May 2018 ISSUE 78 BUFFALOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S MONTHLY PUBLICATION FOR THE LGBT COMMUNITY AND ITS ALLIES
BUFFALO PUBLIC MEDIA EXECUTIVE EDITOR
CHRISTOPHER JOHN TREACY CONTRIBUTORS
ADRIENNE C. HILL
Photo Credit: Kevin Kuhn
TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER RON EHMKE
On the Cover: “Blind Pillory,” by Thom Neill
BRIDGET HALLOCK SALES
CAITLIN CODER SOCIAL MEDIA
CHRISTOPHER JOHN TREACY
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LOOP - MAY 2018
Climate change: Can you relate? by Ron Ehmke Like every queer person of a certain age in America, I have a long history of sitting in dark movie theaters rejiggering the massmarketed fantasies I see projected onscreen to make room for my own desires. My James Bond beds a succession of hot men, not women; my Cary Grant woos Jimmy Stewart instead of Kate Hepburn; my Fred Astaire dances not with Ginger but with me.
LGBT folk are not alone in this. Kumail Nanjiani spoke for people around the world who do not look, act, pray, or think like the men who built the “Dream Factory” that is Hollywood when he noted in a film segment for the Oscars, “Some of my favorite movies are movies by straight white dudes, about straight white dudes. Now straight white dudes can watch movies starring me, and you relate to that. It’s not that hard! I’ve done it my whole life.”
Back to Black Panther: Here was a movie that was explicitly not made for people like me to relate to—and I loved that. The creation of a world where the U.S. (barely seen) is technologically backward by comparison to a secret African nation and where the only significant white male is a timid sidekick is a brilliantly subversive concept—and this is one case where I am absolutely fine being an outsider looking in.
Panther is an origin story, and I usually find those as tedious in the superhero genre as I do coming out stories (like Simon’s) in most gay film and fiction. Unlike apparently most of the American public, I’ve always been much more interested in fully formed adult characters, especially the kind who by definition do not exist in “real life”; I couldn’t care less what Captain S o-and-S o’s family life was like This process before he gained of “relating” is the power to melt fascinating, and plastic with his because most of mind, or whatever us are minorities the hell he does. I in some senses just want to see him and not in others, melt a shitload of we are all learning plastic, preferably a much more while wearing a complicated way of skin-tight outfit doing it nowadays. that shows off his One of the most pecs and does not inspiring evenings contain a speck of I’ve spent in a natural fibers. And movie theater yet this origin story recently came was irresistible, in during a packed large part because it screening of Black does not remotely Panther—and the Love, Simon co-stars Nick Robinson and Katherine Langford having a moment follow the “rules” thrilling part started established in an long before I got my first glimpse of the Afrofuturist utopia that endless number of previous stories. It makes its own rules, and is Wakanda. The coming attractions offered my first glimpse at the invites all of us to learn them as we go—just as we are all learning trailer for another new film I was only dimly aware of: Love, Simon. what a truly multicultural world, one without white Americans There have been excellent movies about gay teens before—Edge of always at the center of power, is going to look and feel like. What Seventeen, Camp, Saved, and The Incredibly True Adventures of Two the future is going to be, or can be. Girls in Love spring to mind—but those have always played indie/ art houses (often for a week at most) in decent-sized cities, not A funny thing happened on the way to The Future, though: Lots multiplexes where they could easily be seen by the very people who of folks assumed that Black Panther—and Wonder Woman just need them most: Actual queer kids, their friends, and families, in before it—would be joined by Ava Duvernay’s Oprah-endorsed adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time in a new pantheon of inclusionsmall towns and suburbs around the country. minded blockbusters. Most white readers of the beloved children’s Having seen Hollywood get gayness—and being a teen—so very book had surely pictured its lead character as looking just like wrong so very many times over the years made me a little wary them, while Duvernay made her a mixed-race girl. (Fun fact: I about Simon, but‚ as a significant chunk of ticket buyers now know, remember reading and enjoying the book when I was a kid, but it turned out to be a charming, utterly likable and, yes, relatable forty-plus years later I had no memory of the fact that the hero is film. It’s the John Hughes movie a lot of queer kids surely created a girl, as are all three of her magical mentors; the boys and men in their heads when they couldn’t recognize themselves in the are either absent, hangers-on, or outright impediments. Take that adventures of Molly Ringwald and company. While watching it, I as a reminder that the ability to “relate” to a character does not kept thinking, “If only something like this had existed for all those require that they possess the same genitalia we do, let alone skin kids who have been bullied to the point of suicide, let alone when color.) As with Black Panther, even the small details we have long I was in high school myself.” taken for granted (i.e., stereotypes) are flipped on their heads Something else ran through my head a few weeks earlier, when throughout. While I wasn’t entirely enchanted by young Meg’s I saw the Oscar-nominated (and largely arthouse-bound) Call adventures—mainly because everyone in the film is constantly Me By Your Name. This was a movie I’d looked forward to for at spouting Oprahisms—I thought it was a wonder-filled, exciting least a year: I mean, come on, both Armie Hammer and Timothy adventure with a timely message about the poisonous power of Chalamet frolicking around in their birthday suits for two hours? hate and enforced conformity. What could possibly go wrong? In Hollywood, money talks louder than good intentions. Alas, Plenty, as it turns out. Roughly halfway through the film, so Wrinkle in movie form did not connect with audiences on the mass packed with fabulously wealthy professorial types discussing art level Disney was counting on, and the end result is that it may be history and quoting philosophy to each other in their Italian villa a while before we see another epic aimed at ten-year-old African while partially if not fully clothed and NOT frolicking AT ALL, American girls. it occurred to me that if this had not been billed as a “gay” film, I We all know how Black Panther turned out at the box office—and would probably have had no interest in it. The more I watched, the I for one am eagerly awaiting the invariable sequels and spinoffs more my disappointment turned into anger, to the point where I that take us deeper into the lives of the strong, brave, wise, utterly was tempted to start heckling the screen: “You people don’t have heroic queer women at the heart of the saga. Love, Simon and Call a care in the world! You’re not very interesting or believable as Me By Your Name didn’t cost a lot to make, and did well at the box characters, and this whole thing feels like a JO fantasy for guys office. who use an entire box of Kleenex thumbing through Architectural Digest!” The much-praised final scene in which Chalamet’s ever- You could argue, as I often do, that giant blockbusters may not smiling perfect dad delivers a long speech about how proud he is be the best place to tell the kind of nuanced stories we deserve, of his gay son (who, like Hammer’s character, is clearly bisexual, that there is a value in smaller films for smaller audiences. But the and treats women like trash) made me want to barf. What planet world is big, and our options should be just as diverse as we are. Once we make room for our own imaginations and experiences, do these people live on? In short, I could not “relate.” the possibilities are endless. 4
LOOP - MAY 2018
Barbershops open their doors to the community for HIV testing by Bridget Hallock As New York State aims to end the HIV epidemic, local businesses on the east side are doing their part by inviting healthcare organizations to reach their customers and neighbors. Three barbershops on the east side of Buffalo opened their doors so that confidential HIV testing could be offered to the barbershop patrons and members of their surrounding communities on the evening of Friday, March 30th. Sean’s House of Masters on East Delavan near Humboldt, Styles of Man on East Delevan at Courtland, and Xpressions Barbershop, on Broadway at Strauss, eagerly participated in this opportunity to provide a much-needed service to neighborhoods in Buffalo hit particularly hard by the HIV epidemic. “This is one of the things actually we do talk about, but we need to talk about it more,” says Hakeem Hicks, owner of Styles of Man. “We just want to set people at ease because sometimes people can be a little leery of [talking about HIV].” This March 30th was an especially busy time for barbershops all over with folks lining up to get their hair cut and beards trimmed in anticipation of Easter Sunday. According to Sean Thomas of Sean’s House of Masters, “It’s the best
weekend. This is the time when you are going to be able to capture people at the barbershop who don’t usually go to the doctor.” This is especially important as, according to the CDC, 13% of people living in Western New York who are HIV infected have not been tested and do not know their HIV status .
According to the New York State Department of Health, within Erie County there was a 20% increase in new diagnoses of HIV in 2015 compared to years 2011 through 2014. Preliminary data shows 2016 rates of new diagnoses are on par with 2015 levels; while neighboring counties remain stable . According to the Erie County Department of Health, there is also an increase in cases of gonorrhea, Chlamydia and syphilis, with the bulk of the increase happening to adolescents and young adults . This was truly a community event, with providers from multiple agencies on hand. HIV testers and outreach workers from Evergreen Health, MOCHA, Kaleida Health Youth Link, Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York, and Erie County Department of Health fanned out to the three barbershops and walked the surrounding communities to
distribute condoms in the neighborhoods. Confidential and anonymous HIV testing (where you don’t give your name) was available. As Jason Maclin from Chopafellaz stated, “The best form of giving is to give anonymously” so that people can accept the assistance on their terms. In addition to the HIV epidemic, these communities have also been hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis, so the generosity of the barbershop owners was especially timely and meaningful. “There is strength in numbers. The more we work together, the more we all have” says Maclin about collaborating with agencies and other barbershops to better the neighborhood. As organizations are more engaged with community resources and beacons, they can be more integrated into the social fabric and change within a neighborhood. In addition to HIV testing, providers were able to share information about two innovative biomedical interventions to help end HIV. PrEP, or Pre Exposure Prophylaxis, is a once a day pill approved by the FDA that can drastically reduce a person’s risk of getting HIV if taken as prescribed by a doctor. PrEP can be started any time, but takes at least 21 days to become the most effective. PEP,
Introducing Project 103
or Post Exposure Prophylaxis, is a way to prevent HIV infection if someone feels like they were exposed to HIV, like having sex with someone without knowing their HIV status. If a person has a recent exposure to HIV or been sexually assaulted, PEP can be obtained in an emergency room or from a PEP provider like ECMC, Evergreen Health, or Trillium Health. If someone is seeking PEP, they should go as soon as possible to one of these providers and at least within 72 hours.
This testing and information event was organized by the WNY Ending the Epidemic Committee (ETE). The Western New York ETE committee is part of the larger state-wide ETE initiative to increase access to PrEP and PEP, increase access to HIV testing, and help those living with HIV to remain in care. “The goal is to reduce the number of new HIV infections to just 750 [from an estimated 3,000] by the end of 2020 and achieve the first ever decrease in HIV prevalence in New York State .” For more information about Ending the Epidemic in Western New York or for information about upcoming events, visit the following website: https:// endhivwny.com/
by Cindy Crabb
The White House announced plans last week to allow heath care providers and insurers to discriminate against transgender people by refusing services or denying coverage for medically necessary care. Federal district judge in Fort Worth, Texas, Judge Reed O’Connor has declared sex-discrimination does not include trans-discrimination and has halted the enforcement of the Affordable Care Act nondiscrimination protections for transgender patients. Yet even before these attacks, federal prisoners in Texas and in many states across the country have been routinely denied even the most basic right – a name change that corresponds with their gender. For example, Section 45.103 of the Texas Family Code contains a stipulation that prevents anyone in Texas with a felony conviction from changing their legal name until no less than two years after discharge and completion of all terms of their sentence. Marius Mason is a transgender man and earth-liberation activist sentenced in 2009 and serving a 21-year sentence for a 1999 arson to a University of Michigan, Monsanto backed laboratory that was conducting research on genetically modified organisms. Mason is incarcerated at FMC Carswell, a federal women’s prison in Fort Worth. He, along with his lawyer Moira Meltzer-Cohen, won a three year fight for the right to hormonal medical transition in 2016, setting a precedent for federal prisoners nationwide, but have still been unable to enact a name change. Mason is currently forced to use his legal female name, and will have to until 2030 unless Section 45.103 is overturned. Mason describes harassment and abuse in the system,
belittlement, taunting and bullying by both guards and other inmates. “It causes me great stress and allows peers here who are mocking of my transgender identity a laugh at my expense every time I use the phone …or am called over the intercom of the prison,” noted Mason in a phone conversation I had with him. Attorney Meltzer-Cohen, the Austin Community Law Center and the Texasbased Trans Pride Initiative have initiated a legal challenge alleging Section 103 imperils transgender inmates and may violate constitutional rights. “I believe the statute raises grave constitutional concerns on a number of fronts,” commented attorney Meltzer-Cohen. Nell Gaither, President of Texas-based Trans Pride Initiative, mentioned Section 103 as a broad barrier to attempting a name correction. The process for changing ones name while in prison vary from state to state. In Massachusetts, one can file in family court without prison approval. In New York, an incarcerated person must acquire an original birth certificate, but since they are not allowed to keep their birth certificates while incarcerated they must go through a lengthy and expensive request and filing process that, according to the Silvia Rivera Law Project, has been known to take years to complete. It is well documented that allowing trans people to change their name is a protective factor, decreasing suicidality and decreasing incidents of discrimination and violence against them. “Delay of document changes may have a deleterious impact on a patient’s social integration and personal safety” according to World Professional Association for Transgender
Health, (WPATH) an international, interdisciplinary, professional association devoted to the understanding and treatment of individuals with Gender Dysphoria. WPATH has developed widely recognized standards of care standards that are based on credible scientific evidence published in peerreviewed medical literature. Allowing legal name change for incarcerated people who are transgender should be a priority of the Bureau of Prisons, who admit by their own sexual victimization study that one-third of trans prisoners have experienced sexual violence while in prison, a statistic 10 times higher than for the general prison population. Gaither, in a press release regarding the Texas legal challenge dubbed project103, describes the Texas Family Code section 45.103 as creating “cruel and unnecessary barriers in the way of gaining stability on release.” Trans people with ID’s that do not correspond with their gender face multiple negative barriers as outlined by the 2016 National Transgender Discrimination Survey – from denial of employment, housing and public benefits to harassment and physical violence. Gaither suggests “We need to eliminate barriers for trans persons trying to survive, not make issues harder by tacking on additional punishment.” Another plaintiff in the Texas case, Teresa DeBarbarac, describes the difficulty she can foresee with paperwork – she has completed vocational training while in prison through Texarkana College, but the graduation certificate is in her legal name. This will cause problems when she is released and is eventually able to
enact a legal name change. In a statement released by Project 103, DeBarbarac said, “It’s a struggle and an embarrassment to have to use a name that is not my identity. . . . It creates stress, depression and despondence to struggle with this.” Project 103 means DeBarbarac, Mason and other Texas trans prisoners will no longer be struggling alone. For more information, or to support Project 103 and their legal efforts visit 103.tpride.org. To find out more about Marius Mason visit supportmariusmason.org. Cindy Crabb is a Licensed Clinical Counselor. She is the author of the book Encyclopedia of Doris and the editor of Learning Good Consent. Her essays have appeared in Teen Vogue, Maximum Rock and Roll, and the Utne Reader.
LOOP - MAY 2018
archives: Reflections of EMMA by Adrienne C. Hill Lisa Lisa Albrecht does not Peggy remember when or how Becoming a EMMA was founded. member of When she joined the EMMA took bookstore’s volunteer commitment. collective in 1978, Joining meant the store had been not only staffing active for several years. the store for at She knew, through least one 4-hour the establishment’s shift per week, oral history which but participating passed from member in a staff to member, that the meeting every store was named after Sunday evening. a number of real and The collective fictional women: believed that Madame Bovary, how they ran the Emma Woodhouse store was just from the Jane Austen as important as novel, and anarchist whether they ran feminist Emma it at all, and they Goldman. used a process for At the time, EMMA conducting their had a storefront on the meetings that corner of Greenfield was inspired by and Main Streets, Maoist practices. which is remembered This process with mixed emotions. involved letting a One former member of different member the bookstore called it chair the meeting “rat-infested.” But Lisa each week, asking remembers the store, each member to and its surrounding “check in” about neighborhood, as a their emotional blossoming center of state before Collective members hanging out at the Elmwood store, c. 1983. From left: Anne Montes, Penny beginning Buffalo’s leftist culture the (last name unknown), Adrienne Roy, and (laying down) Peggy Chinn. Photo courtesy Peggy Chinn. business of each in the 1970s. EMMA shared a building with the collectively-owned Greenfield Street Restaurant, and enjoyed positive relations with Talking Leaves Books, meeting, and striving to reach consensus on as many questions as possible. further up on Main. Many members found these weekly meetings grueling. Although they lasted 3 to 4 hours on Like many people over the years, Lisa’s first experience with EMMA was as a resource center average, at times they could go on even longer. “We’d always have a potluck around 4:30, 5:00,” more so than as a bookstore. A graduate of UB, she was returning to the city after a brief recalls Anne Montes. “But you might not get home until 1 in the morning, because one person interlude teaching high school English in rural northern New York. “When I came back, wouldn’t like one of the decisions.” Even members who believed in the ideology behind the I had to find a place to live,” she remembers. “My first entry [into EMMA] was to go in meeting practices found them hard to swallow at times: “You know, if the whole Congress there — and I went in really timidly, because I wasn’t radical by any means — to look at the started using it, we would have a whole different world,” said Linda Rader, EMMA’s former apartment listings. They had a loose-leaf notebook.” accountant. “But it was politically correct, and it drove me crazy because it took so long.” Lisa came to EMMA to look at their apartment listings, but she stayed for the lesbians. As For Peggy Chinn, though, learning how to run a feminist venture collectively was a lifeshe deepened her involvement with EMMA, however, she began to appreciate its role as a changing experience. Even the grueling nature of collective meetings seemed to her like a bookstore, as well. Another former collective member, Peggy Chinn, explains that feminists feature rather than a bug, because it allowed less committed members to filter themselves out. in the 1970s and ‘80s needed feminist bookstores because they could not gain access to “If new members couldn’t keep it up, or they couldn’t tolerate the process, they would drift feminist books any other way. “The mainstream bookstores were not carrying any feminist away. I don’t think we ever just outright asked somebody to leave. People pretty much made literature, and it was really hard for feminist writers to be published,” she says. “Even the their own decisions.” university bookstore wouldn’t carry self-published things, or things that were published by Peggy moved to Buffalo in the fall of 1980 to join the UB nursing faculty, joining the EMMA small feminist presses.” collective shortly after her move. Until she moved to Oakland in 1990, Peggy remained Eventually, Lisa says, she became, “…the link in the bookstore, connected to the feminist steadfastly involved with EMMA, seeing the store through its move to 168 Elmwood Street, national writing movement.” Through her work at EMMA, Lisa befriended feminist its final destination, in 1983; and the eventual dissolution of the EMMA collective in 1986. publishers and famous feminist authors such as Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, and Barbara Inspired by what she was learning at EMMA meetings, Peggy began using the store’s meeting Smith. Her crowning achievement at the store was the creation of an event called Voices process in the Feminism and Nursing elective class. She saw in the process a new organizational of Women Writing, which invited local writers to perform alongside nationally renowned norm to teach to medical institutions: “As nurses, we felt like most group interactions were so feminists, including Rich, Lorde, Smith, and Gloria Anzaldúa. damaging to people. And so, we shared it with people in nursing, because we really believed Although the event was a huge success, it also illustrated some of EMMA’s limitations. While in its potential for healthy group processes. And it started to be used a lot in nursing circles.” the store attracted women from a mixture of sexualities, ages, and class backgrounds, it was In order to teach EMMA’s meeting practices to nurses and the world at large, Peggy and her staffed exclusively by white women. And while the women of EMMA made efforts to stock partner, the late Charlene Eldridge Wheeler, wrote Peace and Power, a handbook codifying books by women of all races, and to book diverse authors at all of their events, their antiracist the meeting process, and created a small feminist press, Margaretdaughters, to distribute it. activism did not extend to recruiting volunteers from all backgrounds. Now retired from the professorship, Peggy continues to teach the Peace and Power process to The EMMA collective worked with Sharon Jordan Holley of Harambee Books and Crafts, groups, both in person and through her website, Peace and Power Blog. an Afrocentric bookstore on Buffalo’s East Side, to create Voices of Women Writing, but Adrienne Albrecht thinks that fear and distrust may have prevented those alliances from deepening. “We weren’t clear, as white lesbians, how to be out in a Black world, where we didn’t know Arguably, EMMA’s most important contribution to the local community was to give women Black lesbians,” she says. “We were careful about how we came out, because we didn’t know questioning their sexuality a chance to explore their desires and form relationships. For many, including Lisa and Linda, EMMA was the first place they ever openly declared their how that was going to go over, or whether folks were going to be homophobic.” lesbianism. Still others found love with other members of the collective. And in some cases, Lisa learned from her early mistakes, and she maintained lifelong friendships with the famous EMMA was a nonjudgmental space for women to practice and pursue non-monogamous lesbian writers she met through her work at EMMA. Her doctoral dissertation was based on relationships. interviews with these writers, and in 2003, she co-edited the anthology Sing, Whisper, Shout, For Adrienne Roy, EMMA was a place for her to explore her interest in a different kind Pray! at the behest of Barbara Smith. of relationship: lesbian motherhood. While many collective members had children from Now a professor emerita of the University of Minnesota’s School of Social Work, she says, “I prior heterosexual relationships, Adrienne recalls the presence of a few women, who she calls always felt connected to something national at EMMA because of the bookstore network.” “bold” and “avant-garde,” who either adopted children or chose to became pregnant and raise At a time when few national bookstore chains existed, and when those that did would not children with their partners. carry feminist books, the feminist movement was the sum of the local feminist movements One particular relationship sticks in her head—a couple whose names she doesn’t remember; that kept it going. who she refers to only as the blonde and the redhead. “The redhead was trying to get pregnant. Young feminists today know who writers like Audre Lorde are because of small local stores So, she had this guy that, whenever she was ovulating, she’d get up from the collective meeting. like EMMA, who carried their books, invited them to speak, and in some cases, built lasting She’d say, ‘I’m ovulating!’ And she’d go find him. People did what they had to do to get what friendships. 6
LOOP - MAY 2018
Book Reviews By Terri Schlichenmeyer
Parents can be so weird.
Emma promotional button, early 1980s. Photo by Adrienne C. Hill; button provided by Anne Montes
(continued from previous page) they wanted to get, you know?” Adrienne watched the adopting couples and single pregnant women with interest, and credits the mothers of EMMA with helping her make her own decision to adopt. When asked whether collective members exchanged information about the rights of lesbian mothers, though, she laughs. “No, it wasn’t even a thing yet,” she explains. “I just came out knowing I was on the margin. There were no laws to protect me. I had to lie about all kinds of stuff, and I felt justified about lying because I knew that the society was wrong, and I really was an okay person, and I deserved x, y, and z. So, whatever I had to do to get what everyone else had, I would do it.” If EMMA was not yet a place where lesbians could learn about their rights, it was a place where they could lend one another the bravery to follow their desires, whether the larger society acknowledged their rights to those desires or not.
Robbie Not everyone who had a life-changing encounter with EMMA chose to join the collective. Today, Robbie Butler is one of the movers and shakers of Buffalo’s lesbian community: she co-chaired the city’s first Dyke March, co-led the Buffalo Gay and Lesbian Community Network, and is the former executive director of Squeaky Wheel. In the early 1980s, however, she was a closeted, married lesbian farmer living in rural Niagara County. “I was probably 31, and I got to the point where I could no longer subdue the — for want of a better way to put it — lesbian voices in my head,” she recalls. “I was bound and determined to meet others. And so, how do you do that? At the time, I was living out on a farm in Barker with two children, and a husband who was an over-the-road truck driver. Which was my salvation, because he was gone for long, long stretches of time. And I was alone on the farm with the kids, and the horses, and the goats, and the chickens, and the pigs.” Robbie was alerted to the existence of EMMA by her therapist, who encouraged her to go there to meet lesbians. Adrienne recalls the day Robbie walked into the store: “Nobody else was in the store, and a woman walked in, and she’s just looking around at the books, and dawdling and loitering. I started to be a little suspicious of her. And then, she left. A few minutes later, she came back. ‘All right.’ She came right up to the desk. ‘I’m just going to say it: how do you meet women in this town?’” Adrienne drew Robbie a map of Buffalo’s lesbian bars. It took a couple more weeks for Robbie to draw up her courage, but eventually she made her way to M.C. Compton’s, where none other than Adrienne was waiting at the bar for her. For women like Robbie, it wasn’t necessarily EMMA’s function as a bookstore that helped them, but their ability to provide lesbians with other resources and forms of knowledge, that helped them make their way in the world. Anne Anne Montes is a retired nurse from Eden who was married for 28 years before she joined the EMMA collective. When asked how she came to EMMA, she jokes, “My husband died, and I ran into this mangy crew, and they entranced me.” In more precise terms, Anne developed an interest in EMMA while a student in Peggy Chinn’s Feminism and Nursing class, joining the collective in 1983. Although sometimes exhausted by the meetings, she threw herself into the day-to-day work of the bookstore. While there, she met a poet named Bonnie, with whom she fell in love and shared 15 years before Bonnie’s eventual death of Alzheimer’s disease. Three years after Anne joined EMMA, the collective began to dissolve. “Peggy and Charlene were very concerned, because they couldn’t get enough people to volunteer to keep the store open on a regular basis,” Anne explains. “I mean, one day, it would be noon to 4, and another day, it would be 10 to 2. So, people never knew what to expect, and they didn’t want to continue. They were burned out.” Anne felt devastated at the prospect of EMMA closing, and began to look at the possibility of keeping the store alive as a privately-owned business. “I just didn’t want it to close,” she says. “I was thrilled that it even existed. And I thought, ‘You can do this now. You don’t have a little kid. You don’t have any other urgent job.’ Digging into a small inheritance she had put away, she bought the store, and hired two employees to help her staff the store on a part-time basis. For the six years that EMMA persisted as a private business, Anne never ran the store as a profit-making venture. “Pretty much, the store balanced what it spent and what it took in,” she recalls. As the 1980s gave way to the ‘90s, however, the rise of national chain bookstores made it difficult for Anne to break even. Anne opines that the rise of these stores also made feminist bookstores less necessary. “When I closed the store, one of the main reasons was, by this time, you could go to Barnes and Noble and buy any of these books. But not at the time EMMA started. At that time, no one was celebrating women writers, or knew the history.” Anne permanently closed down the store in the spring of 1992. But she fondly recalls her time at EMMA, and as part of the street life of Elmwood Village: “You know, I just enjoyed and watched the different things, the same old people, the panhandlers, the everything. It was so important to me. When I think, I put six years into it, and I really loved it. But there came a time when I knew, okay, it’s over. And changing comes.”
Take your dad, for instance: he’s got hobbies that defy logic and he’s obsessed with them. Your mom, well, let’s not go there, except to say that if you became her mini-me, she’d be fine with that. Irritating, yes, but what are you gonna do? As in the new book, Titanic Summer by Russell J. Sanders, whatever floats their boats. “Your mom and I have some news.”
Those are words that no twelve-year-old boy wants to hear, but Jake Hardy heard them and everything in between: his parents were getting a divorce.
That was four years ago, and Jake survived, more-or-less. He wasn’t happy when his dad moved from Houston to Philly. He wasn’t happy that his mom got all churchy, either, but he knew that his parents both loved him. He wasn’t sure, though, how they’d feel if they knew that he was gay. Jake had, in fact, just come to that realization himself in the past year or so but he wasn’t sure where to go with it. His school was conservative Christian and homosexuality was forbidden in the school code. Jake couldn’t risk being thrown off the basketball team, so he hid his physical desires. He now had the whole summer to think about everything, and make some decisions. Fortunately, he’d do that while hanging out with his dad in Philadelphia .
Unfortunately, his dad had other plans: he was a history buff, and was seriously obsessed with the Titanic. He’d watched the movie hundreds of times and, to Jake’s dismay, had scheduled a ten-day father-son trip to Halifax , Nova Scotia That’s where some of the Titanic’s dead were buried.
That’s also where gay-boy Jake learned that his dad was gay, too.
Which was just great, because Dad could’ve been less-secretive and that would’ve helped Jake deal… but no. Instead, Jake got secrets and omissions from both his parents, which made him angry and his bestie offered no sympathy. He found a new friend, but even thatwas awful. Was pretending not to be gay the easiest way to live? Though it tends to be somewhat overly-long and overwrought, Titanic Summer is overall better than average.
Part of that may be because author Russell J. Sanders puts authentic teen language into the mouth of his main character. Sanders’ Jake speaks in the style and manner you’d expect from an attitudinal sixteen-year-old boy who’s trying to please everyone; that he fails, and sometimes becomes unlikeable, only enhances his realism. That authenticism affects the story itself, but in one distracting way: the plot is enough to keep a reader’s attention, but it’s also too long and contains inconsequential details, as if every second of the titular summer needs recording. A few editorial snips would have been a lifesaver.
Even so, that’s minor compared to the waves of enjoyment you’ll get from this story, whether you’re 13-to-17-years-old, or an adult who’s well past those years. Readers craving a comingof-age novel will find Titanic Summer to be a boatload of goodness.
Oops, you overslept, got caught in traffic, the elevator was slow. Phone lines were down, email was down. You forgot, and you’re late, sorry. Or, as in the new book Would You Rather? by Katie Heaney, your understanding was just a bit delayed. Where do you go when you’re looking for love?
For Katie Heaney, it was, well, pretty much anywhere. She’d always wanted a boyfriend and she’d had lots of crushes in her life but she was never meaningfully kissed. At age twenty-one, she went to Madrid for a semester with the hopes of meeting someone, but there were only seven men in the group of a hundred students. In Spain, though, after binge-streaming The L Word and falling for Shane, she began to think that maybe she might be a lesbian. Musing, she messaged her best friend, who let Heaney talk it out and decide that there was a big MAYBE involved.
Even so, she never saw herself with a girlfriend. She grew up in the cold of Minnesota, had planned on spending the rest of her life close to home, and moved into an apartment near Minneapolis with her straight best friend but that was too cozy-comfy. Heaney on-and-off flirted with the possibly being gay and she met a woman who was, no question, lesbian, which made her decide to shake herself out of her complacency. She visited New York, and then moved there.
Being in The Big Apple was a big deal, but Heaney remained frustratingly dateless. By age twenty-four, everyone she knew had dated and she began blogging about it, she wrote a book, and she noticed that that affected the way men acted toward her. Four years later, her “attraction to men was just… gone” and picturing herself with a woman came “pretty easily,” which was all it seemed to take: shortly thereafter, Heaney met Lydia online, and her almost-thirty-year dating desert became an oasis. She not only imagined herself with a woman, she was with a woman and nothing felt more right. And now, says Heaney, “I am living with the best roommate I have ever had.”
Sometimes funny, sometimes selfdepreciatingly cringe-worthy, Would You Rather? is a refreshing change over the I’veknown-since-I-was-a-child LGBTQ memoirs. Readers may also notice that it’s a bit overboard. Author Katie Heaney writes of her journey with a charming awkwardness that endears her to any reader who’s ever felt as though the different drummer they’re marching to is actually playing the bongos: same beat, different crowd.
This book will resonate with all who feel left behind in a world where peers are hooked up solid, and frustration mixes with indecisiveness mixes with self-questioning. Once readers have gotten to the happy not-quite-ending, though, Heaney continues to examine her situation which, while it doesn’t completely ruin the books’ earlier allure, bruises the story somewhat. Still, this book is worthy, if nothing but for its unique coming-out POV. For that, Would You Rather? fits perfectly for memoir-lovers, Heaney fans, and those who bloom late. LOOP - MAY 2018
ear worms: Lake Street Dive gets seriously freed up by Christopher John Treacy “Would you be my human shield?” asks Lake Street Dive, collectively, during a refrain in the opening track of their new full length, Free Yourself Up (Nonesuch, May 4), entitled “Baby Don’t Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts.” It’s a moment that surmises the disc’s tone, which, in spots, is dire. Indeed, Free Yourself Up tackles some dark issues, but the tough sentiments are dressed up in buoyant soul-pop tunes that’ll have you swaddled in retro-heaven right out of the starting gate. In this case, the song reads like a sorry-not-sorry note to someone whose company is being used as a distraction from the socio-political shit-show raging just a few keystrokes away, and our narrator is on the take. But rather than apologizing and retreating, she ups the ante, asking for a human shield — “…hold you up so I don’t feel anything?” — while an infectious amalgam of 70s AM-radio goodness churns behind. It’s both hilarious and alarming, not unlike what was going on around the country during the making of this, the once-Boston-based quartet’s fourth full length album, which amounts to a giant leap forward in their search for that tricky balance between humorous camp and something significantly more serious. The least obvious change (and perhaps of the highest impact, sound wise) is the addition of touring keyboardist Akie Bermiss as a studio player. Bermiss colors in spaces that would otherwise be left blank (or get filled, perhaps, less effectively), but he does so in an unobtrusive way that blends seamlessly with the quartet’s impressively organic sound– his presence actually frees up the band, as the title implies, to focus on their individual roles
LOOP - MAY 2018
(Mike Calabrese on drums, lead vocals by Rachael Price, Bridget Kearney on bass, and Mike “McDuck” Olson on guitar and trumpet).
For the first time in LSD’s history, the entire collection is a series on inter-band collaborations, so the sentiments expressed don’t belong to any one person, though it’s easy to pin them all on Price as the designated mouthpiece – and what a mouthpiece she is, with a voice that soars and soothes like whipped honey-butter. Price is the messenger for these bold and unapologetic new songs, copping attitudes that feel entirely justified… the self-righteousness, the justified anger and the gooey-soul delivery — all highly addictive. On the lead single “Good Kisser,” our protagonist wants to be sure due credit is given when a one-night-stand divulges the gory details to his buddies; when Price wails “Tell ‘em I’m a good kisser!” at the chorus, it’s not a request so much as a demand, but there’s still humor in referencing the ‘desperate whisper,’ which apparently precipitated the whole mess.
There’s not even the slightest hint of filler to be found during Free Yourself Up’s 43 minutes, and it’s such a pleasurable ride, consecutive listens come easily. The understated bop and simmering rage of “Shame Shame Shame,” (sadly, no, not the Shirley & Co. early disco classic) wields a creeper hook, while “Red Light Kisses” pairs a James Brown worthy groove with a tale about someone you can tell is cheating just by the way they lock lips – cleverly surmising something many of us have felt but couldn’t articulate as well. On the churning rocker “Dude,” gender roles get some airtime (and the Biden/Obama bromance gets a drive-by mention), while the gorgeous ballad “I Can Change” stands as a reminder that it’s never too late to strive for higher ideals when faced with our own shortcomings. And for anyone that’s been following along, a familiar, egomaniacal putz named Bobby (could it be Bobby Tanqueray?) makes an appearance in “Doesn’t Even Matter Now.” Self-produced with some help from engineer Dan Knobler, Free Yourself Up was recorded in Knobler’s Goosehead Palace studio – essentially a garage space where the band had originally intended just to cut some demos but ended up utilizing for the duration. They sent the finished tracks to mixer Joe Visciano in Brooklyn and the results speak for themselves — the album sounds like it could’ve been recorded in some seriously fancy digs. Despite being a reaction to the “Hard times, hard times” articulated in the album’s opening lines, Free Yourself Up is irresistible. On it, Lake Street Dive delivers universal truths concealed in dark modern storylines that will resonate forever – as will the soulpacked soundtrack, rife with ear candy that doesn’t lose its flavor too quickly. This is the sound of a confident band at the top of its game. Whatever happens from here on out is all gravy.