FREE VOLUME TWELVE, ISSUE FIVE FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 12, 2013
Prop 8, DOMA Updates 06 Bullies in “White Plains” 20 LGBT Reverses Schulman Ban 11 “Laramie” Redux 23
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February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
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| February 27, 2013
Illustration by Michael Shirey
Anti-gay writer for new digital series rankles out comic geeks
Advocates warn against “watering down”
Another ‘authentic, historic’ Williamsburg 19 Tuned, toned & well-strung 15
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR The LGBT Center: a bad policy ended badly 26
February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
Immigration Advocates Warn Against ‘Watering Down’ Reform
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
n response to a January 28 memorandum from eight US senators of both parties who are taking the lead on immigration reform, a number of local and national advocacy groups held a Manhattan press conference to voice fears about the risk of “watering down” what they described as the push for “real reform.” “While we applaud the eight senators for their hard work, we are not going to support just any bill,” said Shirley Aldebol, of 32BJ SEIU, a union representing building services workers that hosted the February 20 event. Advocates from Latino, AsianAmerican, and LGBT groups voiced a variety of concerns about specifics they did not see addressed to their satisfaction in the memorandum from the so-called Gang of Eight. In particular, they are opposed making relief for undocumented immigrants contingent on first bolstering bor der protection; they are demanding that backlogs that can keep families separated for decades be addressed; and they want family unification provisions of immigration law expanded from benefiting citizens to helping permanent residents keep their families together, as well. For Rachel B. T iven, executive director of Immigration Equality, which advocates for LGBT and HIVaffected immigrants, there is another critical priority — incorporating language classifying the same-sex permanent partners and spouses of American citizens as family members in a way that allows them a path to citizenship on par with that of different-sex spouses. The group estimates there are 36,000 binational same-sex couples living in the US. The principle T iven raised is embodied in the Uniting American Families Act first introduced years ago by West Side Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler. Though Nadler, with the support of allies on Capitol Hill, including the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, told Gay City News he has been assured by leading House immigration advocates that UAFA will be part of any comprehensive bill, it is not spelled out specifically in the Gang of Eight memo. The day after release of the memo, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of
the Gang, warned that incorporating it into a Senate bill, expected to be drawn up by late March, would kill reform efforts. Tiven took clear aim at the January 28 memorandum and its authors for failing to address same-sex partners. “Those who are pretending to be our friends and those who clearly are not are trying to scare us that the bor ders ar e not secur e when they are and that putting gay and lesbian families in the legislation will weaken the bill, which is not true,” she said. “Don’t let people scare you into a bad deal. Don’t let legislators blame others for their cowardice.” After the press conference, Tiven expressed concern that the fanfare about bipartisan compromise at the time of the Senate memo’s release could militate against adding provisions like UAFA to the bill as it is written in coming weeks. At this point, she believes the best shot for incorporating Nadler’s measure is in the legislation’s first draft, because the Gang of Eight could be motivated to resist amendments in the Judiciary Committee or on the Senate floor. Such a non-amendment pledge, she said, “is not uncommon and not unheard of. Some would argue that having no amendments is the very purpose of a bipartisan approach. This is a reasonable fear.” Asked whether she believed that New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, one of the Gang of Eight, or any of his seven colleagues, was pressing for a mutual pledge to resist amendments, Tiven said, “We have no specific infor mation one way or the other.” But, she added, “Schumer has not allayed our concerns. He could just add UAFA and do that.” On several occasions since the Senate memorandum has been released, Schumer’s office has told Gay City News he hopes to see UAFA in the final immigration measure adopted by Congress, a goal President Barack Obama endorsed in his own immigration proposal issued a day after the Gang of Eight went public. Schumer spokesman Max Young told Gay City News, “Senator Schumer is not pushing for an agreement to oppose amendments in the Judiciary Committee.” Tiven expressed satisfaction that her group had broad coalition support not only from other LGBT
GAY CITY NEWS
Immigration Equality joins Latino, Asian-American groups urging “real” change on Schumer, his Senate colleagues
Heather Morgan criticized the use of her marriage to Maria del Mar Verdugo as a political bargaining chip.
groups in New York and nationwide but from labor, business, religious, and other organizations, as well. She noted extensive advocacy efforts Immigration Equality has been able to make at the White House, in Schumer’s office, and elsewhere on Capitol Hill. But the moderator of the February 20 press conference, ChungWha Hong, who heads the New York Immigration Coalition, aggressively pressed Schumer to make himself more available to what she characterized as “local” advocates. After saying, “The Gang of Eight needs to go back and do their homework,” she added, “Schumer must meet with the local coalition.” Saying the New York senator had been meeting with advocates on the national level, Hong told Gay City News, “He has to remember that he represents New York and is a national leader. We are his biggest asset. If he wants our help, he needs to respond to the efforts of his constituents.” Schumer’s office pushed back hard against any narrative that he has been unresponsive back home. Yo u n g s a i d , “ T h e s e c l a i m s a r e simply not based in reality. Senator Schumer not only just met two weeks ago with Chung-Wha Hong, the New York Immigration Coalition’s executive director, last week we informed them that we were
looking forward to meeting with the group and of fered a complete briefing on the issue. In addition, Senator Schumer over the last weeks has met with scores of the individual members that make up the group.” Young pr ovided Gay City News with a list of several dozen New York organizations that Schumer had met or teleconferenced with in recent weeks, as well as more than half a dozen LGBT -focused organizations he also been in personal touch with — including Immigration Equality, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Latino Commission on AIDS. One reform advocate who did not speak at last week’s press confer ence but was there, in comments to Gay City News helped put a personal face on the same-sex immigration issue. In 2011, Heather Morgan, a New Jersey-born marketing director for a non-profit organization, m a r r i e d M a r i a d e l M a r Ve r d u g o , a marketing executive for a Spanish newspaper who has been in the US on a work visa for the past three years. The women, who live in West Harlem, would like to start a family but cannot do so unless Verdugo can be assured of staying in the US and being able to work to supplement the family’s income. They are one of five plaintiff couples in Immigration Equality’s lawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies their marriage federal government recognition. “We live every day with the uncertainty that tomorrow she will lose her job and I would have no legal recourse to sponsor her,” Morgan said. “The most disheartening part is that New York has come so far. Politicians we sent to Washington have a clear mandate from the citizens of New York about our right to marry, but are using us as bargaining chips.” In the first several years after UAFA’s initial introduction, its supporters took pains to emphasize that the measure does not aim to under mine DOMA, but the 1996 law is precisely the problem hanging over Morgan and Verdugo’s heads. The couple has two hopes of overcoming that hurdle, both of which reach a critical crossroads in March — one in the Senate and the other in the Supreme Court.
| February 27, 2013
Dismissal of Celia Farber Libel Suit versus Richard Jefferys Upheld Manhattan appeals court agrees AIDS activist did not defame HIV-denying journalist BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
n intermediate level state appeals court has upheld a 2011 trial court ruling dismissing Celia Farber’s lawsuit contending she was defamed by an email AIDS activist Richard Jefferys wrote saying that Farber and Dr. Peter Duesberg are “liars” for their assertions that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. The February 19 ruling upholding Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Louis B. York came from a five-judge p a n e l o f t h e N e w Yo r k A p p e l l a t e Division, First Department. The Jef ferys email was sent to Walter Fauntroy, who was involved in planning the 2008 Whistleblower Week activities for the Semmelweis Society International. Semmelweis, which describes its mission as assisting physicians who are punished for whistleblower activities or are victims of what it calls “fraudulent (sham) peer review,” was planning to give Farber and Duesberg its “Clean Hands Award.”
In 2006, Farber published an article in Harper’s Magazine critical of the medical establishment’s consensus about HIV and the appropriateness of using anti-retroviral medications in combating AIDS. In response, Jefferys, who works at the Treatment Action Group formed in 1992 by activists formerly involved with ACT UP, co-authored an Inter net response titled “Errors in Celia Farber’s March 2006 article in Harper’s Magazine,” which asserted she had made 56 factual errors in her piece. Jef ferys’ co-authors included prominent researchers and academics from the medical field. Duesberg, a tenur ed pr ofessor in molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley since the 1970s, is a longtime leader among AIDS denialists and has
been harshly criticized for the public health policies he urged on for mer South African President Thabo Mbeki at a critical time in that nation’s exploding AIDS crisis. Jefferys reacted to the news that Farber and Duesberg wer e being honored by sending Fauntr oy an email in which he stated, “These individuals are not whistleblowers, they are simply liars who for many years have used fraud to argue for Duesberg’s long-discredited theory that drug use and malnutrition — not HIV — cause AIDS.” Of fer ing to provide documentation for his assertions, Jefferys warned that including Farber and Duesberg in the Semmelweis event “will, regrettably, discredit and demean your efforts to support the very real issues of recrimination against legitimate whistleblowers.” In the wake of Jefferys’ email, Farber was dropped from public participation in Whistleblower Week, but her award was presented to her in a private ceremony. She filed suit against Jefferys and oth-
ers involved in circulating criticisms of her HIV-related writing, focusing particularly on Jefferys calling her a liar. She asserted that a number of criticisms he leveled against her
AIDS, continued on p.13
February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
Plaintiffs’, San Francisco’s Prop 8 Briefs Go to High Court February 21 filings respond to group defending 2008 voter initiative BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
ttor neys representing the two same-sex couples challenging California’s Proposition 8 have now filed their response to the brief submitted to the Supreme Court in January by those defending the 2008 voter initiative. In addition, the City and County of San Francisco, which was allowed to intervene as a co-plaintiff in the case, has also filed its response. The two respondent parties share the goal of restoring marriage equality to California, but the distinctions between the roles they play in the case are reflected in differences in focus between the two briefs, both filed on February 21. For the four plaintif fs and their attorneys, hired in 2009 by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the ultimate goal is having the Supreme Court rule that same-sex couples have an equal right with different-sex couples to marry anywhere in the United States. Their brief never loses sight of their challenge in getting the high court to that point. They argue, briefly, that the Official Proponents of Prop 8 — allowed to intervene by the US district court in the absence of the state of California defending the voter initiative — lack constitutional “standing” to appeal that same district court’s decision striking down the anti-gay ban. Alter natively, AFER also argues that if the high court finds that the Proponents have standing, it should af fir m the Ninth Circuit’s narrow ruling that Prop 8 is invalid because there was no rational justification for withdrawing the right to marry that same-sex couples in California enjoyed prior to its passage. Attorneys for the plaintiff couples, however, turn their main firepower on the underlying question, evaded by the Ninth Circuit, that the Proponents have put to the Supreme Court: Does it violate the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution for any state to deny same-sex couples the same right to marry that different-sex couples have? By contrast, the San Francisco brief focuses more extensive attention on the standing question. When it turns to the merits of the case, the city’s attorneys focus primarily on the Ninth Circuit holding that there
was no rational basis for California to withdraw the right same-sex couples enjoyed to marry after the State Supreme Court granted that earlier in 2008. The arguments on merit made by AFER and San Francisco are, in some respects, similar, since both hope to persuade the high court that the Proponents’ purported justifications for Proposition 8 are pathetically inadequate. In focusing their a r g u m e n t s d i f f e r e n t l y , h o w e v e r, AFER and the city give the Supreme Court plausible alternatives for reaching a result that could either revive same-sex marriage in Califor nia or extend it across the nation. There has been a lot of commentary about what would happen if the high court agrees that the Prop 8 Proponents lack standing to bring
particularly, in San Francisco, whose city clerk was not one of the defendants. Both briefs argue, persuasively, that if Prop 8 is unconstitutional as to the plaintiffs, it is also unconstitutional as to all similarly situated people — including, at a minimum, all other same-sex couples seeking to marry in Califor nia. San Francisco’s brief also argues that since county clerks act as agents of the state on marriage matters, a ruling against a public official carrying out a state function would have effect across California. These arguments are very convincing and should allay any fear that beating Prop 8’s defenders on the standing issue would have no immediate ef fect beyond just two same-sex couples.
AFER and the city give the Supreme Court plausible alternatives for reaching a result either reviving same-sex marriage in California or extending it across the nation.
their appeal. That conclusion would not only rob the Supreme Court of jurisdiction but also mean that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals similarly lacked jurisdiction to hear an appeal from Prop 8’s defenders. That would leave District Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 ruling — which found a sweeping 14th Amendment right to marriage by any same-sex couple in the nation — in place and unappealed. Some commentators have suggested the Walker ruling would only apply to the four plaintiffs and the two county clerks who denied the couples licenses. Prop 8’s Proponents make this argument, noting the case was not brought as a class action on behalf of all unmarried same-sex couples in California nor were all county clerks in California certified as a defendant class. The briefs fr om AFER and San Francisco both attack this argument, but the city develops it at greater length, which is logical given its primary goal of restoring samesex marriage in Califor nia — and,
While the brief filed on behalf of the tw o p l ai nti f f c o uple s do e s address the standing question, San Francisco’s brief eagerly pursues it, since it is a potential big winner for its constituency of gay and lesbian couples in that city. And they have great arguments to make. The city attorneys’ research uncover ed a particularly helpful authority to cite — a law review article authored by Chief Justice John Roberts in 1993, when he was still a practicing lawyer. Roberts argued that Congress cannot “ask the courts in effect to exercise… over sight responsibility at the behest of any John Q. Public who happens to be interested in the issue.” In line with this argument, the San Francisco brief also makes the point — calculated to strike terror in the hearts of federal judges! — that if the Proponents’ standing is upheld, then the initiators of every future voter referendum will write into their ballot question a provision authorizing them to defend it in court should state officials decide
not to. Similarly, in enacting statutes, state legislatures might prospectively confer standing on themselves to guard against the risk a future governor might choose not to defend particular laws. On t he me rit s , t he Cit y o f San Francisco sharply disputes the Proponents’ attack on the Ninth Circuit ruling striking down Prop 8, while also taking on the initiative’s pur ported justifications. As the California Supreme Court found when it reviewed Prop 8, the only ef fect of the 2008 referendum is to deny same-sex couples the label of mar riage, since Califor nia’s Domestic Partnership Law confers all state law rights of marriage on legallypartner ed same-sex couples and state family law tr eats same-sex couples and dif ferent-sex couples with just about total equality when it comes to par enting rights and responsibilities. The heart of the Proponents’ justification for Prop 8 is that it encour ages responsible procreation by heterosexual couples, but the San Francisco brief cogently points out that the referendum did not affect Califor nia law relating to procreation and parenting in any way — other than to disadvantage the children raised by same-sex couples who are barred from marrying. Prop 8, the San Francisco brief argues, had nothing to do with procreation and everything to do with taking rights away, and the city’s attorneys devote considerable attention to the nasty campaign waged by Prop 8’s Proponents. Since the initiative fails even that most lenient standard for judicial review — showing that it had a rational basis — the city’s brief makes no argument that it should be subjected to a more demanding degree of scrutiny. The AFER brief covers many of the same points as San Francisco’s but is most forceful in making a broadranging equal protection argument that seeks to place this case in the mainstream of Supreme Court equal protection jurisprudence. It devotes little attention to defending the Ninth Circuit’s approach, which trimmed back the sweeping implications of Judge Walker’s ruling in the district court. AFER’s aim is get the issue refocused on the way Walker’s decision spelled it out. AFER does a brilliant job of countering the argument made by Prop
PROP 8, continued on p.10
| February 27, 2013
Obama Supreme Court Brief Attacks DOMA on the Merits Justice Department responds to House’s outside counsel as all parties answer jurisdictional queries BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
The Merits of the Case Verrilli’s February 21 brief on the merits of the case restated arguments now familiar from lower court proceedings. DOJ argues that “sexual orientation” meets the criteria the Supreme Court has used in the past to identify classifications that should be considered “suspect” for equal protection purposes. In reviewing cases alleging discrimination based on a suspect class, the government has the burden of showing that important policy interests justify the measure. The Obama administration argues that the policy justifications Congress
rguing that all government policies that discriminate based on sexual orientation should be treated by the federal courts as presumptively unconstitutional, the Obama administration has filed its brief with the Supreme Court in the Defense of Marriage Act case in which oral arguments are scheduled for March 27. The case was brought by New York widow Edie Windsor, who is challenging DOMA’s ban on federal recognition of her Canadian mar riage, which saddled her with estate taxes of more than $360,000 following the 2009 death of her spouse, Thea Spyer. The February 21 brief, authored by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., is a response to last month’s filing by for mer Solicitor General Paul Clement, who represe n t s t h e B ip a r t i s a n L e g a l A dv isory Gr oup of the House of Representatives. BLAG, controlled by Republican Speaker John Boehner, stepped into the DOMA litigation in 2011 when the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the 1996 statute. The day after Verrilli’s brief, the Department of Justice filed a second brief addressing jurisdictional issues the Supreme Court posed on December 7 when it granted DOJ’s petition to review this case. The federal district court in New York had ruled in favor of Windsor’s lawsuit, and the Second Circuit Court o f A p p e a l s , b a s e d i n N e w Yo r k , affirmed that ruling last September. A t t o r n e y s f o r Wi n d s o r a n d f o r BLAG also filed briefs on February 22 addressing the jurisdictional questions.
Edie Windsor (r.), with her late spouse Thea Spyer.
stated for DOMA in 1996 fail to meet that test and that new rationales are now being articulated in a rearguard action to defend the statute. When DOMA litigation first sur faced, DOJ had not yet concluded that the law was unconstitutional. In keeping with arguments it made in federal district court in Boston in 2010, the administration continued to assert that the ban on federal recognition would survive judicial review under the traditionally defer ential “rational basis” test that some
ny, with Clement pointing to recent successes at the ballot box — such as the November marriage equality wins in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State — to argue that gay people are now a politically power ful group whose discrimination claims should be subject to the more lenient rational basis standard. In such cases, plaintiffs must show there is no legitimate purpose served by a statute under challenge. DOJ vigor ously and ef fectively responds to that argument in its brief. “Gay and lesbian people are a minor ity with limited politic a l p o w e r, ” Ve r r i l l i wrote. “Although some of the harshest and most overt forms of discrimination against gay and lesbian people have r ecede d, t hat pr o gress has hardly been uniform (either temporally or geographically), and has in significant respects been the result of judicial enforcement of the Constitution, not political action. The vast majority of state voter initiatives directed at gay and lesbian people, even within the last decade, have repealed protections against sexualorientation discrimination or denied gay and lesbian people the ability to marry. In any event, as confir med by the applicability of heightened scrutiny to classifications based on gender, the fact that gay and lesbian
Obama argues Congress’ 1996 DOMA justifications fail constitutionally and that new rationales have been forged in a rearguard action to defend the statute. courts have applied to equal protection cases brought by gay plaintiffs. The First Circuit Court of Appeals last year upheld the Boston district court’s finding that DOMA was unconstitutional, applying a more searching rationality standard than customary, and DOJ conceded that under that frame, the statute would fail constitutional scrutiny. BLAG has asserted that DOMA does not merit heightened scruti-
people have achieved some political gains does not tilt this factor against, let alone preclude, heightened scrutiny.” The DOJ brief also blasts BLAG’s r eliance on the so-called “responsible parenting and childrearing” theory, which posits that the purpose of marriage is to encourage heterosexuals to raise their offspring in stable family environments. “Even apart from expert consensus that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are as likely to be well adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents,” DOJ argues, DOMA “does nothing to promote responsible opposite-sex parenting or to prevent irresponsible same-sex parenting. Denying federal benefits to married same-sex couples creates no additional incentive for heterosexual couples to marry, procreate, or raise children together; nor does it disturb any state-conferred parental rights for same-sex couples.” It is striking to read such arguments in a brief filed by the federal gover nment, considering that early in President Barack Obama’s first term a DOJ brief filed in then-pending litigation caused a firestorm of protest by making the same arguments that BLAG makes now and that this newest brief rejects. The president’s “evolution” on same-sex marriage, as reflected in the arguments now being made by his administration, seems nearly complete.
Jurisdictional Issues The jurisdictional issues raised by the Supreme Court in December may seem arcane and a bit of a sideshow, but they may yet result in the court abstaining from deciding this case on the merits. The high court may decide that since DOJ agrees with the Second Cir c uit ’s o pinio n in t he Winds o r case, Verrilli’s petition for review presents no real “case or controversy,” a requirement for judicial review. It could also conclude that BLAG, as a committee of Congress, has no “standing” to defend DOMA before the Supreme Court, since no House member has any personal financial or liberty interest in ensuring the law is upheld. It is unusual for the government to appeal a lower court ruling it agrees with. And BLAG did not file
DOMA, continued on p.13
February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
Need on Subways: Security and A Sense of Community BY CHRIS PHILLIPS
spent that Saturday after noon in 2008 grilling hamburgers at my church’s Pride picnic. Then I met my partner for a celebratory margarita or two at the Monster. As it started to rain, we headed across Christopher Street for the downtown subway. I remember being glad we didn’t have to stand on the steamy platfor m for too long. I wanted to get home to Brooklyn quickly so I could prepare for the Pride March the next m o r n i n g . We s q u e e z e d o n t o t h e cool, crowded subway car at about 6 p.m. While the 3 train, going local, traveled downtown, a man in white shorts and a white hat sprung up from his seat shouting anti-gay slurs at me and saying I made him sick. He punched
The NYPD has released a sketch of two of the suspects in the February 18 assault on Urena Morel Frankelly.
me in the face and smashed my head and teeth against the subway poles. I lost my flip-flops as I flew through
the moving train car. His punches snapped my glasses in half and cut the skin under my eyes. A woman
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traveling with the man grabbed me and scratched her long fingernails down my neck. She laughed as she held me in place, making me a punching bag for her companion. The subway car was so crowded my partner couldn’t get to me. When the train doors opened at the Franklin Street station, the others passengers in the car ran away. I tried to get away from the attackers, but even on the subway platfor m, the couple continued to hit me and c all me a “faggo t .” I was barefoot. My eyes were full of blood. My mouth was full of what felt like sand. It took me a few minutes to realize that sand were pieces of my front teeth. I’ve been thinking about my story again this week because on the night of February 18 another gay couple had a sadly similar experience to ours on the same train line. Urena Morel Frankelly and his partner were attacked on the 2 train. “An argument erupted, and the two women, joined by another plus three men, attacked Frankelly, police said,” the Daily News reported. “His partner tried to inter-
Security & Community, continued on p.9
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| February 27, 2013
Man Killed in Newark Sex Sting Helpless When Officer Shot, Suit Says Amended complaint in 2010 DeFarra Gaymon death relies on statement sheriff’s deputy made days later BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
ew documents filed in a lawsuit suggest that a sherif f’s deputy may have had DeFarra Gaymon under control just before he shot and killed the unarmed man during a 2010 public sex sting in a Newark park. “Officer Esposito chased decedent Gaymon to a pond located within t h e p a r k , ” w r o t e C h r i s t o p h e r W. Kinum, the attorney for the Gaymon family, in an amended complaint filed in federal court on February 15. “Decedent Gaymon got down on his knees. At this point, decedent Gaymon had no avenue of escape due to the pond being in front of him… Officer Esposito approached decedent Gaymon from behind. Defendant Officer Esposito kicked decedent Gaymon several times.” The complaint asserts that Edward Esposito, a sheriff’s deputy in the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, then drew his gun and fired a single shot into the 48-year -old Gaymon’s stomach, killing him. “At the time he was shot, Defarra was unarmed and helpless, and in no way posed a threat to Defendant Of ficer Esposito’s safety or to the safety of any other persons,” wrote Kinum, who wrote in a separate brief that he was relying on “Officer Esposito’s written statement made three days after the shooting.” That statement has not been
Security & Community, from p.8
vene, but the victim was repeatedly punched.” “23-year -old gay man attacked on Manhattan subway as riders fail to act” was the Daily News headline for Frankelly’s story. Which raises the question I’ve carried around since my attack. Why didn’t the people on that subway train do something to help us? I’ve physically healed from the attack and I’ve forgiven or at least tried to forget about the attackers, but I still fault my fellow New Yorkers for not standing up for us. The afternoon I was attacked, there had to have been over a hundred people in that train car. Only one older woman stopped to of fer some tissues to wipe the blood off my face. No one took a cell phone picture of the attackers, offered to flag down an ambulance, or waited with us until help arrived. There
made public. The killing occurred in Newark’s Branch Brook Park on July 16, 2010. In 2011, an Essex County grand jury declined to indict Esposito on any criminal charges. The Gaymon family sued Esposito, the county, the sheriff’s office, and two senior officers in that office in 2011. The amended complaint names additional sheriff’s officers. In a 2011 statement, the Essex County prosecutor’s office said the chase led to the pond, with Gaymon r epeatedly threatening Esposito, and that Gaymon “then lunged at and attempted to disarm the officer while reaching into his own pocket. Fearing for his life, the officer discharged his service weapon, hitting Mr. Gaymon once.” Esposito and his partner were in plainclothes and conducting a public sex sting. Just prior to the shooting, they fought with another man and Esposito lost his handcuf fs. After that first man was secured, Esposito went back into the park to retrieve his handcuf fs when he encountered Gaymon, “who was engaged in a sex act at the time,” according to the prosecutor’s statement. Esposito is the sole witness to the killing. In 2009, Esposito was involved in three public sex arrests that also turned violent. Resisting arrest was charged in another two Esposito
arrests that year. Gaymon was the head of an Atlanta credit union and was in Newark to attend his high school reunion. He was married with four children. These new facts make the cir cumstances of the killing murkier. None of the parties in the lawsuit responded to emails seeking an
explanation or comment. The prosecutor’s of fice referred questions to the attor ney representing the county. “How did DeFarra Gaymon end up dead?” said William Dobbs, a longtime gay activist who has followed the case closely. “The latest court papers are alarming. Let’s hope some truth comes out. On a beautiful, sunny day, how and why did an unarmed man get killed?” It is possible that Kinum has selected facts that are most favor able to his clients just as Esposito may have colored his facts or even lied to present himself in the best light. An equally likely explanation is that Esposito invited Gaymon and other men to expose themselves or touch him, then arrested them when they did. That trick — which would make the exposure or groping legal under New Jersey law — might have made the men angry enough to fight back. They might also have believed that a man who seconds earlier had urged them to engage in sexual conduct was not a police of ficer, but posed a threat of some kind, leading them to react with violence. Garden State Equality, New Jer sey’s statewide gay lobby, was still reviewing the court documents as Gay City News went to press. That group has questioned the shooting and the investigation into the shooting repeatedly.
were no MTA workers on the downtown platform to help us. T o get help, my partner had to flag down a cab. Several wouldn’t stop for two bloody men, soaked and standing in the middle of a thunder stor m, so I’ve always been thankful for the driver who took us to the emergency room at St. Vincent’s. I want to tell Urena Morel Frankelly and his partner that I am sorry. I tried to do what I could to prevent this from happening again. I worked with the city and state government and the NYPD hate crimes task force. There were no cameras that recorded activity on the train or the platform, so the police didn’t have much to go on. As a 2010 New York Times article reported, “Nearly half of the subway system’s 4,313 security cameras that have been installed — in stations and tunnels throughout the system — do not work, because
of either shoddy software or construction pr oblems, say of ficials with the Metropolitan T ransportation Authority… the subway’s video surveillance system, one of the key tools the city has in deterring and investigating attacks of any and all kinds in the subways, remains a p atchw ork of l ife le s s c ame ras, unequipped stations, and problemplagued wiring.” Without witnesses or video footage, I helped the hate crimes officers with their lower tech approach: We handed out flyers around the Franklin Street station asking if anyone had information about the attack. I tried to meet with the MTA in person to discuss what happened to us and find out more about their camera system, but they refused. I asked the offices of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and State Senator Tom Duane what we could do to try to prevent another
attack. The staffers were empathetic and listened to my story — which is more than what MTA did — but nothing concrete happened. That fall, the speaker’s attention shifted to the political battle over whether the mayor would be eligible to run for a third term and we never met to discuss subway security. When we go down to the subway, we’re giving up the basic security we New Yorkers take for granted. We can do better than this. Please contact MTA New York City Transit president Thomas Prendergast and tell him that some of the funds from next month’s fare hike must be used immediately to improve safety and security on our subways. The man and woman who attacked me were never found. As of this past Saturday, police are still looking for the three men and three women who were involved in last week’s subway attack.
DeFarra Gaymon was shot to death in Newark’s Branch Brook Park on July 16, 2010.
February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
NEWS BRIEFS BY JOSEPH EHRMAN-DUPRE, ANDY HUMM, and PAUL SCHINDLER Republicans Say I Do A group of at least 75 prominent Republicans have signed on to an amicus brief supporting the two plaintiff couples who will challenge California’s Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court in oral arguments on March 26. The New York Times reports that the list includes two members of Congress — New York’s Richard Hanna and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida — four ex-governors, including Utah’s Jon Huntsman, who sought last year’s GOP presidential nomination, former Ohio Congresswoman Deborah Pryce, who was a member of the GOP leadership in the House, and leading figures from Republican presidential administrations dating back to Ronald Reagan. The Times said the brief is “a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election.” Boehner has stepped in, on behalf of the House, to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act against constitutional challenges in the wake of the Obama administration’s 2011 decision to no longer do so. DOMA will be before the Supreme Court the day after it hears arguments in the Prop 8 case. (See Arthur S. Leonard’s reporting on the latest developments in both cases on pages 6 and 7.) The Times notes that several prominent Republicans who support the right of same-sex couples to marry — including former First Lady Laura Bush, ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell — are not on the list. Bush recently asked that a video clip of her endorsing marriage equality be removed from a television ad produced by the pro-gay Respect for Marriage Coalition. Theodore Olson, who served as solicitor general in President George W. Bush’s first administration, is one of the lead attorneys hired by the American Foundation for Equal Rights on behalf of the Prop 8 plaintiff couples. In a written statement, Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said, “A who's who of the Republican Party has come before the Supreme Court to affirm that support for the freedom to marry is a mainstream position that reflects American values of freedom, family, and fairness, as well as conservative values of limited government and personal responsibility.” Opposition to marriage equality, he said, is becoming “increasingly isolated and the exclusion from marriage increasingly indefensible.” Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director, cited the spade work that Ken Mehlman, who headed up Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, has done in
PROP 8, from p.6
8’s Proponents that the referendum must merely survive a rational basis challenge. The plaintiffs’ brief argues that cases involving sexual orientation discrimination demand either strict scrutiny or heightened scrutiny — either of which places the difficult burden on Prop 8’s defenders of showing a significant government interest that it was nar rowly tailored to achieve. “The undisputed fact that gay men and lesbians have been subjected to a history of discrimination based on a trait that bears no rela-
building Republican support for gay marriage. “For the last three years, Ken has been working tirelessly on the cause,” Solomon told Gay City News. “He has worked quietly. Whenever I give him 10 legislators to call, he asks me for the 11th and 12th…This is the powerful culmination of his strategic mind and his leveraging of his relationships to advance our cause.” When Mehlman came out in 2010, he faced considerable criticism by many in the LGBT community for the 2004 Republican campaign’s reliance on anti-gay marriage amendments to pull evangelical Christian voters to the polls. — PS
Mexican Supreme Court Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban A legal ban on same-sex marriage in the Mexican state of Oaxacan was declared unconstitutional by that nation’s Supreme Court on February 18, the Washington Blade reports. The ruling cited two US precedents — a 1967 Supreme Court ruling that struck down bans on interracial marriage and the high court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that ordered an end to school segregation. “The historic disadvantages that homosexuals have suffered have been amply recognized and documented: public scorn, verbal abuse, discrimination in their places of employment and in the access of certain services, including their exclusion from certain aspects of public life,” read the decision according to the Blade. “In comparative law it has been argued that discrimination that homosexual couples have suffered when they are denied access to marriage is analogous with the discrimination suffered by interracial couples at another time.” Same-sex couples have been able to marry in Mexico City since 2010, and the court has since ruled that other Mexican states must recognize those marriages. — PS
Pope Out: Gays Did It Pope Benedict XVI, who will become Cardinal Josef Ratzinger again on March 1, is widely reported to have resigned the papacy not just due to failing health at 85 but also because of a Vatican bureaucracy run amok, including an underground gay network that held sex parties within the Vatican and at other locations in Rome.
tionship to their ability to contribute to society is sufficient, in and of itself, to render classifications based on sexual orientation ‘suspect’” — a conclusion that would trigger strict scrutiny, the most searching form of judicial review. Still, AFER is deft in not trying to force the question of strict versus heightened scrutiny. With nearly nine years of history of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, Prop 8’s defenders cannot conceivably demonstrate the sorts of horrible consequences they have hypothesized in order to meet the burden that any form of heightened scrutiny would
La Republicca, the Italian daily, broke the story, saying that the Pope was made aware of the situation in meetings from April to December and that it was summarized in a report given to him on December 17, 2012 — prompting his decision to resign. The secret report will be given to Benedict’s successor. The pope, who has faced rumors of being homosexually orientated himself while a virulent opponent of homosexual activity and rights, is leaving the papacy but not the Vatican, where the action is alleged to have taken place. On February 23, two days after the reports surfaced in La Republicca, Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone charged it was “deplorable” that, with the world’s cardinals set to descend on Rome to elect a new pope, “often unverified, unverifiable, or completely false news stories” had emerged. Bertone, however, declined to respond to specific elements of the newspaper’s reporting. — AH
Tebow Cancels Anti-Gay Date in Dallas Tim Tebow, a New York Jets quarterback widely known for his devout Christianity, has canceled plans to appear at a Dallas megachurch whose pastor is unapologetic about his harshly anti-gay views, as well as hostility to Islam, Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Tebow, who has often worn black eye strips inscribed with Biblical verse numbers during games, was scheduled to speak in April at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, whose pastor is Robert Jeffress. In addition to labeling non-Protestant faiths as “cults,” Jeffress has said, “Homosexuality is perverse, it represents a degradation of a person’s mind and if a person will sink that low and there are no restraints from God’s law, then there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well.” Both Islam and homosexuality, he has charged, lead to pedophilia. Under pressure for days to bow out of the Dallas event, Tebow, taking to Twitter on February 21, stated that “due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my… upcoming appearance.” The quarterback, widely expected to be let go by the
demand of their arguments. Perhaps the most important achievement of the briefs from both AFER and the City of San Francisco, however, is their success in arguing that the concept of mar riage described by Prop 8’s defenders is out of touch with reality and was merely invented for the purpose of litigation, with no relationship to the arguments they made to win the vote in 2008. The Proponents, in their brief last month, conspicuously failed to acknowledge the personal aspect of marriage. In their argument, marriage is all about children and not about the marital partners
NEWS BRIEFS, continued on p.13
and their relationship. And they act as though same-sex partners don’t have children. In response, AFER and San Francisco made the more common sense case that marriage is about love, devotion, making a life together, forming a family (which may include children), and taking responsibility for each other. The San Francisco brief reiterates several times the evidence in record of approximately 40,000 children being raised by same-sex couples in California — and forcefully makes the point that
PROP 8, continued on p.11
| February 27, 2013
LGBT Center Ends Moratorium on Israel/ Palestine-Themed Gatherings Protest against refusal to allow Sarah Schulman reading led to abandonment of two-year-old policy
reading and denounced QAIA. Schulman has published 17 books and is a leading progressive voice in the queer community. She is a professor in the City University of New York (CUNY) system and has received multiple awards and fellowships. “It is such a joyful experience to see our community unite in its commitment to free expression and social justice,” Schulman wrote in an email in response to the moratorium ending. “I am overwhelmed with respect for our people.” The “indefinite moratorium” was imposed in 2011 after a controver sy erupted over the Center renting space to the Siege Busters Working Gr oup, an organization that was challenging the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, and later over renting space to QAIA. Among the voices opposing renting to Siege Busters and QAIA were Michael Lucas, the owner of Lucas Entertainment, a gay porn studio,
Stuart Appelbaum, the openly gay president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, and Steven Goldstein, who then chaired Gar den State Equality, New Jer sey’s gay lobbying group. Lucas threatened to organize a boycott by Center donors if Siege Busters and QAIA were allowed to use the West 13th Street facili ty. W hi l e the Cent e r c an le gally refuse to rent to groups, those who opposed the moratorium saw it as a violation of the Center’s mission and now 30-year history. In an email, Lucas wrote that he had known since February 14 that the Center was going to lift the moratorium, or surrender “to the pressure from The BDS Movement (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel)” as he wrote, and that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an out lesbian who represents the West Village and Chelsea, had brokered a deal to end the moratorium. “I have absolutely no time to be
fighting with the spineless LGBT C e n t e r o f N e w Yo r k w h o h a v e n o backbone or principles,” Lucas wrote. “I would advise people to stop donating to the center and believe the city should stop funding an organization whose original mission of helping gay people has changed to providing a platform to anti-Israeli hate groups.” Roughly 20 minutes after the Center issued its statement on the moratorium’s end, Quinn, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and City C o u n c i l m a n J i m m y Va n B r a m e r issued a statement commending the Center for ending the moratorium. The four gay and lesbian elected of ficials also said that they “categorically reject attempts by any organization to use the Center to delegitimize Israel and promote an anti-Israel agenda.” In a statement, QAIA expressed some distrust of the new policy. “We are also concer ned that the Center’s guidelines for using space there says ‘no group utilizing space at the Center shall engage in hate speech or bigotry of any kind,’” t h e g r o u p w r o t e . “ We c o m p l e t e l y deplore bigotry of any kind, but we cannot help but wonder who will define ‘hate speech’ and/or ‘bigotry of any kind.’ There needs to be more clarification on this issue.” The group also took the elected of ficials to task for the statement they issued. “The elected officials’ makes clear, both to the Center and to the queer community, that the Center’s ban on mentioning Palestinians, queer or otherwise, has its source in power ful political circles,” the group wrote. “The bigotry institutionalized in New York City’s politics, which has chained our community center for the past two years, must still be challenged.”
Crutcher) have tur ned out a brief that is a true masterpiece — precise and passionate, every word calculated to make its mark. And San Francisco City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera can be proud of the powerful brief produced by his chief deputy, Therese M. Stewart. The next stage in the Prop 8 case will be the filing of amicus briefs in support of AFER and the City of San Francisco, and then a reply from the Prop 8 Proponents. Oral argument
at the Supreme Court takes place on March 26. The immediate drama now focuses on the White House, where President Barack Obama is under mounting pressure to authorize the Justice Department to file an amicus brief in this case. The federal gover nment is not a party to this case and is busy preparing to challenge the federal Defense of Marriage Act in the oral arguments to be held
on March 27. Many of the arguments that the solicitor general will make in attacking the “justifications” for DOMA are pertinent to the Prop 8 case — not least the question of the standard for judicial review — so filing an amicus brief here would be redundant from a legal point of view. It could take on gr eat meaning, however, in ter ms of strategy and the signals it sends to both the Supreme Court and the public.
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
PROP 8, from p.10
denying marriage to their parents disadvantages them. Both briefs find support for the non-child-centered elements of marriage in prior Supreme Court rulings. AFER’s first-rate advocates should be acknowledged for their achievement. David Boies (and his colleagues at Boies, Schiller & Flexner) and Theodore B. Olson (and his colleagues at Gibson, Dunn &
DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS
LGBT Community Center
ollowing a furious outcry over its refusal to rent space for a reading by Sarah Schulman from her latest book, “Israel/Palestine and the Queer I n t e r n a t i o n a l , ” N e w Yo r k C i t y ’ s gay community center has lifted a moratorium on renting to groups that “organize around the IsraeliPalestinian conflict.” “Our resulting Space Use Guidelines, T er ms and Conditions will gover n the use of our space going forward, and, accordingly, the mor atorium is no longer in effect,” the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & T ransgender Community Center said in a February 15 statement. “The Center does not endorse the views of any groups to which it rents space. We adamantly believe in and defend free speech and the open exchange of ideas, but we deplore the rhetoric of hate and bigotry.” On January 23, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA), a group that opposes Israeli government policy on Palestine, applied to rent space for a March event featuring Schulman reading from her book. The reading was to coincide with Israeli Apartheid Week, a series of events that organizers say will discuss Israel’s “apartheid policies” toward Palestinians and promote the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel. In a January 25 email, a Center staf fer refused the request via email and did not respond to two requests from QAIA for an explanation. News of the refusal spawned angry denunciations on the Center’s Facebook page and elsewhere on Facebook, on the Gay City News website, and on other websites. Some commenters supported the Center’s denial of space for the
Sarah Schulman and Glennda Testone.
February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
Tough as nails. Funny as hell.
PHOTO BY PLATON
March 13: Liza Minnelli & Alan Cumming
LINCOLN CENTER’S VIVIAN BEAUMONT THEATER
150 WEST 65 TH STREET
VISIT T H E A N N R IC H A R D S P L AY. C O M or call 2 1 2 - 2 3 9 - 6 2 O O
P R E V I E W S B E G I N F E B R U A R Y 1 8T H
PERFORMANCE Frigid and Queer
The Frigid New York Festival, how in its seventh year and running for two weeks, is an open and uncensored venue for new works, including many LGBT-themed highlights. “Canuck Cabaret” presented by out comedian Paul Hutcheson, who welcomes some of Canada’s best underground comedians, musicians, and dancers, including sexy Saskatchewan burlesque performer Sharon Nowlan, Jillian Thomas, the undisputed queen of Canadian pot comedy, comedians Rob Salerno and Christopher Sawchyn, and honorary Canucks Mike Albo, D’Yan Forrest, the Screw You Revue, Ben Lerman, and TheSwimmingPools. Wed.-Sat,. midnight; Feb. 20-Mar. 2. Under St. Mark’s, 94 St. Mark’s Place, btwn. First Ave. & Ave. A. Admission is $5. Kathleen Warnock’s "That's Her Way, directed by Vivian Meisner," is an elegant two-hander that takes place in the present and the past in a small Southern town, where the questions of half a lifetime ago still haven't been answered. Mar. 1, 6 p.m.; Mar. 3, noon. Red Room, 85 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Tickets are $10-$16. Brooklyn’s Estraña Theatre Company presents Jane Shepard’s “Commencing,” in which beautiful Kelli, eagerly anticipating blind date, to her dismay meets one very disappointed lesbian, Arlin. Mutually appalled, yet appallingly intrigued, they proceed to pull the screws loose on both straight and gay women's culture. Christina Massie directs. Feb. 28, 10:15 p.m.; Mar. 3, 12:30 p.m. The Kraine Theater, 85 E. Fourth St. , btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Tickets are $10-$16. John Grady's solo shot, “Little Pussy,” are true tales of being picked on, chased down, and beat up, from his youth to adulthood. Will he ever stand and fight? Feb. 28, 10:45 p.m.; Mar. 2, 9:30 p.m. Red Room, 85 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Tickets Are $10-$16. Lucas Brooks’ solo show, “VGL 5’4” Top,” directed by Matthew Klein,” follows Lucas, a sexually frustrated and vertically challenged young top armed with only a laptop and quick wit, fights back. Armed with only a laptop and a quick wit against all the sick and tired short jokes and snobbery he finds among other gay men. Mar. 1, 10:45 p.m. Red Room, 85 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Tickets are $7-10. For complete festival information and to buy tickets, visit frigidnewyork.info
PERFORMANCE Because of the Wonderful Things He Does
“The Wonderful Wizard Of Song” is a musical revue celebrating the compositions of Harold Arlen and featuring “Stormy Weather,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Paper Moon,” “Accentuate-The-Positive,” “Lets Fall in Love,” and the tunes from “The Wizard of Oz.” The show stars the Three Crooners — George Bugatti, Marcus Goldhaber, and Joe Shepherd — who are joined by Antoinette Henry. St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 W. 46th St. Through Mar. 14; Mon., 7 p.m.; Wed., 2 p.m.; Thu., 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50-$69.50 at telecharge.com or 212-239-6200. For more information, visit thewonderfulwizardofsong.com.
OPERA “Cosi Fan Tutte” at Union Theological
The Opera Company of Brooklyn, in partnership with the Barnard-Columbia Chamber Choir, performs Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte,” conducted by Jay Meetze and featuring a line-up of rising opera stars. Union Theological Seminary, James Chapel, 3041 Broadway at 121st St. Mar. 1, 8 p.m. Admission is $10; $5 for students. Reservations at operabrooklyn.org.
DANCE Harkness Festival Kickoff
The five-week 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Festival continues with Faye Driscoll as she presents a work in progress on Mar. 1-2, 8 .m.; Mar. 3, 3 p.m. Liz Gerring Company presents “She Dreams In Code” on Mar 8-9, 8 p.m.; Mar. 10, 4 p.m.; Ronald K. Brown/ Evidence presents “Gatekeepers” on Mar. 15-16, 8 p.m.; Mar 17, 3 p.m. Kate Weare Company presents “Garden” on Mar 22-23, 8 p.m.; Mar. 24, 3 p.m. 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave. Tickets are $20 at 92Y. org/harknessfestival or 212-415-5500.
14 DAYS, continued on p.28
| February 27, 2013
DOMA, from p.7
its petition for review of the Second Circuit ruling until after the court had granted DOJ’s petition. The Supreme Court has made no announcement about whether that petition has been granted or denied. If the Court decides that the case is not properly before it, it may dismiss the petition and possibly vacate Windsor’s victory at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, as well. DOJ’s jurisdictional brief strongly argues that it is the exclusive repre-
AIDS, from p.5
were incorrect. In his 2011 decision dismissing Farber’s defamation claim, Justice York found that Farber was a “limited public figure” and that the controversy between her and Jefferys was “a matter of public interest.” Both factors supported his finding that to maintain her lawsuit, Farber had the burden of showing Jefferys had made incorrect statements with “actual malice,” which means she would have to demonstrate he made them either knowing they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth. York found that Farber’s complaint and the documentation she offered in response to Jefferys’ motion for dismissal were insufficient to meet this burden. The Appellate Division agreed with
sentative of the interests of the government. Since the government continues to enforce DOMA but has been ordered to pay Windsor a tax refund, it has an actual stake in the litigation. The Obama administration argues that BLAG’s role in the case should be limited to filing a “friend of the court” brief rather than as an actual party with a stake in the outcome. BLAG, in contrast, argues that the institutional interest of Congress in being free to pass laws regarding sexual orientation without being subjected to heightened judicial scrutiny is
sufficient to justify its participation. Its brief notes that the House Republican majority authorized BLAG to “continue” representing the House in the Windsor case, though it did not have such explicit authorization when it first intervened. Windsor’s brief on the jurisdiction questions backs up DOJ in arguing that the gover nment’s agreement with the Second Circuit’s ruling does not deprive the Court of jurisdiction over the case. Windsor points out that under federal law, in order to sue for a tax refund she
is required to sue the United States, which has refused to issue it despite her victories in the lower courts. Her only recourse is having the Supreme Court order the government to pay it. As a result, the government, as represented by DOJ, is a necessary party in this case. Windsor also argues that the question of BLAG’s standing is not relevant to the question of the court’s jurisdiction since her legal claim is against the gover nment, not against the House of Representatives.
York, who, its opinion said, “properly determined that plaintiff was a limited public figure because, through her publication of countless articles, she voluntarily injected herself into the controversial debate on whether HIV causes AIDS with a view toward influencing the debate and projected her name and personality before readers of nationally distributed magazines to establish her reputation as a leading authority in this area.” The appellate panel also found that “Jefferys met his burden of demonstrating that plaintiff could not show by clear and convincing evidence that he made the challenged statements with actual malice or with gross irresponsibility.” Jefferys explained his statements were based on “his expertise and research on HIV/ AIDS for many years, on an article signed by prominent experts in the field, as well
as on the many articles in the record which critiqued plaintiff’s 2006 article as being filled with misquotes or misrepresentations.” The panel noted, as well, that “Jefferys also provided documentation to support why he believed what he wrote about the plaintiff was true and compared in detail plaintiff’s journalism to the articles and studies she cited and explained why he believed her work to contain misrepresentations.” This case illustrates that robust debate on issues of public importance depends on a wide degree of toleration for argument and rhetoric. As long as somebody is not deliberately publishing falsehoods or making statements harmful to the reputation of others without regard for whether or not they are true, they will be protected from liability for defamation. Farber’s assertion that “Jefferys was biased against her or
bore her ill will does not aid her cause,” the panel found, since that is not the issue in determining “actual malice” in the context of free speech constitutional law. The court also agreed with York’s conclusion that Jefferys’ use of the word “liar” to describe Farber was not subject to legal liability. “The full content of the statement, including its tone and apparent pur pose, and the broader context of the statement and surrounding circumstances lead to the conclusion that what was being read was likely to be opinion, not fact,” the panel found. Generally, legal liability for defamation is limited to factual assertions. As a result, the appellate court concluded York acted appropriately in dismissing the case rather than subjecting Jefferys to discovery and trial on the defamation claim.
NEWS BRIEFS BY JOSEPH EHRMAN-DUPRE, ANDY HUMM, and PAUL SCHINDLER
NEWS BRIEFS, from p.10
Jets, said that he had been “looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love with the faithful members” of the Dallas congregation and would “continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those … needing a brighter day.” In a statement released by the congregation, Jeffress claims Tebow told him he would like to appear at the mega-church at a later date. “The reason for this firestorm is not because the word of God has changed,” the statement read. “It’s because society has changed.” In a written statement, Hudson Taylor, who founded Athlete Ally to promote a welcoming attitude toward LGBT athletes in sports, said, “I applaud Tim Tebow’s decision to cancel his appearance. Regardless of his r e a so n in g , h is a b s e n c e s e rv e s a s a re m i n d e r th a t th e discrimination of gay and lesbian athletes and individu als has no place in sports or society. I hope Tim will take this opportunity to speak out for respect and acceptance of all people, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation.” — PS
Suspect Apprehended in Queens Gay Murder Reportedly Knew Victim Well Police have arrested Lleuyel Garcia in connection with the murder of Joseph Benzinger, whose body was found at the Crown Motor Inn in Queens on February 9. The February 14 arrest comes in one of three cases of gay men, two in Queens and one in Manhattan, found murdered between January 26 and February 9. Published reports noted lack of forced entry in the three cases and that the apparent cause of death in two was strangulation. The other two victims were murdered in their homes. The New York Post, citing police sources, said that Garcia, 23, who lives in the Inwood neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, is alleged to have strangled Benzinger after the two men argued and to have then stolen his wallet and other possessions. One source told the Post, “The two had known each other for several years, and it was not a random attack.” Garcia has been charged with second-degree murder, robbery, possession of stolen property, and evidence tampering. The Post account contradicts a narrative that had emerged earlier that the three killings may have been linked to online hook-ups. The New York City Anti-Violence
Project along with out gay City Councilman Daniel Dromm made statements in the days following the murders about the safety of gay men who meet strangers online or in bars. After the NYPD’s apprehension of Garcia, Dromm released a statement saying, “Despite the arrest, it is vitally important that we continue to remain vigilant. The other murders committed against gay men remain unsolved but I am hopeful that the NYPD will capture the perpetrators. Again, I want to urge everyone that it is always important to practice safety whether meeting someone online or in person.” — JE-D
NYer Gregory T. Angelo to Head National Log Cabin Republicans Gregory T. Angelo, who has served as interim executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans since the first of the year, has been named to the post on a permanent basis, the group’s board of directors announced on February 15. Angelo replaces R. Clarke Cooper, an Iraq war veteran who had previously worked in the Bush administration and
NEWS BRIEFS, continued on p.14
February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
BY KELLY JEAN COGSWELL
forget sometimes how important art is, what images can do. Last week I got blown away by an exhibit in Chelsea a t t h e Ya n c e y R i c h a r d s o n Gallery (535 W. 22nd St., suite 3). The photographer was Zanele Muholi. Her subjects were African dykes like herself. They stare out from the prints in their best ball caps and fedoras, bald heads and dreads, looking at you looking at them. Some are a little anxious about it. Some are pissed. Others have a sadness so vast behind their eyes your heart breaks for them. Examine them closely. Too many have literal scars from life in South Africa and Zimbabwe. There's a faint white line near the mouth of one. A round scar on another's forehead like she'd been hit with a hammer. And maybe she had. South Africans haven't quite digested the post-apartheid constitution declaring queers off limits as punching bags. Women, too are ver boten, though the model Reeva Steenkamp lived through several "domestic disturbances" before getting shot to death last week in the bathroom when her famous, violent boyfriend says he mistook her for an intruder. Vi o l e n c e i n s o u t h e r n A f r i c a i s endemic, a way of life, especially in poor townships where most of the photographed live. And Muholi is more than conscious of documenting a community in which "love is juxtaposed
with violence." For Muholi, each photo is art and activism combined. The images themselves are beautiful. The political part comes when you look in their eyes and start to see them. So that's what an African lesbian looks like. An African transman. Though they don't look so different from plenty of dykes here. If you're not careful, you'll start to feel protective. There they are. Emotionally naked. An endangered human species. Instead of feeling sorry for them or lamenting your Western privilege, I recommend exercising it on their behalf. Even if, like Muholi, African dykes are more than capable of speaking for themselves. Still, they are extra vulnerable to violence and death. They need a net to dance over. Safe spaces. Chances to hang out. To play. In soccer -crazed Africa, a lot of them are on "football" teams, or wish they were. Zanele Muholi, instead of launching one more social services outfit, started up an all-black lesbian soccer team in 2008 in her hometown of Umlazi, Durban. She named it Thokozani Football Club after out dyke soccer player Thokozani Qwabe, who was brutally murdered in 2007 just for being a lesbian. More than a few TFC players are survivors of "corrective rape," which were ostensibly attempts to turn them straight. It's not just exercise they're after. Their site says, "We want to educate each other and our families, friends and communities that we exist, that
YANCEY RICHARDSON GALLERY
For African Dykes, Zanele Muholi
Z a n e l e M u h o l i ’s “ X a n a N y i l e n d a , N e w t o w n , Johannesburg, 2011 Faces and Phases,” 30 x 20 inches, silver gelatin print, edition of 8.
we contribute to building a physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and democratic South African society, and that we deserve a life free of discrimination and violence due to homophobia." Muholi and her team have been getting support from another group of soccer mad grrrls in France. Last year, Les Dégommeuses decided to go beyond arranging the occasional scrimmage and launched a program they called "Foot for Love." Working with Lesbian of Color, Paris Foot Gay, Yagg.com, Rosa Bonheur, and a bunch of others, they initiated a whole series of actions against
homophobia during Pride Week in Paris last June. Their biggest accomplishment was bringing over the Thokozani Football Club for an exhibition match in a big Paris stadium. They also showed Muholi's film, "Difficult Love" and held a die-in to bring attention to lesbophobia and hate crimes in South Africa, which didn't exactly come to a halt for gay pride. The day after TFC arrived in Paris, a young dyke was shot in her own home in the Cape Town township of Nyanga. A couple of weeks before, a queer activist got his throat cut. It was another queer dead a few weeks before that. They rarely just get killed. There's usually rape of some kind, mutilation. The only good news is that African dykes are finally getting some attention. One of Foot for Love's most notable supporters is world-class soccer player Lilian Thuram, who has been involved in fighting discrimination in soccer and recently spoke out on behalf of marriage equality in France. Sometime next month, while the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women is holding a meeting focused on ending violence against women and girls, Les Dégommeuses, in their role as advocates for Foot for Love, are participating in an event in Paris about the double whammy of lesbophobia. I almost can't believe it. I remember when dykes stuck to the softball fields and golf courses, potlucks and bars. And even our own clubs were always called "women's teams." I especially remember how hard it was to get feminists to utter the word lesbian on the international stage. Let us celebrate the art of change.
BY JOSEPH EHRMAN-DUPRE, ANDY HUMM, and PAUL SCHINDLER
NEWS BRIEFS, from p.13
began heading LCR in 2010. Angelo is the former chair of the New York State Log Cabin Republicans, a post in which he played a critical role in the successful push for the state’s 2011 marriage equality law. The State Senate would not have acted on the measure had its GOP majority not allowed the bill to go to the floor. In the end, four Republicans joined 29 of the 30 Democrats in passing the law. “I am excited to forge ahead as we continue to advance the rights of all Americans,” Angelo said in a written statement. “We still have many hurdles ahead of us, but history and momentum are on our side. As executive director, I
look forward to leading Log Cabin Republicans to assist our advocates, support our allies, and work for a Republican Party that advocates our core values of individual liberty and freedom for all Americans.” Angelo undoubtedly faces a steeper slope in building GOP support for LGBT issues in Washington than he did in New York. The Republican House majority remains intransigent on issues like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and including relief for bi-national couples in any immigration reform package. Speaker John Boehner has led the effort to have the House step up to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act in court in the absence of the Obama administration doing so. Cooper’s final days as executive director were marked
by an abrupt shift in his views on Defense Department secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, whose confirmation fight drew LCR into the thick of things. Speaking for himself and not LCR, he initially told Gay City News, “There was no question [Hagel] was committed to advancing America’s interests abroad. As for his nomination to be secretary of defense, it is well worth noting that Senator Hagel is a combat veteran who has hands-on experience in the field. The battlefield is not just theory for him.” Just two weeks later, the group took out full-page newspaper ads reading, “Wrong on Gay Rights. Wrong on Iran. Wrong on Israel… Tell President Obama that Chuck Hagel is wrong for Defense Secretary. Help us build a stronger and more inclusive Republican Party.” — PS
| February 27, 2013
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SCOTT HENRICHSON / SCOTTFOTO.COm
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viola, and a cello. When I first heard Well-Strung, a singing string quartet, in a rehearsal space on the Upper West Side, they were playing "Grenade" by Bruno Mars. The tune was not instantly recognizable, but I quickly found myself understanding where the group was going with it, and their passionate rendition elevated the music above its radio form. Later, they just as easily slid into a beautiful Dvorak piece. But before that? Ke$ha. "It's unlike anything that people have seen before," said cellist Daniel Shevlin. "And,” violinist Edmund Bagnell added, “it gets a really big response from the audience." Well-Strung, a group formed only a year ago, sits in a remarkably unique niche in the world of string quar tets. Blending classical pieces by Mozart and Vivaldi with Top 40 hits from Britney, Rihanna, and P!nk, the group is all about defying expectations. Trevor Wadleigh, the quartet's violist, admitted that many audience members have told the foursome they didn't know what to expect. And it is a truly ingenious sound, traversing the aural waves from swelling crescendos to pop-styled staccato, and back again. Audiences likely marvel when the quartet doesn't stop at the instrumentals but add in their voices, as well. The idea for the group came from second violinist Christopher Marchant. In the summer of 2010, he played classical music on the street corners of Provincetown, the well-known and beloved gay mecca on Cape Cod —
while starring in the musical "Naked Boys Singing." Marchant said the difference between what he played on his violin and what he listened to on his iPod was a source of inspiration. "I liked the juxtaposition of doing half classical and half top 40," he recalled. Luckily, so did an artistic director whom Marchant met that summer. The two created the concept for WellStrung and then Marchant, who had met Shevlin through a mutual friend, proposed the idea to him. Once Shevlin was on board, they held auditions for another violinist and a violist. The rest is history — as of February 2012. Marchant, Shevlin, Wadleigh, and Bagnell had their first show together at Joe's Pub in the East Village. After that, they moved on to an engagement in P-Town for summer 2012, and when I interviewed them, they had just returned from a gay cruise. "After a year, we have some quasisuper fans," said Wadleigh. "Nobody's been psycho-stalker yet, though," added Marchant. That doesn't mean that Well-Strung isn't striking gold with its audiences. "People who saw us on the television on the cruise ship” — in a video of their only performance on the high seas — "wanted to know when our other shows would be," noted Shevlin. The dissappointed passengers will have to wait in line with other wellstrung fans who are demanding more. The group has received requests for wedding receptions and even musical lessons. Shevlin recounted the
WELL-STRUNG, continued on p.30
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February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
Anti-gay warrior’s role in superhero’s new digital series rankles out comic geeks BY SANJANA CHOWHAN
or generations, Americans have turned to comic books for inspiration. Readers found themselves identifying with Peter Parker, who was a social outcast but strived to become the brave and confident Spiderman. The idea that a passive and introverted Clark Kent could be Superman gave fans a sense of fairness and justice. The theme of good versus evil has always been a central element of comic books, with tales that celebrate integrity and hope. So, when DC Comics commissioned noted author Orson Scott Card to write the first chapter of the Super man digital series, an important segment of the comic community was not happy. Card’s vociferous opposition to marriage equality — and gay rights, generally — is enraging LGBT comic communities across the country. “What did DC think? That we wouldn’t notice?,” said Jono Jarrett of Geeks Out, a queer comics group in New York. “Why should I give him my money when he wants to take away my rights?” Card has been unabashedly slamming homosexuality since the ‘90s, calling it the “end of democracy in America.” In 2009, he joined the board of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a group notorious for attacking marriage equality and other advances for gays and lesbians in multi-million dollar TV ad campaigns and elsewhere. “He’s an activist bigot who helps direct millions of dollars into denying me and my partner of 15 years the basic legal rights straight couples take for granted,” said Glen Weldon, an author and
Patrick Yacco of Geeks Out.
pop culture commentator from Washington, DC. LGBT themes in comic books are a relatively new concept. “Comic books are not meant only for children anymore,” Jarrett said. “It has become a very sophisticated form of expression that appeals to everyone.”
“If this keeps happening, I may have to turn in my cape and leave Metropolis once and for all,” said Geeks Out’s Patrick Yacco. Back in 1954, a comic book would have been out of step with the Comics Code Authority, an industry
self-regulation scheme, if there was any mention of homosexuality. But in 2000, publishing giants like DC and Marvel br oke away fr om the organization and started introducing comics for adult readers. “Comics are ideally suited to represent the objective and subjective experience of being queer, so I am very happy to see gay folks participating in comics culture as creators, consumers, and subjects of comics,” said Chicago comic book writer Dale Lazarov, a contributor to “Manly,” a graphic novel series with homoerotic themes. What is shocking to fans is that DC Comics was in fact one of the pioneers of illustrating queer characters in comic books. The company is thought to have featured the first kiss between two men back in 1988 and in the past few years has been including more and more gay characters in its titles. Last year Alan Scott, the original G r e e n L a n t e r n c h a r a c t e r, w a s reintroduced as gay, Batwoman came out as a lesbian in 2006 (and may soon wed her girlfriend), and in its 2011 DC Universe relaunch, the company introduced Bunker, an amateur superhero who is gay. “DC underestimated LGBT comics consumers’ attachment to DC as a gay-supportive and gay-af fir ming company,” said Lazarov. In a written statement, DC Comics said, “As content creators, we steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals associated with DC comics are just that — personal views — and not those of the company itself.” The company did not respond to a request for further comment. Lazarov challenged the logic of DC’s statement. “Personal views imply it’s just a question of what he thinks or what he’s written on gay folks,” he said. “Being an active leader in an antigay rights organization that’s been designated a hate gr oup takes it far beyond a viewpoint, so their word choice is, in my estimate, imprecise.” But DC is not Card’s only home in the comics world. Marvel, too, has commissioned him, to write the Ultimate Iron Man series in 2005. Although there was a severe backlash then as well, Card was not dropped and the series was a hit. Gay comics fans claim to be stung harder this time because it is not just any hero Card is writing about, it’s Superman. “Super man represents fair ness. He literally personifies compassion,” said Weldon, author of “Superman: The Unauthorized Biography.”
“He exists to fight for those ideals, for everyone. DC asking Card to write the iconic Champion of the Oppressed shows me that they don’t understand who the character is or what he represents.” He added, “It’s not the first time a mainstream comic book company has disappointed me, and it won’t be the last. But this hits closer to home.” The LGBT advocacy group Allout. org has started a petition calling for DC comics to drop Card. The group has already collected more than 15,000 signatures and wants to reach a 25,000 mark, but some fans upset over DC’s decision do not want to sign the petition. “I agree with the sentiment behind the petition, but I disagree with their strategy so I am not part of it,” Lazarov said. “If you advocate against workplace discrimination for your community, it’s counterproductive to advocate for it when it comes to other people. I haven’t purchased or read his work in 20 years because his raging homophobia came to my attention that long ago.” Like Lazarov, Geeks Out is not part of the petition, but is refusing to purchase any of Card’s work. “Hiring Card cuts deep,” said Patrick Yacco from the group. “I’m not going to go so far as to boycott the company, but I’m definitely not picking up ‘Adventures of Superman.’ If this keeps happening, I may have to turn in my cape and leave Metropolis once and for all.” Book stores like Zeus Comics in Dallas have refused to stock any issues of the new digital series written by Card. On his Facebook page, Richard Neal, the store’s owner, said it is about equality. “If you replaced the word ‘homosexuals’ in his essays with the words ‘women’ or ‘Jews,’ he would not be hired,” he wrote. “But I’m not sure why it is still okay to ‘have an opinion’ about gays.” Whatever, a comic book store in San Francisco, is going the same route as Zeus. “ We r e f u s e t o g i v e m o n e y t o someone who will then turn around and use that money to fund mor e anti-gay hatr ed,” the stor e announced on its Facebook page. For its part, NOM is claiming to be the victim in this superhero flap. The group’s president, Brian Brown, was unavailable for comment but told Fox News that the Allout.org petition was “un-American.” “Simply because we stand up for traditional marriage, some people feel like it’s okay to target us for intimidation and punishment,” Brown said.
| February 27, 2013
Another ‘Authentic, Historic’ Williamsburg Lesbian filmmaker contemplates her place in a vanishing neighborhood
BY GARY M. KRAMER
u Friedrich pulled up to the corner of North Ninth and Berry in Williamsburg in her Volvo on a recent cold Saturday morning to discuss her engaging, enraging new documentary, “Gut Renovation.” The film chronicles how a rezoning law forced artists in her Brooklyn neighborhood — including herself and partner Cathy Quinlan — to move from the commercial spaces where they were living (albeit illegally) so greedy developers could build shiny new condos.
GUT RENOVATION Directed by Su Friedrich Outcast Films Opens Mar. 6 Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St. Filmforum.org
Driving up Kent Avenue, past the old Domino Sugar plant that stretches several blocks along the river, she pointed to a two-story building covered in streaks of paint at Kent and Metropolitan. “Thirty-one kids lived on the top floor,” Friedrich remarked. “We had a friend who ran it. It was typical of the really funky places people lived.” There was a hint of nostalgia in her raspy, cigarettestrained voice. She continued driving down Kent toward a large, stately building designed by Cass Gilbert. She identified where there once was a huge empty lot between that ran from North Sixth to North 11th. Friedrich recalled shooting a scene there for her film “Hide and Seek.” “That was one thing about Williamsburg,” she said. “It was a little bit the place where time forgot. There were huge pockets of it where you could just disappear. That was a magical thing about it.” But her mood soured at the sight of the modern condominium at 49 North Eighth Street. Turing and passing 80 Wythe Avenue, a corner building Friedrich showcases in “Gut Renovation,” the filmmaker mourned the fact that this former garment factory is now the swanky Wythe Hotel. “I was invited by a former housemate of ours to come over to the hotel when she was staying there on business, but I couldn’t bear going in,” she said. “It was just so sad.” Her film is filled with personal landmarks that became landfill to make way for modern redesign. We don’t see the old Williamsburg of the 1980s. Friedrich started shooting “Gut Renovation” in 2005 after the rezoning was announced. With construction taking place across the street from her loft, the film’s soundtrack is peppered with the noise of jackhammers and other drills. She edited the documentary off and on between 2008 and 2012, as she and Quinlan moved to a new place in Bedford-Stuyvesant. On this cold January day, she parked outside her old building at 118 North 11th Street, to finish discussing “Gut Renovation” at the scene of the “crime.” Friedrich said her film is not a social activist documentary nor is it is a “city symphony.” Instead, she classified it in the genre of “essay” films like Agnes Varda’s “The Gleaners and I” — films, she explained, that “contemplate an environment, a phenomenon, where you see your place in it. You have a sense of his-
Filmmaker Su Friedrich and her graffiti pointing up the irony of marketing the artsiness of Williamsburg.
tory and politics, and hopefully it would open up a discussion about it. This is what happened, and what we should do next time.” As she shows in her film, Friedrich and Quinlan paid taxes and helped create a sense of community and safety in Williamsburg for 20 years. Although she lived illegally in commercial space, the city turned a blind eye. Her outrage stems not from the fact she was evicted, but, she insisted, because “there is this incredible blindness about other populations who need a place to live. If they said we had to leave so that a small industry could return to the building and be charged a rent they could afford, then I would say they are right. But if they say, ‘Get out of here so we can rent it to some Wall Street guy paying ten times as much as you,’ then their argument about illegal loft living is a total sham.” Elaborating, she explained, “It was extremely profitable for the developers and the city to let people live and work in buildings zoned for industry — it was raising the real estate value. It was a secret handshake deal with the city because it benefits them. The reason they came in was because they could make more money.” Friedrich’s film aims to call attention to what she adamantly, angrily termed, “the will of the local government and the people with money to impose their will on local communities to decide their fate through manipulation and oppression.” The filmmaker did not make her documentary to engender sympathy for her plight, she said, but rather to open up discussion about class divisions. In making the film, what shocked her most were the violent reactions she heard when she asked people what they thought of artists. A sequence during the closing credits shows the contempt many have for individuals who make art. “I never thought we [artists] were that highly respected — we’re usually a laughingstock — but in New York, you think people understand that it’s a city that has housed artists and depended on artists for its reputation and income. So I thought there was a grudging respect for artists.” Adding insult to injury, in Friedrich’s view, was the clever and unintentionally ironic marketing used to attract new residents that played on the idea of Williamsburg being filled with artists. “They didn’t mention the fact that those artists will be gone!” she exclaimed, snickering at the phrase “Authentic Loft Rentals” on the side of a nearby building. She noted that the lofts are hardly “authentic.”
“They spent a lot of money and time thinking about how to sugarcoat the former condition of the neighborhood to extract what would be attractive to these new people — creative people lived here,” she said. “It was authentic, exciting. When I read these brochures, I would laugh at them, but then I’d see that they were doing things to get people to move in who would never live in Williamsburg the way it was before. So we were just a concept to them.” If Friedrich’s outrage is palpable in person, it comes across clearly and cogently in the film. She often presents her “crazy anger” and self-deprecating moments in “Gut Renovation.” New residents and real estate developers are irritated as she aims her camera at them on the street — and when she graffitis “Artists Used to Live Here” on the wall of a construction site. She even steals a bottle of wine from an open house and mocks the fancy dogs and nannies taking over the neighborhood. A terrific sequence features the filmmaker amused as construction workers across the street from her loft are frustrated by the challenge of breaking down a giant boulder. Ultimately, of course, the developers won, and Friedrich had to move. Still, she remains hopeful. “I think over time, I will become embedded in BedfordStuyvesant and love it the way I love Williamsburg,” she said. “But I’ve only been there three years, so it can’t be the same. It’s not like I chose it, it was chosen for me.”
February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
When Bullies are Attacked For tormented gay teens, sometimes it must get worse before it gets better
BY DAVID KENNERLEY
n recent years, the LGBT community has adopted the issue of anti-gay bullying as a cause célèbre, leveraging tragic, highprofile cases to shine a light on intolerance and advance gay rights. More often than not, the issue is reduced to black and white — bullies are evil, victims are saints.
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“From White Plains,” the savvy, searing drama about the lingering aftermath of a suicide brought on by a high school bully, refuses to traffic in such stereotypes, instead exploring the mottled shades of gray. Written and directed by Michael Perlman, the bold, scrappy work manages to steer clear of preachiness in order to focus on the complex contradictions of human relationships. Ultimately, the play is about anger, retribution, forgiveness, and exorcizing personal demons so that we can move forward. And, in some respects, it also attempts to redefine what it means to be gay. The opening scene is a doozy. Ethan and his best bud John sit in shock
JACOB J. GOLDBERG
FROM WHITE PLAINS
Jimmy King, Aaron Rossini, Karl Gregory, and Craig Wesley Divino in “From White Plains.”
in front of the television, having just watched some gay guy Ethan went to high school with win an Academy Award for his biopic about bullying. In the acceptance speech, screenwriter Dennis, best friends at school with the tormented boy who later took his own life, names Ethan as that bully. Breaking the stunned silence is a barrage of buzzing messages coming in on Ethan’s phone. Masterfully timed and exquisitely unnerving. According to John, the film, titled “White Plains,” is where “plain white people” live. And it’s about “what they do to people who aren’t just white and plain.” What follows is a highly public battle, waged over the blogosphere, between Ethan and Dennis, whose life was also
made a living hell by Ethan 15 years earlier. Dennis’ obsession with revenge puts undue strain on his relationship with his boyfriend Gregory, who’s dealing with baggage of his own. Despite apologies from Ethan, Dennis continues his attack. The relentless exposure causes Ethan to lose his job and his girlfriend and threatens his friendship with John. So who is the bully now? As the 30-year old former tyrant who hasn’t completely changed his ways (in heated moments he calls his straight bud John a fag), Aaron Rossini delivers a layered, absorbing performance. Even though we loathe Ethan’s past behavior, he earns our sympathy. He claims he was an asshole to everyone in high school, just trying to score laughs. Not
that we’re totally buying it. Craig Wesley Divino portrays John with skillfull restraint. Also harassed by bullies as a kid, John is torn between supporting his friend and moving on with his own life, by planning a wedding with his new fiancée. Perlman does a nice job of integrating of-the-moment technology to advance the plot. At one point, all four characters are tapping away on sleek computers, tablets, or smartphones while dramatic momentum is sustained — no easy feat. Somewhat less successful are scenes between Dennis and Gregory (Jimmy King) — who alternately bicker and smooch — that tend to err on the melodramatic side. As played by Karl Gregory, the crazed, self-righteous, axegrinding Dennis is largely unlikable until the confrontational climactic scene. We’re on his side, but it’s not hard to imagine him as a target for brutes in high school. He’s no saint, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, Perlman falls into the trap of many young playwrights who direct their own material by including problematic scenes that drag down the rest of the piece. A contrived chance meeting on a subway and the limp coda should have been reworked, if not cut. To say that the main message of this insightful if slightly frustrating work is “bullies are people too” would be an oversimplification. “From White Plains” posits that all of us — best buds, boyfriends, parents, victims — are capable of being bullies. And that sometimes it takes an eye-for-an-eye conflict to move beyond a quagmire from the past and focus on a brighter future.
Really Rotten The state of Denmark has seldom been worse — but life’s even darker for some dreary college kids. BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
t the outset, Bedlam’s new production of “Hamlet,” with four actors covering all the roles in a largely uncut rendition of the script, seems engaging. Spoken at breakneck pace with excellent technique, the play comes bearing down on the audience like a freight train. The down-at-heels Access Theater is unembellished, and the audience is, for the first act, seated on the stage while the actors turn the usual seats into the ramparts of Elsinore. It’s a promising beginning. Unfortunately, almost as quickly as one’s interest is piqued, it becomes
apparent this is going to be nothing more than a protracted acting exercise — an endurance test for the players and an even greater one for the audience.
HAMLET Bedlam at Access Theater 380 Broadway at White Street Through Apr. 7 After Mar. 6 in repertory with “Saint Joan” Mon., Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $30; theatrebedlam.org
Given the speed at which this is presented, anyone without a solid working knowledge of “Hamlet” will swiftly be lost. Potential confusion
is compounded by the mechanics necessary for the actors to switch between the characters, which often result in unintended laughs, such as when the one female actor has to be both Gertrude and Ophelia in one scene or when Rosencranz and Guildenstern are played interchangeably by three actors. This all might be manageable if director Eric Tucker, who also cast himself as Hamlet (a poor idea in general and especially so here), had bothered to look into the play with any kind of depth. His Hamlet is played as a contemporary slacker, not a young man grappling with the issues of morality and mortality that plague Shakespeare’s character.
If one is going to strip away a play to its essence, one better be pretty darn sure that essence is well thought-out and effectively communicated, not just a pretense for showing off. The other three actors — Ted Lewis, Andrus Nichols, and Tom O’Keefe — are kept so busy juggling characters there is no time for any deeper examination of the play or any new perspectives imparted at its conclusion. After more than three hours of this, audience fatigue inevitably sets in because it’s impossible to care about these characters, no matter how familiar they are. The voices blend together and
REALLY ROTTEN, continued on p.21
| February 27, 2013
Tom O'Keefe, Ted Lewis, Eric Tucker, and Andrus Nichols in Bedlam’s adaptation of “Hamlet,” directed by Tucker.
REALLY ROTTEN, from p.20
the cleverness of moving the audience around between acts fades. All that’s left is the impression that the actors are very pleased with themselves for having done something “important.” They may think so, but a conceptual departure is valid only if it can create vital and illuminating theater. Here, it collapses on itself. I’ve seen an untold number of “Hamlet” productions, but I’ve never been more grateful to hear the title character say, “The rest is silence.”
I t ’s e v i d e n t t h a t playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo has been heavily influenced by Neil LaBute. It’s also
clear in his new play “Really Really,” currently being produced by MCC, that he hasn’t got the playwriting chops or the developed worldview to carry off his mentor’s theatrical style. Colaizzo has turned in a mushy, twisted romcom that’s more mean-spirited than meaningful — rather than an incisive look at how self-involved, amoral, and disconnected characters prey on one another.
REALLY REALLY MCC at the Lucille Lortel 121 Christopher St., btwn. Bleecker & Hudson Sts. Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m.; Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $69; ovationtix.com Or 212-352-3101
D i r e c t o r D a v i d C r o m e r, w h o s e outstanding work in “Our Town” and “Tribes” — to name just two — have made him the go-to director for finding multi-layered humanity in a script, has so little to work with here that the characters never rise above clichéd blandness. The story concerns a group of college friends and what happens when the promiscuous Leigh, who has convinced her religious boyfriend Jimmy she’s pregnant to get him to marry her, has sex with Davis, the guy she really loved but
who wouldn’t give her the time of day. She then cries “rape” and all golly-gosh breaks loose. (Colaizzo isn’t a strong enough playwright to even approach having hell break loose.) In a series of truncated, half-written scenes, we lear n that everyone is thinking only of what he or she wants and trying to manipulate others into giving it to them. Because… well, that’s the way young people are today. Not one of the characters is remotely appealing or sympathetic, which wouldn’t kill a better play, but this bleak view of contemporary young adults is hardly original, so it swiftly becomes tedious. The cast, for the most part, work their hearts out trying to make people out of the cardboard characters they have been given. Best of the bunch is David Hull as Cooper, a jock who wants to stay in college as long as he can. Still, how he gets through his late and clumsily written revelation that college is the only place he’s ever felt he belongs beats me — particularly since it’s unsupported by anything we’ve seen in the character before. Lauren Culpepper does pretty well, too, as Grace, Leigh’s roommate and a “Future Leader of America.” Despite her aggressive solipsism, Grace does have a moral compass, and Culpepper makes that real, even in a part that’s ultimately a plot device instead of a person. In contrast, Zosia Mamet as Leigh, the girl who cries rape, pr ovides little beyond frustration. She gives a performance almost completely without affect, substance, or believability, as if she couldn’t be bothered to do anything but shuffle around and mouth the lines she’s been given. There’s a character in there — and it might be a complex one too, despite the sketchiness of the script — but an actress would have to dig to find it. Evidently, Mamet either can’t or won’t. So, why would anyone want to watch really dull people do really rotten things to one another in a really poorly written play? I really have no idea. Perhaps we really should ask Neil LaBute.
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February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
IN THE NOH
Music is Manhattan’s Central Heating Cabaret delights; powder this farce; Adjani: great actress or just a beauty?
BY DAVID NOH
raped her onstage partner -longtime “love” Mandy Patinkin, played by Marcus Stevens. Making his Off-Broadway debut, Stevens is simple astonishing. His clueless Matthew Broderick, the most unlikely song-and-dance man ever, has now been honed to killer perfection, he’s added more hilarious twitches and creepy scratching to his Stephen Sondheim, and his Mandy, like the man himself, is an utter scream. CAROL ROSEGG
t’s freezing outside, but mighty warm in the various boites around town where I enjoyed an extraordinary bounty of great music in the last weeks. Two Tony winners, John Lloyd Young (“Jersey Boys”) and Jennifer Holliday (“Dreamgirls”) made what amounted to triumphant comebacks, thrilling their audiences with talent that seems to have only grown in their years of absence from the New York stage.
COURTESY: O+M CO.
Natalie Charlé Ellis, Scott Richard Foster, Lindsay Nicole Chambers, and Marcus Stevens in “Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking.”
John Lloyd Young at the Café Carlyle
At Café Carlyle (Feb. 12), with his honeyed tenor and soaring falsetto, Young per for med his favorite pop selections from the 1950s and ‘60s, calling such songs many (some?) of us grew up with — like “Since I Fell for You,” “How Can I Be Sure?” “Hey There Lonely Girl,” “Hurt So Bad,” and “Only You” — musical comfort food. They surely were that, as goose bumps of anticipation formed with their familiar opening chords and the room became positively awash in nostalgic endorphins. He opened with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” from his Tony vehicle, but my favorite was a cover of Al Wilson’s “Show and Tell” that totally showed off his soulful chops, accompanied by an ace band that had a generous string section. Young admitted he’d been camped out in Los Angeles, singing for various benefits and private parties, getting his kung fu black belt, and creating some quite profitable art by covering ordinary objects with rhinestones. He recalled first moving to New York to an apartment without decent heating, causing him to wear underwear on his head for warmth, and added he told this story on the advice of his “Jersey Boys” book writers, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. They said that if he humiliated himself early in his performance, he’d win the audience over.
On Valentine’s Day, the atomic vocal power of Jennifer Holliday almost blasted a hole in the ceiling of
the tiny Iridium Jazz Club. Looking like she hasn’t aged a day since her 1982 Tony win, her set of standards was glowingly blessed by her complete lyric involvement, crystalline diction, and high-flying musicality. She sang three hoary chestnuts in a row, and totally made them her own — “My Funny Valentine,” a deliriously good “At Last” (which made me wonder why the pallid-by-comparison Beyoncé, and not her, was chosen to sing this at the 2009 Obama inaugural ball), and — mentioning that Judy Garland’s was her favorite version — “Come Rain or Shine,” which she ended with a searingly funky repeat of the words “with you” that brought the audience to their feet. Her band, consisting of the most stunningly talented and handsome black men (with a token whitey on keyboard), was magnificent, and a big part of the evening’s enjoyment was watching their own awestruck enjoyment of their star. Holliday’s demeanor throughout was singularly humble, from her modest entrance to the heartfelt “thank you’s” she murmured after every ovation. She mentioned how happy she was to be back singing and how it all now makes so much more sense to her. “I get asked all the time if I ever get tired of singing the song I’m best known for,” she said. “And I have to say I don’t. Because so many other people have done it since me, I feel it belongs to all of us.” And with that, she took a barely perceptible breath and started “And I am Telling You,” stamping it with every gloriously familiar, overwrought melisma and mannerism that has made this the ultimate modern torch song. Garland had “The Man That Got Away,” but Holliday will forever have this one, and, no matter how many times you’ve heard it before from either her or certain other people with her same initials and first name who happened to win an Oscar
for it, Holliday’s remains the touchstone. Forever. Because she still, miraculously, seems to be able to sing it like no other every single time she does it. To put it bluntly, when she sings it, she bleeds.
Lulu’s New York debut gig at B.B. King’s (Feb. 16) was jam-
packed, people standing four deep at the bar, and they didn’t even seem to all be Brits! She hit the stage, pistols blaring, looking about 25, and launched into “Unchain My Heart,” the first of a string of down-and-dirty R&B standards that had the house rocking. Another superb band supported her, terrifically led by Paul Shaffer, in his absolute element, jamming away. Screwing up her song order at one point, she said, “I’m 64!” You’d never fucking believe it.
The real musical wonder o f w o n d e r s is how Gerard
Alessandrini manages to consistently find such incredible vocal talent for his editions of “Forbidden Broadway” (47th Street Theatre, 304 W. 47th St.; forbiddenbroadway.com). Especially since, as one of the cast members mentioned, the audition pr ocess is grueling, requiring about 30 impressions, with Norm Lewises but no Carol Channings in the mix. Needing a good laugh with all this ice, I caught the show one more time on February 17, and Natalie Charlé Ellis shone as a coke-snorting Audra McDonald in “Porgy,” a litigious Julie Taymor, and a complete with-attitude-but-no-highnotes Catherine Zeta Jones. Scott Richard Foster eviscerated Steve Kazee’s self-indulgent showboating angst in “Once” and “Newsies’” Jeremy Jordan’s flashy vocal melismas (nailing a note, he goes, “Yes!”). New cast member Lindsay Nicole Chambers caught Bernadette Peters’ pushy furball-inthroat vocalizing, Elena Roger’s utter vocal lack, and, as Patti LuPone, nearly
I finally caught “Forever Dusty” (Feb. 16) and was impressed
by lead/ co-creator Kirsten Holly Smith’s convincing facsimile of La Springfield’s smoky, sensual voice, not to mention all that raccoon eyeliner and Lady Bunny hair. It’s a loving tribute, snappily directed by Randal Myler, but suffers from a too thin book that posits Springfield in endless, angrily confrontational scenes with her brother, various music biz types, and black girlfriend (Christina Sajous, as a composite of Dusty’s various lovers). The good news is that Sajous is also generously given time to shine musically, and her sizzling rendition of the Exciters’ fabulous “Tell Him,” the first two notes of which Springfield always cited as an electrifying influence on her, is almost worth the admission price. (Through June 2, New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St.; foreverdusty.com.)
I was one of the bored audience members at the
opening night of Tomas Adés’ opera “Powder Her Face” (Feb. 15) who was jolted awake by the sight of 25 buttnaked men prowling the stage around lead soprano Allison Cook. They were uniformly gorgeous (no “Naked Boys Singing” duds here), bespeaking the doubtless hand-picked care that had gone into their casting. I wish the music itself had anything like as much beauty or impact. The word “masterpiece” keeps getting tossed around in regard to this opera, and I find that wholly unfathomable. “Emperor’s new clothes” is a more fit description to me for all the screeching, caterwauling, and overall random tunelessness of this pastiche. The judge’s aria was particularly excruciating (“Mu-u-u-u-r-DER!”), and I could feel many in the BAM-hip premiere audience just going “Wha?” (apart from one young girl who kept self-consciously laughing, very loudly), but they duly applauded it at the end, with nary a “boo!” one might have heard from the more discerning crowd at the Met.
IN THE NOH, continued on p.24
| February 27, 2013
Emotions High — On Stage and Off — at “Laramie Project Cycle” Matthew Shepard murder sequel shines; Matt’s Mom speaks out at pre-show forum en years — especially the decade that followed the 1998 anti-gay murder of 21-year -old Matthew Shepard — is an epoch in LGBT history. BAM’s revival of “The Laramie Project” — an Of f-Broadway play less than successful commercially in 2000 that has gone on to be the most performed play of the period, largely in school productions — thrusts us right back to the aftermath of that horrific hate crime. Most of the original cast members/ writers from the Tectonic Theater Project are back, portraying themselves as well as the citizens of Laramie who they interviewed when the Wyoming town (population 26,000) was thrown into a national debate over hate crimes against LGBT people. This complex portrayal of people, a place, and the politics of LGBT rights in the American West is flecked with humor, anger, and diverse, honestlystated viewpoints, but it is infused with heart and humanity. It has lost none of its shattering theatrical power. I won’t single out anyone in this true ensemble, but each cast member provides distinct and various theatrical pleasures. In “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later,” the same intrepid troupe of theater artists revisits a 13 percent bigger and also more guarded Laramie — encountering many who are deter mined not to be defined by the infamous crime, some who have made it a better place for LGBT folks, and others eager to embrace a rationalization of “the incident,” as it is often referred to there, blaming Matt for his own demise. That last group seizes in particular on an ABC-TV News “20/20” piece by Elizabeth Vargas from 2004 that re-cast the murderers as kids hopped up on drugs and dismissed hate as a motive, despite the brutal overkill to which Matt was subjected — bashed in the head with the butt of a gun more than 20 times, his young life ebbing away while tied to a fence on the cold prairie. The principal investigator in the case tells Tectonic that the blood samples drawn from the killers debunk the “20/20” assertion they were on drugs at the time. A spokesperson for ABC News this week declined comment on the “Laramie” piece. This update from Tectonic includes interviews that they did
BY ANDY HUMM
Michael Winther (in hat) and Mercedes Herrero (with mic) in the Tectonic Theater Project’s production of “The Laramie Project Cycle” at BAM.
with the convicted men, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney. While Henderson is filled with regret, McKinney — now covered in Nazi tattoos — feels nothing for Shepard, choosing to believe a lie that Matt preyed on kids and deserved whatever he got. McKinney does not even remember the gay panic defense that he himself used at trial where he tried to justify the vicious attack by alleging Matt made a play for him. At a BAM forum with Moisés Kaufman, Tectonic’s founding artistic director, Judy Shepard, Matt’s mom, who now runs the Matthew Shepard Foundation, talked about how she has made advocacy for LGBT rights her life. She has also tried to rescue her son from a hate crimes victim icon/ saint stereotype with her book, “The Meaning of Matthew,” in which she fleshes out who he was as a person. She exhorted LGBT people to come out and allies to stand up for us. “Silence equals death,” she said. “I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘I wish I had never come out.’ They say, ‘I wish I had come out sooner.’” In the audience Q&A, I asked what assessment Shepard and Kaufman have about the ef ficacy and appropriateness of hate crimes laws, for which they pushed so hard. The 2009 federal Matthew ShepardJ a m e s B y r d , J r. H a t e C r i m e s Act provides federal resources to localities to investigate such attacks, and most laws enacted at the state level add extra prison time for those
convicted under them, a feature some of us have come to question. “We can make it a law,” Shepard said, “but that doesn’t mean it will work.” She said that “what’s important is that it was the first piece of federal legislation that protected the gay community rather than taking rights away,” opening the door to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and, she predicted, passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. “It’s a tool,” she said, “and I wouldn’t care if it was called the Chocolate Cake Act” instead of being named in part for her son. Shepard called the 2004 “20/20” revisionism on her son’s murder “the worst piece of journalism I’ve ever seen.” A man named Michael, 34, from Manhattan, spoke up at the forum to say he is the age Matthew would have been now and had followed his story and her journey from the time he was a youth in small-town Ohio. “I just had to say to you that we couldn’t have had a better mother,” he said tearfully, a tribute that left Shepard and most of the assembled in tears, too. Kaufman said his goal as an artist is “to make the connection between what happens in life and on the stage closer,” an aim achieved mightily in this pair of plays. Attending out of my sense of obligation as a gay jour nalist, I was overwhelmed by the continued power of this theater
experience and the insight it provides into the — yes — tectonic changes in the LGBT rights movement in just the past decade. “Ten Years Later” portrays a debate in the W yoming Legislatur e on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. An out lesbian legislator bemoans what she expects will be a losing vote for her until a powerful Republican stands up and turns his colleagues around, warning that a ballot initiative would tear the state apart, dividing neighbors and families and colleagues. The measure fails handily. Before the show, Shepard noted that while Wyoming this month defeated legislation to protect LGBT rights and open civil unions and marriage to gay couples, it did so by surprisingly narrow margins. Kaufman, who lives on the Upper West Side, said that if a crime such as the Shepard murder occurred two blocks from him, it would not induce the kind of soul searching and scrutiny in his neighborhood or in this city that occurred in Laramie, where everyone is connected to everyone else. Tectonic’s company of outsiders — with patience and fair ness — wrested keen observations and characterizations from the people of Laramie. Many would like to put “the incident” behind them now, but they themselves — in their imperfect coming to grips with it — will live on as long as there is an audience for this enlightening and challenging work. The two plays closed their BAM run on February 24, though a money review in the New York T imes may prompt someone to get it into another house. It’s great theater and deserves that. BAM was filled with more young adults than I have seen at the theater in years, many of them alumni of the nearly 900 productions of “Laramie” — some in schools where they had to fight administrative censorship to get the gay-themed work staged. The pr oductions have not only dramatized the dialogue that Matt’s murder started in Laramie, but have often also been vehicles for discussions of local prejudice across the US and beyond. Full disclosure: The original production of “The Laramie Project,” in 2000, was the first and only play in which I ever invested. I lost it all on its short run here, but am pleased to see the continued vibrant life it has since enjoyed.
February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
Where Modern Pathology Meets Guileless Exorcism Melodrama, high-mindedness mix in lesbian love story set in Romanian monastery omanian director Cristian Mungiu’s “Beyond the Hills” may be the first arthouse nunsploitation film ever made. It combines elements of art cinema (long takes from a stationary camera) with B-movie sensationalism and melodrama. It offers up lesbian nuns, bare breasts, and an exorcism, although it shies away from onscreen sex and violence. Simultaneously, the film provides cheap thrills and a serious examination of Romania’s primitive Orthodox churches. Mungiu serves it all up with the kind of mordant Eastern European humor that, in the final scene, sees a splash of dirty water on a windshield as a sign of doom.
BEYOND THE HILLS Directed by Cristian Mungiu Sundance Selects In Romanian with English subtitles Opens Mar. 8 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com
“Beyond the Hills” begins in a remote Orthodox monastery in Romania. Alina (Cristina Flutur) reunites with Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) after spending some time in Germany. While the film is never entirely explicit about their level of physical passion, it’s clear the two women, who grew up in an orphanage together, are lesbian lovers. Alina wants Voichita to leave and live with her in Germany. Voichita loves the monastery and is devoted to religion, so she refuses. Alina challenges the conservative priest who oversees the monastery and gets taken to the hospital after a spell of erratic behavior. Eventually, the priest and nuns start suspecting she’s possessed by Satan. They trust in medicine enough to keep giving her pills after the hospital discharges her, but they eventually perform an exorcism on her.
IN THE NOH, from p.22
Grâce à Dieu for Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Rendezvous with French Cinema (Feb. 28 through Mar. 11;
filmlinc.com), which annually brings us a trove of Gallic movies that have heart and minds and are about people, not violence, car chases, or goddamn superheroes. Director Claude Miller died last year, but went out in a blaze of glory with his finest work, “Thérèse Desqueyroux” (Mar. 1), a brilliant adaptation of Francois Mauriac’s memorably biting novel about an unhappy haute bourgeoise housewife whose rebellion against her stiflingly cushy existence takes a terrible toll on her husband. Audrey Tautou, who I’ve never been mad about, finally comes through with a fierce, burningly intelligent performance. Her trademark gamine charm seems to have burned off here and, without ever once overdoing
BY STEVE ERICKSON
Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur in Cristian Mungiu’s “Beyond the Hills.”
The Romanian New Wave continues to produce impressive work, even under an unsympathetic government. The Romanian film “Child’s Pose” recently won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival, and its director Calin Peter Netzer took the awards ceremony as an opportunity to plead for more funding for art cinema. The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual series of new Romanian films, which showcased Radu Jude’s excellent “A Film For Friends” last year, is now reliant on Kickstarter for much of its funding. H o w e v e r, o n e c a n u n d e r s t a n d — w i t h o u t sympathizing with — the Romanian government’s ambivalence about much of the nation’s recent cinema. It’s received an unprecedented level of international acclaim, while covering subjects like abortion, drugs, suicide, and Romania’s decrepit health care system. Not exactly the kind of material to entice tourists to Bucharest! “Beyond the Hills” was partially produced by the Dardenne brothers, but Lars von Trier is the filmmaker whose work it most resembles. In fact, I can picture it as a natural follow-up to his 1996 breakthrough “Breaking the Waves,” even though the two are very different films. Mungiu rarely moves the camera, while von Trier used abrasive handheld camera and quick editing. Mungiu
it in this very Bette Davis role, you can’t take your eyes off her. Gay director François Ozon also delivers his best movie to date with “In the House” (Mar. 1), an irresistibly compelling story about a high school teacher (the great Fabrice Luchini) and his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) who become unduly caught up with a student who writes fascinating term papers tracking his infiltration into the so-called perfect family of one of his classmates. A fiendishly clever and dead sexy study of voyeurism, it is so well written and cast that you, the viewer, become totally complicit, as well. Side note: Denis Ménochet as the kid’s macho papa may be the hottest actor in the entire festival, maybe all of France — the ultimate Daddy fantasy. “Renoir” (Mar. 2), Gilles Bourdos’ study of the one Impressionist painter I have always found immensely overrated and precious did nothing to revise my opinion, being a stodgy, pedestrian
only does so when his characters are particularly excited. Both films, however, tell outlandish melodramas in a naturalist style, relying on the acting to make their increasingly bizarre narratives believable. The performances in “Beyond the Hills,” which was inspired by two “nonfiction novels” from journalist Tatiana Niculescu Bran, are all credible. The characters start out seeming like ordinary people and slowly become more outrageous, so one can understand why they might think some of their stranger notions are good ideas. Unlike von Trier, Mungiu is no misogynist. In fact, he might even be a feminist. Although “Beyond the Hills” doesn’t make a big deal out of being a lesbian love story, it is one nonetheless. Yet, it clearly doesn’t see Alina’s sexuality as the most interesting thing about her. She simply lives in a society that has no place for such a troubled woman. Her foster parents barely tolerate her. Alina’s journey to Germany had not worked out; from the way she talks about it, one suspects her story that she worked as a waitress is a euphemism for something more precarious, like sex work. The hospital kicks her out because they don’t have enough space, and the monastery insists she become a nun if she wants to stay. But Alina only wants to stick around the monastery so she can remain with Voichita, who’s so committed to religion she can’t imagine leaving to be with Alina. Mungiu’s previous film “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” was paced like a thriller. Despite its off-putting subject matter — a woman seeking an illegal abortion under Romania’s former Communist regime — it won the top prize at Cannes in 2007 and was a minor arthouse hit in the US the following year. At 150 relatively slow minutes, “Beyond the Hills” is a much heavier slog. I suspect it might not have received US distribution at all were it not the follow-up to “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.” Still, “Beyond the Hills” shows a canny synthesis of the arthouse and whatever’s left of the grindhouse. Let’s hope Mungiu resists the temptation to come to Hollywood and make “The Last Exorcism 3.”
affair. From the too-new looking cap surmounting the face of Michel Bouquet (giving a tiresome, aphorism-laden great old man performance) to the casting of handsome Vincent Rottiers as his destined-to-be-great filmmaker son, Jean, who was anything but a beauty, there was much to take issue with, although I admired the strength of Christa Theret’s beauty and acting. She played a model, who would eventually marry Jean and become the actress Catherine Hessling, the enchanting star of his “Nana” who died in povertystricken obscurity in 1979.
Another French actress, Isabelle Adjani, is being celebrated at BAM with a festival (March 7-21; bam. org). Along with her famous, star-making “The Story of Adele H.,” “Camille Claudel, ” “Queen Margot,” and the legendary disaster “Ishtar,” Andre Téchiné’s rare “The Brontë Sisters” (Mar. 8), with her as Emily, Isabelle Huppert as Anne,
and Marie France Pisier as Charlotte, is being shown. Despite the cast, I was disappointed by this. It’s more the story of their tortured brother Branwell (Pascal Greggory), not much better than the Warner Brothers very Hollywood Brontë epic “Devotion” (1946), and never really shows the girls actually writing. Adjani is a conundrum. Is she really a great actress or is it just her mesmerizing beauty and mystique that make people think so? Téchiné once told me she was far too concerned with her looks, and cited Huppert as the real actress of the two. Garbo had that flawless face, as well, but it was always lit from within by a depth of feeling and sensuality I often find lacking in Adjani, who is more given to express emotions through strenuously flamboyant outbreaks of hysteria. Discuss. Contact David Noh at Inthenoh@aol. com, follow him on Facebook and Twitter @in_the_noh and check out his blog at http://nohway.wordpress.com/.
| February 27, 2013
François Girard Met production triumphs, liberating “Parsifal” from Wagner pitfalls BY ELI JACOBSON
KEN HOWARD/ mETROPOLITAN OPERA
agner’s “Parsifal” is not a conventional opera in dramatic structure, content, or conception and should not be staged like one. The Metropolitan Opera’s previous production — the least successful of the Otto Schenk/ Günther Schneider-Siemssen “romantic, realistic” Met Wagner productions — turned the opera into Disneyfied kitsch. I remember vividly the Astroturf valley in Act III, with fake daisies wobbling on wire stems. The more “Parsifal” is liberated from a specific, literal, and overly narrow interpretation the more the viewer can ignore Wagner’s distorted concept of Christian theology and let the music weave its spell. A faction of the Met audience booed director François Girard at the premiere (February 15), ostensibly because they were not seeing long tunics and Romanesque arches onstage. Wagner’s text does not specifically name Christ — only referring to “him” — and the text is allusive and ambiguous. Girard strips away literal religious iconography, keeping only the Grail and spear, while staying faithful to Wagner’s stage directions. In Act I, the forest near Monsalvat is a post-apocalyptic wasteland — striated dried earth with a narrow stream bisecting it. The Grail knights are a fundamentalist sect — all barefoot and dressed in white Oxford shirts and dark gray pants. They sit in a closed circle stage right while the black-clad female community is segregated stage left — never allowed into the sacred circle. Nature blasted by global war ming serves as a visual metaphor for the spiritual desolation of the Order of the Grail caused by the physical and psychological wound inflicted on their leader, Amfortas. A scrim shows projected images of a cloudy sky, but when we enter the Grail Hall these are replaced by abstract images of earth and heaven. (Girard does overuse the projections — the Good Friday Spell in Act III resembled a plan-
Jonas Kaufmann in the title role of Wagner’s “Parsifal” at the Met.
etarium show.) At the end of Act I, the earth itself takes on a rosy glow, looking like human skin magnified, while the stream turns into a gash of blood — the landscape transformed into Amfortas’ wound itself. Parsifal is drawn into its bleeding opening. In the second act we are inside the wound itself — high crevice walls on either side with a pool of blood covering the entire stage floor. Kundry’s attempted seduction of Parsifal in the guise of a maternal figure — Wagner anticipates Freud’s Oedipus complex by 20 years — is underscored by the visual similarity of this space to the interior of a female vagina. Our hero has retreated into the womb, where he is spiritually reborn. Act III shows the first act landscape in an advanced state of desolation and disorder — graves have been dug in the earth and light snow dusts the ground. Parsifal blesses Kundry, who officiates in the Grail ceremony and the male and female community are united in the final tableau. The lighting remains shad-
OPERA, continued on p.30
February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
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Turning a corner on an unhappy episode in the history of New York’s LGBT Community Center that lasted nearly two years, the Center announced on February 15 that it was ending its “indefinite moratorium” on renting space to organizations that “organize around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The dif ficulties began in the spring of 2011 when several well-known supporters of Israel, springing into action at the urging of gay porn entrepreneur Michael Lucas, complained the Center was renting space to Siege Busters, a group challenging the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, for a commemoration of Israeli Apartheid Week, a worldwide protest aimed at the Jewish state over its policies toward its Palestinian residents. In r esponse to the complaints, the Center canceled that gathering, explaining that Siege Busters was not an LGBT group and was bringing undue controversy into the West 13th Street facility’s operations. When others then criticized the Center for betraying a tradition of open access, it held a town hall meeting to vent the issue and also hired a consulting firm to advise it on establishing a new policy. In the meanwhile, the Center accepted space reservations from a second group, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, which had an overlapping membership with Siege Busters. When complaints quickly resurfaced, the Center canceled the final two of QAIA’s three dates and announced the “indefinite moratorium.” Given that the Center had engaged outside consultants to advise them, it was not unreasonable to hope that the “indefi-
nite moratorium” would yield in some reasonable period of time to a coherent access policy honoring the traditions of a community center serving diverse populations. No new policy, however, was forthcoming. Until, that is, the Center faced an uproar over its denial of space to QAIA for a reading by noted author, novelist, playwright, and activist Sarah Schulman fr om her book “Israel/ Palestine and the Queer International.” Schulman is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed at punishing Israel economically for its Palestinian policies. She is also a New York lesbian leader of 30 years, and her exclusion from the Center proved a bigger challenge than the untenable policy — which was really an abdication of responsibility for making policy — could absorb. In the day or so after the story broke on February 13, Center staff adamantly denied there was any contemplation of a change in policy — and then suddenly late on a Friday afternoon, new guidelines were announced. The nearly instantaneous release of a statement from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and three other out gay and lesbian elected officials made it clear they were working hand in glove with Center officials to tamp down the latest crisis. The new guidelines can be made to work. The Center has for some time had a policy requiring groups renting space to sign a pledge that they are non-discriminatory and do not engage in bigotry or hate speech. Disavowing any intention to “pre-vet” groups asking for space or the content they will present, the Center has put the onus on those charging any group with bigotry or hate speech to come forward with a formal written complaint. Personally, I am not thrilled at the prospect of signing a statement attesting that “I am not now nor ever have been”
engaged in hate speech. On the other hand, the Center has an obligation to create a space where people are free from discrimination and bigotry, so an overall policy and pledge addressing discrimination, bigotry, and hate speech — if required universally with appropriate due process and evidentiary standards — can be an acceptable approach. I am not encouraged, howe v e r, b y t h e w a y t h e C e n ter framed its February 15 announcement, nor am I happy about the manner in which the public officials chimed in. The Center’s announcement would have us believe that the change of heart resulted from the salutary effects of a moratorium that “allowed things to cool down and gave us time to rethink the Center’s space use policies.” Baloney. It came in response to an angry community reaction to the snub of Schulman. This is no academic question, because in the next paragraph, when discussing the pledge required of space renters, the announcement states, “we deplore the rhetoric of hate and bigotry.” If the policy change had come in its own time, that statement might be seen as a umpire’s neutral observation. Articulated as part of a reversal of another recent denial of space to QAIA, it is clear finger -pointing at the critics of Israel. Not only is the statement unnecessary but it flies in the face of the Center’s avowed intention to stay out of the Israeli/ Palestinian controversy. The Center was clearly covering its butt against charges it had caved to Israel-haters. I wouldn’t use the word apartheid in describing Israel’s policies toward its Palestinian residents and neighbors, much as I have problems with the way in which Israeli politics has retreated from any sincere commitment to working toward humanitarian solutions to the tragedy faced by
the Palestinian people. I don’t like use of the word for the same reason I reject glib comparisons to the Nazi regime, to slavery, or to Jim Crow racism. Just as with the challenges facing LGBT people, I think we should talk about the difficulties confronting the Palestinians — and the culpability Israel might have in that regard — in language specific to the situation. I don’t see any purpose served by saying, “You don’t have to bother educating yourself about Israel and Palestine, it’s just like the former white regime in South Africa and its black majority.” I am dismayed, however, at how much more difficult it is to have a thoughtful debate about Israel’s shortcomings in the US than it is in Israel. There, the opposition is freewheeling in its criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Here, nuanced thinking seems to pretty quickly hit a brick wall of “My Israel, Right or Wrong.” That is surely the attitude at the heart of the disconcerting release from Quinn, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick. After praising the Center for finding an approach that will maximize access, the four gratuitously added, “That said, we want to make abundantly clear that we categorically reject attempts by any organization to use the Center to delegitimize Israel and promote an anti-Israel agenda.” Then, in a per fect inversion of what actually happened over the past two years on West 13th Street, they continued, “We adamantly oppose any and all efforts to inappropriately inject the Center into politics that are not the core of their important mission.” If only they could have left it at a paraphrase of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s rebuke of those who threatened to punish Brooklyn College for hosting a BDS forum — and said simply, “If you want to go to a community center where the government or a board of directors meeting in private decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you look for a community center in North Korea.”
| February 27, 2013
The Lessons of Benedict — And Why They Won’t Be Learned BY NATHAN RILEY
ope Benedict XVI is leaving defeated, with the Catholic Church’s problems unresolved. Bracketing the Pope’s retirement were votes approving marriage equality in France and Great Britain. The rejection of the Church’s teaching, said the Tablet, a British Catholic newspaper, “undermined [its] authority” in the global dialogue on gay rights. Staunchly defending traditional moral understanding hasn’t made the Church more influential. “The mainstream religious bodies, including the Catholic Church and the Church of England, campaigned against the bill, avoiding the obvious pitfalls, but won few converts to their cause,” the Tablet concluded in an editorial. Both Churches said “what they felt without weighing the consequences,” the editorial continued, before warning, “The consequences have now to be lived with.” With Britain’s Parliament rejecting a fundamental moral teaching, “the author ity of that teaching in the future” has been weakened. These are words to ponder for anyone thinking traditionalist dogma can be preserved without modification. Clinging to rigid views doesn’t solve problems, it amplifies them.
The pope’s dogmatic faith — developed over decades of work as his predecessor’s doctrinal watchdog — caused serious missteps in his own tenure. Even as he threatened heterodox thinkers with excommunication, he could not bring the weight of the Church squarely to bear in holding priests who raped children accountable. The cruelty and absur dity of making wrong thinking a more serious offense than a priest forcing himself on the most vulnerable in his flock exacerbated the moral and public relations disasters of the sexual abuse scandal. The Church repeatedly dodged its responsibilities to reconcile with victims as their complaints spread across the world to Ireland, Mexico, and Australia. What heightened the disarray is that the scandals often involved Benedict’s ideological soul mates. A wise administrator would turn abusive priests over to the police, satisfying the victims and cr eating a standard operating procedure to demonstrate the old ways had ended. This sensible approach proved beyond the power of this pope. By insisting on secrecy time after time after time, the Church writ large became a target. Last year, a Kansas City bishop wa s convi cted of a m i sd em ea nor offense for failing to report child sex
a b u s e . R o b e r t W. F i n n , w h o w a s vocal in his support for Opus Dei, a notoriously secretive archconservative Catholic group with close ties to Benedict, was sentenced to probation for failing to pass along information the diocese had about Father Shawn Ratigan’s collection of hundreds of pornographic pictures he had taken of young girls in his charge. The story only surfaced when a computer repair shop undertook the duties that Finn had failed to perform and notified authorities. In Australia, the Church’s sex abuse scandal has reached historic proportions, A Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been convened, and its targets of investigation include the Catholic Church. The Conversation, an Australian journal, reported that the commission’s purpose is to “focus on cases of institutional sexual abuse and not on cases of sexual abuse within the family.” The Church’s failure to get ahead of the scandal but rather to be dragged into it by government special panels is a damning indictment of the pope’s leadership. Credible reports — buf fered by Benedict’s own words that “I’m resigning for the good of the Church” — suggest he agreed with this conclusion. How other pressures — such as the detailed recounting the
Where Have All the Muslims Gone: The 2018 Hashmi Award
BY SUSIE DAY
very year about this time, since way back in 2013, the City of New Yo r k h a s b e s t o w e d i t s prestigious Hashmi A w a r d u p o n a w o r t h y N e w Yo r k resident who lives openly as an observant Muslim. The Hashmi recipient — preferably of Asian, Middle Eastern, or African descent — must have paid taxes, abided by Wester n law, held no criminal r ecor d, valued higher education, and demonstrated all-around Good Muslim Sportsmanship in the war against terror.
The Hashmi, according to Mayor Christine Quinn, “is our way of saying, ‘Thanks, observant Muslims, for allowing us to project our post-9-11 fear and hatred onto you. Your sinister hijabs, skullcaps, and beards, not to mention your wacky halal food, have justified years of the NYPD secretly monitoring your communities.’” In a dignified ceremony at City Hall, the Hashmi honoree is presented with a pair of complimentary waterproof socks and a rain poncho. The lucky prizewinner is then immediately arrested on suspicion of intent to give these items to Al Qaeda.
Now, in 2018, the Awards Committee would again like to honor a deserving man or woman of the Islamic faith. Unfortunately, the Committee can’t seem to find one. V i r t u a l l y a l l N e w Yo r k ’ s o b s e r vant Muslims appear to have been deported or are assumed to be on the down-low, hoping to avoid “per secution.” The Hashmi Award, begun in 2013, was named for the ultimate Good Muslim Sport, Syed Fahad Hashmi. Mr. Hashmi, born 1980 in Pakistan, did not, unfortunately, begin life as a Good Sport. When he was three, he moved with his family to the United States and became an
pope recieved late last year about gay sex parties among Vatican insiders, which the Italian newspaper La Republicca reported about last week — contributed to his decision may be harder to sort out. Catholics in the Western democracies have voiced their unhappiness by asking that the Church “modernize.” But few seriously believe it is yet prepared to get out of its straitjacket. Modernizing means ending celibacy, providing constructive advice to the Church faithful on sexual matters, including the use of condoms, and acknowledging that an absolute prohibition against abortion means endangering the well-being of some pregnant women. American Catholics apparently don’t accept the argument that abortion is murder, but the Church remains obdurate. A majority of Catholics vote Democratic and have social views more liberal than society as a whole, but the hierarchy has joined an alliance with Republican evangelical Christians. The Catholic laity is often pro-choice, believes in the individual’s right to choose their own sexuality, including their priests, and supports the equality of women and their right to ordination. As important, they believe that doctrine improves with open debate. Still, most also expect the Church to act like Napoleon and plunge deeper into Russia without contemplating the costs. Modernizing is the only solution, but the Church sees it as a retreat. This mindset will prevent Catholic religious leaders from recognizing any opportunity for a new dawn.
American citizen, thus succumbing to his inborn jihadist urge to infiltrate Wester n society. The youthful Mr. Hashmi soon launched himself on a downward spiral, moving ever deeper into the netherworld of fanaticism by not smoking, not drinking, not cursing, respecting his teachers, pursuing an interest in current events, and abusing his First Amendment rights in arguing against US foreign policy. By 2003, when he received a degree in political science from Brooklyn College, Mr. Hashmi had all but completed his descent into terror. Seeking to expand Islam’s worldwide web, he went to England to study for a master’s degr ee in international relations at the London Metropolitan University. There, Mr. Hashmi, in a wanton perversion of niceness, allowed an acquain-
SUSIE DAY, continued on p.30
February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
14 DAYS, from p.12
GALLERY Jonathan Ned Katz — the Artist
Groundbreaking gay historian Jonathan Ned Katz, author of “Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A.” (1976) and “The Invention of Heterosexuality” (1995), has his first solo art show, “Making History, Making Art,” which demonstrates the importance of visual art over the course of his life, including samples of the art he produced as a child (Pop Art before Pop Art), teen, and young man. The show will focus on Katz’s recent paintings of men, praised by his curator — Jonathan David Katz (no relation), director of the Visual Culture Studies at SUNY Buffalo’s doctoral program — for their “passion, sensuality and immediacy.” Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster St., btwn. Grand & Canal Sts. Feb. 15-Mar. 31. Tue.-Sun., noon-6 p.m.
COMMUNITY Éirinn go Brách!
The St. Pat’s For All parade returns to Sunnyside and Woodside, Queens for the 14th annual fully inclusive celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. This year, the parade honors grand marshals Pauline Turley and Aidan Connolly, leaders of the Irish Arts Center, a New York City arts and cultural center celebrating both the traditions and the dynamic character of the 21st century Emerald Isle. The parade begins to assemble at 12:30 p.m. on Mar. 3 at Skillman Ave. and 47th St., with a 2 p.m. kickoff. The route travels to Woodside Ave. and 58th St., with the annual post-parade party at Saints & Sinners, 60th St. & Roosevelt Ave. For complete information, visit stpatsforall.com.
A Week of Healing
Sunnyside’s All Saints Episcopal Church begins the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS with an English language service on Mar. 3 at 10 a.m., followed by a Spanish service at noon. A Taizai service will be held on Mar. 6, 7 pm., with the week winding up with an English service on Mar. 10, 10 a.m. The church is located at 43-12 46th St.
HEALTH HIV Is Not a Crime
Longtime AIDS activist and POZ magazine founder Sean Strub presents his short documentary from the Sero Project, which he runs, detailing the way HIV criminalization has impacted the lives of three people. “HIV Is Not a Crime” makes clear that stigma remains the biggest obstacle in the battle against the epidemic and that criminalization is a big part of the stigma problem. Strub is joined in discussion by Elizabeth Lovinger, and Robert Valadéz from the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Robert Suttle of the Sero Project, who is one of those whose story is told in the film, and attorney Alison Yager from the HIV Law Project. GMHC, 446 W. 33rd St., seventh fl. Mar. 6, 6-7:30 p.m. The program is free and refreshments will be served.
COMMUNITY Problem with a Brother or Sister? As part of its “Dialogues on…” series, the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute will explore sibling rivalry, with a presentation by Dr. Phil Herschenfeld, MD, a graduate of Einstein Medical School and a professor of psychiatry and psychoanalysis. Through his Manhattan private practice, Herschenfeld has gained significant insight into sibling rivalry and its effect on individuals and families. NYPSI, Marianne & Nicholas Young Auditorium, 247 W. 82nd St. Mar. 6, 8-9:15 p.m. Admission is free, but RSVP is suggested to email@example.com or 212-879-6900.
COMEDY Girls Gone Hilarious
“Homo Comicus” presents Our Ladies of the Funny — the legendary Kate Clinton, Michele Balan, Poppy Champlin, and Jessica Halem. Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd St. Mar. 6, 8:30 p.m. There is a $20 cover, with a two-drink minimum. Reservations at 212-367-9000.
NIGHTLIFE Bingo Gone to the Dogs
“Will Clark’s Annual Birthday Fever” is two weeks of celebration for the birthday of Mr. P*rno Bingo himself. Tonight, Clark welcomes singers Nicholas Park and Matthew Hashimoto and XXX stud Sam Colt, who gives good muscle, in a benefit for Rock N Rawhide (rockandrawhide.org), which works to expand adoption for dogs and cats in shelters. The evening is part game show, part talk show — and all adult. Uncle Charlie’s, 139 E. 45th St. Mar. 6, 9-11 p.m.
COMMUNITY Sex Freak Circus
The Saint at Large and the LGBT Community Center, in association with the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art and Folsom Street East present a onenight exhibition and benefit cocktail reception featuring “Rex: Sex Freak Circus.” During the heyday of New York’s leather scene, gay erotic artist REX was to illustration what Robert Mapplethorpe was to photography. His artwork appeared in Drummer, Straight To Hell, and Honcho, and his poster art and T-shirt designs for the old Mineshaft have become icons for the sexual freedom of a pre-AIDS world. LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St. Mar. 7, 7-9:30 p.m. Admission is $25 at gaycenter.org or at the door. Fetish wear is encouraged. For more information, contact the Saint at Large at 212-674-8541.
FILM Charlotte Bunch’s Heroic Activism
“Passionate Politics” is a one-hour documentary
— directed by Tami Gold and produced by Joyce Warshow — that profiles activist Charlotte Bunch, whose life took her from idealistic young civil rights organizer to lesbian activist to internationally recognized leader of a campaign that put women's rights on the global human rights agenda. Following the film, Gold and Bunche will appear in conversation. Gay Men’s Health Crisis, 446 W. 33rd St., sixth fl. Mar. 8, 6:30-8 p.m. The screening is free and light refreshments will be served.
DANCE Oddball Zebra (a new work by Stefanie Nelson)
Triskelion Arts presents the premiere of “Oddball Zebra,” a new work for six dancers by New York choreographer Stefanie Nelson. The piece focuses on the social aspects of being an outcast, utilizing the archetypal figure of the clown as a point of departure. Arts and Culture Magazine hailed “Oddball Zebra” as "zany, theatrical, macabre." Triskelion Arts, Aldous Theater, 118 N. 11th St. btwn. Berry Ave. and Wythe St., third fl, Williamsburg. Mar. 8-Mar. 10, 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 at snipurl.com/oddballzebra.
MUSIC Anthony de Mare Honors Stephen Sondheim
As part of Symphony Space’s “The Music of Now Series,” pianist Anthony de Mare presents the second installment of “Liaisons: Reimagining Sondheim from the Piano.” De Mare is building a unique piano repertory by commissioning 36 leading contemporary composers to write short solo piano pieces inspired by Stephen Sondheim’s music. This installment draws on songs from “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Sweeney Todd,” “A Little Night Music,” “Follies,” and “Company.” Sondheim will appear in conversation with Mark Eden Horowitz, author of “Sondheim on Music.” Symphony Space, Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, 2537 Broadway at 95th St., Mar. 9, 7 p.m. Tickets are $55, $15 for those under 30 at symphonyspace.org.
PERFORMANCE Most Famous Sally Bowles Joins Scottish Emcee
Theatrical powerhouses Liza Minnelli and Alan Cumming both happen to be closely identified with the landmark musical "Cabaret." The two celebrate Minnelli’s 67th birthday with duets from the Broadway musical, with Liza also performing some of her signature songs solo and Alan performing a range of songs from Annie Lennox to his own compositions. Town Hall, 123 West 43rd St., Wed. March 13, Thur. March 14, 8 p.m. Tickets are $110- $200 at lizaandalan.com.
PERFORMANCE Matchmaker, Matchmaker "Dear Charlie" features out singer Charlie Maffei offering a whirlwind tour through the ins and outs of love. Charlie brings his matchmaking secrets center stage, allowing love to carry the evening as he offers advice on communication,
first dates, special moments, and achieving lifelong love. The musical director is David Andrew Rogers, who led national tours of “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Cats,” and “Chicago.” Laurie Beechman Theater, 407 W. 42nd St. Mar. 13, 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 at dearcharlie.eventbrite.com, and there is a $15 food & drink minimum.
COMEDY The Queens of Queens
Adam Sank, from NBC's "Last Comic Standing" and Sirius-XM OutQ, hosts an evening celebrating the snides and bitchy asides of March. Veronica Mosey, who has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” headlines, joined by Chris Doucette, Joanne Filan, and Eddie Sarfaty. Laughing Devil Comedy Club, 4738 Vernon Blvd. at 47th Rd., Long Island City (7 train to Vernon-Jackson). Mar. 14, 8 p.m. Admission is $15, with a two-drink minimum. Reservations at laughingdevil.com.
COMMUNITY Honoring Anderson Cooper
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation honors CNN anchorman and talk show host Anderson Cooper with its annual Vito Russo Award, which commemorates the late activist and film historian who wrote “The Commercial Closet,” about the hidden world of gay life in 20th century American cinema. Cooper came out as a gay man last year, and GLAAD president Herndon Graddick said, "By sharing his own experiences as a gay man, Anderson has reminded millions of Americans that LGBT people are part of their everyday lives and an integral part of our cultural fabric. He continues to raise the bar and set a new standard for journalists everywhere.” Cooper will be honored as part of GLAAD’s annual Media Awards celebration. New York Marriott Marquis Hotel, 1535 Broadway at 45th St. Cocktails are at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 7, and an afterparty beginning at 10. Tickets are $500 at glaad.org.
Spring Gala on the Hudson
The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center in Kingston holds it annual spring gala, an evening of cocktails, dining, dancing, and live and silent auctions. Auction items include a one-week stay in a private home in San Miguel, Mexico and a Ralph Lauren china pitcher. The Grandview, 176 Rinaldi Blvd. near Pine St. Mar. 16, 6-11 p.m. Tickets are $125, $75 for youths at lgbtqcenter.org.
NIGHTLIFE An All-Boy Robin Byrd
Cable television legend Robin Byrd continues to bring her bawdy program to life every Saturday night in an adult variety show that tonight features an all-male cast, including the king of boylesque Go-Go Harder, contortionist Topher Bousquet, the appropriately named Mr. Gorgeous, and the cast of “Rentboy... the Musical.” The Cutting Room, 44 E. 32 St. Mar. 16, midnight. Tickets are $20 at SpinCycleNYC.com.
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| February 27, 2013
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SUSIE DAY, from p.27
tance, Mohammed Junaid Babar, to spend two weeks in his apartment. He also permitted Mr. Babar to use his cell phone and to stow some luggage. Luggage of doom, as it turned out — for it contained waterproof socks, raincoats, and ponchos that Mr. Babar later delivered to Al Qaeda in Pakistan. Mr. Babar was arrested in 2004 and jailed. Then, to avoid a prison sentence, he agreed to testify against the real terrorist: the vile, apartment-renting, sock-storing Syed Fahad Hashmi. Mr. Hashmi, 26, was arrested in London in 2006, extradited to New York, and held in solitary confinement under Special Administrative Measures for three years before
WELL-STRUNG, from p.15
story of a lesbian couple from Boston who came to P-Town on three separate occasions with their 10-year-old son in tow. They asked him to give their child cello lessons after he had responded so passionately to their show. Clearly touched by the youth’s enthusiasm, Shevlin remarked that the boy could be his replacement because of his skill with the instrument and their shared interest in musical theater. The wide range of fans who have embraced the group — young and old, gay and straight, male and female — has altered the players’ concept of target audience a great deal since the outset. With "Naked Boys Singing" — a largely nude musical review frequented by gay men and straight women — on his mind dur ing the group's launch, Marchant had expected Well-Strung's sexuality and good looks to determine much of the turnout. He now feels the group has appeal across the board. "We can play up certain demographics," he remarked, mentioning that
OPERA, from p.25
owy and oppressive throughout. The interior landscape of the mind and soul coexists on the same plane with the exterior physical world, which takes one right into the heart of Wagner’s symbolic drama. The cast — especially the men, who were nearly ideal — was uniformly strong. Gurnemanz has the longest role in the opera and usually is an orotund, pontificating bore. René Pape played him as a vigorous middle-aged man who acts as the outspoken vocal
February 27, 2013 | www.gaycitynews.com
trial. Then, a miracle: In detention, cut of f from family, friends, and most sensory stimuli — while contemplating a possible 70-year s e n t e n c e — M r. H a s h m i a l l o w e d the healing power of Good Muslim Sportsmanship into his heart as his personal savior. Finally embracing the tenets of Western Enlightenment, Mr. Hashmi made the inspiring decision to plead guilty to one count of providing material support to Al Qaeda. By so doing, he saved the US government millions upon millions of dollars in the beefed-up security that would have been needed for news media to evoke the proper level of dread and revulsion. Mr. Hashmi now r esides in the Florence, Colorado ADX, the most locked-down prison in the US,
where he will probably spend every remaining day of his 15-year sentence. Unlike observant Christians serving time for bombing abortion clinics or murdering doctors, Mr. Hashmi lives alone in a bathroomsi z ed cel l , d evoi d o f human c o ntact, where, as one reporter from the Guardian put it, “The only possible means of communicating with other humans is to yell into the toilet bowl and hope that someone may hear.” All this, for non-Muslim New Yorkers, makes not having a Hashmi Award recipient especially hard to bear. “I’d hate to see that award disappear,” said veteran gay rights activist Herbie Brownstein, in an impromptu sidewalk interview. “We of the LGBT community dof f our chapeaux to Mr. Hashmi and to the
other brave folk of Islam who, in this and many other legal cases, have taken the place of us commie fags as the main threat to Western civilization.” Mr. Brownstein is president of the New York Chapter of Militant Communist Homosexuals for Domination of the Entire Globe. “I hate that evil Muslim,” inter jected passerby Mildred Knucklewrapper, who teaches third grade in the Bronx. “Thanks to that guy, we may never know how many ter rorists in South Waziristan now go to bed with dry feet. That Hashmi Award is the perfect way to remember why we need to forget about people like Syed Fahad Hashmi.” This reporter would have asked a challenging question at this juncture, but was afraid to be seen as supporting terrorism.
cutting certain numbers from a specific performance in response to that night's crowd is perfectly doable. "We could play on a straight cruise and people will think we're a PBS special!" “We’re versatile,” added Shevlin, with a laugh. We l l - S t r u n g ’ s b r o a d a p p e a l i s undeniably due to the talent the group’s four members posses. Each player has a musical background of some kind. Bagnell and Marchant studied music in college, and Wadleigh has played viola since high school. Shevlin and Marchant have played in the companies of several Broadway national tours — as actors and musicians. But the chance to be involved with a group like WellStrung is an important opportunity for each of the men. "This is a big return to the violin for me," said Bagnell, and his striking spotlight moments in the songs I saw indicate just that. More than instrumental talent, however, the guys also bring their voices into the mix, a difficult and unique challenge for a string quar tet. The four Well-Strung members
agreed that adding a vocal element to a new piece takes time and patience. Eventually muscle memory kicks in, though — the body “remembering,” as it were. "I think the singing element really pops,” Bagnell said. The group's director, Donna Drake — herself a Broadway veteran, having appeared in the original cast of "A Chorus Line" — is passionate about this unique mix of auditory influences as well. "I think you're developing your own music concept," she noted, speaking to the four men in front of her at the rehearsal. "It's a one-of-a-kind group." And Well-Strung’s players said they are fulfilled by their unique sound, too. “I feel more gratified because it’s blending everything I’ve ever done," said Shevlin. "It’s our own so we’re really creating what we’re doing. It’s very wonderful when you get to create something new." Recalling his theatrical past, Marchant added, "I get to be myself instead of trying to fit into this mold" of a char-
acter already written and performed by others. The blend of instrumental and vocal skill with an actor's stage presence and theatricality keeps these four young men passionate about WellStrung, and about the group's future. "We're putting all our eggs in the Well-Strung basket” was a phrase repeated several times during our interview. Optimistic about the connections they've made on the Cape, in the city, and on board the cruise ship, Shevlin enthused, "We have a future — life outside New York!" But before Well-Strung branches out, there is the matter of their threeweek engagement in Manhattan, February 28 to March 16 at the West 64th Street Y’s Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater. Well-Strung's debut CD, on Twist Records, will be released on opening night. The guys didn't want to give away too many secrets about their new show. But Shevlin said fans can rest assured there will be more novel departures. "We have a few new tricks up our sleeves,” he said.
conscience of the Grail Order. His long narratives were delivered conversationally with lieder-like intimacy — these were the stories of people he knew and a way of life he saw disappearing before him. Peter Mattei’s Amfortas was acted with visceral physical intensity — his towering 6’4” frame barely able to support itself. His singing, on the other hand, had a gently lyrical, otherworldly beauty. Jonas Kaufmann was visually the ideal “pure fool” — an open-faced blank slate with a youthful tone. In the intense second act confrontation with Kundry, he surprised the listener with
a huge, ringing baritonal resonance in “Amfortas! Die Wunde!” Evgeny Nikitin’s Klingsor was too softgrained, needing more biting German diction and harsher tonal attack. Debutant Rúni Brattaberg thrilled with true basso profondo tones as Titurel — his voice emanating from high up in the Met ceiling. Ryan Speedo Green arrested attention in his few lines as the Second Knight. As Kundry, a role sung by both sopranos and mezzos, Katarina Dalayman found a comfortable fit for her lowseated soprano. A few upper register attacks were blunt and edgy and her
acting lacked the detailed intensity of a Waltraud Meier or Gwyneth Jones, but Dalayman is an estimable artist. Conductor Daniele Gatti favored a broadly phrased reading of the score with considerable variation of tempo throughout. But the rhythmic tension was well-sustained, with a sense of a rising forward motion. Gatti favored transparent shimmering textures over ponderous Teutonic weight. This “Parsifal” provided a rare occasion when all the elements fused into an overwhelming whole — a true gesamtkunstwerk.
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