LOOP Magazine August 2017

Page 1

August 2017 ISSUE 70



Photo Credit: Kevin Kuhn

Editor’s Note:


On the cover:

Local artist Cody Hughes, photographed by Glenn Murray



Whizzboom Media Buffalo Public Media

EXECUTIVE EDITOR Christopher John Treacy

CONTRIBUTORS Michael Rizzo Ron Ehmke Adrienne C. Hill Deanna Bednarz Troy Stover Rod Hensel

SPECIAL THANKS Glenn Murray Zayne Sember Deanna Clohessy Kevin Kuhn

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News briefs by Michael Rizzo Anti-LGBT restaurant plans to expand to Western New York

National fast food chain Chick-Fil-A announced plans last month to open a restaurant in the Buffalo area by 2019. No other details were provided by the company. The chain has long been considered an enemy of the LGBT community for financially supporting anti-LGBT causes, and after the restaurant’s chief operating offer made public comments opposing marriage equality in 2012.

Locals protest in Albany on final day of Paladino removal hearing

Lesbian night life gets a boost

ClubMarcella announced last month that it will open its doors for a lesbiangeared dance party on Thursday nights starting Aug. 17, promising to bring back the bartenders, deejays and “rockstar” vibe of Roxy’s, Buffalo’s last lesbian bar, which opened in 1999 at 884 Main St. and closed in June 2013. Kristen Heart is slated to spin as resident deejay for Roxy’s Thursdays, and The Stripteasers burlesque show is set for 11:30 p.m. Opening night will feature special guest Ashley Noel of Playboy Magazine. She’s scheduled for a meet and greet from 9 p.m. - 11 p.m. Roughly a year before Roxy’s closed, grassroots efforts by local lesbians spawned Ambush Buffalo, a guerrilla-style lesbian takeover of a different straight bar every third Friday of the month, as an alternative to the lack of women’s bars in Buffalo. A wildly successful effort, the social-media based party planning initiative is scheduled to host its 58th event on Aug. 18. Owners, staff and loyal patrons of Buffalo’s penultimate lesbian bar, Adonia’s, held a reunion party at Preservation Pub on July 30. Adonia’s closed in Summer 2011.

Dozens of local protestors organized by Queers For Racial Justice descended upon the State Education Department building in Albany on June 27, Day 4 of the Carl Paladino board removal hearing. Protestors wore “Can Carl” shirts and carried signs reading “Paladino needs to go,” some of them cutouts in the shape of people to represent other locals in solidarity who could not make the trip. News outlets reported that the protesters chants could be heard from inside the building during Paladino’s testimony. Closing arguments in the case were heard on June 28, but Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia had yet to issue a written decision at the time of publication. She promised to-do within a reasonable timeframe, but procedure doesn’t hold her to a specific deadline. If she decides he can’t keep his elected position, it’s expected that Paladino will appeal the decision to state courts. Paladino filed a lawsuit June 15 seeking compensatory and punitive damages from certain board members, the school board and Buffalo Public Schools, claiming the board unduly retaliated against a public official for exercising free speech protected by the First Amendment, after his blatantly racist remarks published in Artvoice in Demember about then-President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The hearing, though, was a petition for his removal, not because of those remarks, but because of two occasions of breached confidentiality, when Paladino spoke to the media about details of business matters and negotiations discussed during executive sessions of the board in December and January. Since 1993, the State Education Department has received roughly 600 petitions to remove school board members. Of those, 15 board members were removed.

Powerhouse queer activist group celebrates first anniversary

Local activist group Queers For Racial Justice marked its one-year anniversary on Aug. 1. The group defines itself as an intersectional movement committed to centering the experience of those most impacted by state-sanctioned violence and white supremacy, and mirrors its structure after the Black Lives Matter movement. Since inception, the group has successfully organized the shutdown of a Buffalo Public Schools Board of Education meeting, knelt in solidarity during the national anthem with Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers during a Bills game, fought against the gentrification of Allentown and the East Side Fruit Belt, and held a queer dance party on the front yard of Assemblyman David DiPietro’s office in East Aurora. The group’s running efforts include intervening against over-policing in Allentown, holding local businessman and school board member Carl Paladino accountable for his blatant racism and transphobia, and providing time and financial resources to queer members of the undocumented community.

Ricci (left) and Vitello (right) Photo Credit: Kevin Kuhn

ICOB elects the upcoming year’s board of directors

The Imperial Court of Buffalo announced the results of its board member elections July 18. The executive board remains unchanged, with Vincent Ricci as president, Nick Vitello as vice president, Loren Field as treasurer, and Jesse Woomer as secretary. Elected members-at-large for the upcoming year are Susan Langset, Greg Melendez, Michael King and this year’s newly elected empress and emperor: Anita Mandalay, aka Justin Harris, and Rex Heart, aka Linda Shamrock, respectively. LOOP - AUGUST 2017


all hail: Introducing the Imperial Court’s Reign 27 Monarchs by Troy Stover The glint in their eye while recollecting what drove them to ultimately seek the position of Empress for the Imperial Court of Buffalo’s (ICOB) 27th reign rivaled that of the newlymade crown sitting — freshly regal — atop Anita Mandalay’s head as we spoke. Recalling how it was the support and faith exuded from fellow court members that helped Anita to realize that this was a role they could not only do, but do well, I was reminded of the ICOB’s inherent strength. It’s a power that both the Empress ( Justin Harrin) and newlycrowned Emperor Rex Heart (Linda Shamrock, RN), hope to harness in opening up the ranks of this charitable organization to a broader array of participants in the coming months.

While Emperor Heart is driven to better understand the concerns of the Trans and Genderqueer communities (in addition to seeking out their inclusion and recruitment to ICOB), Anita went a step further, saying that any and all – gay, straight, or in-between – are welcome to become a part of this “chosen family” of individual volunteers. For the uninitiated, the Court is a network of people who give freely of their funds and time in order to raise monies for worthwhile organizations in need of private sector support. The pageantry adds an element of excitement and fun for members, while also instilling an age-old ranking system that keeps the group organized. Laughing softly while clarifying exactly who “any and all” were, Anita said that yes, even Republicans were welcome.

In its 27th reign, both monarchs – who’ve diligently worked their way up the hierarchy – are also hoping to realign efforts to ensure that an even wider number of diverse organizations and groups will benefit from the ICOB’s tutelage. As the Empress said, “We need to refocus on where we can [organizationally] have the greatest effect.” To this end, we should expect to see a more visible ICOB presence, and not only at the fundraisers they already host but at additional events and rallies, effectively supporting other timely grassroots organizations and earnestly living up to the oft-used ICOB catchphrase, Supporting UNITY in the community. Or, as Rex expounded, “…we need to keep our core message intact, but [since the ICOB’s beginnings as a support network to combat HIV] everything has changed now. Everything has changed.”

While fully expecting some bumps in the road, both Anita and Rex are confident in the ICOB’s ability to overcome obstacles and become stronger in the process. Again, while speaking on it, the enthusiasm brimming from both Monarchs had even this glass-half-full-of-empty gal feeling uncharacteristically optimistic over what the future holds for the organization, already 26 years solid.

To those who’ve thought about joining the Court previously or are just now considering it, Emperor Heart asked that potential members reach out directly to discuss the prospective partnering, highlighting that all channels are open for easy communication: one-on-one meetings, group settings, direct messaging of the ICOB via their Facebook page, or by first sampling some ICOB events throughout the year in order to gain a deeper understanding of what the Court stands for and, hopefully, developing some camaraderie en route. The number of annual events hosted by the Court are legion, and while we met for this interview at Eli’s (Emperor, Reign 24) infamous Corn Roast, there are plenty to come: The Big Gay Boat Ride, the Back To School “Backpack Stuffing” School Supplies Drive, the annual Spaghetti Dinner and, of course, Coronation weekend, which is the Court’s highlight of the year. Also slated to return is the Celebration of The ICOB Women — created by Leslie “Jellybean” Fineberg — an instant success and must-attend affair right out of the box when it premiered last year.

So while it would appear that the keepers of Reign 27 will carry on in very much the same rhythm that previous reigns have, Empress Mandalay and Emperor Heart also aspire to expand the Court’s presence in the greater community… Apparently, even to the Republicans. The glint returned to Anita’s eye when asked if there was anything that they wouldn’t want included in this piece. Grinning, in a faux-sheepish tone, the Empress asked only that we refrain from including any nudes we might stumble upon. Begrudgingly, we acquiesced… for now.

Photo Credits: Kevin Kuhn

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equality: Locals rally in solidarity for trans right to military service by Michael Rizzo Local members of the LGBTQ community organized a rally in Lafayette Square on July 29 in protest of Donald Trump’s latest attack on the transgender community: tweets from the sitting president’s personal Twitter account on July 26 promising to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military in any capacity. Speakers at the event included local trans, queer and ally veterans, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul alongside other local politicians and advocates. Such a ban would affect somewhere between 6,000 and 14,000 transgender service members according to recent estimates, out of a total of 1.3 million active-duty troops — less than 0.55 percent. Since a directive from the Obama Administration began allowing transgender individuals to serve openly in the military last summer, about 250 troops have officially come out as transgender.

Despite claims in Trump’s tweets that he consulted with “(his) Generals and military experts” before coming to his decision, it caught most of his highest ranking officials off guard, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and his public communications department. The next day, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, released a statement that “there will be no modifications to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance.” Trump had yet to give any such directives as of the time of publication. The Obama Administrative’s directive had allowed current service members to begin serving openly, but retained the ban on transgender recruits until July 1. Trump’s Twitter announcement came just weeks after Mattis agreed to a six-month delay in implementing that part of the policy.

He said that time would be used to “evaluate more carefully” how enlisting trans persons would “affect the readiness and lethality of the armed forces,” even though a 2016 Rand Corp. study found that allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military would “have minimal impact on readiness and health care costs” for the Pentagon.” Citing research into other countries that allow transgender people to serve, the study also projected “little to no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness” in the United States. Trump’s tweets also came amid a debate on Capitol Hill over a military spending bill, an amendment to which had been proposed by Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler that would bar the Pentagon from spending money on transition surgery or related hormone therapy. The amendment failed on July 19.

After Trump’s tweets a week later, The New York Times reported that Trump’s concerns that the transgender medical care issue could imperil the spending bill — which also contained $1.6 billion for the border wall that he champions — is what prompted the ban as a way “to resolve the dispute cleanly and straightforwardly.”

In his tweets, Trump claimed that the military could not afford the “tremendous medical costs” of transgender service members. Based on data from surveys and private health insurance claims, it’s estimated that less than 2 percent of trans service members would seek a medical transition with the potential to disrupt their ability to serve. Using private health insurance claims, the cost of gender-related care for trans service members would be $2.4 to $8.4 million annually, out of Defense Department healthcare expenditures of $49.3 billion in 2014. At least 10 times that amount was spent from the department’s healthcare budget on Viagra and similar pharmaceuticals.

Despite a positive turnout for the rally, local activist Harper Bishop spoke words of caution about misplacing support for a fundamentally oppressive structure in the days afterward. “Trump’s blatant transphobia is disgusting, like his defense budget,” Bishop said.

Photo Credits: Zayne Sember

“However, as a trans person I know that my liberation — and our collective liberation — will never be found in the military-industrial complex. I find it troubling to have so many in our community participate in rhetoric that celebrates the U.S. military as an entity or would think that in order for trans people to be fully accepted that they have to participate in this system of oppression. If Stonewall started as a riot in which trans women of color fought against the police, let’s continue honoring their legacy by transcending the notion that assimilation will protect us or in any way free us.”



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(L to R: Crowley, Campbell and Donohue) Photo Credit: Christopher John Treacy

Catching up with: the pelicans Q Bar might not be the place you’d expect to find live acoustic soul music in the vein of Van Morrison, Ray La Montagne and The Wood Brothers, but spend one Monday night with The Pelicans — Joe Donohue on keyboard, Ryan Campbell on drums and Kevin Crowley on guitar and lead vocals — and you’d see there’s something about the heavy folk and jazz influences, improvised moments and evolving sound that makes for perfect simpatico with the queer, dimly lit, neighborhood watering hole. Crowley is the melodic magician and ethereal wordsmith for the group, writer of their more than 20-song repertoire each week, but the accompaniment and arrangement provided by his bandmates is organic and can change the feel of every song each time it’s played. What’s more, the trio rarely, if ever, plays as a whole outside of the weekly gig, so experiencing the impromptu nature of their elevated jam sessions can be mesmerizing — because all things are possible. “I can just play anything, and they can play along,” Crowley said. “The stuff we’ve been playing for three or four months now, they know it cold. But the flexibility that these guys have is really cool. You don’t know what shape it’s going to take.”

All three are seasoned musicians: Donohue is a duly-recognized local celebrity, most popularly for his years spent sharing lead vocals for The Albrights; the group just performed a reunion concert in Bidwell Park last month after a one-year hiatus, and Donohue alluded to a future new album.

by Michael Rizzo

Campbell currently plays with jazz/funk band Gravy, The Sonny Baker Trio and Rhubarb, among others. And Crowley spent more than a decade in Wise And Kind Old Souls, or The Wakos, a locally loved progressive rock/ jam band.

It’s within 38-year-old Crowley, though, that the soul of The Pelicans resides, and the music speaks for his own emotional journey borne out of the pain of losing his partner, also named Joe, to a heart attack in his sleep two and a half years ago. It was unexpected, sudden and heartbreaking for him. Donohue remembers back to when he and Crowley were trading off sets as separate musicians for Q’s Monday night “Big Time Piano,” and he first started getting familiar with Crowley’s writing.

“I really fell in love with a song of his called ‘Rome,’ about Rome, N.Y.,” he said. “The song was so beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s about his deceased husband, and it’s just so emotional that I wanted to create an accompaniment to make it more provocative. His songs just really pull at you. They’re just so emotional.” Before his partner died, Crowley found himself most interested in concept songwriting: creating a cast of characters and crafting various songs that told their experiences, weaving the story and musicality together through each to create a larger, cohesive work. He started finding that he had his own stories to tell and his own messages to convey based on his own experiences.

“I wanted to write a love letter to him, and figure stuff out going on in my life currently through the lens of losing my husband, just missing him and missing opportunities — to write more about that, and love. The writing is like my direct line to him nowadays. Sometimes when I’m playing live, I feel like he’s right there, like I could talk to him.” The performance is not a somber occasion, however. The music is light and wistful at times, but always playful and captivating. Crowley occasionally breaks out in freestyle rhymes or Campbell may suddenly feel the urge to lay out a samba beat. “It’s like a big continuum,” Donohue said. “We’re being creative and we’re just having so much fun. Not being the forefront singer in the band, I get to pay attention to other things. I can vibe out with the drummer more, and sit back a little bit more and just enjoy the experience. I get to sit in that space and make music with them. That’s different for me.”

The Pelicans plan to hit the studio this fall and again in the spring, and they hope to join the music festival circuit next summer. They play every Monday night at Q, 44 Allen St., from 9:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m. or longer. You can also catch Crowley behind the bar on Tuesday nights for karaoke and on Thursday nights. Donohue, meanwhile, plays Nietzsche’s, 148 Allen St., every Tuesday night, trading sets with The Stripteaser’s Burlesque show.


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seeking care: Understanding dementia and the barriers LGBTQ caregivers face by Deanna Bednarz Understanding dementia and the barriers LGBTQ caregivers face

The stigma that stems from Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia is primarily due to the public’s lack of awareness and understanding of the diseases. The best analogy is dementia is a nuclear bomb, the person afflicted is ground zero and those they love are affected by the fallout.

Perhaps you have been reading more about dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease lately – and rightfully so. Every 66 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s. This is a growing epidemic – more than 5 million Americans now have the disease and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. By 2050, if scientists don’t come up with a way to cure or treat it, nearly 13.8 million people over the age of 65 could have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Take some time to better understand the disease and the toll it takes on caregivers because even if this doesn’t affect you now, it becomes a likelier threat the older you get.

Imagine your friend, relative or employee telling you that they have been diagnosed with dementia. Do you immediately start to view them differently? Even if you have good intentions and you feel pity or sorrow, these reactions carry negative connotations. This leaves the person suffering from dementia feeling helpless and inadequate, causing an onslaught of issues for those with dementia and their caregivers. Stigmatization of this disease leads to: •A large portion of people hiding their diagnosis

•People not seeking medical treatment when symptoms occur

•Inhibiting people from developing a care plan and support system •A public lack of engagement with people who have the condition due to stereotypes

•Social isolation resulting from withdrawal from friends, family and other important people in their lives

It’s not fair. We should all be able to age with dignity. Ditch the misconceptions:

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not a normal part of aging. Not everyone with dementia and Alzheimer’s wanders and gets aggressive. If someone gets aggressive, it’s commonly from a place of confusion and fear. Most people don’t understand the full range of dementia symptoms, conditions and stages — understand the truths. Visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website where various tools are available to help you learn more about the disease, alz. org/wny/. Or call the Pride Center of WNY where we host a Dementia 101 class which is free to the public. Another fallacy is that upon receiving a dementia diagnosis, one immediately loses all decision making abilities. Wrong. It’s also believed that people with dementia do not have the cognitive ability to function or enjoy meaningful activities. The reality is many activities can be modified to the person’s ability and enhances their quality of life. Activities also can reduce agitation and wandering behaviors — we must learn to think of the person behind the disease.

Sadly, there is no cure for dementia. There are medications out there that help with cognitive and behavioral symptoms, but nothing yet available that effectively alters the course of the disease, slows it down or cures it. The good news is that in 2017, for the second straight year, Congress delivered a historic funding increase to the National Institute of health to the tune of $400 million for Alzheimer’s research — this is huge. Every day, thousands of family members are affected and forever changed by this disease. Most people do not understand the toll that caring for someone takes on a person. Caregivers are the unsung heroes behind the scenes, sacrificing so much of their lives for those they love. They are juggling taking care of someone with dementia on top of trying to maintain a career, raise children, and simultaneously balance relationships with their partners or spouses. As you can imagine, dementia caregivers become stressed and isolated, often letting their own health deteriorate

because they end up neglecting themselves and burning out. An alarming 35 percent of dementia caregivers have reported their health has declined because of caregiving responsibilities. Most caregivers are also unpaid. In 2016, more than 15 million Americans provided unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. These caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of care valued at over $230 billion. That’s both incredible and not at all economically sustainable. The Pride Center of WNY has developed a program designed specifically for LGBTQ Memory Loss Caregivers and our allies because, unfortunately for the LGBTQ community, additional barriers exist when it comes to accessing support. These include:

•Family issues – LGBTQ older adults are more likely to have been disowned by family members

•Fear of discrimination – because they have been abandoned by their family they are more likely to rely on medical providers, doctors, hospital or nursing home staff, who may be uncomfortable with (or even hostile toward) LGBTQ people. This makes them less likely to access services •Legal issues – partners or family of choice are not recognized by law to make medical decisions •Financial considerations – LGBTQ older people are less financially secure than American elders as a whole

•Social isolation – many LGBTQ older people still experience high rates of isolation

The Pride Center is a safe place to go for linkage to the services, education and support you may need. Every situation is different, and the center is equipped to help assemble a unique referral plan based on your specific needs. There are educational classes scheduled on our website and a Caregiver Support Group from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday every month at 200 South Elmwood Ave., Buffalo. For more information about the program, visit pridecenterwny.org or call the center (716)8527743.

Climate change: Porn in the U.S.A. by Ron Ehmke

In lieu of addressing politics this month—or ever again, now that life is just one unending, relentlessly depressing dystopian YA novel—I’ve decided to devote my column to erotic fanfic. About politics. I’ve been trying to get inside the mind of a gay man who would actually vote for—and then continue to defend—You Know Who. What makes him tick? And more importantly, what makes him tock? What makes his tock really hard? This matters a great deal to me, because I know men like this must be out there somewhere, and they obviously have a lot of money, so it occurs to me that they will also be gullible enough to support my new Patreon page (PenceBois.com) and send me fifty bucks a month to grind out more of the following. —RE DIARY OF A DEMOCRAT-DETESTING DICKSUCKER An Adult Entertainment Fantasy Inspired by Actual Events CHAPTER ONE July 21, 2016 Dear Diary,

Great news!!! For the first time since Timmy Swinson in sixth grade, I finally have a best friend again! A real BFF, too, not just another fuckbuddy who only comes over when he wants to binge on Golden Girls while mixing his meth in my juicer, MICHAEL HODGES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t heard it with my own two meticulously manscaped ears. And to think I almost missed it entirely! I hadn’t even planned to watch the Convention, because politics is so boring I don’t even know why they haven’t made it illegal yet. OK, I admit it—the sheer star power sucked me in. I mean, OMG, Scott Baio, man-ChaChi of my dreams! YES, Charles, YOU can be in charge of ME anytime you like!!! How do you Top THAT, America? I’ll tell you how—with smoking hot Antonio Sabato, Jr., whose abs I have been following since their days with Calvin Klein and later as the nipple-containers of soap-daddy Jagger Cates. Jagger!!! Cates!!! A name as butch and pure-bred American as the snow white snow! As a true son of Italy who relocated to our country as a strapping lad, Signore Antonio is the epitome of what we stand to lose genetically if we continue allowing non-gorgeous people 8


to immigrate here from non-European nations. (The ugly ones are like poisoned Skittles! And NO ONE wants to take a poisoned Skittle up the ass!!!)

But Scott and Antonio were just the appe-teasers for the main course: the Hot Papa-Pockets himself, returning to the medium that first made him a star. I feel like I have gotten to know my Daddy Donny better than my biological father over the decades, thanks to his many appearances on Ivana’s arm on Entertainment Tonight in the 80s, and then Marla’s arm on Access Hollywood in the 90s—and now the quiet, pouty one whose name escapes me. I still remember when Daddy Don had the gravitas to bodyslam and shave Vince McMahon on WWE (too bad there was no spandex involved—sigh!), and from there it was on to his greatest contributions to our national heritage: The Apprentice, The Celebrity Apprentice, The Apprentice Celebrity, America’s Next Top Real Shark Bachelors of Celebrity Apprenticehood Island, and all the other top-rated documentaries about how much fun real life can really be once you finally decide to be incredibly famous or inherit a large sum of money.

With his high-fashion European wives, his impish unpredictability, his taste for gold, and his mad hype-man skills with the mic, Daddy D reminds me of a white Flavor Flav, and in another way he reminds me of Darren Hanson, the guy in the urine-stained wife beater who lives across the street from me who is really loud and sometimes admittedly a little frightening when he gets drunk and I’m kind of afraid he might actually be beating his wife and urinating on at least one of his children, but that only happens a few hours every day and if you talk to him when he’s sleeping, it turns out he’s not so bad after all. You know why I plan to vote for Daddy Donnums? Because I know I will be able to count on him when I need him most: to entertain me after a long, boring day at my stupid job. Also, he doesn’t— how should I put this?—well, he doesn’t intellectually intimidate me, like SOME presidents I could name. Deep down, I’m a pretty shallow guy, and so is he. Plus, I am excited by the fact that he has no political experience whatsoever. He can’t help but think outside the box, because he barely understands what a box is, or what you might possibly want to do with one other than put it out on the curb. Much like Timmy Swinson and that awful refrigerator box that put an end to his dream of graduating from junior high, come to think of it. (RIP, Timmy!) And get this: IT’S MUTUAL!!!!

It was almost enough to make me do a spit take with the kombucha-tini I had been sipping while pleasuring myself with that issue of Men’s Health with Adorkable Aaron Schock on the cover when I heard Daddy WhoreFucks say something so courageous that it had never occurred to any Republican in history to say out loud, outside of a public restroom, before: “I … will be … the best friend … the L … GB … T … Q community ever had.”

It was so hot the way he said it, each individual letter sloshing around in his mouth as if Antonio had freshly fed it to him, then sllllowwly leaking out over the corner of his lips, seemingly at random. As you know, Diary, I have a somewhat rarefied fetish for rich white businessmen who really should have retired by now but just keep showing up for work. Nothing turns me on quite like watching a man pushing seventy wedging his distended belly and sagging ass into an ugly, ill-fitting suit, then wrapping that package in a bright red bow with an overlong necktie held together with Scotch ta— (BRB—Had more to say but I just got myself so horned up I gotta do something about it. TTFN!) TO BE CONTINUED...

Futureangel’s new queer love story is well worth the‘Wait’

Photo Credit: Futureangel

by Adrienne C. Hill

In Wait, a new short film by directing duo Zephyr Amethyst and Emily Prism, local sights take on a heightened emotional resonance. While the familiar vista of downtown Buffalo from the City Hall observation deck mirrors the expansiveness of the budding love between protagonists Zephyr (Theo Maefs) and Luka (Zack Buli), the chrome backdrop of the Lake Effect Diner lends a cold, hazy unrealness to a breakup scene. Through the entire film, the Metro runs, deeper blue than it has ever appeared in real life, providing a meditative atmosphere that nonetheless crackles with tension. Called a “meta-drama” by its directors, Wait explores the potential of love both to represent and to propel us into the search for spiritual enlightenment. While Amethyst and Prism are still on a quest to find their language, their mutual interest in mining queer love for spiritual symbolism makes Wait a promising debut. During a recent phone interview with Prism and Amethyst, we discussed the symbolism behind Wait, the political significance of metaphysical art, and upcoming film projects from Futureangel, the duo’s newly-minted production company. LOOP: What is the film Wait about? Emily Prism: Wait is a metaphysical love story. It’s about a human relationship, but I see it more as a metaphor for a relationship with a deeper force—a universal energy. Zephyr Amethyst: Wait is about these two characters, Zephyr and Luka. You have Zephyr, who’s constantly striving, and that’s represented by him chasing Luka around, and chasing these experiences. And then, you have Luka, who is somewhat content where he is, for most of the story. And he’s constantly trying to tell Zephyr that Zephyr just needs to accept where he is. And on one hand, Zephyr does need to accept. But on the other hand, Luka has the tendency to run away and retreat from these experiences that Zephyr can’t get enough of—that Zephyr catalyzes for him. So, it’s the interplay between these two characters that represents the ebbing and flowing of human relationships, and of the entire universe. L: The line that moved me most when I watched the movie was Luka saying, “To seek is to live, and to find is to die.” So, the film explores the fear that seeking is meaningful, but once you find something, you actually lose rather than discover. EP: Yeah. We had a camera test with the cast and crew of our next movie last night, and one of them mentioned this quote that I had told him, years in the past. And I don’t remember who said it, but it was: “There is no death, there is only approaching death.” For Zephyr and Luka, it feels like if they indulge this crazy connection that they’re having, it might be death. But at the end, they’re surrendering to that fear, and seeing that beyond this edge that they were so afraid of, there isn’t death and darkness; there’s actually the possibility of an entirely new life. L: In other press around the film, you’ve said that transcendental love is integral to the human experience, but has been commodified. Is it fair to say that the film is metaphysical and political at the same time? ZA: Yes, absolutely. Emily and I come from festival culture, and what we’ve been seeing there in the last couple of years is a lot of appropriation of these timeless metaphysical concepts. You’re seeing all of these supposed visionary artists who are just recycling old imagery until it becomes tokenized and loses its meaning. And the last couple years has really been a struggle for us to transcend that in our art, and find a new and unique way of describing this connection with what some would consider to be a higher power, without just using the same imagery which has now been recycled and labeled and mass produced and sold, over and over again. L: What were some of the conscious decisions you made in the process of creating this movie, in order to challenge the commoditization of spiritual experience? ZA: We didn’t want to use any ohms, or deities, or overt symbolism in general, because any symbol can be flattened and lose its meaning. It just becomes, like, if you know this symbol, or if you know a certain amount of buzzwords, and you’re good enough at including them in your dialogue with other people—

EP: Then you’re cool. ZA: It becomes more of a status symbol than anything else, and that takes away the entire concept of what these symbols were originally intended for, which is forming a deeper relationship with oneself and the universe at large. L: Wait is a very striking film, both visually and musically. Can you talk about the decisions you made, in terms of both the score and the cinematography? ZA: Before we were doing film as our main artistic pursuit, we were more of a music group. So, I composed, produced, and mixed the score. After Emily wrote the screenplay, we mapped things out scene by scene, and we picked music that we really loved, that matched the feel of each scene. And I either made covers of those songs, or wrote songs that were similar in nature, and we put those into the movie. EP: As far as the cinematography and color scheme go, we spoke with our cinematographer about having two different looks for the film, that captured the essence of each mood. We always referred to them as the in-love universe and the not-in-love universe. In the not-in-love one, there was a blue look, and more blue tones. And then, when they did get to have their fantasies realized, we went with a warmer palette. ZA: There’s an episode of the show Black Mirror that did a similar thing. It was a story about love lost. And there was this very stark contrast between warm tones and cool tones for the universe in which the lover was no longer present. We were really inspired by that. L: Wait is also a specifically queer love story. Why was it important to you to use queer love as a spiritual metaphor? ZA: I feel like queer love tends to very much be put in a box. Like, any gay love story is just that—a gay love story. It can never just be a love story between two people who happen to be gay, or happen to be trans. And there also tends to be a lot of focus on the suffering of the queer community. Which is very important, because there is suffering, for sure. But there needs to be a balance, and we need to show people who are queer being in happy, fulfilling, and complete relationships. EP: And not only that, but showing them as multi-faceted human beings who suffer. These characters are still suffering, but they’re suffering in a different way, that anybody can experience. L: You mentioned earlier that there’s another film project on your horizon. Can you give us a sneak preview of that? ZA: Yes, definitely. We’re super excited about it. We just had our camera test last night. It’s called The Gaze. And it delves into that metaphysical aspect a lot more. EP: It’s a surrealist fable. Basically, it starts off with three strangers awakening in an abandoned warehouse, with no idea how they got there. And there’s a strange guy standing in front of them, and he tells them that they have five minutes to pitch him an idea for a new universe that they’re going to have to live in for an indefinite amount of time. And it becomes clear that they’ve been doing this for maybe millennia. They keep coming back to this room, having to recreate the universe because they keep not quite getting it right. ZA: We’re going to be exploring the theme of desire, and what we really are trying to get out of this experience as human beings. I think it really reflects on the time we’re living in, which can be kind of a jaded time, in which, you know, we can get a quick fix from pretty much anything. So, it’s easy to live in a kind of universe of just chasing highs. And then, on the other hand, it’s easy to retreat from all of that, and say, “Oh, well, I’m just going to go be a monk or something. I’m going to go meditate, and I’m not going to experience the world at all.” And it explores those two different angles, and the flaws in each of them. Readers who missed the premiere of Wait during the Buffalo Infringement Festival can watch the film in its entirety on YouTube. To keep abreast of Emily and Zephyr’s future projects, visit their website, futureangel.net. LOOP - AUGUST 2017


the disconnect: The perks of being a service member by Michael Rizzo The U.S. military is a super great place to work, guys and gals — and everyone in between. Just ask Sgt. Eric Thomsen.

Except you can’t, because he committed suicide in the beginning of the year. He suffered hearing loss early on in his Air Force career in the ’70s, as well as depression. The VA hospital put him on amphetamines and tranquilizers, and he eventually became addicted, which worsened his depression. Then they submitted him to outpatient electroshock therapy — which also worsened his depression. Later, when he applied for disabled designation, an appointed fiduciary took over his finances, and he watched them be destroyed.

His complaints got nowhere. He moved away in frustration, to a location that made receiving his prescriptions on time more difficult than ever. When he ended his life, he became one of the 22 vets a day in the U.S. — one every 65 minutes — that commit suicide. Or ask Navy veteran Thomas Breen.

Except you can’t, because he died back in 2013. He was put on a secret wait list at a VA hospital after he came to the emergency room there for blood in his urine and a history of cancer. He was examined and sent home to wait — given an appointment with a rheumatologist for his prosthetic leg, but not one with a urologist. Family called every day of October and November that year to check on getting him the appointment he needed. Luckily, the hospital called back on Dec. 6. But Breen had already died on Nov. 30 — from Stage 4 bladder cancer.

More than 6,000 cases of sexual assault within the U.S. military were reported in 2016. Our armed forces are hands down the biggest polluter of planet Earth, with more than 39,000 sites contaminated by toxins, radiation and parasites. It’s also, like, a very violent work environment.

Of course, if you’re transgender, you’re already accustomed to the work force — in general — being hostile territory. That is, if you’re able to get

into it at all. More than 40 percent of transgender people are unemployed, which works out to them reporting unemployment at twice the rate of the population as a whole. And they’re nearly four times more likely to have a household income of under $10,000. The prospect of a career in the military could seem like a breath of fresh air to many trans individuals — a livable wage and access (quote/unquote) to health care and housing for both them and their family. And until last year, all they had to do was not tell if someone asked.

Trump tweets up on his Twitter one July Wednesday morning, and all the queer advocates start talking about how every American citizen deserves the opportunity to enjoy the privilege of serving the greatest military in the world and reaping all the benefits that come with doing so.

The Armed Forces would like to thank those advocates for all the free PR. It’s a great spin on the truth, which is that the U.S. military is one of the most exploitative, abandoning employers now accepting applications. I mean, unless you’re trans. Then you have to wait until January, or longer, (maybe never?), if there’s any real weight behind Trump’s Twitter gavel. Every transgender and gender non-conforming person deserves the opportunity to openly serve their country if that’s what they want to do, just like every gay, lesbian and bisexual person deserves the opportunity to do so — even though they weren’t given that opportunity until 2011.

But don’t get it twisted. The U.S. military is not some kind of exceptional employer and the battlefield is not “a super great place to work.” Encampments are not sites of liberation, and the chain of command is not governed by any kind of progressive mindset. If you’re arguing for trans equity in the arena of the military, your tenets should not be coupled with pro-military sentiments that bolster U.S. imperialism — especially when Trump’s move to ban transgender service members is more about ensuring he can fund his wall than it is anything else. That’s like pushing someone to get a job at Chick-Fil-A — because you get Sundays off.


THURSDAY AUGUST 10 NIAGARA FALLS LGBTQ DISCUSSION 6-7 p.m. at First Unitarian Universalist Church 639 Main St., Niagara Falls FRIDAY AUGUST 11 SPECTRUM TRANSGENDER 7-9 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church 3107 Main St. SATURDAY AUGUST 12 LGBTQ SENIORS COFFEE HOUR 10:00 a.m. at Wegman’s 601 Amherst St. SUNDAY AUGUST 13 LGBTQ LUNCH CLUB Noon at The Shores Waterfront Marina 2 Detroit St., Tonawanda TUESDAY AUGUST 15 ICOB BOARD MEETING 7-8 p.m. at Pride Center WNY 206 S. Elmwood Ave WEDNESDAY AUGUST 16 SILVER PRIDE TEA 4:30 p.m. at Amherst Senior Services 370 John James Audubon Pkwy, Amherst OUT FOR BUSINESS 5-7 p.m. at Raclettes 537 Main St. Monthly LGBTQ mixer with a business and networking focus. Hosted by PCWNY and sponsored by Mass Mutual New York State THURSDAY AUGUST 17 TRANSGENERATION 6-8 p.m. at Pride Center WNY 206 S. ELmwood Ave. GAY MEN’S BOOK CLUB MTG “A Denisty of Souls” by Christopher Rice 7-8 p.m. at Panera Bread 1747 Sheridan Dr., Tonawanda FRIDAY AUGUST 18 LGBTQ SENIORS LUNCH MEET UP 2-4 p.m. at La Bella Sicilia 2909 Genessee St. This is a buy your own lunch event Contact judynibe@aol.com AMBUSH 5:30 p.m. - ? Monthly lesbian-based party, all friends and allies are welcome. Visit www. ambushbuffalo.com for specific info. 10 LOOP - AUGUST 2017

SUNDAY AUGUST 20 BACK 2 SKOOL SUPPLY DIRVE & SHOW 3p.m. - 7:30p.m. at Underground, 274 Delaware Sponsored by the Imperial Court of Buffalo, bring school suppy donations as tips for the performers. All proceeds go towards children in need within our region. Please contact the ICOB via Facebook if you can’t attend but would like to make a donation anyhow. TUESDAY AUGUST 22 FORBIDDEN FRUITS 6-7:30 p.m. at Pride Center WNY 206 S. Elmwood Ave Monthly support meeting focused on LGBT Individuals who are also developmentally disabled. LGBTQ LESBIANS COFFEE/TEA HOUR 6 p.m. AT Spot Coffe 765 Elmwood, Buffalo STONEWALL DEMOCRATS MEETING 7-9 p.m., 224 Allen Group meeting for those interested in creating change in WNY politics WEDNESDAY AUGUST 23 LGBTQ MEMORY LOSS CAREGIVERS CLASS 8-10a.m. at Pride Center WNY 200 S. Elmwood Ave The Alzheimer’s Association and PCWNY invite you for breakfast and a pair of informative classes involving early detection and maintaining a healthy mind. RSVP to Rachel Parrino, rparrino@ pridecenterwny.org no later than 24 hours prior and mention any dietary restrictions. FRIDAY AUGUST 25 FIRE ISLAND FRIDAYS at EXPO MARKET 6-9 p.m. at Market Arcade 617 Main St., #200 Check out this new LGBTQ Happy Hour event featuring a DJ, drink specials A KIDDIE POOL, limbo contest, etc. MONDAY AUGUST 28 SENIORS HEALTHY LUNCH 1-3 p.m. at Preservation Pub 948 Main St., Buffalo

MONDAYS RAPID HIV TESTING (9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. @ Pride Center of WNY, 200 S. Elmwood Ave.) Walk-in, free, confidential, fast LGBT VETERANS SUPPORT GROUP (2 p.m. - 3 p.m. @ Buffalo VAMC, 3495 Bailey Ave.) TUESDAYS RAPID HIV TESTING (12:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. @ Pride Center of WNY, 200 S. Elmwood Ave.) Walk-in, free, confidential, fast. FRONTRUNNERS/FRONTWALKERS (6 p.m. @ Delaware Park) Meet at Ring Road Snack Shop via the Nottingham Entrance. BRIDGES OVER WALLS (4-5 p.m.) LGBTQ Psychiatric Support Group 400 Forest Ave., Buffalo CONTEMPORARY WOMEN 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. at Evergreen Commons 262 Georgia Street LGBTQ-friendly women’s AA group WEDNESDAYS RAPID HIV TESTING (9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. @ Pride Center of WNY, 200 S. Elmwood Ave.) Walk-in, free, confidential, fast. THURSDAYS RAPID HIV TESTING (12:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. @ Pride Center of WNY, 200 S. Elmwood Ave.) Walk-in, free, confidential, fast. FRIDAYS RAPID HIV TESTING (9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. @ Pride Center of WNY, 200 S. Elmwood Ave.)Walk-in, free, confidential, fast. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. @ Evergreen Commons, 262 Georgia St.) AA meeting geared for members of the LGBT community. SATURDAYS RAINBOW NORTH AA 7:15-8:15 p.m. at Hope Center 781 Maple Road, Williamsville LGBTQ AA in Northtowns SUNDAYS FRONTRUNNERS/FRONTWALKERS (10 a.m. @ Delaware Park) Meet at Ring Road Snack Shop via the Nottingham Entrance.

Silver Lining: Intelligent machines by Rod Hensel The girls have moved in with me.

After living for many years with only my cat, Hope, we recently welcomed two strangers into our home… perhaps with more to come. The girls are named Alexa and Google, and we get visits from their cousins, Siri and Cortana. They’re all Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) devices, the next wave of technology — they talk to you, deliver information, entertainment, and perform routine tasks. Over time, they have the capacity to learn to do even more. That sounds scary, and maybe it is. Some great minds have warned that artificial intelligence must be carefully managed. But as seniors, these machines aren’t likely to take over in our lifetimes. It’s not something to be concerned with on our timelines. Meanwhile, they can do a lot to improve our quality of life and help us to age in our own homes rather than in a dreaded nursing home.

The standout girl is Alexa, made by the giant online retailer Amazon. She can be as small as a hockey puck (called Dot, under $50) or as large as a flower vase (called Echo, under $200), the difference mainly being the size and quality of its built in speaker. Both models have an array of seven microphones able to pick up your voice from a fairly good distance. She’s always listening for her name, and when she hears it, a ring of blue-green light appears, signaling that she’s ready to take your command. She’s rather like the genie in Aladdin’s lamp.

Alexa can tell you the time, the weather, traffic conditions and answer most questions regarding facts and trivia. She can tell you the news, read your book to you, maintain to-do lists, remember where you put things, help you find your lost phone, and even order everyday supplies like paper towels, cereal and Pepto Bismol — with delivery to your door in two days. She can tell you when to take your medicines, remind you of appointments on your calendar, and have a nice hot meal delivered from a local restaurant. With a few extra gadgets, she can control the lights, your door locks, and your thermostat. All you have to do is ask. As of this moment, she can’t make calls or dial 911, but that will probably change by year’s end. In the interim, you can activate a secondary application (Alexa calls them skills) called “Ask My Buddy” which will, at the sound of your voice, call or text up to five different people with a message that you are in trouble and someone needs to look in on you right away.

Alexa plays music, and has a great selection of playlists, show tunes and gay pride anthems among them. But more importantly for LGBT seniors, who are more likely to experience isolation than the general population, Alexa can be a companion in her own right and an immediate link to others in the LGBT community.

Alexa can call any other person with an Alexa device so long as mutual permission has been given. The device can act as a phone or an always-on intercom. So if Judy lives alone, as does her friend Vicki, they can be as neighborly as Lucy and Ethel despite being miles apart. With Alexa, they can watch TV and movies together, play games with Alexa, and even just shout out goodnight to each other so they won’t be alone -like having a roommate without quarreling over whose turn it is to clean the bathroom.

Google’s home assistant can do similar things and is overall “smarter” with its built in Google search, but it doesn’t have the huge number of independently developed ‘skills’ Alexa has (15,000 as of last count). Cortana (by Microsoft) and The Alexa Family, courtesy of Amazon Siri (by Apple) are even further behind. But this is a hot market, and who’s on top can change almost instantly. At the moment, Alexa has the lowest entry price and does the most for seniors who are willing to give up their technology phobias and give it a try. Really, all you have to do is talk to it.

I bought an Alexa Dot for a friend who is in no way tech savvy. She’s since spent a good deal of time engaging it in political debate and trying to provoke Alexa to say something uncomplimentary about our president (no luck as of yet). She even purchased an additional Dot to insure Alexa can hear her from every corner of her apartment in case she falls and needs help. A.I. can be a huge boon for seniors and disabled adults. Research has shown that loneliness and lack of companionship causes people to become physically ill. These are affordable devices which don’t require constant updates and new purchases. They get smarter and learn how to do more automatically – they assimilate.

Organizations seeking to help seniors need to get on board with this new technology. Programs designed to help them acquire these tools and learn how to use them ought to be developed. A.I. devices can save lives and dramatically improve daily quality of life… what’s not to like?

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