia Erivo, Marion Cotillard and Laurie Anderson. Each episode in the series will have new characters and stories. A prolific actor since childhood when he played Huck Finn in the 1985 Broadway musical “Big River,” Mitchell originated the role of Dickon on Broadway in “The Secret Garden” and earned a Drama Desk nomination. He also starred in “The Destiny of Me,” Larry Kramer’s off-Broadway sequel to his acclaimed AIDSthemed drama “The Normal Heart” for which Mitchell received an Obie Award and a Drama Desk nomination. Mitchell is also a cast member in Hulu’s “Shrill,” starring Aidy Bryant (he plays her character’s boss). The critically acclaimed comedy was just renewed for a second season. Besides many other acting
credits, he’s had featured roles in HBO’s “Girls,” “Vinyl” and “Mozart in the Jungle.” As if a conversation between Mitchell and Waters weren’t enough, PIFF will be, as it often is, rich with plenty of interesting LGBT-themed indie fare, says artistic director Lisa Viola who was still booking films and special guests as Boston Spirit went to press. Fresh from the Tribeca Film Festival is “Gay Chorus Deep South.” Writer-director David Charles Rodrigues’s documentary follows the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on their “Lavender Pen Tour” in 2017, which took the 300 members of the group through five states in the Deep South. The film chronicles how this celebration of music confronts and challenges intolerance at a time of resurgence of antiLGBT laws. Past PIFF honorees Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, whose documentaries “Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt” (1989) and “The Celluloid Closet” (1995) are hallmarks in the LGBT canon, will be in attendance with two
The cast of “Adam” Montgomery Clift, from the documentary “Making Montgomery Clift” [RIGHT] Scene from the documentary “Gay Chorus Deep South” [LEFT]
new films. “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” is a documentary portrait of the legendary singer, and “State of Pride” traces the history and meaning of the Pride movement over the last 50 years since Stonewall. Film buffs won’t want to miss “Making Montgomery Clift,” a documentary about the star of such screen classics as “A Place in the Sun” (1951) and “From Here to Eternity” (1953) who was uncloseted at a time when few in Hollywood would admit to being gay. Directed by Clift’s nephew Robert Clift and Hillary Demmon, with interviews with family and friends, the film examines how various Clift biographies didn’t paint the complete picture of the stillinfluential actor. There are several notable queer-themed, scripted indies in this year’s festival. Fresh from the Sundance Film Festival, “Adam” is the feature directing debut of “Transparent” producer Rhys Ernst. Nicholas Alexander plays a teenage boy who crashes at the Manhattan apartment of his older sister Casey (Margaret Qualley), a lesbian hipster with a circle of queer friends. Adam meets Gillian (Bobbi Salvor
Menuez), who mistakes him for trans, comically introducing the boy to the new normal of fuzzy gender boundaries. Another Sundance entry, “Before You Know It,” is a family dramedy from Hannah Pearl Utt and Jen Tullock (who wrote the film together while Utt directed). They play sisters Rachel (Utt), a lesbian, and Jackie (Tullock), a single mom, who inherit a struggling community theater in New York City and reunite with their long-estranged, assumed dead mother, a vain soap opera actress played by the one and only Judith Light. “Good Posture” marks the directing debut of Dolly Wells, best known as one-half (with Emily Mortimer) of the HBO sitcom “Doll & Em” and also for her role as the bookseller who goes on a date with Melissa McCarthy in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” “Good Posture” stars Mortimer as a famed author who becomes the subject of an unauthorized documentary after a young woman, Lilian (Grace Van Patten), is placed into the care of her family’s friends in Brooklyn. [x]
Introducing the Verellen Salon at Artefact Boston 1317 Washington Street, Boston MA
1000 Pleasant Street, Belmont MA
CULTURE Music STORY Scott Kearnan
Broadway Backed Berklee College musical theater professor Michael Wartofsky releases album of original songs Songwriter Michael Wartofsky has composed original musicals, worked with Broadway stars and—as a professor at Boston’s esteemed Berklee College of Music, where he established an undergraduate minor in musical theater writing—inspired countless other artists to express themselves through words and melody. And yet, songs written for the stage are “so ephemeral,” says Wartofsky. “It’s this magical thing where you have to be there to take it all in. Then you leave the theater, and it’s gone.” Not anymore. Decades into a successful career, Wartofsky has finally released his very first album of original songs.
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“All the Possibilities: Broadway Sings Wartofsky,” compiles favorite works from the musician’s career, including several with gay-community ties. The eclectic tunes—joyful, invigorating, hopeful, romantic—have been recorded by an impressive roster of NYC theater names, like “Rent” alum Darius de Haas, Michael Roberts McKee of “Mamma Mia” and Shayna Steele, who starred in “Hairspray” on Broadway and in its recent live staging for NBC. Some of the songs have also been slightly retooled to be more accessible to non-theater audiences. “I wanted it to be the kind of album you could pop in in the car,” says
Michael Wartofsky. PHOTO Joel Benjamin
Wartofsky. “It’s an opportunity to reach new audiences.” He laughs. “Can I still be an emerging composer, at age 50?” Self-deprecating jokes aside, Wartofsky’s work is rooted in a passion that emerged in childhood. By age three, he was singing along to his mother’s “Funny Girl” LP and tapping into “the little drag queen inside me,” says Wartofsky, who has since taught the songs to his daughter. (“She’s a diva already!”) He wrote his first song at age eight, helped by a houseguest who was a pianist. And in high school, he was strolling through the hallways in ostentatious outfits and jamming in new wave-punk bands, inspired by artists like Morrissey, Bronski Beat, Nina Hagen and, on the more soulful side, Chaka Khan and Rickie Lee Jones. Through it all, theater remained his first love. Wartofsky, who studied and taught at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, arrived
Shayna Steele [RIGHT] and Michael Wartofsky at Berklee in 1998. He has since composed music and lyrics for numerous shows, including the one-man affair “The Man in My Head.” Premiered at the New York Theatre Festival in 2006, it starred Darius de Haas, who portrayed six different characters in the life of a gay, African-American twenty-something. De Haas reprised “Real Thing,” a striding love song, for the “All the Possibilities” album. The album also includes “I’ve Got a Crush,” a song from “Cupcake,” Wartofsky’s show about a baker in a
Daniel Quadrin [LEFT] and Michael Wartofsky
Provincetown-inspired summer resort town. (It’s a duet between a gay male lifeguard and a female librarian, both pining for the same sweet guy.) There’s “Without Your Love” from “Running Back,” a musical comedy about a football star who proposes to his boyfriend on national TV. And “All the Possibilities” also includes “No One Quite Like You,” a song Wartofsky wrote and sang as a surprise for his husband during their wedding ceremony. “I wanted to offer universal access to my music,” says Wartofsky of releasing “All
the Possibilities.” The album’s title is an apt one, considering that Wartofsky had plenty of possibilities for inclusion; he wound up crowd-sourcing final picks from peers and friends. So, what’s next for the songwriter? He’s working on an expanded iteration of his “Cupcake” musical, for one thing—and beyond that, the possibilities are pretty endless. [x]
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Calendar New Hampshire Gay Men’s Chorus Raise a toast to the NHGMC as they take on tour their spring concert: “We’re 21… We’re Legal!” Yes, it’s been more than two decades since the chorus first started to spread its music—and to celebrate, these silver-throated songbirds will perform a program of “tastefully done saucy songs” for audiences all over the Granite State. Find out why this 21-year-old operation is still number-one in our book. WHEN
Sat., May 4 (Nashua), Sun., May 5 (Manchester), Sat., May 18 (Concord), and Sun., May 19 (Portsmouth)
First Baptist Church, Nashua; Derryfield School, Manchester; Wesley United Methodist Church, Concord; and South Church, Portsmouth
Eddie Izzard He’s smart, he’s saucy, and he looks great in stilettos. He’s Eddie Izzard, and the gender binary-flouting comedian is coming to Boston with his “Wunderbar” tour, described as a “unique, totally surreal view of life, love and history.” You never know what to expect from an evening with Izzard, but the decadent performer and activist is always diversifying his craft: Most recently, Izzard played an aristocratic serial killer in the horror-comedy film “Boyz in the Wood.” WHEN
Thurs. and Fri., May 16–17
Wang Theatre, eddieizzard.com Boston
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Thurs. –Sun., May 2–5 Wang Theatre, Boston Wang Theatre, Boston
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It’s impossible to overstate the contributions of Alvin Ailey. He helped to popularize modern dance, revolutionized the participation of African-Americans in the discipline, and has gone down in history as one of the LGBTQ community’s most influential cultural contributors. Though Ailey passed from AIDS in 1989, the theater that still bears his name continues to visit Boston annually through the Celebrity Series, and this year—which celebrates the company’s 60th anniversary—is no exception.
AIDS Walk & Run We’ve come a long way in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but we’re still marching toward a future where the disease is a thing of the past. To help, lace up your sneakers, hit the road, and raise money for vital organizations in Providence and Boston. The Ocean State walk, which starts and ends at Roger Williams Park, will support AIDS Project Rhode Island; the Boston event, which takes place at the DCR Hatch Memorial Shell, will benefit AIDS Action Committee. Let’s make some more strides toward progress. WHEN
Sat., June 1 (Providence); Roger Williams Park Carousel (Providence); aidsprojectri.org; Sunday, June 2 (Boston) Hatch Memorial Shell (Boston) aidswalkboston.org
Prepare for a big O. A standing ovation, that is. Boston’s eternally cutting-edge queer organization The Theater Offensive hosts its annual benefit, climACTS!, an always exciting, inevitably provocative extravaganza that fuses live entertainment with music, auctions, and a sassy sensibility — plus an appearance this year by Ra’jah O’Hara, star of the latest season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” This year’s theme, “Dynasty,” celebrates the organization’s 30th anniversary and exciting leadership change: Founding director Abe Rybeck has handed over the reins to artistic director Evelyn Francis and executive director Harold Steward, who are already making their own marvelous mark. WHEN
Wed., May 15 WHERE
Venu Nightclub, Boston HOW
Heels for Hope
Mon., June 3
Club Café, Boston
Practice your strutting, because you’ll want to hit the dance floor looking as cool as Kazaky at the Heels for Hope fundraiser for BAGLY (The Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth). Every year, supporters strap into their tallest, most fetching pair of heels to boogie away—and, if you’re lucky, maybe even sashay away with a coveted raffle prize. Sure, your feet may get tired, but it’s all for a good cause. So, in the words of RuPaul, “Sissy that walk!”
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May–June 2: Newport, RI Pride Don’t miss this 2nd annual event! Will include a flag raising, yoga on the beach, a sunset schooner sail, a parade and Equality Fest. More: visit newportout.com.
Connecticut LGBT Film Festival The LGBTQ equality movement succeeds when we share our stories—and film is one of the most powerful ways to do so. Since 1988, the Connecticut LGBT Film Festival—a program of Out Film CT—has used cinema to shine an important spotlight on queer actors and issues. (In fact, it’s now the longest-running film festival in the Constitution State.) Last year’s series included screenings of flicks like “My Big Gay Italian Wedding” and “After Louie” starring Alan Cumming. We expect similarly exciting things from 2019. WHEN
Fri.–Sat., May 31–June 8
Cinestudio at Trinity College, Hartford
PRIDE IN NEW ENGLAND May 4: NoHo Pride
Head to beautiful Western Mass to celebrate LGBTQ community in the adorable (and queer-friendly) enclave of Northampton. Over 30,000 people are expected to turn out for the family-friend festivities, which kick off with an 11 AM parade before an array of fun and live entertainment. Pride Day is preceded by a concert from Lea DeLaria on May 1. More: nohopride.org
May 31–June 2: Provincetown Pride Every day feels like Pride in P’town—especially during the summer, with all its festive theme weekends appealing to every stripe in the rainbow. But last year, America’s oldest
artist colony finally threw its first official Pride celebration, which include dance parties, public art exhibitions, a drag brunch and much more. Hop the ferry and check out all the fun again this year. More: ptown.org/pride
May 31–June 9: Boston Pride First, the Pride flag will be raised at City Hall. Then comes a week’s worth of official events, including the annual parade and festival, plus unofficial parties at local bars. This year, keep your eyes peeled for banners that will be hung all over the city, marketing buildings where important LGBTQ history was made. More: bostonpride.org
June 1: South Coast Pride
vendors, live entertainment, and much more. But let’s be real: The biggest draw is the Illuminated Night Parade, an awe-inspiring procession that lights up the city with dazzling displays of twinkling rainbow lights. More: prideri.org
June 22: North Shore Pride
The South Coast LGBTQ Network is a nonprofit building community across southeastern Massachusetts, organizing film series, book clubs, and more. But its annual Pride celebration at Buttonwood Park in New Bedford is the major highlight, bringing a lineup of live entertainment and vendors, plus pre- and postparties at area restaurants. More: sclgtqnetwork.org
Salem, Massachusetts, knows a thing or two about persecution. So it’s poignant that today, the so-called Witch City is proudly progressive, celebrates diversity—and is home to North Shore Pride, which will bring together hundreds of celebrants for a parade, festival, and afterparties for adults and youth. Pride will also be preceded by an interfaith ceremony at Tabernacle Church on June 20. More: northshorepride.org
June 8: Fairfield County’s Pride in the Park
June 22: Portsmouth Pride
Connecticut’s only June Pride celebration is back for another exciting year in the city of Norwalk. Hosted by the Triangle Community Center, this fun-filled event entertains guests with dozens of vendors, live music, family-friendly activities and more. More: ctpridecenter.org
It may be young, but this annual Pride celebration on New Hampshire’s southern coast is quickly becoming one of the region’s must-do events. Expect a Pride Marketplace with vendors and restaurants, a march through downtown, live entertainment, after-parties for youth and 21+ crowds, and plenty of discounts and specials at participating local businesses. More: seacoastoutright.org
June 15: Pride Portland Maine’s largest city keeps seeing its annual Pride event get bigger and bigger. Under the theme “Rise Up,” last year’s parade was the largest, bringing together 160 marching groups. Make your way to the Pine Tree State, and let’s help this year’s celebration set yet another record. More: prideportland.org
June 15: Rhode Island Pride The Ocean State always knows how to party. The annual PrideFest is guaranteed to be a good time, with plenty of
June 23–29: White Mountains Pride Week This first annual Pride Week, featuring a festive Pride Weekend June 28–29, aims to become “a great tradition of celebrating the region’s diversity and pave the way for creating communities of safety, security, and celebration for each and every one.” More: whitemountainspride.com.
SCENE Gala PHOTOS Marilyn Humphries
LGBTQ Impact Award winner Byron Rushing and his wife, Frieda Garcia.
Men’s Event Copley Plaza Marriott | Boston | March 9, 2019
From left: Gary Daffin, executive director of the Multicultural AIDS Coalition; Board Chair Kyle Faget: Co-Chair Bruce Lewis; Event Honoree Byron Rushing; Acting CEO Jane Powers; and Co-Chairs John Welch and John Wolfarth.
Men’s Event Co-Chairs John Welch, John Wolfarth and Bruce Lewis.
More than 1,100 gay and bisexual men, transgender people, friends, supporters and volunteers came out to support the 26th annual Men’s Event, raising more than $620,000 in cash and pledges to support the life-saving services and programs of Fenway Health. The crowd cheered for LGBTQ Impact Award recipient Byron Rushing. Guests enjoyed a cocktail hour, mingling amidst an array of silent auction items and an art show, before a delicious dinner followed by dancing into the night. Fenway extends special thanks to the table captains and Event Chairs Bruce Lewis, John Welch and John Wolfarth, all of whose hard work helped make the night possible. Jane Powers, Fenway Health’s Acting CEO.
David Brown leads the live auction, which raised more than $40,000.
SCENE Gala PHOTOS Marilyn Humphries
The Dinner Party Marriott Copley Place | Boston | April 6, 2019
Almost 900 lesbians and bisexual women, transgender people, friends, supporters and volunteers gathered for a festive night at the 2019 Dinner Party gala fundraising event for Fenway Health. Together, they raised nearly $450,000 in cash and pledges to support the life-saving services and programs at Fenway. US Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley received the Dr. Susan M. Love Award. Hosted by MC Dana Goldberg, the evening also featured a fabulous silent and art auction, dinner and dancing to DJ Susan Esthera.
(From left;) Fenway Board Chair Kyle Faget; Congresswoman Pressley; Fenway Acting CEO Jane Powers; Co-chairs Maxine Jackson, Sherri McDonald and Vanessa Marquez; Dr. Susan M. Love; and Fenway Vice President of Government and Community Relations Carl Sciortino.
Comedian and MC Dana Goldberg
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley
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Fenway Acting CEO Jane Powers
DJ Susan Esthera
SCENE Benefit PHOTOS Tom Driscoll Photography
Race for the Tiara Machine | Boston | March 2, 2019
The Cambridge Boston Volleyball Association honored Victory Programs at its annual Race for the Tiara benefit. Said Marc Davino, Victory Programs’ vice president of development and communications: “Congratulations, Cambridge Boston Volleyball Association, on a most successful Race for the Tiara! And thank you for allowing me to serve as a judge. I had a blast! The performances were over-the-top enjoyable, the organizers put so much thought to all of the details and the crowd was tremendously generous. And the funds raised...more than $7,000!?! Amazing!” Victory Programs supports approximately 2,500 individuals and families annually, including many in the LGBT community, who are in recovery, homeless, and living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses.
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SCENE Fête PHOTOS Tianqiutoa Chen
Chef Douglass Williams from MIDA.
VP Board Member and event co‑chair Craig Robbins.
Governor Baker and his wife, Lauren.
Victory Programs’ Dinnerfest
Event executive team with Governor Baker and wife, Lauren.
Boston | City Winery | April 10, 2019
Victory Programs’ signature spring fundraiser, Dinnerfest Auction, attracted more than 250 guests and raised more than $125,000, with all proceeds going directly to programs helping more than 2,500 individuals overcome homelessness, addiction and chronic illnesses like HIV/AIDS. Among the attendees were
Client speaker Cynthia and her son.
VP Board Member Kyle Lawless [CENTER]. PHOTO Joy Mosenfelder
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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and his wife, Lauren. Along with fabulous items and experiences up for auction and a famously delicious dinner, the event featured prizes and games, including a “Fund-a-Victory” paddle bid, which alone raised more than $30,000 for health, housing and hope.
Auctioneer Erin Ward and Boston Sister of Perpetual Indulgence Heidi Sins.
SCENE Networking PHOTOS Courtesy North Shore Pride
Paul Schmitz and Denis Castleton
North Shore Pride Networking Event
Cabot Theatre | Beverly, MA | March 20, 2019
The majestic, renovated Cabot Theatre was the perfect setting for a great evening of networking and an insightful presentation by keynote speaker Paul Schmitz, CEO, Leading Inside Out, and senior advisor, Collective Impact Forum. A co-chair of the 2008 Obama Presidential Campaign’s Civic Engagement Policy Group, Schmitz was a member of the Obama-Biden transition team and was appointed by President Obama to the White House Council for Community Solutions. North Shore Pride’s theme for 2019 is “Stonewall 50: Looking Back, Marching Forward” in honor of the 50 year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. To honor that event, North Shore Pride presented a recognition award to North Shore resident and Stonewall riot survivor Denis Castleton.
SCENE Symposium PHOTOS photosxtara
‘Catalysts of Change’ Harvard Law School | Cambridge | March 9, 2019
A day of powerful sessions and talks facilitated by dynamic speakers ensured an affirming, inclusive and diverse environment that reflected all aspects of a vibrant community at the 17th annual Lesbians of Color Symposium. The event featured guest of honor Grace Moreno, executive director of the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and keynote speakers: Jenna Tenn-Yuk, writer and performer; Raquel Willis, executive editor, Out magazine; and Xoai Pham, writer and activist.
CODA Storytelling/Song STORY Scott Kearnan
A Gleeful Voice Jane Lynch sings the American Songbook at the Boston Pops A full decade after you first heard her golden voice on “Glee,” Jane Lynch is trading McKinley High for Boston Symphony Hall. The out and uproarious comedian, actor and singer joins the Boston Pops on June 11 and 12 for “Jane Lynch Sings the American Songbook,” an evening of music and witty tale-telling that spotlights her many talents. Most recently, she’s been the Emmy-winning host of NBC’s “Hollywood Game Night,” and this fall she’ll join Alec Baldwin as the first hosts of a retooled version of “Inside the Actors Studio.” But first, New England fans will have the chance to hear her cover her most influential artists, from Rosemary Clooney to Nat King Cole. She shared a few moments with Boston Spirit. [SPIRIT] Have you spent much time in Boston before? [JANE LYNCH] I think I’ve been
to Boston twice in my entire life. The only thing I remember about a vacation I took with my family, right after I got out of college, was that my father wanted to follow the Freedom Trail—and we kept coming up on dead ends. We wasted an entire day trying to follow the “goddamn Freedom Trail,” as my dad called it. I’m excited to go back with my eyes open, and play this beautiful hall with the Boston Pops. I didn’t even know that was on my bucket list, it was such a preposterous fantasy.
[SPIRIT] What was your “aha!” moment of discovering you could sing? [LYNCH] Oh, I’ve had several,
because I keep getting better and better! [Laughs] But starting with, my mother played musicals around the house, and I loved them. I knew all the words. I realized that I could sing them—because I realized that other people in my family could not. Then hearing myself in choir, I realized that I was not bad at it. And I enjoyed it so, so very much. I loved it. It lifted my spirits like nothing else. Also, I remember singing the Indigo Girls. How lesbian is that? Standard issue music for a 1980s lesbian. I remember singing that at the top of my lungs. But I’m no Kristen Chenowith, you know? I’m no Barbra Streisand or anything like that. I know what my limits are! I’m an actor and I love to perform. That’s how I look at singing. They’re not just beautiful notes. They’re a performance.
[SPIRIT] For a lot of young LGBTQ
people, the arts are a safe place. Was that the case for you? [LYNCH] Going into the arts
I found, quote-unquote, my people. And there just happened to be a lot of gay people there too. The arts are a refuge. It’s a refuge for everybody that goes into it. But definitely I know it was a refuge for me, being around other people who really didn’t care one way or the other. They looked at me as another singer, another actor,
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k.d. lang in concert. PHOTO Matt Duboff
Jane Lynch. PHOTO Jake Bailey
somebody who was going to support them on stage. Are we gay, straight? It doesn’t matter. [SPIRIT] You’re a huge advocate for art education in public schools. Why? [LYNCH] I think it’s the most
civilizing force that we have in our society. It allows kids’ imaginations to swell, especially when they’re young and it’s still very plastic and malleable. To allow that to come out and be given a forum for expression, it’s just absolutely vital for kids. I know it was absolutely vital for me: being able to go to choir for one hour every day, to sing at the top of my lungs with a bunch of other likeminded kids—and that included not just kids like myself, but cheerleaders and football players, greasers and people who hung out at the woodshop. They would join our choir, and there was no shame in it. There was a little
shame in it as time went on, but I think “Glee” inspired kids of all walks of life to get back in the choir and audition for the play. I think “Glee” showed it’s a place where people have your back; the cruelness of society doesn’t exist in the choir room. It’s a place where everybody lifts their voice in song and makes a joyful noise. [SPIRIT] I have to ask: Will
there ever be a “Glee” reunion?
[LYNCH] I’m sure there will be.
There’s a “Glee” reunion in my life almost every other day, because a bunch of them live in my neighborhood. Come down to a couple coffee shops and you’ll see a “Glee” reunion! You know, it’s been almost 10 years. So, I’m sure there will be some celebration of it. Maybe not at 10 years, but who knows. I think it was a really powerful thing that happened, and boy, we could really use it now. [x]
May | Jun 2019 issue of Boston Spirit magazine