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Scholars Say Obama Has Authority to Issue Executive Order on Jobs With power to set federal contractor terms, most but not all agree, president can expand 1965 LBJ action BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
n u m b e r o f constitutional law professors say that President Barack Obama has the authority under federal law to issue an executive order barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by companies contracting with the federal government. “I think he can,” said Richard Ugelow, a law professor at American University in Washington, DC. “The executive order is really a condition of contracting by the federal government. I think it can be done.” A number of LGBT groups, notably Freedom to Work, have been pressing the Obama administration to amend a 1965 executive order that bars discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or veteran status by federal contractors. The order covers 22 percent of the work force and is enforced by the US Department of Labor. The White House has said it wants to enact the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would bar job bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity at
employers with 15 or more employees. ENDA passed the Senate last year, but is not expected to get a vote in the Republican-controlled House, despite having 203 sponsors. Prior to joining American University, Ugelow spent 29 years in the Employment Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and defended the 1965 executive order “four or five times,” he said. While the 1965 executive order, issued by President Lyndon Johnson, does not define the federal statutes that authorize it, advocates say it relies primarily on Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, which governs federal contracting. The protected classes defined in the order are drawn from other statutes, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. None of those federal statutes mention sexual orientation and gender identity and that is a source of some objections to the proposed addition. “Seems like another example of Obama doing something without legal authority,” wrote Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in Constitutional Studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, in an email. “He can’t just unilaterally make law or amend the
Civil Rights Act.” Asked if the 1949 statute authorized the proposed executive order, Shapiro wrote, “Unless there’s some new provision I’m unaware of, that statute doesn’t have sexual orientation discrimination provisions and the Executive Branch can’t insert them by itself.” In emails, Kermit Roosevelt, who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, wrote that “most likely the answer is yes” that Obama could add new classes to the 1965 order, and Stephen I. Vladeck, who also teaches law at American University, wrote, “The short answer is ‘probably.’” Their view is that any president has authority to direct the work of the Executive Branch agencies and that includes making rules governing federal contractors. “Ever since the Civil Rights Act was enacted, the Executive Branch has had a fair amount of latitude in interpreting its applicability to the federal government, including government contractors,” Vladeck wrote. “Although the Supreme Court has never expressly considered the question, lower courts have upheld, among other things, President Nixon’s amendment of the [1965 exec-
STRONG ACTION TO BAR CONDOM USE AS EVIDENCE GETS COUNCIL BOOST The Access to Condoms Coalition received a friendly reception at a June 9 City Council hearing on a resolution supporting reform legislation in Albany. In the past, police seized condoms as evidence of prostitution, which inhibited both street workers and others, particularly young people of color, from carrying them. In a May announcement, Police Commissioner William Bratton signaled some progress on the issue, ordering officers to stop seizing condoms, except in cases of felony sex trafficking cases. Even as they praised Bratton’s action, advocates said that such an exception creates problems by disincentivizing traffickers from providing condoms to prostitutes working for them. A measure pending in Albany would go beyond the new NYPD policy by eliminating the trafficking exception. It passed the Assembly last year, but has not advanced this year, probably due to an assessment that it will not move in the Senate, despite the support it has from the five-member Independent Democratic Conference that shares power with the Republicans. District attorneys around the state — with some notable exceptions, including Nassau County’s Kathleen Rice — are looking to tweak the Albany measure by adding the Bratton exception, arguing that too broad a ban protects criminal enterprises. Refuting this argu-
ment was a major focus of the Public Safety Committee hearing, and anti-sex trafficking activists were on hand to help in that effort. Lynly S. Egyes , an attorney at the Urban Justice Center and a member of the New York Anti-Trafficking Network, testified about a client she called Alison who, before escaping from traffickers, was given five condoms a day but expected to turn up to 25 tricks. Clearly, she would have no protection in some of those encounters. AIDS advocacy groups, including the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, stated that the city’s most heavily policed neighborhoods are also those with the highest rates of HIV infection — and therefore the greatest need for the protection condoms provide. Carlos Menchaca, an out gay freshman Council member from Brooklyn who is co-sponsoring the resolution, said using condoms as evidence in prostitution arrests targets marginalized groups like immigrants and LGBT youth. He argued for “a consistent message that condoms are safe for all to carry” and that the Albany legislation must not provide any “incentive for promoters and sex traffickers” to limit their workers’ access to condoms. Menchaca’s co-sponsor and Brooklyn colleague, Jumaane D. William, said that the coalition he led to battle the widespread use of stop and frisk should support passage of the bill. — By Nathan Riley
utive order] to impose race-based affirmative action requirements on government contractors. Thus, I’m hard-pressed to see why President Obama would lack the authority to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classifications.” The greater issue with the executive order is a political one. If Obama issues such an order now, he risks further inflaming conservative voters who are more likely to turn out in the midterm elections. Republicans are expected to retain control of the House in November and they stand a good chance of taking over the Senate. “It won’t be until after the 2014 elections,” said Kenneth R. Mayer, the author of the 2001 book “With the Stroke of a Pen: Executive Orders and Presidential Power” and a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. “They don’t want to do anything to anger the opposition.” While an executive order would please LGBT voters that may not be as strong a motivation as issuing an executive order that will send religious conservatives to the polls. “People who are mad are more likely to mobilize than people who are happy,” Mayer said. He shared the view held by the law professors that the White House could issue such an executive order and that it was supported by the president’s authority to run the Executive Branch. “The issue here is not whether the president can create new protected classes,” Mayer said. “The argument would be allowing contractors to discriminate on the basis of federal law undermines efficiency and raises costs. Would it work? Possibly.” If Obama does issue the order, it seems unlikely that any federal contractor would want to contend with what would likely be a backlash resulting from challenging it in federal court. And Ugelow thinks such litigation would not succeed, in any event. “I think in today’s environment, judicial environment, it would withstand a challenge,” he said.
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
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With up to half a million kids on the streets nationwide, rally calls for five-fold increase in beds BY ANDY HUMM
in NYC, we need a federal dollar amount. That’s something we can strategically fight for!” Bolas said his coalition is making headway with the new mayoral administration, but wrote, “On a state level, New York does not adequately fund their homeless youth programs and has allowed programs that were effective to close due to funding loss.” The state’s contribution to funding homeless youth beds in New York City has declined during the Cuomo administration. Mark Harrington of the Treatment Action Group spoke at the rally, saying, “The struggle to end AIDS and the struggle to end youth homelessness are part of the same struggle.” The Reverend Melvin Miller runs Shelter of Peace to serve homeless LGBT youth out of the Fort Wash-
undreds gathered i n Wa s h i n g t o n Square Park on June 2 at a rally to launch a National Campaign for Youth Shelter to vastly increase the number of beds for homeless young people from a current 4,000 to 22,000. That would represent an enormous leap forward, but also a drop in the bucket for what organizers say are 500,000 homeless kids in America. “The LGBT community is considered different because of who we love,” said Carl Siciliano, founding executive director of the Ali Forney Center, one of the few shelters for homeless LGBT youth and a lead organizer of the rally. “The experience of being a homeless youth is unspeakable. We are a community of love and we need to share that love with our kids. It’s the largest crisis in our community in our times.” About 40 local and national groups have signed on to the campaign, which Siciliano said is an effort to build “a grassroots movement” for housing homeless youth. “Shelter has to be a basic human right,” he emphasized. Locally, advocates were successful in getting the New York City budget to include money for 100 more beds for homeless young people — a 40 percent increase — with 24 of that increase designated for LGBT youth. “We are asking for an immediate plan to add 22,000 beds,” Siciliano wrote in an email after the rally about the nationwide goal. “This number corresponds to the number of unsheltered youth 24 and under identified in the last [Department of Housing and Urban Development] point-in-time count. The feder al government cannot argue that
there are fewer homeless youths than this. We are also asking for a federal plan to do a real census/ data collection effort to determine the actual scope of the homeless youth population.” He wrote that the campaign is designed to build “outrage” and “awareness” and is “working to support local initiatives to increase homeless youth resources, with the goal of generating media attention to the struggle of the unsheltered kids.”
Republicans, who have dedicated themselves to shredding the social safety net further. Transgender activist Jennifer Louise Lopez, once homeless herself and now director of Everything Transgender, said, “Mayor de Blasio! You need to wake up! Give us more beds.” Siciliano and other youth advocates, however, have credited the new mayor with fulfilling the first step in his campaign pledge to grow the number of available homeless beds 100 a year until the demand is met. Aria Noel, who is being housed by Ali Forney, praised the help she is getting there, but said, “We need more jobs.” The rally’s exhortations, for the most part, amounted to preaching to the converted, the crowd filled with people who already work on
The Reverend Melvin Miller, who runs Shelter of Peace serving homeless LGBT youth at the Fort Washington Collegiate Church in Upper Manhattan.
Jerry Jones, the executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.
Chris Bilal, formerly homeless, now works at Streetwise and Safe, which assists and advocates for LGBTQ youth of color.
The HUD point-in-time count, advocates argue, vastly underestimates the number of youths who experience homelessness in any given year. Many of the speakers at the rally talked about the moral imperative of housing homeless youth and there were chants of “Not one more day!” of letting any young person go without shelter, but that goal is remote without substantial changes in how American society views the right to housing and employment. For all the urgency, it was announced that the next rally would not be until December 8, in Washington, after the midterm elections that could well leave the entire Congress in the hands of
various aspects of the homeless LGBT youth problem. Michael Sabatino, an out gay member of the Yonkers City Council, is involved in a program there called Center Lane, serving LGBT youth 12-21, and said he is working with Ali Forney on developing youth shelter in Westchester County. James Bolas, executive director of the Coalition for Homeless Youth, was at the rally and later told Gay City News via email, “I and many homeless youth providers from the Coalition saw a 22,000 nationwide bed ask, but then I didn’t see any other numbers. Seeing as the Coalition for Homeless Youth has the ear of an extensive membership of over 25 homeless youth programs
ington Collegiate Church in Upper Manhattan. “Our national and state budgets do not reflect the mercy and justice toward this tragedy,” he said. In the June 2 crowd was Geoffrey Ream, associate professor of social work at Adelphi University, who has volunteered his help with several homeless LGBT groups. “I think we’ve got a lot of good services,” he said. But in order to truly make a dent in youth homelessness, he added, “what we need is a system and only the government has the money and power to create it.” Ream was also concerned about pathologizing homeless young peo-
HOMELESS, continued on p.7
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
Pictures Worth Thousands of Words Heart Gallery NYC, You Gotta Believe team up to showcase LGBT youth hoping for family
BY RYAN HOWE
HOMELESS, from p.6
ple by playing up their risks for suicide, HIV, and drug and alcohol abuse. “Most of them are just working poor,” he said, “and trying to find jobs and being up against the same problems that their whole generation” faces in terms of unemployment and the lack of affordable housing. While few elected officials were on hand, former City Councilman Lew Fidler, a leader in the fight against youth homelessness as chair of the Council’s Youth Services Commit| June 12 - 25, 2014
tee for years, was there, as was former Councilman Alan Gerson, also an ally in that effort. The rally seemed aimed at revving up public concern for homeless LGBT youth as an issue in a movement that has been focused on marriage rights to the exclusion of many other issues for the last decade. Among those who addressed the crowd was Edie Windsor, 84, the successful plaintiff in the landmark 2013 Supreme Court Defense of Marriage Act case. She provided a sense of history about the LGBT community’s struggle from the
oniqua stood outside the Times Square Museum on the evening of June 9, eyes focused on the billboard above the flashing marquee. She gazed up at her photo, a portrait of her straightening her bowtie while displaying a toothy smile. “It feels good to be a star,” she said. Doniqua is a 19-year-old foster child, who has lived in a group home in Yonkers since she was 10 years old. This month she is featured, along with 35 other foster children, in a pride photography exhibit showcasing LGBTQ youth living in the foster care system. The exhibit, put together by the Heart Gallery NYC and You Gotta Believe, which works to find permanent — or “forever” — families for foster care youth, will be on display at the Times Square Museum and Visitors Center, 1560 Broadway at 46th Street, through June 20. Heart Gallery NYC utilizes volunteer celebrity photographers to shoot portraits of children and teens in the foster care system. Such photographic exhibits began in New Mexico in 2001 and have since spread to gallery efforts in nearly 100 locations across the nation. This is the first-ever pride gallery. Doniqua has been featured in the Heart Gallery before, but this time it’s different, she said. This time she was more open to being herself. “The first time I dressed like a girl, and I was really nervous,” she explained. “This time I put on what I felt comfortable in, and now that I’m older I have a better head space going into it.” Most of the youths photographed are pre-teens or older, and there is no age limit on when someone can be adopted. In New York, kids age out of the foster care system at 21. Laurie Sherman Graff, executive director of Heart Gallery NYC, recognized the large number of LGBTQ children in foster care and wanted to raise awareness about the issue. And although
not every child whose picture hangs on the walls of the gallery identifies as LGBTQ, the spotlight of this exhibit is focused on those who do. “This is the first gallery in any of our locations that has done something like this,” Graff said. “We want this to be an ongoing event every year, and hope that the Heart Galleries in less liberal places will follow suit.” The photos, which are displayed as giant posters in the gallery, offer more than just a chance to get adopted. The mission of the gallery is to make a positive difference in the children’s lives. Even if they don’t get adopted, those featured often times gain mentors. “We know that every kid won’t find a forever family, but the only thing we can do is try and try our hardest,” Graff said. “What we can do is raise awareness that there are kids in our own backyard that need families, and that people don’t need to go overseas to adopt.” For Thalia, the pressure of finding her “forever family” washed away when she stepped into the studio to have her portrait taken. As with many of the youths photographed, this is the first time Thalia experienced anything like this. The children get to be models for a day, including getting their hair and make-up done. “It was fun, a lot of [the kids] knew each other, and we all just hung out and got all fixed up,” she said. “My photo came out great, and I really loved my dress.” The photographers volunteer their time in support of the project. For photographer Gabrielle Revere, the opportunity to be a part of Heart Gallery came at a time when she was freshly experiencing what life is like without a parent. The fashion photographer’s father died one week earlier. Revere explained she was feeling the effects of losing someone who stood by her unconditionally for her entire life. The person who taught her to not be afraid, or give up, or let anyone bring her down, but instead to keep standing up and moving forward, she said. “It is so important to have someone in your
Doniqua, 19, outside the Times Square Museum and Visitors Center on the opening night of the Heart Gallery NYC’s pride exhibit.
life that is always on your side, someone who is there to say ‘yes’ when 20 people have told you ‘no,’” Revere said, as she held back tears. “That’s what the Heart Gallery is doing — they are finding these kids that person... The person to help them celebrate life.” Revere, along with 18 other photographers including Amy Arbus, Deborah Feingold, Martin Schoeller, and Michael Sharkey, spent a day meeting with these kids and snapping their pictures. The time with the kids was limited, and Revere kept things simple and light, while she let each do what they felt comfortable with. She treated it as a conversation, she explained, where they speak through expressions and body language and she speaks through the camera. “First impressions are the most important,”
closet to Stonewall to AIDS to its recent victories. At each step of the chronology Windsor spelled out, new waves of gay and lesbian people came forward, she said. “As the flood of DOMA cases began to hit the courts and our self-esteem began to rise, more of us came out,” Windsor told the crowd. “When the Supreme Court of the United States said we deserve respect and equality, we came out in droves. It affected not just our self-esteem but a majority of our fellow Americans.” But Windsor said that many young people — those without a
PHOTOGRAPHY, continued on p.17
home — have been “left out of the joyous side of coming out.” She emphasized, “No youth should be left to suffer in the streets without shelter. It’s not fair, it’s not just, it’s not American. Gay adults have a responsibility in turning the situation around, Windsor argued. “The LGBT community must become their family,” she said. “Together we must get them off the streets and in homes… I want to remind everybody that none of us ever thought that we could be married — so we have a good chance to
Fight Against Jamaican Murder Music Steps Up in New York In the US and at home, activists from the island nation respond to anti-gay violence, artists who voice hate BY ANDY HUMM
In a written release, Dromm said, “Queens has historically been a haven for marginalized people around the world, including LGBT Jamaicans who have had to flee their country. I am proud to join with these brave activists who are using the freedom they have in this country to continue to fight for the embattled LGBT community in Jamaica.” The May 23 performance was canceled by club manager John Rios, who told the Jamaica Observer, “We’re not prejudiced against anyone. I welcome the gay community and we get along with everybody.” Queen Ifrica lost her status as a UNICEF ambassador due to her 2010 anti-gay outburst but “has continued to use her performances to advocate for the criminalization and persecution of LGBT Jamaicans,” a JAHS release said. Brown told Gay City News, “She
went to Canada and activists got her concert canceled and her work permit was pulled. So she has been trying to get work here in America.” In a YouTube video posted June 7 (tinyurl.com/lg2jxow), Queen Ifrica called her gay opponents “bullies” and said she wished “black people got the same tolerance as gay people.” She then challenged the gay community to “bring out the pedophiles among them.” JAHS, joined by the Caribbean Alliance for Equality (CAFE), was unsuccessful in picketing reggae artist Capleton at B.B. King’s in Times Square on May 28. A small group picketed the club over such Capleton lyrics as “Yo Batty a Dead Man Dem” (colloquial for “gay men must die”), “Bun Out Di Chi Chi” (“burn all gay men”), “Boom Blast Riddim” (“shoot all gay men”), and “Hang Dem Up” (“hang all gay men”). But a club rep told Gay City he had not been aware of the controversy and would not cancel the concert. The venue succeeded in getting more police to turn out than demonstrators. Outside the club, a fan of Capleton’s named Simone first told Gay City News, “His views are not my views, but he’s a good artist. It doesn’t matter what he is singing about.” She then said, “Most of his anti-gay lyrics were from 2008 and before. None of his modern lyrics have anything anti-gay.” Brown said that Capleton has continued to sing anti-gay songs “in local concerts in Jamaica” often in a patois only understood by locals, not his fans in the United States. In an email message, Brown also noted that, in other circumstances, “Capleton’s fans know the lyrics of his songs. So if he sings a ‘kill LGBT’ song, but leaves out the ‘kill LGBT’ lines his fans still are reminded of the message and get the message.” Capleton signed the Reggae Compassionate Act in 2007, pledging to ditch the anti-gay songs, but promptly violated it. The LGBT groups intend to keep the pressure up on venues that book Capleton, whose “murder lyrics… have been used to torture and murder innocent LGBTQ persons in
CARIBBEAN ALLIANCE FOR EQUALITY
rotests against Jamaican reggae dancehall artists who profit from violent anti-gay songs branded “murder music” and engage in other homophobic provocations intensified in recent weeks in New York. On May 23, Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand (JAHS) and City Councilman Daniel Dromm, an out gay Jackson Heights Democrat, picketed the Amazura Concert Hall in Jamaica, Queens demanding the cancellation of an appearance by Queen Ifrica, who in a 2010 performance told the crowd, “We are not going to legalize any faggotism in Jamaica.” Dwayne Brown, founder of JAHS, said in a release, “Queen Ifrica’s words help create a climate where human rights violations against LGBT Jamaicans are rampant.”
A participant in the May 24 picket targeting Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.
Jamaica,” said Jason Latty, founder of CAFE. The group has also protested several US appearances by Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who has reneged on bringing up a bill to repeal anti-sodomy laws there. CAFE picketed the graduation ceremony at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania on May 24, where Miller was awarded an honorary degree for having “championed the rights of women, minorities, and impoverished people,” according to a college release. On May 24, Jamaican gay activist Kenrick Stephenson was shot to death outside his Montego Bay home. Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) said though he was not a member of the group, it was aware of his activism. In a statement, J-FLAG urged police “to conduct a speedy investigation.” Thus far, no arrests have been made in the case and police are not saying whether they believe homophobia was a factor. CAFE held a demonstration in Union Square in Manhattan on June 8, “pleading with the govern-
MUSIC, continued on p.15
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
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Wisconsin Ruling Leads to Burst PLAY DINE UNWIND of Milwaukee, Madison Weddings Over 5,000 Games. Minutes Away!
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June 6 ruling from a federal district judge that Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional set off a flurry of nearly 130 weddings in Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, as well as Madison, the capital, over the weekend, and in more than a dozen other countries since. That was not necessarily the way Senior US District Judge Barbara B. Crabb, of the Western District of Wisconsin in Madison, envisioned the process playing out. Her decision, which came out late in the day, granted summary judgment in a case brought in February by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of eight couples, some of whom had already married out of state and were seeking recognition by Wisconsin. Though Crabb ruled on the constitutional question before her, she gave the plaintiff couples until June 16 to file suggested language for an injunction that would actually bar the state from enforcing its ban, with further time for the parties on both sides to respond. She also gave the state until June 16 to supplement a motion it had already made requesting a stay, to allow time for appeal, on any ruling in the plaintiffs’ favor. Crabb’s direction to the state to supplement its motion for a stay was based on the US Supreme Court’s denial, earlier in the week, of a petition from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, which sought a stay of the Oregon marriage equality ruling to give that group a chance to appeal. In contrast to the State of Wisconsin’s role as defendant in the case Crabb heard, NOM was not a party to the Oregon litigation and was seeking the right to intervene in that case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals when it requested that the high court stay the ruling there. State officials did not appeal the marriage ruling in Oregon, which is why NOM scrambled to
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, addressing the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference.
insert itself into the case. The Supreme Court handled an earlier stay request differently, approving a January motion by the State of Utah, which is appealing a December federal marriage equality ruling there. Despite the lack of a specific injunction preventing the state from enforcing its gay marriage ban, the county clerks in Milwaukee and Madison, the state’s two Democratic strongholds, were eager to issue licenses to same-sex couples and noted that Crabb had not stayed her order. When news of the clerks’ actions hit the news media early Friday evening — with county offices kept open late — the state’s attorney general, Republican J.B. Van Hollen, contacted the court seeking an emergency stay. Governor Scott Walker, a Republican seeking reelection after a stormy first term, backed up Van Hollen, but in a relatively muted statement. On June 9, Crabb responded to the attorney general’s emergency stay motion by noting that she had not yet ordered the state to stop enforcing its marriage ban, so the new licenses issued had nothing to do with the case she was ruling on. The state then sought emergency relief from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which had taken no action as of June 11. The ruling from Crabb, appointed to the district court in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter, was the
WISCONSIN, continued on p.15
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
Supreme Court Rejects Effort to Halt Oregon Marriages Anti-gay group loses another round in effort to intervene in case
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
n a one-sentence order that did not elaborate on the reasoning, the US Supreme Court on June 4 denied a request by an anti-gay group seeking to block any further same-sex marriages in Oregon while it appeals a lower court ruling that it cannot intervene in the case. On May 19, US District Court Judge Michael McShane ruled that Oregon’s ban on marriage by gay and lesbian couples violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Several days before he handed down that decision, McShane found that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) did not have legal standing to intervene in defense of that state’s constitutional and statutory marriage ban. Since the state itself did not
defend the ban before McShane and made clear in advance it would not appeal a favorable ruling on behalf of the four samesex couples who brought suit, NOM was desperate to step into the breach. After McShane ruled against it, NOM scrambled to get the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to prevent him from issuing his marriage decision until it could appeal his ruling regarding its standing. That effort failed just hours before McShane decided the marriage case itself. His ruling allowed same-sex couples to wed immediately. NOM continued to press its appeal with the Ninth Circuit regarding McShane’s ruling that denied it intervenor status. In the meanwhile, it looked to the Supreme Court to put a stay on same-sex marriages in Oregon while it pursued that effort. The group’s application first
went to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who could have decided its fate himself. Instead, he referred it to the full court, which decided to deny NOM’s request. The court did not indicate a vote breakdown among the nine justices on NOM’s application. In January, the high court halted marriages in Utah in order to give that state time to pursue an appeal of a marriage equality ruling there a month before, and since that time other federal judges who have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage have stayed their own rulings in the face of announcements that there would be an appeal. The dif ference in Oregon was that neither the state nor Multnomah County, the home to Portland and the other named defendant, is pursuing an appeal. Last year, the Supreme Court let stand a district court ruling that
struck down California’s Proposition 8 when a private group tried to intervene to appeal that decision in the absence of the state doing so. According to Oregon United for Marriage, a coalition formed in support of marriage equality, briefs in NOM’s appeal of McShane’s ruling on standing are not due until September. The Supreme Court’s refusal to stop the marriages while that process unfolds certainly suggests its view that the NOM appeal is unlikely to be successful. When Pennsylvania’s marriage ban was struck down a day after Oregon’s was, that state’s Republican governor, Tom Corbett, a marriage equality opponent, decided not to appeal, and same-sex couples there have been able to marry since then. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia, representing 44 percent of the US population, allow same-sex couples to marry.
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Trans Man Sues City After Being Tossed from Public Pool Locker Room Case seeks clear ruling NYC transgender rights law affords unimpeded access to single-sex facilities
Bryan Ellicott said he was “humiliated and embarrassed’ by being asked to leave a men’s locker room at a city pool last summer.
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
24-year -old Manhattan transgender man is filing suit against the Parks Department and the city for being denied access to locker room facilities at a public pool in Staten Island that he and friends had used regularly since they were youths. Bryan John Ellicott alleges that on July 21 of last year, three staff members at the Joseph H. Lyons Pool, a Parks Department facility, ordered him to leave the men’s locker room as he was changing his T-shirt prior to using the pool. He was originally approached, he said, by one pool staffer, who explained he had received a complaint from someone who said he shouldn’t be there. When Ellicott asked to speak to a supervisor, two other staff members backed up the first one, telling him he needed to either use the women’s locker room or leave.
“I was humiliated and embarrassed for being singled out,” Ellicott told reporters outside the New York County Supreme Court building in Foley Square on June 3. “It was sad and hurtful.” According to the complaint filed on his behalf by the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TDLEF) and pro bono attorneys from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, the third pool employee, the most senior of the three, “appeared uninterested in the matter,” telling him “something to the effect of, ‘If you don’t like it, you can leave.’” Ellicott said the staff members cited no specific law, regulation, or policy in ordering him to leave the locker room. He said he has not used public pools in the city since the incident out of fear of facing further humiliation. The lawsuit cites the 2002 amendment to city human rights law that bars discrimination based on gender identity and expression, alleging that the pool staff members acted in a discriminatory fashion in denying Ellicott access to a public accommodation. “We are asking the court to send a clear message,” said Michael Silverman, TLDEF’s executive director. “Transgender people need to be treated equally. They can’t be treated differently, as second-class citizens.” The suit cites a variety of policies, in New York City agencies and according to federal government guidelines for its agencies, that afford transgender people access to single-sex facilities, including locker rooms and bathrooms, according to their affirmed gender. In “Guidelines Regarding Gender Identity Discrimination” issued by the city Human Rights Commission in 2006, the denial of such facilities to transgender people “suggest[s] that discriminatory conduct… has occurred.” Silverman explained that despite the 2002 nondiscrimination law, a 2005 appellate ruling in New York found that denying bathroom access to a transgender person was not discrimination
SENTENCING IN TRANS WOMAN’S 2011 MURDER Equan Southall, 28, was sentenced to 23 years to life in the 2011 murder of his 38-year-old girlfriend, Camila Guzman, a transgender woman who had immigrated to New York from Chile. Southall was convicted on April 29 of second-degree murder in a gruesome case in which he was found to have stabbed Guzman multiple times in the back and torso, bludgeoned her in the head with a candlestick, and then wrapped a pillowcase around her neck and strangled her to death. Southall and Guzman lived together in an apartment on East 110th Street, where the August 2011 killing took place. At the time of the murder, anti-violence activists pointed to the case as an example of both the risks facing transgen-
der women and the incidence of domestic violence in the LGBT community. A May 22 press release from the Manhattan district attorney’s office announcing the sentencing emphasized the same themes. “Domestic violence can escalate in a heartbeat,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., in the release. “It ends the lives of too many vulnerable individuals who may not know where to turn for help. In this case, the defendant brutally attacked and killed his girlfriend, a transgender woman and a member of the LGBT community, at their apartment in East Harlem. I encourage domestic violence survivors to call my office’s Domestic Violence Hotline at 212-335-4308 and visit the Manhattan Family Justice Center at 80 Centre Street.” — Paul Schindler
because the individual was free, like anyone else, to use a facility corresponding to their gender identity at birth. “For transgender people, of course, that is meaningless,” Silverman said. “That ruling was wrong when it was decided, and it is wrong today.” The 2005 ruling came in connection with events that took place in 2000, two years before the city enacted its transgender civil rights protections. TLDEF, however, is looking to establish a clear precedent that denying transgender New Yorkers access to single-sex facilities appropriate to their affirmed gender is discrimination under city law. The State of New York has no specific civil rights protections for transgender people, nor does the federal government, though two years ago the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in a case brought by a transgender woman denied employment at a federal agency, embraced the view that discrimination based on gender identity is sex discrimination, outlawed by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. According to Silverman, prior to filing his lawsuit, Ellicott lodged a complaint with the city Human Rights Commission, which, despite its 2006 “Guidelines,” took the position that it lacks jurisdiction in this matter. Asked to clarify why it does not have jurisdiction over an area on which it established guidelines, the Commission, through a spokesperson, referred the question to the City Law Department. The Parks Department did not return a call seeking clarification about whether the treatment of Ellicott is official policy, and the mayor’s office did not respond to a request for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s view of how transgender individuals should be accommodated in city facilities. As a City Council member in 2002, de Blasio voted for the transgender civil rights law, and during his career he has typically been an LGBT community ally. In an email message, a spokesperson for the City Law Department, which defends the city in such litigation, wrote, “We will review the lawsuit when we are served.” In speaking with reporters, Silverman emphasized that what Ellicott experienced “happens all around the country every day.” Ellicott explained the precautions he routinely takes to avoid the type of problems he described in the Staten Island pool. When out with friends, he said, he often visits a restroom with a “buddy” to make sure he is safe. In 2012, he was assaulted in a public bathroom in Union Square and required medical attention at Beth Israel Hospital. When he is out on his own, Ellicott said, he typically tries to keep track of nearby venues like Starbucks that have gender-neutral private bathrooms. June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
COME CHECK US OUT AT THE NEW
MUSIC, from p.8
ment to ensure that hate crimes against the LGBT community are investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice,” according to the group’s release. “We asked also that the public and persons in authority show some restraint and good judgment when discussing sexuality. We strongly believe that when members of the clergy and other sectors of the society make baseless and fact-less statements like all gays are pedophiles; gay rights will lead to heterophobia; and the church is under attack by the gay lobby, it increases the likelihood of these hate crimes, that put the LGBT community’s lives at risk and make Jamaica less safe.” Dr. Keon West, a psychology professor at Goldsmiths, University of London, wrote in the UK Guardian on June 6 about a study he conducted on Jamaican homophobia with Dr. Noel Cowell from the
WISCONSIN, from p.12
20th consecutive trial court ruling in favor of marriage equality since Judge Robert Shelby’s December decision in the Utah case. Relying heavily on the Supreme Court’s ruling last year in the Defense of Marriage Act case, Crabb found that the right to marry is a fundamental right protected by the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause. The ban on marriage, she concluded, “significantly interfere[s] with plaintiffs’ right to marry, so the laws must be supported by ‘sufficiently important state interests’ that are ‘closely tailored to effectuate only those interests,’ in order to survive constitutional scrutiny.” Crabb also analyzed the marriage ban as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Even while finding that it could be considered sex discrimination — in which case the policy would be subjected to a heightened level of judicial scrutiny — she instead focused on the issue of sexual orientation discrimination. Even there, Crabb concluded, the state’s justifications for the ban should be evaluated with greater scrutiny than the typical deference given laws under legal challenge. Like the other federal judges who have recently ruled in favor of marriage equality, however, Crabb | June 12 - 25, 2014
University of the West Indies using data that Cowell’s colleague, Professor Ian Boxhill, collected from 2,000 Jamaicans in 40 communities there. The researchers found “strong prejudices against gay men and lesbians,” though less among wealthier, educated, and younger people. Homophobia correlated with religiosity, the authors concluded, but the most reliable predictors of homophobia were “a preference for dancehall music” and being male. “This research provides the first empirical evidence that these songs may be harmful, leading to more negative attitudes and anti-social behaviour,” West wrote. He concluded, “The good news is that work is finally being done in Jamaica, by Jamaicans, to tackle this aggressive policing of heterosexuality. And this is integral for change to happen; more than we need Western intervention, we need Jamaicans who are ready to take the initiative.”
hedged her bets on the appropriate level of judicial scrutiny, by concluding that the Wisconsin ban does not survive even the most lenient standard. In a detailed consideration of every justification argued by the state, she found that none of them survived constitutional review. “It appears that courts are moving toward a consensus that it is time to embrace full legal equality for gay and lesbian citizens,” she wrote. “Perhaps it is no coincidence that these decisions are coming at a time when public opinion is moving quickly in the direction of support for same-sex marriage.” Then, acknowledging the state’s argument that Wisconsin’s citizens and legislature might soon move to give same-sex couples the right to marry, Crabb added, “A district court may not abstain from deciding a case because of a possibility that the issues raised in the case could be resolved in some other way at some other time.” Should the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court all fail to grant the state a stay, Wisconsin would become the 20th marriage equality state. That would mean that just under 46 percent of the nation’s population would live in states where same-sex couples have a right to marry.
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H U DS O N R I V E R PA R K.O R G 15
National Park Service Lifting the Lid on LGBT History “Theme study” launched to integrate gay stories into existing sites, identify neglected venues BY ANDY HUMM
hile the windows at America’s marriage bureaus have been snapping open to gay people of late, the closet doors at the nation’s historic sites often remain shut to their LGBT significance — and the places key to our history are rarely acknowledged by our government, even here in New York City. That may change under an initiative announced May 30 by US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in front of the Stonewall Inn, as an audience of gay elected officials and leaders of LGBT organizations looked on. With all the Park Service folks in their ranger outfits on hand, there haven’t been so many uniformed personnel inside and around the Stonewall since the cops at the Rebellion in 1969. Jewell spoke of “our journey as a country,” how Stonewall “is an important chapter,” and how “part of the job of the Park Service is to tell this story” about LGBT communities across the country. The
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, with Tim Gill (l.) and City Councilman Corey Johnson, at the May 30 event at the Stonewall Inn.
next step, on June 10, was what Park Service director Jon B. Jarvis described as the “first meeting” of 18 scholars in Washington to discuss expanded recognition of LGBT-significant historical sites. The event included a public panel discussion. The Stonewall has been a National Historic Landmark since 2000, but the new Park Service “theme study” will identify other “LGBT-associated” historic sites and “encourage national parks, national heritage areas, and other affiliated areas
to interpret LGBT stories associated with them.” Similar “theme studies” are underway for other communities, including Latinos, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and women. The initiative, if tackled thoroughly and with seriousness here in New York, could incorporate information about the homosexual lives of Alexander Hamilton at his Harlem home, the Hamilton Grange, and of Eleanor Roosevelt at her ValKill Cottage in Hyde Park — both existing National Park Service sites. City Councilman Corey Johnson,
in introducing Jewell, suggested the first home of Gay Men’s Health Crisis in a Chelsea townhouse and the site of the Gay Activists Alliance’s old Firehouse headquarters at 99 Wooster Street in Soho as places for the Park Service study to consider. Jewell emphasized the fiscal constraints on the Park Service effort. “Due to tight budgets, it is difficult to do what we want to do without private sector support,” she said. “We could not do this without Tim Gill,” who is making a $250,000 donation to the National Park Foundation for the study. Gill, the Colorado multi-millionaire founder of the software company Quark, pursues gay political activism through his Gill Action Fund and philanthropy through the Gill Foundation. “Courage in our movement doesn’t come from politicians,” he said. “It comes from people.” History, Gill added, is not made by “big figures, but each and every one of you and anyone who participates. There should be a plaque where
HISTORY, continued on p.17
ACTIVISTS AT CEREMONY CALL FOR HALT TO ENDA PUSH
In a fairly tame nod to the spirit of Stonewall, Get Equal and Queer Nation NY set up an informational picket across the street from the May 30 National Park Service event to offer a critique of the long stalled federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The measure, the groups charged, has an overbroad religious exemption, which actually invites discrimination, and is “piecemeal, stopgap legislation” that focuses only on employment, but not other areas such as housing and public accommodations. Get Equal and Queer Nation are demanding that advocates on Capitol Hill — led by the Human Rights Campaign — instead press for amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide comprehensive protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The two groups made no effort to disrupt the ceremony with chanting, and the first thing philanthropist Tim Gill did in making his remarks at the press conference was to acknowledge the activists’ banner that read “Don’t Stop at Our History. Full Federal Equality Now.” “We are trying to spread the word that we need federal civil rights legislation that is comprehensive, which ENDA is not,” said Queer Nation’s Ken Kidd, who termed the current bill “dangerously flawed.” He said that the “received wisdom” on ENDA — that it is all that can be achieved in Washington and is worth the concessions on religious exemption language — is “breaking down.” Despite having praised the activists’ banner, Gill, in comments after the Park Service event, endorsed the current ENDA
A banner held up by activists from Get Equal and Queer Nation NY calling attention to their critique of the pending Employment NonDiscrimination Act.
push. “The bill is better than nothing,” he said, while acknowledging that discrimination in areas other than employment continues. “That has to stop,” Gill said. Other movement leaders have been more critical of ENDA. Evan Wolfson, who heads up Freedom to Marry and was on hand for the Park Service announcement, has joined with attorneys from Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union,
and other groups in zeroing in on critical flaws — most glaringly, the religious exemption issue — in the version of ENDA passed last year in the Senate but now stalled in the Republican House. Matt Foreman, a former leader of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force who now works on philanthropic grant-giving at the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, has called ENDA “a lifeless corpse” that should be discarded. — Andy Humm June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
PHOTOGRAPHY, from p.7
Revere said. “These kids come with so much excitement and I have this sixth sense to hone in and capture their emotion very quickly. I use that to really show these kids through their pictures.” In her work at You Gotta Believe, Mary Keane is also well aware of the disproportionate number of LGBTQ children in the foster care system. Whether it is because their birth parents don’t accept them or prospective adoptive families feel they are unequipped or unprepared for a queer child, these children are still searching for their forever families, Keane said. You Gotta Believe, she explained, is the only organization in New York City that limits its practice to finding permanent parents and families for young adults, teens,
HISTORY, from p.16
Sara came out to her dad,” referring to no young lesbian in particular but to all those who have joined the fray. Joshua Laird, commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor, called the fight for “LBGT civil rights and equality so fundamental to this country’s history throughout time,” and emphasized that the scholars working on this study “span a broad range of interests.” He promised “an open, public process.” However, details on public input into the LGBT history study, due to be completed in 2016, have not yet been spelled out. Among those appointed to the “LGBTQ Scholars Roundtable” guiding this study are Katie Batza, professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas who “co-founded the first LGBTQ youth organization in the South,” according to the department’s release, as well as scholars from Stanford, Yale, San Francisco State, Florida State, and the Universities of Maryland, Massachusetts, and Georgia. The group also includes gay historian John D’Emilio, who just retired from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Gerard Koskovich, a co-founder of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, and lesbian novelist Paula Martinac, who wrote the nonfiction “The Queerest Places: A National Guide to Gay and Lesbian Historic Sites.” | June 12 - 25, 2014
and pre-teens in the foster care system. “There isn’t an exact tally of LGBT youth in the foster care system but we see more and more of these kids coming out,” she said. “We need to make people aware of this issue.” The gallery in Times Square is not the only event Heart Gallery and You Gotta Believe are doing to raise awareness. Throughout the month they will be travelling to LGBT-friendly churches with a smaller gallery. If the congregation seems interested in adoption, You Gotta Believe is willing to offer classes on adoption at the church. “These kids are very brave and daring,” Keane said. “The foster care system is not a safe place to be gay, but they are putting up these pictures and saying, ‘I’m gay and I’m proud.’”
MEN MEN HAVE MEN HAVE NEEDS HAVE NEEDS TOO. NEEDS TOO.
Jonathan Ned Katz, founder and co-director of OutHistory.org and author of “Gay American History” in 1976, was not named to the panel, but was on hand for the May 30 event. “Considering the names I recognize, it seems a distinguished group,” he said. “Certainly, the participation of John D’Emilio will make any group live up to its best. Of course, there should be lots of opportunity for public input and the greatest transparency in anything our government does, and the accountability of specific officials.” When asked about how private money might influence the project, Jewell said that when these contributors “engage, it gives us a sense of ownership in the accurate telling of the story. I don’t think it is at all bad.” David Carter, author of a definitive history of the Stonewall Rebellion, is also not a part of the study group, but appeared at the announcement. “I’ve long been saying that our history has to be integrated into Now, men have a state-of-the-art medical facility they can call their own, right here in Now, a state-of-the-artmedical medical facility facility they call their own, rightright herehere in thein the the overriding arc of US history,”heart he Now, men men havehave a The state-of-the-art theycan can call their own, of Manhattan. Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health provides men w heart of Manhattan. The Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health provides men with with heart of Manhattan. The Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health provides men said. The study, Carter added, “is a to NYU Langone specialists in cardiology, internal medicine, gastroenterology, access access to NYU Langone specialists in cardiology, internal medicine, gastroenterology, urology, urol access to NYU Langone specialists in cardiology, internal medicine, gastroenterology, urology very important step toward making orthopedics medicine, physical therapy andphysiatry, physiatry, dermatology, ear, nose /sports/sports orthopedics medicine, physical therapy and dermatology, ear, nose and orthopedics physical therapy and physiatry, dermatology, ear, nose and /sports medicine, that aspiration a reality.” throat,health, mental health, plastic surgery, pulmonology, endocrinology, neurology, and radiology. throat, mental plastic surgery, pulmonology, endocrinology, neurology, and radiol mental health, plastic surgery, pulmonology, endocrinology, neurology, and radiology Despite the venue chosen to throat, Experience what it feels like to have your healthcare tailored specifically for you. To make an Experience what it feels like toto have healthcare tailoredspecifically specifically you. mak announce the history effort, no vetExperience what it feels like haveyour your healthcare tailored forfor you. ToTo make an appointment with an NYU Langone doctor, call 646-754-2000. Visit nyulmc.org /menshealth. appointment with an NYU Langone doctor, call 646-754-2000. Visit nyulmc.org menshea / appointment with an NYU Langone doctor, call 646-754-2000. Visit nyulmc.org menshealth / erans of the 1969 Rebellion were on hand.
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The full description of the Park Service LGBT history initiative is at nps. gov/heritageinitiatives/LGBThistory.
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The Democratic Wing of Albany’s Democratic Party BY PAUL SCHINDLER In the November 2012 election, Democrats won a majority of the seats in the New York State Senate, which is something of a remarkable feat. In the last generation, only for a brief period after the 2008 election have Democrats wielded Senate control. That’s because each chamber of the Legislature dictates its own redistricting formula to account for Census findings every 10 years. And Republicans have held on to the Senate through gerrymandering aimed at thwarting the blue direction in which New York State has moved decisively in recent decades. To be sure, the Assembly takes care of its Democrats, but that party so dominates over the GOP in this state that a lopsided Democratic majority would be inevitable in the Assembly under any conceivable scenario. The Republicans’ ability to hold the Senate is the anomaly in state politics — and it’s a sign of how marginalized the GOP has become here that despite the redistricting shenanigans, Democrats have won the most seats in two of the past three legislative elections. It’s unfortunate, then, that the will of New York voters that Democrats control both the Assembly and the Senate has been thwarted over the past 18 months by a five-member bloc known as the Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC), members elected on the Democratic Party line who defected from their party in order to share power with the Republicans. The IDC members have argued they bring a progressive voice to the Senate leadership, curbing the risk for Tea Party excesses on the part of their Republican coalition partners. We’ll acknowledge upfront that all five members of the IDC voted in favor of marriage equality in 2011, with Staten Island’s Diane Savino being a particularly eloquent voice in the first, unsuccessful floor debate on that bill 18 months earlier. Two other IDC members, Tony Avella and David Carlucci, first won election to the Senate in
2010 as gay marriage advocates. But the IDC has not proved to be an effective progressive voice in the Senate leadership — whether on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call for a comprehensive Women’s Equality Act or in the push for effective campaign finance reform. The Senate tried to gut the women’s initiative over the issue of a woman’s right to choose and has stonewalled on reforming our way of electing state officials. For our community, there is no evidence whatsoever that the IDC’s continued enabling of Republican Senate control has been helpful in achieving key goals. Transgender rights have clearly been stalled. An effort to end police use of condoms found on people stopped for searches as evidence in prostitution arrests has won support in the Assembly but failed to make traction in the Senate. Among the top LGBT priorities, only the effort to curb “conversion therapy” treatment on LGBT youth by mental health professionals has a shot at getting a hearing by the Senate before it adjourns next week — and there is not yet any guarantee on that score. Two weeks ago, we called on Governor Andrew Cuomo and IDC leader Jeff Klein to speak out on behalf of the long-stalled Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). Senate sponsor Daniel Squadron, a Lower Manhattan-Downtown Brooklyn Democrat, has worked hard since assuming the lead role on that bill two years ago to build public awareness on the need for action. He held a compelling hearing and prevailed on top police officials around the state — including former NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly — to knock down the canard that transgender civil rights protections will somehow compromise public safety in sex-segregated facilities such as bathrooms. Even as Squadron and advocates like the Empire State Pride Agenda continue to press the issue, the outlook this year is grim — and that is all about the continued GOP lock on the Senate. As Nathan Riley reports on page 4, a City Council hearing this week added fuel to the drive to enact state legislation barring use of condoms as
evidence of prostitution. That practice has led to the harassment of queer youth and the targeting of transgender women and is also wholly inconsistent with the public health goal of having everyone — whether sex workers or queer youth — with condoms at the ready when sex is in the offing. Last year, the Assembly passed such legislation, but it has not acted yet this year, perhaps because the bill’s Senate sponsor, Velmanette Montgomery, a Brooklyn Democrat, has been frustrated in her hopes of gaining leadership support in her chamber. The Assembly, however, should go ahead and pass the bill again anyway, if for no other reason than to hold up for all to see the intransigence of the Senate on basic questions of common sense. The best hope for a “gay win” this year — and it’s unfortunate Albany politicians continue to think of the LGBT community as a group that can be satisfied by one “goody” every two years — comes on the “conversion therapy” or “sexual orientation change efforts” bill. Two weeks ago, out gay Manhattan Democratic Senator Brad Hoylman, who sponsors the measure in tandem with his out lesbian Manhattan Assembly Democratic colleague Deborah Glick, offered cautious optimism about its prospects. Hoylman pointed to public statement by the IDC’s Klein and by the governor in support of the bill, but significantly neither he nor the Pride Agenda claimed specific conversations with either Klein or Senator Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican who is the senior member of the IDC-GOP leadership team. So, our one prospect for a win this session of the Legislature comes down to the political will and political clout of the tiny IDC faction in the Senate. If Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Westchester Democrat and the Senate’s minority leader, ran the show, there’s a very good chance that two or even all three of these measures would now be headed for final approval. After the deal Cuomo struck late last month with the Working Families Party to press to regain the Senate for the Democrats in November, there has been talk the IDC might be ready to return home to their party. They should have done so already. It’s long past time for the Independent Democratic Conference to rejoin the Democratic wing of the New York State Democratic Party.
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
Time Heals BY ED SIKOV
ime magazine sure made a monkey out of me. The very day I asserted in this Media Circus column that the mainstream press doesn’t spend a lot of time on trans folks, Time hit the newsstands with a cover story: “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s next civil rights frontier.” Gracing the front of the magazine was a full-length portrait of Laverne Cox, who stars in the hit Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” The glamorous Cox was so commanding a figure that her head blocked half the M of the magazine’s title. I admit that my first reaction to Time’s cover story was a selfish one, something on the order of, “Couldn’t they have waited a week before making me look like a carping ass?” But as I read the story with a mounting sense of disbelief, I had to acknowledge that I am a carping ass, even while knowing that the shock of Time’s story was precisely its rarity. The article, by Katy Steinmetz, was excellent, with a mix of facts and personal stories, sympathetic voices and a few obligatory creeps. It even ended
with a tear-provoking six-year-old expressing hurt at being bullied but being loudly cheered by a supportive trans-community crowd. The child’s gender identity was entirely left out of the narrative. Among many points Steinmetz makes, the undying issue of bathroom access came across as both vitally important and profoundly silly. Americans have a deep-seated anxiety about bathrooms — what goes on inside them, who belongs in which one — and as far as I can see it all stems from our culture’s criminally negligent pottie training. We simply are a nation obsessed with toilets, and we have been this way for many years. In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock knew that he’d deeply disturb his audience by showing one of the Bates Motel’s toilets in the act of flushing — thereby setting up the shock of Marion Crane’s final shower by unnerving everyone with an open-lidded “commode” spiriting its contents away in a gush of water even before poor Marion turns on the spigot. Not much has changed. The villains of Steinmetz’s piece include one benighted “political organizer,” Frank Schubert, who is most upset by a recent California law “that lets
students use school facilities” — a tasteful euphemism for bathrooms and locker rooms — “in accordance with their gender identities, regardless of the sex listed on their school records.” “Gender is a known fact,” Schubert confidently declares. “You’re either male or female.” Apparently not, Mr. Schubert. In fact, I bet even you have a feminine side. Tellingly, school “facilities” are Schubert’s bath-noir. Already perceived as a dirty place, the American bathroom demands strict segregation. Who knows what occurs in the Platonic universal can in Schubert’s perverted mind? Tinkling sounds coming from a lavatorally incorrect organ of elimination? Farts emitted from asses owned by persons who don’t conform to gender expectations? Are these really the issues on which someone stakes a political platform? The answer, astoundingly, is yes. It’s completely illogical. Women’s rooms don’t have urinals, so a biological male who identifies as female won’t be able to dangle her weenie in front of other fascinated bathroom users. And a biological female who identifies as male can’t
use a urinal, so everything must occur behind the closed doors of a stall. Thus, men’s rooms are equally protected from the supposedly horrific presence of transgender students. In any event, men’s rooms long ago stepped up the privacy afforded all users with those little dividers. Locker rooms may seem to be more problematic, but even there one needn’t create a problem where none exists. In my day — don’t ask! — we were all required to shower after gym class, and while I cannot with a straight face tell you that didn’t create a certain amount of frisson, shall we say, most gay men will agree with me that it was always clear it involved a whole lot more risk than reward. Today, I’m told, students for the most part don’t shower and merely end up smelling like teen spirit for the rest of the school day. So a trans boy keeps his underwear on while changing into and out of gym clothes; so does a trans girl. And so does everybody else. Only people who are caught in a freakish genital preoccupation care. Normal people — meaning here, those with real lives of their own to engage their attention — don’t. So thanks and a hat tip to Time’s Katy Steinmetz and her forward-looking editors. Time’s founder, Henry Luce, must be spinning in his grave.
A Dyke Abroad
The Dyke’s Back in France BY KELLY JEAN COGSWELL
ome people come to France to smoke Gitanes and eat cr oissants. I spent my first few days assembling Ikea products for my girlfriend’s Cuban family. The first item was a bookcase, the second a nightstand to go by my mother-inlaw’s bed. Our household speaks English, Spanish, and French, and it sometimes feels like my head might explode. There are so many words at our disposal to describe a single thing, like a hammer, that Ikea miraculously communicates with a simple drawing. | June 12 - 25, 2014
It reminds me that while the differences of culture and language have a real impact on our lives and perceptions, (fromage sounds so much tastier than cheese) they’re still pure artifice. Humans have more in common than we admit. At the very least, we face a continual struggle with the physical world and how to contain it. Even the poor have their sacks and carts. I have this wooden Ikea nightstand with a capacious drawer that needs a coat of varnish. We all have bodies holding their own, even with failing parts. My mother -in-law is 91 now. A year ago, when she couldn’t live alone in Queens anymore, we helped her move to her son’s place
in France. She just got out of the hospital after falling and cracking a vertebrae. She already had reduced mobility and the stoner’s brain that comes with age and a bunch of mini-strokes. All our time is spent in vigilance, making sure she has help standing up and sitting down. She’s already forgotten why she was in the hospital and doesn’t understand why we freak out when she tries to go it alone. It’s hard for her to shower in a bathtub that requires a lot of gizmos to enter and leave. And taking a walk is a big deal. I’m deteriorating myself, can’t think about anything but the next load of laundry. What to make for dinner. I’ve read that mothers of
small children often feel this way, the circle of their lives reduced, their personalities eroded by confinement to the endless physical world and a tiny vocabulary of “Do this. Do that.” “Oh my god. No! Stop!” At least their charges are small and easier to transport. A small tumble won’t kill them. And little kids learn new tricks every day just like tiny circus dogs. You look at them and see a future. You have hope. Faustina, though, is gradually forgetting her own self and relinquishing interests along with a lifetime of skills. She doesn’t even pick fights any more, or hardly ever. And submits with indifference to what would have been an indignity six months ago. We all know what’s coming,
COGSWELL, continued on p.21
ON PRIDE, QUEENS IS ALWAYS FIRST
Participants in the Queens Pride Parade included the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps and grand marshals Melissa Sklarz, a longtime transgender activist, and the six members of the City Council gay and lesbian caucus (seen here with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito): Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Councilmembers Rosie Mendez, Daniel Dromm, Carlos Menchaca, Corey Johnson, and Ritchie Torres.
On Sunday June 1, Jackson Heights played host to the 22nd annual Queens LGBT Pride celebration with a parade down 37th Avenue and an afternoon cultural festival right in the heart of the neighborhood. As in past years, Queens got a jump on the other boroughs, with the Brooklyn celebration scheduled for June 14 and the massive parade down
Fifth Avenue in Manhattan stepping off at noon on June 29. Pride celebrations in the Bronx and Staten Island are scheduled for July. The annual Queens event is an example of how the LGBT community turned tragedy into an opportunity for action. In July 1990, Julio Rivera, a 29-year-old gay man, was murdered in a Jackson Heights
schoolyard. Angered at the slow progress of police action on the case, gay activists began to organize in the neighborhood and across the borough. Under the leadership of Daniel Dromm, at the time an out gay schoolteacher and now the area’s City Council member, that activism evolved into a plan for an annual pride event in the borough. — Paul Schindler
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Jersey Pride’s 23rd edition kicked off in Asbury Park on Sunday June 1, with 20,000 total participants, according to the group’s president, Laura Pople. The beach resort was selected as the site, she explained, because “we wanted something that said New Jersey, and the boardwalk, with the Jersey Shore, was something that would iconically do so.” E v e n N e w Yo r k e r s weren’t arguing with that. David Schneider, who is
planning the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion for Heritage of Pride here, said, “You have the parade and you have the beach. What more can you ask for?” And Californian Chris Nelson from Dana Pointe in Orange County, a city famed for surfer culture, was at the pool party in the Empress Hotel, a center of gay life in Asbury Park, and said, “It’s the same vibe I feel at home. I’m actually thinking about moving here.” Thelma Houston was
the evening’s highlight at a stage show held in front of the city’s 1920s Convention Hall a block from the boardwalk. Democrat Reed Gusciora, the state’s only out gay Assembly member — famously called “numbnuts” by Governor Chris Christie during that state’s debate over marriage equality — reminded the audience that while New Jersey had many LGBT rights advances, “we still have to work on AIDS as an issue.” — Michael Luongo
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
COGSWELL, from p.19
if not this week, maybe in a few months. Or a year or two. It makes me anxious and gloomy. I think black thoughts. We just buried her other son 18 months ago after seeing him through several rounds of chemo. Why bother with anything? Life continues but we don’t. Screw the next generation. It won’t last long, anyway. Eighty or 90 years max, with a few exceptions at either end. Faustina’s dying in slo-mo, and I have nothing to rage against. Nature has no complaint department, no web page. Accepts no petitions. Doesn’t care about who clicks or doesn’t. You can hold all the demos you want, but changes in political policy can’t save her life, just improve it. I readjust my priorities. The qualities I try to cultivate now are patience and kindness, renewed as needed with chocolate and wine. I could lear n from this, but probably won’t. Soon, my girlfriend and I will leave and resume our normalish lives. I’ll forget the nearness of death, how temporary
we all are, and the limits of social change. But now that I have that fleeting knowledge, what does it mean? Especially since I’ve spent a lifetime agitating for liberty and equality. Right now, I’d like to see less rhetoric, more real vision. I’d especially like our community to devote more effort to remembering what we have in common — without diminishing our differences. How about less recrimination and strife? More “Yesses!” Fewer “Nos!” At the very least we should step outside our daily urgent battles and pretend occasionally that we’ve already prevailed. That the world has been transformed into a just and equal place that has nevertheless preserved room for freedom. Imagining the future is here, let us carry it out into the streets and walk down them fearlessly, as ourselves. And let’s speak as openly as we can, believing that someone will dare understand. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” published this year by the University of Minnesota Press.
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Williamsburg, Where North Is Up and South Is Coming In hipster haven, industrial space repurposing, new development crosses Grand Street
BY LAUREN PRICE
The Corcoran Group currently lists an 1,140-square-foot,
THE CORCORAN GROUP
illiamsburg, in tw o d ec a de s of dramatic change, has evolved well beyond its reputation as a magnet for artists and young adventurers drawn by low rents and large lofts converted from old, often abandoned factories. With customary New York speed, a booming nightlife and eating scene spawned a proliferation of trendy shops, especially along Bedford Avenue, and then ambitious new residential development. Geographically large — running roughly from the East River to Flushing Avenue between the Brooklyn Navy Yard and, on the north, Bushwick Avenue and McCarren Park — and home to about 125,000 people, the neighborhood long had something of an invisible line between a more gentrified north and a grittier south. But recently, South Williamsburg — in particular the area bounded by Grand Street and Division Avenue, from Union Avenue to the East River — has changed as well. According to recent Census data and industry experts, the area remains dominated by rental units and its demographic mix is not unfamiliar from a decade ago or more, but new buildings — including condominiums such as the Oosten on Kent Avenue and the nearby 15 Dunham Place — have attracted newer residents, many of them young, with values favorable when compared to North
Though monthly rentals are not yet announced, they will likely start at about $2,400. (themarketingdirectorsinc.com)
A one-bedroom condo at 60 Broadway offered by the Corcoran Group.
Williamsburg. Like nearly every New York neighborhood, inventory levels remain low and so value is a relative term. In fact, according to Streeteasy.com, averages sale prices hover just below $1.8 million. For renters interested in new developments, brokers indicate one-bedroom units generally average about $3,000 per month. Still, with new units coming on line, the face of South Williamsburg is being reshaped — at a good clip. “The growth of new developments in South Williamsburg is exponential due to quick access to Manhattan, the proximity to the waterfront, excellent restaurants, and retail locations,” said Jacqueline Urgo, the president of the Marketing Directors. “And as we go forward, the borders between North
and South Williamsburg will be even more blurred because people are expanding boundaries to live in amenity-filled developments offering good value.” In early 2015, the Marketing Directors will welcome residents to a new rental development at 282 South Fifth Street, near Marcy Avenue, designed by notable architect Morris Adjmi. From studios to two-bedroom apartments, square footage will likely range from about 450 to 1,000 square feet, with some units offering outdoor space. The project’s communal amenities will include a lounge with a billiard table, a gym with a yoga studio, a dog spa, a roof deck with grill areas, a playroom, and a half-acre landscaped terrace. An attended lobby and on-site parking are also planned.
one-bedroom condominium inside the Gretsch Building, a former musical instrument factory at 60 Broadway near Wythe Avenue. An extra large south-facing loft, the residence’s up-market features include 12-foot beamed ceilings, windows eight feet in height, Australian jarrah hardwood floors, and a washer and dryer. A striking open kitchen boasts appliances by Wolf, Asko, and SubZero, with countertops covered in granite. Building amenities include a roof deck, a playroom, and round-theclock doorman service. Priced at $1.05 million with a J-51 tax abatement until 2020, the unit has a monthly assessment to fund building façade work of $659 through February 2015. (corcoran.com/nyc/listings/display/3287614)
A 550-square-foot loft at 100 South Fourth Street, between Berry Street and Bedford Avenue, is available for rent. Its standouts include an updated kitchen, oversized windows, high ceilings, hardwood floors, and loads of closet space. The building has laundry rooms on each floor, and, for cityscape viewing, its own roof deck. Monthly rent is $3,150. (ide-
WILLIAMSBURG, continued on p.24
WILLIAMSBURG INTEL The 35-acre McCarren Park has completed a grand renovation of its famous swimming pool and play center, and is home to ball fields and bocce, basketball, handball and tennis courts, a new 7,200-square-foot ice-skating rink, running tracks, a picnic area, playground and fitness facility. SummerScreen outdoor movies happen on Wednesdays in July and August. (nycgovparks.org/parks/mccarrenpark) Member galleries of the Williamsburg Gallery Association keep their doors open later than usual — generally until 9 or 10 p.m. — on the second Friday of each month, often hosting special events and performances. (wburgga.tumblr.com) Brooklyn Navy Yard Center’s BLDG 92 celebrates its past present and future inside the former Marine Commandant’s residence, now a museum. Long a major military shipbuilding facility, the Navy Yard had a tragic role in the Revolutionary War, when an estimated 11,000 colonial patriots died under dire conditions on British prison ships docked there. (bldg92.org)
Long touted as one of our nation’s best marketplaces, Brooklyn Flea operates every weekend at 50 Kent Avenue at North 12th Street, with some 150 vendors hawking everything from antiques and vintage clothing to curated jewelry and crafts by local artisans. (brooklynflea. com) Brooklyn Bowl, at 61 Wythe Avenue and North 12 Street, is an amalgam of bowling lanes, food from Blue Ribbon, bars serving local craft beers, and live performances. (brooklynbowl. com) Williamsburg is a quick subway, bus, cab, or bike ride to Manhattan, but ferries are also an option. Ferries run from North Sixth Street and from Schaefer Landing, at 440 Kent Avenue near South 11th Street, to locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Governor’s Island. Fares range from $4 to $6 each way, with all-day and monthly passes available. A $1 surcharge is added for bicycles. (eastriverferry.com.) — Lauren Price June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
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WILLIAMSBURG, from p.22
with an en suite bathroom, has spacious closets. Storage space elsewhere in the unit includes a washer as well as a dryer hook-up. Recently reduced, the price is $775,000. (nestseekers. com/73427/390-lorimer-streethot-deal-of-duplex-2-bedroomcondo-in)
Condo Average Price South Williamsburg | Brooklyn | Manhattan
Kent Avenue, near South Eighth Street, is a new development selling one- to three-bedroom units, including duplexes with double-height ceilings. The Oosten also includes four penthouses, with a choice of five or six bedrooms, and 15 three- and four-bedroom townhouses. The penthouses and townhouses offer private garage space. Square footage ranges from 801 to approximately 5,093 square feet for the penthouses and 4,075 square feet in the townhouses. The communal amenities list is long — indoor swimming pool, fitness center, sauna and steam rooms, library, landscaped courtyard, and rooftop terrace with a reflecting pool. Occupancy is set for late 2015. Exclusively marketed by Halstead Property Group Development, prices start under $700,000. (theoosten.com)
$1.5M PRICE / FT2
On the South Williamsburg waterfront, the Oosten at 429
Renters who have their hearts set on North Williamsburg have interesting new opportu-
KEY: SOUTH WILLIAMSBURG
NOTE: Closed Deals registered with the NYC Acris system through May 30, 2014.
A comparison of average condominium sales prices in South Williamsburg, all of Brooklyn, and Manhattan from 2011 through early 2014.
A 2,600-square-foot duplex loft is for sale at 154 Broadway, right around the corner from Peter Luger’s Steakhouse on Driggs Avenue. In addition to an open-plan living space, there are two levels of private outdoor space. A factory conversion, the unit
features 12-foot-high ceilings, hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and custom millwork built-ins. The kitchen is outfitted with KitchenAid appliances, including a wine fridge and bar, along with tons of cabinetry and red Corian countertops. A large dining area has a built-in banquette as well as a built-in day bed and lounging couch. A step up from the kitchen is an enormous living area with beamed ceilings, custom lighting, a built-in queen-sized day bed, and a built-in projector and screen. Glass doors lead to a deck. A full bath with a Jacuzzi and separate shower are also on this level. The lower level, which opens onto a patio, is customized as a sleeping area and could also serve as a media room. There are a full bath and a walk-in closet there as well. Priced at $2.5 million. (halstead. com/sale/ny/brooklyn/williamsburg/154-broadway/ condo/9419196)
At 390 Lorimer Street, near Scholes Street, Nest Seekers International is now selling a convertible two-bedroom duplex loft with a mezzanine and private rooftop deck. With about 790 square feet of living space, the unit’s in-home amenities include floorto-ceiling-windows, hardwood floors, some double-height ceilings, and a kitchen with high-gloss dark gray custom cabinetry, Samsung appliances, and CaesarStone countertops. The master bedroom,
nities, as well. 250N10 — a mid-rise residential building with a glasswall façade located on North Tenth Street between Roebling and Union Avenues close to McCarren Park — offers a mix that runs from studios to two bedrooms, ranging from 483 to 1,047 square feet. Some of the residences include private terraces, and all come with hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and washers and dryers. Open kitchens feature GE appliances, CaeserStone countertops, and white cabinetry. Bathrooms are dressed in colorful glass tile accents. A full-service building, 250N10’s residential extras include a fitness center, a Wi-Fi café lounge with a coffee bar right off the lobby and an adjacent landscaped courtyard, another Wi-Fi lounge outfitted with a fireplace, a pool table, and a flat screen TV, a roof deck with a barbecue area, on-site parking and storage areas (for rent), and a round-the-clock doorman. Exclusively marketed through the Marketing Directors, no-fee monthly rentals begin at $2,590. (250N10.com)
The Printhouse Lofts at 139 North Tenth Street, also in North Williamsburg, between Berry Street and Bedford Avenue, will soon begin renting one- and two-bedroom units. One fifth-floor unit has a 225-square-foot private terrace, and two ground-level units offer 50-foot-long solariums. A factory conversion, the building has luxury finishes including the latest in stainless steel kitchen appliances, farmhouse sinks, natural stone countertops, exposed beams, and brick walls. Communal amenities include a video intercom system, laundry machines on all floors, and 2,500 square feet of roof deck with panoramic views. No-fee monthly rents will start at about $2,600. (printhouselofts.com)
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
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| June 12 - 25, 2014
Branding the Fight
HBO documentary about Prop 8 case, produced by embedded film crew, follows well-worn path of Jo Becker book BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
THE CASE AGAINST 8
Directed by Ben Cotner and Ryan White HBO Documentaries Jun. 23, 9 p.m. Other air dates at hbo.com
arly in the HBO documentary “The Case Against 8,” Chris Dusseault, a partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, is shown telling the two plaintiff couples in the lawsuit that struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage that they are the core of the case. “You guys are the reason the case is happening,” Dusseault said. “You are the case really and everything else is evidence that explains why what you are saying is right, but it all flows from you.” Moments later in this 112-minute film, Ted Olson, also a partner at Gibson Dunn, has a different take on the couples’ status. “It’s an awkward thing to be stuck in the
Kristina Schake and Chad Griffin outside the US Supreme Court in “The Case Against 8.”
middle of this and made into a symbol,” he said. We know fr om Jo Becker’s book about the case, “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight For Marriage Equality,” that the couples did not bring this lawsuit. They were
recruited and carefully screened by Chad Griffin and Kristina Schake, the PR experts who founded the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that conceived of and funded the case. In the documentary, Schake tells us
they hired opposition researchers and “private investigators” to dig into the couples’ backgrounds. Are the couples the reason for the case or are they props, or “symbols” as Olson said, in an elaborate staged event produced by lawyers and publicists? “The Case Against 8” does not explore this question. While the AFER website says that “The Case Against 8” was produced “independently from the foundation,” the film suffers from the same flaw evident in Becker’s book. AFER
PROP 8, continued on p.29
Red State Blues
A young gay man’s death ruptures a community already on its way to broken BY GARY M. KRAMER
roken Heart Land” is a poignant documentary that shows how Nancy Harrington transformed the grief she experienced from her gay son Zack’s 2010 suicide
BROKEN HEART LAND Directed by Jeremy Stulberg and Randy Stulberg Jun. 24, 8 p.m. PBS/ WLIW21 World Cablevision Ch. 132; Time Warner Ch. 164 Verizon Fios Ch. 473 Additional airdates: worldchannel.org/programs/america-reframed
The Bible Belt town of Norman, Oklahoma, prides itself on being progressive and inclusive, but public discussion of gay rights is still met with resistance. A mob mentality erupted among citizens attending a City Council meeting where a proclamation declaring October LGBT History Month was considered. Shortly after that meeting, Zack, 19, took his life, sending shockwaves through the community. “Broken Heart Land” follows Nancy Har rington as she begins to speak out about her son
and joins a PFLAG-like group, MOM — Mothers of Many. Later in the story, we see her campaigning for equal rights in Norman and supporting the City Council race run by out lesbian Jackie Farley against Chad Williams, one of those who spoke out against the History Month proclamation at the meeting preceding Zack’s suicide. The Stulbergs’ film gets up close and personal with the Harrington family as well as their supporters and detractors, documenting the impact a young man’s death has on an entire community. Scenes when the family is commemorating Zack’s life or simply sitting in awkward silence at the dinner table are touching. And scenes of the MOM meetings and the City Council campaign battle are compelling. Gay City News spoke with out gay filmmaker Jeremy Stulberg about the powerful film he and his sister made. GARY M. KRAMER: How did you come to learn of and tell Zack and Nancy’s story? JEREMY STULBERG: My sister was in Oklahoma at the time when this tragedy happened. We met the Harringtons at a candlelight vigil seven days after Zack died. The Harringtons opened up to us and allowed us to tell their story. They underwent an incredible transformation. Nancy was very quiet at the beginning, but
she had to talk and, as the story unfolded, she blossomed. GMK: You get some pretty intense encounters — such as Nancy confronting Chad Williams after a League of Women Voters meeting. How did you get the access you did from both sides of the LGBT rights issue? JS: We were very honest with them. This is a town really grappling with this issue. They had this painful public meeting that was difficult for both sides. The ideas the townspeople had never came out in a public forum. Then to have Zack’s suicide thrown in was explosive. We were honest about what we wanted to do and present. We wanted to understand their perspective. It’s difficult to hear things that some [interviewees] said about gay people or other minorities, but I would just listen and absorb it and take it in and be a blank slate. They had the opportunity to speak for themselves. Being in close proximity to them and understanding their complexities were very eye-opening. Each side knew we were filming with the others. They respected that and understood it would be more powerful if both sides were represented. We are dealing with this evolution of LGBT
BROKEN, continued on p.37
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
Unspoken Challenges With dance, filmmaker Chris Mason Johnson moves beyond words to tell the story of AIDS BY GARY M. KRAMER
et in 1985 San Francisco, the low-budget “Test” is a compelling drama about the onset of the AIDS crisis. Frankie (Scott Marlowe) is a dancer whose unease about the epidemic is palpable. His concerns are contrasted with those of his fellow dancer, Todd (the magnetic Matthew Risch), who has a more unconstrained attitude toward sex and life. In Frankie’s eyes, Todd seems more likely to “get it,” but Frankie gets himself tested after a series of sexual encounters that scare him. Chris Mason Johnson’s “Test” is set in the San Francisco dance world of 1985.
TEST Directed by Chris Mason Johnson Variance Films Opens Jun. 13 Quad Cinema 34 W. 13th St. quadcinema.com
“Test” aptly conveys the anxiety of the early days of AIDS and how young gay men grappled with their fears. Viewers will care about what happens to Frankie and also have the chance to enjoy lengthy dance sequences — both rehearsals and performances. In a recent phone interview, writer and director Chris Mason Johnson discussed what prompted him to make “Test” — and why it was important that this AIDS film have characters who do have sex. “AIDS films in general — if we can use that label — have been death-bed stories,” Johnson explained. “That’s understandable. Those stories needed to be told first for political and emotional reasons, and it’s understandable that sex is edited out of AIDS stories.” Without the sex, however, Frankie’s anxiety would not be as resonant, he added. “I have a young male dancer protagonist who wants to have sex,” Johnson said. “I wanted to put the sex back in the story, and make it tense and difficult because he is paranoid about illness. I also wanted to make it real, human, funny, and erotic. I didn’t want to sanitize the sexuality out of the story | June 12 - 25, 2014
just because we’re dealing with the theme of HIV/ AIDS.” “Test” succeeds at this goal. Symbols, such as mice in Frankie’s apartment, are employed to represent the randomness of contracting the AIDS virus. In one scene, a mouse dies in a glue trap; in another, a mouse gets to live a happy life, even if caged. Johnson’s film is about other tests than simply the one to determine HIV status. Frankie is an understudy in a dance company and at one point in the story gets the opportunity to appear in a performance. The filmmaker explained that the world of dance is intended to mirror the hurdles gay men of that era faced from AIDS. “The whole idea was to set the film in the dance world where the body was the focus,” he explained. “More broadly, I wanted to tell a story that was not verbal, not told through dialogue. That was the experience of young men during the epidemic who were not out and proud. They were suffering for years in isolation and silence. The challenge was to do this cinematically and visually and not be dialogue-dependent. The body becomes the focus — as an erotic site, as a body that dances, and as a body that gets diseased. We tried to combine all that through the choreography, which is fraught with erotic and macabre images and gestures lifted from the crazy and erotic paintings of Egon Schiele.”
The dance sequences are beautifully done, and Johnson cast Marlowe — a performer from San Francisco’s dance world — in the lead role because he would lend naturalism to the part. The two men workshopped the project for six months, and then Johnson brought in Risch, a musical theater actor with dance credentials, to play Todd. “He could fit in with the other dancers, even though he’s not the same kind of dancer.” Johnson said. The filmmaker was deliberate about choosing two very different kinds of performers — who play friends, enemies, and potentially lovers — because their characters are different, visually and emotionally. Todd is cavalier about sex and death, while Frankie is often scared and intimidated, and their relationship is full of frisson. “Todd’s toughness is an act, which is a common psychological thing with characters like that,” Johnson explained. “I wanted the ‘opposites attract’ kind of feeling, and if everyone in the story had Frankie’s attitude, his paranoia and fear, there wouldn’t be much contrast and conflict. I wanted to set them into play. They are fun to watch, even if they are not fun to be with in real life.” The third test the film’s characters face becomes clear at the end, when one character suggests AIDS enforces monogamy on gay cou-
ples. It’s a theme Johnson develops throughout the film, with Frankie’s roommate, Tyler (Evan Boomer), embracing a heterosexual relationship despite being attracted to Frankie. “The early AIDS epidemic chased a lot of young men back into the closet for a decade,” Johnson argued. “Tyler the roommate is an example of that trend or reaction.” That third test resonated in the gay community through the succeeding decades, the filmmaker suggested. “There was this tension — assimilate or maintain your identity,” Johnson said of his story’s setting. “I’m all in favor of gay marriage but I want to point out that the assumption of normality and monogamy and being mainstream and just like everyone else is a great thing but you also lose something, like you do with gentrification.” He recognizes that this last point is controversial. “I wanted to be provocative and also point out that in the beginning the move toward monogamy in the wake of the early AIDS epidemic was also fear-based and an insurance plan,” Johnson explained. “That’s not to say people didn’t value emotionally committed relationships, but that it was over-determined.” In that sense, Johnson’s absorbing film aims to say something about today as well as about 1985.
Disclosing Diversity, Claiming Common Ground Human Rights Watch Film Festivals LGBT offerings challenge our own assumptions OUT IN THE NIGHT Directed by blair doroshwalther Jun. 18 at 7 p.m. IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com Jun. 20 at 6:30 p.m. Walter Reade Theatre 165 West 65th St. filmlinc.com
The streets of Newark are tough on anybody, but they LYRIC CABRA
Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Patreese Johnson, and Renata Hill are four young women whose lives were turned upside by a four-minute episode of violence outside the IFC Center in August 2006.
BY SETH J. BOOKEY
any LGBT Americans have seen things and met people the average American never encounters, but even within the community we have a lot to learn from each other. A great documentary will help viewers dig below the deep-held truths that comfort them, and at this year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival, there are rewarding opportunities to look for right in our own backyard. Whether it’s a Navy SEAL who came out, in a big way, as transgender, four girls from the hardscrab-
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FILM FESTIVAL Jun. 13-22 ff.hrw.org
ble streets of Newark, or a nationally known gay celebrity, there are parallels: they survived personal and social traumas and are willing to discuss their private pain in a public way, on film.
At a pride event years ago, I met a transgender woman who told me she couldn’t see her children or grandchildren because of “what I am.” Her words struck me with dread at being “what,” not “who.” Her attitude seemed like self-deprecation, but surely for
LADY VALOR: THE KRISTIN BECK STORY Directed by Sandrine Orabona and Mark Herzog Jun. 14 at 7 p.m. IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com Jun. 16 at 6:30 p.m. Walter Reade Theatre 165 West 65th St. filmlinc.com
too many in society — even in the gay and lesbian community — dehumanizing transgender people comes all too easily. That may, in part, be due to ignorance, from not really getting to know folks in the trans community. One good first step in remedying this — in about 80 minutes — is to watch “Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story.” Not a primer on transgender issues, but a highly personal look at a former Navy SEAL with 21 years experience and many medals and commendations who is much happier now that she can live as a woman. Directors Sandrine Orabona and Mark Herzog wisely let Kristin Beck do most of the talking, as we see her with friends and family going about her daily life. One of the most fascinating parts of Kristin’s story is that her younger life as Christopher is also well documented, in home movies. We see her as both Christopher and Kristin training soldiers and police and doing construction projects at
home. It’s the same person doing the same activities, but with a vastly different emotional outlook and, of course, different clothing. Kristin’s father and siblings accept her fully. A military colleague says, “I have known Kris for 20 years, and that sister is my brother.” Her young niece relates better to Kristin than to Christopher. “I see myself as a better person,” Kristin says. “I like myself better.” As Christopher, she was miserable and military bravado led to almost suicidal behavior. The road to today was far from smooth. Kristin came out suddenly as transgender, showing up to work at the Pentagon in women’s clothing, and then coming out nationally on an Anderson Cooper CNN program. Getting hate mail and nasty comments on social media was an untested battlefront for her. Transgender identity mystifies many people, but Kristin clues the audience in on something: It’s a bit of a mystery to her, too. When asked, “Why did you decide to become a woman?,” she responds, “Why did you decide to be born with blue eyes?” Beck likens the question to someone who was born without sight, but can now see, being asked to describe a sunset. “It’s difficult to put into words,” she explains. Difficult, but Kristin Beck’s story may help everyone understand the experience just a little better.
seem that much tougher if you’re a woman or LGBT. There’s violence. There’s homophobia. There’s sexual assault. It is not surprising that a group of young lesbians would look for some freedom and breathing room in the West Village just a PATH train away. In August 2006, the last thing a group like this would expect in that storied place where they were free to be themselves — right in front of the IFC Center on Sixth Avenue and West Third Street — would be encountering a man threatening to “fuck them straight!” and then advancing on them physically. Or that they would be branded a “lesbian wolf pack” in screaming tabloid headlines after one of the girls stabbed him to fend off assault, while the others beat him. The entire incident took only took four minutes to unfold but in its wake, the aggressive male was portrayed as a victim and four of the seven friends found themselves indicted for gang activity and villainized in the press. The young women — Terrain Dandridge, Renata Hill, Venice Brown, and Patreese Johnson — did not take plea deals because they felt they were defending themselves. Meanwhile, newspapers ran headlines like “Attack of the Killer Lesbians” and Fox News fear -mongered about gay gangs out to “take over” and hurt bystanders. Evidence of self-defense was not presented at the women’s trial, even though the IFC security cameras suggested that’s how the incident blew up. They each spent years in prison.
FESTIVAL, continued on p.37
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
PROP 8, from p.26
“gave exclusive access to directors Ben Cotner, Ryan White, and their film crew over the course of five years” to shoot the documentary, AFER said. Becker also had this access and became just one more AFER cheerleader. Cotner and White also joined the cause and produced a film that asks no tough questions and ignores what was promised by the AFER legal team — a ruling from the US Supreme Court allowing same-sex marriage in all 50 states — versus what was achieved: marriage in California. Following a trial in federal court, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in 2010 that Proposition 8, a voter-approved amendment to California’s constitution banning same-sex marriage, violated the federal constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit limited its decision so that it would apply only in California and not in the other eight states the circuit court oversees. In 2013, the US Supreme Court declined to decide the case on the merits, holding instead that the amendment’s original sponsors — who sought to intervene in the case in the absence of the State of California defending Prop 8 — did not have standing to appeal. The result was that the voter initiative was overturned. The documentary has a score by composer Blake Neely that is used to punctuate the film and to manipulate audience feelings, a practice that I always find offensive in documentaries. Cotner and White have, in effect, made two films here and pressed them into a single piece. Its title suggests the film is about the case. Much of its time is spent with Olson and David Boies, the other high profile attorney who took on the case in 2009. Other lawyers and legal players are featured as well. There are moments where witnesses or lawyers read from the trial transcript or are seen discussing the case. Other footage looks like a love story, with lawyers and political strategists in supporting roles. We are provided with ostensibly intimate portraits of Sandy Stier and Kris Perry, who were the lesbian plaintiff couple, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, who were the gay plaintiff couple. The documentary | June 12 - 25, 2014
closes with their weddings in 2013 after the US Supreme Court ruled. Cotner and White have a scene of Perry’s two sons graduating from high school in 2013 that I assume is meant to show a loving family. But while Perry and Stier each have two sons from prior relationships, only Perry’s sons appear in “The Case Against 8.” The absence of Stier’s two sons is not explained, though we know from Becker’s book that at least one of them was uncomfortable with the publicity blitz unfolding around the family. I found myself wondering if there was some issue here that was not disclosed because it would tarnish the image the filmmakers are crafting. There is one conflict that was public in 2009 that is barely discussed in this documentary. The leading LGBT legal groups, who had been working on marriage for years, opposed the AFER lawsuit then, saying it was too early in the marriage fight to go into federal court and fearing it would result in a US Supreme Court decision upholding state marriage bans. While their worst fear was not realized, those groups were otherwise vindicated. The famously liberal Ninth Circuit issued a narrow ruling and the US Supreme Court would not hear the case. This should have led the filmmakers to explore this further, but they are too busy making a film about heroic lawyers and publicists and the two loving couples that they rose to defend. I know from Becker’s book and “The Case Against 8” that Griffin, now the head of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s leading gay lobby, is a skilled manipulator of the press and the public. He can produce compelling events with appealing imagery. I know he will try to squelch images and rhetoric that he feels are bad for the LGBT cause even if that means squelching authentic LGBT stories. I know that he leaves nothing to chance in these staged events. Becker’s book was a component of the Gay Marriage: The Brand marketing campaign that was the Prop 8 lawsuit. “The Case Against 8” is just the next step in that campaign. Frankly, I was sick of this campaign about two years in. All I want to know now is when does it end?
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Dancing Queen “Here Lies Love” brilliantly chronicles Imelda Marcos’ life, pushes theatrical boundaries BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
Ruthie Ann Miles as Imelda Marcos in David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s “Here Lies Love.”
he sheer exuberance of the groundbreaking musical “Here Lies Love” at the Public could easily blind one to its deeper intelligence and extraordinary artistry. The tale of Imelda Marcos’ rise from country beauty on Leyte, a small island in the Philippines, to international celebrity and then her exile to the US would at first blush seem like “Evita of the Pacific Rim.” But its structure and the immersive experience it creates push the musical form into an emotional and theatrical space that, like “Fun Home,” at the Public last year, has a powerful, visceral immediacy. The 90-minute show by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim is set in a disco and sung-through. Most
of the audience members stand, move, and dance in the middle of the floor, while the action takes place around them. David Korins has designed an ingenious collection of platforms, including a center stage that is constantly moved and extended by a group of stagehands who are as important to the experience as the cast. While the action focuses on the singing and dancing, projections by Peter Nigrini provide the real-life context for the events. The actors sing to tracks, much as performers did in discos in the 1980s, and the feeling is consistently celebratory, even as we see the dark political machinations of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos that led to the People Power Revolution and their exile in Hawaii. It is in the tension between frivolity and corruption that the show transcends traditional musical
HERE LIES LOVE The Public Theater 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Mon.-Fri. at 8 p.m.; Sat. at 5 & 9:30 p.m. Sun. at 3 & 7:30 p.m. $119-$130; publictheater.org Or 212-967-7555 90 minutes, no intermission
theater. Because the audience is up on their feet dancing along with the company, it’s easy to feel the emotionalism that allows a corrupt regime to take and keep power. Swept along in this irresistible tide, the audience becomes unintentionally complicit in events that ultimately undermined the Filipino people’s welfare and drowned out dissident Ninoy Aquino’s until it was too late. To mash up an historical cliché, the audience dances
DANCING QUEEN, continued on p.31
Love Amidst a Red Scare New play revisiting infamous Rosenberg executions transcends mere historical drama BY DAVID KENNERLEY
he tale of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg certainly is the stuff of heady theater. The married Jewish-American couple, Communist sympathizers who were sent to the electric chair in 1953 for sharing atomic secrets with the Russians, were caught up in one of the most sensational trials of the 20th century.
ETHEL SINGS: THE UNSUNG SONG OF ETHEL ROSENBERG Undercover Productions Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row 410 W. 42nd St. Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. Through Jul. 13 $60.25; telegcharge.com Or 212-239-6200
Yet while developing “Ethel Sings: The Unsung Song of Ethel Rosenberg,” the drama recounting the debacle, playwright Joan Beber and director Will Pomer antz were not content with creating a simple period piece. Instead, they added sardonic, Kander and Ebb-style musical numbers and fanciful, anachronistic flourishes in an effort to elevate the production. The action unexpectedly jumps between the real and unreal, and there’s a mysterious, sassy Earth Mother that guides Ethel, occasionally dropping names from the future, like Michelle Obama. The result is a fascinating, albeit frustrating, conceptual piece of theater. For the most part, “Ethel Sings” stays true to the historical facts. The play covers events starting in 1930, when Ethel was an aspiring singer and actress shunned by her mother. Later she meets Julius, a
handsome activist and engineer, at a Young Communist League gathering and they fall in love, marry, and have two sons. Because Julius refuses to mask his “Commie” sympathies, he is fired from a series of jobs. Before long, Julius and Ethel are charged with espionage for supplying classified plans to the Russian government, and the drama poses a pair of urgent questions: Did Ethel actually type the notes detailing the bomb construction for Julius, making her an accomplice? And why won’t she name names to avoid execution? It comes as no surprise that her idol is none other than the martyr Saint Joan. “To sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying,” says Ethel. Thousands protested their death sentence. While solid evidence supports Julius’ culpability, Ethel’s supposed role in the plot is open for
debate even today. The austere set, by John McDermott, is comprised of an ingenious metal framework that not only evokes a New York courtroom, Sing Sing prison, and various tenements, but also features rotating signs that announce the date or place of the action, hand-turned by the actors. It’s a refreshing, lowtech alternative to the usual projected titles. If only the rest of the production showed similar restraint. The unwieldy ensemble of ten actors — largely onstage for the entire proceedings — play some 40 characters and overwhelm the tiny Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row. The performances are all over the map, though the leads are fairly solid. Tracy Michailidis is quite convincing as Ethel, adding complex layers of warmth and vulnerability to her stoicism. More than
ETHEL, continued on p.31
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
DANCING QUEEN, from p.30
while the Philippines burns. The urge to dance is under standable. Byrne and Slim’s score is an infectious blend of pop and disco. Fans of Byrne’s work will recognize some signature harmonics, but the two men are faithful to the sounds of the era even as they create original music that never stoops to pastiche. And the score works theatrically to bring the narrative to a moving conclusion. I first saw this show when it opened last year, prior to its current open-ended run. On a second viewing, the emotional impact is undiminished. Alex Timbers continues to be one of the most exciting directors working in theater today. The movement and energy are brilliantly focused, even as the action swirls around the audience members, as if he were able to anticipate how they would serve as characters. Annie-B Parson’s choreography is inspired. The cast, too, is outstanding. Jose Llana is charismatic and compelling as Marcos. Conrad Nicomora has a quiet passion as
Ninoy Aquino, characterizing him in stark contrast to the Marcoses. Ruthie Ann Miles is spectacular as Imelda, with a vocal technique that ages subtly as her character does. It’s easy to believe Imelda never intended to be a villain but, like so many before her, let power and glitter blind her to the devastating consequences of her actions. In considering the significance of this show and others such as the recently closed “Sleep No More” — an involving and abstracted “Macbeth” that was part show, part art installation — it’s inspiring to recognize the number of artists who are playing with traditional forms. As the options for video entertainment have grown exponentially, theater is pushed to reinvent itself to capitalize on elements only a live experience can deliver — including intimacy and immediacy. To be sure, one need only see Tyne Daly in “Mothers and Sons” or Reed Birney in “Casa Valentina” to be reminded of the power of traditional theater. But “Here Lies Love” is proof that theater continues to be an extraordinarily dynamic art form.
ETHEL, from p.30
| June 12 - 25, 2014
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just an angry traitor, Julius is portrayed by Ari Butler as an intelligent, ardent idealist who gets carried away with his politics. Butler makes it perfectly plausible that Ethel would fall so deeply under Julius’ spell and stand by him. “It’s up to the intelligentsia of this country to blast the party in power,” insists Julius, sounding oddly like the malcontents in the current Tea Party movement. The supporting cast standout is Kevin Isola as the odious Roy Cohn, the closeted homosexual prosecutor who dooms the duo to the electric chair. Isola’s forceful delivery blows away anyone else on the stage. “I’d turn in my own mother if she were a Commie,” growls Cohn, and we have no reason to doubt him. To be sure, many of the ideas about American identity, fear -mongering, scapegoating, and media frenzy resonate just as potently today. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this challenging drama
Tracy Michailidis in the title role of “Ethel Sings,” at the Beckett Theatre through July 13.
with musical excursions is that it’s more than just a spy thriller or a slice of history. At its core, “Ethel Sings” is a love story. The play fearlessly reveals its pro-Ethel stance, suggesting she was guilty only of true love, not treason.
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Smart Operatic Heroines, Foolish Choices Aging queen, big-boned water nymph look for love in all the wrong places BY ELI JACOBSON
a proper sense of rhythmic structure and shaping. Given the last minute, thrown-together nature of the whole enterprise — it was announced just over a month ago — I suspect that rehearsal time was minimal. But we are forever grateful to Queler for bringing so many neglected operas and great singers like Devia before us year after year. Long may she reign.
The heroine of Rameau’s 1745 comédie-lyrique “Platée” RICHARD TERMINE
peratic heroines are always throwing themselves after unattainable men with tragic — or at least ridiculous — results. Donizetti’s elderly Elizabeth I and Rameau’s frog princess Platée play love’s game for high stakes but end up alone, rejected, and swearing revenge. The English queen jealously covets Roberto Devereux, earl of Essex, but knows his heart belongs to a younger woman. Though the tenor has the title role in “Roberto Devereux,” it is the soprano playing Elisabetta who runs away with the show — and so it was at Opera Orchestra’s concert performance at Carnegie Hall on June 5. Mariella Devia, never a glamorous or charismatic performer,
is 66 years old and never had the extensive and agile dramatic coloratura soprano Elisabetta ideally requires. But Devia is all about the music — no one in opera today better understands the architecture of a bel canto phrase. The core of her voice is miraculously steady, secure, and perfectly under her control. She can sculpt legato lines and fearlessly launch ornaments and trills with complete assurance. The fearsome chest register of a Leyla Gencer in the low declamatory sections was never Devia’s to command, and she now eschews the interpolated climactic high D’s and E’s that Beverly Sills gloried in during her heyday (though Devia concluded her final cabaletta “Quel sangue versato” with a strong sustained high D). But neither Sills nor Gencer sang so well in their 60s. Devia is the mistress of the “l’accento” — the instinctive ability to find the right emphasis,
Marcel Beekman in the travesti role of Platée in Les Arts Florissants’ recent production at Alice Tully Hall.
the rhythmic and verbal trigger to launch a musical phrase. This compensates for a lack of vocal thrust and weight. Devia’s mastery highlighted the cluelessness of the performers surrounding her. Tenor Stephen Costello was a bewildering cipher as the titular doomed boy toy. His tone is monochromatically pretty in the middle range but turns tight and bleaty above the passaggio. The climactic C in his prison aria was small and juiceless. Costello phrases mechanically with a blank hangdog expression, dead eyes, and a round-shouldered posture. He connects with no one onstage and only minimally with his character. Costello, however, at least is experienced in his role, which lyric baritone David Pershall as Nottingham and gifted mezzo Geraldine Chauvet as his wife Sara clearly were not. The nice-looking, pleasant-sounding Pershall was working phrase by phrase with no connection to the text, while Chauvet also had good notes but no sense of the longer line and was buried in her score. Their duets sounded like voice students sight-reading in music class. No one was helped by Eve Queler’s listless motoric beat; except for Devia, no one onstage displayed
is the victim of a cruel practical joke aimed at punishing Jupiter’s wife Juno for her jealousy. Deluded as to the extent of her personal charms, the hideous sea nymph is tricked into believing that the god Jupiter is in love with her. New York City Opera performed Rameau’s innovative comic masterpiece in 2000, importing Mark Morris’ cheekily delightful production with French tenor JeanPaul Fouchécourt triumphant in the travesti role of Platée. However, that production made huge musical cuts in the prologue and first act and lacked the virtuoso baroque ensemble this sophisticated opera needs. It is extremely fortunate that Les Arts Florissants, after staged performances in Vienna and Paris, performed the work complete in concert at Alice Tully Hall on April 2. Even without its founder-musical director William Christie on the podium — he was convalescing from heart surgery but made a spoken introduction to the show — New York audiences finally heard the full genius of Rameau’s witty orchestral writing. Tenor-turned-conductor Paul Agnew (a famous Platée of recent vintage) ably stepped in, eliciting incisive dramatic accents from an ensemble already rehearsed by Christie. Rameau’s orchestra is full of onomatopoeic sound painting effects ranging from the braying of a donkey to celestial choirs that comment on and often mock the onstage action. Agnew and the LAF ensemble landed all the musical jokes.
OPERA, continued on p.40
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
Literary Gala Remembers Work Left to Be Done Lambda book awards recognize the diversity and urgency of LGBT writing BY PAUL SCHINDLER
| June 12 - 25, 2014
ate Clinton, the wry and brainy comedian who is a tireless emcee for all sorts of LGBT community gatherings, set the tone right at the top of the June 2 Lambda Literary Awards. “Have you noticed some premature LGBT triumphalism out there?,” she asked, perhaps thinking of several recent books from New York Times writers that have suggested the battle for equal rights is won, or nearly so. Clinton then recalled that David France, the writer and filmmaker (“How to Survive a Plague”), told her about scouring the library at Kalamazoo College decades ago and finding only three gay books — one of them actually a book by Gay Talese. The comedian said that when people comment to her about the remarkable advance of LGBT rights, she tells them, “Well, it wasn’t so fast — we did a 45-year Kickstarter campaign.” The point of the lighthearted reins Clinton applied to our self-satisfaction was clear — “That’s why LGBT writers are so important.” That theme was reinforced throughout the evening at Cooper Union — by writers and publishers working to keep genres alive and encourage new types of work, by voices from communities little heard from until recent years, and by activists from around the globe. Veteran editor David Groff — in accepting the LGBT Anthology award for “Who’s Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners,” which he co-edited with Jim Elledge — noted that the anthology genre, dependent as it is on a multitude of contributors, “from the beginning has been essential to LGBT lives and literature.” Teresa DeCrezenzo presented the Dr. Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Awards — named for her late partner, a trailblazing psychotherapist and writer — to Charles Rice-Gonzalez and Imogen Binnie. Rice-Gonzalez, author of “Chulito,” said his writing has helped him “embrace my
Alison Bechdel accepts the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Literature.
Kate Bornstein speaks after receiving Lambda Lit’s Pioneer Award.
Bronx workingclassness, embrace my gay Latinoness.” Binnie, the author of “Nevada,” said the emerging body of transgender fiction encourages a “new level of realness” in telling people’s stories. The audience gave an especially warm welcome to Alison Bechdel, the renowned cartoonist, graphic novelist, and memoir writer, who received the Lambda Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Literature. The creator of the “Dykes to Watch Out For” comic series who won critical acclaim for her 2006 graphic memoir, “Fun Home,” recalled the shyness she felt coming to New York from Vermont in 1991 to accept her first Lammy, and said, “And now 23 later, I feel no less intimidated by all of you, I feel no less awkward, and no less grateful to be part of this.” When Bechdel, in turn, gave the LGBT Graphic Novel Award to Nicole J. Georges for “Calling Dr.
Laura: A Graphic Memoir,” Georges said, “I started crying when I heard Alison speaking. It is hard to be a graphic artist and a woman and a homosexual. When I was a kid and found a comic by a homosexual or by a weirdo or by a gender weirdo, it kept me alive in suburban Kansas.” Rigoberto Gonzalez, who won the Gay Poetry Award for “Unpeopled Eden,” was born in California and raised in Mexico. Dedicating the award to his father, who died in 2006 and like his mother did not know how to read or write and performed migrant work, Gonzalez said, “They made a conscious decision to make sure I was born in this country… I want to thank them for that.” Kate Bornstein, a performance artist and writer, whose books — from 1994’s “Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us” to 2012’s “A Queer and Pleasant
Danger: A Memoir” — are bedrocks of the transgender literary canon, spoke with colorful passion about the importance of the LGBT community celebrating the “terrific sex” it has and its “fabulous gender” expression, but also argued that more needs to be done to take on social and economic class issues. After acknowledging her battle with cancer, Bornstein said, “So I want to say this: Please watch out for each other, please watch each other’s backs.” Accepting the LGBT Children’s/ Young Adult Award for “Two Boys Kissing,” David Levithan talked about how, even with the unconditional love of his family, “I felt alone.” He explained simply, “Young people need to see themselves.” Chinelo Okparanta, who won in the Lesbian Fiction category for her novel “Happiness, Like Water,” underscored the international reach of LGBT literature. “I’m from Nigeria,” she told the crowd. “Thank you for promoting human rights.” In their remarks, Lambda Lit executive director Tony Valenzuela and board president S. Chris Shirley urged the audience to open up their wallets to support the group’s annual weeklong summer retreat for emerging writers, which has welcomed 250 fellows since it was launched in 2007. Last year, the group raised about $30,000 for scholarships for 33 of the 45 fellows, and it hopes to attract enough support to fund the expenses of all of its participants this year. For a complete list of the June 2 winners, visit lambdaliterary.org.
YA NOVEL MAKES PUBLISHING TRIANGLE HISTORY The annual Publishing Triangle Awards, held April 24 at the New School, saw a first — Sara Farizan grabbing awards in two categories for the same book. Her young adult novel, “If You Could Be Mine,” details the world of a lesbian teenager in Iran who considers gender-reassignment surgery. Farizan arrived, after a lengthy flight delay, and ran onto the stage just as her publisher was accepting the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction on her behalf. Much to her surprise, later in the evening she was also named winner of the Ferro-Grumley Award, the highest honor for fiction writers presented each year by the Publishing Triangle, an association for LGBT people in the publishing industry. Julia M. Allen won the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction for “Passionate Commitments: The Lives of Anna Rochester and Grace
Hutchins,” an account of two early 20th century pioneers who fought for gender and racial equality and economic justice. Charles Bondhus won the Thom Gunn Award for Poetry for “All the Heat We Could Carry.” Also honored during the evening was playwright María Irene Fornés, who was given the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement for her decades of work in the theater. The Publishing Triangle Leadership Award went to Sinister Wisdom, a multicultural lesbian literary and art quarterly that has published continuously since 1976, and which moved into book publishing, as well, in 2013. The complete list of winners is at publishingtriangle.org — Seth J. Bookey
A Party Where Everyone’s a Queen Monthly party in Brooklyn pulls out the community in all its diversity BY RYAN HOWE
GRACE CHU YAY
ive years ago, Avory Agony decided to change career paths after a tarot card reading at Short Mountain Sanctuary, a radical faerie retreat in the Tennessee woods. The New York native, who prefers to be referred to with the pronoun “they,” had been working as a union carpenter for six years when the job started to take its toll. Agony started hitting gay bars throughout the week, just to be surrounded by people in the LGBTQ community. As the economy tanked, jobs came in less and less for women in the union, Agony explained. “It was a really oppressive environment, and I found I was working with the city’s dark wizards that were doing construction,” Agony said. It was during that five-week vacation at Short Mountain Sanctuary that Agony learned more about the queer community and how to speak in “American Faggot” as well as to pee standing up. “After I had that crazy tarot card reading from a witch, I realized that I needed to be a leader in our community, and I started throwing gay dance parties,” Agony said. It was the start of “Hey Queen!” Agony launched “Hey Queen!,” a monthly queer party, with friend Scout Rose when they noticed that there wasn’t a scene where queers of all backgrounds were coming together in New York. After attending different parties that their friends hosted, they grew tired of seeing rooms filled with what seemed liked crowds of clones drinking together. The goal of “Hey Queen!” was to create a space that is truly mixed with people from different orientations, ethnicities, and genders, busting open the city’s segregated queer communities. “I’d go to these parties that my friends threw and there would be 300 white gay men, and aside from drag queens or entertainment I was the only person who was not a white gay guy,” Agony explained. Rose, who bartended at Sugarland in Williamsburg, pressed Agony to throw Friday parties at the bar. Agony had experience with venue booking, event planning, and political organizing from college, so together they hatched the first “Hey Queen!” event, in June 2009. Agony’s success in promoting the event and booking performers paid off, as 400 people spilled out of the small bar that first night. Since then, “Hey Queen!” hasn’t missed a month, except for Decembers when it takes a holiday hiatus each year. There have been many changes since that first event five years ago. Different crowds have come and gone, the party moved from Sugarland
“Hey, Queen!” has drawn a large and diverse crowd monthly over the past five years.
to the Littlefield Performance and Art Space in Gowanus, and a new co-producer, Sarah Jenny, joined the team. But one thing has remained constant: the party still focuses on bringing together a diverse group of queers to have a good time. On May 17, a large crowd was packed in front of the stage at the Littlefield, each of them with a hand stamp made up of five blocky, capital letters reading “QUEEN.” Co-producers Agony and Jenny stood on the stage with microphones in hand waiting for the crowd to settle down. “Queens, I need you to go to the back room and buy some raffle tickets to support sex workers here in New York,” Jenny announced as she pointed to the back of the room. “Performances will be starting soon. Welcome to ‘Hey Queen!’” Immediately after they walked off the stage, cockyboy Chris Harder walked out with a golden pizza box and started stripping to start the show. One thing the producers of “Hey Queen!” pride themselves on is paying queer performers who are on the road or need support. By never booking the same performance twice, they are able to increase the number of acts they can bring in. “A lot of people come out to these events not only for the very accepting atmosphere, but the wide range of performances we have,” Agony said. “We have anything from singers to dancers to strippers to DJs. It’s always something new and entertaining.” The welcoming vibe was the first thing Connor Donahue noticed. He first attended “Hey Queen!” before he was 21 as a background dancer for performers. Once he turned 21 and could get into the party without performing, he found the event a breath of fresh air where he could meet new people.
“It’s a comfortable place to be, but you can also have these incredibly deep conversations about radical politics,” Donahue said. “The people that come are incredibly open-minded, and I’ve met so many friends through the party.” Every month a Queen of Honor is recognized. Sometimes they are performers, other times they are political activists. Last month’s Queen of Honor was Janet Mock, the transgender journalist and author of “Redefining Realness.” It was also one of the party’s twice-a-year fundraising events, gathering more than $8,800 to support sex workers in the city. A June 28 party will benefit Sylvia’s Place, a homeless LGBTQ youth shelter run by the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. The fifth anniversary of “Hey Queen,” the party’s Queen of Honor will be musician Rye Rye. “We really try and stress giving back to our community,” Jenny said. “This year it just happened that both fundraising parties fell on consecutive months, and it’s been rough but it’s always worth it.” Jenny — who first got involved in helping produce “Hey Queen!” after Agony saw her perform a Madonna number that involved her pouring soy milk all over her body — explained she joined the team because of the contribution it makes to the queer community. On top of celebrating its five-year anniversary in June, “Hey Queen!,” for the second year in a row, is co-hosting a party, “Everybooty,” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Information on the June 27 event can be found at heyqueen.org. “’Hey Queen!’ will continue as long as people keep coming to the event,” Jenny said. “It’s a necessity for our community to have this outlet, and I think people realize that.” June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
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IN THE NOH
From the Continental to the Carlyle
Melissa Manchester sings iconic Bobby Short venue; David Burtka, Lisa O’Hare my “gets”
BY DAVID NOH
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inger-songwriter Melissa Manchester is making her Café Carlyle debut (through June 21; 744-1600 or rosewoodhotels. com/en/the-carlyle-new-york), and I grabbed the chance to chat with one of the artists from the 1970s who shone particularly brightly. I am forever grateful for her ravishing song “Midnight Blue,” which, on a cross-country drive from Los Angeles to New York at a period when radio music was especially inane, really saved my life. “I’m finally going to be at the Carlyle!” she enthused. “I’ve bounced around so many different venues in New York City, which is not just my home town but my heart’s town. I’ve played the Bitter End, Radio City, Carnegie Hall, B.B. King’s last season, and finally I’m here, where years ago I saw the one and only Bobby Short. It’s nice to be invited to hunker down and play for a couple of weeks. I’ll be doing my classics, some unexpected stuff, and also I have my 20th album coming out, called “You Gotta Love the Life.” Manchester had one of those lucky echt-New York upbringings. “My mother was a pioneer, one of first women to own her own manufacturing and design firm, called Ruth Manchester, Ltd. in the 1960s,” she said. “She was really the one who invented the wrap dress before Diane von Furstenburg. My father was a bassoonist for the Metropolitan Opera so my sister and I had a very interesting version of normal growing up — seeing Garland at the Palace and Merman in ‘Gypsy.’ “Everybody sang in my family to Sinatra and Garland records, and I usually sang the most unusual harmony because that’s where my ear would go. We moved to Manhattan when I was eight, and I went to the High School of Performing Arts, did theater, and then sang jingles, really squeezing it for all the juice it could offer.
Melissa Manchester, releasing her 20th album, makes her Café Carlyle debut through June 21.
“I was singing at a club called Focus, and Barry Manilow, whom I knew from singing jingles, brought Bette Midler, who was playing down the street at the Continental Baths, to see me one night. She had just done the Carson show and during my break Barry introduced us and she said she was preparing for her Carnegie Hall concert. I asked if she had any backup singers, and she took a beat and said, ‘Would you like to sing backup for me?’ I said, ‘Well, actually I would like to sing instead of you, but I’ll be happy to sing in back of you. And Barry and I created what were essentially the Harlettes. There was Gail Kanter and Merle Miller, and I was the toots in the middle — originally called the Red Light District, then MGM, and, finally, the Harlettes. “I was a Harlette for six months and played the Continental Baths only once. There were all these beautiful men sitting in the black light with white towels over their laps and I had been assured that if they weren’t pleased with the performance they’d throw their towels. I’ll never forget walking past a vending machine that only sold KY jelly and thinking, ‘Hmm, how curious!’ “New York was so filled with adventures then you could just stumble out of bed and something wondrous would happen. Sure, hard knocks, but there were incredible opportunities and the music scene was insane. It was a time of personal discovery with gay lib and women’s lib, a very rich, fertile time of people finding their voices. That energy was so reflected on popular radio, with new artists reshaping what pop music was, whether it was Sly and the Family Stone or Laura Nyro, who was my muse, and Joni Mitchell. Lyrics with poetry and psychology you’d never heard before that didn’t diminish the brilliant popular music we were raised with that came from Broadway, like Rodgers and
Hammerstein. You could palpably feel it moving forward in this beautiful way, in which you valued the strong melody even though rhythm was starting to lead the way.” Manchester has the distinction of being the only composer to have two Oscar-nominated songs in one year, 1979’s “The Promise” and “Through the Eyes of Love,” both of which she performed on the telecast: “That was very thrilling — my first Bob Mackie gown, walking down some very high stairs with no bannister in high heels, while singing. As for my Grammy [for 1982’s “You Should Hear How She Talks About You”], Donna Summer presented it to me. I’d been nominated a couple of times before, it’s all so much larger than your own life, and there I was, winning for a disco song used in aerobics classes, and I thought, ‘My word, this is wild!’” Manchester, who now lives in LA’s Sherman Oaks, described her songwriting process: “It’s simply the way life shows up for me. For others, it’s baking, cooking, or sewing, but it has always shown up in terms of a song form instead of poetry or journal entries. More and more, it became that other voice, so when things synthesize into an idea, I just let it rest. I know the way my mind works, I’m always sniffing around for an idea, and when I overhear somebody talking or read or hear a phrase, if I can’t shake it and it gloms onto my mind, then I pursue it. I don’t drive myself nuts with writing, but do enjoy it very much.”
Of all the countless theater award season events, my favorite is always the New Dramatists Luncheon (May 22), where stage luminaries show up faithfully to honor writers and are accessibly easy to talk to, not sequestered away in some exclusive VIP section. The big “get” for the paparazzi was Neil Patrick Harris, so when I noticed his very handsome and very talented spouse, David Burtka, whom I always admired onstage, being bypassed, I asked him if we’d ever see him in a New York play again. “I took some time off,” he smiled, “but am ready to get back into it. I can’t be doing a show when Neil’s doing one because we have to put our kids down. One of us has to — we can’t have nannies doing that. So, when he wraps his show in August… “I’ve been looking for a great project and am confident that something will come along. I took that time off from acting to see if that’s what I really want to do, and, yes, it’s exactly what I want to do. I became a chef, designed a clothing line for kids, and was in the hosting world for a while, so I wasn’t totally off the map.” Burtka made strong impressions in Edward
IN THE NOH, continued on p.38
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
BROKEN, from p.26
rights in this microcosm, where people’s views are in flux, evolving and changing in a very public way. GMK: The film shows how personal change becomes political. What can you say about making a gay rights film in the heartland? JS: There are, in many ways, two different Americas. There are states where LGBT rights are granted, but there are shocking oversights that we still have to realize are happening in the heartland. People who live in red state/ small town America — especially gay people — have a different experience entirely than folks in cities/ blue states, who take rights for granted. How can we as LGBT people mobilize in areas where it’s really needed? People shouldn’t have to move from their homes and families because they don’t have hospital visitation rights. That’s shocking to me as
FESTIVAL, from p.28
“Out in the Night” spends a lot of time talking with the four women and their families. Johnson had a knife because her brothers wanted her to be able to protect herself — she had been assaulted before. After bad experiences with the Newark police, she said, “I am never calling 911 ever again.” Mistrust of the authorities and self-reliance learned the hard way were very much in play that night. Hill, while in jail, wound up being treated for PTSD. The attack on that August night echoed a rape she suffered years before. “You become property of the state in prison,” she complains, pointing out that regulations even dictate her underwear | June 12 - 25, 2014
someone who lives in New York, but that’s the reality for these people on a daily basis. It is oppressive. GMK: You read Zack’s diary entries and show home movies of Zack to give him a voice and show viewers glimpses of what he was like. That must have been painful. How did you select what images and entries and how much of Zack to show? JS: The Harrington family was incredible, because once we gained their trust — we didn’t ask them for these things — they made a decision as a family. They could have not given us the diary or home video footage. It was really a gift. We went through his entire diary and picked out the relevant moments. It’s heartbreaking to read that material. We wanted Zack’s story to intersect with Nancy’s own coming out to the MOMs. We wanted there to be some synergy between Nancy’s journey and her son’s.
choice — boxers are out. Six years in prison meant losing precious time with her young son. For Johnson, time in prison is just “existing.” Activists and attorneys over the years have emphasized the injustice of what happened to the “New Jersey 4,” but “Out in the Night” succeeds primarily because of its focus on face time with the four women and their families. It is hard not to be moved to tears learning their stories — and not to hear in their voices their truth and their innocence.
BROKEN HEART LAND
BROKEN HEART LAND
Nancy Harrington and her husband, Van, campaign for an out gay City Council candidate.
Zack Harrington took his own life at 19 in 2010.
GMK: The election campaign is an interesting facet to the story. How did you come to tell this part of the story? JS: It just happened. We wanted to make a character -driven verite documentary. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. We wanted to make a film about this family and what they went through. Nancy became the protagonist, but we also wanted to make a film about this town. It started with this horrific town meeting and the seeds that were sown became the plot of the film. That became a microcosm of the
American political process. These were the same themes we were dealing with with Zach and his family. GMK: Nancy asks in the film, “How did I get to this place?” How did you get to the place where you became an activist filmmaker? JS: I don’t think of myself as an activist filmmaker at all, but I don’t think you can witness this story as it unfolds and not be moved by it. This film happens to lend itself to the political. There are aspects that resonate politically and it serves as a call to action.
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In a web extra at gaycitynews. com, Seth Bookey writes about Jennifer Kroot’s new documentary about George Takei, “To Be Takei.”
A Trial in Words and Music
Ensemble for the Romantic Century presents Oscar Wilde’s story, retold from two complementary artistic vantage points BY RYAN HOWE
THE TRIAL OF OSCAR WILDE Ensemble for the Romantic Century Peter Norton Symphony Space 2537 Broadway at 95th St. Jun. 19-20 at 8 p.m. Jun. 21 at 2 & 8 p.m. $46, $16 for students; symphonyspace.org
“I had barely started reading ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ before I had the audition,” Halling said. “After I landed the role, I really dug into researching him and his trials. I had to become this person.” The upcoming show, June 19-21 at Symphony Space, is a reworked version of a production first presented in 2009. The script, by James Melo, was compiled from Wilde’s writings and letters as well as transcripts from his three trials. But becoming Wilde is only one of
IN THE NOH, from p.36
Albee’s “The Play About the Baby” and “Gypsy,” as Tulsa, even though Ben Brantley didn’t even mention him in his Times review: “Ha ha! Yes, it was all about Bernadette [Peters], and thank God. She works so hard and what she did with that role was incredible. “I’m from Detroit originally, along with all these other actor friends who were in a big group called the Peanut Butter Players: Erin Dilly, Randy Becker, Danny Gurwin. Sutton Foster was my first kiss, and
I’ve known Celia Keenan-Bolger since she was seven. “‘The Play About the Baby’ was my first big break. I was doing commercials at the time and they asked me if I wanted to audition for a play. I worked on a monologue and didn’t know Albee was in the room, nailed my monologue, and got it the next day. Albee liked me and it was fun working with him, when he directed the Alley Theater production of it. As for the nudity, it wasn’t really that daunting to do it. I was so into the part. And I do my best work naked, you know!”
ENSEMBLE FOR THE ROMANTIC CENTURY
efore landing the lead role in “The Trial of Oscar Wilde,” Michael Halling didn’t know much about Wilde’s story or about his prosecution for “gross indecency” — that is, homosexual conduct. Halling had just begun reading Wilde’s plays when a friend suggested he audition for the role in the Ensemble for the Romantic Century’s retelling of this iconic story through a blend of drama and music.
Halling’s challenges. The ERC’s novel mixture of a staged theater production alongside a full length concert gives Halling an experience — and challenge — like he’s never had before. This is the second ERC show this season in a series focusing on the struggle of gay artists. The first explored Tchaikovsky’s life, and was created in response to the crackdown on LGBT people in Russia during the past several years. The ERC considered “The Trial of Oscar Wilde” a good follow-up and pulled the 2009 production from its archives. The performance weaves together chamber music from French and English composers, including Chausson, Satie, and Fauré, into a story line focusing on Wilde’s trials, subsequent imprisonment, his exile, and death. “This is a very unusual, exciting, and multilayered theatrical experience,” Halling said. “The relationship between the music and the script is a really neat way to show this story and keep it in historical context.” Keeping the relationship between the music and the play working in tandem so the audience gets the full experience of both is the challenge Melo, a musicologist as well as a writer, faced as he pieced together the show. When Melo first created the show for ERC’s 2009 series, he was aware of the need to mine Wilde’s original works to put together his own
Michael Halling plays the title role in Ensemble for the Romantic Century’s production of “The Trial of Oscar Wilde.”
storyline, while staying true to the historical context of a prosecution for gross indecency that ruined an artistic giant’s life. The process took time. Time to sift through Wilde’s large collection of published works and letters and to review transcripts from his trials. Time to find orchestra music from the era that Melo felt contributed to the story and that he also believed Wilde would enjoy. “It was a long process of finding material that fit with the storyline I wanted to portray,” Melo said. “Then I chose both French and English composers, because I feel like even though Wilde was English, he would have related to the French a little more.”
I encountered the luminous Lisa O’Hare from “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” who told me she didn’t watch its famous British film version, “Kind Hearts and Coronets. “Joan Greenwood’s per for mance, I know, is so specific that I knew if I watched it, it would be become a part of my perfor mance,” O’Hare told me. “Now that our performances are solidified, I will probably watch it now. I did read the novel, and my fabulous character is so beautifully described there. I’ve been work-
For this season’s resurrection of the show, Melo went back through the script and made small tweaks to more closely match this season’s theme. One of the main changes came in the ending, where Melo added an extra scene leading up to Wilde’s death. “It was a huge success when it premiered in 2009,” Melo said. “I think the audience will be captivated by the music and the script. It’s a timeless story, and for audiences to get a glimpse into the life of [Wilde’s] wit and harrowing story is spectacular.” Although Melo’s job is mostly done, director Don Sanders’ work has just begun. He has been with the ERC since 2005. In that time, he has fine-tuned his approach to works of this type. Still, he worries about the relative proportions of time given to the musicians and to the actors. “The Trials of Oscar Wilde” is barely over two hours, including an intermission. To fit a full play as well as a concert into that amount of time could be a struggle, but Sanders said he finds ways to keep the parameters of each in tune with the other. The actors are always on stage, moving and acting as the orchestra plays their pieces, and the orchestra provides background music for some of the scenes. “It’s a beautiful, unique piece that we are presenting,” Sanders said. “I hope that Oscar Wilde would watch this and say, ‘This is great.’”
ing on this show for five years, through the productions in Hartford and San Diego. Its been a long journey, but I fell in love with this character, and I’m so grateful that I stuck with the show and they stuck with me!” In a web extra at gaycitynews. com, David Noh speaks to William Ivey Long and John Cullum at the New Dramatists Luncheon. Contact Noh at Inthenoh@aol.com, follow him on Twitter @in_the_noh, and check out his blog at http://nohway. wordpress.com/.
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
Yves of (Self) Destruction — and Genius Jalil Lespert’s biopic brings a fashion king to life, and ironically says goodbye BY DAVID NOH
ix years after his death, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent continues to be a name to be reckoned with, via his still extant, blazingly successful company as well as the countless designers and collections that have been inspired by his pioneering work.
YVES SAINT LAURENT
With his style innovations like the 1960s Mondrian dress, safari jackets, “le smoking” tuxedos for women, his Russian peasant look, and his Chinoiserie, the man simply dominated the second half of the last century. Now director Jalil Lespert has made a breathtakingly elegant and touching film about him, titled simply “Yves Saint Laurent.” The focus is not just on Saint Laurent, but also his lifetime lover and business partner, Pierre Bergé, who met the shy young prodigy in 1958 and helped him plot his fashion takeover of the world, even while dealing with the designer’s neurotic, too-sensitive-to-live genius that was beset by self-destructive addictions to sex, drugs, and alcohol. Fashion, though a visual art, has traditionally been difficult to accurately capture on film. For every dazzling “Funny Face” or informative “Unzipped,” there’s something like Robert Altman’s abysmal “Prêtà-Porter.” “I had this desire to tell not only a great story, but a very big French story with a lot of breadth,” Lespert told me. “I myself love fashion and have a lot of friends in the business, so I live it every day. I grew up in Paris so it’s something very natural — fashion and me — and I wanted to tell the story. “I love Robert Altman and I did not see ‘Pret-a-Porter’ because I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed by | June 12 - 25, 2014
THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
Direct by Jalil Lespert The Weinstein Company Opens Jun. 25 Film Forum 209 W. Houston St. filmforum.org
Pierre Niney and Charlotte Le Bon in Jalil Lespert’s “Yves Saint Laurent.”
his work. I wanted to be independent, but it was very important to work with Saint Laurent’s family, by that I mean Pierre Bergé and the Saint Laurent Foundation. It had to be a close collaboration, first to be able to shoot the dresses, and especially to show all the work that went into them. I wanted my actor to meet Saint Laurent’s intimates like Betty Catroux and to be able to go through the foundation and be coached on how the drawing was done, how materials should be touched, so he would have a clear idea about that.” The actor in question is Pierre Niney, who is not only the perfect etiolated, equine physical match-up to the real Saint Laurent but, I dare say, a spiritual match, as well. “I know so many actors but don’t like to have auditions,” Lespert said. “I know almost everybody in Paris and they told me that there’s this new genius at the ComédieFrançaise. I saw pictures of him, which were close to Yves, and also saw the same natural elegance there. I then saw his audition film for another film and felt that he was also very smart, funny, and had this kind of impertinence that Yves had in life, so he maybe had something of his soul, also.
“We met and after maybe 30 seconds, I realized that he was my Yves and asked him to make a photo shoot dressed as Yves at the end of the 1960s. Then I was definitely sure and showed the pictures to my producers because nobody knew him before. I told them that they did not need to have a great star but a great actor and the star was the movie about Yves. So now this movie has made him a star and he’s quite famous in France, and I’m quite proud of that. “We worked five months before shooting, not only rehearsals, but with all the actors. Pierre Niney worked a lot alone on his voice because the voice was very important. I didn’t want to just make an imitation, and the voice of Saint Laurent was really specific. It said a lot about his shyness and, of course, his friends because he was like a king, like the little prince. I really wanted Niney to actually draw everything, which he did, and be able to improvise talking about materials and dresses. He worked a lot with a teacher/ designer from the Chambre Syndicale.” Almost as famous as Saint Laurent in his glittering heyday was his entourage, which consisted of Catroux, his muse, as well as his
design collaborator, the late Loulou de la Falaise. The chicest woman who ever existed, I met de la Falaise one special night at the Studio 54 after-party for the launch of the perfume Opium. I was wearing a Castelbajac jumpsuit and a head rag and I guess my style attracted her, because in the balcony of the club she came over to me and, having escaped Yves and company, who were downstairs whooping it up with Halston and his entourage, we hung out for a few enchanted hours. She described their design process, which was fairly simple (“Every season, Yves and I have to come up with a new blouse and skirt combination”), as well as her remarkable lineage, as the niece of the Marquis Henri de la Falaise, who had married stylish movie stars Gloria Swanson and Constance Bennett (“zat bitch”). I told Lespert how happy I was he included de la Falaise in his film. “I have a friend who’s a very close friend of Bergé and when he saw that actress, and even the actor who played her husband, Thadee Klossowski, he was very moved by them and said, ‘Ohmigod, they are so close, it’s incredible!,’ and
SAINT LAURENT, continued on p.40
SAINT LAURENT, from p.39
OPERA, from p.32
As Platée, Marcel Beekman was decked out in fashion victim drag — orange halter evening dress and open-toed pumps — designed for the Robert Carsen production. His singing was uninhibited and comically inflected but blunt and unsubtle — more a buffo character tenor than a refined haut-contre, a unique high French baroque tenor with a heady mixed high register.
THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
we were quite happy it went so well,” Lespert recalled. “Unfortunately, I never met her or Yves, but I have met Betty Catroux. Today, she’s really free in her mind and she’s kind of a rebel. It’s funny because she and Bergé fought so much, as Pierre was against her and Yves for doing so many naughty things together. And now that Yves is no longer there, they are always together, very best friends, a real little couple, and it’s very moving to meet them now. And they still live for Yves. “Pierre was very moved by the film, especially by Pierre Niney. He said to him, ‘You’re an amazing actor, and I don’t know how you did it but you are Yves!’ And he said to me, quite mysteriously, but I think I understood, ‘This is it. It’s done. Yves left a few years ago and it was too soon to do a movie before this one. But this tells me that it’s finished. Yves is gone.’ That was a very moving moment for me.” That other fashion king Karl Lagerfeld also appears in the film. He and Saint Laurent were friends in their youth and lifelong rival designers and, even after Yves’ death, Lagerfeld and Bergé maintain a touchy relationship, which I personally witnessed one night in Paris. I was sitting in the popular bistro, Café de Flore, when I saw Bergé walk in. Later, I heard that Lagerfeld was outside, waiting in his car for Bergé to leave before he would set foot in the restaurant, and sure enough, when he left, Karl made his entrance. It was like witnessing the procession of two kings. In the movie, Nikolai Kinski plays Lagerfeld as a surprisingly sexy young satyr, who came up in the style ranks with Saint Laurent but was also tougher and more commercially minded, a true survivor. “Yes, he was exactly the opposite,” Lespert agreed. “It’s so weird that they were once such friends and incredible that nobody knew it except people from fashion. I really wanted you to be able see Karl, as I have a lot of respect for him. I don’t know if he’s seen the film, but friends of his told me that the day we opened, someone he knows saw the movie and called him to say, ‘You don’t have to worry. It’s a great movie and your character is great.’” In the film it’s suggested that, in their youth, Saint Laurent and Lagerfeld shared a bed, and,
Director Jalil Lespert on the set of “Yves Saint Laurent.”
far more explicitly, a man, the devastating party boy/ homme fatale Jacques de Bascher, who became the great love of Lagerfeld’s life and died of AIDS. “Yeah, I found out everything about him,” Lespert said. “I really wanted to talk about Yves’ genius through his activities, which had some danger to them, and it’s a real story so I had to talk about Jacques. The actor who plays him, Xavier Lafitte, is not famous in France, but a great actor, coming from the theater.” With a subtle, piercingly beautiful music score by Ibrahim Maalouf and restrained cinematography by Thomas Hardmeier, Lespert managed to capture the outrageous opulence of Saint Laurent’s world with a budget he claims was only “7.8 million euros, which is not so much. So we worked hard to make it beautiful, and I have to say my own team and, of course, Hardmeier were amazing. That factor was very important for me, and for Yves in particular. His universe was so beautiful and elegant that I really wanted to be able to talk about that to understand a little bit about what was beautiful in his world. I’m not sure I completely achieved it, but I did my best. “We shot for 40 days — a very short schedule — but we got to film in Saint Laurent’s actual home in Marrakesh. We recreated everything else, except the last catwalk show, which was in the real place, showing all of his collections
Typecast as La Folie, Simone Kermes per formed in her own inimitable style — a mix of Nina Hagen, Lady Gaga, and Diamanda Galás — while singing like Emma Kirkby on crack. Sporting a leg-baring brocade mini-dress with panniers, Kermes played to the crowd, voguing during roulades and pumping her arms to encourage applause. Her singing was straight-toned with fleeting inaccuracies and anachronis-
together. “We were a huge success, which we didn’t expect so much. We were very happy, of course, but I had been afraid that it was too Parisian a topic and didn’t know if the middle class would like it so much. I tried to make the least snobbish movie about such a genius so he should be known by everybody.” I wanted to know what Lespert’s takeaway feeling about Saint Laurent was. “Well, I think he was a genius, the kind of person who had such a sharp vision of life that living it was very difficult for him,” he said. “He was impossibly sensitive, completely addicted to work, drugs, sex, everything. But he had to go through all those things, otherwise life was too boring for him. Unfortunately he burned himself like that but he had to do that to be a genius and create so many extraordinary things. I tried to understand him and not judge that. “Pierre’s story was also fascinating to me. How could he live with such man? Of course, he’s a very smart person, tough, a fighter, but also a lover. Being in love with such a huge character was difficult, certainly, and that’s the only question I asked him: ‘How did you do it, to live this love story and support him?’ And he told me, ‘Well, I never stopped admiring Yves Saint Laurent. I met so many smart people in my life but he was the smartest guy I ever met. A genius, amazing, every day was a new world, so I never stopped being fascinated by him. But of course it was difficult.’ “Their love story was also the best way for me to talk about this genius and try to get close to him without burning myself. When you make a movie about such a genius like Saint Laurent, Jimi Hendrix, Rimbaud, or any artist, you cannot just shoot how they dress or draw or write. It’s boring after a while. You have to tell a story and for me, Miloš Forman’s ‘Amadeus’ helped me very much because he talked about Mozart through Salieri, which was very smart. In my movie, Bergé is like Salieri, so you can identify with him. I’m not a genius like Saint Laurent but I could identify myself with Bergé. In this way, you maybe understand a little bit about Saint Laurent, but there is always a part you cannot understand. It is too mysterious, and it has to stay like that.”
tic interpolated altissimo notes that sounded like wolf whistles. Though Kermes’ look and attitude have pretensions to hipness, musically this was anything but HIP (historically informed practice). Like Beekman’s vocal mugging, this approach could be defended as suitable for the character if not Rameau’s refined style. Matinee idol handsome Edwin Crossley-Mercer as Jupiter
impressed me with his sonorous operatic bass-baritone. Veteran LAF tenor Cyril Auvity and baritone Marc Mauillon were a sniggering pair of malicious conspirators, while Emmanuelle de Negri sang brightly as L’Amour and Clarine. In a web extra at gaycitynews. com, read about Juilliard’s student production of Massenet’s “Cendrillon,” where the heroine actually does manage to land her prince.
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
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adapted in chamber form by Murry Sidlin in 1987. Under the direction of Samuel McCoy, and starring soprano Joanie Brittingham, tenor Chad Kranak, mezzo-soprano Leonarda Priore, baritone Peter Kendall Clark, and bass Steven Fredericks the Chelsea Opera company performs the chamber version on Jun. 13, 7 p.m. and Jun. 14, 4 p.m. at St. Peter’s Church, 346 W. 20th St. Tickets are $30-$35, $20 for students & seniors at ChelseaOpera.org or 866-811-4111; or $40$45 and $25 at the door.
PERFORMANCE Recognizing a Legend
Broadway and cabaret stars come together to celebrate the career of Babs in “Simply Streisand.” Songs from “Funny Girl,” “The Way We Were,” “A Star is Born,” “Yentl,” and her more than 45 best-selling albums will be accompanied by a threepiece band, with narration full of special bits of Streisand lore from 54 Below’s own Phil Geoffrey Bond. 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Jun. 15, 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $30-$40 at 54below.com, and there’s a $25 food & drink minimum.
Klezbing with Dad
Isle of Klezbos, a soulful female-fueled sextet, brings rollicking irreverence as well as respect to a wide array of musical genres, from neo-traditional folkdance to Yiddish swing to tango to forgotten gems and genre-exploding originals. Celebrate Father’s Day with brunch and live music. City Winery, 155 Varick St. at Vandam St. Jun. 15, 11 a.m. Tickets are $10; free for kids under 13 at citywinery.com or 212608-0555.
JUNE 16: The Trevor Project honors Tyler Oakley.
CHITRA GANESH/ LESLIE-LOHMAN MUSEUM OF GAY + LESBIAN ART
The Party Arrives in Brooklyn
GALLERY Body Language
“After Our Bodies Meet: From Resistance to Potentiality,” curated by Alexis Heller, traces the efforts of contemporary queer artists within the legacy of early feminist art. By bridging historic and contemporary endeavors, the exhibition not only aims to honor the pioneers of gender-conscious art, including Chitra Ganesh’s “Atlas,” but also highlights the evolution of feminist thought within artistic representations of queer bodies — including some that question the gender binary on which feminism was first conceived. Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay + Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. Through Aug. 3, Tue.-Wed., Fri-Sun., noon-6p.m.; Thu., noon—8 p.m. On Jun.
12, 6 p.m. the All Out Arts Fresh Fruit Festival and the Sarah Lawrence Women’s History Graduate Program bring four award winning women writers — Yalani Dream, Sham-e Ali Nayeem, Shye Sales, and Susan Sherman — to read and talk about women’s bodies. Free. More information at leslielohman.org.
GALLERY Paint, Pixels, and Latex If Charles Schultz, Harvey Kurtzman, George Grosz, John Severin, and William Blake got together for one night of earth-shattering sex, the result would be Shane Velazquez. “It Had to be Done: The Antic Arts of Shane Velazquez” is a darkly sexual exploration of the social and political forces that underlie modern society as seen through his eyes, using illustration, paint, and digital pixels, with some light latex thrown in. Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay + Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. Jun.13-15 & 17, noon-6 p.m. Opening reception, Jun. 13, 6-8 p.m. More information at leslielohman. org.
OPERA Copland’s Tender America
Aaron Copland’s “The Tender Land,” a slice of Americana set in 1930s rural Midwest and conceived as a kind of folk opera, premiered 60 years ago. The opera, which tells the story of two handsome drifters who arrive at an isolated farm seeking work, where a teenage daughter of the family falls in love with one of them, was
Brooklyn Pride kicks off at 10 a.m. on Jun. 14, with a 5k run in Prospect Park, starting near Bartel-Pritchard Sq. entrance to the park at 15th St. & Prospect Park W. Registration is $30 at brooklynpride.org or $35 on the day of the run. Nearby, on Park Slope’s Fifth Ave., btwn. Third & Ninth Sts., the annual street festival runs from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. At twilight, the city’s only evening Pride Parade begins at Fifth Ave. at Lincoln Pl. and proceeds south. The grand marshals this year are out gay City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who represents Sunset Park and Red Hook, Public Advocate Tish James, and Borough President Eric Adams. For more information, visit brooklynpride.org.
GALLERY Art History 101
Visit seven art galleries with exhibits focused on the LGBT community. The tour includes Andy Warhol’s “Piss Paintings,” a lesbian Cuban artist’s nipple sculptures, and Keith Haring’s homoerotic graffiti. The tour kicks off from 526 W. 26th St. on Jun. 14, 1 p.m. For more information and ticket $20, visit nygallerytours.com.
AT THE BEACH Shopping on Saturday
The Fire Island Pines Art Project and Fund in the Sun celebrate their sixth year of Shopping on Saturday, which brings together the best Seventh Avenue designer bargains you could ever expect to find at the beach. Proceeds will support worthy causes selected by FIPAP and Fund in the Sun. Whyte Hall, Fire Island Pines. Jun. 14, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. VIP tickets at $50 get you in early and give you access to an open bar, a personal shopper, and a swag bag. General admission, beginning at 1 p.m., is free. More information at fipap.org.
ADVOCACY Sykes Takes the Mic to Honor Advocates
The Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people ages 13-24, hosts its annual benefit gala, TrevorLIVE, this year hosted by comedian Wanda Sykes. The evening recognizes Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington with its Hero Award, Goldman Sachs with its 20/ 20 Visionary Award, and YouTuber Tyler Oakley with the Trevor Youth Innovator Award. Adam Shankman (“Rock of Ages,” “Hairspray”) directs the show. Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway at 45th St. Jun. 16, 6 p.m. cocktails, 8 p.m. dinner & show. Tickets beginner at $500 at thetrevorproject.org.
PERFORMANCE Over the Rainbow?
The fourth annual “Night of a Thousand Judys” honors the iconic Judy Garland and celebrates the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz.” Hosted by Justin Sayre, the concert, benefiting the Ali Forney Center, which provides housing and social services to LGBT homeless youth, includes special skits, tributes, and songs from her career as movie star, recording artist, and stage performer. Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Center, 129 West 67th St. Jun. 16, 6:30 p.m. VIP reception; 8 p.m. performance. Tickets are $30-$100 at aliforneycenter.org/ judys.
CABARET Lynch Goes Solo
Fresh from her iconic portrayal of Sue Sylvester on “Glee” and her Broadway debut in “Annie,” Jane Lynch brings her solo concert to 54 Below. The Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner perform her concert for
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four nights in June. 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Jun. 18-19, 7 p.m.; Jun. 20-21, 8 p.m. Tickets are $75-$85 at 54below.com, and there’s a $25 food & beverage minimum.
The Lady Is a Camp
One of New York’s most beloved drag performers is back with “Clown Syndrome,” an all-new show of song, “dance,” and all the raunchy humor that has made Lady Bunny a popular entertainer for three decades. Expect oodles of new song parodies, from crass to clever, as the songstress re-works hits by artists as diverse as Prince, Adele, Katy Perry, Daft Punk, Bobbie Gentry, and even Frank Sinatra. Escuelita Night Club, 301 W. 39th St. Jun. 18 & 25, 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 at brownpapertickets.com/ event/629583 or at the door.
PRIDE The City Council Honors LGBT Achievement
KEITH ALLISON/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
The Stonewall Community Foundation, which supports LGBT groups throughout New York City, hosts its annual Vision Awards. This year’s honorees include NBA out gay pioneer Jason Collins, who now plays with the Brooklyn Nets, transgender writer, journalist, and activist Janet Mock, fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, filmmaker | June 12 - 25, 2014
BOOKS Director, Author, and a Lesbian Literata
“Careening with Pride” brings together three LGBT artistic luminaries —writer, director, and actor Kevin R. Free, David Pratt, a Lambda award winning author, and Jennifer Levin, who has been dubbed part of the “lesbian literati”, a term she has never really figured out. All three read excerpts from their work. KGB Bar, 85 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Jun. 19, 7 p.m. Free.
HIV & Sexual Culture
Leslie L. Smith reads from his new book “Sally Field Can Play the Transsexual” about his life as an HIV-positive man and his thoughts on contemporary gay culture. Smith explores his own experiences and his new book and opens a dialog about what’s happening today with regard to sexual responsibility and condoms. Brooklyn Community Pride Center, 4 Metrotech Ctr., near Willoughby & Gold Sts. Jun. 19, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Free. More information at lgbtbrooklyn.org.
Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the six gay and lesbian members of the City Council host the 2014 Pride Celebration, honoring Jason Collins, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets and is the NBA’s first out gay player; Paul del Duca, chief of staff to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.; Bianey Garcia, who left Mexico at 14 to escape transphobia and now works as the LGBTQ justice organizer at Make the Road NY; education activist Christine Marinoni; Robert Pinter, who in 2008 blew the whistle on the false arrests of gay men in Manhattan adult video stores; Allen Roskoff, a longtime gay rights activist who is president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club; and David Rothenberg, who in 1967 founded the Fortune Society, which provides services and advocacy for formerly incarcerated people, and in 1985 was the first openly gay candidate for the City Council. Cuban-American stage actress Carmelita Tropicana emcees the awards. The Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7 E. Seventh St. at Third Ave. Jun. 18, 5:30 p.m. (doors open at 4:30). For more information, contact Aolavarria@council.nyc.gov.
ADVOCACY Supporting the City that Gave the World Stonewall
Lee Daniels, and Marita Begley, the artistic director of the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Marching Band. Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Ave. at 103rd St. Jun. 19, 7 p.m. cocktails & dinner. Tickets are $250 at showclix.com/event/3824698.
Sugar Cane Gothic
Lois Walden reads from her new novel “Afterworld,” which tells the story of four generations of the Duvalier family for whom sugar cane is both their blessing and their curse. Their story is rich, tragic, and funny, and it steams and heaves with sugar, sex, drink, deviance, and depravity. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division, 83A Hester St., btwn. Orchard & Allen Sts. Jun. 19, 7-9 p.m. More information at email@example.com.
Best Bi Buy
launch of the second edition of Max Schnuer‘s “Estuaries #1,” a hand-crafted comic book about the Staten Island Farm Colony, a former poorhouse that’s now a complex of ruins in New York City’s “forgotten borough.” Bureau of General Services — Queer Division, 83A Hester St., btwn. Orchard & Allen Sts. Jun. 20, 7 p.m. More information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sheela Lambert, editor of “Best Bi Short Stories: Bisexual Fiction,” will be joined by some of the book’s contributors in an evening of readings. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division, 83A Hester St., btwn. Orchard & Allen Sts. Jun. 21, 7 p.m. More information at email@example.com.
AT THE BEACH A Grand Tour
PERFORMANCE No Cover
Lauren Molina (“Marry Me a Little,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Rock of Ages”) and Nick Cearley (“All Shook Up”) became YouTube sensations when they burst on the nightlife scene as the Skivvies, an undie-rock, comedy-pop duo. They don’t just strip down their musical arrangements, they literally strip down to their underwear to perform their distinctive mashups and eccentric originals for cello and ukulele, with touches of glockenspiel, melodica, and a surprising array of under-used instruments. 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Jun. 20, Jul. 26, 11 p.m.; Jul. 1, 9:30 p.m. Actually, there is a cover — $30-$40 at 54below.com — and there’s a $25 food & drink minimum.
OUTDOORS A Scenic Ride
New York’s LGBT Sundance club offers a challenging 39-mile panoramic bicycle ride featuring Hudson River vistas, some hills, free healthy snacks, and friendly pacing. The ride kicks off from Cabrini Blvd. at West 178th St. Jun. 21, 9:45 a.m. Free. For more information and early registration, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
BOOKS Brave & Playful
NIGHTLIFE Back to the Ball
The Hamilton Lodge is connecting back to its roots with a weekly queer gathering reminiscent of the “balls” during the Harlem Renaissance when the gay community came together in extravagantly colorful celebrations of their sexuality. The parties, every Thu., 6-11 p.m., offer $5 drink specials and an open space to meet new people. Red Room Lounge, 1 Bennett Ave. at 181st St., Inwood. Free.
In celebration of Pride in New York, Papercut Press brings together five queer artists who are bucking the system and creating their own ways to share their stories and art. “Cut the Haters” marks the
Taking audiences from 1915 to 2014, this year the critically acclaimed “Broadway by the Year Series” has offered 100 years of Broadway history, showcasing 100 tunes from 100 shows performed by 100 stars. The season’s final installment, created, written, and hosted by Scott Siegel, highlights the years 1990 – 2014 and includes songs from “Young Frankenstein,” “Avenue Q,” “The Book of Mormon,” and “The Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder.” Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St. Jun. 23, 8 p.m. Tickets are $47 and $57 at ticketmaster.com.
PRIDE A Mouthful of Pride
BOOKS Queers and Comics
PERFORMANCE That’s a Wrap
BOOKS Hear Their Voices
FILM Exposing Jamaica
New York resident and native Jamaican Selena Blake has dedicated the past six years to capturing on film the pervasive anti-homosexual climate in Jamaica, as well as the life experiences of those whom have been victimized due to their sexual orientation. Blake screen her documentary, “Taboo...Yardies,” followed by a Q&. Brooklyn Community Pride Center, 4 Metrotech, near Willoughby & Gold Sts. Jun. 20, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Free. More information at lgbtbrooklyn.org
The Bromley Caldari House Tour Two shows off six Fire Island Pines homes that have to be seen to be believed. Get a tour of gorgeous homes and end the tour at 519 Porgie Walk for “Margaritas from Hell.” Proceeds benefit the Whyte Hall operating fund. Jun 21, noon – 3 p.m. on the Fire Island Pines. Tickets are $30 at fipap.org.
The LGBT Community Center kicks off Pride Week in Manhattan with tastings from dozens of New York’s premier restaurants at Garden Party 31: A Taste of Pride. The silent auction’s proceeds support the Center’s programs and services. Hudson River Park’s Pier 84 at W. 10th St. Jun. 23, 6 – 10 p.m. Tickets are $99 at gaycenter.org/gardenparty.
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA PRESS
Gay City News columnist Kelly Cogswell reads from “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger” at Bluestockings. Writing in Gay City News, Beth Stroud said, ‘Eating Fire’ is a sometimes entertaining, sometimes painful read [that] recounts an important chapter in queer history along with some useful principles of direct action: it’s good to be brave, it’s all right to be silly and playful, it takes a lot of work and planning, you will fight with the people with whom you take risks, and you will also love them with a great tenderness.” Bluestockings, 172 Allen St., btwn. Stanton & Rivington Sts. Jun. 21, 7 p.m. More information at bluestockings.com.
NY Writers Coalition, a community-based writing organization that provides free creative writing workshops throughout the city, hosts readings exposing its participants to larger audience. For Pride Month, the group features poet and playwright Joan Larkin and celebrates the official book launch of “Still Practicing: Poetry & Prose from SAGE.” Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders, 305 Seventh Ave. at 27th St., 15th fl. Jun. 25, 7-9 p.m. Free, with light refreshments served.
PERFORMANCE Magic Meets Music
Gregory Dubin presents “Mystique Boutique: An Evening of Mind Bending Magic, Enchanting Music & Other Acts.” Dubin, aka Dubini, performs classic magic with his own modern twist, while composer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Dallow sets the mood with his Mystique Boutique House Band. Red Room, 85 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Jun. 25, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 at mystiqueboutique. eventbrite.com, and there’s a $25 food & drink minimum.
June 12 - 25, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com