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Carmen Carrera Supermodel, inner beauty queen

Stars of Summer Hot entertainers for cool New England nights

To Puerto Rico, with Love Post-hurricane reconstruction

Tennis, Everyone? LGBTQA club hits the courts

Wicked Witty Comedian/activist Kathy Najimy


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THANK YOU! Thank You to all of our Table Captains and Event Team, our corporate sponsors, Dr. Susan M. Love Award recipient Congresswoman Ayanna Presseley, Fenway Health LGBTQ Impact Award recipient Former State Representative Byron Rushing, and the over 2,000 LGBT people, friends, supporters and volunteers who attended the 2019 Dinner Party and Men’s Event for helping to make both events so very successful. A special thanks goes out to our Event Chairs Maxine Jackson, Vanessa Marquez, Sherri McDonald, Bruce Lewis, John Welch, and John Wolfarth, whose hard work made both nights possible. With your help, we raised over $1.1 million in cash, pledges and in-kind donations to support the life-saving services and programs at Fenway Health!

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From The Publisher What an amazing couple of months since the last issue of Boston Spirit! We’ve had a record-setting Pride parade in Boston, incredible Pride celebrations throughout New England, our annual LGBT Executive Networking Night, our Summer Sunset Cruise and so much more. It’s been a wonderful and very busy couple of months. Suffice to say the community has shown up and shown the world our Pride. That said, now that Pride season slowed down, take a little time to relax. Enjoy the summer, take a vacation or two and see all of the beauty that New England has to offer. Go for a hike, relax at the beach, visit a museum…it’s all here for you. Forget about politics for a while, leave work behind for a bit, ditch the traffic jams for a seaside dinner or a cute B&B. You’ve earned it. Maybe it’s the constant barrage on social media or cable news, but it seems as though the need to unplug is greater now than it has ever been. It’s tough to not get caught up in political attacks, the bickering, the online bullying, etc. It requires self-discipline as well as self-awareness. Make sure you are taking the time (and making the effort) to stay physically and mentally healthy, especially during these beautiful summer months. Need some motivation? How about signing up for the Harbor to the Bay ride in September? Boston Spirit will also be holding our first-ever 5Gay (our version of a 5K) fun run in November in Provincetown; start training for that. Or just head out for a peaceful sunset stroll somewhere. Even better, grab your copy of Boston Spirit magazine, kick back in a relaxing lounge chair and enjoy this great issue. We’ve got a wonderful interview with transgender supermodel Carmen Carrera, pages and pages of photos from all of the events around town over the past few months, and some great summer highlights from throughout New England. Finally, a massive THANK YOU to everyone who attended this year’s LGBT Executive Networking Night and Sunset Cruise. We appreciate your support more than words can say. We look forward to seeing all of you at our upcoming fall events. Enjoy!

David Zimmerman Publisher

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Contribute your opinion: editor@bostonspiritmagazine.com

As We Go To Press “Was it just me, or did Boston Pride feel like one huge love fest this year? So wonderful!” That’s what I posted on Facebook the day after the big parade and festival in June this year. The affirmations were overwhelming. “It’s so true!” commented Michael Cox. “Amazing amount of Pride this year. YES!!!!” wrote an enthusiastic Frank Ribaudo. “It did!” added Linda DeMarco. And she should know. She’s been working on Pride for decades! That post generated more “likes” than almost any other I’ve put on online. Wow! Boston done good! That same weekend, however, armed neo-Nazis descended on Detroit’s Pride festivities. And a straight man disrupted Washington, D.C., Pride when he instigated a panic by pulling out a BB gun in anger. And closer to home, Rhode Island’s Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin tweeted a “reminder that Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ ‘Pride Month’ events held in June.” Why so much animosity and mayhem for such a vibrant, loving celebration? Actually, the woman who led the legal battle for marriage rights for same-sex couples all the way to the Supreme Court, Mary Bonauto, warned us years ago that this backlash was all but inevitable. I recall a speech she gave shortly after the Obergefell marriage victory. She reminded the audience that civil rights advances frequently incite adverse cultural responses. Violence against Black people escalated after Emancipation in horrific events, such as The Memphis Massacre of 1866. It would be nice, but naive, to think that the march of progress bends in a gentle, flowing arc toward justice. But history warns otherwise. Those of us listening to

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Bonauto’s words that evening found it difficult to imagine that we could move into a period of backsliding on our rights. After all, the Supreme Court had ruled in our favor. Barack Obama was president, and Hillary Clinton would be next. No worries! How could we not keep moving forward in the light of justice? Bonauto’s words proved prescient. From so-called religious liberty laws, to disallowing transgender troops from serving, to the ban on raising Pride flags over US embassies, we are witnessing a concerted—death by a thousand cuts— attempt at rolling back our human rights victories. And, indeed, LGBT people are the number one target for hate crimes, more than twice that of Black people, and more than Jews, according to reports from the FBI. This is, alas, the natural law of progress. People are disturbed and afraid by our civil rights advances. And so we get calls for things like Straight Pride parades. What’s this all about? Believe it or not. I am reminded of my mother. She was scared when I came out. She loved me, but my being gay was fearful, foreign territory to her. When I revealed to her in an emotional Thanksgiving holiday visit home from college that I found myself attracted to men, there was a lot tears. Beyond the tears, however, she—and my Dad—expressed support. All good! I thought. So, on my next visit home, I was sitting at our dining room table, going on and on about this wonderful guy I was dating. I noticed my Mom was not sharing in the enthusiasm. I asked what was going on for her. I’ll never forget what she told me. “Look,” she said. “I love you and I’m fine with you being gay. And I support you. But you’ve had some time to process your homosexuality. I’m still

adjusting to it. I just need some time.” Wow. My heart opened. She expressed a better articulated, gentler, and more compassionate version of what some in broader society might be experiencing today. So, for my mother, I slowed down little. But I didn’t stop talking about my loves and my gay life. And continuing to talk about it all, without shame, I later learned, made all the difference. Most people aren’t like the Neo-Nazis in Detroit, or like the fascist organizers of the alleged “Straight Pride” in Boston. These represent extreme manifestations of general anxieties and fears. Most people in America today are good people who are in the process of absorbing a new reality. So now is not the time to retreat. We must continue to let our light shine, as our Pride celebrations clearly do. Mary Bonauto has more helpful words for us: The Obergefell Decision, she explained, “says the Constitution grants us our equal dignity, but no one hands you your equal dignity. You have to stay involved and fight for it.” Even though it was hard at first, my mother later admitted that it was precisely because I continued being out loud and proud, that made it easier for her over time. So much so, that my parents became so involved in fighting for LGBT rights that they later became Grand Marshals for my hometown’s Pride parade in Rochester, New York. So, it’s not just me, Pride IS one huge love fest every year. So wonderful!

James Lopata Editor in Chief


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Truthteller

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Senior Spirit

Tennis, Everyone?

Contents JUL| AUG 2019 | VOLUME 15 | ISSUE 4

Spotlight

Hit List Truthteller En Vogue The Art of Moving Forward ‘Representation Matters’ BoHo and Beachy Chic Senior Spirit Stonewall@50: A benchmark of pride and progress From the Blog Newsmakers | Rhode Island Newsmakers | Connecticut Newsmakers | New Hampshire Newsmakers | Vermont Newsmakers | Maine

8 10 12 14 16 18 20

Tennis, Everyone?

34

Feature

Tennis4All provides inclusive, friendly, fun opportunity for players of every level

47

Carmen Carrera

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20 22 24 26 28 30 32

To Puerto Rico, with Love

36

‘Don’t Forget Us’

37

A Vibrant and Supportive Community

42

Carmen Carrera

47

Rhode Island family returns to home country for post-hurricane reconstruction With little to no government help, Waves Ahead is helping rebuild LGBTQ Puerto Rico one home at a time American Sign Language pro on why Bay State is one of the best places to live for the LGBTQ deaf and blind Resourceful and friendly From ‘Drag Race’ to supermodel and queen of inner beauty

Seasonal

Stars of Summer

LGBTQ entertainers come out across New England

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Stars of Summer

Boston Spirit Executive Networking Night 74 Taste of the South End 78 79 Queer Me Out 30th Anniversary Party 80 82 AIDS Walk & Run Boston Beacons of Light 83 84 Boston Pride 88 17th Annual PFLAG Gala Provincetown Pride 90 NoHo Pride 91 Boston Spirit Summer Sunset Cruise92 94 Hull Pride Newport Pride Weekend 94

Coda

Calendar

New England Events

Scene

70

Wicked Witty

Kathy Najimy talks gay rights to “Hocus Pocus” drag

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Wicked Witty

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GOOD

STANDS STRONG Good gets things done. Good never gives up. That’s why Eastern Bank was proud to support a Yes on 3 vote that upheld Massachusetts’ 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

#JoinUsForGood


SPOTLIGHT Trending STORY Scott Kearnan

Hit List NEWS, NOTES AND TO-DOS FOR EVERY GAY AGENDA annual Pride Portland Tea Dance is officially being offered across the country, bringing its floral notes and hints of orange citrus to proud suds lovers across America. More: shipyard.com

GET GRADE-A ADVICEfrom

Hoppy Pride Pilsner

RAISE A PINTof Hoppy Pride

Pilsner, a now-nationally available beer from the folks at Shipyard Brewing Co. in Portland, Maine. The rainbowstriped can was conceived by Jayson Mathieu, event manager at the Inn on Peaks Island, a Shipyard-owned property just off the coast of the Pine Tree State. What started as a crisp refreshment for the inn’s

the king of B-movies in “Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder.” The latest book from gay icon John Waters, writer-director of films like “Pink Flamingos” and “Hairspray,” dispenses all sorts of sage instruction you never knew to ask for—and it’s all served up with Waters’ trademark wit. It’s not his first Ann Landers-style effort: The famously transgressive auteur’s previous book, 2017’s “Make Trouble,” was actually based on his commencement address to students at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Machine

SAY GOODBYEto one of Boston’s few remaining LGBTQ nightclubs. Machine, opened in 1998 on the same Fenwayside block that was home to the 1270, another gay bar, will soon close; it will be replaced by a 15-story dormitory for graduate students at nearby colleges. If it’s any consolation, developers have promised that the new building will house the Boylston Street Black Box, a 120-seat theater that will “serve as an iconic location for the LGBTQ community going forward,” according to plans submitted to city agencies.

Abe Rybeck John Waters

SALUTE THE DYNASTYof Abe

Rybeck, a leader and pioneer in Boston’s queer creative community, who recently stepped down as founding director of the Theater Offensive, the performing arts organization he launched in 1989. With Rybeck’s guidance, the Theater Offensive has continuously evolved to better serve underrepresented communities in the arts, even earning an award from the White House. The trailblazer received a formal send-off at a recent fundraiser, which garnered over $100,000 for the group. More: thetheateroffensive.org.

DIG INto three new options

from Boston-based, out restaurateur Tiffani Faison, a nationally acclaimed Top Chef alum. This summer, Faison opens Orfano, a polished-butplayful restaurant for ItalianAmerican cuisine inside Pierce Boston, a 30-story residential tower near Fenway Park. Around the same time, she’ll launch two additional projects inside High Street Place, a vendor-packed downtown food hall: Tenderoni’s, serving crispy and cheesy personal-sized pies, and Dive Bar, offering funky spins on seafood snacks. These join her three

PUBLISHER David Zimmerman EDITOR IN CHIEF James Lopata MANAGING EDITOR Robert Phelps [rob@bostonspiritmagazine.com] ART DIRECTOR Dean Burchell CONTRIBUTING LIFESTYLE EDITOR Scott Kearnan [lifestyle@bostonspiritmagazine.com] CONTRIBUTING ARTS EDITOR Loren King CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alyssa Gillin, Tom Joyce, Nina Livingstone, Natalie Nonken, Kim Harris Stowell CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Joel Benjamin COVER PHOTO Allana Taranto ON THE WEB [bostonspiritmagazine.com] TALK TO US [feedback@bostonspiritmagazine.com] EDITORIAL CONTACT [editor@bostonspiritmagazine.com] PUBLISHING AND SALES CONTACT [publisher@bostonspiritmagazine.com or 781-223-8538] THE FINE PRINT Boston Spirit magazine. A Division of Jake Publishing, LLC Published by Jake Publishing, LLC. Copyright 2004 by Jake Publishing, LLC. All

JUL| AUG 2019 | VOLUME 15 | ISSUE 4

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

8 | BOSTON SPIRIT


Kai Wes

Tiffani Faison

existing Boston restaurants: Sweet Cheeks Q, Tiger Mama, and Fool’s Errand. More: bighearthospitality.com.

TUNE INto the just-premiered eighth season of “Are You the One?” The MTV dating show has introduced its first cast of exclusively sexually fluid contestants, including one with a New England connection: 26-year-old Kai Wes hails from Chepachet, Rhode Island. The queer, non-binary native of the Ocean

State joins 15 other singles on a trip to Hawaii, where they have the chance to find their ideal mate and a $1 million prize. This is the first time all contestants on the show have participated without limitations on gender. More: mtv.com/shows

FIND SOMETHING FABULOUSat Outermost Home, an intimate gallery-retail space that just opened in Provincetown. Outermost curates “art and objects” with colors, textures, natural inspirations and handcrafted natures that “reflects the essence of the Outer Cape and coastal living,” according to a press release about the opening. From paintings to furnishings to pottery, there’s something to add to every home—or pick up as a gift for any housewarming party. More: outermosthome. com. [x] Outermost Home


SPOTLIGHT Poetry STORY Scott Kearnan Her words are commanding, and so is her delivery. The Chicago native is striking on a stage, sharing her work with whatever force, tenderness, or ecstatic rhapsody is required. That’s how she became an Individual World Poetry Slam champion, a National Poetry Slam champion, and cofounded Boston’s House of Slam, a venue for other artists looking to share their own truths. Olayiwola says she was “shocked and grateful” to be named poet laureate. It’s an important platform, especially for someone whose work so often concerns itself with reflecting underrepresented experiences. “I hate to sound so radical; it’s not that there’s a war happening against my body all the time,” says Olayiwola. “At the same time, there are small deaths every day.” Any time she overhears a slur, turns on the news to see that a trans woman of color has been killed, or simply notices the way the folks at a bus stop stare at her body, she is reminded that for some people, more than others, simply existing “is an act of resistance.” That’s why it’s so important for to teach others how to resist. Olayiwola provides writing and performing workshops with topics like, “Glory: On Radical Self-Love” and “Gate Keepers: On Examining Privilege.” She considers her own education to be a privilege: She has a degree in AfricanAmerican studies and Women and Gender studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is an MFA candidate at Boston’s Emerson College. Her workshops are a way of sharing that privilege, and her knowledge. “Writing is a tool of the academy,” says Olayiwola. “If we are to exist forever—and if my people are to exist forever, my people being so expansive—then we must be written down.”

Truthteller BOSTON’S ‘QUEER-DYKE, HIPHOP FEMINIST, WOMANIST’ POET LAUREATE PORSHA OLAYIWOLA “As a writer, you’re supposed to start with the truth.”

spoken word poetry as a medium of social justice.

Porsha Olayiwola is quite a truthteller—and quite a writer. This year, the self-described “queer-dyke, hip-hop feminist, womanist” was named Boston’s poet laureate, a distinction that carries a four-year term for using the art of words to engage the community.

And for Olayiwola, this all starts with speaking her truth. Her passionate poetry bracingly addresses her multiplicity of identities and their intersections. Take, for instance, “Black & Ugly as Ever,” a live “choreopoem” she wrote and performs that tackles the idea of “navigating pretty-privilege, and what it means to not meet a beauty standard,” explains Olayiwola. Or consider “The Joke,” a piece that starts with a seemingly-trivial microaggression before verbally snowballing through a series of escalating threats– threats that depict lived reality for many queer women.

That’s certainly something Olayiwola knows how to do quite well: She is also the creative director for Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance (Mass LEAP), a nonprofit that helps young people, artist-educators, and activists develop their unique voice and harness the power of

10 | BOSTON SPIRIT

And yet, she also admits to being an eager student, especially in her work with Mass LEAP. “The first thing is to admit I know nothing,” chuckles Olayiwola, turning to her work with youth. “I’m a futurist. If I’m to move forward, I need to listen to the people of that time. I’m constantly trying to learn from young people.” What does that future hold next? In November, Olayiwola will publish her first book, “I Shimmer Sometimes, Too.” She’s also working on a project about the concept of “home,” and the different definitions that can take–from condo, to hospital, to prison. And Olayiwola is also working with the city to establish a youth poet laureate program, too. We can’t wait to see what’s next—and that’s the truth. [x]

porshaolayiwola.com


A PASSION FOR AMERICAN ART SELECTIONS FROM THE CAROLYN AND PETER LYNCH COLLECTION

A LASTING MEMENTO JOHN THOMSON’S PHOTOGRAPHS ALONG THE RIVER MIN

Through December 1, 2019

Opens June 1, 2019

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Just five stops from Boston’s North Station! 161 Essex St. | Salem, MA | pem.org

CLOCKWISE Frederick Carl Frieseke, On the River (detail), 1908. Oil on canvas. Collection of Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch. Photo by Bob Packert/PEM. John Thomson, The Island Pagoda (detail), from the album Foochow and the River Min, 1873. Carbon print. Gift of the Estate of Mrs. Anthony Rives, 1972. Olivia Parker, Moon Snails (detail), 1978. Gelatin silver print. © Olivia Parker. Kimsooja, Archive of Mind, 2016. Participatory installation on wooden table with sound performance, Unfolding Sphere, 2016. Photo by Jeon Byung-Cheol. Courtesy of MMCA, Hyundai Motor Co. and Kimsooja Studio.

JUL| AUG 2019 | 11


SPOTLIGHT Dance STORY Scott Kearnan

The Haus of Emerson. PHOTO courtesy

En Vogue

Christopher Henderson-West

THE HAUS OF EMERSON AT EMERSON COLLEGE IS HAVING A BALL Vogueing is back, well, in vogue. These queer-rooted dance and drag competitions, which are organized as “balls” by family-like “houses” of performers, have been enjoying a renaissance in cities across the country. A movement born in the queer underground, where it was pioneered primarily by people of color, voguing is currently permeating mainstream pop culture in a way it has not since Madonna encouraged America to “strike a pose” alongside members of the iconic House of Xtravaganza.

Haus of Emerson in competition. PHOTO courtesy Christopher Henderson-West

Today, “Pose,” the FX Network television show about the early days of NYC balls, is a Golden Globe-nominated hit. References to balls permeate “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (“Category is…!”), sparking new interest from those born well-after voguing began. And the 1990 documentary about the culture, “Paris Is Burning,” has now spawned a million gifs and memes for sharing on social media. An entirely new generation is discovering the dance and its history. Now, according to campus organizers, Emerson College has become the first US university to be home to a vogue ballroom house: The Haus of Emerson. “I thought it would be great to educate people, and show them where this comes from,” says Christopher Henderson-West. Last year, Henderson-West became the new president of EAGLE (Emerson’s Advancement Group For Love and Expression), the student-run LGBTQIA+ organization. As

12 | BOSTON SPIRIT

a “black bisexual gender-fluid male from the Midwest,” Henderson-West imbued EAGLE with a new focus: to raise visibility of queer and trans people of color at the university. Establishing a college vogue ballroom house seemed the perfect way to do that. The Haus

of Emerson made its voguing debut last fall during the school’s annual Queer History Month celebrations in October. The series typically ends with a week-long “DragTober Fest,” and Henderson-West made this installment a much more robust affair: There was a workshop with competitive voguer London Escada, makeup tutorials from Boston drag legend Mizery, and more. It all culminated in the first House of Emerson ball, cohosted by Henderson-West (who, as Selane DeHeaux Darling, serves as “mother” of the house) and Boston native Jujubee, an all-star alum of “Drag Race.” The event was a smashing success, and it was followed up in April with a Vogue Kiki Ball. Kiki balls are a newish phenomenon that function almost as junior balls; they often have roots in community health centers and other queer-youth-serving organizations, and engage younger participants than the larger, nightlife-oriented affairs. It certainly helped Henderson-West, who plans to take the Haus of Emerson on the road in the future, further his original mission: to elevate awareness of a culture that speaks to the unique experiences and contributions of queer and trans people of color. April’s outing attracted members of other houses from across the country, and participants with cash prizes in a range of voguing categories–from catwalk to duckwalk. Proceeds benefited Emerson’s Student Assistance Fund, which helps students pay for textbooks and other needs, as well as Boston GLASS, an organization supporting queer youth of color. Showing that support goes to the heart of vogue ballroom culture, which is all about “the sense of family, and how important that is,” says Henderson-West. In the world of balls, every house is a home. [x]


Pride.

For 50 years, Stonewall has been the symbolic place where Pride began, lives and thrives. Comcast NBCUniversal honors this and all the monumental achievements made by the LGBTQ community and salutes the brave individuals continuing the fight.

Š 2019 Comcast. All rights reserved. NPA224406-0003 NED LG Q2 PRD-V11

JUL| AUG 2019 | 13


SPOTLIGHT Dance STORY Scott Kearnan Ellice Patterson

Patterson grew up in a “conservative, religious town” in rural Mississippi, where she came out to a couple family members in high school. It “didn’t go well,” she says, and she retreated a bit inward before arriving at Wellesley College to study biology. There she found a supportive, outspoken community that helped to affirm her queerness. Now that she has her own company, Patterson can seize the opportunity—long denied—to make sure stories and identities like hers are shared and expressed. She recalls one recent piece, a romantic duet between her and a white, nondisabled, woman-identifying dancer, that drew inspiration from both the “challenges and beautiful moments” of Patterson’s own past relationships.

The Art of Moving Forward ABILITIES DANCE BOSTON OPENS THE DOOR FOR GREATER EXPRESSION THROUGH DANCE Dancing is an important form of self-expression—and Ellice Patterson has a lot to say. Ask Patterson why she loves to dance, and the answer is fairly straightforward: “It’s just the act of using my body to make a statement, tell a story and offer insight to who I am.” And yet, as a dancer with physical limitations, Patterson knows what it is like to be denied opportunities to do just that. As a black, queer, disabled woman, she “didn’t fit the narrow range” of what some directors expected of a dancer, she says. Patterson remembers one particularly striking experience, when the director of a dance organization refused

to even consider modifying the audition process. “She kept repeating that they were a professional company,” says Patterson. “I felt like, I’m not asking you to compromise your identity in that way. I’m just asking for a chance to be seen.” Frustrated, Patterson decided to launch her own company—and the result is Abilities Dance Boston, which debuted in 2017. Abilities Dance Boston aims to “disrupt antiquated ableist beliefs” and emphasize inclusion through its performances. For instance, one recent show, “Chroma,” combined color symbolism with original music compositions to spotlight the

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work of dancers like Janelle Diaz, whose type two spinal muscular atrophy requires the use of a wheelchair. It’s not just those on the stage whose considerations are, well, considered. For instance, for “Chroma,” Patterson tapped a blind consultant to the arts to edit audio descriptions of the on-stage dancing for blind or partially sighted audience members. Providing inclusive representation in dance is important to Patterson. Physical abilities aside, simply being black and queer has provided a vantage point from which to see how rarely perspectives like hers are presented in the dance arts. Patterson has experienced “not feeling like enough of my identities are represented in directorlevel or choreographer-level roles,” and as a result, she’s seen few stories that “spoke to one or multiple identities that I hold highlighted on that level.”

Indeed, Abilities Dance Boston “started from a really personal space of wanting to perform and see the stories that I’m living on stage,” says Patterson. But from there, the organization has become something larger than any one person. It has recently received grant funding that will pay the rent for its studio space for a year, as well as help establish a scholarship fund to reduce financial barriers for prospective dancers. As someone who is passionate about an “overall mission of intersectional disability rights,” Patterson looks for any opportunity to open more doors for dancers to waltz through. It’s all about “breaking down potentially preconceived notions, and taking steps toward social justice for everyone,” says Patterson. Even better, when such steps are set to a rhythm you can dance to. [x]

abilitiesdanceboston.org


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SPOTLIGHT Politics STORY Scott Kearnan

‘Representation Matters’ RAVEN MATHERNE, FIRST OPENLY TRANS ELECTED LEGISLATOR IN CONNECTICUT, IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE Patience, practice, and a desire to learn. These are the qualities that have served Raven Matherne well as an athlete—and as a history-making politician. Last year, Matherne became the first openly transgender elected lawmaker in Connecticut. Matherne “never envisioned” getting into politics before the advent of the Trump era, but the administration’s rollbacks of rights reinforced the idea that “representation matters,” says Matherne, who now serves on the board of representatives in Stamford, the Constitution State’s third-largest city. Raven Matherne

The power of representation was proven quickly, when Matherne’s mere presence in the room encouraged the board

to take it upon itself to rewrite rules in nongendered language. Except for one member, who abstained for unrelated reasons, it was a unanimous decision supported even by the GOP caucus. Matherne is certainly proud to have paved a way. But at the same time, like any other city councilor, they’d often rather spend time addressing decidedly nonsexy issues—say, funding for public parks—than gender identity. “Often, being trans is something that other people pull in front of me, that I end up having to address to get to my goals,” says Matherne.


That’s where the patience comes in. Before entering the political fray, Matherne was a martial arts instructor, triathlete and avid outdoorsperson. (Last year alone, they hiked the equivalent distance of multiple trips up Mt. Everest.) The self-discipline and other qualities required to succeed at all this certainly came in handy on the campaign trial; it helped Matherne stay calm during sprees of door-knocking, when some constituents would make harassing comments to the then-candidate, who was open about their gender identity in campaign literature. Patience also helped Matherne stay composed in conversations post-election, like the official’s first-ever TV interview, about the board’s new pronouns policy, with right-wing pundit Laura Ingraham on Fox News. It may not always be easy, but staying cool and collected as a pioneer is certainly effective. “I grew up in a dojo. I was trained from the very beginning

“ At any level, get involved. That’s the whole point of a representative government. If you’re not going to try to represent yourself, you’ll be represented by someone else. ” —Raven Matherne that the way you communicate with somebody is always from a point of respect, because the minute you get off that road, you’re not going to achieve anything anymore. It degrades into a personal argument.” “Attack me personally all you want. I’m going to stay on point.” Over the last year and a half, Matherne has helped make some pretty significant points, at that. Many of them don’t sound terribly glamorous, but are about helping the city run

better. Matherne helped the board institute public speaking sessions before all meetings; formed a special communications committee to create more transparency with constituents; revamped rules to improve policing in parks; and helped close loopholes around ownership of assault-style rifles. As future ideas go, Matherne is inspired by a recent Vermont bill that requires new singleoccupancy bathrooms to be designated as gender-free. And

they won’t rule out a possible run for higher office. “If you’d told me three years ago that I would be where I am now, I would have laughed in your face and scratched my goatee,” chuckles Matherne. “So to guess where I’ll be in two or three more years seems silly. I will say this: I’m currently in a district being represented by a Republican at the state level who didn’t have anyone to run against her in the last election. That keeps me up at night.” Whatever Matherne decides for their own political future, they hope other trans folks will be inspired to step up to the call of civic duty. “Get involved,” says Matherne. “At any level, get involved. That’s the whole point of a representative government. If you’re not going to try to represent yourself, you’ll be represented by someone else.” [x]

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REPRESENTING THE FINEST HOMES

FROM DOWNTOWN TO PROVINCETOWN


SPOTLIGHT Design STORY Scott Kearnan

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FRESH ACCOMMODATIONS WITH A P’TOWN SEA BREEZE For a town full of so much energy, Provincetown is relatively stagnant when it comes to hotel options. Sure, every now and then, one of the historic homes-turned-inns gives itself a new name or a fresh coat of paint. But when AWOL opened at the end of last summer, the hip new property from New England’s Lark Hotels family was a rare, stunning addition to the scene. We spoke to Lark founder Rob Blood and creative director Megan Kennedy about how they accomplished the bohemianchic style of AWOL, which they want to feel like the ultimate P’town respite. “We don’t think of it as an escape from reality,” says Blood. “We wanted to create a place that beckons you to come back to the reality that should be: one where you come as you are.” AWOL was “unlike anything” the Lark team had tackled, says Blood, marking their first renovation of a motel-style property. Today the 30-room hotel, with private upstairs balconies and lower-level guestroom-patios, is totally stunning. It’s situated on the serene side of the West End,

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a quick walk from both the beach and the bustle of Commercial Street. Loaner bicycles make the trip even quicker. big picture window is 2 “The the art in the room,” says Kennedy. Intimate accommodations are given minimal designs that complement, but don’t detract from, the beauty outside. Platform beds with built-in sectionals offer the sensation of sleeping on the sand. Décor was chosen for interesting textures that recall the natural world: pendant lights of woven grass, burlap throws, and tasseled and tattered pillows. A former parking lot became a sandy yard with gorgeous views of the marsh,

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communal tables and seating, and landscaping that uses indigenous plants like seagrass and beach rose. To reflect the social side of P’town the team integrated “natural elements of fire and water, which is where people tend to gather,” says Blood. Hence the gorgeous, flickering firepits and stunning pool. Blood adds that AWOL is situated near a former tea dance site, and though the property has limited capacity right now, once it’s hooked up to the town sewer—well, who knows what future party plans might be in store.

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bathroom was 5 The designed to be an “unexpected” and “sexy” contrast to the airy, light main guestroom,

says Kennedy. Entering feels like retreating to the inside of an iridescent seashell. There’s glistening black tile in a snakeskin design, antiqued mirrors, and a glass-partitioned shower that makes the nook feel a little larger—while providing opportunity for playful showtimes. [x]

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SPOTLIGHT Community STORY Bob Linscott

Senior Spirit

Stonewall@50: A benchmark of pride and progress On June 28, 1969, Paul Glass and Charles Evans both found themselves in the center of the Stonewall uprising. The men, 19 and 20 at the time, had recently begun a long-distance relationship between Boston and New York City, where Evans was living. After leaving Bon Soir, a popular night club in Greenwich Village, Evans was on his way to a deli in Sheridan Square, which is where most of the after-hours scene gathered in those days. Glass was approaching the square from the other side of town. Both heard all the shouting and screaming and joined the crowds to see what was going on. As they got closer they saw the police lights and the fighting. Before they knew what was happening they were pulled right into the uprising. Evans said when it was on the news the next day people really mobilized because “we felt we were fighting for our lives.’” They had a lot to be angry about in 1969. Police raids on gay bars were routine

remarks about the homosexuals. Evans panicked. “If the cameras had panned six more inches to the left my parents would have seen me standing there and my life would have been over.”

occurrences. Evans recalls that some clubs had a bouncer who flipped a light when the police arrived warning patrons to run out the back door. At another one of Evans favorite clubs the bartender would quickly unplug the jukebox, which signaled people to stop dancing and pretend to be straight when the police poured in. Evans had just turned 20, and the club scene was the only way for him to connect with the gay community. But he was constantly afraid of being caught in a raid because he was not out to his family and the newspapers printed the names and photos of the “sexual perverts” who were arrested. This could mean the end of one’s career and often the severing of family ties. A huge price to pay for someone just starting out in life. The evening after the first night of riots Evans was at home sitting on the couch watching the Sunday news with his family. They were showing the footage from the Stonewall uprising and his parents made disparaging

Flash forward 50 years and Evans and Glass, now married with two children and four grandchildren among them, were riding in a convertible with Dale Mitchell, Boston Pride’s Grand Marshal at the start of this year’s Pride parade. Times have certainly changed over the course of 50 years. Neither Evans nor Glass ever imagined themselves leading a Pride parade. In fact, Glass, who is HIV+, never expected to live past 40. Naturally both men had moments during the route when their minds went back to the events of the Stonewall uprising. “There were big crowds back then and big crowds today,” Glass said, but he noted two major differences: “In 1969 the crowd was angry, I was angry, and we all felt suppression and

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embraced being older adults. We don’t have the same stamina for all the Pride events that we used to, but now we know the restorative wonders that a nap will bring.” In fact, both men went home for a power nap after the parade to rest up before attending another event later in the evening where Glass was presented with the Stonewall Pioneer Award from Unity Pride. Evans adds “We still have it in us, we danced for three solid hours at a Pride Tea Dance on Sunday in Hyannis. I just won’t tell you how we felt the following day!”

Paul Gass [FROM LEFT], Boston Pride Grand Marshal Dale Mitchell and Charles Evans. PHOTO courtesy Charles Evans oppression.” Today the crowds were filled with pride. The other difference was the makeup of the crowds. Back then the only ones in the streets were the LGBT people fighting and no one stood by them. Today the streets were filled with families of all types. “It was amazing to see so many folks

who were not gay lining the streets to cheer us on and affirm who we are and that we survived.” There is one other difference about this year’s Pride for Evans and Glass. Evans recently turned 70 and Glass will turn 70 this November. Glass adds, “We have now

“At the end of the day, what matters most,” Evans adds, “is that we are still here, we are still together and we are recognized by our family and our community. Our grandchildren were posting all kinds of photos of us in the Pride parade on Facebook, proudly saying, ‘Look at our Grand Dads!’ I have to say, it wasn’t easy growing up black and gay. I’ve come a long way from that Sunday night in 1969 watching the news with my parents. But look at us now. We survived. Paul and I are still together and we were in the news again.” This time Evans and Glass were front and center! [x]

Bob Linscott is assistant director of the LGBT Aging Project at The Fenway Institute

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JUL| AUG 2019 | 21


SPOTLIGHT News STORY Rob Phelps

From the Blog NEWS HIGHLIGHTS FROM BOSTONSPIRITMAGAZINE.COM US HOUSE PASSES EQUALITY ACT ON MASS. MARRIAGE EQUALITY ANNIVERSARY The US House of Representatives passed the LGBT Equality Act of 2019, with every Democrat plus eight Republicans voting in favor. The approval came on May 17—the 15th anniversary of the passage of marriage equality in Massachusetts. The legislation modifies existing civil rights law to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBT Americans in access to employment, education, credit, jury service, federal funding, housing, and public accommodations. Rhode Island’s US Congressman David Cicilline introduced the bill in March. The most senior gay member of Congress and a cochair of the Congressional LGBT Equality caucus, Cicilline originally introduced the legislation in 2015 and has fought hard for it since that time. He was also the featured speaker at Boston Spirit’s 2019 Executive Networking Night, held earlier this month in Boston. “The LGBTQ community has waited nearly 250 years for full equality in our country. Today, we’re one step closer to that

goal,” Cicilline stated upon this week’s approval. “Equal treatment under the law and a commitment to fairness and equality are founding values of our country. Discrimination of any kind is wrong and no one should ever be treated as less than equal because of who they are or who they love,” he said.

BAY STATE SENATE APPROVES GEN X BILL The bill to allow Massachusetts residents list their gender as “X” on state driver’s licenses—and soon to follow other documents, including birth certificates— passed the Bay State Senate on April 25. The vote was a resounding 39 to 1, with Rep. Jo Comerford of Northampton introducing the legislation. Only Republican Senator Donald F. Humason of Westfield opposed the legislation, which moved over to the House for approval. “This bill recognizes the reality of the lives of many nonbinary citizens,” said Massachusetts Gay Lesbian Political Caucus Cochair Arline Isaacson. “There is no value in pretending nonbinary or gender nonconforming people don’t exist and no value in misrepresenting them in official government documents.”

US Congressman David Cicilline [CENTER]. PHOTO courtesy of Congressman Cicilline/Twitter

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Nicholas Bulman [CENTER]. PHOTO courtesy Nicholas Bulman “Not everyone fits neatly into male or female, and this bill helps to recognize that, and recognize the strength and dignity of every single resident,” Senate President Karen Spilka of Ashland, told MassLive. “I think that it’s important for people to realize that their voices absolutely matter.” In last year’s session, Spilka introduced the bill, which passed the senate but was killed in the house on the last day of the session. Spilka told MassLive that she’s hopeful it will make it through the house this year. It may well have passed last year except for the opposition from former Rep. Jim Lyons of the Essex district, who introduced 25 amendments on that last day to kill the bill. Lyons no longer serves in the house.

In March, said the Times story, he underwent surgery to further his transition. “When I was getting fitted [for his prom tux], everything fit better,” he told the Times. Teachers at the Cape Cod high school selected the initial list of candidates for prom king and queen. “Adding Bulman to the roster for prom king was a no-brainer,” teacher and class adviser Lyn Vazquez told the Times. “He’s just an all-around great person.” “It was a really fun night,” Bulman said. “Everyone looked dapper and beautiful.” Bulman plans attend Bridgewater State University and study psychology in the fall.

BARNSTABLE HIGH CROWNS TRANS TEEN PROM KING Prom-goers at the Barnstable High School crowned graduating senior Nicholas Bulman prom king at the Class of 2019’s late-may fête, held at the Resort and Conference Center in Hyannis, Massachusetts. Bulman’s friend and field hockey teammate Abby Al-Asousi accompanied him to the prom. His friend Kalyani Clarke was crowned prom queen. Reported the Cape Cod Times, Bulman’s class rallied round the 19-year-old Bulman after he came out on Instagram last summer and started testosterone treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital Gender Management Service.

Robert Santiago

BOSTON MAYOR APPOINTS SANTIAGO COMMISSIONER OF VETERAN’S SERVICES In late April, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh appointed Robert Santiago commissioner of veterans’ services for the city. Santiago, who has served as deputy commissioner since


2016, became the city’s first Puerto Rican, gay person to helm the department.

SHIELDS MOVES ON FROM MASSEQUALITY

“I am proud to name Robert as the next Commissioner of Veterans’ Services, taking on an important role by making sure veterans in our city are well-supported and know that their service to our country will always be appreciated,” Walsh said in a statement issued with yesterday’s announcement. “Robert has proudly served our nation, and has shown through his work over the last three years that his commitment to serving our veterans in Boston is unwavering.”

Deborah Shields, executive director of MassEquality since 2015, has been chosen as the next executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a national grassroots mental health advocacy and support organization.

“I am grateful to Mayor Walsh for this opportunity to serve the veterans of Boston,” Santiago said in a statement. “I remain dedicated to promoting the Mayor’s agenda to serving all veterans no matter the zip code, status, or orientation.”

“It has been an honor and a privilege to work at MassEquality for the last three and half years,” Shields said. “With the help of our constituents, we accomplished an enormous amount of important work, from passing critical legislation securing more rights for the LGBTQ community, to winning the Yes on 3 campaign, to increasing the number of out LGBTQ legislators to 7 and electing many other progressive allies to the State House.” The MassEquality Board of Directors has appointed former MassEquality Board Chair

Robb Johnson to lead the organization as acting executive director.

‘STRAIGHT PRIDE NONSENSE’ DID NOT DIMINISH BOSTON PRIDE A group calling itself “Super Happy Fun America” made national headlines days before Boston Pride in early June by applying for permits to hold a “Straight Pride Parde” along the same route and Boston’s Pride Parade. The requested date was August 31. In response, Arline Isaacson, cochair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, issued the following statement: “We are saddened to hear about the so-called “Straight Pride” Parade announced this week. These extreme right-wing individuals are attempting to mock the very legitimate celebration

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that LGBTQ people have enjoyed for several decades. “The LGBTQ Pride parade has historic and meaningful value. It began decades ago at a time when LGBTQ people suffered from severe forms of discrimination…from unjust arrests by police to job loss to violence against us. “We reject the cynical and childish action by these selfprofessed straight men and know that they represent only a small minority of ill intended reactionaries. Straight people have not suffered decades and indeed centuries of oppression…for being straight. But the LGBTQ community has and despite many advancements towards equality, we unfortunately continue to. “However, nothing these narrow-minded individuals do can delegitimize our celebration or our pride.” [x]

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SPOTLIGHT News STORY Kim Harris Stowell

Newsmakers | Rhode Island This Just in from the Ocean State Rhode Island Pride organized a rally in Providence’s Cathedral Square to give Rhode Islanders a chance to respond to Tobin’s message. In response to the backlash, Tobin issued another statement, which read in part, “I regret that my comments yesterday about Pride Month have turned out to be so controversial in our community, and offensive to some, especially the gay community … I also acknowledge and appreciate the widespread support I have received on this matter … I will be praying for a rebirth of mutual understanding and respect in our very diverse community.”

LEGISLATIVE ADVANCES Joe Lazzerini at Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul rally.

BISHOP TWEETS ANTI-GAY MESSAGE. IT BACKFIRES. On June 1, the first day of Pride month, Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin tweeted: “A reminder that Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ ‘Pride Month’ events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children.” The message went viral. Celebrities, including actress Mia Farrow, reacted to the tweet, calling Tobin a “hatefilled hypocrite” and tweeting “kids are in far more danger at a catholic church than at a gay pride gathering.”

In early June , the state senate approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer to extend veterans’ benefits to members of the armed forces who were unfairly discharged because of their sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. This bill would provide a petition process to have a discharge recorded as honorable for members of the armed services who were given a dishonorable discharge due solely to sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. Doing so will allow them to receive all state benefits to which honorably discharged veterans are entitled, even if they have previously been denied. The measure moved to the House, which had already approved companion legislation sponsored

Governor Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza also pledged their support to the LGBTQ community. The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island wrote, “We are reminded of the Israelites who fought for their freedom against Pharaoh. The story of Stonewall in 1969 reminds us of the story of Nachshon, the Israelite who first stepped into the Red Sea toward freedom even while under attack— hoping and taking action for a better world, even at a moment when all seemed lost.” Members of many other faith communities, including Catholics, also gave voice to their support of the LGBT community.

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Children’s program outside Rogers Free Library, Bristol, RI

by Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson, a veteran who has been working on this measure for a number of years. And the Rhode Island Parentage Act updates Rhode Island law to clarify who can be a parent and how to establish parentage, ensuring that all children can have their legal parentage established regardless of the circumstances of their birth. The new act is based on the Uniform Parentage Act of 2017, which is a model uniform federal law that advises all states to ensure that their parentage statutes apply equally to LGBTQ families.

BRISTOL LIBRARY PLANS, THEN CANCELS, THEN REINSTATES DRAG QUEEN STORY HOUR Amid threats of protests and violence from residents, the Rogers Free Library canceled a planned Drag Queen Story Hour set to commemorate Pride Month. A similar event took place at a library in Fall River, with local drag queen Naomi Chomsky reading two picture books and leading a crafting activity. It was so well-received, the library had to schedule three sittings to accommodate all the families. In the end, after receiving overwhelming support from members of the community, the Bristol event was reinstated. The library stated: “[We are] charged with the great responsibility of promoting the free exchange of diverse ideas and civil dialogue in an environment that is safe and respects the dignity of all people.” The statement also mentioned plans for logistics and protocol for the event, to “ensure a safe environment for children and their families.” [x]


JUL| AUG 2019 | 25


SPOTLIGHT News STORY Natalie Nonkin

Newsmakers | Connecticut Articles from the Constitution State ART AT NEW HAVEN PRIDE CENTER This July, the curiously titled art show, “+obias & +isms in Art,” is opening at the New Haven Pride Center. The show promises to be a showcase featuring multiple minority artists from Connecticut, including artists who are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Curated by Luciana Q. McClure and Patrick Dunn, it opens with a reception on July 8 from 6 to 8pm. As the Pride Center describes the show, “In +obias & +isms in Art, convening partners Black Lives Matter NewHaven [sic], Nasty Women Connecticut, and the New Haven Pride Center collaborate to present a multiartist exhibition that explores the +obias and +isms that affect people of color, women and the LGBTQQIP2sAA community every day.”

“Unconditionally, she’s been there for everybody, and everybody wants to be there for her,” former Mr. International Daddy Bear title holder Joe Mannetti told the New Haven Register.

programming that promotes acceptance, tolerance and understanding of all sexual orientations and gender identities.” It aims to promote visibility, fight discrimination, encourage harmony in the community, promote human rights and help economic growth in the area. Past New London Pride events have included performers such as the Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus, Braiden Sunshine, Dani Arranka, Jozea Flores, The Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus, and more. For more: newlondonpride.com

So in mid-May, Mannetti organized the “All for Anjel” fundraiser—featuring some of the region’s biggest drag performers, including Lucia Virginity and Robin Banks. “We stand together, and that’s the wonderful thing about the Connecticut community,” Mannetti told the Register. “We stand by our allies who stand by us.”—RP

Artists interesting in submitting their own work can still do so via facebook.com/ NewHavenPrideCenter/.

Triangle Community Center volunteers

For more on the New Haven Pride Center: newhavenpridecenter.org

TCC WELCOMES NEW VOLUNTEERS Norwalk’s Triangle Community Center is hosting a volunteer orientation at 7 p.m. on August 15. Anyone interested in becoming more involved in the LGBTQ community through the Center is welcome.

New London Pride

NEW LONDON PRIDE FESTIVAL RETURNS THIS AUGUST

Anjel Perrone and Joe Mannetti

STANDING TOGETHER WITH ANJEL For more than 20 years, Anjel Perrone has been DJ’ing at Connecticut’s gay bars, Pride events, Imperial Court functions and so much more. When news came that Perrone’s medical insurance company rejected her claims for a surgery in February because of a pre-existing condition, the community swung into gear.

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OutCT will host the New London Pride Festival once again this August! The annual event takes place at Ocean Beach Park. In collaboration with many local businesses, OutCT organizes events such as cookouts, interfaith services, dance parties, musical entertainers, free HIV testing and more. OutCT is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “Building a community through educational, cultural, and social

Triangle Community Center is Fairfield County’s leading provider of programming and resources to nurture growth and connection within the LGBTQ community, according to their website. They host many groups, free of charge, that meet anywhere from once a month to every week. These include game nights, teen groups, Al Anon meetings, transgender support groups and much more. TCC serves over 300 individuals who utilize its programs and services on a regular basis as well as more than 5,000 members of the Fairfield County community who attend a TCC program or event at least once a year. Those interested in volunteering can apply online. For more: ctpridecenter.org [x]


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SPOTLIGHT News STORY Rob Phelps

Newsmakers | New Hampshire Headlines from the Granite State

expanded existing state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing and public space to include trans residents. In 2018, she built upon that success with her election to the state house. She’s also a school board member currently running for a second term. “She’s working to make it easier to change the birth records for transgender and nonbinary people and have a nonbinary option for state driver’s licenses and ID cards.” Gannon told the magazine: “Anyone can be a survivor. You just need to look at adversity as a new challenge, and then take advantage of new opportunities that come your way.” Dr. Chandra Frescod-Weinstein, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at University of New Hampshire, earned her spot on the Champions list for “working diligently to diversify science, [and for] making physics more accessible to folks who might otherwise feel excluded. That takes many forms, including demystifying the grad school application process on Twitter, publicly calling out Italian physicist Alessandro Strumia for making offensive comments about his female colleagues, or writing in mainstream publications like Slate and American Scientist.”

State Rep. Gerri Cannon

She is only the 63rd Black American woman to earn a doctorate in physics.

Dr. Chandra Frescod_Weinstein

ADVOCATE CHAMPIONS OF PRIDE Two LGBT Granite State leaders made the latest annual Advocate magazine’s Champions of Pride list. Marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the 2019 list honors activists, artists, politicians, influencers and everyday people “carrying on Stonewall’s spirit of rebellion in communities across the country.” State Rep. Gerri Cannon, a 66-year-old trans woman, notes the list, “was instrumental in the passage of HB 1319, a bill that

28 | BOSTON SPIRIT

Frescod-Weinstein told the Advocate: “As one of the only out Black queer people in physics, I believe it is enormously important to make room in science for queer women and gender minorities, particularly people of color. ... I hope that my achievements and work will inspire people to join us. The universe is an exciting—and wonderfully queer—place.”

BOOKS BANNED BEHIND BARS While it may be argued that a national LBGTQ prison survey may not be on the top of many inmate’s reading lists, there may be some behind bars in the Granite State who’d like to read “Coming Out of Concrete Closets,” a report on 1,200 gay inmates that the New Hampshire Department of Corrections has banned for its discussion of “unlawful sexual practices,” according to a report in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

“Coming Out of Concrete Closets” The report made the list along with Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” a Pulitzer Prize– winning history of the Attica prison uprising and more than 120 other books. “The Human Rights Defense Center obtained the list under the New Hampshire Right-to-Know law. The list represents titles rejected by New Hampshire corrections officials between 2014 and the present,” reports the Union Leader. “Alex Friedmann, the associate director of the Center, said decisions about questionable books should be made by independent panels rather than prison employees.” The good news, according to Corrections Department officials, is that these decisions may be overturned on a case-by-case basis upon an inmate’s request. In writing the report “Coming Out of Concrete Closets,” its authors at the US prisoner advocacy organization Black and Pink aimed to “[lift] up the voices of LGBTQ prisoners from across the United States so that they can inform, shape and lead the movement for prisoner justice. These numbers, statistics and stories represent the largest ever collection of information from LGBTQ prisoners,” as stated in their introduction. The report could also uplift LGBTQ inmates during hard times behind bars, should they know they can ask for it. [x]


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SPOTLIGHT News STORY Rob Phelps

Newsmakers | Vermont Green Mountain State Update

Outright Vermont Youth Summit. PHOTO courtesy Outright Vermont

At Vermont State House rally. PHOTO courtesy Pride Center of Vermont

RALLY TO HONOR STONEWALL’S 50TH Members of the LGBTQ community in Montpelier held a

rally at the State House on June 2 to honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City.

Hosted by comedian Suzan Ambrose of LGBTQ LOL and Reggie Condra, Brown ‘n’ Out podcaster, the rally began with a drag performance by House of LeMay. There were networking and resource tables, and speakers included Christine Hallquist, the first major party transgender candidate for governor; Rep. William Lippert of Chittenden, Vermont’s longest-serving openly gay legislator; Senate Majority Leader Becca Balint of Windham; Beverly Little Thunder, Two Spirit Elder from Standing

Rock Lakota; Euan Bear, former editor of Out in the Mountains; Catarina Campbell, coordinator of programs and leadership development at the University of Vermont Women’s Center; Holly Perdue, former liaison to the governor from the Vermont Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights; and the Pride Center of Vermont’s Mike Bensel. The rally was cosponsored by the Pride Center of Vermont and Rainbow Umbrella of Central Vermont, along with the LGBTQIA Alliance of Vermont.

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QUEER/ALLIED YOUTH RALLY DRAWS HUNDREDS More than 250 youth and school staff advisors from 50 middle and high schools from 72 towns across Vermont participated in the 13th annual Queer and Allied Youth Summit held in mid-May. It’s theme? “Coming OUT Soon!” Along with a GSA conference, Youth Pride march, a SpeakOUT, an open mic, a queer prom, and a SleepOUT, the event, held in Windsor County for the first time, featured a march from cohost Green Mountain Union High School. Each year, Outright Vermont cohosts the event with a Vermont school GSA. “With changes in our neighboring schools, there are not as many events like this held in our area,” GSA student organizers wrote in their host application. “The southern end of Vermont is in need of strong representation for the queer community, and it would be good to have a

real presence in this little corner of our state. We have been considering wanting to host this event for the past few years, and feel ready to take action. Plus, this would just be fun!” Fun and empowering: As one past participant told VTDigger. org, “I felt welcome and at home there, and it’s a feeling I don’t often get.”

ANDREWS INN MARKER APPROVED WITHOUT NAMES Members of the Rockingham Select Board chose not to include the names of the owners of the historic inn, one of the first gay bars in Vermont, to be honored on a site marker in Bellows Falls. As reported in The Brattleboro Reformer, “A majority of the board agreed that the name of founder John Moisis, who opened the inn in the former Hotel Windham in 1973, should be removed from the proposed

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Windham Hotel. PHOTO Wikimedia Commons wording of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation marker, as well as the names of Thom Herman and Jeremy Youst, a gay couple who bought the inn from Moisis in 1970 and ran it until April 1, 1984. ... Rockingham Select Board Chairman Peter Golec said he was in favor of the marker, but with the names removed. He said the issue of gay rights and the gay community transcended individuals, and he and other board members agreed.” According to the Reformer, the inn closed its doors in 1984 after a police raid over charges of underage gay prostitution.

The newspaper also suggested pressure from the community during the AIDS crisis may have shut the business down. “Resident Paul Reis, who grew up in Bellows Falls, said the Andrews Inn was ‘fairly controversial,’ but he said Moisis should be honored for starting to make Bellows Falls open to the gay community, which was important to Bellows Falls and brought a lot of money and investment to the village. ‘I thought it was great,’ Reis said of the marker. ‘Is the community still afraid of gay people?’” [x]

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SPOTLIGHT News STORY Rob Phelps

Newsmakers | Maine

News from the Pine Tree State Rainbow Ball Weekend. PHOTO courtesy OUT Maine Ophelia signed on to lead the event, which would be followed by arts and crafts.

Maine Governor Janet Mills and GLAD Civil Right Project Director Mary Bonauto [LEFT AND RIGHT, CENTER]. PHOTO courtesy GLAD

MAINE BANS CONVERSION THERAPY ON MINORS On May 29, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed into law a bill to ban conversion therapy on minors in her state—making Maine the 17th state in the US to ban the harmful practice. The bill’s passage also means that all six New England states now equal one conversion therapy– free zone. Governor Mills, a Democrat elected in 2016, turned around the anti-LGBT position of her predecessor, the Republican former Governor Paul LePage, who vetoed a similar bill last year despite passage through the state legislature. “Conversion therapy is a harmful, widely discredited practice that has no place in Maine,” Mills said in a statement. “By signing this bill into law today, we send an unequivocal message to young LGBTQ people in Maine and across the country: We stand with you, we support you, and we will always defend your right to be who you are.” Earlier in May, the Maine House of Representatives had voted 91–46 in favor of the conversion-therapy ban. Five Republicans and five Independents joined 81 Democrats to support the legislation. The next

day, the state’s senate, where Democrats hold a seven-seat majority, approved the bill. Rep. Ryan Fecteau, the openly gay house assistant majority leader from Biddeford, and also a Democrat, sponsored the bill.

In response to the anti-LGBT protestors, a group of the bookstore’s patrons and local residents organized a counterprotest, called “Support the Children’s Book Cellar, a welcoming place!,” according to Midcoast Maine’s daily newspaper, The Times Record. “I just thought if they’re going to speak their minds, we should be there to demonstrate our support and not let them capture all the attention,” Waterville resident Elizabeth Leonard told The Times Record, calling for the counter-protest through a Facebook page she created. “I think there’s massive support for the store and for LGBT pride, but we need to express it,” she said. The bookstore’s owner, Ellen Richmond, told The Times Record that she organized the event “as a way of embracing diversity and inclusion at the store.”

Ellen Richmond [LEFT] and Ophelia.

DRAG QUEEN STORY HOUR PREVAILS IN WATERVILLE More than 200 people came out to support a drag queen story hour in Waterville on June 1. In May, the “Drag Queen Story Hour” at Children’s Book Cellar had drawn a protest planned by anti-LGBT activists to be held outside the June 1 event. The story hour was an official activity of Central Maine’s Pride Festival, with drag queen

32 | BOSTON SPIRIT

“I’m not going to back down, because I know I’m right,” she told the Record prior to the event. When event time came, supporters filled the street. Protestors indeed gathered across the street from the bookstore, but according to the Bangor Daily News—and evidenced by the many photos and videos posted on social medial and the press—the “protesters were outnumbered by more than 200 counter-protesters supporting the event.” “I am so full of love, and just gratitude to all of these people that are here saying thank you,

what you’re doing here is important,” Richmond told News Center Maine, which reported that the event—which drew families with kids ranging from infants to teenagers—”was the largest crowd [Richmond has] ever had in her bookstore, surpassing crowds to Harry Potter book releases during the height of the series popularity.”

RAINBOW BALL COMES TO CAMP WAVUS More than 200 young people attended The Rainbow Ball Weekend, organized and hosted by OUT Maine, in early May. The 12th annual event was held at Camp Wavus, part of KieveWavus Education, on Damariscotta Lake in Jefferson. According to OUT Maine, participants lodged in comfortable, heated cabins, attended workshops and activities in classroom spaces, took on an extensive ropes course, took to the ball fields, shared meals in the dining hall, gathered for social activities in the main lodge and even scaled some great indoor and outdoor climbing walls. And of course there was the formal ball—an alternative prom for LGBTQIA youth. Maine Coast Weddings and Special Events acquired more than 40 dresses and some formal jackets, donating them for the big night. For more on OUT Maine, which supports, educates and empowers LGBTQ youth, and get an early scoop on next year’s Rainbow Ball Weekend, go to outmaine.org. [x]


JUL| AUG 2019 | 33


FEATURE Sports STORY Tom Joyce

Tennis, Everyone? Tennis4All provides inclusive, friendly, fun opportunity for players of every level Throughout the year, members of the LGBTQIA community have the opportunity to play tennis with like-minded, inclusive people—and the competition can heat up in the summer. For the past two decades Tennis4All, based in Winchester (at the Winchester Indoor Lawn Tennis Club), has allowed a wide variety of tennis players—from novices to those with collegiate experience—to strengthen their involvement in the community and meet new people. “We just wanted a safe space for people to exercise and meet new people in the LGBTQIA community,” Tennis4All President Steve Menichetti said. “With Boston being so progressive, it’s not so much a safe space anymore as it is a place for people to meet and congregate. Now, we even have some straight members. It’s for all people who like to play tennis.” Tennis4All has around 125 members nowadays and events for people

34 | BOSTON SPIRIT

throughout the year. During the spring and fall, they host singles leagues and from May to August, they turn their attention to doubles over a 12-week span—featuring weekly matches which last upwards of 90 minutes. The league does what it can to make it feasible for more people to play in it. Menichetti said there are carpools from Boston to Winchester to get people to the club. There are substitution opportunities during doubles season so people can get a taste of the league and fill in for someone who is on vacation for a week during the summer. The league can lend out rackets for people to play with if they do not own one. And they also work to subsidize the dues of their players who are struggling financially. “You don’t have to meet people at bars,” Menichetti said. “You can meet them sober and see if you like them. That’s a healthy thing for the community, I think.”

Boston/P’town crew at the Clay Court Classic 2019

“We know it’s hard for people in their 20s who don’t have a car and have student loans to come out to play, but we want to get everyone involved,” he added. Ryan Losey, who serves as the codirector of Boston’s GLBT (Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance) tournament, the Boston Tennis Classic, said the most of the Tennis4All players live in the greater Boston area—around 30 to 45 minutes away from Winchester at most. However, he noted, there are players who travel from the south coast—from as far away as Fairhaven and New Bedford—to compete and socialize in the league. “The demographic is really broad and diverse,” he said. “There’s people in their 20s and in their 70s. “What’s really cool about it is tennis is really an equalizer. Those two could be the same skill level despite the age difference. Age and looks and all that stuff just doesn’t matter. If you’re a good person and fun to play with, you’re popular.” From June to October, Tennis4All also offers a Ladder Challenge which allows people to schedule matches at times and locations that are most convenient for them and their opponent. It ranks


everyone involved with it and rewards those who are most active; while winning a match is worth three points, simply issuing a challenge is worth two and accepting a challenge is worth a point. When doubles season ends, its players do not part ways for the fall, winter and spring. Instead, they continue to meet up for monthly socials from September to April. “I was late to come out around 27–28, and this was one of the first events I went to and I met some lifelong friends,” Menichetti said. “If I had a flat tire on the side of the road, of the 10 people I’d call, they’re people I met through Tennis4All. I think it’s improved my life being a part of this league. We want to get more people to take advantage of the opportunity to get exercise, make lifelong friends and play a fun sport.” From June 14 to 16, Boston also played host to the Boston Tennis Classic—which features 175 LGBTQIA players in all; it was put on by Boston’s Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance and hosted at Harvard University. The tournament raises money for New England Wheelchair Sports.

Team Boston, Atlantic Cup According to the Tennis4All website, the organization, “provides and promotes competitive and recreational wheelchair tennis opportunities for persons with physical disabilities.”

Of the tournament, Losey said, “It’s really cool because there’s 15-20 states represented, Canada, some European countries. There’s a lot of great talent and we’re fortunate to have a role in it.” [x]

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Veronica Cintron, Ronia Peguero and their family

FEATURE Lifestyle STORY Kim Harris Stowell

To Puerto Rico, with Love Rhode Island family returns to home country for post-hurricane reconstruction “Maybe we should just live here.” These were Veronica Cintron’s words every time she and her wife Ronia Peguero visited Puerto Rico. A native Puerto Rican transplanted to New England, where the couple created a family and built a successful business, Cintron had taken her family to vacation in the land of her birth every year. Originally just an expression of love for her home country, the annual statement began to take on added weight in recent years. Then came Hurricane Maria. “To see my home distressed broke my heart,” she says, “I felt so powerless.” In an extraordinary move, the couple made the decision to pack up their

36 | BOSTON SPIRIT

belongings and their children and move from their home in Providence, Rhode Island, starting a new in their life just outside San Juan.

Heeding the cry The fact that the US government abandoned Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria tears at their hearts. With hundreds upon hundreds of fatalities, Puerto Rico suffered catastrophic damage and a major humanitarian crisis, including the destruction of its electrical grid, already damaged by Hurricane Irma two weeks prior. For weeks in Maria’s wake, most of the island’s population

experienced flooding and lack of resources. Total losses from the hurricane are estimated at close to $70 million, ranking it as the third-costliest tropical cyclone on record. The almost nonexistent government relief process compounded the agony of Maria’s destructive wallop to the island. The White House made few preparations in the lead-up to the storm, and it was weeks before the Federal Emergency Management Agency committed its resources to the island. During that time, clean water was scarce, food was hard to find, and hospitals struggled to care for patients, some of whom had life-threatening injuries and illnesses. Most of Puerto Rico lacked electricity for months, medical supplies were few and far between, and FEMA botched their own food distribution plan. According to Cintron, the Puerto Rican people came to the realization that, if they


were going to recover, they were going to have to do it themselves. They came together as a people, with neighbors helping neighbors, doing what needed to be done. This, Cintron says, has resulted in a groundswell of island pride. “We went down to see it for ourselves,” she says, “and decided right then to move.” As difficult as was to uproot their family from the home they had made in New England, “it was very emotional and inspiring to see how close the community had become.” This is a tremendous source of pride for Cintron, with Peguero’s feelings about the move matching those of her wife. Both women are committed to building awareness, to lifting the voice of the Puerto Rican people, and women in particular. “I like the idea of creating change,” Peguero says, highlighting the empowerment of women as important work for them both. Cintron raises her loosely clenched fist in the air, saying, “We’re coming! We are ready to talk about how amazing the Puerto Rican people are. We are ready to bring our work and our energy to a new audience.” Adds Peguero with a smile, “A lot is going to happen in Puerto Rico.”

Expanding business horizons The Puerto Rican business climate was another very significant reason behind this move. The couple are business partners in addition to life partners, owning a successful branding and marketing company called V+R Digital. While maintaining the client base they’ve built from New England, they anticipate expanding into a new market while helping rebuild an economy in aftermath of devastation. They also love the prospect of being immersed in a pro-woman business climate. “In Puerto Rico, women dominate in business,” says Cintron. “It is so different from the States. Women are respected in the business world there.” The island territory has undergone some significant changes of late, she explained, many of them being connected to the hurricane, but also to the troubling debt that has dogged the government. In an all-out effort to entice investors, Puerto Rico instituted attractive new tax laws,

[WITH LOVE CONTINUES 39]

Waves Ahead volunteers rebuilding a home PHOTO  courtesy Waves Ahead.

FEATURE Disaster Relief STORY Rob Phelps

‘Don’t Forget Us’ With little to no government help, Waves Ahead is helping rebuild LGBTQ Puerto Rico one home at a time Hurricane season is here. In Puerto Rico, where September 2017’s Category 5 Hurricane Maria devastated the US island territory, many people are still living under blue tarps. Their homes lacking shelter from stormforce winds. Many still with spotty to no electricity and relying on assistance for food and water. “I know President Trump has said on numerous occasions that we are all set, that we don’t need more money for the hurricane relief efforts, but that is false. We need it,” said Wilfred Labiosa, executive director of Waves Ahead, an advocacy group for LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups in Puerto Rico. “More groups like mine that are so small are doing most of the work that government is not doing,” he said. “The US government stopped. FEMA stopped. Everybody stopped, pretty much. There were some organizations that came from the United States that did amazing work, and they’re gone.” The 2019 US disaster relief package, delayed for months and finally just signed by President Trump in June, promises $1 billion in aid for Puerto Rico, with $600 million going to the food stamp program and $300 million to community block grants. However the track record of this money getting to the people who need it

most has not been good. Labiosa credits some government officials, like San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, for doing great work, especially in urban areas. But not for the remote areas, and especially not for marginalized groups, like LGBT people. “This segment of the population is being even more marginalized and forgotten than any other here in PR,” Labiosa said. Which is exactly where Waves Ahead comes in.

Roofs for blue tarps During the first 60 days after Hurricane Maria, Waves Ahead provided more than 378 individuals and 63 families (with 51 children under the age of 16) with food, drinking water and other essentials for survival. Many of these people were elders living alone, or with their aging partner, and many were LGBT, according to Waves Ahead statistics. The group has since provided aid to more than 1,140 individuals. Thirtyone percent are 60 years and older, 40 percent are families with children, 42 percent are LGBT, and more than 55 percent live alone, the group reports. Waves Ahead has also started replacing blue tarps with real roofs. As of June this year, they have rebuilt, with the help

[REBUILD CONTINUES 38] JUL| AUG 2019 | 37


[REBUILD FROM 37]

of volunteers from “LGBT and Puerto Rican Diasporas,” 18 homes across eight municipalities. “These 17 homes we did with less that 80K,” Labiosa said. “We are not overspending. And if I show you these homes, you’ll be like, ‘What? You did this with what?’ We did this because of the efforts of people to give their time and effort to come to Puerto Rico and help us rebuild these homes.” Meanwhile, they’re developing four community centers for LGBTQ people and woman-led households. They recently completed the first one in San Juan and held its grand opening on May 14, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The four centers are going up across the island in urban areas, and will serve as bases for outreach into remote areas—not just for hurricane relief but also for the LGBTQ community support they were providing before the hurricane struck.

Waves Ahead SAGE San Juan community center opening on May 14, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. PHOTOS  courtesy Waves Ahead.

New England connection Volunteers rebuilding the houses and community centers are coming from groups like the Human Rights Campaign, which helped reconstruct five homes last year, and more locally from Boston’s Moving Violations Motorcycle Club. “Moving Violations’ Peg Preble did all the fundraising herself,” Labiosa said. “She is a machine. She brought 30 people here and in two weeks they finished a home that was totally destroyed. It was one of the projects that I thought, ‘I can’t even look at this. There’s no way.’ But they did it.” Labiosa also acknowledges another woman who collected about $2,000 for Waves Ahead after she heard about their work from a friend at a dinner party in another Boston suburb. “It brought me to tears,” he said. “She Googled us and found information about us and did it on her own.” In January of 2018, Boston Pride raised more than $10,000 for Waves Ahead at a fundraiser cosponsored with Club Café and Boston Latinx Pride—a group Labiosa has some history with. A former Bostonian, Labiosa cofounded Latin@Pride in 2014, and he served as vice president and board member of Boston Pride. His Boston roots go decades deep. He earned his master’s in counseling

38 | BOSTON SPIRIT

Waves Ahead volunteers psychology from Northeastern University and did postgraduate work at both Suffolk University and in the Department of Psychology at Children’s Hospital. Before returning to Puerto Rico, for some 25 years he’d worked in the Boston area in public health, serving marginalized communities, focusing on Latinos, the LGBTQIA community, HIV/AIDS prevention, and substance abuse recovery.

Making Waves With very minimal financial contributions, Waves Ahead has been able to do a lot. But there’s so much more to do. More homes. More community centers. More generators, water, food, toilet paper. And with hurricane season upon us once again, these contributions are making a

difference right now where they’re needed most. “We can’t do our work with just one big one-time donor. We need more individuals to donate,” Labiosa said. “We want to finish these homes. People are traumatized. They’re having so many issues. We just want to help address them.” “I understand that people are afraid of giving money because they have seen in the news what the government has done,” he said, “but what I want to remind people is that they are not giving it to the government when they’re making a contribution to Waves Ahead. They are giving it to people who are putting their money where their mouth is, where the hands are that are making the difference.” “And I want to say, thank you for not forgetting us,” he said. ” [x]

wavesahead.org


[WITH LOVE FROM 37]

including enacting new legislation aimed at attracting new investors as well as encouraging successful Puerto Ricans who have left the island to return. Because of Puerto Rico’s territory status, Americans don’t have to renounce their citizenship or pay an exit tax when they move to Puerto Rico. While the US taxes its citizens on their world-wide income, Section 933 of the US Tax Code exempts income sourced from Puerto Rico from federal tax. Thus, by moving to Puerto Rico, investors and money managers can drastically cut their US tax bills. These benefits are appealing to the young couple, who have taken an interest in cryptocurrency and in building generational wealth. They are excited to establish themselves as a niche agency, able to service their existing customers in the northeast as well as new clients in Puerto Rico and the surrounding islands. How have V+R Digital Branding’s clients handling the transition? Surprisingly well, both women assert. “Our clients know that our goal is to get them to a place where they are sufficiently wealthy,” says Cintron, “and that has not changed. If

anything, our new lifestyle has enhanced our ability to pass on our new commitment to quality of life.” “Our clients are more excited than ever to work with us,” echoes Peguero. The couple credits their new perspective with a phenomenal growth in their business, having tripled it in the last year. “People are seeking us out,” says Cintron, “so we can be even more protective of our time. We are much less interested in making big presentations or engaging in pointless phone conversations. Today, discussions happen more organically, making the whole process feel different.” As for their passion to work with the people of Puerto Rico, the two have found their niche in working with the government. “We are here whole-heartedly because of the people,” says Peguero, “and we wanted to find the way to have the greatest impact.” It turns out that there is a great deal of government money available, but that the island people are often unaware of its existence. With their broader perspective, Peguero and Cintron are able to leverage their time and expertise into efforts at educating

the community, inspiring others to take advantage of the broad range of assistance. They are building workshops, offering their expertise on a consulting basis, and often engage in barter arrangements.

Quality of life The business climate is hardly the only reason for this move, however. For one thing, there is the wellentrenched American attitude toward people of color. “Frankly,” says Cintron, “I’m tired of being a minority. It’s exhausting.” Both women look forward to living in a place where they are not outnumbered, at least in terms of ethnicity. “It may be challenging,” she continues, “getting established as gay women, but challenge is not new to us, and we’re ready.” Peguero was born in Rhode Island, her parents having emigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic, so she also has close ties with an island nation, this one situated adjacent to Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea. A powerhouse of knowledge in her own right, exuding positive energy and confidence, she is a perfect

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complement to Cintron’s benign, spiritual persona. Still, she took some convincing to fall in love with the idea of this move. Of Rhode Island, she says, “I have lived here all my life. We got married in the back yard of our beautiful house. It is a lot to leave behind.” In the end, it was the quality of life that convinced her. “I have always felt challenged between being American and my Dominican heritage,” she says. “In truth, I have really never felt American. And I like what’s happening in Puerto Rico.” In comparison to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico stands out too, having less of what she describes as ‘machista,’ a drawback to the land of her parents’ birth. “Puerto Rico has more structure, more rules maybe, but it’s actually a freer lifestyle than in the DR.” She also envisions a positive impact for their two children, ages ten and thirteen. While they were not sure about all the details—like school, for example—they loved the chance to expose the boys to a very different lifestyle, one that feels more enriching and wholesome to the couple. “The whole thing feels refreshing,” Peguero says. “I like working on my own

Peguero [LEFT] and Cintron

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terms. I don’t like feeling like I’m on a hamster wheel. I like spending time with my family. And all of that fits right in with life in Puerto Rico.”

Relajarse (Relax) The family left Providence as soon as school let out for summer vacation, selling their house and finding temporary accommodations just outside the city of San Juan. Their decision not to buy a home was partly a desire not to limit themselves to a location, but also to the home-buying process, which in Puerto Rico can be extremely time-consuming. Truth is, everything can seem very slow to folks coming from the states. “Life moves slowly here,” says Cintron, laughing. “It has taken some getting used to.” The water was not working in their rental home when they arrived, and it was a trial-by-fire introduction to the slow pace of things on the island. It got fixed eventually, and the couple has learned to respect the Puerto Rican pace of life, adopting the attitude of ‘relajarse.’ “Here, people want to do business face-to-face, not via email

or text or even phone,” says Cintron. “They want to meet you over lunch, which might take hours. And you have to be nice. You have to be decent—there is no distinction between the business persona and the basic human identity.” It has also been an exercise in learning to adapt to a different measure of success. “As much as we wanted to get off the hamster wheel,” said Peguero, “It took a while to acclimate.” There is less focus on success being measured in how full your calendar is. “Here, luxury is measured in time,” says Cintron. “It is much more about quality of life.” Initially, the biggest issues the couple faced centered on the children, who arrived speaking no Spanish and were despondent to be away from their familiar world, especially their grandparents. The decision was made to home-school them, using an online program, so that they could be free to travel back and forth between Puerto Rico and Providence. Arrangements were made for Cintron’s father to visit periodically also, giving her a chance to show him a Puerto Rico he did not know. Overall, the couple feels

good about exposing their kids to the best of both worlds—to which they have responded beautifully—and the pace of island life affords them more opportunity to spend time together as a family, which makes everyone very happy.

A global perspective Peguero and Cintron are enthusiastic about the way their lives have unfolded to date. “Everything is happening as it should,” says Cintron. “You can’t force it, especially here.” “I can honestly say,” echoes Peguero, “that we have no regrets. I feel like we live in a resort.” Interestingly however, the couple took their first trip to Europe last fall, and fell in love with Paris. As happy as they are in Puerto Rico, they envision a future where they spend part of their time in France as well. “We love Providence,” says Peguero. “We love Puerto Rico. And perhaps we will one day have multiple properties around the world. We are developing a global perspective. It doesn’t have to stop here.” [x]

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FEATURE Lifestyles STORY Nina Livingstone

Allen Reposh signing love in ASL Allen Reposh and husband, Jason

[FAR LEFT] [ABOVE]

A Vibrant and Supportive Community Why the Bay State is one of the best places to live for the LGBTQ deaf and blind Massachusetts, as professional interpreter for the deaf and deaf/blind Allen Reposh has found, is one of the best places for LGBTQ people with vision and hearing impairments to live. Here, Reposh is pursuing his passion and sharing his life with his partner, Jason, who is both deaf and sight impaired. The area’s vibrant deaf and deaf/blind community, so accepting of LGBTQ people, was what sealed the deal. It was also in New England that American Sign Language was born, something both men took as a good omen. Boston Spirit sat down with Reposh to get a sense of what it’s like to be a member of the deaf/blind community and LGBTQ in Massachusetts.

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[SPIRIT] As a gay man, are you out in the workplace? [REPOSH] I have been very fortunate to be

out 100 percent. The deaf community, within itself, has a lot of LBGTQ members and more often than not, I witness heterosexual deaf members in acceptance of homosexual deaf members, instead of further marginalizing and horizontally oppressing each other. Both the deaf community and LBGTQ community are in the midst of similar social justice movements.

[SPIRIT] What brought you to Massachusetts? [REPOSH]I was born and raised in Elizabeth,

New Jersey, about 20 minutes outside of New York City. I moved to Massachusetts

to [find] the optimal place to live with my partner, Jason Wells, who himself is a deaf/blind person. Massachusetts has stellar social and disability services available. It also has a vibrant deaf and deaf/blind community, which is excellent for Jason as a community member, and equally excellent for my interpreting and SSP careers to continue thriving. Historically speaking, ASL’s foundations started in New England. ASL is a hybrid language that developed out of the coupling of French Sign Language and the signed language that arose from isolated deaf people living on Martha’s Vineyard during the 1800s. Both French Sign Language and Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language were introduced to The American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Conn., the first school established for the deaf in the USA.


MADE HERE WITH PRIDE S I N C E 19 8 9

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2019

BOSTON | NATICK | BURLINGTON | MGBWHOME.COM JUL| AUG 2019 | 43


[SPIRIT] What inspired you to learn ASL? Were you parents supportive of this choice? [REPOSH] There are no deaf

people in my family. My interest in ASL started at the age of five with my first exposure through “Sesame Street,” when in the 1970s, a deaf actress named Linda Bove would appear. I would follow and copy her signed lessons of ABC’s, 1-2-3’s and basic signs. I perceived Linda as this magical being who had this special power of being able to speak with her hands and without moving her mouth. Growing up, my mom noticed my strong interest in sign language and fostered my education by purchasing ASL books and dictionaries. I loved this beautiful, physical, visual and totally unique way of being able to communicate. My dad taught me the story of Helen Keller. In 1986, when I was 15, the movie “Children of a Lesser God” was released starring Oscar-winning deaf actress, Marlee Matlin and William Hurt. For obvious reasons, I adored this movie. When I was 24 years old, I attended a college interpreter training program and was extremely fortunate to have been taught ASL by a very special deaf man named Alan Barwiolek, “AL-B” for short. AL-B was a gifted deaf artist specializing in theater. In addition to being my deaf “father,” AL-B was also my very first gay role model. As small worlds would have it, AL-B was good friends and studied theater arts with Linda Bove! AL-B was also the ASL instructor who prepared William Hurt for his role in “Children of a Lesser God.”

[SPIRIT] Describe a challenge and a highlight in your career. [REPOSH] The most challenging

part of interpreting is hearing or seeing a message and

finding its spoken or signed equivalency, not allowing my own biases or opinions to filter out or add to the intent of the message. Major highlights: interpreting for the performer Prince, Dr. Temple Grandin, the animal scientist and Bernie Sanders the politician. On June 22, I interpreted at the Cape Cod Pride in Hyannis at the Hyannis Village Greens. [SPIRIT] Do you ever worry about

arthritis over the years of daily sign language interpreting?

[REPOSH] I do concern

myself about arthritis in my hands and/or carpel tunnel syndrome due to overuse and repetitive movements. The way I combat this is by taking appropriate breaks when needed, working with an interpreting team when the situation calls for it, frequent hand massages and stretching my hand muscles before and after interpreting work.

[SPIRIT] Anything else

you’d like to tell us?

[REPOSH] Something that I

would like for you to know about me is the unique relationship that I have with my mom, Stephanie. It turns out that two years after my dad passed away due to lung cancer, when he was 49 years old, my mom came out of the closet. My mom is living her authentic life with her wife (and my stepmom), Hope, in Florida. I had the special experience of assisting my mom with coming out to our family and her friends. It’s as though our roles in each other’s lives reversed where I became a parental figure for Mom during her blossoming young identity as a member of the LBGTQ community. I cherish our extraordinary bond. [x]


LGBT-friendly deaf/blind resources Massachusetts has always led the way for the deaf/ blind community—consider Helen Keller and the 1829 founding of the Perkins School for the Blind. The state, with its groundbreaking legislation, has also forged a strong foundation for the LGBTQ community. Together, this makes the Bay State one of the best places in the country for LGBTQ vision- and/or hearing-impaired residents to thrive. Within the Commonwealth, there are an estimated 560,000 hearingimpaired residents and another 126,000 classified as having “significant vision loss.” The Greater Boston area provides more than a dozen LGBT-friendly agencies that offer support for both (see the resources below). Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB), for example, “receive training on a variety of topics that are devoted to best practices, including on serving the LGBTQIA community to build staff members’ knowledge and competencies when working with consumers,” MCB

„„

spokesperson Michelle DeLuties said. “MCB embraces the unique differences of our clients and fosters dignity and self-determination so clients can live independently and fully participate in their own communities,” he added. Of course nothing is seamless. In 2013, the Boston Pride Committee was criticized for not having ASL interpreters available after a last-minute request was made. But “the lesson we learned is that no one is to blame for this oversight,” said Albert Sifuentes, a founding member of the Deaf Gay Napoleon Club of New England. “I think we should be aware that we should request interpreters in advance of time.” Since then, interpreters have been made available at various Pride activities across the Bay State. The following organizations, which serve youth and adults in the blind/deaf community of Massachusetts, are comitted to treating their LGBTQ members with diginity, respect and sensitivity:

DeafBlind Community Access Network; DEAF, Inc. deafinconline.org

„„

Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-commission-for-the-blind

„„

Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired www.mabvi.org

„„

New England Low Vision and Blindness nelowvision.com

„„

The Carroll Center for the Blind carroll.org

„„

Perkins School for the Blind perkins.org


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FEATURE Fashion STORY Scott Kearnan PHOTOGRAPHY Allana Taranto

Carmen Carrera From ‘Drag Race’ to supermodel and queen of inner beauty Carmen Carrera has transformed. She was introduced to the world on the hit reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” back when she was still presenting to the world as a gay man. Since then, Carrera, a transgender woman, has traded the “Drag Race” mainstage for fashion runways. She’s become a successful model signed to Wilhelmina, the industry-leading agency that represents international entertainment-world superstars, from Nicki Minaj to Nick Jonas. So far, so great: Last summer, Carrera made history as the first transgender model to walk in famed Miami Swim Week. But the drag star-turned-supermodel has also found ways to enhance her work as an entertainer with a life of activism.

Besides standing up for equal rights on her social media, including a justlaunched YouTube channel, Carrera is a board member of the LOVELOUD Foundation, working toward a culture of acceptance for LGBTQ youth. She has aligned herself with many other groups, like the TransLatin@ Coalition and History UnErased, an organization that works toward integrating LGBTQ history in school curriculums. In fact, Carrera says that she and another trans “Drag Race” vet, Peppermint, are working together to develop an LGBTQ history textbook that can be provided to schools across the country. And yet, Carrera knows that some of her activism has taken a toll on her public reputation. She is outspoken—for instance,

she’s publicly pointed to Caitlyn Jenner as a faux-activist—and even infamously took on RuPaul in front of the world. Since her appearance on “Drag Race,” Carrera has openly criticized the show for how it represents trans people, and has called out language like “shemale” (subsequently omitted from the show’s vocabulary) as offensive. Some of this has led to backlash from within her queer community, and for a while it felt like a narrative had emerged in some corners that Carrera was difficult, a trouble-maker—a nasty woman. But in June, when Carrera came to Boston to discuss trans issues at “Queer Me Out,” a W Hotel–hosted speaker series, she was anything but unlikeable. The lovely, leggy model was candid, inspiring and even funny when discussing her experiences in front of a Pride week panel with “Boston Spirit” editor-in-chief Jim Lopata. (The panel was moderated by this writer.) And she looked amazing while

JUL| AUG 2019 | 47


48 | BOSTON SPIRIT


50 | BOSTON SPIRIT


striking poses all over the chic, downtown-Boston property. After the live interview, we caught up with Carrera a bit longer, to get a few more heartfelt thoughts about her life as an activist, freeing herself from public misperceptions, and how, at the end of the day, she’s always working to be a lover— not a fighter. [SPIRIT] What’s the number-one thing that you

think people should know about Carmen Carrera? [CARRERA] I’d like people to know that I don’t have an ego. I’m hypersensitive. I’m very intuitive. I think that’s something that people forget, or don’t really get. People got to know me as a drag queen on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” so all they’re expecting is my ego. All they’re expecting me to be is rebellious. And I’m completely the opposite of that.

[SPIRIT] You could have stuck to modeling

or performing. Why did you decide to became such a vocal activist?

[CARRERA] I felt the responsibility to speak

up about some of the injustice that was going on in the world. Folks were already labeling me as an activist just from how I used my social media. However, after the whole “Drag Race” debacle, I felt inspired to take it more seriously and have a hands-on approach. There was this whole drama over “Drag Race” and the transphobic language that is used. Receiving backlash from speaking out about that sent me over the edge of taking things to the next level with my activism. I’m always going to be connected to this “Drag Race” realm, so why not be a real activist, attend the rallies, and get to know the folks who are trying so hard— with limited resources—to be there for the community? That was what really kickstarted that: the realization that it isn’t enough to just use social media. I have to go out there and be more of an activist, because I received so much backlash from speaking out about something that deserved to have light shed upon it.

[SPIRIT] Did it surprise you that so much came from within the gay community? [CARRERA] It was really surprising. I felt

like my gay brothers and sisters should have had my back, but instead they felt like I was out of line. I think it comes from wanting to hide your truth, feeling the need for approval from others, or putting on a facade to please other people. I think the LGBT community, me included, has had to do that in the past. I think that folks were afraid that someone like me, out in the spotlight, was taking it for granted or being egotistical for speaking out against RuPaul. My intention was misconstrued. That was surprising for me, because I thought that we were all on the same page.

[SPIRIT] Did any of the other “Drag Race” queens show up to support you? [CARRERA] Most of the queens all threw me

under the bus, because the backlash was so large. I was outnumbered by folks who were against me, and a lot of the queens just wanted to go with the flow of the rest of the world, I guess. They turned their backs on me, and I really learned who my real friends were. It was sad. It was kind of devastating to see that happening; it really hurt me. But it is what it is. I hope that now they’ve learned loyalty is really important, and also that what we’re doing is so much bigger than just entertaining. Because there’s never been LGBT entertainers in this capacity before, ever. There’s so many of us. There’s strength in numbers and our powers lie within working together for the greater good. We have that chance and opportunity now, so I feel it was really messed up for them to turn their backs on me. But I forgive them. I don’t hold any grudges, because sometimes you just don’t know any better. And like I said, a lot of our community has had to hide who they really are in order to please other people. I think that was an example of that.

[SPIRIT] A lot of people might assume the fashion and modeling industry, known as progressive, would be trans-friendly. What would you say to them? [CARRERA] I would tell folks that, ideally, it does make sense for fashion to be on the cutting edge. However, the fashion

[PHOTOGRAPHER] Allana Taranto, ARS Magna & Modern Muse Boudoir [CREATIVE DIRECTOR/ PRODUCER]

Kathy Benharris, KB Productions MLR Artist Management

[BEAUTY]

Nathan Alan Peter Veth [LOCATION] W Hotel Boston [HAIR]

[MAKEUP]

industry is a business. And trans people are still seen as a liability. That’s the truth. It stinks, because I don’t think trans people are a liability. But unfortunately, that’s how they’re perceiving it. [SPIRIT] Who are your biggest inspirations in your work? [CARRERA] My biggest inspirations are

my mom and the women in my own family. Besides them, I would say that J-Lo is a huge inspiration for me; Karlie Kloss, because she’s so tall, striking, and knows her angles; Cindy Crawford; and Naomi Campbell, because I know her personally and she gives me confidence. She personally told me that I’m beautiful, humble, and deserve to be here. So has J-Lo: She personally pulled me aside and said, “Don’t let the industry change you. You’re a beautiful soul. Keep going. It’s going to be hard, but it’s worth it.” When I hear those things from my idols, it’s so humbling and overwhelming, like, “this can’t be happening to you.”

[SPIRIT] You’re taking acting classes now, and have a movie, “Prescience,” coming out this year. What’s your dream role? [CARRERA] My dream role would probably

be to play a trans romantic interest. That’s what I would want to be. I could tell that story. Because there is a beauty in that type of love. I mean, love is love, for me. But I think that in the LGBT community, there’s a stigma. I want to be able to tell a story that will ease that, put that aside, and show people that love is love. It doesn’t matter your gender, your orientation, your sexual orientation, or the color of your skin. It’s the same feeling. It’s beautiful and it’s pure. And I think that people need to learn that it’s all one and the same.

[SPIRIT] Are you a romantic? [CARRERA] I’m a romantic. Oh my god, I

love to love! I do. I’m an Aries, so I love to argue—well, I love to debate, I should say! But more than that, I’m a lover at heart. I come from a very loving family, who taught me how to be loving despite adversity. I think that’s so important. [x]

Golden glam gown, shot in W suite, Stylists Bryan Alexis And Miguel Carlos Martinez of #BryanXMiguel [LOOK 2] Ballerina theme, styled by Kathy Benharris, KB Productions [LOOK 1]

Black full tutu skirt with gold hardware accessories, styled by Kathy Benharris, KB Productions [LOOK 4] Black leggings & body suit with Pride colors, shot on rooftop, stylist Natalie Mason for Luxshop4u [LOOK 3]

JUL| AUG 2019 | 51


Proudly Welcoming You to MASSACHUSETTS

The area from Boston, Massachusetts' doorstep extending to the New Hampshire border is a diverse and beautiful place with historical and cultural significance. Distances are short, prices are reasonable, and the people are friendly and welcoming. Known for cozy hotels and inns, delicious restaurants, fascinating museums and great beaches, North of Boston, MA is the ideal vacation destination for everyone. Request a free travel guide and map.

Main Photo: Motif No. 1, Rockport © Tony Paglia Smaller Photos: Salem Town Hall © Jared Charney; Harbor Light Inn in Marblehead © Harbor Light Inn; Salisbury Beach © Gary Miles; Flag Carrier at the Fair © Topsfield Fair; Giant Lobster at Woodman’s of Essex © Ann Marie Casey/NBCVB


Yappy Hour at MarketStreet Lynnfield July 24th and August 28th. PHOTO BY MARKETSTREET LYNNFIELD.

Boat Tours to Bakers Island Lighthouse July and August 2019. PHOTO BY ESSEX HERITAGE.

Harbor-side cocktails and seafood at The Landing Restaurant in Marblehead. PHOTO BY HOLLY NIEDRINGHAUS.

Whale Breach.

PHOTO BY CAPE ANN WHALE WATCH.

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.

Please visit northofboston.org for additional information and calendar of events.


SEASONAL Arts & Entertainment STORY Loren King

STARS

OF SUMMER LGBTQ entertainers come out across New England From burlesque to cabaret … from music under the stars to queer films on the big screen...there’s no shortage of fabulous entertainment this summer for all LGBTQ tastes, all across New England. Boston Spirit has our eye on some of the coolest hottest offerings at venues large and small, from star performers like Paula Poundstone and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who’ll be performing in Massachusetts, to rising artists like the Mad Men churning out campy, one-of-a-kind shows at Seacoast Repertory Theatre in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, or top-notch musical acts headed to the Newport Folk Festival. Bostonians staying close to home need look no further than outdoor concerts at the MFA and the Esplanade … and so much more. So mark your calendars, and get ready to sing, dance, laugh and be awed and inspired.

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have to be there that night to see that show.”

KEEPING PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE WEIRD There’s a bit of madness going on at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Ben Hart and Brandon James, who produce campy, edgy, burlesque extravaganzas under the moniker The Mad Men of Oopsy Daisy Inc., first met as teenage actors in the Seacoast Rep’s youth theater program. Fast forward 20 years and the pair, now creative and life partners, are assistant artistic directors for Seacoast Rep, which stages plays and musicals year-round at its intimate theater in downtown Portsmouth, as well as the curators for the company’s popular, no-hold-barred Red Light Series.

The Mad Men are also responsible for starting three years ago what’s now one of Seacoast Rep’s most acclaimed and popular offerings: Mad Haus, a regular

“It’s a really wonderful community we’ve created,” says James. Mad Haus and Drag Nights shows draw to a wide and loyal cross section of Portsmouth and beyond; artists and performers rub elbows with doctors and lawyers, he says. It’s also allowed people to release their own passions, creativity and, yes, a bit of madness. Audience members have come out as LGBT thanks to the shows. “It has allowed us to flower as artists, and the audience too,” says Hart.

Mad Haus Goes West. PHOTO courtesy of Seacoast Repertory Theatre

Launched some eight years ago by Knate Higgins, aka drag performer Bunny Wunderland, with the mission to “keep Portsmouth weird,” the Red Light Series several years ago was taken over by the Mad Men who also direct productions for Seacoast Rep’s main stage. The Med Men brought to the venue monthly Drag Nights, which James describes as more performance art than glam show. These events mix theatrics, music, magic and no small amount of raunchy mayhem. Hart adds that Seacoast Rep’s staff and skilled technical crew staff treat these productions with as much care and professionalism as they do for main stage shows, with top-notch lighting, sound, costumes and sets. Each Drag Night show has a theme this summer. Audiences will see “XXXMas in July” on July 1 and “Club Kids from Outer Space” on August 12.

James says Mad Haus has developed a cult-like following of loyal fans who show up in makeup and costume, “Rocky Horror Picture Show” style. Mad Haus took a break for the summer but will return October 2 with “Electric Mystic Travelcade Continual.”

Hart and James are trained theater professionals who, after leaving their native Portsmouth, went their separate ways to work in theater. James ran a theater company; Hart traveled with touring productions, including an international tour with “Avenue Q,” where he understudied all the male roles and learned professional puppetry from the original cast, which is why many of the Red Light Series productions boast sophisticated puppetry. James and Hart were even roommates for a while in New York City before their relationship turned into something more; they’ve now been a couple for close to 10 years. But they were ready to leave the New York rat race when the call came that would change everything.

Drag Nights performers. PHOTO courtesy of Seacoast Repertory Theatre

staging of extravagant, one-night-only shows on a theme that are a visual and aural blend of music, theatre, vaudeville, dance, drag, fashion, burlesque and puppetry, all executed by a talented stable of performance artists. Hart and James create the themed shows and all the visuals with regular members of their troupe sharing in the directing and choreography.

“Four years ago, Seacoast Rep was under new management and they asked us about designing and directing ‘Avenue Q’ since Ben had toured with the show,” says James. The Mad Men left New York to return home to Portsmouth and never looked back. “It is a rich artist community here and they have embraced our work,” James says. “People are hungry and thirsty for this: it’s new; it’s gay, fresh and edgy. We are incredibly blessed.”

www.seacoastrep.org

The shows sell out quickly because, as Hart says, “Each night is different. You

JUL| AUG 2019 | 55


Patty Larkin. PHOTO Jana Leon

Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus. PHOTO courtesy CTGMC

Fun and games Those summer nights Groove on under the stars when singer, songwriter and virtuoso guitar player Patty Larkin, a longtime LGBT favorite and Wellfleet’s own, returns to the MFA’s Concerts in the Courtyard July 31—and jazz, rock and world music concerts throughout the summer. Larkin, who’s been compared with Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams, has deep roots in Boston, having busked on the streets of Cambridge and studied jazz guitar at Berklee College of Music and with Boston area jazz guitarists. With some 15 albums to her credit, she’s likely to perform material from an upcoming new recording. Tucked inside the MFA’s Calderwood Courtyard, the popular series, which runs July 3–August 28,

brings top music acts from around the world to the MFA lawn, where blankets are recommended and picnics are permitted. Other shows on tap for this season’s courtyard concerts include Puerto Rico–based African American drummerproducer-singer Otura Mun’s ÌFÉ (July 3); alt-country blues singer-songwriter Amythyst Kiah (July 10); Caribbean band The Garifuna Collective (July 17); Brazilian band Casuarina (July 24); West African musicians Tal National (August 7); Latin Grammy-winning, New York-based ensemble Flor de Toloache (August 14); lively sextet Upstate (August 21); and Lowell’s own punk/funk brass band The Party Band (August 28). All shows are 7:30–9:30 p.m.

www.mfa.org

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The Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus (CTGMC) won’t be singing this summer—the group ended their season in June with a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riot but that doesn’t mean the group is silent. On July 20 and August 17, the CTGMC’s wildly successful ongoing fundraiser, BingoMania, draws sellout crowds to the YMCA in New Haven for bingo, refreshments, costumes and much more. All ages are welcome...but the humor can be R-rated. Since its founding in 1986 and now under the leadership of Artistic Director Greg McMahan, the CGMC has mixed performance with community activism. Both are on full display at Bingomania, which combines bingo, presided over by a host and plenty of volunteers, with campy fun. The $20 admission includes cards for all 12 regular games (not including Special Games). All seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open and admission is sold beginning at 6 p.m. Bingomania takes place at The Annex Y.M.A. Club, 554 Woodward Avenue, New Haven. Recent Bingomanias have benefited a wide range of community organizations, including Special Olympics, AIDS Project New Haven, and the CT Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

www.ctgmc.org


Kim David Smith

Cabaret and comics Kim David Smith performed his Weimar-era Germany-inspired cabaret act, “Morphium Kabarett,” in which he channeled divas from Marlene Dietrich to Kylie Minogue, at Provincetown’s Crown and Anchor two summers ago. Now Smith returns to the Crown’s Paramount Nightclub August 14–15 at 8:45 p.m. with “Kim Sings Kylie,” his cabaret-fantasia that deconstructs three decades of Minogue dance anthems from 1987’s “Locomotion,” all the way through to 2018’s “Golden.” Music direction is by the multi-MAC Award–winning Tracy Stark and with costumes by Miodrag Guberinic (Katy Perry, Madonna, Nicki Minaj). Australia native Smith fell in love with Provincetown in 2016 when he played the Emcee, to critical raves, in a production of the Kander and

Ebb musical “Cabaret” at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis. He returned the following summer to star as the titular princess in the Provincetown Theater Company’s production of Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” and to perform his “Morphium Kabarett.” The Crown’s packed entertainment calendar this summer includes LGBTQ comic fave Margaret Cho with a onenight-only performance July 13, 8 p.m., at Town Hall; “Schmoozing with Fran Drescher,” featuring the funny gal who created the iconic Fran Fine in the sitcom “The Nanny” (August 10, 8 p.m., Town Hall); and Sandra Bernhard with her new show “Quick Sand,” deliciously described as “a mélange of musings, music and whimsy” (August 8 and 9, 9 p.m., in the Crown’s Paramount club).

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Ebony Williams . PHOTO courtesy

Jacob’s Pillow

NOT STRICTLY BALLROOM AT ‘PILLOW PRIDE’ Celebrating its 87th season, Jacob’s Pillow, the longest-running dance festival in the United States, brings the best of modern and classical dance to its bucolic setting in Western Massachusetts, June 19–August 25.

company’s first African American female dancer, Williams returned in 2015 to the Boston Conservatory where she earned her BFA in 2005 to teach at the school’s Summer Dance Intensive and shares her experience with young dancers.

One of its key events each year is a weekend celebration for the LGBT community.

Williams is soon headed to Broadway with the musical “Jagged Little Pill” after serving as chorus and dance captain for the show during its premiere run last year at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge.

Running August 2–4, Pillow Pride (formerly called Weekend OUT) presents performances, films and the festival’s largest dance party of the season. The centerpiece is a special Pillow Pride performance by Ebony Williams and dancers who’ll premiere “Title XI,” a piece that focuses on supporting and celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community, alongside the work “Victoria” that brings attention to the heroin crisis that affects large communities without discrimination. The free event takes place Aug. 2, 6:15 p.m. at the Pillow’s Inside/Out Performance Space. Boston native Williams is a contemporary dancer who trained with the Boston Ballet and is best known as one of the two dancers matching Beyoncé move for move in the iconic “Single Ladies” video. As a 10-year veteran dancer with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, the

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The Pillow Pride Dance Party takes place August 3 on the great lawn after evening

Pillow Pride Dance Party. PHOTO courtesy Jacob’s Pillow

performances. This annual LGBTQIA+ party is the most popular dance party of the summer with performances by Host Tyler Ashley, The Dauphine of Bushwick, and music by Berkshire-beloved DJ BFG. Admission is $15 but it’s included with a ticket for the evening performances of “A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham” in the Ted Shawn Theatre. This is a new creation from Abraham, a renowned, out dancer/ choreographer who recently became the first black choreographer commissioned to create a work for New York City Ballet in over a decade. “A.I.M.” is a mixed repertory program that showcases the company’s range of styles and Abraham’s own artistry as a performer with “INDY,” his first major solo in nearly a decade. A.I.M.’s dynamic dancers will perform Andrea Miller’s all-female “state” set to Reggie Wilkins’ hypnotic electronic score, as well as “Show Pony,” “The Quiet Dance” and “Drive,” all featuring Abraham’s distinctive choreography.


Kyle Abraham. PHOTO courtesy Jacob’s Pillow

Also on the bill for Pillow Pride is the Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus (HGMC), which brings a live choir to the Inside/ Out stage on Aug. 4 at 1 p.m. in a free Sunday Pillow Pride performance. Celebrating their seventh season, the 60+ voice ensemble is celebrated for its musicianship, creative programming and community outreach. HGMC sings a wide range of music as a catalyst for enriching and educating both participants and audiences. If what you know about ballroom dancing comes mostly from “Dancing with the Stars,” you would think it’s a strictly hetero form. Not according to the documentary “Hot to Trot,” which goes inside the fascinating but littleknown world of same-sex competitive

ballroom dance and follows a small international cast of four magnetic men and women, on and off the dance floor, over a four-year period. Produced and directed by Gail Freedman whose credits include “Making the 9/11 Memorial,” a primetime special for The History Channel, which aired on the 10th anniversary of September 11, when the Memorial opened, “Hot to Trot” has screened in many film festivals including Boston’s Wicked Queer in 2018, and it won the audience award for best documentary at NewFest in New York City in 2017. “Hot to Trot” screens at Pillow Pride Aug 4, 4:30pm, in Blake’s Barn.

jacobspillow.org

Broadway bound Jesse Tyler Ferguson—Emmynominated star of “Modern Family,” ACLU ambassador and cofounder with his husband, Justin Mikita, of the nonprofit LGBTQ civil rights organization Tie the Knot—heads to the prestigious Williamstown Theatre Festival this summer in a play that’s Broadway-bound. The play, starring Ferguson in its world premiere, is “Grand Horizons,” running on the WTF’s main stage July 17–28. Directed by Tony Award–nominee Leigh Silverman, Bess Wohl’s play is about Bill and Nancy (Jamey Sheridan and JoBeth Williams) who’ve been married for 50 years. But when Nancy announces she wants out, the couple’s adult sons Brian and Ben (Ferguson and Thomas Sadoski) descend on the Grand Horizons senior living community to try to sort things out.

previews in December at Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theater, marking “Small Mouth Sounds” playwright Wohl’s Broadway debut. Though he’s best known for playing gay Mitchell Pritchett on “Modern Family” since 2009, a performance that earned him five consecutive Emmy Award nominations, Ferguson is a stage veteran. He made his

Broadway debut in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and starred in other stage productions, including his acclaimed 2016 one-man Broadway show, “Fully Committed,” in which he played more than 40 characters.

www.wtfestival.org

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

“Grand Horizons” with Ferguson and the rest of the cast opens for

JUL| AUG 2019 | 59


Fun, laughs, good times Broadway stars, comics and drag queens light up The Art House in Provincetown again this summer. But this ninth season will be the last in the Art House’s cozy twin theater. Plans have been approved for a new state-of-the-art venue called The Provincetown Performing Arts Center and 1620 Brewhouse to be built at the location, which will become the new home for the productions from artistic director Mark Cortale and his creative partner Seth Rudetsky. Slated to open for the 2020 season, the new venue will boast 167 seats including a new balcony level, a separate theater entrance and lobby, expanded year-round restaurant seating and Provincetown’s first brewery.

Kinsey Sicks

chanteuse Deven Green (August 3–6); comedy trio Unitard (August 9–10); and singing string quartet Well-Strung (August 11-16).

www.ptownarthouse.com Debra Messing

This year’s ninth annual “Broadway @ The Art House” series features Tony Award winners Jessie Mueller (“Beautiful”), July 12–13; Michael Cerveris (“Assassins” and “Fun Home”), August 9–10; and Faith Prince (“Guys and Dolls”), August 25–26. The 2019 Town Hall series includes Debra Messing and Kathy Najimy performing together August 4; and Bob The Drag Queen with “Crazy Black Lady” August 11. This summer’s main stage will feature comic Judy Gold now through August 30; Varla Jean Merman through Sept. 6; The Kinsey Sicks through Sept 8; singer Steve Grand (July 2–Sept. 5); cabaret artist Tori Scott (July 3 and 29); comedy

Kathy Najimy Deven Green 60 | BOSTON SPIRIT


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Ogunquit Playhouse’s 2018 IRNEwinning production of “An American in Paris”. PHOTO Gary Ng

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Ogunquit Playhouse continues to showcase Broadway-caliber musicals on its historic stage and is the perfect out-of-town getaway for musical theater buffs. Last year’s presentation of “An American in Paris” earned 11 IRNE nominations and three wins for direction, choreography and for Julie Eicher as Best Actress in a Musical. This season promises even more. If FX’s addictive series “Fosse/Verdon” has whetted your appetite to see “Cabaret” live (Bob Fosse, of course, directed the film version) then head to the Playhouse July 17–August 10 when the 86-year-old stage will turn into Berlin’s decadent Kit Kat Klub. The Ogunquit production will be based on the Sam Mendes version of the iconic musical that was recently revived on Broadway. Gay British writer Christopher Isherwood’s “Goodbye

to Berlin,” a 1939 book of short stories about expatriates, artists and entertainers including Sally Bowles living in mid-1930s Berlin, later became John van Druten’s play “I Am a Camera.” But “Cabaret,” the Broadway musical and film versions of that play, are Isherwood’s most enduring legacy. The show has had numerous Broadway and London revivals and is the winner of multiple Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score for Kander and Ebb’s unforgettable musical numbers. After that, Ogunquit Playhouse stages “Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express,” a play by twotime Tony-nominated comic playwright Ken Ludwig (“Lend Me a Tenor” and the Gershwin musical “Crazy for You”), who was chosen by the Agatha Christie estate to adapt her 1934 mystery novel. It runs August 14–31.

www.ogunquitplayhouse.org

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Paula Poundstone

Listen to Paula Paula Poundstone is one of the hardest-working women in show business with a resume that spans books, films, comedy specials and TV guest appearances. For 17 years, she’s been a panelist on NPR’s popular comedy news quiz, “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” and she hosts the weekly podcast, “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone,” with friend Adam Felber. But it’s on the live stage that Poundstone, who grew up in Sudbury, Massachusetts, is most at home. Though she got her start during Boston’s emerging stand-up scene in the 1980s, Poundstone found her comic voice in San Francisco, where she honed her wry, observational humor and improvisational style in the city’s comedy clubs in the late ’80s.

A longtime local and LGBT favorite, New England audiences will have lots of opportunities to see Poundstone perform live this summer, which is the best way to experience her show. She’s at Infinity Hall in Hartford, Connecticut July 13; in Ogunquit, Maine July 18 at Jonathan’s Ogunquit; and at the Strand Theater in Rockland, Maine July 20. Although Provincetown has been a regular stop for the comic over the years, this season Poundstone will entertain audiences at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis on August 16 at 8 p.m. The Cape’s intimate and storied venue is the perfect setting for Poundstone’s spontaneous wit and lively engagement with the audience.

www.melodytent.org

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Amy Ray does Newport The legendary Newport Folk Festival takes place July 26–28 at Fort Adams State Park and is jam packed with marquee names from Sheryl Crow to Maggie Rogers. One of the headliners is The Amy Ray Band, who’ll take the storied Newport stage on July 26. For nearly four decades, Ray, along with Emily Saliers, have been the Indigo Girls. Out their entire careers, Ray and Saliers’s music mixed artistry and activism in support of numerous causes including LGBTQ+ rights. Best known for their hits “Closer to Fine” and “Galileo,” the Indigo Girls have toured nearly everywhere over the years, earning devoted followings in Provincetown and Boston. They were part of the Boston Pops July 4th of July concert on the Esplanade in 2018

and in September played at Symphony Hall. Ray’s musical career began during her high school days in Atlanta, Georgia, when she and Saliers formed the duo that would become the Indigo Girls. With a unique sound that mixed folk, rock, country, pop and more, the Indigo Girls shared lead vocals as well as delivering their signature, beautifully wrought harmonies and solid songwriting. They earned a Grammy in 1990 for best contemporary folk album and have recorded nearly 20 albums over more than 30 years. They still perform together, but both Ray and Saliers have solo careers. Ray has released six solo and three live albums included her brand new “Holler,” recorded in North Carolina which Ray describes as

Amy Rae

having “a soulful, country-tinged, gospel-infused Americana sound.”

www.newportfolk.org

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“La Cage Aux Folles” PHOTO Herb Philpott Photography

The Best of Times One of the best stages to see high quality musical theater happens to be just outside of the city: the Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston in Waltham. Celebrating its 51st summer season, the Reagle will present “La Cage Aux Folles,” one of the greatest gay musicals of all time, August 8–18.

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It’s hard to overstate the cultural significance of La Cage when it hit Broadway in 1983 (it opened in Boston as a tryout) as AIDS was raging and decimating the gay community, a musical about two gay men, Georges and Albin, the star attraction in the glitzy shows staged at the couple’s drag club on the French Riviera, was no small thing. With a score by Jerry Herman and a book by Harvey Fierstein, “La Cage” was a popular musical comedy that did not shy from substance, including a romantic duet “Song on the Sand”

between Georges and Albin and, of course, “I Am What I Am,” which would become an anthem of defiance for LGBT and drag queens. Fierstein at that point was best known for writing and starring as a gay drag queen in his landmark play “Torch Song Trilogy.” His gender-crossing role in the musical “Hairspray” would later earn him another Tony. He also stepped in to play Albin in 2011 in one of the many revivals of “La Cage” on Broadway. The original Broadway production won six Tony Awards in 1984 including best musical, best book and best score. The Reagle production will be directed and choreographed by Susan M. Chebookjian with music direction by Dan Rodriguez.

www.reaglemusictheatre.org


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Get ready for a truly unique evening of entertainment as the performance art troupe Slaughterhouse Society presents “Magic Dyke” at the ART’s Oberon nightclub July 19–21. “Magic Dyke” bills itself as “a steamy, bumping, grinding, pulsing tornado of drag kings and queer performers ready to tease, please and have you hit your knees, praying to stripper jesus for more!”

Bones; MozzaFella/Maggie Maraschino; and Whorey Feldman/Frankie Stein.

So, what’s not to like?

The Slaughterhouse Society is also known for its regular, live, badass burlesque premovie shows at the Somerville Theatre. On August 23, look for “Big Bada Boom!” at 8 p.m. prior to the 9 p.m. screening of “The Fifth Element.”

“Magic Dyke” sold out its two-night engagement at Oberon last year, and will likely do so again. The debauched extravaganza is hosted by The Society’s Ginny Nightshade and features some of Boston’s best known drag kings and burlesque queens including Throb Zombie/Fem

There will be special appearances by Mr. Gay United States male illusionist national titleholder 2016 and the Mistah Boston Pride King, Jayden Jamison KA St. James and Slaughterhouse Society member and Providencebased drag queen Complete Destruction who was crowned Miss Gay Rhode Island 2015.

americanrepertorytheater.org, somervilletheatre.com

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Slaughterhouse Society. PHOTO Roger Gordy


SHORTS SIZZLE AMONG FABULOUS FEATURES AT PROVIDENCE LGBTQ FILM FESTIVAL For 19 of its 23 years, the Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) has presented a robust slate of LGBT films as part of its mission. This year, the 19th annual Providence LGBTQ Film Festival, running August 7–21 concurrently with the RIIF, will offer filmgoers a diverse sampling of more than 40 international and domestic shorts and features about all aspects of the LGBTQ experience that will screen at various venues throughout the city. “Some of the films are programmed into the larger

festival; at the end of the day, we want to make sure they are seen by as broad an audience as possible,” says Shawn Quirk, who’s been the Providence LGBTQ Film Festival program director for eight years. Last year, Marianne Farley’s short film “Marguerite,” about an elderly woman who learns that her nurse is a lesbian and reveals to her a long-ago love for a female friend, won RIIFF’s grand prize for best short film and went on to be nominated for the Oscar in that category (it lost to “Skin.”) The RIIFF is one of just six festivals worldwide whose winners in the short film categories

Scene from “Lavender.” PHOTO courtesy RIIFF

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qualify for the Academy Awards. This year’s LGBTQ films include Portuguese director Jorge Pelicano’s feature documentary “Until Porn Do Us Part,” about the relationship between Sydney, a gay male porn actor, and his mother, Eulália, a conservative 65-year-old. The film follows Eulália as she learns that Sydney, who emigrated to Germany, is working in porn as Fostter Riviera; not just that but he’s been internationally awarded as the first Portuguese gay porn actor. Although Eulália is at first shocked and disgusted, she embarks on an emotional

journey that tests her values and expectations as she tries to understand her son’s life, especially when she decides to see Sydney perform a live sex show in the annual Portuguese erotic fair. Director Pelicano spent much time with his subjects to earn their trust. “When I first met Eulália I told her I understood that it was not easy for her to expose her private life in a documentary. But she replied that telling her story was a way to free herself of some fears and prejudices she still had about her son. She also wanted her testimony to be important to other parents who might be


in the same situation,” he said in an interview with “Variety.” Notable short films in the festival include Brazilian filmmaker Carolina Markowicz’s “The Orphan.” Inspired by true events, it’s about Jonathas, who lives in an orphanage until one day when he is adopted by a childless couple. But his new parents are disturbed by the boy’s nonstereotypical manner and Jonathas gets “returned.” The short film won the Queer Palm Award for the Best LGBTQI short film at Cannes in 2018. “Lavender” from American director Matthew Puccini centers on a young gay man (Michael Hsu Rosen) and his increasing entanglement in the relationship of an older couple

(Michael Urie and Ken Barnett). Out actor Urie recently starred as Arnold Beckoff in the Tonywinning Broadway revival of Harvey Fierstein’s “Torch Song.” Hsu Rosen costarred in the show, and it was during the run that he suggested to Urie that he also appear in “Lavender.” The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival where it was quickly picked up by Fox Searchlight’s new short film distribution section. “Lavender” is filmmaker Puccini’s second short—he earned attention for his first, “The Mess He Made” starring Max Jenkins as a man waiting for the results of an HIV test.

Scene from “The Orphan.”

PHOTO courtesy RIIFF

www.rifilmfest.org

Scene from “Until Porn Do Us Part.” PHOTO courtesy RIIFF

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Fashion forward

Voices Rising More than 25 years ago, David Cutler founded a gay and lesbian choir with a dual purpose—to build bridges between disparate communities while striving for the highest of artistic standards. Coro Allegro emerged from this vision and today, under Artistic Director David Hodgkins, it’s a nationally recognized LGBTQ+ and allied classical chorus known for award-winning programming, performances and recordings of works by diverse classical and contemporary composers. Coro Allegro will perform with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra on July 31 at 7 p.m. in a free concert at the DCR’s Hatch Memorial Shell on the Esplanade. This popular series of free, public concerts featuring top choruses and musicians take place on the Esplanade every Wednesday at 7 p.m. from July 17 to August 21. Coro Allegro along with One City Choir, a large symphonic choir of singers from all of

Boston Landmarks Orchestra. PHOTO courtesy Boston

Landmarks Orchestra

Boston’s 23 neighborhoods and surrounding communities; members of New England Spiritual Ensemble; and Boston String Academy will perform “Deep River,” a program of African American spirituals revered today as essential anthems of the American experience. Highlights include William Grant Still’s “Festive Overture”; Morton Gould’s “Spirituals for Strings” (excerpts); and Jerome Kern’s “Show Boat in Concert.” “Deep River” will be conducted by Christopher Wilkins of Boston Landmarks Orchestra with Coro Allegro’s Hodgkins. The performances this summer celebrate the 90th anniversary of free concerts on the Esplanade as founded by legendary conductor Arthur Fiedler. In addition to the free concerts at the Hatch Shell, Boston Landmarks Orchestra will present neighborhood and community concerts this summer.

www.landmarksorchestra.org

Coro Allegro. PHOTO courtesy Boston Landmarks Orchestra

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In the season of shorts and sandals, what better time to check out an exhibition of truly fabulous, daring and eclectic wardrobe statements?

some paintings and illustrations and a collection of vintage postcards.

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston’s major multimedia exhibition, “Gender Bending Fashion,” which runs through August 25, looks across a century of haute couture and readyto-wear fashion that has challenged rigid, binary definitions of dress. The show features more than 60 boundary-pushing outfits by contemporary designers including Rad Hourani, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Palomo and Rei Kawakubo.

There’s the stunning Christian Siriano red evening suit, shirt and accessories worn by Janelle Monáe at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Another sight to behold is a pair of Lady Gaga’s shoes, designed by Newton native and School of the Museum of Fine Arts graduate Thom Solo, who has outfitted style icons from Gaga to Katy Perry with dazzling footwear.

Its interactive, multimedia component features video of runway footage, film clips including Marlene Dietrich strutting in a tuxedo in the famous scene from “Morocco,” photography,

It is filled with the work and the influence of LGBT designers and trailblazers.

The show also offers a display of record albums that nods to the influence, past and present, of musicians who broke gender barriers with their personal fashion style such

Jannelle Monáe in Christian Siriano evening suit at 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. PHOTO Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images courtesy MFA Boston


Rainbow Connection Actor, comic, singer and peerless political satirist Randy Rainbow, the self-described “woke show kween,” is for his legions of fans the one great thing to come out of the 2016 election. Rainbow’s musical parodies of the current political situation and Trump’s White House, posted on social media with stunning timing, have earned him a huge and star-studded fan base, resulting in immediate viral sensations. Rainbow (yes, that’s his real name) produces playful but sophisticated videos with production values that belie their humble origins in his New York home. Each new one is greeted as an event, and a balm to people desperate for sharp wit, sly humor and a Broadway geek’s sensibility to cope with the daily barrage of

Randy Rainbow

bad news from Washington. From arguably his best, “A Very Stable Genius,” a brilliant riff on the Major General Song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” to his scathing “The Donald Trump Cell Block Tango,” his precise version of “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago,” Rainbow’s videos have earned him international acclaim. But seeing and hearing Randy Rainbow live promises a whole new world. He is currently touring the US with sold-out shows, and will make a stop in Boston on July 25 and 28 at the Wilbur Theater. In between, he’ll head to Provincetown for two shows, on July 27 at 7 and 10 p.m., at Town Hall. Look for this woke show queen to bring down the houses.

www.RandyRainbow.com

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Calendar Legacy In a day and age when gay clubs are closing left and right, it’s nice to see some new nightlife options pop up. You can thank Rafael Sanchez, leader of Gay Mafia Boston, for recently introducing Legacy, a new option for bumping and grinding. Legacy carries on the tradition of Sanchez’s late business partner, gay events producer extraordinaire Chris Harris, by creating a fun and frisky atmosphere: Latino night takes over on Wednesdays, while Saturdays are dedicated to party-turning guest DJs (like local legends Susan Esthera and DJ Abel, among others). We can’t complain about shuttering gay bars if we don’t support those that pop up, so get off your couch and on to the dance floor. WHEN

WHERE

HOW

Wed. and Sat. nights

79 Warrenton Street, Boston

gaymafiaboston.com

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Rochester, NH Pride Season 11 Tour Fans of the hit VH1 reality show should sashay their way over to see some of last season’s contestants perform live on a national tour. The Boston stop includes a number of standouts, including all the “top four” contenders: Brooke Lynn Hytes, Silky Nutmeg Ganache, A’kieria Chanel Davenport, and ultimate winner Yvie Oddly. (Fan favorite Vanessa Vanjie Mateo will also be in the house.) The whole show is hosted by Season 10 finalist Asia O’Hara, so you know it’s going to be a wild, wonderful, and whimsical night. Start your engines! WHEN

WHERE

Wednesday, July 10 Shubert Theatre, Boston

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Boston. Providence. Portland. Rochester? The New Hampshire town of 30,000 people doesn’t quite have the same name recognition as these large New England cities, but perhaps that’s why Pride matters so much there. Smaller communities can be even more isolating for LGBTQ people, which only underscores the need for celebrations like this fourth annual installment of Rochester NH Pride. Last year, the downtown transform into an afternoon-long festival featuring various vendors, an appearance by the New Hampshire Gay Men’s Chorus, remarks by community leaders, and a dance party. We can’t wait to see what this year brings.

HOW

WHEN

WHERE

HOW

vossevents.com

Saturday, August 24

Downtown Rochester, NH

rochestermfa.org


Tig Notaro Lesbian performer Tig Notaro has earned a legion of fans during her years working the comedy circuit, where she brings humor and heart to politics and personal topics—including her battle with breast cancer. The dry comedian starred in a one-hour special on Netflix last year (“Happy to Be Here”); recently joined the cast of the new CBS All Access show, “Star Trek: Discovery”; and is currently featured in a Funny or Die online series that portrays her as a clueless talk show host interviewing surprise celebs (like “Pose” star James Van Der Beek). Move warp-speed-fast to snag tickets for her upcoming New England live performances. WHEN

WHERE

HOW

Saturday, July 13 (Northampton); Sunday, July 14 (Portland)

Calvin Theater, Northampton; State Theater, Portland

tignation.com

Coco Peru Long before your 17-year-old-niece was begging for autographs and selfies with TV-star drag queens, Miss Coco Peru was blazing trails in drag. From her appearances in film (like gay indie-favorite “Trick”) to “Conversations with Coco” (her series of live interviews with icons like Liza Minnelli and Jane Fonda), Coco Peru will have plenty of material to draw on for her latest show, “Have You Heard?” The retrospective collects some of her signature songs, monologues and other storytelling moments from throughout a storied career. Whether it’s your first trip to Peru or a return visit, there’s always something new to discover with this grand dame of drag. WHEN

WHERE

HOW

Friday–Sunday, August 30–1

Maine Street nightclub, Ogunquit, ME

eventbrite.com

Leslie Jordan He’s small of stature–but huge when it comes personality! Emmy-winning actor and comedian Leslie Jordan has been giving us giggles for years, from the gay cultfavorite flick (and TV series) “Sordid Lives,” to his recurring role as Beverly Leslie on “Will & Grace.” Now, Jordan swings through Provincetown to perform his new show: “Exposed.” The tour is taking audiences on a journey through Jordan’s childhood (as a self-described “flamboyant youth” raised by Southern Baptists) and four-decades-spanning career. Expect behind-the-scenes tales, gut-busting laughs, and touching anecdotes that will remind us just why we love this fabulous funny-man. WHEN

Monday–Tuesday, July 8–9 WHERE

Crown and Anchor, Provincetown HOW

thelesliejordan.com

Randy Rainbow Randy Rainbow (yes, that’s his real name), has become a viral video star, thanks to uproarious clips that showcase him performing song parodies, splice him into faux interviews with everyone from Melania Trump to Barbra Streisand, and otherwise spotlight all the wit and warmth the gregarious, self-confessed “show queen” has to offer. In a time when many LGBTQ Americans are feeling frustrated, afraid and angry about affairs in our country, Rainbow slices through the dark clouds with bright humor that lightens up politics and pop culture. He takes the stage for some special live shows this summer. WHEN

Thursday, July 25 and Sunday, July 28 WHERE

Wilbur Theater, Boston HOW

thewilbur.com JUL| AUG 2019 | 71


Provincetown Carnival: ‘Enchanted Forest’ Move over, all bears, otters, and cubs. Elves, gnomes and unicorns will probably make up most of the woodland-creature taxonomy in Provincetown when this year’s Carnival flits down Commercial Street. The 2019 theme is “Enchanted Forest,” so you can expect a slew of exciting, on-brand events like an “Enchanted Sunset Cruise,” “Enchanted Creatures Fantasy Ball,” and a “Magical and Mystical Party” at A-House. There’s also a special performance by Trixie Mattel, the banjopicking, brazenly non-PC comedy queen and winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars.” We can’t wait to see Land’s End transform into Middle Earth. WHEN

Thursday, August 15–Saturday, August 24

WHERE

HOW

Throughout ptown.org/ Provincetown provincetown-carnival

Trixie Mattel

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Pillow Pride

New London Pride Weekend If you thought Pride season was over — break out your rainbow attire for one last summertime celebration. Late August is when the Connecticut seaport town of New London hosts its annual celebration. Last year’s extravaganza included a party at Avalon nightclub in nearby Mohegan Sun casino with guests like original “Queer Eye” star Carson Kressley; a soiree at O’Neill’s Brass Rail, a gay Irish pub; and a big bash at Ocean Beach Park on the waterfront. Expect another epic time that will bring out LGBTQ folks from all over the Constitution State. WHEN

Saturday, August 24

WHERE

New London, CT

Jacob’s Pillow Festival is famous in the dance world for the caliber of its international talent. And it’s legendary in LGBTQ history for its founder, modern dance pioneer Ted Shawn, who blazed trails with an all-male troupe that included his longtime lover. For years, the festival has hosted a “Weekend OUT” with programming geared specifically for LGBTQ audiences, but this year it’s been renamed “Pillow Pride” — with an even more robust lineup of events. Besides the expected excellent dance performances, expect unique elements like a dance party, appearance by the Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus, and screening of “Hot to Trot,” an award-winning documentary film about the world of samesex competitive ballroom dance. WHEN

WHERE

HOW

Friday–Sunday, August 2–4

Jacob’s Pillow Dance, Becket, MA

jacobspillow.org

HOW

newlondonpride. comprovincetown-carnival

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SCENE Networking PHOTOS Allana Taranto

Boston Spirit Executive Networking Night Marriott Copley Place | Boston | May 2, 2019

More than 1,000 LGBTQA attendees gathered with reps from more than 50 exhibiting companies at Boston Spirit’s 2019 Executive Networking Night. US Congressman David Cicilline (Rhode Island), who tried valiantly to catch a plane from DC on a stormy night that blocked flights up and down the eastern seacoast, delivered his remarks live via broadcast onto a big screen behind the podium. Citing the civil rights background of his colleague US Congressman John Lewis (Georgia) and Lewis’s support for LGBT-rights legislation, he delivered an inspiring message in dark times. In addition to Congressman Cicilline, there were several professional and personal development sessions tailored for LGBTQ professionals.

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SCENE Gala PHOTOS Caitlin Cunningham Photography

Taste of the South End Cyclorama at BCA | Boston | March 19, 2019

Over 700 people gathered for Taste of the South End, a gustatory extravaganza to benefit AIDS Action Committee. Forty restaurants from Boston’s vibrant culinary neighborhood served up bite-size dishes in support of AIDS Action Committee’s vital programs and services. A robust silent auction and wine toss game with travel packages, rare vintages and fabulous experiences rounded out the fundraising efforts of this sparkling evening. Sponsors included Eastern Bank, FMC Ice Sports, Pfizer, Whole Foods Market, Clarke, EverQuote, Gilead, Harvard Pilgrim, Health Care, InterSystems, Venegas and Company, Diageo, Martignetti Companies, Boston Beer Company, LAZ Parking/Ultimate Valet, Frost Productions, PEAK Event Services, PBD Events, Boston Spirit Magazine, Edge Media and The Boston Globe.

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SCENE Category PHOTOS Samantha Barracca

Queer Me Out W Hotel | Boston | June 3, 2019 Supermodel, reality television star and transgender rights activist Carmen Carrera took the spotlight at an exclusive Pride kick-off event, cosponsored by Boston Spirit, at the W Hotel Boston. Boston Spirit magazine Executive Editor James Lopata led the conversation, moderated by Boston Spirit’s Lifestyle Editor Scott Kearnan. An after party and opportunity to meet and chat with Carrera followed an audience Q&A. For more on Carrera, check out the story and fashion photo spread on page 47.

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SCENE Anniversary PHOTOS Courtesy of CRI

30th Anniversary Party Marc Hall Design | Boston | May 3, 2019

Club Café’s Jim Morgrage was honored with Community Research Initiative’s 30th Anniversary Award for Excellence for all the work he’s done supporting CRI and other HIV organizations, including founding the annual Harbor to the Bay ride. CRI doctors provided a recap of CRI’s involvement in HIV research and drug development, as well as a look into the future of treatment. Clients of CRI’s HIV Drug Assistance Program (HDAP) and former study participants talked about how CRI’s services drastically improved their quality of life.

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SCENE Fundraiser PHOTOS Caitlin Cunningham Photography

AIDS Walk & Run Boston Hatch Memorial Shell/in town | Boston | June 2, 2019

More than 2,100 participants walked, ran and otherwise fundraised over $520,000 at the New England’s 34th annual largest HIV/AIDS fundraising awareness event. Supermodel, actress and transgender rights activist Carmen Carrera (see story on page 47), who transitioned publicly after competing in the third season for RuPaul’s Drag Race, led the warm-up before the 5K run and spoke about her father’s passing due to HIV. The stage program created a celebratory atmosphere after the Walk, featuring up-and-coming talent in Boston, including Caramelo Latin Dance, Weird Autumn, Sarah & The Shirzans, and Shea Rose, singer, songwriter, fashion icon and curator of the RISE Music Series at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Plus Mimi the Chihuahua took home first prize in the Dog Costume Contest, including treats from Polka Dog Bakery and a day at Red Dog Pet Hotel & Spa. The Walk is approximately 4.8 miles and the 5K run is a competitive, timed event fully sanctioned by the USA Track & Field Association.

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SCENE Gala PHOTOS Leise Jones Photography

Beacons of Light Marriott Courtyard Downtown | Boston | April 25, 2019

MassEquality’s signature event gathered nearly 150 guests in support of the organization’s mission, and celebrated the exceptional leadership, voice and advocacy of those working to improve the lives of the LGBTQ community. This year, MassEquality honored the openly LGBTQ

members of the Massachusetts legislature and the historic victory of the Yes on 3 Campaign. Rep. Kay Khan received special recognition for her leadership and advocacy. Special guest emcee, former Rep. Carl Sciortino, introduced the award winners, adding his personal reflections on each honoree’s career and accomplishments. This year’s event included a VIP cocktail

reception, dinner and awards ceremony, and featured live entertainment and an exciting auction in the Courtyard’s beautifully restored Empire Ballroom. Members of Boston Roller Derby raised the energy to full blast as they skated around the room to collect donations and add excitement to the bidding.

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SCENE Pride PHOTOS Rob Phelps

Boston Pride Bay Bay/Downtown | Boston | June 8, 2019

A record crowd estimated at hundreds of thousands came out for Boston’s annual LGBTQ Pride Parade this year on a beautifully blue-skied Saturday. About 50,000 LGBTQA people, representing more than 400 registered groups, marched along the two-mile route, which wound its way from Copley Square, into the South End, through Bay Village, along Beacon Hill, around the public garden and Boston Common, in front of the State House and into City Hall Plaza, where the festivities continued. The festivities ran all week long, from May 31 to June 11. Its theme, “Looking Back, Loving Forward,” saluted the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the spirit of love and empowerment from then till now, and hope moving on into the future.

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SCENE Gala PHOTOS Marilyn Humphries

17th Annual PFLAG Gala Marriott Copley Place | Boston | May 9, 2019

Actress Alexandra Billings and writer Faith Soloway were honored at the 17th Annual Greater Boston PFLAG Gala, where more than 550 guests raised more than $800,000 for Greater Boston PFLAG. Billings stars in the award-winning Amazon series “Transparent,” and Soloway is a writer on the show. Greater Boston PFLAG is a group of parents, families, friends, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people seeking to change attitudes and create understanding of the LGBTQ community.

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20th Annual

SPIRIT OF JUSTICE Award Dinner

FRIDAY, OCT. 25, 2019 BOSTON MARRIOTT COPLEY PLACE Honoring Chai R. Feldblum,

Civil rights legal pioneer, and leading voice for the rights of the LGBTQ community and people living with HIV

Sponsorships start at $500 Tickets $250 Media Partner

Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation. 617.426.1350 • glad.org/events

2019 SOJ Boston Spirit Ad.indd 1

6/14/2019 4:36:02 PM


SCENE Pride PHOTOS Provincetown Business Guild

Provincetown Pride All over town | Provincetown | May 31–June 2, 2019

The second annual Provincetown Pride kicked off with its amazing, 20 mile–long global, laser rainbow light installation stretching across Massachusetts Bay...and the lights kept shining every night all weekend long. Special events commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, and there was dancing in the clubs, dancing in the street, peace, love, drag shows, parades (official and spontaneous) and so much more. And, hey, the summer’s just getting started in P’town!

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SCENE Pride PHOTOS Monika Normand, Kevin Berrien, Bill Dwight

NoHo Pride Downtown | Northampton | May 4, 2019

An estimated crowd of 35,000 people came out for the 38th annual Northampton Pride Parade and Festival. There was plenty of sunshine through the clouds and happy faces. The parade stepped off from South Street and rolled on downtown. Festivities spilled into the Three Counties Fairgrounds, where there were food vendors aplenty and wonderful crafters in booths. Folks gathered in the workshops tent, while kids played and listened to stories told by drag queens. On stage, a beautiful wedding ceremony officiated by Northampton’s own Mayor Narkewicz was followed by drag talent and performers all day long.

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SCENE Celebration PHOTOS Joel Benjamin

Boston Spirit Summer Sunset Cruise Boston Harbor | Boston | June 12, 2019

Before the beautiful sunset it was all blue skies—plus a rainbow!—and good vibes at Boston Spirit’s 12th annual Summer Sunset Cruise. One of the largest and most popular events of the summer, hundreds of friends and first-timers sailed around Boston Harbor on Bay State Cruise Company’s Provincetown II. Guests nibbled on tasty treats, made new friends and mingled with familiar faces, and danced to the amazing sounds of DJ Mocha. As always, 100 percent of the proceeds raised from this event went directly to benefit Fenway Health’s research and healthcare services.

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SCENE Pride PHOTOS Courtesy Hull Pride

Hull Pride Hull Yacht Club | Hull MA | June 1, 2019

In this tiny town an hour outside of Boston, almost 200 people came out for the annual Pride celebration, which included speeches by community leaders, the Hull Pride Scholarship presentation, music and dancing with DJs Scott and Mike, performances by cover band Girls on Girls and drag artist Ramona Mirage, great food from Cravin Shallot, All Purpose Bakery and Nona’s Ice Cream and an awesome sense of community. This year’s $2,000 scholarship went to graduating Hull High senior and LGBTQ ally Katie Punchard for being an outstanding student and voted best in class by her peers. Hull Pride works to strengthen local community connections through events and outreach that promote diversity, acceptance and inclusion.

SCENE Pride PHOTOS Jen Bonin and Corey Reall

Newport Pride Weekend All over town | Newport, RI | May 31–June 2, 2019

“Whoever you are, wherever you come from, we welcome your love here.” That’s the spirit of NewportOut, and that spirit spilled throughout town during the festivities all weekend long at Newport’s Pride Weekend. NewportOUT’s vision to create a more inclusive city not only for the LGBTQ+ community but for all is becoming a reality, thanks to the incredible support from local businesses, allies and the city itself, allowing LOVE to run free in the little city by the sea. 94 | BOSTON SPIRIT


LET’S DANCE!

www.mochadj.com INFO@MOCHADJ.COM

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CODA Wit/Song STORY Scott Kearnan

Wicked Witty Kathy Najimy talks gay rights to “Hocus Pocus” drag Ever since Kathy Najimy portrayed one of the three spellcasting Sanderson sisters in the Salem, Massachusettsfilmed movie “Hocus Pocus,” no gay Halloween party has been complete without a trio of friends in witchy drag. But while Najimy is certainly wellknown as a successful actor, she’s also an accomplished and longstanding activist around women’s and gay-rights issues. Among other honors, she’s received a lifetime achievement award from Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) for her work around HIV/AIDS. Most recently, she helped create “Gloria: A Life,” the off-Broadway hit about her friend and feminist icon, Gloria Steinem. On August 4, she heads to the Provincetown Art House with another outspoken actor-slashactivist, “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing, for an evening of storytelling, Q&A, and music that will provide laughs, real-talk, and a chance to get up close and personal with two progressive-minded champions in Hollywood. [SPIRIT] How did you become so involved in LGBTQ issues? [NAJIMY] My whole life, since I was about 16, I’ve mostly been around the gay community and people of color. It makes sense that, while I want to be fighting for all human rights, these populations of people— women, people of color and gays—were my sweet spot. Then there was the injustice of losing so many friends to AIDS in the gay world. It’s so funny to me when people ask, “Why did you decide to become an AIDS activist?” I didn’t. I didn’t decide. When

people are dying around you for lack of care and lack of real medical studies, and people seem to not be minding that we’re losing the best of our community—how can you not be an AIDS activist?

k.d. lang in concert. PHOTO Matt Duboff

[SPIRIT] There are a lot of discussions today about how transgender women are, or are not, being included in women’s-rights activism. What are your thoughts? [NAJIMY] I am more apt to include than to not. I say, you decide. If you define yourself as a woman in any way, then to me, you’re welcome in the conversations that have to do with women. I don’t feel you have to have specific qualifications or body parts or history, because boy—if you want to share in the sexism of it all, and have answers that can move us forward, everyone is welcome. [SPIRIT] You’re making “Blue Woman, Red Town,” a documentary about why some women voted for Trump. Any theories?

Kathy Najimy

dare she have the confidence to overcome that, and not care about what people are saying about how she looks? [SPIRIT] I have a similar theory that gay men who voted for Trump may have done so because of their own internal shame, or the desire to cozy up to a bully. [NAJIMY] That’s so brave of

you to say. I’ve taken it out of my keynotes to the LGBT community in the last few producers have a theory, but years, but something I spoke we’ve also made a pledge that to a lot was shame. I don’t look we’re not going out to prove on that as a fault. I look at it as our theory; we’re going to see something that you’ve been what really happened. My taught: that you’re not worthy. theory is that Trump won The shame manifests—and because of misogyny and selfguess what? The non-gaymisogyny. If your great-greatsupporting community can grandmother is taught from birth that she’s not as worthy as smell it. And they go, “Oh, okay. They have shame, so I men, that seeps down to your grandmother, to your mother— can make them feel horrible about themselves and enact and to you. If you don’t think laws that restrict their lives you’re worthy because of and their happiness.” Shame misogyny, why would you isn’t something you’re born vote for someone [like Hillary with, it’s something you’re Clinton]? Or you may think, taught. It’s the exact same “Why doesn’t she feel as bad about herself as I’ve been made thing with women. It’s not the to feel about myself?” Or, “How fault of the little gay boy or the [NAJIMY] All three of us

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feminist young woman, what the world is telling you that you are. You’re human, it has to seep in. And then a lot of actions are motored by that. [SPIRIT] Okay, last question:

What’s the key to doing the best “Hocus Pocus” drag?

[NAJIMY] Well, I have to quote my friend RuPaul and say, “You’re born naked and the rest is drag.” Anything that is big, fearless and hilarious is a form of drag. When I put on a dress to go to a red carpet and I’m like, “oh god, I have to wear Spanx,” all of that is drag. It’s what I think I’m supposed to look like. Anyway, to do a good Mary Sanderson: When we were designing her hair, I said, “I think her hair should be like the stem of a pumpkin.” So, you must have that wig that twirls up and gets a little crooked at the top. Other than that? I think it’s all in the mouth. [x]

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Profile for Boston Spirit magazine

Boston Spirit Jul | Aug 2019  

Jul | Aug 2018 issue of Boston Spirit magazine

Boston Spirit Jul | Aug 2019  

Jul | Aug 2018 issue of Boston Spirit magazine

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