FREE VOLUME THIRTEEN, ISSUE ONE JANUARY 8 - 21, 2014
Utah Marriages Halted 03 Shake-Up in Corey Johnson’s Team 04
Sean Strub’s Insightful Scorekeeping 06 Rob Moretti’s Look at Truth, Betrayal 13
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January 8, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
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RESET: Activists Demand
New Health Commissioner Consensus that City Hall AIDS reset means Farley must go
Defiant NYS town clerk keeps issuing only opposite-sex licenses
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| January 8, 2014
Supreme Court Blocks Utah Marriages Pending Appeal
n the morning of January 6, the US Supreme Court, in a brief order, issued a stay blocking enforcement of the December 20 ruling by US District Judge Robert Shelby giving same-sex couples in Utah the right to marry. The State of Utah is currently appealing Shelby’s decision at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. “The application for stay presented to Justice [Sonia] Sotomayor and by her referred to the Court is granted,” the order read. “The permanent injunction issued by the United States District Court for the District of Utah… is stayed pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.” This said everything and, yet, at the same time left many questions unanswered. First, Sotomayor, rather than deciding the issue on her own — as she had authority to do as the justice who handles such stay motions for the 10th Circuit — referred Utah’s application to the full court, as most observers expected her to do. Her decision on that score really needs no explanation, given the controversial nature of the issue before her. Second, the full court granted the application, but as is its normal practice, did not provide explanation as to how the State of Utah met the criteria the court applies in this type of situation — where on a constitutional question, the Supreme Court is asked to stay a decision when both the trial court and the court of appeals have denied the very same application. In cases where the Supreme Court is not unanimous on a stay application, there is occasionally a dissenting opinion by one or more of the justices, which can shed some light on the discussion, if any, among the justices. Here, there is no indication of that. As a result, one can at best only speculate about the rationale for the court’s action. In my view, had the court applied the legal standards previously employed, it would have denied Utah the stay it sought. In their January 3 memorandum opposing the state’s application, the plaintiffs made a persuasive argument that the Supreme Court typically imposes a very high burden on a party requesting a stay under such circumstances. It’s not enough to show that the state might win its appeal. It must demonstrate that the court of appeals’ rejection of its request was “demonstrably wrong.” The plaintiffs also devoted a large part of their memorandum to showing how the district court’s decision was consistent with the developing case law under the
14th Amendment, and thus likely to be upheld on appeal by the 10th Circuit. But the high court is also influenced by realpolitik, which in my assessment is why the stay was granted. Is anybody surprised that it was this standard that governed the court’s decision? In understanding the court’s order, it is worth considering a discussion that took place on January 5 at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools in New York. One prominent legal scholar argued that Edie Windsor’s victory in last summer’s DOMA case did not signal a readiness by the court to embrace marriage equality as a 14th Amendment equal protection requirement imposed on the states. Even though Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion spoke a lot about the federal government’s obligation to respect the dignity of same-sex married couples by not discriminating against them in determining federal rights and obligations, this scholar emphasized that the court spoke of that dignity as something conferred by the state when it opened up marriage to same-sex couples. Kennedy’s opinion made several references to the traditional role of the state in defining marriage. If this perspective — drawn from a close reading of Kennedy’s decision by a legal scholar politically disposed to support marriage equality — accurately describes the limits of his support for the issue, then perhaps the court concluded that the State of Utah had shown that its
Justice Anthony Kennedy’s views on marriage equality may have been key to the stay issued by the high court.
chances of prevailing on the merits are strong enough to support staying Judge Shelby’s December decision pending a final appellate ruling. The important and immediate question the court’s order does not address is the status of the roughly 1,000 samesex marriages licensed and performed in Utah between December 20 and January 3. Are they presumed to be valid and entitled to be treated as valid by the federal, state, and local governments during this interim period of the appeal? This is a question with significant practical implications since those couples who married by December 31 need to know which tax status they should use
— single or married — in filing federal and state income tax returns and, possibly, estate tax returns, in the event of a spouse’s death. Over the next several months while the 10th Circuit considers Utah’s appeal of Shelby’s ruling, questions will also arise over whether these couples will be treated as married by the federal and state governments on a host of other matters, including Social Security survivor benefits and Family and Medical Leave Act entitlements. Republican Governor Gary Herbert, an opponent of marriage equality, earlier advised state agencies that same-sex marriages that took place beginning on December 20 should be fully recognized on matters such as state employee spousal benefits. Whether that policy continues now that a stay has been issued needs to be clarified quickly. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said the state is reviewing these questions. The Obama administration must similarly make clear how the federal government intends to treat the same-same marriages that took place in Utah in late December and the first few days of January. The Justice Department is examining the situation. The status of those marriages in the event Shelby’s order is overturned will also be a critical question to be resolved. Arthur S. Leonard is a professor at New York Law School and for three decades has edited Lesbian/ Gay Law Notes.
BISHOP SAYS POPE FRANCIS “SHOCKED” AT IDEA OF GAY ADOPTION
BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT
Responding to state’s motion, referred to all seven justices by Sotomayor, stay granted while 10th Circuit takes up case
Pope Francis waves to crowds from his Vatican balcony this past Christmas Day.
Pope Francis, recently named as the Advocate’s Person of the Year, was “shocked” at the thought of gay and lesbian couples adopting children, according to Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta. The Daily Telegraph of London reported that Scicluna, in an interview with the Times of Malta, said, “We discussed many aspects… and when I raised the issue that’s worrying me as a bishop [the right of same-sex couples to adopt] he encouraged me to speak out.” Francis, the bishop told the newspaper, was “shocked” to learn that a civil union bill under consideration in Malta would allow same-sex couples the right to adopt children. The Telegraph noted that, as Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Francis had opposed adoption by same-sex couples and called
gay marriage “the devil’s attack on God’s plan.” At the time Argentina was debating its marriage equality law, Bergoglio urged his fellow bishops to support a civil union alternative, a choice some of the other bishops found unpalatable. Scicluna later told Avvenire, a Catholic newspaper in Italy, that he alerted Francis that supporters of the civil union bill were using the pope’s conciliatory posture toward gay people in advancing the measure. “I told him that the promoters [of the bill] quote his words: ‘If a person is gay and seek the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge?,’ but they don’t quote his words from 2010 when he was still cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires,” Scicluna told the newspaper. “The pope repeated the phrase of his letter of 2010: ‘It's an anthropological regression.’” — Paul Schindler
January 8, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
Defiant NYS Town Clerk Keeps Issuing Only Opposite-Sex Licenses BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
New York town clerk who in 2011 said she would no longer sign any marriage licenses because her religious beliefs barred her from signing them for same-sex couples violated her pledge when she signed marriage licenses for two heterosexual couples in 2012. “I can actually say that I am sorry that I had to do that and I had to violate my own rule,” Rose Marie Belforti, the Ledyard town clerk, told Gay City News in a January 3 phone interview. In August of 2011, just over one month after same-sex couples began marrying in New York, Belforti refused to issue a marriage license to a lesbian couple, citing her religious beliefs. In the fall of that year, Belforti and Ledyard’s Republican-controlled town council agreed that she would no longer issue any marriage licenses and a part-time deputy clerk would handle that responsibility by appointment only. In one instance, the couple needed the license quickly, Belforti said. She offered no explanation for issuing the second marriage license.
“I do make every effort to do what I said I was going to do,” Belforti said. “I was in an expedited situation and I did it for them… I didn’t feel good about that either.” In 2011, 2012, and 2013, Ledyard issued 20 marriage licenses, according to state health department records. The deputy clerk signed 15 of those, with one issued in 2013 to a same-sex couple, and Belforti signed the remaining five, though three were issued before she denied a license to the lesbian couple. By signing the two licenses in 2012, Belforti now looks like she is refusing to sign marriage licenses only for same-sex couples, an act that may violate state law. Belforti’s deal with her town council, which was probably not legally binding, was unusual. Ledyard never before had a deputy clerk post — “I do all the work myself and I rarely hire a deputy,” she told the council at the time — and the new position allowed Belforti to keep her job, but not perform part of her job. Belforti was assisted by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a right-wing legal group formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund. In 2011, two other New York town
Despite pledge to stand down from marriage duties, Ledyard’s Rose Marie Belforti cooperated with heterosexual couples
Ledyard Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti.
clerks who also had religious objections to same-sex unions resigned their positions rather than sign marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples. A third clerk stopped presiding over all marriages, but still signed the licenses. There are more than 930 town clerks in New York. “This essentially shows why the arrangement is problematic in the first place,” said Drew Courtney, spokesman for the People For the American Way Foundation (PFAW). “Elected offi-
cials cannot pick and choose which laws they enforce. This is about applying the law equally to all people. Every citizen has a right to his or her beliefs and that includes Rose Marie Belforti, but she signed up to do a job and she has to do it. If she doesn’t want to do it, she should resign.” The civil rights group represented the couple, Katie Carmichael and Deirdre DiBiaggio, after they were refused the license. When they applied for the license, they were accompanied by Arthur J. Bellinzoni, a PFAW board member. “Fundamentally, this is about applying the law equally,” Courtney said. “By signing marriage licenses for some and not for others, that principle is being violated.” Following the 2011 uproar, Belforti faced Ed Easter, a write-in candidate, in her reelection bid that year and won with 314 votes to Easter’s 226. In 2013, she had no opponent when she again faced the voters. Neither State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office nor Cayuga County District Attorney Jon E. Budelman’s office provided comment in response to the newspaper’s inquiry.
IN JOHNSON’S COUNCIL OFFICE, LEFRANCOIS IN, JORDAN OUT
Corey Johnson, far left, was sworn in on December 27 as two of his top aides, Louis Cholden-Brown, center, and R.J. Jordan, looked on.
In a surprising turn of events, two days after taking office as the new city councilman for the Third District, Corey Johnson named Jeffrey LeFrancois as his chief of staff. It had previously been widely thought that R.J. Jordan, his campaign manager, already had the job nailed down. LeFrancois was West Side Assemblyman Dick Gottfried’s deputy chief of staff for five
years, also serving as his community liaison and LGBT liaison. Political observers got news of the appointment when, slightly after noon on January 3, Gottfried, who was among the elected officials whose endorsements Johnson touted in his primary contest with Yetta Kurland, tweeted out: “Congrats to @ jlef423 Jeffrey LeFrancois, my former Deputy COS
— Councilmember @CoreyinNYC’s new COS. Great news for all of us!” Johnson, after his election in November as one of three new out gay councilmen — all of them running as progressive agents of change — had publicly stated, at venues including a meeting of the Village Independent Democrats, that he intended to name Jordan his head staffer. That was clearly Jordan’s expectation, as well. He posted that news on Facebook and had recently been signing emails as “chief of staff.” In a telephone interview after news of LeFrancois’ appointment emerged, Johnson said he originally thought Jordan would fill the slot. “That was the plan,” he said. “[But] R.J. told me he wanted to pursue other opportunities. That’s the end of it. There’s nothing negative about this.” Jordan, the new councilman said, who pursue an acting career, something for which he studied at NYU. Johnson had nothing but praise for Jordan, saying, “I wouldn’t have been elected without him, and I hold him in high regard,” he said. “I respect him and people in the community respect him. I consider R.J. to be the best campaign manager on a local level in the entire city.” In response to a request for comment, Jordan emailed a succinct statement: “I am proud of my work on Corey’s campaign for City Council. I have decided to go back to school and pursue other opportunities. I believe Corey will be an outstanding coun-
cilmember and I wish him the best.” Johnson also offered effusive praise for the man who has taken the chief of staff post. “I’m thrilled about Jeffrey — he’s a rock star in the community.” Apart from running Johnson’s successful Democratic primary race — which was a bitter, hard fought contest — Jordan, who previously worked in catering, lacks political experience. LeFrancois, on the other hand, is a seasoned political aide, well known in the community for his work for Gottfried. As the chair of Community Board 4 in recent years, Johnson frequently worked with LeFrancois on community issues. Wendi Paster, Gottfried’s longtime chief of staff, had high praise for her former colleague LeFrancois. “He’ll be terrific for Corey,” she said, “because he knows the district and the community very well. He knows city government very well... Everyone who knows Jeffrey engages very well with him — he’s very smart, he’s personable.” Asked if Gottfried had lobbied for LeFrancois to be Johnson’s chief of staff, Paster responded, “That is absolutely untrue. I have no knowledge of why R.J. is pursuing other things, but I think he would have been an excellent chief of staff to Corey.” She then stressed, “Dick had absolutely no hand [in this], and would never interfere with an elected official hiring. There were no phone calls or conversations [about LeFrancois] between Corey and Dick, ever — ever.” — Lincoln Anderson
| January 8, 2014
Court OKs Gay Dad’s Co-Parent Adoption with Straight Mom Manhattan surrogate judge finds committed friends jointly raising a child qualify as “intimate partners” BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
here’s a subtext — not anywhere stated — to an adoption ruling by New York County Surrogate Court Judge Rita Mella decided on December 27 and since published in the New York Law Journal. The man petitioning to be an adoptive parent of a little girl — identified only as G, born in Ethiopia, and adopted in 2011 by the man’s close friend — is gay and the child’s adoptive mother is not. The key to this story, told only incompletely by the court, which never mentions the sexual orientation of the two parents, is Mella’s conclusion that they are “intimate partners” in an “intimate relationship,” meaning that the man’s petition qualifies under New York’s adoption statute. KAL, the mother, and LEL, the father, as the court identifies them, met in 2000 and became great friends, working together over a number of years. When KAL confided that she wanted to have a child using donor insemination, LEL volunteered to be the known sperm donor. After attempts at conception, both through insemination and in vitro fertilization, failed, they decided to pursue the
overseas adoption route. Though Ethiopia does not allow unmarried partners to jointly adopt, LEL accompanied KAL for the adoption proceedings and has since participated equally in parenting the child. KAL lives in Brooklyn and registered the adoption there, while LEL lives in Manhattan, where he petitioned for a “second-parent adoption” in the New York County Court. The child alternates times between the homes of her two parents, who remain warm friends and committed to raising her jointly. A social worker did the necessary home study and recommended that allowing the adoption was in G’s best interest. The issue before Mella was whether LEL was qualified as an adoptive parent under New York’s adoption statute. In 1995, the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest bench, ruled that cohabiting unmarried couples, different-sex and same-sex, could adopt. The spirit of that ruling was codified in 2010, when the Legislature, at the behest of then-State Senator Tom Duane, an out gay West Side Democrat, adopted an amendment to the adoption statute that spelled out that “intimate partners” qualify as adoptive parents. Examining the legislative history of
“The experience of jointly and intentionally parenting a child is itself of the most intimate nature.” New York’s adoption statute, the 1995 high court ruling, and the way in which “intimate partner” and “intimate relationship” are dealt with in state law and in other jurisdictions, Mella came to the conclusion that LEL’s petition is covered. She particularly noted that when Governor David Paterson signed the 2010 amendment statute into law, he stated its intent was not to narrow the class of people entitled to adopt, but to expand it. The Legislature made clear that the “best interest of the child” was to be the overriding factor in considering whether to approve adoptions. The amendment’s legislative history, Mella wrote, “supports the interpretation of the phrase ‘intimate partners’ to include a relationship such as the one
we have here: very close, loving friends, who have an intimate connection, which includes planning for and raising a child together. Indeed, the experience of jointly and intentionally parenting a child is itself of the most intimate nature.” Looking back to the 1995 Court of Appeals ruling, the surrogate wrote, “Nothing… suggests that standing is limited to unmarried persons in a romantic relationship with another unmarried person who is the child’s parent, and there is no rationale for excluding unmarried individuals who are committed to raising a child together with another unmarried person from having standing to adopt.” Mella accepted the social worker’s evaluation of the child’s best interest and especially noted how having both adults as legal parents would provide tangible benefits to G, including being covered by LEL’s insurance. “KAL and LEL are two loving adults who are both functioning as G.’s parents and have a relationship with each other built on a solid, decade-plus friendship,” she wrote. LEL was represented in his petition by New York attorney Judith Turkel, who provided Gay City News with background on the case.
Was the Mohawk Really the Problem and Was It Really a Mohawk? Gay flight attendant can pursue discrimination claim against Continental Airlines over threatened grounding
BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
s a Mohawk haircut so “extreme” that an airline would be justified in not allowing a male flight attendant to work if he reported for duty groomed that way? According to a December 4 federal court ruling, if gay flight attendant Ray Falcon can prove that Continental Airline’s supervisors on duty at Newark Airport on the day in 2010 when he was barred from working a flight knew he was gay and applied its grooming standards to him discriminatorily, he may have a sexual orientation discrimination claim under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. US District Judge José L. Linares denied summary judgment to the airline in a case that Falcon filed in New Jersey state court but was removed to federal court on the airline’s motion. Falcon asserts he was out at work
and known to his supervisors that way, while they deny it, so there is a credibility question to be resolved in the case. The plaintiff also claims he was subjected to the indignity of being barred from working on the pretext of his haircut when in fact the reason was the fact he is gay. The supervisors
supervisors’ adamant refusal to let him work his scheduled flight to Paris, Falcon asked another attendant who had hair clippers to trim his top sufficiently to satisfy them and they relented. Falcon’s complaint asserts that the incident caused him significant emotional distress, requiring psychologi-
Falcon asked another attendant who had clippers to trim his top sufficiently to satisfy sypervisors and they relented. respond they were simply enforcing the airline’s workplace code that obligates employees in public contact positions to maintain a “professional appear ance.” There is also a dispute over whether the haircut was in fact a Mohawk, with Falcon maintaining it was just a standard military cut — short at the sides and a bit longer on top. Faced with his
cal treatment and causing him to miss work. He supplemented his discrimination claim with a battery claim — the haircut — and a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Judge Linares dismissed the battery claim, finding Falcon could not make that claim after having asked another attendant to give him the haircut. Linares also ruled that the incident failed
to come anywhere near the high standard of outrageous conduct set by New Jersey courts in emotional distress claims arising from workplace incidents. Falcon continues to work as a flight attendant for Continental, Linares noted, and suffered no discipline or tangible losses as a result of the incident. He was treated for distress stemming from this incident by a licensed psychologist, who prescribed medication for him, and applied for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover the days when he missed flights as a result. Falcon can proceed with his suit alleging that the incident was motivated by unlawful sexual orientation discrimination. Michael R. Lombardi of Edison, New Jersey, represents Falcon, and Continental is being defended by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney of Newark and Philadelphia.
January 8, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
A Scorekeeper Who Knew the Game Well BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
ate in his book “Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival,” Sean Strub describes a dinner party he attended in 1992 on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. After a servant took his coat, Strub joined “several men already enjoying drinks; they were older and, I deduced, probably conservative and possibly closeted.”
BODY COUNTS: A MEMOIR OF POLITICS, SEX, AIDS, AND SURVIVAL By Sean Strub Scribner $30; 432 pages
During the evening, one of the men, Robert W. Wilson, made anti-Semitic and racist comments. He later disparaged people with AIDS and Strub began to argue with him. He eventually slammed his fist on the dinner table and said to Wilson, “One of these days you’ll open the New York Times and read that I’ve died of AIDS. When that happens, I want you to know it is people like you who killed me.” It is the only such outburst that Strub describes in this 400-page book, which is remarkable given the battles Strub has fought in his life. After suffering a stroke in mid-2013, Wilson, 87, committed suicide in December. “Body Counts” is a well-written and welcome addition to the histories of the queer and AIDS movements. It also details the considerable contributions Strub has made to those movements over the past 30 years. Strub is probably best known as the man who modernized fundraising for gay and AIDS groups. He launched a direct mail firm that studiously compiled lists of donors and authored appeals that brought tens of millions of dollars into the coffers of those groups. But he also made contributions on policy matters and to community debates over policy. The memoir opens with Strub participating in the 1989 demonstration that ACT UP held inside and outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. It then quickly moves to his childhood in Iowa and his early interest in Democratic politics that led him to a page job in the US Senate. Strub liberally distributes small details and nuggets of gossip throughout the book. We learn what Strub, raised a Roman Catholic, said when he accepted a Communion wafer during the ACT UP
action. He tells us that Senator John Tower, a Texas Republican, was typically rude to the pages and that senators maintained a small private room in the Capitol where they could drink undisturbed. Also attending the dinner party where Strub argued with Wilson was Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey judge who is now a commentator on Fox News. Given how Strub described the guests at that party — “probably conservative and possibly closeted” — I wondered if he had just outed Napolitano, who is unmarried. The book’s later sections in which he describes learning that he was HIV-positive, living in the first years of the AIDS epidemic, and losing a partner, Michael Misove, to AIDS will be a difficult read for anyone who lived through that time, as Strub’s experience will be painfully familiar. Strub is as harsh with some of his peers as he was with Wilson at that dinner party. He correctly chastises Bill Clinton, who held the White House from 1993 to 2001, for failing on AIDS policies as well as for supporting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, two laws that have since been ended. He does not spare gay groups. When the Washington Post reported that Al Gore, Clinton’s vice president, had prevailed upon South Africa to not enact legislation allowing generic antiHIV drugs to be used there at the behest of US pharmaceutical companies, the “gay establishment” acquiesced. Strub accuses gay groups of “selling out people with HIV in Africa and elsewhere.”
Sean Strub’s memoir about AIDS and gay politics calls some to task, lets a few slide
Where Strub falls down in his indictment is when he discusses his closest friends and what he published in POZ, a magazine he founded in 1994. In 1997, POZ published stories on bareback sex in back-to-back issues. The first was a column by Stephen Gendin, who described having bareback sex with activist Tony Valenzuela. Both were HIV-positive. The cover line on the first issue was “BAREBACK SEX: Let the Debate Begin.” The next issue featured a picture of Valenzuela naked on the back of a horse with the headline “They Shoot Barebackers, Don’t They?” While the magazine’s posture was that
it merely wanted to spark a dialogue, both stories were stupidly provocative. Given the uproar that the first caused, the second was a “Fuck You” that was aimed directly at people who were sincerely concerned with the state of HIV prevention and found the promotion of sex without condoms to be unhelpful. Strub writes that the Valenzuela cover was “attention-getting,” but he “regretted” publishing it. “The clever wordplay and image fed the accusation that we were being sensationalistic rather than leading to a serious community discussion,” Strub writes. Two years later, POZ published a “sobering follow-up” in paired stories by Gendin and his partner, Kyle “Hush” McDowell, in which they disclosed that Gendin had infected McDowell. Gendin, who died in 2000, wrote “Hush’s seroconversion is one of the few things in my life that I’m deeply ashamed of.” Given the result — McDowell’s infection and Gendin’s shame — does this not require at least some introspection? Not to Strub. He likens how Gendin, POZ, and Valenzuela were treated to how Michael Callen, Richard Berkowitz, and Joseph Sonnabend were abused by some when they published “How to Have Sex in an Epidemic: One Approach.” That 1983 pamphlet advised gay men on how to avoid becoming infected. “It’s easy to shoot the messenger,” Strub concludes. Strub is a smart guy and he was right to challenge the failures by Clinton and gay groups. He should have used his considerable intellect to examine some of his own actions.
UGANDAN PRESIDENT HESITATES ON ANTI-GAY BILL In the weeks since the Ugandan Parliament abruptly passed draconian anti-gay legislation that would mandate life imprisonment for those repeatedly convicted of prohibited same-sex conduct, President Yoweri Museveni has signaled uncertainty about whether he will sign it into law. On December 27, the Daily Monitor, a Ugandan newspaper, reported that Museveni indicated he might send the measure back to Parliament if he determines portions of it are “not right.” “They [members of Parliament] never consulted me,” the newspaper quoted Museveni as saying. “I had told them to wait because I have a lot of work, but they rushed and have passed them.” On January 2, a Museveni spokesman, Tamale Mirundi, told Agence France-Presse, “There has been pressure from religious leaders and Parliament to sign the bill into law,” but that the president “won’t rush to assent to the bill before he studies it.” The December 20 action by Parliament, more than four years after the anti-gay measure first surfaced, came as a surprise. Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, a supporter of the bill, moved it despite objections from Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi that the quorum required to hold a vote was lacking. Museveni has spoken out against gays and also claimed there are few in Uganda, but when an international outcry erupted — particularly over an initial draft that included the death penalty for repeated offenses — the
president appeared to be trying to slow the measure’s momentum, appointing a commission to study its implications. In a written statement, Frank Mugisha, the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), criticized “the haphazard manner in which members of Parliament passed it with little if any regard to procedure and to whether it complies with the 1995 Constitution.” He called on Museveni to veto the measure and for the international community to remind Uganda of its treaty obligations, pointing not only to the bill’s attack on LGBT people but also to the way it would impair HIV prevention and AIDS treatment. According to the Monitor newspaper, the category of behaviors that could lead to a life sentence include oral and anal penetration, genital stimulation, and even touching with the intent to engage in those acts. There are also penalties for promoting homosexuality and for failing to report knowledge of same-sex conduct. In a December 24 statement, Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, said, “We are deeply concerned by the Ugandan Parliament’s passage of anti-homosexuality legislation. As Americans, we believe that people everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality — and that no one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or whom they love. We join those in Uganda and around the world who appeal for respect for the human rights of LGBT persons and of all persons.” — Paul Schindler
| January 8, 2014
AIDS Activists Demand New Health Commissioner consensus that city hall aids RESET means farley must go BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
ACT UP NY
ACT UP demonstrators staged a die-in outside the January 1 inauguration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, demanding among other things, that a new health commissioner be named.
At a December 9 meeting, Daniel Tietz, the executive director at ACRIA, said that Farley had to be replaced. There was no dissent.
GAY CITY NEWS
ome AIDS groups are openly calling for Mayor Bill de Blasio to replace Thomas Farley, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), with someone who is willing to use current technologies and tools to respond to the AIDS epidemic. “I don’t think that Commissioner Farley has been effective on HIV/ AIDS,” said Charles King, president of Housing Works, an AIDS services organization. “I think the curve of the epidemic has happened without his policies being what has shaped it in a good direction,” he added, “and I would certainly hold him accountable for the intractable continued spread of HIV among young men of color who have sex with other men.” In 2009, Farley replaced Thomas Frieden, who now heads the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and adopted a far lower profile than his predecessor. While Frieden had ardent detractors and fans, Farley has inspired neither. He has not implemented any significant programs to respond to AIDS. Some of the Frieden initiatives that he kept, such as expanded HIV testing, have produced good results. The state’s redesign of its Medicaid program and the federal Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, were opportunities for the city to increase funding for programs or insurance coverage for people with HIV that New York City has not taken advantage of. Additionally, the DOHMH has lagged in encouraging post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), in which anti-HIV drugs are used to prevent infection in someone who has recently been exposed to the virus, and has done nothing to promote pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), in which daily doses of an anti-HIV drug are given to people to prevent them from becoming infected. At a December 2 World AIDS Day event, a Farley speech was seen as uninspired. It mentioned only HIV testing and condoms as the primary tools in HIV prevention. “Many of us were actually fairly taken aback that the one initiative that was announced by Commissioner Farley was a new social media campaign,” said Gina Quattrochi, the chief executive officer at Bailey House, an AIDS housing group. “We all kind of looked at each other and went, ‘What?’ We need somebody who is dynamic and has vision and I don’t think Farley fills that bill.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio at a January 6 press conference.
ACT UP, the AIDS activist group, protested outside of de Blasio’s January 1 inauguration, which was held at City Hall, demanding that New York City roll out HIV prevention campaigns that include PEP and PrEP, among other tools. “Remarks by current City Health Commissioner Tom Farley at a World AIDS Day breakfast, more appropriate to last decade’s epidemic than today’s, disheartened a wide swath of the HIV community,” wrote Jim Eigo, an ACT UP member, in an email. “After 12 years of the Bloomberg administration’s indifference to HIV, Mayor de Blasio will have to recommit New York City — in official focus and in funding — to HIV testing, care, treatment, and prevention. This real, hard work will require smart, unorthodox leadership, as passionate and informed about HIV as the communities a health commissioner is appointed to serve. That person is not Tom Farley.” AIDS groups are currently working with the Cuomo administration to develop a plan to end AIDS in New York. At a December 9 meeting of the groups and state officials, Daniel Tietz, the executive director at ACRIA, an AIDS services group, said that Farley had to be replaced. There was no dissent, according to people who attended the meeting. Asked about Farley at a January 6 press conference, de Blasio said he would not comment on personnel matters, a posture he maintained throughout his transition, and added, “I have a lot of respect for Commissioner Farley and asked him to stay on transitionally. We have not yet gotten deep into the process about making decisions about the future of the Department of Health.” Asked to respond to that quote, Tietz said, “I’m gratified to hear that Mayor de Blasio and his team are carefully vetting the next commissioner of the [DOHMH]. We certainly hope that it’s someone with a good grasp of HIV and related conditions and who is fully committed to ending the epidemic with the tools and resources we have now.” King said that the community must educate and pressure de Blasio if it hopes to have a health commissioner who will respond to its demands. “I think it’s fair to say that de Blasio has not made health a priority and I think it’s fair to say that he hasn’t focused on HIV/ AIDS at all,” King said. “So far as I know, no one in the AIDS community has had an opportunity to meet with him, with his transition team, and with his key staff... I think the community needs to hold his feet to the fire.”
January 8, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
City Schools Veteran Named de Blasio’s DOE Chancellor Announcement came just as little-noticed Bloomberg health department study of student bullying saw light of day BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
GAY CITY NEWS
ontinuing a patter n of appointing people who have long experience in government to prominent roles in his administration, Bill de Blasio, two days before his inauguration, selected Carmen Fariña to be schools chancellor, citing her 40-year career in the city schools. “I came to know someone who at the time was already legendary throughout the city,” the new mayor said of his first encounter with Fariña when he served on a local school board in Brooklyn. “For years, I’ve turned to her as an advisor, as a friend, as someone I could trust.” Fariña began her career in the city schools as an elementary school teacher and rose to become a deputy chancellor for teaching and learning in the Bloomberg administration. De Blasio’s two children attended the city’s public schools, and his son still attends a city school. The choice of Fariña was “deeply personal,” de Blasio said. “She’s also going to be the chancellor for my children,” he said at a December 30 press conference that was held at a Park Slope school his two children attended. Fariña left the Bloomberg administration in 2006 for professional and personal reasons. “I think to the degree possible that my position working at [the city’s Department of Education], working with principals and teachers directly, was a very important one,” Fariña said. “I think when the notion that they were not the
Schools chancellor-designate Carmen Fariña speaks at a December 30 press conference as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Ursulina Ramirez look on.
major players in the system began to be more acknowledged, there was a little bit of a different feeling.” Also on December 30, de Blasio announced that Ursulina Ramirez, who had been his deputy public advocate and senior policy advisor in his most recent city post, would be Fariña’s chief of staff. The de Blasio announcement came the same day as media reports surfaced of a city health department study showing that nearly one third of queer New York City high school students reported being bullied in 2011. That year, the city’s health department surveyed 11,570 high school students in all five boroughs. The bullying data showed that 29 percent of lesbian,
gay, and bisexual students reported being bullied versus 17 percent of heterosexual students. Students who were bullied were more likely to report using alcohol and drugs, missing school, carrying weapons to school, and experiencing mental health problems. The health department declined to comment about the report on the record. Release of the data on school bullying, which was quietly made public on December 19 of this year, was a departure from the Bloomberg administration’s practice during his final months in office. Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a string of press conferences to boast of his achievements over the past 12 years and City Hall released data and statements
meant to further bolster his legacy. On December 30, Fariña said that the city schools were safer today than in prior years. “I really believe that sometimes we have to listen with a grain of salt because if there’s one thing that is actually much more improved by and large in the system, it’s school safety,” she said. Fariña’s comment was in response to a reporter who cited a parent saying she was going to home-school her child because there was too much violence in the city schools. While de Blasio emphasized Fariña’s teaching credentials, he also promoted her progressive values, as he did when announcing earlier appointees. The statement distributed to reporters by the de Blasio transition team quoted out gay City Councilman Daniel Dromm of Queens, a former school teacher, and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, among others, praising Fariña. The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) did not respond to requests seeking comment. The Hetrick-Martin Institute, which serves queer youth, declined to respond. On December 29, de Blasio appointed Zachary Carter, a former US attorney and most recently a partner at Dorsey & Whitney, a law firm, to run the city’s Law Department. In published reports, de Blasio said the Law Department would withdraw its appeal of a federal court order that placed curbs on the police department’s use of stop and frisk practices and it will settle a lawsuit brought by five men who were wrongly convicted of a 1989 rape in Central Park.
There may be — at least publicly — no hard feelings after out lesbian City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez blasted her colleague Jumaane Williams for his stance against marriage equality and abortion rights during his recent unsuccessful bid to become the next Council speaker. The two briefly shared the stage on January 5 at the inauguration ceremony for Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who is now entering her second term. Although Williams, after giving his congratulatory remarks, left the stage almost immediately once Mendez began her speech, she started off by making a rather friendly reference to Williams’ musical talent. “Did Jumaane sing?” Mendez asked the crowd, smiling. “Oh, he didn’t? That’s a real treat, you know, hearing Jumaane sing.” Mendez, who represents Manhattan’s Lower East Side, took a public shot at Williams, of Brooklyn, in late November when she said she wouldn’t support him in the speaker’s race because he opposes samesex marriage and abortion. “As an out lesbian, it's problematic for me that the person who would be representing this body is anti-gay marriage, anti- a woman's right to choose,” Mendez said then in an interview with Capital New York. "Those are two really fundamental pro-
NO BAD BLOOD BETWEEN WILLIAMS AND MENDEZ?
Councilmembers Jumaane Williams and Rosie Mendez on stage together at City Councilwoman Margaret Chin’s inauguration.
gressive issues.” Williams is, in fact, a member of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, although many in the city certainly do not consider his views on mar-
riage and choice to be progressive in nature. Mendez, for her part, has declined to join that caucus, while she is generally regarded as one of the city’s most liberal elected officials. While praising Chin on Sunday, Williams highlighted Chin’s role as a founding member of the Progressive Caucus as a reason for his support of her. “We’ve been doing a lot of good things in [the Progressive Caucus], and I’m looking forward to serving with her for another four years,” he said. A day after the inauguration, in response to this newspaper’s question about his relationship with Mendez, Williams released a terse statement in which he did not allude to anything that went on during his bid to become speaker. “Councilmember Rose [sic] Mendez and I have a great relationship, and I look forward to continuing our work together,” said Williams. Mendez’s office did not return a request for comment. Moments after Williams and Mendez spoke on Sunday, a political staffer, speaking anonymously, said that Williams simply can’t afford to lash out against critics of his socially conservative views. “If he still held grudges against anyone for that, he wouldn’t have any friends left,” the staffer said. — Sam Spokony
| January 8, 2014
Lawsuit Demands City Shelter All Homeless Youth New York, complaint alleges, violates state law, US Constitution BY PAUL SCHINDLER
class action lawsuit filed December 30 in federal court aims to compel the City of New York to provide youth shelter and services to any homeless youth aged 16 to 20 who seeks such assistance. The complaint, filed on behalf of nine youths who have experienced extended homelessness in the city, cites evidence that New York provides only 253 youth shelter beds for a population of homeless youth that numbers 3,800 on an average night. Those left without a bed, the complaint states, resort to riding the subway and exchanging sex for money, food, and a place to stay. One-third to one-half of the homeless youth, the suit alleges, engage in sex work, some of them victims of sex trafficking. Estimates for those who are HIV-positive range from 10 percent to 30 percent, according to the complaint. The suit, filed by the Legal Aid Society and attorneys from Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, says the city’s inadequate response to the youth homelessness crisis violates the state Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, which requires that every homeless youth be provided youth shelter and other services and bars youth from being discharged back into the streets “under any circumstance.” According to the complaint, however, the number of city youth beds has actually declined from 370 in 2009 to 253 today, hundreds of youths are turned away from shelters nightly, and the city, when discharging youth from shelters after 30 to 60 days, has no idea where 45 percent of them are next headed for housing. Because New York State courts have found that homeless individuals have a right to shelter, the city’s failure, the suit maintains, also violates the US Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. The lawsuit also makes claims under the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, citing statistics that up to 90 percent of homeless youth in New York suffer from some degree of emotional or behavioral disorder. Yet, the suit alleges, the city does not pay for mental health evaluations of homeless youth, leaving them responsible for demonstrating their needs. The plaintiffs, identified only with initials, are nine homeless youths, aged 17-20, seven of whom identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Studies have shown that as many as 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, many of them thrown out of their homes by parents unwilling to support them in their sexual or gender identity. The experiences of the nine plaintiffs includ-
ed being thrown out of their homes, victimized by sex trafficking, rejected by youth shelters, and abused and harassed in family and adult shelters. The lawsuit contends that one significant risk youth face is that 18- to 20-year-olds can be referred to adult shelters, where they often experience dangerous conditions. The complaint sites former City Councilman Lewis Fidler, who chaired the Youth Services Committee, saying that many homeless youth “would rather sleep on the subway than go into the adult shelter system.” The risks young homeless people face in adult shelters is one that Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center (AFC), which provides housing and services for homeless queer youth, is particularly concerned about. In AFC’s experience, waiting lists for its housing serving those under 21 averages 32 per night, while the figure for those 21 to 24 is 162. The older youths, he said, “overwhelmingly” support themselves through sex work. When homeless LGBT youth
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Could lawsuit divert government attention from homeless youth 21-24? enter the adult shelter system, Siciliano said, they are especially vulnerable to harassment, violence, and rape. Despite the recommendation from a commission appointed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg that Runaway and Homeless Youth services be extended up to the age of 24, that older group of homeless youth remains largely unserved. Though he supports the aims of the Legal Aid lawsuit, Siciliano worries that it could divert the attention of government officials away from the problems facing homeless youth older than 20. The timing of the lawsuit is significant, coming just as a new mayor — who publicly committed to incrementally increasing funding for homeless youth beds each year until the demand is met — takes office. Whether Bill de Blasio’s stated intention of tackling the problem of homeless youth shelter provides an opening for settling the lawsuit remains unclear. City Hall provided no reaction to the suit, and a City Law Department spokesperson said only, “We have recieved the complaint and will review it thoroughly.” The Legal Aid Society did not comment on the prospects for settlement, nor did it respond to the concerns raised by Siciliano.
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BY JAMES W. LISTER
fter his 12 years in office, I feel I almost don’t remember any mayor other than Michael Bloomberg. And in my memory, he will always be the billionaire mayor whose polices almost left me homeless. I moved into my apartment 34 years ago and was diagnosed with HIV in 1989. In 2003, I was approved for disability because I became too sick to work. I was left with no choice but to close my 20-year-old business and try to survive solely off my meager disability income. The near-universal standard for affordable housing says tenants should pay no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. In New York State, only one low-income housing program does not abide by this standard: the HIV/ AIDS rental assistance program. This loophole leaves me — a n d 1 0 , 0 0 0 N e w Yo r k ers living with AIDS — to pay upwards of 80 percent of our fixed income toward rent. For
me, that means scraping by on just $12.36 a day, having to choose between paying an electricity bill and buying bath soap, and constantly living in fear of arrears and eviction. All of this while trying to manage a chronic illness requiring 32 prescriptions. In Albany, a 30 Percent Rent Cap bill seeks to close this loophole so that all HIV/ AIDS housing programs are truly affordable. The bill has a fraught history in the New York State Legislature. It passed both houses in 2010 with bipartisan support only to be squashed in the final hour by Governor Patterson’s veto — because New York’s billionaire mayor lobbied against it. But this month, a new legislative session begins, Bloomberg is out, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to take a different approach. On numer ous occasions he has said that he supports the 30 Percent Rent Cap bill and will advocate for its passage in Albany. During his inauguration, virtually every speaker, including Mayor de Blasio, called out the failed policies of the past 12 years that
have made New York the capital of homelessness. For roughly 10,000 of us, passage of this legislation would ensure we do not become another homeless statistic for our city. Now we need Governor Andrew Cuomo to show his leadership and enact this vital policy through the New York State budget. He has the support of our new mayor, who I believe will follow through on his rhetoric, and he has a strong coalition of HIV/ AIDS, LGBT, and progressive groups calling for this long overdue policy change. Doing so will first of all protect the health of New Yorkers living with HIV/ AIDS. A landmark randomized control trial sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and Department of Housing & Urban Development found that stable housing for people living with HIV/ AIDS, or PLWHAs, reduced emergency room use by 35 percent and hospitalizations by 57 percent compared with those who remained homeless. Homeless PLWHAs were two and a half times more likely to use an emergency room and
Through One Dyke’s Eyes: “Blue is the Warmest Color” BY KELLY COGSWELL
f I hadn’t already admired Abdellatif Kechiche’s films, I might not have gone to see “Blue Is the Warmest Color.” Based on the graphic novel in French by Julie Maroh, the film is the coming of age and coming out story of Adele, a 17-year-old working class girl who falls in love with Emma, a middle class art student in the northern French town of Lille. While the movie got great reviews in the “straight” press worldwide, in part for casting an interesting eye on class in France, far
too many lesbians have ripped it to shreds, furious that the main characters were once again played by straight actresses and, more importantly, that the sex scenes were ridiculous. Demeaning. The whole thing was. They blamed the male director and his unfortunately male gaze. Which got me wondering just what makes a lesbian’s gaze different. My own dyke eyes linger sometimes on breasts and ass — and pretty much every other female surface from the curve of a waist to an elbow’s crook. The biggest difference is that if I sometimes objectify females for my own lesbian plea-
three times as likely to have a detectible HIV viral load, which increases the risk of HIV transmission and premature death. Aside from saving health care costs, affordable housing protection will also save the city and state money by reducing expensive emergency housing placements. Commercial single room occupancy (SRO) units often cost two to three times as much as rental assistance and they are chronically substandard, not even providing basic amenities like a kitchen or phone. I worked for 35 years and paid into a Social Security system that I was told would be a safety net if the unthinkable happened. Well, the unthinkable did happen and that safety net, worn thin by failed austerity policies, I am now told, cannot support me. We need a 30 Percent Rent Cap because it is good policy that will keep people stably housed, improve health, and rein in costs — and so that people like me can stop living in constant fear of becoming homeless. James W. Lister, a native of San Diego, has lived in New York City since 1979. He is a client of GMHC, a member of VOCAL-NY, a board member of the VOCALNY Action Fund, and a renegade activist and advocate who was grateful to turn 59 last year. He dedicates his work to all his friends and loved ones who died too soon.
sure, it is usually fleeting and hidden, not on screen at length. My circumspection is all about homophobia, not high-mindedness. Show dyke desire in public, you still risk the attention of men that may well hit on you either metaphorically or literally. I even felt self-conscious in the movie house. The only identifiable dyke watching a lesbian-themed movie among a crowd of straights, I felt larger than usual. At risk. Like I was being seen, and judged. Which is partly why I think the dyke response was so harsh. With so few lesbian images out there, they all represent you by proxy. You don’t want the filmmaker to choose an angle that makes Adele’s ass (yours) look too big, even if you believe the filmmaker meant to put you in her shoes to see her the way she saw herself, sloppy and kind of ugly, surprised to be declared the prettiest girl in the class.
COGSWELL, continued on p.20
| January 8, 2014
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
A New Mayor and Great Expectations
When Bill de Blasio stood on the steps of City Hall January 1 to be sworn in as New York’s 109th mayor, nothing in the inaugural ceremony suggested a hint of retreat from the progressive themes his campaign raised. That’s encouraging, but the proving ground will likely be the next six months as the new mayor completes his appointments and develops his first budget. As he has named his governing team — a process far from complete — de Blasio has emphasized his philosophical harmony with his new staff members, but it is also worth noting that he has primarily drawn from a bench with long experience in past mayoral administrations. He makes a fair point that he can only effect change if his players know the game, but if his appointees are, in fact, to serve as agents of change, the mayor will have to exercise clear and unwavering leadership. To date, the most concrete example of change is the announcement that his new corporation counsel, Zachary Carter, will withdraw the city’s appeal of a federal ruling putting curbs on the NYPD’s stop and frisk policies and will negotiate a settlement with five men wrongly convicted of a 1989 Central Park rape. De Blasio won election with strong support from the LGBT community — in the September primary, he easily bested out lesbian Christine Quinn among voters who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. It is fortunate, though, that gay and AIDS groups are not taking anything for granted. As Duncan Osborne reports in this issue’s cover story, leaders in the fight against HIV are making their views known loud and clear — chief among them that it is time for a new health commissioner. In a friendly January 6 letter to the mayor, a group of LGBT Democratic clubs — including the Stonewall Democrats of New York City, Brooklyn’s Lambda Independent Democrats, and the Lesbian & Gay Democratic Club of Queens — outlined a comprehensive list of priorities it expects the new administration to tackle. The Democratic clubs’ letter opens by reminding de Blasio of his commitment to baseline the $12 million the city budget has in recent years provided for runaway and homeless youth housing and services and to increase it incrementally $1.5 million each year. With only 253 youth shelter beds available for an estimated nightly population of 3,800 — up to 40 percent of them LGBT — that commitment represents the bare minimum acceptable. The city — and the state — should be doing a lot more. When it looks at the problems faced by homeless youth, the city should recognize that those 18-24 face particular risk, since
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
they are often forced into adult shelters, where the environment is particularly dangerous for those who are LGBT-identified. The de Blasio administration can make a quick down payment on its homeless youth commitment by working to settle a federal lawsuit just filed by the Legal Aid Society (see page 9) aimed at guaranteeing a youth shelter bed for any homeless youth in need. Any solution worked out should include 21- to 24-year-olds in addition to the younger New Yorkers the suit aims to protect. The Democratic clubs are also calling for more tailored services for LGBT seniors, who often find the climate of neighborhood senior centers inhospitable. The clubs are pressing for LGBT senior centers in each borough as well as funds for LGBT-friendly affordable housing, as was recently opened in Philadelphia. This was an idea that de Blasio’s primary opponent Quinn stepped up for last summer and that he should now embrace. The January 6 letter also identifies enforcement of the city’s 2002 transgender rights law as a priority. Two years ago, the police department announced a groundbreaking revision in its patrol guide
aimed as ensuring dignified treatment of transgender and gender-nonconforming people. Other agencies providing direct services — such as the Human Resources Administration and the Department of Homeless Services — should also work to ensure that their staffs are trained to interact appropriately with transgender clients. The health department’s restrictive policy requiring evidence of gender reassignment surgery before a new birth certificate with a changed gender designation is issued is long overdue for revamping. Full implementation of the state’s Dignity for All Students Act is another item on the Democratic clubs’ agenda. The Department of Education needs to go further than that, however. On the same day that Carmen Fariña was named the new schools chancellor — and said that school safety had “improved by and large” — the departing Bloomberg administration quietly released a two-year-old study showing that nearly a third of LGBT students in city schools reported having been bullied. Fariña’s DOE must implement better training and reporting on school violence and bullying, and must also reverse the aversion the Bloomberg and Giuliani administrations
showed toward comprehensive sex education, including safe sex practices. On police-community relations, the Democratic clubs highlight stop and frisk practices aimed at LGBT people of color, press for continued NYPD efforts to improve treatment of transgender New Yorkers, call for the continuation of a police advisory commission on LGBT issues, and urge de Blasio to work with the NYPD and the borough district attorneys to make certain that possession of condoms is not used as evidence in prostitution arrests and prosecutions. It’s unfortunate that the clubs did not also shine a light on police sting operations from several years back that employed false arrests of gay men in adult video stores as the pretext for bringing legal action to close such establishments. The three clubs endorsed a top goal of HIV advocacy groups — the enactment in Albany of a measure that would limit the rent payable by clients of the HIV/ AIDS Services Administration to 30 percent of their monthly income, as is the case generally with rental assistance programs serving other populations. The lack of such a rental cap has made housing stability and even survival precarious for those living with an AIDS disability (see opposite page), but the chief stumbling block to action by the state to date was former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s determined opposition. AIDS activists have gone further in their demands, primarily in calling for the replacement of current Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, who, critics rightly point out, has shown little leadership on the epidemic. Gay and bisexual men, particularly — though not exclusively — young men of color, remain at stubbornly high risk for HIV transmission. The LGBT community, the mayor, and a new health commissioner must make this problem a top priority. On this point, the Democratic clubs are right to call for reinstatement of a Citywide Coordinator for HIV/ AIDS Policy position within the mayor’s office. I am less persuaded by the clubs’ call for the creation of LGBT liaison slots in the mayor’s office and in key city agencies. Our community needs strong voices in City Hall and throughout New York’s vast bureaucracy. Too often, however, liaisons serve largely to market their boss to the community rather than advocate for critical community needs within the city government. More important than having LGBT representatives in each agency is the appointment of skilled members of the community in influential administration positions. Out lesbian Emma Wolfe, a top de Blasio campaign aide, is now his director of intergovernmental affairs. More high quality appointments like that are really what we should be asking for.
January 8, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
Living, Working, and Always Looking
HBO rolls out new dramedy centered on a gang of gay friends in San Francisco
BY STEVE G
BO premieres its new gay-themed series “Looking” on Sunday, January 19. The show is a half-hour dramedy based on the lives of gay friends and lovers and is set in current-day San Francisco. The cable network has given the show a great time slot — 10:30 p.m. Eastern — following the smash hit “Girls,” which begins its third season one week earlier.
HBO Premieres Jan.19 10:30 p.m.
Frankie J. Alvarez, Murray Bartlett, and Jonathan Groff in HBO’s new series “Looking,” which premieres on January 19.
One of the last major gay-focused series from a network was “Queer as Folk” on Showtime, which ended its five-year run in 2005. Based on the groundbreaking 1999 series from the UK, the Showtime version of “QAF” never hit the daring highs of the
Filmed entirely in the San Francisco area, the creators cast the city as an important character in the show.
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original, instead offering up a more tepid soap opera. Since then, LGBT characters and themes have become entrenched in the media — from “Modern Family” to “Glee,” “True Blood,” and the much hyped, but failed “The New Normal.” Gay characters, now in the mainstream, are grabbing the central focus of a series once again with “Looking.” Mostly gone are the days of the stock “asexual quipping best friend” character — Sean Hayes’ current NBC sitcom being a sad exception. “Looking” is a singular probe into the world of young gay men navigating dating, relationships, and the passage into middle age. The question is whether “Looking” is a series that will find mainstream success beyond the gay demographic. The show is created by Andrew Haigh and Michael Lannan. Haigh directed the critically acclaimed British film “Weekend” in 2011. The series stars Jonathon Groff, formerly of “Glee”
and Broadway’s “Spring Awakening,” along with Frankie J. Alvarez (TV’s “Smash”) and Murray Bartlett (indie film “August”). Filmed entirely in the San Francisco area, the creators cast the city as an important character in the show. In a recent interview with SFGate.com, Lannon said he hopes the setting will benefit from viewers realizing “just the really cool way you can ramble around San Francisco, and walk from neighborhood to neighborhood. How hard it is to make the rent, and how you have to work, and you have to share apartments and scrimp for spaces.” Gay City News has been able to preview the show’s first four episodes and they suggest that “Looking” has a lot going for it. The acting is first-rate, and the direction and cinematography are gritty and realistic. With the writing explicit, relationships, marriage, hookups, threesomes, and an occasional bathhouse visit are all on view. In the series introduction, there does seem to be a lack of urgency in the storytelling, a pace that will perhaps build as the season progresses. There is one issue with the series that viewers may hope improves as it continues. “Looking” primarily tells the story of three friends, Patrick, Augustín, and Dom. Their friendships and careers are portrayed realistically, with admirable complexity and shading. What is surprising in this day and age, however, is that in their social circle there is only one minor female character represented in the cast. Doris, as written and as portrayed by Laur en Weedman, bor ders on stereotypical “faghag,” her character seemingly existing only as a shrill sounding board for Dom (Bartlett) and his problems. The show would profit from a cast that expands to be more inclusive. Sunday nights will be a busy place in coming weeks on HBO. Its new anthology series “True Detective,” in its first eight episodes starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, premieres on January 12 at 9 p.m., an hour before the new season of “Girls.” A week later, viewers get their first peek at “Looking.”
| January 8, 2014
Betrayal and its Consequences
LEFT OF CENTER ENTERTAINMENT
Director Rob Moretti motivated by co-star Sean Paul Lockhart in writing “Truth”
9PM SATURDAY JANUARY 18, 2014
Sean Paul Lockhart and Rob Moretti in Moretti’s “Truth.”
BY GARY M. KRAMER
he engaging gay thriller “Truth” charts the relationship between Caleb (Sean Paul Lockhart) and Jeremy (screenwriter and director Rob Moretti) who first meet online. After some hot sex, the men must overcome a slight bump in their budding relationship. They soon become more intimate, until someone feels betrayed and takes drastic action.
TRUTH Directed by Rob Moretti Left of Center Entertainment Opens Jan. 10 Quad Cinema 34 W. 13th St. quadcinema.com
It would spoil the film to reveal more about what happens, but it can be told that both characters end up in handcuffs at different points in “Truth.” In separate interviews, Gay City News spoke with Moretti and Lockhart, who has done adult film work as Brent Corrigan, to discuss the issue of trust that dominates this sexy drama. GARY M. KRAMER: Rob, you dedicate the film to Sean, who “helped [you] find [your] truth.” How did your co-star help you? ROB MORETTI: This film came about when I was in a dark place. I got sick with vestibular labyrinthitis, a balance disor der that gave me pe r m a n e n t n e r v e da m a ge . W h i l e
recovering from surgery, I was reading a lot of Sean’s journal entries a n d b l ogs and I r ea l i z ed w e ha d similar backgrounds. I had not met anyone who’d gone through similar circumstances. I wrote this film with him in mind. His coming aboard helped me. I thought my career was over and that I would not act again, so he pushed for this to happen and got me out of that. GMK: Sean, this may be your most accomplished screen per formance to date. How did this film, which has you acting charming, confused, and enraged — sometimes in a single scene — help you grow as an actor? SEAN PAUL LOCKHART: It was important for me to arrive at an honest, layered performance. I hurt myself doing it. When you go to create a scene you use your own life experiences, emotions, and relationships. I took t h i ngs fr om m y b ack gr ound a nd dredged them up. I spent some months in a tailspin afterwards trying to push them back down. Every dark role is hard to come out of. GMK: What do you think Caleb sees in Jeremy, and what does Jeremy sees in Caleb? RM: Caleb sees in Jeremy someone who actually pays attention to him, cares for him, and is genuine. Jeremy sees someone who is adorable. He wants to protect and takes care of him. SPL: Jeremy sees Caleb as a safe goodlooking kid, but he takes steps back when Jeremy sees Caleb has
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TRUTH, continued on p.18 Gay City News Freestyle III 4.85x11.4.indd 1
12/23/13 2:47 PM
January 8, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
Taking Flight in Taipei
Arvin Chen looks at unhappy lives and finds the magic
Richie Jen in Arvin Chen’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”
BY GARY M. KRAMER
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bittersweet romantic comedy-drama, the wonderful “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?,” set in Tapei, features a handful of gay and straight characters unhappy in their lives and relationships. Screenwriter and director Arvin Chen is straight but displays impressive sensitivity toward all his characters. In fact, in a recent Skype interview, Chen said people often assume he is gay.
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“I don’t think making this film helps,” he joked. The filmmaker grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, but now lives in Taipei. He has had gay friends most of his life, he explained, citing those relationships as part of his motivation in making this film. Chen said he modeled one of the film’s queer characters — “down to their dialogue” — on one of his best friends. “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” concerns Weichung (Richie Jen), a married optometrist, whose wife Feng (Mavis Fan) wants to have a second child. At his sister Mandy’s (Kimi Hsia) engagement party, however, he reconnects with his old friend Stephen
(Lawrence Ko), a gay man. Weichung, glum about his life, soon finds himself reevaluating same-sex feelings he had repressed and questioning his marriage — especially when he meets Thomas (Wong Ka-lok), an adorable flight attendant. When Mandy breaks off her engagement, the jilted fiancé, San-San (Stone), enlists Stephen and his queer friends to help him win her back. The film focuses on each character grappling with a pivotal romantic crisis. Chen explained, “Weichung thinks he has moved on from being gay, but that affects his wife’s story. Does he love her? And what will she do when he can’t love her? His sister is also struggling with commitment and her romance being compromised.” Despite the unhappiness the characters contend with, Chen’s film is not choked with romantic despair but instead manages a buoyant feel based in part on the use of fantasy elements, such as when broken-hearted Mandy gets relationship advice from a soap opera actor who visits her in her apartment. The director deliberately subverts the tropes of traditional romantic comedies, which is what distinguishes his film and makes it as charming as it is wistful. “I try to find humor in situations that are not inherently funny,” Chen explained, “but also try to find sadness in scenes that are not inherently sad… These characters live in a boring world and have mundane jobs, but this film says that fantastical things could happen.”
TOMORROW, continued on p.15
| January 8, 2014
A Father Knows
Hirokazu Kore-eda tells a familiar story, imbues it with authenticity
mong Japanese directors of his generation (now in their 50s), Hirokazu Kore-eda stands apart. Other than the fanciful “Air Doll,” in which an inflatable sex doll comes to life, he’s shown no interest in making genre films. Instead, he’s stuck to Japan’s lengthy tradition of family dramas in the vein of Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse. In his most famous film, “Nobody Knows,” a mother abandons her children, but Kore-eda is notably less infatuated with the dark side of life than peers like Hideo Nakata, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, or Takashi Miike. The eclectic Miike has dabbled in children’s films, as well as the gorefests that made his reputation in the West, but they have a hallucinatory edge and fondness for bad-taste humor missing from Koreeda’s relatively placid work.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda Sundance Selects In Japanese with English subtitles Opens Jan. 17 IFC Center ifccenter.com 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. Lincoln Plaza 1886 Broadway at 62nd St. lincolnplazacinema.com
The narrative of “Like Father, Like Son,” in which two babies are switched at birth and raised in very different families, has universal appeal. It’s not a very original plot. An Israeli film with the same premise opened here a few years ago. To Kore-eda’s credit, he puts
TOMORROW, from p.14
One such moment of magical realism occurs in a pre-credit sequence where Weichung’s boss literally flies away with an umbrella. Another sequence — Chen’s favorite — has Feng singing the title song in a karaoke bar. What begins as a solo performance soon turns into a full-blown musical number complete with backup singers. Like many of the scenes in the film, this episode is melancholic, sunny, and fantastical all at the same time. Chen also infuses his entire film in bright, colorful visuals that are a wink and a nod to 1950s Hollywood melodramas and musicals. Referring to Todd Haynes’ 2002 “Far From Heaven,” an homage of sorts to the films of Douglas Sirk, he said, “‘Heaven’ is more
a heartfelt spin on it. Steven Spielberg headed the jury that awarded “Like Father, Like Son” a prize at Cannes last spring, and his Dreamworks production company plans a US remake. Expect it to exponentially increase the cuteness factor and potential for treacle, while ducking the bittersweet overtones of the second half of Kore-eda’s film. R yota Nonomiya (Fukuyama Masaharu) is a yuppie who believes he owes his relative wealth to hard work. As a result of this devotion to his job, he’s spent little time with his six-yearold son Keita. Then, he and his wife Midori (Ono Machiko) get a strange call from the hospital where Keita was born. They learn that a troubled nurse switched Keita and another boy, Ryusei, at birth, so the Nonomiyas get in touch with the other family, the Saikis. Yudai Saiki (Lily Franky) runs a somewhat shambling appliance store and admits he can be lazy. After meeting at a mall several times to have their children play together, the two families agree to exchange sons, which they expect to be permanent. This second switch takes place around the film’s halfway mark. The worlds of the Nonomiya and Saiki families are set apart through visual markers. The Nonomiyas live in a high-rise apartment building in central Japan. Their neighborhood looks as unappealing as Midtown Manhattan at night. Their apartment seems cramped, and the view out the window consists of other skyscrapers and tall apartment buildings. The Saikis, on the other hand, live and work out of the same twofloor building. Its paint may be peeling, but it’s homier and seems far more attractive as a place to dwell and spend time.
“Like Father, Like Son” mounts a gentle critique of Japanese patriarchy. Ryota acts as though he should have all the rights in the world as a father, despite his lack of interest in actually spending time with his son. His job takes up almost all the time that should be spent parenting. Worse, it seems he likes it that way, but still puts up an arrogant front. He can barely do a competent job of parenting one son, but he wants two. His wife does all the real childcare in the household, while Ryota acts gruff and orders his sons — both of the children of whom he claims ownership — around. In an archetypically Japanese scene, he gives up on fixing Ryusei’s toy robot. Pressed by the boy, Ryota tells him to ask Midori to buy him a new one; the boy says he’ll get his father to fix it the next time he’s home. In several films, Kore-eda has shown he’s one of world cinema’s best directors
of child actors. He’s particularly skillful with them here. The children who play the Saiki family are completely convincing together, and the actor who plays Ryusei is splendid. The boy has a stubborn willfulness and a refusal to admit that the world doesn’t conform to his desires; one needn’t be a parent to recognize that in him. Kore-eda works wonders with stock situations and characters, but the film isn’t fully engaging until its second half, when R yusei finds himself in the clutches of the Nonomiyas. It’s true that the characters are a bit onedimensional. Ryota’s uptight yuppie and Yudai’s lovable slacker are straight out of central casting, and the film’s message that families are groups of people who love each other whether or not they are connected by blood is a bit platitudinous. Still, “Like Father, Like Son” injects real humanity into a familiar scenario.
melodrama, ours is goofy comedy, but the same aesthetic works in this story. The colors, music, and cinematography are much more from this older era.” Chen shows how Weichung struggles as he tries to conform to Taiwanese social pressure to be married and have a family. Stephen, openly gay, is less concerned about norms and expectations, but he does, after all, find a loophole by marrying a lesbian. He is the film’s happiest character, and though Ko comes across as something of a flamboyant stereotype, Chen emphasized that he wanted Stephen to be the opposite of the conservative Weichung. “Stephen knows exactly who he is and he is completely realized as a person,” the filmmaker said. “He has no conflicts.”
Stephen’s gay friends, who help the heartbroken San-San, act as the film’s Shakespearean chorus. “Like Stephen, they are above the story and happy with who they are,” Chen explained. “They are dispensing advice rather than struggling with their own problems.” The filmmaker said he did not specifically cast straight or gay actors for any of the roles. “There are not many openly gay actors in Asia,” Chen said. “We had to worry about straight actors who wouldn’t want to do the film. All the main characters playing gay ar e straight, with the exception of one or two supporting roles.” Chen hopes that queer audiences appreciate his film and his characters, even as he acknowledged they might identify most with Feng because her
story is perhaps the most moving of the film. She gives an extra dimension to her husband’s coming out drama. That said, Weichung’s emotional conflict is never handled anything but respectfully. Chen’s aim was to recapture the adolescent feelings of love Weichung once felt for men. His new object of affection, Thomas, functions as an attractive and possibly unattainable fantasy character. Still, Thomas makes Weichung literally float in another of the film’s wonderful magical scenes. His storyline in particular — and the film’s lush romantic qualities in general — will resonate with anyone who has sought love or struggled for personal happiness. “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” is a film romantics will embrace.
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Fukuyama Masaharu in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Like Father, Like Son.”
January 8, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
IN THE NOH
The Perfect Holiday Carol
One gloriously enduring triple threat and Eddie-Awarded 10 best films of 2013 Christmas angel blessed my holiday season in the form of Carol Lawrence, who — first of all — gave a delightfully strong, touching performance in Jason Odell Williams’ play “Handle with Care” (Westside Theatre Downstairs, 407 W. 43rd St., through Mar. 30; telecharge. com) and then met me for one of the most scintillating interviews of my career. This living legend defies the years with her vibrant energy, onstage and off, and is ravishing to look at, decked out as she was in the reddest coat I’ve ever seen. When I asked her how she stays so darn perky, she said, “I no longer take dance class, but I have a wonderful King Charles Cavalier spaniel who I walk, who keeps me strong. [Producer] Douglas Denoff is an old friend of mine who said, ‘I have this property that I’d like to star you in Off Broadway, this warm and wonder ful comedy, and you would be an Israeli grandmother.’ I said, ‘That’s close to who I am, anyway, an Italian grandmother — they’re all the same, very hands-on. When something’s wrong, they can read it in your eyes and make it right, and they always have to feed you. In the long run, it’s just an expression of love and I think this is what people are responding to.” Lawrence’s career has been extraordinarily varied, with innumerable theater and television credits. I was fascinated to know that she was directed by the great Ida Lupino in “Iron Silence” (1961), and led off with a question about her: “Oh, she was delightful, could never remember anyone’s name, so she called me ‘Baby,’ and Vic Morrow was ‘Honey.’ She was really gentle, always there nurturing you, so I loved her. And as an actress, she identified with whatever your problem was and came in to help you, as opposed to a Jerry Robbins, who just puts you down and nobody picks you up off the bloody floor.” Robbins, of course, directed Lawrence as Maria in the epochal “West Side Story,” and when I asked her what it was like to hear that music for the very first time, she replied, “The cast always knew we had a phenomenal, legendary, monumental, important pr op er ty , a n d we o n l y wo n de r e d whether the critics would accept it. Our out-of-town audiences loved it — on opening night they screamed and stood, as did every audience. But we
BY DAVID NOH
Carol Lawrence, the original “West Side Story” Maria whose latest triumph on stage comes in Jason Odell Williams’ play “Handle with Care.”
didn’t know whether the seven New York critics then would embrace us. “We br oke every possible rule: there had never been a tragic musical comedy and we created musical theater, killing people right and left with social content. A lot of people felt we were glorifying juvenile delinquency. Robbins’ thrust was that all the bad and the hatred was not to be tolerated, and that’s the whole message of the play. “He was a really tough director on everybody. One night he gave me 65 notes for one performance. I don’t know how anybody could be that bad. But obviously he zoomed in on my performance and mentioned every single thing he didn’t approve of and made me write them down, which I did, happily. “Peter Gennaro came into my dressing room and asked, ‘How many notes did he give you, because Larry Kert is crying in his dressing room, he got 16, and Mickey Calin is upset, he got 12.’ He counted mine and said, ’Sixty-five! What I couldn’t believe was you smiling back at him as he gave them to you!’ I said, ‘If he’s going to
take the time to correct me, I’m thrilled and appreciative.’ And they were all the right, good tips. The tiniest things. He told me when I put my hair over my head during ‘I Feel Pretty,’ ‘Are you aware that you look like Beulah Witch?’ I said no, but he didn’t say I couldn’t do that, so I kept it in because it got a laugh because I come out and I am crazy at that moment. “Larry Kert was magnificent. On the first day of rehearsal, Jerry said, ‘Now if I look up on that balcony and don’t feel that you two are absolutely in love, I have three other understudies who are ready to go on for each of you.’ I turned to Larry and said, ‘I really love you,’ and he said it right back to me, and we really did. I still think I’m going to come to New York and find him.” Asked about losing her role in the movie version, Lawrence said, “I did a screen test, but Jerry told me to do my scene one way and [co-director] Robert Wise told me to do it another. And instead of saying, ‘Stop! Let’s do it twice,’ I did it as a schizo and I wouldn’t have hired me either. That was painful. You work that hard to create an entity, but at that time you
had to have an international star that was known around the world, and that was Natalie [Wood]. She was very close to Robert Wise, very dear friends, and was committed to it long before.” Between working steadily and fighting off the advances of Ricardo Montalban and David Merrick, Lawrence was also in a couple of legendary flops, “Subways are for Sleeping” — “The original book was truncated and the episodic script was weak, about homeless characters living in museums and department store bathrooms, probably would work today” — and “Saratoga.” “Unfortunately, Morton Da Costa decided he was going to write, produce, publicize, and direct, and nobody can wear that many hats,” Lawrence said of “Saratoga.” “Forty people in the cast, two treadmills, and a turntable, with Cecil Beaton designing sets and costumes. The curtain went up and the audience would gasp. It was almost like a painting — overwhelming — and it was almost too much. Too many subplots, hard for the audience to follow, and we spoke at each other in reams. “In a show, the big points have to be sung or danced and connected with wonderful dialogue, like Laurents did in ‘West Side,’ but we didn’t have that. Cecil was a dream, putting me in an authentic whalebone corset so my waistline was 21 inches, and I had to breathe, sing, and dance in that. But everybody looked stunning and he was gentle and ever creative. Every single dress was unique — there weren’t two of anything — for the entire cast.” YouTube hosts a pretty spectacular array of Lawrence’s numerous, memorable TV appearances, in which she appeared with nearly every show biz legend of the era: “Bing Crosby was a great disciplinarian with his kids, I know, because I worked with his sons. I did a special with him and was at the NBC studios at 9 and there was a wall-long buffet with omelets, waffles, anything you wanted. Dean Martin wasn’t there and finally showed up at 10:30 in a trench coat he’d slept in, saying, ‘Whose idea was it to start so early?’ Bing said, ‘Mine, because I’m used to singing early on the radio.’ Dean said, ‘Well, I’m not on the radio.’ ‘What can I get for you, Dino?’ ‘I’ll have a Scotch on the rocks.’ ‘Well, I have no alcohol here.’ ‘Well, forget the rocks!’ “Dean was always so funny, the same off screen, just a little glow, never drunk, but there was a relaxed
IN THE NOH, continued on p.18
| January 8, 2014
Nothing New — For Better and Worse
Amanda Peet’s unoriginal new play is worth skipping while a Burt Bacharach revue must be seen
BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
never could much abide the songs of Burt Bacharach. They’ve always evoked soporific television variety shows from my youth not to mention my parents’ easy listening phase. “Promises Promises,” particularly in the recent revival, left me cold.
So, imagine my surprise at discovering the absolutely revelatory revue “What’s It All About: Bacharach Reimagined” at New York Theatre Workshop. A young genius by the name of Kyle Riabko has created new arrangements for many of the songs, put them together in a stunning playlist, added just the right amount of thteatricality, and come up with a not-to-be-missed show. Riabko takes these songs very seriously and looks into the heart of each of them, using harmonies and settings from cool jazz to rock, folk, and emo that are so arresting it’s like hearing these songs for the first time. Suddenly the lyrics by Hal David and others make emotional sense in a way they never did before. And, perhaps because my heart and ears were opened, I appreciated a sophistication I was unwilling to hear before. Riabko has orchestrated the pieces to flow together with an amazing fluidity, picking out themes to weave throughout the evening, demonstrating a musicality that’s only too rare in this kind of undertaking. In addition to Riabko, the other six members of the company each get their moments to shine, and they are all seriously accomplished musicians. Laura Dreyfuss and Nathaly Lopez stand out, in particular, in making overly familiar tunes seem fresh and exciting. The show has just been extended until February 2. Do yourself a favor and go find out what it’s all about.
On December 31, 1980, during a performance of “The Philadelphia Story” at Lincoln Center, the microphones went
out, amid a great deal of electronic noise. Blythe Danner, who was playing Tracy Lord, walked to the front of the stage, looked up at the booth, and said, “Turn the damn things off. We are professional actors. We are trained to project.” This was, as such breaking the fourth wall moments usually are, met with riotous approval by the New Year’s Eve audience. I bring this up because more than three decades later, Danner seems to have forgotten that training and can be seen virtually mumbling her way through “The Commons of Pensacola,” a new play by actress Amanda Peet now at MTC. Perhaps this is savvy self-preservation on Danner’s part, however, since there’s not much worth hearing in the play to begin with. Danner is playing Judith, the wife of a once high-
Kyle Riabko and Laura Dreyfuss in “What’s It All About?: Bacharach Reimagined.”
THE COMMONS OF PENSACOLA City Center Stage 1 131 W. 55th St. Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m.; Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $95-$105; nycitycenter.org Or 212-581-1212
flying, now jailed financier living in relative seclusion in a generic retirement community in Pensacola. It is Thanksgiving and, stripped of all her known assets, which have gone to the victims of her husband’s perfidy, she is trying to get by on what’s left to her. Her younger daughter, Becca, a failing actress from LA, comes to visit, new boyfriend Gabe in tow. Becca’s visit is not just to console mom in her banishment; she is trying to revive her career by producing a kind of reality show about her mother with Gabe’s assistance. Judith and Gabe take an instant dislike to each another. It also turns out Judith may just have stashed away enough cash to live on comfortably for the rest of her life. Becca’s sister Ali shows up, and there is a sibling battle as well as a moral quandary about who knows what when and why and what they’re going to do about it lest they all be charged with crimes. All I could think was, “Who cares?” The plotting is almost exclusively expository, and Peet has no ear for realistic dialogue. There is not much logic in the storytelling, and the characters lack any depth or subtlety. Contrasted with such wonder ful pieces as Steven Levenson’s “The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin,” seen earlier this year at Roundabout, or Woody Allen’s film “Blue Jasmine” — both of which began with the same basic premise — Peet’s effort seems particularly dismal. Allen’s movie was a retelling of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and a complex character study of a woman who suddenly finds herself a pariah with no value. Levenson probed the narcissism that drove white collar crimes and the intense personal damage that resulted. Both pieces had a dark lyricism that made exploring such corruption interesting and, in a way, classically theatrical. Peet has no such depth or sophistication in her writing; she just tells a fairly drab
New York Theatre Workshop 79 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Through Feb. 2 Tue.-Wed., Sun. at 7 p.m. Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 3 p.m.; Sun. at 2 p.m. $45-$55; nytw.org/tickets Or 212-460-5745
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?: BACHARACH REIMAGINED
Blythe Danner and Nilaja Sun in Amanda Peet’s “The Commons of Pensacola.”
story of a rich woman who doesn’t like being poor. In addition to Danner, the cast features Sarah Jessica Parker as Becca, Michael Stahl-David as Gabe, Ali Marsh as Ali, Zoe Levin as Ali’s daughter, and Nilaja Sun as Judith’s nurse Lorena. Parker invests little in the role of Becca, playing her as depressed but not particularly concerned that she’d spent months living out of her car. It’s a one-note performance, and she never really connects with anyone else on stage. Levin is forced to play a fairly generic disaffected young adult, but there is nothing special about the character. It’s notable that Sun and Stahl-David seem the most real in their comparatively small parts. They are the two most interesting actors on the stage. Lynne Meadow has done the play no favors with her perfunctory staging and the sets by Santo Loquasto, costumes by Tom Broecker, and lights by Jason Lyons are unremarkable, which one supposes is the point. But, still. Danner really was quite spectacular in “The Philadelphia Story.” In the best productions, highlights can linger in the memory for a lifetime. I still recall her dreamy look describing a boat as “yar,” a nautical term for beautiful. In her current outing, all one can think of is “yawn,” a theatrical term for “please make it stop.”
18 TRUTH, from p.13
problems. He questions if Caleb is safe — emotionally, physically, and in other ways. Caleb is a beacon of freedom and expression. GMK: Jeremy says the one thing he truly hates is a nasty hairy spider. What was shooting the spider scene like? RM: Oh my God. I really don’t like spiders. Part of me was petrified, but if actors can lose weight for a role I can do a scene with a spider. We purchased a taxidermied spider, a Singapore Blue. But when they shipped the real one and I saw it move, I thought there is no way they are putting that on me! It was venomous. So what you see is green screen. I refused. SPL: I think insurance wouldn’t allow for that. I don’t think we would have put a spider on Rob. GMK: What can each of you say about being handcuffed for a portion of the film? SPL: My handcuffs were on my feet
and on my wrists in front of me. The visceral nature for me was the jail cell and the jumpsuit. I could have been there. I didn’t like being on that jail set for two days. When we came out of there, it was uplifting. That space had a much more profound effect on me than the shackles. RM: Being cuffed for ten hours a day was torture in every sense of the word. GMK: What about the sex scenes and the nudity? Sean goes full frontal in the first ten minutes, but Rob, you film yourself quite discreetly. Were you intimidated to be naked with Sean? RM: No. Sean actually has made me feel comfortable in my body. I had no problem spending 10 to 12 hours a days in my Andrew Christian underwear. It was so liberating. I wanted to get naked, but Sean said no — there’s only one penis in the film. I would have gladly done it. I have no issue whatsoever. SPL: I was giving him shit! I have the power to say no. I don’t get naked because people expect it. But I also know that as an actor with an adult
background, I’m adept at doing certain things in front of the camera, and I’d be a fool not to do that. GMK: The characters talk about their secrets and shame, from Jeremy discussing his alcoholism and his mother’s to Caleb wrestling with demons throughout his life. How do you feel the characters deal with and work through the difficult issues in their relationship? RM: I am a sober man, and I do find that when you have a tough life that it does rub off and reflect your relationships. You can fall head over heels for somebody but the moral of it is that you can’t fix anyone. You have to work on yourself and fix yourself. SPL: It’s subtly referenced in the film that Caleb suffers from fetalalcohol syndrome. There’s something that happens to him as a result, and it creates this abrasive, volatile, and very manic type personality. The therapists don’t know how to deal with him. They medicate him so he doesn’t fly off the handle. We look at someone who appears to have the world at his fingertips, but
camaraderie nobody else had. He broke the fourth wall, telling the audience, ‘I got an idiot card here, cuz I can’t memorize it.’ He was so funny, they’d keep his mistakes in. An angel. “Gene Kelly saw me in ‘West Side,’ came backstage, and said, ‘I want to do a TV special with you, kid. Can you come to California next week?’ He was one of the reasons I went into show biz, but I said I had a contract and wouldn’t get time off until the next year when I had two weeks. “He said, ‘Okay, I’ll wait for you.’ I thought he was going to dance with Cyd Charisse and maybe I would have one number, but it was with just him, Donald O’Connor, and me. I died and went to heaven, and we sang ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ without Debbie Reynolds! He brought me to Monte Carlo for a Red Cross gala with Princess Grace and Michel Legrand. Anything and everything was possible then! “I was hosting a cerebral palsy nationwide telethon and called everybody, including my dear paisan Frank Sinatra ‘cause I cooked for him in his house at Palm Springs. He said, ‘I want you to tell them I’m coming on the show, kid, and I’m the last guest, but I can’t sing on your show because I’m doing a benefit that night and they have all my music.’ So he came on with idiot cards and a speech prepared. His conductor was my conductor, Joe Aranello, who called from the piano, ‘Come on, Frank, you know this!,’ and he played ‘They Cant Take That Away from Me.’ Frank said, ‘Okay, but do it
there is so much going on under the surface. He’s living alone and any time he opens up and becomes accessible to someone, it ends in the worst way. GMK: What about romantic gestures? What is something that melts your heart? RM: Maybe because of my age, but I think it’s sweet to bring flowers on a first date. It shows you care and it’s romance. I’d love it if someone did that for me. There’s no writing love letters anymore. Now it’s texting. SPL: I ride horses. I can have the worst day and if I can have a riding lesson and I can still come off that horse, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Rob wrote the scene of Jeremy getting a horse for Caleb for me. I’ve been riding since I was five. What I do is considered English equitation. I've competed on the Hunter/ Jumper show circuit in San Diego in recent years. I’ve always wanted to do a film with horses. I’d love to do a western with tons of horses. A period piece would be a dream.
wonderful sons, Christian and Michael. Michael is a psychiatric nurse and Christopher is studying to be a nurse. Neither of them exhibited the need to perform, and to do that you have to need it as much as you need your kidneys. If you don’t have that kind of drive you mustn’t tackle it, because it’s much too difficult and painful. They’re out for a committed occupation with no ifs, ands, or buts. People are always going to be ill and need a nurse and that’s where they are. I applaud that.”
IN THE NOH, from p.16
And, my annual Eddie Awards, named after the great
gay director Edmund Goulding, for the past year’s 10 best films go to the following, in alphabetical order: CINEDIGM
January 8, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
“Short Term 12” director Destin Cretton.
in this key, so she can sing it with me.’ I said, ‘I don’t know it.’ ‘Don’t worry, I’ll feed it to you, kid.’ “So we did it, and we were one thousand dollars short of beating the previous donation record. He walked off to his benefit but spoke to my stage manager, who told me that Frank said, ‘I’ll make out a check for ten thousand so it goes over the limit.’ How do you do that? So I called his secretary, Dolores, the next day and asked, ‘What is his favorite Italian food?’ Lasagna, of course, the one that takes the most time! ‘Okay, when is he in Vegas?,’ and opening night I came with big pan of hot lasagna, my mother’s recipe.
“A.C.O.D.” (Stu Zicherman) “ B l u e i s t h e Wa r m e s t C o l o r ” (Abdellatif Kechiche)
Lawrence’s mother was always her biggest cheerleader, but her father “wanted me to be a lawyer. ‘Well, Dad, you put those tap shoes on me and I never took ‘em off and it’s gonna look dumb in the courtroom.’ ‘That’s not funny.’ He never really approved, did come to ‘West Side’s’ opening night, but never condoned the fact that I came to New York instead of attending Northwestern.” Lawr ence’s marriage to Robert Goulet made them the ultimate show biz couple: “We were the wedding cake dolls and nobody can be that perfect or live up to those eternal smiles. But we were together 14 years and had two
“Frances Ha” (Noah Baumbach) “In a World” (Lake Bell) “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete” (George Tillman, Jr.) “In the House” (François Ozon) “ T h e I n v i s i b l e Wo m a n ” ( R a l p h Fiennes) “Short Term 12” (Destin Cretton) “Therese” (Charlie Stratton) “The To Do List” (Maggie Carey)
| January 8, 2014
New Year’s Eve 1899, 2013, and Moments In Between Jeremy Sams’ “Die Fledermaus” production time-shifts uncomfortably BY ELI JACOBSON
KEN HOWARD/ METROPOLITAN OPERA
nder the Gelb administration, the Metropolitan Opera has employed its New Year’s Eve Gala as a vehicle to unveil new productions. To ring in 2014, the Met relied on a traditional standby — Johann Strauss, Jr.’s operetta “Die Fledermaus” — pitching yet another Otto Schenk/ Günther Schneider -Siemssen production onto the scrap heap in favor of one from Jeremy Sams, with sets and costumes by Robert Jones. Sams translated the sung German lyrics into English while Broadway playwright Douglas Carter Beane reworked the dialogue scenes. Operetta is a difficult proposition in large opera houses — opera singers are not trained to deliver stylish light comedy dialogue or project witty lyrics clearly. Then there is the question of translation with its inherent compromises. European comedy of the 19th century is very different from American comedy of the 21st century. Do you update — and if you do, how? Charm is an outmoded concept. In 1950, Rudolf Bing went the Broadway route, bringing in Garson Kanin to direct and redo the book while Howard Dietz provided English lyrics. Audiences flocked to it despite the critics. The 1986 Schenk/ SchneiderSiemssen production attempted a return to authenticity with a hybrid of the original German sung lyrics and the dialogue in English. It proved ornately handsome but stiff and lifeless from the beginning — Comden and Green’s revamped book in later revivals didn’t help matters. Jeremy Sams goes for fin-de-siècle decadence by pushing the time period forward 25 years to December 31, 1899 and the dawn of a new century. This is not a bad concept, but for every excellent idea Sams and Beane came up with there are two that miss the point. By pushing too hard for cleverness, several jokes grate and a few offend. Sams alternates witty couplets with forced and twee doggerel. Gabriel von Eisenstein is turned into an assimilated Jew with a menorah on the piano and dialogue peppered with words like schlemiel and mensch. But then in Act II, there are toasts to the new century ironically predicting Austria achieving a century of peace and social order. Prince Orlofsky prophesies that the 20th century will be good for the czar and his family. Rosalinde introduces her Czárdás by lamenting Germany’s annexation of Hungary.
Susanna Phillips as Rosalinde and Christopher Maltman as Eisenstein in Johann Strauss, Jr.'s "Die Fledermaus."
It leaves a sour taste that kills the champagne buzz. Contemporary popculture references to Barbra Streisand, Sondheim songs, and pedophile priests are thrown in, which get easy laughs but pull you out of the period. The original Genée and Haf fner libretto has witty situations and essential dramatic exposition that are brushed aside by all this folderol. The new production’s team just don’t know when to leave well enough alone. Robert Jones’ sets stylishly evoke the Jugendstil art movement, with Klimt-style paintings decorating the Eisensteins’ drawing room. His costumes, however, lack the same carefully chosen palette and elegant line; the gowns look garish, heavy, and shapeless. Stephen Mear’s choreography looked a little too Weimar “Cabaret” era meets Vegas “Showgirls” and was underrehearsed. Rising tenor Michael Fabiano as Alfred proved equally brilliant as actor and singer. He has real comic timing and his impromptu tenorizings were balm to the ear while tickling the funny bone. Broadway’s Danny Burstein as the drunken jailer Frosch proved an artful comedian, putting over uneven material in his Act III opening stand-up comedy monologue. The rest of the cast was a mixed bag. Susanna Phillips as Rosalinde projected wholesome American “diva next door” charm and her middle range is luscious. But her upper register turned ragged in the trio that ended Act I and she left out florid high phrases and low ones in her Act II Czárdás. She also made several musical entrances late.
Baritone Christopher Maltman initially was a suave Eisenstein but struggled with the high tessitura (it is often cast with a tenor) and by Act III he was shouting his high notes. Paulo Szot as Dr. Falke was blusteringly cheery throughout, lacking the necessary cool Machiavellian guile. His rough and ready baritone failed to negotiate a smooth soft line in his Act II “Brüderlein und Schwesterlein” serenade. Jane Archibald as Adele won applause for her brilliant staccati in the Act III audition aria. Yet she seemed an ingénue in a soubrette role, lacking pertness and sparkle. Anthony Roth Costanzo’s appealingly dizzy, extravagant, and eccentric Prince Orlofsky looked like a combination of ’80s pop singer Prince and Liberace. But the role is awkwardly written for a mezzo and even more so for a countertenor. Costanzo seems to be
singing around the wrong register breaks and his high notes were screechy — a little artful transposition and vocal rewriting would have helped here. Broadway refugee Betsy Wolfe as Ida got stuck with a lot of Beane’s worst lines while Patrick Carfizzi was a capable if rather unimposing Frank. The Hungarian maestro Adam Fischer has a knowing way with the music but it was all too neat and contained — the essential dash and esprit were missing in action. Despite the gala occasion, there were no surprise guests in Act II. Still, with all its missteps, there is a light-on-its-feet energy and verve in this staging that were missing from the previous production. A little judicious editing of the book and lyrics, some costume alterations, a better cast, and zippier conducting could turn this into a very good show.
January 8, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
in 2000, when she told a Reuters reporter that the sheikh advised the Islamic Group to call off its ceasefire against the Egyptian government. The Clinton White House quickly discovered this and sanctioned her. Lynne admitted that she’d erred and was allowed to re-sign the SAMs. She continued to represent the sheikh, who had been sentenced to life for seditious conspiracy. This occurred in the remaining months of relative tolerance before the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. In 2002, the Bush administration, reeling from its inability to predict or prevent this tragedy, charged Lynne with passing the same message for
ment — misogynist, anti-Semitic, homophobic — and it is to be taken seriously. But Lynne Stewart did not advocate these things. It’s not that she was the only attorney who could be charged with “supporting terrorism.” Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark wrote a letter defending Lynne, saying that he, as Abdel Rahman’s co-counsel, had done far more to publicize the sheikh’s words than had Lynne. It’s more that the Bush administration knew just what it was doing when it picked Lynne Stewart to be the post9/11 exemplar of treason. Lynne was
guilelessly funky and used to come to court wearing a Mets hat and carrying purple tote bags. She was a plump granny, easy to laugh with (or at), who sometimes cried openly in public. But the fact that it was easy for the feds to play the misogyny card obscures a more dangerous fact. What’s been legally done to Lynne Stewart can now be done to any attorney whom the US Justice Department deems to have overstepped its new limits on speech in representing clients. These days, lawyers defending anyone viewed as dangerous to the government must sign agreements, more restrictive than those Lynne Stewart signed, cutting off any communication from clients with the outside world and virtually obliterating attorney-client privilege. Which makes it all but impossible to say, let alone know, what the United States is doing to its captured “enemies.” “The only way that we will ever get to the bottom of the American concentration camp abuses at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib,” says Michael Tigar, emeritus law professor at Duke University and Lynne’s former attorney, “is if the lawyers for these prisoners are permitted to tell their stories to the world.” Now that the feds are smiling on us queers and letting us get married and join the military and all, why should we care about a case like Lynne Stewart’s? And why should we care that there remain some 155 men — most uncharged — who have languished for years at Guantánamo, forbidden to discuss their alleged “jihadist” activities with their own lawyers, or describe how they’ve been tortured? Why should we care that the NYPD and the FBI monitor and infiltrate Muslim communities? Hasn’t this country been good to us? Meanwhile, Lynne Stewart is out of prison. She’s been given time served. May she rest and enjoy her family and be happy — may she beat cancer’s terrible odds. And may we never, ever again allow someone like her to go to prison.
ed me to, I hadn’t suspected she could be transformed like that into far more than just meat, more than an object of pleasure or disgust. Which meant Kechiche transcended the limits of what critics usually mean by the “male” gaze. A gaze that dykes and transmen are sadly as capable of as any guy. “I’d like to get me a piece of that.” “Ugh, did you see that dog?” Lengthy sex scenes aside (the perfect time for a bathroom break in the threehour film), I thought Kechiche brought an incredible generosity and sympathy to the film. That’s the only way he could have built the scenes I liked best. Including the most excruciating images I’ve ever seen of schoolyard homophobia. (Beware! Spoilers ahead.)
The scene began with the leader of her usual girl clique interrogating Adele about the blue-haired girl she’d been seen with — “She looked like a real dyke, a pussy-eater” — before demanding to know if Adele herself was a dyke. Adele vehemently, painfully denied it, eventually launching herself at the other girl. Kechiche caught it all. How girls police each other. The complicity of those in the crowd. The terror of having to face that long walk across the courtyard with all those hostile eyes. Just before that was a dyke bar scene, when the filmmaker caught what it might be like to venture into one for the first time and confront all that bubbling sexual energy. The openly lesbian stares, interested, hungry, appraising. Then
there was the teasing and jostling among dyke friends. It was almost hyper-realistically true. Ditto for the scene when Emma threw Adele out for cheating on her — one of the most anguished, best-acted break-up scenes ever caught on film. Also remarkable were Adele’s heartbreaking attempt at reconciliation and Emma’s response. The acting of Adèle Exarchopoulos (Adele) and Léa Seydoux (Emma) was amazing. There were plenty of quieter moments, also, that were gentle, humorous, and loving. Which means that even flawed, “Blue Is the Warmest Color” gives lesbians a rare humanity and depth, pretty much the only mainstream film I’ve seen that pulled it off.
Lynne Stewart Is Out — Should Queers Care? BY SUSIE DAY
ynne Stewart is out of prison. Lynne Stewart, the defense attorney convicted of providing material support for terrorism and given a 10-year sentence by the feds. Suffering from metastasizing breast cancer, which doctors say will kill her within 18 months, L ynne was given compassionate release by the Bureau of Prisons after thousands of supporters waged a four -year international campaign to get her out. On New Year’s Day, L ynne arrived at La Guardia from Carswell Federal Prison in Texas, struggled up from her wheelchair, and walked toward her family, friends, and the press. Then she was taken home, finally to receive competent medical care. If you forget that L ynne Stewart should never have gone to prison in the first place, this is joyous news. And if you’re part of the queer community that couldn’t care less about Lynne Stewart, think again. You don’t have to agree with Lynne Stewart’s politics to care about what happened to her. That’s the point here. Lynne spent her 28-year legal career representing countless poor people who, without her, wouldn’t have had a snowball’s chance in New York’s hellish legal system. But she became infamous for defending radically unpopular clients, from a Black Panther indicted for hijacking a plane, to a Mafia don on drug charges. She once told the New York Times that she believed in “violence directed at the institutions which per-
COGSWELL, from p.10
You hate Adele’s dopey expression. The ridiculous sex that you want to be hot (we do more than just hold hands) but also discrete, dignified even, if sex is ever that. And when Adele’s upset, you don’t want to see snot on her face when she cries. At least not over and over. There was plenty to make a dyke cringe, imagining herself up on the screen. But if you don’t sit through that, you’ll miss the moment the filmmaker switches over to a different gaze, portraying Adele through the eyes of her artist girlfriend, Emma, using all the light, all the angles that make Adele remarkably beautiful. Seeing only what the filmmaker want-
petuate capitalism, racism, and sexism, and at the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions.” She said this in 1995, while defending Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, charged with issuing a fatwa to his Islamic Group followers to bomb such New York City targets as the United Nations headquarters, the George Washington Bridge, and the Holland Tunnel. In order to become the sheikh’s attorney, Lynne Stewart had to sign Special Administrative Procedures (SAMs) papers with the Justice Department, agreeing not to convey information from the sheikh to third parties. Lynne Stewart broke this agreement
which she’d been disciplined under Clinton. These charges ultimately led to her 10-year sentence. I’m writing this fully aware that, though I’ve found Lynne Stewart eminently likeable, I’ve often disagreed with her — as when, in 2004, she told the Washington Post that she saw Islamic fundamentalism as “the only hope for change” in Mubarak’s Egypt. The sheikh, though representing a plausible threat to the Egyptian government, could never make the kind of revolution I (or Lynne Stewart) would want — or be allowed — to live through. I’ve sat in court, listening to the rhetoric that comes with his move-
The Bush administration knew just what it was doing when it picked Lynne Stewart to be the post-9/11 exemplar of treason.
| January 8, 2014
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January 8, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com train to Vernon-Jackson/ E to Court Sq.), Long Island City. Admission is $10, plus a two-drink minimum. More information at laughingdevil.com.
POLITICS Drinking Conservatively… Perhaps
The Log Cabin Republicans hold their monthly Second Thursday Social at Atlas Social Club, 753 Ninth Ave. at 51st St. Jan. 9, 7-9 p.m. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PERFORMANCE Split Britches, Yesterday & Tomorrow
Split Britches, New York's premiere lesbian performance troupe, kicks off the new year with “Ruff,” Peggy Shaw's performance about life and art following her 2011 stroke, written by Shaw and Lois Weaver and directed by Weaver. La MaMa First Floor Theater, 74A E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Jan. 9-26; Thu.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15; $10 for students & seniors at lamama.org or 212-475-7710.
THEATER Women Behind Bars — No Orange
In 1927, long before “Orange Is the New Black,” women inmates in New York were incarcerated in the Women’s Penitentiary on Welfare Island, a short ferry ride from the hustle and bustle of Midtown on what is now Roosevelt Island. In “Island Girls,” written by Barbara Kahn and Noelle LuSane, with music by LuSane, a newly-graduated social worker comes face to face with her own biases grounded in her white, upper class background while she gets to know the prisoners — including Polish Jewish lesbian Eve Adams — whose stories have long been forgotten but are brought back to life in this meticulously researched play. Kahn and Robert Gonzales Jr. direct. Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. at 10th St. Jan. 9-26; Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 at theaterforthenewcity.net or 212-254-1109.
NIGHTLIFE Furry Warmth
Urban Bear presents its first Winter Warm-Up of 2014, with music from DJ Damian Cote and $15 Bud & Bud Lite pitchers. The Eagle, 554 W. 28th St. Jan. 10, 10 p.m.
ing their forms through the singular weirdness of their own individual visions. The series wraps up this weekend with guests of honor Jack Waters & Peter Cramer (Jan. 10), Susana Cook (Jan. 11), and Arthur Aviles (Jan. 12). The Club at La MaMa., 74A E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Jan. 10-11, 10 p.m.; Jan. 12, 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $15; $10 for students & seniors at helixqpn.org.
MUSIC A Klezmer One-Two Punch
The Isle of Klezbos all-gal sextet teams up with the powerhouse Metropolitan Klezmer octet to inaugurate the new Vox Hebraica concert series, curated by Marina Kifferstein, at the legendary Actors' Temple, whose past congregants ranged from Shelley Winters and Sophie Tucker to the Three Stooges. The two ensembles embrace an eclectic mix of musical styles with both irreverence and respect. 339 West 47th St., btwn. Eighth & Ninth Aves. Jan. 10, 9 p.m. Tickets are $15; $10 for students & seniors at tinyurl.com/ qej752b.
BOOKS Obsession, Redemption in the South of France
Barry Stewart Levy reads from his book “European Son: A Novella,” a tale of obsession, revenge, and redemption in which a young man travels to the South of France to escape his troubled past. Bureau Of General Services — Queer Division at Cage, 83A Hester St., btwn. Orchard & Allen Sts. Jan. 11, 7 p.m. More information at bgsqd.com.
NIGHTLIFE Grab a Partner
The Big Apple Ranch, which holds a weekly country-western dance for the LGBT community, hosts its Leather Meets Levis night to benefit the New York City Gay Men's Chorus. The evening opens with lessons for newcomers and then offers four hours of great music and the hottest partnerdancing in town. Dress things up or bare what you dare with sexy denim and leather outfits and accessories. 39 W. 19th St., fifth fl. Jan. 11, lessons at 8 p.m., opening dancing, 9-1. Admission is $10 and includes lessons.
PERFORMANCE The Future of Queer
In “Squirts,” a Helix Queer Performance Network event, curator and host Dan Fishback rallies the brashest new voices of the queer stage for a peek into the future of underground, revolutionary queer art-making. Ranging from drag and cabaret to spoken word and theater, these young artists take cues from their predecessors while reinvent-
COMEDY Laugh LICs
Comedian Adam Sank welcomes Danny Cohen, Emma Willmann, Chris Doucette, Graham Nolan, and token straight girl Sheba Mason. Laughing Devil Comedy Club, 47-38 Vernon Blvd. (#7
PERFORMANCE Reading Embarrassing Revelations From Others
“Celebrity Autobiography” features an eclectic mix of talented and hilarious performers who act out excerpts from a range of celebrity tell-alls — from Justin Bieber to Elizabeth Taylor, Beyoncé, and Miley Cyrus. On Jan. 13, 9 p.m., guests include Matthew Broderick, Debbie Harry, Sherri Shepherd, Mario Cantone, Rachel Dratch, Eugene Pack, Dayle Reyfel, and Alan Zweibel. On Jan. 17, 9 p.m., Ralph Macchio and Marsha Mason are joined by Richard Kind, Jackie Hoffman, Dratch, Pack, Reyfel, and Zweibel. Stage 72, 158 W. 72nd St. Tickets are $35-$60, plus a two-drink minimum, at SmartTix.com or 212-868-4444.
PERFORMANCE Queer Division Showcase
“Dictionary” is a monthly reading/ performance/ film/ whatever-your-medium showcase curated by Stephen Boyer. Tonight, guests sharing their work are Ben Rosenberg, Clara Lipfert, Chelsea Tadeyeske, David J. White, Edwin R. Perry, Kayla Morse, Lara Weibgen, and Tommy “Teebs” Pico. Bureau Of General Services — Queer Division at Cage, 83A Hester St., btwn. Orchard & Allen Sts. Jan. 14, 7 p.m. More information at bgsqd.com.
CABARET Slices of Harris
Broadway star and recording artist Sam Harris, acclaimed for his American Songbook stylings, presents an evening of liter-usical, in which he intersperses his repertoire with selections from his new book of essays, “HAM: Slices of a Life” (Simon and Schuster). 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Jan. 15-16, 7 p.m.; Jan. 17-18, 8 p.m. Cover charges are $35-$45 for 7 p.m. shows; $45-$55 for 8 p.m. shows, plus a $25 food & drink minimum, at 54below.com.
PERFORMANCE Sodomites Pay Tribute…
“The Meeting,” is host Justin Sayre’s monthly gathering of the International Order of Sodomites. Sayre plans tributes to David Bowie (Jan. 16, 9:30 p.m.), Bernadette Peters (Feb. 16, 9:30 p.m.), and the TV hit “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” (Mar. 16, 9:30 p.m.). Joe’s Pub, inside the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Tickets are $20 at joespub.com or 212-967-7555.
BOOKS Reading Carol Dixon
In January’s installment of “Drunken! Careening! Writers!,” Kathleen Warnock welcomes Paul Palmer, Brenda Williams, Kathleen Bedoya, and Jacqueline Johnson to read from the work of the late Carol F. Dixon, executive director of the John Oliver Killens Writers Workshop, editor-in-chief of The Other Half: The Magazine of Emerging Writers of Color, and member of the Ain't I A Woman Writers Collective who was finalizing her novel “Seen And Not Heard” at the time of her death last April. KGB Bar, 85 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Jan. 16, 7 p.m. Admission is free.
GALLERY Getting Under Their Skin
Israeli-born, New York-based artist Nir Ariel presents his debut exhibition of photographs, “Inframen,” consisting of 13 black and white infrared images of male dancers. The technique allows the artist to be examined below the skin, to reveal the blemishes, scars, stretch marks, sun damage, and other traces of wear that lie beneath the surface of men who express themselves with their bodies, at once pushing their physical limits and maintaining beauty in their appearance and movements. Daniel Cooney Fine Art, 508 W. 26th St., Suite 9C. Jan. 16-Mar. 8, Tue-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. More information at danielcooneyfineart.com.
GALLERY Threading the LGBTQ Needle
“Queer Threads: Crafting Identity & Community” presents 23 artists examining contemporary LGBTQ culture through thread-based craft techniques — including felt paintings, yarn drawings, embroidered portraits, knit sculpture, quilted tapestries, and crocheted installations, as well as video. From Nathan Vincent’s lifesized crocheted men’s locker room to Liz Collin’s oversized knit pride flag based on Gilbert Baker’s 1978 original design and L.J. Roberts’ “The Queer Houses of Brooklyn in the Three Towns of Breukelen, Boswyck,and Midwout during the 41st Year of the Stonewall Era,” works range from intimate to expansive in scale. Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster St., btwn. Grand & Canal Sts. Noon-6 p.m., Tue.-Wed., Fri-Sun.; noon-8 p.m., Thu., through Mar. 16. Opening reception is Jan. 17, 6-8 p.m. More information at leslielohman.org.
BOOKS Sean Strub’s Years on the Frontline
Sean Strub, a longtime activist and the founder of POZ magazine, reads from his new book “Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS and Survival” (Scribner), and engages in discussion with the audience. Bureau Of General Services — Queer Division at Cage, 83A Hester St., btwn. Orchard & Allen Sts. Jan. 24, 7 p.m. More information at bgsqd.com.
| January 8, 2014
High Stakes in .Gay Top Level Domain Ownership Battle One company competing for rights says it will serve LGBT community members, groups best
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
n a move that may impact queer businesses and groups around the globe, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) may soon decide whether .gay, a top level domain, will be controlled by a business that buys and sells domain names or by community groups organized through the efforts of a for-profit company. “We’re literally creating an Internet community that functions with the sensibility of our community,” said Scott Seitz, the president of dotgay, llc, the company that has submitted a community application to ICANN to control the .gay domain. In his application to the Internet policy-making body, which cost $185,000 to file, Seitz proposed that dotgay, llc, which is for-profit, would control the top level domain, but that “authentication partners” would participate in the process of approving the use of the .gay name by community groups, businesses, and individuals. That means that people visiting those sites would have greater confidence that a site is legitimate and it would make it harder for
people to register anti-gay sites, such as godhatesfags.gay or exgay.gay. Seitz said that in five years the .gay domain could generate revenues from $30 million to $100 million. If he wins the domain, his operations will be governed by a contract he would sign with ICANN. The proposed contract says that Seitz will return 67 percent of the profits from .gay to the community. “We’re the only ones committing by contract in the end to a community relationship,” he said. “We have to get comfortable with transparency.” At present, there are 22 top level domains, such as .com or .org, with an additional 200 or so country or government domain names. ICANN is releasing another 1,400 top level domains and that launched an application frenzy among businesses and communities to win the names. ICANN appears to be overwhelmed by the volume of applications. “Because this is all new, they’re really not hitting any of their deadlines at all,” Seitz said, adding that the .gay application was slated to have been decided three years ago. “It was supposed to be done by 2011.” With the support of 239 queer groups representing 200,000 businesses and
seven million people from around the globe, Seitz is competing against three companies that have filed business applications for .gay. Those businesses have applied for other top level domain names, with one seeking to own 10 names. The other two have collectively applied for hundreds of names. Two of the companies — Top Level Domain Holdings Limited and United TLD Holdco Ltd., a subsidiary of Demand Media, a Seattle company — either did not respond to a request for comment or declined to comment. Raymond King, the chief executive of Top Level Design, LLC, the third applicant, referred Gay City News to editorials he has published on gay websites. In effect, King argues that the dotgay, llc proposal will constrain speech and limit access to the .gay domain. That view has some support in the queer community. GOProud, the gay conservatives group, and the Metroplex Republicans of Dallas filed objections with ICANN to the dotgay, llc application. They argued that given the wider community’s hostility to gay conservatives and Republicans, they were likely to be barred from using the .gay domain, while a free market would afford them the same access as anyone
else. It costs 5,000 euros, or just under $7,000, to file an objection. GOProud’s objection was disallowed after it filed one that was over the word limit and it did not respond in a timely fashion to a request from ICANN to remedy that. A September 2013 ruling by an ICANN expert dismissed the Metroplex objection. Seitz readily concedes that .gay domains will be more expensive under the dotgay, llc proposal, but the benefit is that the community will have substantial participation in and control over the .gay domain. That does not guarantee that there will not be disputes, but it does mean that, for example, small queer businesses won’t be competing with large businesses that buy and sell domain names. “It doesn’t mean you’re not going to have conflict because there is going to be theeagle.net, theeagle.biz, theeagle. com, but they’re going to be community names against community names and we’ll try and work with them to find resolution,” Seitz said. “In that case, it’ll be a little bit of an auction, but it’s going to be a limited auction to a handful of people in the community that want it instead of an auction with domain grabbers.”
PETE SOUZA/ THE WHITE HOUSE
In a December 29 Facebook post, ABC “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts, who interviewed President Barack Obama in early 2012 when he decided to announce his support for marriage equality, came out as a lesbian. “I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together,” Roberts wrote. A day after the post, TMZ reported that Amber Laign is a San Francisco massage therapist who has been in a relationship with the 53-year-old anchor for a decade. Roberts, who is a breast cancer survivor, underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2012 after a diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome. In her Facebook post, Roberts referred to her recovery over the past year and a half. “Flashback 12/29/12….Hard to believe this was 1 year ago today... when I reached a critical milestone of 100 days post transplant,” she wrote. “Reading this comforts me and I hope the same for you: ‘If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.’ At this moment I am at peace and filled with joy and gratitude. I am grateful to God, my doctors and nurses for my restored good health. I am grateful for my sister, Sally-Ann, for being my donor and giving me the gift of life.” In May 2012, prior to Roberts’ bone marrow treat-
COURTESY OF JENNIFER GOODSTEIN
ROBIN ROBERTS, OBAMA’S MARRIAGE EQUALITY INTERVIEWER, COMES OUT
President Barack Obama announced support for marriage equality during ABC “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts’ interview with him on May 9, 2012.
ment, the White House chose her to conduct the interview in which Obama said, “At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think samesex couples should be able to get married.” The president spoke in unusually personal terms in explaining his thinking about marriage equality. “I have to tell you that over the course of sev-
eral years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they
Amber Laign and Robin Roberts at the 2010 White House Correspondents Dinner.
are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama said. According to TMZ, the relationship between Roberts and Laign was well known to family, friends, and professional colleagues. — Paul Schindler
January 8, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO
GREATER NY GALA SATURDAY FEBRUARY 8, 2014
WALDORF ASTORIA NY For more information on the Gala, visit www.hrcgreaterny.org. At the HRC Greater NY site, you can purchase tickets, donate an auction item, buy a program book ad, become a volunteer, or become a corporate sponsor.
January 8, 2014, Gay City News