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Plan to End AIDS Absent in Cuomo State of the State 08-09



S HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AI V/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS D ARE YOU POSITIVE (+)? AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS S S V/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. flurry of marriage developments, HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS Amidst HIV/A SCOTUS decision heralds likely end game IDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/ 04-05 People living with HIV/AIDS are protected by the New York State Human Rights Law. Discrimination based on your HIV status is against the law. Take action. Contact the New York State Division of Human Rights. 1-888-392-3644 or WWW.DHR.NY.GOV.



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As Marriages Begin in Florida, Flurry of Legal Developments Elsewhere On eve of Supreme Court announcing review of Sixth Circuit cases, victory for Michigan couples who wed BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD




lorida, the nation’s third largest state, became the 36th marriage equality state after the stay on a pro-gay federal district court order expired on January 6. But that was just the first of 10 days of significant developments in the marriage fight nationwide — culminating in the Supreme Court’s decision to take up appeals of October's Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning gay marriage victories in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky (see page 5). During those 10 days, other federal courts issued a new round of pro-equality decisions, some placing new states in play. On January 8 in Atlanta, US District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr., refused to dismiss outright a Georgia marriage equality suit brought by Lambda Legal and local attorneys on behalf of six samesex couples, some aiming to marry and others seeking recognition for out-of-state marriages. The state is vigorously defending its constitutional and statutory ban, and Duffey accepted some of its arguments, dismissing part of the lawsuit, but concluded the plaintiffs are entitled to proceed on a narrow equal protection theory. The plaintiffs raised due process and equal protection challenges under the 14th Amendment, arguing the ban violates their fundamental right to marry and discriminates against them because of their gender, gender stereotypes, and sexual orientation. The state’s first line of defense was to argue that a 1972 Supreme Court decision that a challenge to Minnesota’s ban on same-sex marriage failed to raise a “substantial federal question” obliged Duffey to dismiss the case. Like most other federal judges who have faced this argument, Duffey concluded that “doctrinal developments” in the Supreme Court — most significantly its failure to even mention the 1972 case in its 2013 Defense of Marriage Act ruling — meant he was not precluded from ruling on

the merits. He rejected, however, the plaintiffs’ argument that a fundamental right was at issue, accepting the state’s position that all Supreme Court precedents concerning the right to marry involved differ ent-sex couples. Duffey then turned to the plaintiffs’ equal protection arguments and concluded the ban does not discriminate because of sex, since both men and women are equally forbidden to marry same-sex partners, and he did not accept the plaintiffs’ argument the ban improperly perpetuates gender stereotypes. Instead, he focused on the claim that Georgia discriminates based on sexual orientation, and concluded that the state must merely demonstrate a rational justification in order to defend its ban — setting as low a legal bar as possible for sustaining the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Still, in reviewing the state’s argument that it has a legitimate interest in “encouraging the raising of children in homes consisting of a married mother and father; ensuring legal frameworks for protection of children of relationships where unintentional reproduction is possible; ensuring adequate reproduction; fostering a child-centric marriage culture that encourages parents to subordinate their own interests to the needs of their children; and exercising prudence before departing from the traditional definition of marriage,” Duffey said those rationales are merely “conclusory assertions” that “are not supported by specific facts.” The state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, he complained, “does not address how Georgia’s asserted interests in child welfare and procreation are advanced by the State’s prohibition on same-sex marriages, and the State’s refusal to recognize lawful marriages performed in other States.” The plaintiffs challenged the ban’s rational basis by showing actual harms to the welfare of children raised by same-sex couples in denying marriage to their parents, and arguing “that the exclusion does not offer a conceiv-

The original marriage plaintiffs in Michigan, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, with their children, Nolan, Jacob, Rylee, and Ryanne.

able benefit to children of opposite-sex couples.” “At this stage of the proceedings,” wrote Duffey, “the Court is required to accept these facts as true and consider the allegations in the Amended Complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs.” The opinion’s language suggests that Duffey came to his conclusion grudgingly but that the state’s failure to present a factual defense was too glaring to ignore.

The following day, January 9, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in New Orleans on three marriage equality appeals. Plaintiffs were appealing an adverse ruling by the federal court in Louisiana, while Texas and Mississippi were appealing marriage equality rulings in those states. The panel included two elderly judges appointed by President Ronald Reagan and only one named to the court by Barack Obama, and so was expected to pose a challenge to the marriage plaintiffs. But Patrick Higginbotham, one of the Reagan appointees, has emerged as a libertarian on social issues, and he actively and skeptically questioned lawyers representing the three states. The other Reagan appointee, Jerry Smith, harped on the 1972 precedent, saying the Supreme

Court “has already decided this case” — an argument that was successful in November when Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky appealed marriage equality rulings to the Sixth Circuit, but failed before the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, and 10th Circuits earlier last year. The Obama appointee on the panel, James Graves, was clearly dismissive of the 1972 precedent, as was Higginbotham, and both focused in on the same point that concerned Judge Duffey in Atlanta — that the “justifications” presented in defense of marriage bans never grappled with the question of how they actually advanced a state’s interests. The opposing attorneys in the arguments largely talked past each other. The states’ lawyers argued, essentially, that marriage was devised as a mechanism to channel procreation into stable families, and that since same-sex couples could not procreate the state had no reason to let them marry. Plaintiff attorneys, by contrast, pointed out, as the Supreme Court had in the DOMA case, that same-sex couples are raising children and so, to the extent the state’s concerns focus on children’s welfare, there is no benefit to denying their parents


MARRIAGE, continued on p.34

January 22 - February 04, 2015 |


Supreme Court Decision Heralds Likely End Game Review of Sixth Circuit decision overturning gay marriage wins could settle question by June



n the opening act of what could well be the end game, the US Supreme Court announced on January 16 that it was granting review of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that rejected the claim that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and to have such marriages recognized by other states. The Sixth Circuit’s ruling overturning marriage equality victories in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky, issued on November 6, opened up a split among the circuit courts of appeals. Earlier last year, the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, and 10th Circuits had all ruled in favor of gay marriage claims, and, significantly, the Supreme Court on October 6 refused to review three of those appellate rulings. The Ninth Circuit issued its decision one day later. As a result, marriage equality in the weeks after October 6 spread to 16 additional states under the jurisdiction of those four circuits. Perhaps more telling was the high court’s ruling on December 19 denying a motion by Florida Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi to stay a US district court marriage equality ruling while

that state appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The fact that a majority of the Supreme Court was not willing to stay a district court ruling not yet decided by a circuit court of appeals spoke volumes about the likely outcome of the case the high court has now taken up. It bears remembering, however, that it is always hazardous to predict what the Supreme Court will ultimately do on an issue on which it is likely to be sharply divided. Those curious about the types of questions the justices will pose to attorneys regarding a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry might want to listen to the oral arguments in the Proposition 8 case the high court heard in 2013, available on its website. Those arguments led to predictions the court might strike down the 2008 California ballot initiative on a 5-4 vote. Instead, the court concluded that the group appealing the district court ruling that found Prop 8 unconstitutional — made up of the initiative’s original proponents — did not have legal standing to pursue their appeal. The anti-marriage initiative therefore died, but without the Supreme Court ruling on its merits. The dissenting opinion in that case was written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Jr.,

A Supreme Court

who was the author of the other momentous marriage decision issued on the same day, in which the court, on a 5-4 vote, struck down the Defense of Marriage Act’s ban on federal recognition of legal same-sex marriages. The DOMA ruling sparked an avalanche of marriage equality lawsuits in federal court — and then an avalanche of rulings, the vast majority of them favorable to same-sex marriage plaintiffs. Same-sex couples can now marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia, though ongoing disputes in Kansas have limited the jurisdictions where the right to do so is available. In a 37th state, Missouri — which is not in a circuit where an appellate decision has been made — another contested ruling has made marriage equality available in only a handful of counties. The only adverse rulings since the DOMA decision came down were in district courts in Louisiana and Puerto Rico and at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In accepting the Sixth Circuit cases for review, the high court announced it would devote 90 minutes of oral argument to the question of whether the 14th Amendment requires a state

End Game


END GAME, continued on p.35




Alphonso David, Former Lambda Legal Attorney, Named Counsel to Governor Cuomo chooses first gay man, first African American for key inner circle post BY PAUL SCHINDLER



lphonso David, who has been the top legal advisor on civil rights matters to Andrew Cuomo dating back to the gover nor’s tenure as state attorney general and who earlier served as a staff attorney at Lambda Legal, has been named to the post of counsel to the governor. David, who is 44, will assume the role in April after the governor and the Legislature complete work on the fiscal year 2016 budget. The position of counsel is one of two created within the governor’s office by state law, the other being secretary to the governor, a post equivalent to chief of staff. In announcing David’s appointment last week, Cuomo’s office noted he will be the first out gay man and the first African American to serve as counsel. “I am honored by the governor’s appointment, and I look forward to serving in this role,” David told Gay City News. “With this great honor, comes great responsibility. And I recognize that as public servants, we should always consider the interests of all New Yorkers, includ-

ing those whose interests have not always been well represented.” Since Cuomo took office as governor in January 2011, David has served as a deputy secretary and civil rights counsel in his office, where his portfolio includes oversight of a host of executive departments, including Labor, Civil Service, and Human Rights, with more than 8,000 employees and aggregate annual budgets exceeding $5 billion. During Cuomo’s final two and a half years as attorney general, David was a special deputy for civil rights in that office. In his role as Cuomo’s civil rights counsel, David was a key player in coordinating the six-month drive that led to enactment of New York’s marriage equality law within the governor’s first legislative session, an achievement of which he said he is “deeply proud.” Other accomplishments in which he took a leading role during the governor’s first term included the expansion of Medicaid coverage to pay for medically necessary transition procedures for transgender New Yorkers, the liberalization and streamlining of procedures for them to amend the gender designation on their birth certificates, and changes to state procurement

Alphonso David.

procedures that have increased the share of contracts going to womenand minority-owned businesses from 10 to more than 25 percent in the past four years. As counsel to the gover nor, David’s role will expand to all significant policy deliberations within the executive department — in evaluating proposed legislation, implementing existing law, and formulating the state’s posture in litigation, either as plaintiff or defendant. The attorney general, elected separately from the governor and with distinct constitutional authority, represents the state itself, and

the counsel to the governor is a client of the AG with responsibility to ensure the governor’s institutional interests are adequately represented by that office. With a history of political jockeying between Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, that aspect of David’s role could well prove among his most challenging responsibilities ahead. With David’s appointment, Cuomo is changing up his top team in Albany. William Mulrow, a senior executive at the Blackstone Group private equity firm, is coming on as secretary to the governor, Cuomo’s office also announced last week. Prior to joining Cuomo’s AG office, David worked as a special counsel at the State Division of Human Rights. During Cuomo’s first term as governor, the division, over which David has oversight, succeeded in closing the backlog of thousands of complaints that were a legacy of 12 years of Republican rule under Governor George Pataki and first began being whittled down under the four years Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson served as governor. David spent three years as a staff


DAVID, continued on p.7


Axed Assistant Attorney General Strikes Out Twice in Michigan Court Appeals panel rejects claim Andrew Shirvell’s obsessive anti-gay campaign was private, protected free speech BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


ndrew Shirvell, a former Michigan assistant attorney g e n e r a l d i s c h a rg e d f o r h i s harassment of an openly gay student leader at the University of Michigan, suffered a double loss in that state’s Court of Appeals on January 8. The court upheld the state’s denial of his discharge grievance, finding his conduct unprotected by the First Amendment, and also ruled he was not eligible for unemployment benefits. In 2010, Chris Armstrong was elected the first out gay president of the University of Michigan Student Assembly. Shirvell, a Michigan alum who served as assistant attorney general beginning in 2007, was outraged and set up a public blog,


“Chris Armstrong Watch,” dedicated to maligning Armstrong for his “radical homosexual agenda.” Judge Stephen Borello’s opinion for the court noted that Shirvell called Armstrong a “radical homosexual activist, racist, elitist, and a liar” and a “privileged pervert” with a “deranged personality” who had hosted a “gay orgy.” One online page “contained a rainbow flag with a swastika posted next to a photograph of Armstrong’s face with the word ‘resign’ nearby.” During one TV interview, Borello noted, Shirvell “did not deny that on one occasion he referred to Armstrong on Facebook as ‘Satan’s representative’ on the student assembly.” Shirvell also “appeared outside Armstrong’s residence and at events where Armstrong was present and held protest signs,” according to the court’s opinion. Shirvell took his campaign

against Armstrong onto Anderson Cooper’s CNN show as well as Jon Stewart’s Comedy Central “Daily Show,” where he said he was speaking as a private citizen and not in his official capacity. Still, pressure mounted on then-Attorney General Michael Cox, himself a conservative Republican, to do something. Cox’s initial public response was to defend Shirvell’s First Amendment right to express his views. As pressure built, however, the attorney general had enough, finally terminating Shirvell for “conduct unbecoming a state employee” — behavior that “could reasonably be construed to be an invasion of privacy, slanderous, libelous, and tantamount to stalking behavior unbecoming an assistant attorney general.”


MICHIGAN, continued on p.7

January 22 - February 04, 2015 |


DAVID, from p.6

attorney at Lambda prior to joining the state Human Rights Division. Susan Sommer, who directs constitutional litigation at Lambda, in an email, described David as “an outstanding LGBT civil rights lawyer at Lambda Legal” and “a staunch advocate for civil rights in this state.” “We are very proud of him and his appointment as general counsel to Governor Cuomo, and very grateful for his contributions to the communities we represent,” Sommer wrote. “We could not imagine a better choice for this key position. Alphonso’s appointment is a testament to his great talents and another milestone for LGBT New Yorkers.” A graduate of Philadelphia’s Temple University Law School, David went on to clerk for US District Judge Clifford Scott Green there. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland. The Empire State Pride Agenda, which was a partner with David during the successful marriage fight in 2011, praised his appointment.


MICHIGAN, from p.6

When Shirvell complained to the Michigan Civil Service Commission, it found Cox had just cause to terminate him. The state Unemployment Insurance Agency, meanwhile, found he did not qualify for unemployment benefits. The discharge was upheld by one court, while the unemployment ruling was reversed by another. The Court of Appeals ruled against Shirvell on both counts. The Supreme Court has ruled that a public employee might lose First Amendment protections if their speech “impaired discipline by superiors, detrimentally impacted close working relationships, undermined a legitimate goal or mission of the employer, impeded the performance of the speaker’s duties, and impaired harmony among co-workers.” The state, Judge Borello wrote, “introduced evidence to show that its interests in the effective provision of governmental services outweighed Shirvell’s speech interests.” The “media firestorm” Shirvell

“We congratulate Alphonso on his exciting new post,” Nathan Schaefer, the group’s executive director, said in an email message. “We’ve worked closely with him over the years as a key liaison between New York’s LGBT community and Governor Cuomo, and we look forward to working with him in his new capacity as counsel to the governor in securing even more rights for our community.” Praise also came from Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, a Hudson Valley Democrat who served as first deputy secretary to the governor in the Spitzer and Paterson administrations. “Alphonso David is a remarkable individual who has an impressive history of vigorously protecting civil rights for all New Yorkers,” Maloney said in an email. “After leading the quick implementation of marriage equality, I know he’ll continue to play a critical role in fighting for the rights of the LGBT community while helping move forward the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. His new position is one of the most important in state government, and I applaud the governor for his outstanding selection.”

created soon turned in to “a public-relations crisis” for the attorney general’s office, with “dedicated resources” employed to respond and Cox having to take time to appear on national media to discuss the controversy. Recruiting “the most qualified employment candidates” and maintaining “close working relationships and harmony among co-workers” could also be impaired, the court found. The court also noted that “the attorney general serves all of the citizens of Michigan, irrespective of race, creed, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Thus, the Department had a real and substantial interest in maintaining neutrality and conducting its operations in a non-biased manner; the public actions of its employees, therefore, were critical in protecting this interest.” Borello wrote, “Shirvell’s public ‘campaign’ against Armstrong undermined” the interests of the attorney general’s office by casting “a cloud over both his and the Department’s ability to maintain the public trust and severely tarnished the Department’s reputation.” | January 22 - February 04, 2015

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End AIDS Task Force Forwards Recommendations to Cuomo Advocates look to do better than original 2020 goals, but some items could carry big price tags BY DUNCAN OSBORNE




he task force charged with creating the plan for ending the AIDS epidemic i n N e w Yo r k d e l i v e r e d i t s recommendations to the Cuomo administration on January 13, even as initiatives that are part of that plan continue to be launched. “Things are being rolled out even before our recommendations are published,” said Charles King, chief executive officer at Housing Works, an AIDS group, and the co-chair of the 63-member task force that drafted the plan. In June of last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo endorsed the plan aimed at reducing new HIV infections in New York from the current roughly 3,000 annually to 750 a year by 2020. The task force included senior staff from the state and New York City health departments, academics, and advocates from social services, LGBT, and AIDS groups across the state. Altogether, the task force made “48 or so” recommendations, King said. They include proposals for expanding public benefits, housing, and healthcare for people with HIV, using anti-HIV drugs to prevent people from becoming infected, and improving the use of data and monitoring to measure the success of the plan. “If our whole program is implemented, what we’re saying is we go beyond what the governor has called for,” said King, who added that the proposals would lead to zero new HIV infections, no deaths from AIDS, and an end to discrimination against people with HIV by 2020. “We decided fairly early in the process that we were going to go beyond the stated goal.” The AIDS Institute, which is part of the state health department, will finalize the recommendations. The fine print in the budget proposal Cuomo discussed before the Legislature on January 21 was not yet available as Gay City News went to press that evening, but even as aides to the governor assured advocates that funding for the plan’s

The city health department’s Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, a task force member, with Dr. Barry S. Zingman, the medical director of the AIDS Center at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, discuss PrEP at a January 12 press event.

basic treatment components were included, there did not appear to be new funding for the task force’s more ambitious recommendations (see story on page 9). “I think there are things we’re probably going to have to fight for,” King said. “The community is prepared for that.” Groups have been careful about discussing the plan’s cost because that can be hard to accurately estimate and, in advance of Cuomo’s proposed budget, they didn’t appear to see any value in creating controversy. With a nod toward the high cost of implementing a plan to end AIDS, the Cuomo administration’s first action was to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers for the anti-HIV medications that are a central component of the effort. “The committee is working on its version of trying to cost things out and I know the AIDS Institute is working on its version of trying to cost things out,” King said. Some elements of the plan, which include both HIV prevention interventions and more access generally for more people to healthcare, have already begun or are already completed. Last year, the Cuomo administration and Mayor Bill de Blasio enacted a rent cap for people with AIDS who live in publicly subsidized housing that meant their rent could not exceed 30 percent of their income. The rent cap alone will cost the city nearly $22 million in the current and prior fis-

cal years. Some data supports the view that stable housing allows people with HIV to adhere to their medication schedule, which makes them far less infectious to others. There was strong support on the task force for broadening available housing support to those who are HIV-positive but do not have an AIDS diagnosis, an idea New York City has previously resisted. In December, the Cuomo administration issued regulations requiring that private insurers operating in New York as well as Medicaid, the government-run health plan for the poor, cover medically necessary healthcare for transgender people who are transitioning from one gender to the other. Transgender healthcare access was a key concern of the task force. The state estimated that would cost $6.7 million annually. On January 15, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who represents part of the Bronx, and Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, who represents part of Manhattan, discussed a legislative proposal they are preparing that would completely decriminalize syringe possession and lift restrictions on their sale in pharmacies. The distribution of clean needles to drug injectors, among other interventions, in New York City has reduced new HIV diagnoses among that group from thousands annually to 89 in 2013. On January 12, the city health department launched a program to send staff into roughly 600 clin-

ics and doctors’ offices to educate them about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Both interventions use anti-HIV drugs to prevent people from becoming infected and they are major elements of the plan. “The truth right now is that with all of the work we’re doing promoting PEP and PrEP to the community, we’re seeing more people are aware of it and slowly we’re seeing an increase in the uptake of these interventions,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, a task force member who is the assistant commissioner in the Bureau of HIV Prevention & Control at the city health department. Just as the task force members have been careful about discussing costs, they have also avoided laying out benchmarks and interim goals between now and getting to 750 or fewer new HIV infections annually by 2020. Advocates and government officials are certainly thinking about how to evaluate the plan’s progress and they have discussed this among themselves. “We’re working with our high risk behavioral survey to actually generate a surveillance tool to let us know what’s happening with PrEP in the city,” Daskalakis said at a press event this week at the Oval Center, an AIDS clinic at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. “Our hope is we will be able to actually have a survey that is really representative of the community.” King told Gay City News that among the recommendations was one to create a subcommittee of the state AIDS Advisory Council that will be responsible for creating performance measures for the plan and monitoring those measures. Other recommendations call for using and improving data gathering in existing state programs, such as Medicaid, to monitor the plan’s progress. “I think over the last year we’ve already made significant strides and we’re going to make significant strides this year, but it’s not all going to happen in one fell swoop,” King said.

January 22 - February 04, 2015 |


No Mention of Ending AIDS in Cuomo State of the State January 21 speech offers no direct response to advocates’ recommendations, but suggests no new money



overnor Andrew Cuomo made no mention of the Plan to End AIDS in his State of the State address and his description of his proposed state budget suggested his administration is not committing any new dollars to implement that plan. “I’m disappointed that the governor didn’t mention it,” said Charles King, chief executive officer at Housing Works, an AIDS group, and the co-chair of the 63-member task force that drafted recommendations to the governor regarding the plan. “I hope it was just in the interest of brevity.” Cuomo spent the first 30 minutes of the hourand-20-minute speech talking about the tax cuts he and the Legislature enacted over the past four years and the economic development successes of his first term. He proposed reducing the tax rate for small businesses from 6.5 percent to 2.5 percent and delivering $1.7 billion in property tax relief for homeowners. “The next taxes we have to attack are the property taxes,” Cuomo said. “When people complain about high taxes in New York, they’re talking about the property tax.” Cuomo then turned to promoting tourism and infrastructure development. Among his pro-

posals was building four new Metro-North stations in the Bronx and naming one after Ruben Diaz. The governor’s press office did not respond to a call asking if that referred to State Senator Ruben Diaz, a leading anti-LGBT figure, or Ruben Diaz, Jr., the Bronx borough president and the senator’s liberal, pro-LGBT son. Cuomo briefly discussed some proposals to address poverty and then engaged in a far longer discussion of education reform. His proposals to evaluate teachers and open more charter schools will doubtless be opposed by the state teachers’ unions. Cuomo told legislators that if they enacted his education reform measures, he would increase the state education budget by $1.1 billion. The increase he is currently proposing is $377 million. Following a discussion of his “social justice agenda” — in which the governor reiterated his support for the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a long-stalled transgender civil rights measure — he told the crowd that aside from increases in the education budget and Medicaid spending, “the rest of the state budget is basically flat.” That suggests that the big ticket items in the Plan to End AIDS, such as housing for the estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people with HIV in the state who need it and creating a single point of access to government benefits for those people, are not funded in the state budget for the

next fiscal year, which begins on April 1. King had earlier estimated that the housing would cost $100 to $120 million annually. When the single point of access was proposed in New York City in 2007, the cost just to the city was $68 million annually, according to estimates from advocates, while the City Council projected it would cost $75 to $100 million a year. Currently, only people with an AIDS diagnosis are eligible for Medicaid, housing subsidies, food stamps, and other government benefits. “That’s a huge, huge one,” said Gina Quattrochi, the chief executive officer of Bailey House, an AIDS housing group, referring to the single point of access. “That’s going to cost a lot of money.” Budget documents suggest that people with HIV will be included in a $116 million item to build 5,000 housing units over five years, though those units are also for people with special needs and others who are homeless. Another $27 million will be used for rental assistance for people with AIDS. Those dollars are from a one-time $440 million settlement from a lawsuit. The budget partially decriminalizes possessing syringes and it bars police and prosecutors from using condoms as evidence when the person possessing the condoms is charged with a


CUOMO, continued on p.35


Dick Gottfried, Gustavo Rivera Push Clean Needle Legalization

Pointing to syringe exchange success in reducing HIV transmission, removal of remaining barriers sought BY NATHAN RILEY


legislative proposal in Albany to reduce stigma, curb police harassment of drug users, and improve access to clean needles demonstrated broad support at a January 15 press conference in Manhattan. State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who represents part of the Bronx, and Chelsea Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, both Democrats, discussed legislation they will introduce that would completely decriminalize syringe possession and lift restrictions on their sale in pharmacies. Distribution of clean needles to drug injectors in New York City has helped bring new HIV diagnoses among that group

down from thousands annually to 89 in 2013. Among those on hand with Rivera and Gottfried was Tracie Gardner, who has served as co-director of policy at the Legal Action Center and last month was named an assistant secretary of health by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The press conference came less than a week before the governor was set to announce his fiscal year 2016 budget, the details of which were expected to provide the first indication of his reaction to the recommendations of a task force he named last fall to work on the state Plan to End AIDS by 2020. Cuomo first endorsed that plan — which aims to bend the curve on new infections so that the epidemic begins to die out — at last June’s LGBT Pride Parade in Manhattan. | January 22 - February 04, 2015

Currently, roughly 3,000 individual are infected each year in the state, and the plan envisions seroconversions to fall to 750 or less by 2020. Cuomo convened the task force to offer ideas for a soup-to-nuts plan to ramp up HIV services, a key goal of which is reaching “persons with HIV who remain undiagnosed and linking them to health care.” When adhered to properly, treatment makes an HIV-positive person effectively non-infectious. The governor’s support for the plan has energized activists, and many are eager to build on the past success of syringe exchange programs by opening up access and shutting down remaining legal hurdles. Despite the proven efficacy of needle exchange, a good number of neighborhoods in New York City have no programs and many

counties and cities upstate offer minimal or no services. As evidence of the bipartisan support for clean needle access, Brooklyn State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, a Democrat, pointed to the legislation enacted in 2000 with the support of Republican Governor George Pataki that authorized the over-the-counter sale of sterile syringes. Those sales, however, are limited to 10 per transaction, and purchasers still face police surveillance and hostility since criminal penalties for needle possession did not change. Though arrests declined, “the fear is still there,” said Terrell Jones of VOCAL-NY, a group that represents low income New Yorkers affected by HIV, the drug war, and


GOTTFRIED, continued on p.14



Horrors Persist for Trans Inmates at Rikers New unit finally opens, two months after completion and after more abuse reports


The new transgender unit at Rikers Island sat empty from mid-November until last week.



he transgender housing unit on New York City’s Rikers Island, announced a s o p e n i n g imminently in mid-November as one of a raft of reforms to reduce violence at the troubled jail, has only just accepted inmates now. And Gay City News has spoken to two transgender prisoners who say that in the interim, they were mistreated by staff and sexually assaulted by other inmates. The new unit at Rikers, which Gay City News toured exclusively while still empty in November, is for man-to-woman transgender inmates who have not undergone genital surgery. The previous policy was to place such inmates with men. A Department of Correction (DOC) spokesperson e-mailed, “The Transgender Housing Unit was physically ready for inmates in mid-November. However, a final review of national best practices related to Transgender inmate protocols took longer than expected. Combined with administrative delays and the holidays, this saw the first women moved to the unit on January 15.” Diamond Spradley, 28, a transgender woman inmate now at the Manhattan Detention Complex where I spoke with her, said she was raped at Rikers by another inmate in late November. She said that she complained to staff


about it but the alleged rapist was let back into her unit where he assaulted her again, physically injuring her neck. She said that at that point, a doctor at Rikers took her seriously and she started to get moved around, ending up in the Lower Manhattan facility. Spradley said that staff do not address her as a woman and made her remove hair weaves, and that she has been so mistreated she is sorry that she reported the assault. Spradley, a former client of New Alternatives for homeless LGBT youth — where this reporter is on the board — initially asked about the transgender unit, according to Kate Barnhart, the group’s executive director. But Spradley concluded she would prefer being in the general male population. The DOC said a survey of transgender inmates found that half wanted to be in the segregated trans unit and half did not, mostly due to the vicissitudes of negotiating their safety within a new housing unit. Some want to stick with where they have carved out a place for themselves rather than chance a new unit. Sequoia Honeycutt, 19, another client of New Alternatives, was at Rikers from December 19 to 31. “It was really, really horrible,” she said. “All the male staff was very disrespectful. They would rub it in my face that I was a man in a men’s facility and would always be a man. It was very downgrading.” Honeycutt, too, said she was sexually assaulted by another inmate. “One of them touched my ass

and jacked off beside me while I was trying to sleep,” she said. “I was too scared to move. The other guys were laughing. There were Bloods and Crips that did not want me on their unit. Every unit belongs to somebody.” Honeycutt asked to be transferred to the transgender unit, but was told it was not open. She said she reported the assault to the captain and “kept telling the guard, but they didn’t care.” She also said she was denied the opportunity to shave for “four to five days when it is supposed to be every day. Hadn’t had a shower. Had to sleep on the floor on intake. It took two weeks to get testosterone blocks,” the drugs she needs for her transition. She was given her own cell on her final day there. Honeycutt said, “I’ve been transgender since I was 16. I’m from North Carolina and homeless here.” She intends to file a complaint against the city. “All the staff called me ‘Mr. Honeycutt,’ she said. “I really forgot who I was. It hurt more than anything. I’m so angry.” The DOC spokesperson wrote, “Allegations of sexual misconduct are confidential. They are, however, fully investigated and the outcomes of these investigations are shared with alleged victims, as required by PREA [federal Prison Rape Elimination Act] law.” Barnhart said, “It can also be hard for transgender people to visit their loved ones in city correctional facilities because the guards give them a hard time about their ID and figuring out who should search them.” She said one young transgender client, Terrianno, “was prevented from visiting her boyfriend because she insisted on being searched by a female guard and they refused. They made some transphobic remarks and then put her on a watch list for the next time.” The DOC’s training regarding transgender issues has to date been focused on the North Infirmary Command at Rikers where the new transgender unit is housed, but there are plans to expand it to other facilities. Mariah Lopez, executive director

of the Strategic Trans Alliance for Radical Reform (STARR), a leader in advocating for the new unit, said, “I really think they acted in good faith. I am convinced of their resolve. I agree that there is an epidemic of violence and mismanagement in Rikers as a whole. As a trans leader, my gut tells me we’re moving in the right direction.” She added, “I would remind any trans person when dealing with law enforcement in the courts, with the NYPD, or in custody: if something occurs that does not feel right — from someone slurring your name or gender to physically assaulting you — you have to speak up.” Lopez is urging Erik Berliner, deputy commissioner for strategic planning and programs at DOC, “to come down hard on these incidents. If he does, we will start to see systemic change. We need to apply their policy of broken windows in reverse and apply it to how law enforcement polices themselves.” City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, a Jackson Heights Democrat who has been pursuing reform on Rikers Island for years, told Gay City News, “I have visited Rikers on five occasions. It is time for a visit to the transgender unit. Rikers is a hell hole and oftentimes people will plea bargain to get out of there so they can go upstate. I wrote legislation on mandatory reporting to shine light on solitary confinement in Rikers. Could not move it with Bloomberg or Quinn. Finally under this administration we were able to do it. I credit Speaker Mark-Viverito and the mayor for moving my legislation. It tells you why people are being put into solitary, length of stay, and the recreation they get — which is sometimes at 4 a.m. In the past, if they requested special treatment they were put into solitary. Transgender folks should not have to face solitary to be protected. It is the job of DOC to protect our transgender brothers and sisters.” When the New York City Anti-Violence Project was asked what work it does on behalf of LGBT inmates assaulted in the prisons, a spokesperson said the group does not have a program in the prisons. Inmates, however, can seek counseling after their release. AVP did not respond to a follow-up question about whether it engages in any advocacy with the Department of Correction.

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City Council Trip to Israel Draws Fire From Critics of Jewish State Progressives targeted but Bronx’s Ritchie Torres offers blunt retort to demands


Brandon Davis, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, opens the January 12 City Hall press conference.



ith City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito due to lead 14 of her colleagues on a trip to Israel paid for by two New York Jewish organizations, critics of the Jewish State’s policies toward Palestinians are stepping up their criticism of the eight-day trip, scheduled for late February. “We stand here today in outrage and disappointment that 15 of our City Council members, including nine members of the Progressive Caucus, have decided to participate in a delegation to Israel sponsored by groups known for promoting Islamophobic public policies,” said Brandon Davis, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, in opening a rainy press conference outside of City Hall on January 12. Davis was joined by six other speakers representing a coalition of roughly 50 groups calling on the Council members to cancel their trip. Among the 15 Council members headed to Israel are three of the six out LGBT Caucus members — Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, Corey Johnson of Manhattan, and Ritchie Torres of the Bronx. Asked about the coalition’s criticism, Torres was blunt in his response, saying in an email message, “Let me be clear, lest there be any confusion: I am not reversing my decision to go on the trip, nor am I changing my core belief in Israel’s right to exist. Period.” The trip’s critics, which include Queers Against Israeli Apartheid and Irish Queers, charge that by traveling to Israel the Council members are giving comfort to a state they say treats Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza in an oppressive manner similar to the former South African regime’s marginalization of that nation’s black majority.


Felice Gelman, a member of Adalah NY — the New York Committee for the Boycott of Israel, said the coalition’s demands include dismantling of the security wall separating Israel from the West Bank and of the Israeli settlements there, civic equality for Arab-Palestinians in Israel, and the right of Palestinian refugees to re-claim property in Israel. Among those who attended the City Hall press event were out lesbian Leslie Cagan, a longtime peace activist, and Pauline Park, a leading transgender community advocate. Speakers at the press conference, pointing to the fact that the trip is funded by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the UJA Federation of New York, said Council members would not get a balanced view of the situation in Israel and the Palestinian areas. “On this trip they would no doubt be shielded from the checkpoints, the settlements, the separation wall, the refugee camps, the destroyed homes and schools, and all of the other elements that make up the apartheid, colonial state that continues to occupy Palestine,” said Fatin Jarara, a Brooklyn College student who is a member of Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition. Donna Nevel, who is active with Jews Say No!, noted that several years ago, JCRC, writing in Jewish Week, defended then-Commissioner Ray Kelly against charges the NYPD had engaged in far-reaching and potentially unconstitutional surveillance of Muslims in the greater New York area. Critics of the trip also drew parallels between the heated controversy over police conduct in communities of color in New York and Israeli policies toward Palestinians. “How can those who have taken a stance on the New York City Police Department’s racism participate in something that normalizes rac-

ism on an entire people?,” Jarara said. “This is a gross hypocrisy.” In fact several of the speakers alleged that NYPD contacts with Israel had enhanced what they termed “militarized policing” in New York, though footnoted links in their press release provided no specific support for that perspective. The group sent an open letter to the 15 Council members urging them to withdraw from the trip, but said they had not yet met with any of them. Mark-Viverito’s office did not respond when asked if she had been contacted by the coalition or if she would be willing to meet with its representatives. According to Sindri McDonald, Torres’ chief of staff, that office received the open letter just moments before the press event. “We have received dozens of emails not to travel Israel, but zero calls,” McDonald wrote in an email. The response from the speaker’s office to several questions about the trip went no further than a statement first made to the Daily News when it wrote about the trip in October of last year. “New York City and Israel have deep and long-lasting cultural, economic, and educational ties and the speaker and Council delegation are looking forward to a productive and informative trip,” Robin Levine, a spokesperson for Mark-Viverito wrote. McDonald said Torres’ office had not yet received an itinerary for the trip so she could not say whether any meetings were planned with Palestinian groups separate from the schedule planned by JCRC and UJA. But in a follow-up email, Torres slammed the door on any possibility of a meeting with critics of the trip. “What would be the purpose of a dialogue?,” he wrote. “To persuade me that Israel has no right to exist? To dissuade me from going on the trip? Neither scenario is possible, so a dialogue would be a waste of their time as well as a waste of mine.” Torres also wrote, “Which country in the Middle East is most protective of LGBT rights? In which country would I — as an American, much less a gay one — feel most at home? The answer to both questions is undoubtedly Israel.” Without providing any specifics, Johnson suggested his view that meetings with Palestinian groups might be in the offing for the trip. “As a strong supporter of a Jewish, democratic Israel, and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I’m eager to hear from a very wide range of voices on our trip, representing the broad spectrum of perspectives and opinions,” he said in an email. Van Bramer’s office did not respond to Gay City News’ request for comment.


ISRAEL, continued on p.18

January 22 - February 04, 2015 |


Judge Defers Defendant’s Motion to Represent Himself in Mark Carson Murder Trial With competency hearing set for February 10, Elliot Morales instead assigned fourth attorney in 2013 case BY DUNCAN OSBORNE



Manhattan judge postponed a decision on allowing the accused killer of Mark Carson to represent himself at hearings and at his trial and instead assigned Elliot Morales a fourth attorney, saying he would decide Morales’ motion to go pro se later. Morales, 35, is charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, weapons possession, and menacing in the 2013 shooting. Allegedly, he followed Carson and a friend in the West Village. After taunting them with anti-gay slurs, he asked Carson, “Are you with him?” and when Carson answered, “Yes,” Morales allegedly shot the 32-year-old Carson. Since his arrest, which came minutes after the shooting, Morales has gone through three attorneys and filed at least one letter and

A memorial at the site of Mark Carson’s West Village murder in 2013.

three motions with Charles H. Solomon, the judge in the case. Morales has said he wants to represent himself since at least April of 2014. At a January 14 hearing, Morales complained that his attorneys had not obtained records that he needs for his defense and that the district attorney’s office had not yet turned over the contents of his cell phone, which has names and phone num-

bers of possible defense witnesses as well as sexual content that he wants to view. “This case has a lot to do with sexuality,” Morales said at that hearing. Solomon told Morales that he was entitled to the records regarding the case that he wants, but is not entitled to see them until the start of pre-trial hearings. Shannon

Lucey, the assistant district attorney on the case, said that Morales refused to surrender his cell phone password for months and that her office only had access to its content for about 30 days. Solomon said he would hold a hearing on January 16 to determine if Morales is competent to surrender his right to a lawyer and to represent himself, but changed his mind on that day. “I’m not going to make it,” Solomon said of a decision allowing Morales to go pro se at the second hearing. “I’m going to give him a different lawyer… I think it’s a very bad idea to represent yourself.” Morales said, “Can I object to you assigning me another attorney?” Solomon said, “You can object all you want, I don’t want a problem later on… I’m trying to tell you it’s a terrible idea.” Solomon will decide if Morales is


CRIME, continued on p.14


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SAGE Opens New Center in Central Bronx Fordham area facility first to serve borough’s LGBT seniors BY JAIME WILLIAMS




GBT Bronx seniors now have a place to go for both camaraderie and assistance. Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, or SAGE, celebrated the opening of its first full-time senior center in the borough on January 14. The opening was part of a $1.5 million initiative last year to create full-time SAGE centers across the city, funded by the City Council and opened with support from the New York City Department for the Aging. The Staten Island center opened in December, as did an expanded center in Harlem. There are also currently centers in both Midtown Manhattan and in Brooklyn. And SAGE members have long had use of their own space at the LGBT Community Center in the West Village, though recent changes to their arrangement there led to controversy last year. The initiative to bring SAGE centers to more New Yorkers was spearheaded by out gay Coun-

The January 14 opening of SAGE Center Bronx drew City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Caryn Resnick, a deputy commissioner in the Department for the Aging, Lewis Goldstein, the County Democratic Committee’s LGBT liaison, Councilmember Ritchie Torres, Speaker Melissa MarkViverito, Councilmembers Maria del Carmen Arroyo and Annabel Palma, and SAGE executive director Michael Adams.

cilmember Ritchie Torres. The new center at the Union Community Health Center on East 188th Street in Fordham falls within his central Bronx district. Torres termed the grand opening ceremony — attended by a number of Council members, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito — an emotional moment. “This has tremendous meaning for me as a gay man,” he said. When SAGE approached him, Torres said he was upset to learn

GOTTFRIED, from p.9

incarceration. Rivera and Gottfried said they are circulating drafts of their legislation, which is likely to be finalized in February. “Syringe decriminalization will make people healthy and strengthen access to needles,” said Rivera. Gottfried touted the impact greater clean needle access has already had. “It has saved tens of thousands of lives of drug users and protected the sex partners of users and their children,” he said. “It is not as effective as it could be if the police are trailing


CRIME, from p.13

competent on February 10. Gary Sunden, Morales’ new lawyer, declined comment. Morales faces daunting evidence in the case. He made roughly 20 statements to police and admitted to the killing in six. He was arrested within minutes of the shooting and he was car -


that while there are an estimated 100,000 LGBT seniors in the city, there was only one full-time senior center serving that population. “It’s hard to imagine a population that is more invisible and more tragically under-served than LGBT elders,” said Torres. It was important to the Council member to help create more safe spaces for LGBT seniors, where they can find a community and be themselves without fear. “They no longer have to age

users and arresting them. It is similar to the problems caused by police arresting sex workers and seizing their condoms.” Gardner, the health department appointee, who served on the Plan to End AIDS task force, said the bill benefits everybody. Arresting those seeking clean needles, she said, shows “our lack of value for drug users’ lives and that we don’t care about the safety of our community.” Throughout the press conference, advocates emphasized their personal commitment to helping drug users. Jennifer Flynn, executive director of VOCAL-NY, talked about how as a child she became close to a cousin taken in by her family after his parents threw him out for his

rying the pistol that was used to kill Carson. Four witnesses identified him at the time of the shooting. Another witness, who may be among the four, was on the phone with 911 when Carson was shot. “He shot a man in the head while his friend was on the phone with 911 trying to stop the violence,” Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, then the prosecutor in the case, said at a hearing

alone,” said Torres. The goal of the center is to provide Bronx LGBT seniors with a place for both socializing and support where there previously was none, said SAGE Center Bronx site manager José Collazo. “They don’t have the opportunity to commune with each other,” he said. The center will offer a calendar full of games, crafts, and movies, as well as other activities seniors suggest. Hot lunches will be provided daily. In addition, there will be exercise classes and nutrition workshops, and the staff will provide help with navigating government benefit programs. “They can get vital information they need so they can lead an active and healthy life,” said Collazo. SAGE also provides a network of resources, such as recommending gay-friendly health care providers. “They have an agency that will advocate for them,” said Collazo about the center’s seniors. For more information about SAGE Center Bronx, visit sageusa. org or call 718-220-2020.

drug use. He died of AIDS at a young age. VOCAL-NY’s Jones recalled having no father in his life and watching the man who played that role, a needle user, die. The memory of being told he could not hug the older man caused Jones’ voice to crack years later. In an email message, Tracy Swan, the hepatitis/ HIV project director at the Treatment Action Group, said removing the 10-needle purchase limit and the criminal penalties was “CRITICAL” in preventing hepatitis C as well as HIV since “shared, unsterilized equipment is the MAJOR mode of HCV transmission.” Gottfried called the bill he and Rivera are shaping “a clean law on clean needles.”

last year. The Carson killing is the second violent felony that Morales has been charged with. In 1998, Morales and two other men, John Kehinde, then 17, and Daniel Olivencia, then 18, beat, bound, and robbed three young women in an East Village apartment. Morales wielded a machete in that attack. Morales and Olivencia

choked the women, with Morales saying, “I’m going to put her to sleep,” according to court records in the case. They also hit the women with a metal pipe. Charged with attempted murder, multiple robbery and burglary counts, and assault, Morales pleaded guilty to robbery in 1999 and was sentenced to six to 12 years in prison. He served 10 years.

January 22 - February 04, 2015 | | January 22 - February 04, 2015



Why Elections Matter







CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Seth J. Bookey, Anthony M.Brown, Kelly Jean Cogswell, Andres Duque, Michael Ehrhardt, Steve Erickson, Andy Humm, Eli Jacobson, David Kennerley, Gary M. Kramer, Arthur S. Leonard, Michael T. Luongo, Lawrence D. Mass, Winnie McCroy, Eileen McDermott, Mick Meenan, Tim Miller, Gregory Montreuil, Christopher Murray, David Noh, Nathan Riley, David Shengold, Yoav Sivan, Gus Solomons Jr., Tim Teeman, Kathleen Warnock, Benjamin Weinthal, Dean P. Wrzeszcz





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Except for an upcoming special race to fill a congressional vacancy in Staten Island and a portion of Brooklyn, there will be no general election in New York City in 2015. But ever mindful of the presidential contest in 2016, we are already hearing about Ready for Hillary parties and early maneuverings from Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, all Democrats. We’ve also seen soundings out of a long list of Republicans — Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham… the list goes on and on. No elected official is perfect, and even with all the progress the LGBT community has made under the Obama administration, it might be easy to find areas in which the last eight years have fallen short of the “hope and change” promise of 2008. Anyone inclined to dismiss the critical difference a Democratic administration in Washington has made in our lives, however, should contemplate this release from Attorney General Eric Holder:

_____________________________________________________________________________ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FRIDAY, JANUARY 16, 2015



WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder released the following statement after the US Supreme Court agreed to hear four cases on same-sex marriage equality:

“After the Justice Department's decision not to defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court sent a powerful message that Americans in samesex marriages are entitled to equal protection and equal treatment under the law. This landmark decision marked a historic step toward equality for all American families. “The Supreme Court has announced that it will soon hear several cases raising core questions concerning the constitutionality of same-sex marriages. As these cases proceed, the Department of Justice will remain committed to ensuring that the benefits of marriage are available as broadly as possible. And we will keep striving to secure equal treatment for all members of society — regardless of sexual orientation. “As such, we expect to file a ‘friend of the court’ brief in these cases that will urge the Supreme Court to make marriage equality a reality for all Americans. It is time for our nation to take another critical step forward to ensure the fundamental equality of all Americans — no matter who they are, where they come from, or whom they love.”

CITY COUNCIL, HETRICK-MARTIN HOST LGBT YOUTH SUMMIT JANUARY 24 In anticipation of Respect For All Week February 9-13, during which the New York public schools emphasize the commitment to end bullying and harassment for all students, the New York City Council is partnering with the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which serves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth, in hosting an LGBTQ Youth Summit aimed at providing students with the necessary tools to create safe spaces in their schools. The Summit, titled “What Matters Now,” will take place Saturday, January 24 at HMI’s offices at 2 Astor Place beginning at 9:30 a.m., and will include workshops on topics including youth organizing, art, identity, transgender and gender nonconforming experience, LGBTQ history, media, technology, faith, spirituality, health and mental health wellness, and anti-violence. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is joined by the Council’s LGBT Caucus in co-sponsoring the event. “The LGBTQ Youth Summit is something that I wish I had growing up as a gay teen,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm, a Queens Democrat who chairs the Education Committee. “Events such as

these are important ways to lift LGBTQ youth out of the shadows and show them that they have the right to advocate and create safe communities.” Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, a Brooklyn Democrat, said, “Organizing and building capacity among young LGBT people is critically important to our city. In the face of criticism about apathy, young people have displayed leadership, and they continue to inform and shape public policy in our city.” The Bronx’s Ritchie Torres said, “As the youngest member of the New York City Council, I’m very proud to support the Hetrick-Martin Institute’s LGBTQ Youth Summit. Creating safe spaces for LGBTQ youth to learn from each other, share experiences, and organize as a community are essential, and the tools that participants will gain from this Summit will help amplify their collective voices.”

LGBTQ youth, ages 14-24, who wish to join the Summit should RSVP to or Free lunch and metro cards will be provided to participants. January 22 - February 04, 2015 |


Queer Turkey: A Snapshot




Istanbul Pride in 2014.


don’t know what I expected to find at the KuirFest film festival in Turkey. Cops writing down the names of besieged queers, maybe. Or mobs of angry fundamentalists outside the degenerate theaters. But while I can see the tall white minarets of the local mosque from my hotel window and hear the call to prayer a couple times a day, religion, at least in Ankara, the capital, still has a much smaller impact than in a place like, say, Egypt. In fact, I’ve seen more headscarves in certain Parisian n e i g h b o rh o o d s t h a n a r o u n d here, where men on the street seem largely indifferent to women passing with their liberated hair. As for LGBT folks, they’re here, they’re queer, and they’ve been organizing in earnest since the early 1990s. The human rights organization Lambda Istanbul was founded in ‘93. The largest national organization, Kaos GL, was formed the year afterwards, in Ankara, and became the first LGBT organization with legal status in 2005. Despite periodic efforts by the increasingly authoritarian Islamist government to get rid of them, the judiciary of this secular republic has repeatedly upheld their right to exist. Civil society offers some support. Some newspapers cover LGBT issues and events. A request in 2012 to include same-sex marriage in the new constitution was supported by the main opposition party. Nevertheless, acceptance is not widespread, and while student groups and other organizations are sprouting up every year, it’s hard to imagine how most of these LGBT projects would survive without major foreign support. When I went to lunch with Ömer Akpinar and Aylime Aslı Demir of Kaos GL, they unapologetically explained most of their funding came from a range of foreign embassies as well as human rights funds. There is a lot to do, and the money has to come from somewhere. The 13-member staff of Kaos GL is spread thin with a variety of projects from Pride marches that get bigger every year

A “Lesbians Against War” banner at a November 22 protest in Ankara against the Islamic State and the killing of women.

to queer publications and projects helping LGBT people survive. They also try to offer assistance to smaller groups. One of their biggest efforts is directed toward supporting LGBT refugees fleeing Iraq, Iran, and now Syria. Turkey is a transit point, and many will end up in Canada or the UK. In the meantime, the gover nment places them in small cities and towns where they not only have to grapple with the difficulties of having fled their homes and being for eign, but with the homophobia of conservative regions. Kaos GL also has a campaign directed toward teachers and school counselors, in co-ordination with the teachers’ union. Up until recently, if a struggling queer kid looked for help at school, they’d get ratted out to their parents and often yanked from the school. Nobody ever knew if they were | January 22 - February 04, 2015

living or dead. Kaos GL provides information and encourages school staff to help the children without putting them in danger. The groups also holds cultural events. Last year, they teamed up with a human rights center at Ankara University to show Lars Von T rier’s “Nymphomaniac,” banned by Turkish authorities for its extensive nude and sex scenes. The screening was denounced in the religious press, but Kaos GL didn’t mind much because 500 people turned up to watch the movie and support them, instead of the expected 100. According to Ömer and Aylime, the religious press is the main opponent of the LGBT movement. They aren’t very good at it. Not yet, anyway. Most of their anti-gay articles are just cribbed verbatim from queer Turkish publications with the word “pervert”" added on every time an L, G, B, or T is mentioned.

As a consequence, the content and language are actually quite progressive if you ignore all the “perverts” sprinkled throughout. While there aren’t any specifically anti-gay groups, violence is a big problem for LGBT people, especially trans women who are murdered in epidemic proportions. One of the films in the festival, “Trans X Istanbul,” showed two middle-aged trans women thumbing through a photo album in which they were among the only survivors. In recent years, some of the violence in Istanbul has been inspired by more than transphobia. Property speculators have been using antitrans campaigns to force them from desirable redevelopment areas. These hate campaigns are often followed by attacks and murders. They’re not suffering in silence. Trans women are some of the most visible, and radical, organizers in Turkey. In Ankara, they were the founders of the Pink Life Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Solidarity Association, which supports trans people, especially sex workers, and organizes the KuirFest film festival, among other things. Queer activists of all kinds got a boost from the huge anti-government demos of 2013 sparked when cops squashed peaceful demonstrators trying to prevent Istanbul’s Gezi Park from being replaced with a shopping mall and luxury housing. The resulting protests became a kind of referendum on Turkey’s democracy, raising issues of freedom of speech and assembly and protesting attacks on secularism. For most of the population, it was the first time they’d dared to take to the streets. Mobilized and empowered, LGBT people started to create small groups all over the country, even in conservative towns. Which is essential. Faced with an eroding secularism and a creaky democracy, queers need every hand on deck. And after the Gezi protests, where they were often in the forefront, they may even have more allies. As lesbian activist Sedef Çakmak told one newspaper, “Gezi did in three weeks what would have otherwise taken us three years.” For more information, in English, about Kaos GL and Pink Life’s KuirFest, visit and



A Dyke In Defense of Offense: Yes, Je Suis Charlie




Union Square Park, January 10.

the drawer for years, see if it holds up, and maybe wait until a team of censors can weigh in. Probably we should ban journalism altogether, along with late night comedy shows. Any form of media that is topical and subject to errors — of judgment, good taste, history, and our murky collective subconscious. Somebody might mistake an attack on fat cat imams or violent Islamists like IS for an attack on Mohammed himself or on ordinary Muslims just trying to go to mosque and pay their bills. Neither should we repudiate the Israeli attacks on Palestinians because the resulting anti-Semitism will no doubt lead to dead Jews in Parisian supermarkets. No, don’t expose the tyranny of the Castro brothers in Cuba, or it’ll look like you’re supporting US meddling. Likewise, queers in West Africa getting stoned by mobs will have to do without our American help because somebody might accuse us of colonialism.

ISRAEL, from p.12

The press event by the trip’s critics came at a delicate time in global discussion of the Middle East — just one day after more than a million people, including dozens of heads of states, marched in Paris in memory of the 12 people murdered by Islamist terrorists at the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The murder in Paris of a police officer the following day and of four hostages in a kosher supermarket



guess you know by now that the key staff at Charlie Hebdo in Paris were slaughtered by Islamist extremists outraged at, well, almost everything, but especially how the satirical magazine attacked Islamist extremists. But before their bodies were even cold, the glorious automatons of the American left were eviscerating the work of these dead cartoonists and journalists, taking it out of context, blaming the victims, projecting the subtext loud and clear: these colonialist, racist pigs only got what they deserved. I don’t even know where to start. Except that if you think it’s important to speak the truth to power, or at least try to, you should’ve had their backs. Not that Charlie Hebdo always got it right. Satire is tough. Sometimes they had brain farts like anyone else. Case in point — the time that they were trying to do a take down of Minute, the extreme right magazine that caricatured France’s black minister of justice, Christiane Taubira, as a monkey, justifying it as humorous. Charlie Hebdo responded with its own version of that image captioned, “Minute is not Charlie Hebdo. Racism is not funny…” While their intent was to critique racism, the image seemed to reinforce it. Like when some writers and filmmakers have depicted rape scenes, gay-bashings, and other graphic violence. Fine. Whatever. Let them all be butchered, discarded without grief. Our artists should be perfect. And careful. We should put our work in

Above all, we must never grieve the imper fect dead. We must stand above the fray and keep our delicate white, our delicate brown hands clean. I read somewhere that all this criticism was progress, an attempt to avoid exercising “white male privilege.” No matter that the resulting carefulness, outraged superiority, and demand for perfection is itself rooted in privilege and power. The only careful people are those that have a lot to lose. Who, if they aren’t already there, believe they might yet be invited to the grownups’ table, and having other resources at their command can define the only speech worth protecting, usually their own perfectly nuanced, calibrated, respectful, and educated sneers. People like me will never measure up. Mild as I am I’ll be considered too shrill, too queer, too furious to always get it right. And when we open our traps, we’re dismissed

the day after that were being investigated for links to the attack on the magazine. Media outlets, including the New York Times, have reported that safety concerns among the Jewish population of France about rising anti-Semitism there have led many to consider moving to Israel, though some observers in Paris were critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s emphasis on that in his trip to join the march. One of the press conference’s speakers took a decidedly contrarian view of the events in Paris.

or attacked. Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. You’d think she’d be heard as a nice brown Somali woman herself born inside the Muslim faith, but no. Every time she’s scheduled to speak somewhere, there’s a huge lefty outcry. “Islamophobe!,” somebody screams. And maybe she is, literally, afraid of Islam. In the name of it, her female body was mutilated. People around her were murdered. She herself has been condemned to death. Me, I’m afraid of it, too. Like all religions. No matter how many reforms the Big Three go through, it’s there in black and white that women are worthless. Queers should be killed. And we are killed any place, any time religious fundamentalists get the upper hand. I feel sorry, I feel sick, at these nouveau Torquemadas offended at offense. If I was a cartoonist, I’d draw them with their heads protruding from a considerable ass, and the delicate rose of that hole would be their vile little mouths. Or maybe that’s me. Or who I’d like to be some days. Like Charlie Hebdo, a vulgar satirist down in the metaphorical mud, sneering at my betters and making rude noises, but also wailing with inconsolable grief at the two towers I watched burn from the roof of my building, and then, also, at the resulting slaughters in Afghanistan and Iraq. At all the dead in France. Because in some things you don’t actually have to choose sides. In fact, you must not. As Harry Bosch, fictional homicide detective and the only prophet I revere, once said, “Everybody counts or nobody counts.” Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” published last year by the University of Minnesota Press. Olivier Tonneau, a Frenchman living in the UK, offers his perspective on Charlie Hebdo at

“Since the attacks in France, we have heard many say that they are Charlie Hebdo,” said David Galarza, a Puerto Rican activist from Boricuas for Palestine. “While I support free speech and deplore the killings, I personally could never identify myself with a publication that goes out of its way to inflame tensions and drive Islamophobia.” Asked whether his viewed reflected the position of the coalition, Galarza was quick to emphasize that he was speaking for himself. January 22 - February 04, 2015 |




he people of the United States have stood strong with the people of Israel from the day that country was founded in 1947. As the only democracy in the Middle East, and as our key ally in the fight against terrorism, Israel holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Americans. This is especially true in New York City, which has shared a unique and significant relationship with the Jewish people and the state of Israel for decades. I am currently traveling in Israel with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, leading a delegation of our city’s growing Latino population. This group, which includes business, civic, and non-profit leaders, will spend a week discovering what Israel has to offer, learning about why Israel’s continued strength is so important, and exploring the growing relationship between the people of the Promised Land and Latinos across the world. This is of critical importance, given not only the continued vitality of the Jewish population at home, but the longstanding history of Jewish acceptance in countries like the Dominican Republic and growing Jewish population in places like Argentina, Brazil, and Panama, as well. On this trip, I will lead a discussion about the future of Jewish/ Latino relations, both here and abroad, and take the first steps toward cementing a lifetime bond between these two communities. I have been to Israel before. I have seen, firsthand, the attacks the Israeli people face every single day. But the people of Israel persevere. Now, more than ever, their example deserves our praise and our support. The horror of the attacks on the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket — and the subsequent exodus of Jews from Paris — show us just how critical our support of Israel is right now. As Martin Niemöller wrote, reflecting on the Nazi atrocities of World War II, “First they came for the Jews…” Following these acts of terror, the Paris Grand Synagogue closed

for the first time on Shabbos since World War II. The meaning behind such imagery cannot be understated. Israel is one of our strongest allies. Israelis and all Jews must know that our Latino community, and in fact the American people, are on their side during these troublesome times. As we saw world leaders standing arm-in-arm in solidarity following these attacks, we too stand arm-in-arm with Israel and the world’s Jewish population. Does a borough president have an interest in promoting Israel? Of course. At one point more Jews lived in the Bronx than in Israel, and our Jewish community remains vibrant and strong. Across the entire city, Jews and Latinos are already working hand-in-hand on the issues that unite us, be it economic development, housing, education, and more. Israel has produced and continues to work on some of the most amazing technological and scientific advancements the world has ever seen. Israel is a partner in our security, and what keeps their country secure helps keep our borough and our city secure. Israel is worthy of not only our respect, but our support. As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week, we must also remember his message that we are all God’s children, including the people of Israel. “Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity,” said Dr. King. “Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.” Both the nation of Israel and Jews everywhere around the world are under perpetual attack. Their peace today, as Dr. King so eloquently put it, requires our commitment to their continued security. I will work to join the Latino and Jewish communities together in new bonds of strength, and I will help create new friendships during difficult times. Israelis do not let terrorism and hate keep them down. Neither do Americans, and neither do I. Ruben Diaz is the borough president of the Bronx. | January 22 - February 04, 2015


COMPLERA is a prescription medicine for adults who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before and who have no more than 100,000 copies/mL of virus in their blood. COMPLERA can also replace current HIV-1 medicines for some adults who have an undetectable viral load (less than 50 copies/mL) and whose healthcare provider determines that they meet certain other requirements. COMPLERA combines 3 medicines into 1 pill to be taken once a day with food. COMPLERA should not be used with other HIV-1 medicines.

Just the


for me

COMPLERA is a complete HIV-1 treatment in only 1 pill a day. Ask your healthcare provider if COMPLERA may be the one for you.

Pill shown is not actual size.


January 22 - February 04, 2015 |

COMPLERA does not cure HIV-1 infection or AIDS. To control HIV-1 infection and decrease HIV-related illnesses you must keep taking COMPLERA. Ask your healthcare provider if you have questions about how to reduce the risk of passing HIV-1 to others. Always practice safer sex and use condoms to lower the chance of sexual contact with body fluids. Never reuse or share needles or other items that have body fluids on them. It is not known if COMPLERA is safe and effective in children under 18 years old.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION What is the most important information I should know about COMPLERA? COMPLERA can cause serious side effects: • Build-up of an acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious medical emergency. Symptoms of lactic acidosis include feeling very weak or tired, unusual (not normal) muscle pain, trouble breathing, stomach pain with nausea or vomiting, feeling cold especially in your arms and legs, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and/or a fast or irregular heartbeat. • Serious liver problems. The liver may become large (hepatomegaly) and fatty (steatosis). Symptoms of liver problems include your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow (jaundice), dark “tea-colored” urine, lightcolored bowel movements (stools), loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, and/or stomach pain. • You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or serious liver problems if you are female, very overweight (obese), or have been taking COMPLERA for a long time. In some cases, these serious conditions have led to death. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of these conditions. • Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you also have HBV and stop taking COMPLERA, your hepatitis may suddenly get worse. Do not stop taking COMPLERA without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to monitor your health. COMPLERA is not approved for the treatment of HBV.

Who should not take COMPLERA?

Changes in liver enzymes: People who have had hepatitis B or C, or who have had changes in their liver function tests in the past may have an increased risk for liver problems while taking COMPLERA. Some people without prior liver disease may also be at risk. Your healthcare provider may do tests to check your liver enzymes before and during treatment with COMPLERA. • Bone problems, including bone pain or bones getting soft or thin, which may lead to fractures. Your healthcare provider may do tests to check your bones. • Changes in body fat can happen in people taking HIV-1 medicines. • Changes in your immune system. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms after you start taking COMPLERA.

The most common side effects of COMPLERA include trouble sleeping (insomnia), abnormal dreams, headache, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, rash, tiredness, and depression. Other common side effects include vomiting, stomach pain or discomfort, skin discoloration (small spots or freckles), and pain. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking COMPLERA? All your health problems. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have or had any kidney, mental health, bone, or liver problems, including hepatitis virus infection. • All the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. COMPLERA may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how COMPLERA works. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist. Do not start any new medicines while taking COMPLERA without first talking with your healthcare provider. • If you take rifabutin (Mycobutin). Talk to your healthcare provider about the right amount of rilpivirine (Edurant) you should take. • If you take antacids. Take antacids at least 2 hours before or at least 4 hours after you take COMPLERA. • If you take stomach acid blockers. Take acid blockers at least 12 hours before or at least 4 hours after you take COMPLERA. Ask your healthcare provider if your acid blocker is okay to take, as some acid blockers should never be taken with COMPLERA. • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if COMPLERA can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while taking COMPLERA. • If you are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk. Also, some medicines in COMPLERA can pass into breast milk, and it is not known if this can harm the baby. •

Do not take COMPLERA if you: • Take a medicine that contains: adefovir (Hepsera), lamivudine (EpivirHBV), carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol-XR, Teril, Epitol), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), phenobarbital (Luminal), phenytoin (Dilantin, Dilantin-125, Phenytek), rifampin (Rifater, Rifamate, Rimactane, Rifadin), rifapentine (Priftin), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant), esomeprazole (Nexium, Vimovo), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid), pantoprazole sodium (Protonix), rabeprazole (Aciphex), more than 1 dose of the steroid medicine dexamethasone or dexamethasone sodium phosphate, or the herbal supplement St. John’s wort. • Take any other medicines to treat HIV-1 infection, unless recommended by your healthcare provider.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

What are the other possible side effects of COMPLERA?

Please see Brief Summary of full Prescribing Information with important warnings on the following pages.

Serious side effects of COMPLERA may also include: • New or worse kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood tests to check your kidneys before starting treatment with COMPLERA. If you have had kidney problems, or take other medicines that may cause kidney problems, your healthcare provider may also check your kidneys during treatment with COMPLERA. • Depression or mood changes. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms: feeling sad or hopeless, feeling anxious or restless, have thoughts of hurting yourself (suicide) or have tried to hurt yourself. | January 22 - February 04, 2015


Brief Summary of full Prescribing Information COMPLERA® (kom-PLEH-rah) (emtricitabine 200 mg, rilpivirine 25 mg, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate 300 mg) tablets Brief summary of full Prescribing Information. For more information, please see the full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information. What is COMPLERA? • COMPLERA is a prescription medicine used as a complete HIV-1 treatment in one pill a day. COMPLERA is for adults who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before and who have no more than 100,000 copies/mL of virus in their blood (this is called ‘viral load’). Complera can also replace current HIV-1 medicines for some adults who have an undetectable viral load (less than 50 copies/mL) and whose healthcare provider determines that they meet certain other requirements. • COMPLERA is a complete regimen and should not be used with other HIV-1 medicines. HIV-1 is the virus that causes AIDS. When used properly, COMPLERA may reduce the amount of HIV-1 virus in your blood and increase the amount of CD4 T-cells, which may help improve your immune system. This may reduce your risk of death or getting infections that can happen when your immune system is weak. • COMPLERA does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS. You must stay on continuous HIV-1 therapy to control HIV-1 infection and decrease HIV-related illnesses. • Ask your healthcare provider about how to prevent passing HIV-1 to others. Do not share or reuse needles, injection equipment, or personal items that can have blood or body fluids on them. Do not have sex without protection. Always practice safer sex by using a latex or polyurethane condom to lower the chance of sexual contact with semen, vaginal secretions, or blood. What is the most important information I should know about COMPLERA? COMPLERA can cause serious side effects, including: • Build-up of an acid in your blood (lactic acidosis). Lactic acidosis can happen in some people who take COMPLERA or similar (nucleoside analogs) medicines. Lactic acidosis is a serious medical emergency that can lead to death. Lactic acidosis can be hard to identify early, because the symptoms could seem like symptoms of other health problems. Call your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the following symptoms which could be signs of lactic acidosis: – feel very weak or tired – have unusual (not normal) muscle pain – have trouble breathing – having stomach pain with nausea or vomiting – feel cold, especially in your arms and legs – feel dizzy or lightheaded – have a fast or irregular heartbeat • Severe liver problems. Severe liver problems can happen in people who take COMPLERA. In some cases, these liver problems can lead to death. Your liver may become large (hepatomegaly) and you may develop fat in your liver (steatosis). Call your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the following symptoms of liver problems: – your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow (jaundice) – dark “tea-colored” urine – light-colored bowel movements (stools) – loss of appetite for several days or longer – nausea – stomach pain


• You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or severe liver problems if you are female, very overweight (obese), or have been taking COMPLERA for a long time. • Worsening of Hepatitis B infection. If you have hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and take COMPLERA, your HBV may get worse (flare-up) if you stop taking COMPLERA. A “flare-up” is when your HBV infection suddenly returns in a worse way than before. COMPLERA is not approved for the treatment of HBV, so you must discuss your HBV with your healthcare provider. – Do not run out of COMPLERA. Refill your prescription or talk to your healthcare provider before your COMPLERA is all gone. – Do not stop taking COMPLERA without first talking to your healthcare provider. – If you stop taking COMPLERA, your healthcare provider will need to check your health often and do blood tests regularly to check your HBV infection. Tell your healthcare provider about any new or unusual symptoms you may have after you stop taking COMPLERA. Who should not take COMPLERA? Do not take COMPLERA if you also take any of the following medicines: • Medicines used for seizures: carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol-XR, Teril, Epitol); oxcarbazepine (Trileptal); phenobarbital (Luminal); phenytoin (Dilantin, Dilantin-125, Phenytek) • Medicines used for tuberculosis: rifampin (Rifater, Rifamate, Rimactane, Rifadin); rifapentine (Priftin) • Certain medicines used to block stomach acid called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): dexlansoprazole (Dexilant); esomeprazole (Nexium, Vimovo); lansoprazole (Prevacid); omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid); pantoprazole sodium (Protonix); rabeprazole (Aciphex) • Certain steroid medicines: More than 1 dose of dexamethasone or dexamethasone sodium phosphate • Certain herbal supplements: St. John’s wort • Certain hepatitis medicines: adefovir (Hepsera), lamivudine (Epivir-HBV) Do not take COMPLERA if you also take any other HIV-1 medicines, including: • Other medicines that contain tenofovir (ATRIPLA, STRIBILD, TRUVADA, VIREAD) • Other medicines that contain emtricitabine or lamivudine (ATRIPLA, Combivir, EMTRIVA, Epivir, Epzicom, STRIBILD, Trizivir, TRUVADA) • rilpivirine (Edurant), unless you are also taking rifabutin (Mycobutin) COMPLERA is not for use in people who are less than 18 years old. What are the possible side effects of COMPLERA? COMPLERA may cause the following serious side effects: • See “What is the most important information I should know about COMPLERA?” • New or worse kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood and urine tests to check your kidneys before you start and while you are taking COMPLERA. If you have had kidney problems in the past or need to take another medicine that can cause kidney problems, your healthcare provider may need to do blood tests to check your kidneys during your treatment with COMPLERA. • Depression or mood changes. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms: – feeling sad or hopeless – feeling anxious or restless – have thoughts of hurting yourself (suicide) or have tried to hurt yourself • Change in liver enzymes. People with a history of hepatitis B or C virus infection or who have certain liver enzyme changes may have an

January 22 - February 04, 2015 |

increased risk of developing new or worsening liver problems during treatment with COMPLERA. Liver problems can also happen during treatment with COMPLERA in people without a history of liver disease. Your healthcare provider may need to do tests to check your liver enzymes before and during treatment with COMPLERA. • Bone problems can happen in some people who take COMPLERA. Bone problems include bone pain, softening or thinning (which may lead to fractures). Your healthcare provider may need to do tests to check your bones. • Changes in body fat can happen in people taking HIV-1 medicine. These changes may include increased amount of fat in the upper back and neck (“buffalo hump”), breast, and around the main part of your body (trunk). Loss of fat from the legs, arms and face may also happen. The cause and long term health effect of these conditions are not known. • Changes in your immune system (Immune Reconstitution Syndrome) can happen when you start taking HIV-1 medicines. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections that have been hidden in your body for a long time. Tell your healthcare provider if you start having any new symptoms after starting your HIV-1 medicine. The most common side effects of COMPLERA include: • Trouble sleeping (insomnia), abnormal dreams, headache, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, rash, tiredness, depression Additional common side effects include: • Vomiting, stomach pain or discomfort, skin discoloration (small spots or freckles), pain Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. • These are not all the possible side effects of COMPLERA. For more information, ask your healthcare provider. • Call your healthcare provider for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking COMPLERA? Tell your healthcare provider about all your medical conditions, including: • If you have or had any kidney, mental health, bone, or liver problems, including hepatitis B or C infection. • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if COMPLERA can harm your unborn child. – There is a pregnancy registry for women who take antiviral medicines during pregnancy. The purpose of this registry is to collect information about the health of you and your baby. Talk to your healthcare provider about how you can take part in this registry. • If you are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you take COMPLERA. – You should not breastfeed if you have HIV-1 because of the risk of passing HIV-1 to your baby. – Two of the medicines in COMPLERA can pass to your baby in your breast milk. It is not known if this could harm your baby. – Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements: • COMPLERA may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how COMPLERA works. • If you take certain medicines with COMPLERA, the amount of COMPLERA in your body may be too low and it may not work to help control your HIV-1 infection. The HIV-1 virus in your body may become resistant to COMPLERA or other HIV-1 medicines that are like it. | January 22 - February 04, 2015

• Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you take any of the following medicines: – Rifabutin (Mycobutin), a medicine to treat some bacterial infections. Talk to your healthcare provider about the right amount of rilpivirine (Edurant) you should take. – Antacid medicines that contain aluminum, magnesium hydroxide, or calcium carbonate. Take antacids at least 2 hours before or at least 4 hours after you take COMPLERA. – Certain medicines to block the acid in your stomach, including cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), nizatidine (Axid), or ranitidine hydrochloride (Zantac). Take the acid blocker at least 12 hours before or at least 4 hours after you take COMPLERA. Some acid blocking medicines should never be taken with COMPLERA (see “Who should not take COMPLERA?” for a list of these medicines). – Medicines that can affect how your kidneys work, including acyclovir (Zovirax), cidofovir (Vistide), ganciclovir (Cytovene IV, Vitrasert), valacyclovir (Valtrex), and valganciclovir (Valcyte). – clarithromycin (Biaxin) – erythromycin (E-Mycin, Eryc, Ery-Tab, PCE, Pediazole, Ilosone) – fluconazole (Diflucan) – itraconazole (Sporanox) – ketoconazole (Nizoral) – methadone (Dolophine) – posaconazole (Noxafil) – telithromycin (Ketek) – voriconazole (Vfend) Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine. Do not start any new medicines while you are taking COMPLERA without first talking with your healthcare provider. How should I take COMPLERA? • Stay under the care of your healthcare provider during treatment with COMPLERA. • Take COMPLERA exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to take it. • Always take COMPLERA with food. Taking COMPLERA with food is important to help get the right amount of medicine in your body. A protein drink is not a substitute for food. If your healthcare provider decides to stop COMPLERA and you are switched to new medicines to treat HIV-1 that includes rilpivirine tablets, the rilpivirine tablets should be taken only with a meal. Keep COMPLERA and all medicines out of reach of children. This Brief Summary summarizes the most important information about COMPLERA. If you would like more information, talk with your healthcare provider. You can also ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for information about COMPLERA that is written for health professionals, or call 1-800-445-3235 or go to Issued: September 2014

COMPLERA, the COMPLERA Logo, EMTRIVA, GILEAD, the GILEAD Logo, GSI, HEPSERA, STRIBILD, TRUVADA, VIREAD, and VISTIDE are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. ATRIPLA is a trademark of Bristol-Myers Squibb & Gilead Sciences, LLC. All other marks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners. ©2014 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. CPAC0151 12/14




A Moroccan Education

Directed by Abdellah Taïa Strand Releasing In French and Arabic, with English subtitles Opens Jan. 23; one week only Film Society of Lincoln Center Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center 144 W. 65th St.

Abdellah Taïa’s adaptation of autobiographical novel charts journey to uncertain European adulthood BY GARY M. KRAMER



bdellah Taïa, the celebrated out gay Moroccan writer, has adapted his autobiographical novel “Salvation Army” for the screen, and the result is remarkable. The film features a rare gay Arab protagonist, and Taïa proves himself as lyrical a filmmaker as he is a writer. This intimate, episodic comingof-age story is told in two parts. The first, longer section has young Abdellah (Said Mrini) living with his family in Morocco. He is secretly attracted to his handsome older brother, Slimane (Amine Ennaji), and lies in his brother’s bed, breathing into the pillow as if to capture Slimane’s essence. His mother (Malika El Hamaoui) chastises him for entering Slimane’s room, almost as if she knows about his obsession. His infatuation provides a symbolic expression of his own burgeoning but repressed homosexuality. Taïa is attuned to capturing these moments so they reveal the complexity of Abdellah’s hidden sexuality and identity; they are never lewd or vulgar moments.

Said Mrini, as young Abdellah, and Amine Ennaji, as his brother, Slimane, in Abdellah Taïa’s “Salvation Army.”

Young Abdellah himself exudes a sexual magnetism, and it bewitches several older men in the town. He is stopped on the street by a man and taken to a construction site for sex. At the market, a fruit vendor caresses Abdellah’s hand and head, sending him off with a watermelon afterwards. Abdellah instinctively understands that men desire him — and that he is attracted to men — but he cannot articulate this reality. He does, however, acknowledge that sex is a means for getting something else. Taïa presents these encounters

with subtlety, letting them silently inform the protagonist’s experiences, actions, and outlook. The young Abdellah is not without shame about his sexuality. He is teased one night by his sister for wanting to eat with the women in the family. His relationship with his father (Abdelhak Swilah) is more complicated, and the issue of his son’s sexuality is not discussed. Taïa takes pains to depict Abdellah’s conflicted emotions, but his narrative approach also forces viewers to draw inferences. When Abdelleh pulls off a flower’s pet-

als, playing “He loves me, he loves me not,” the object of his desire is ambiguous. He is probably thinking about his brother, and not the stranger he recently had sex with or his father. The film also shows how Abdellah’s formative years are shaped by the larger family dynamics. A painful scene has Abdellah’s father abusing his mother, and the family rallies to her defense. This moment, along with a scene where Abdellah reacts to a stranger’s threat on the street by shouting “I’m not afraid of you,” demonstrate his toughening up. He matures further when Slimane takes him and his much younger brother to the beach for a vacation. The trip proves a pivotal moment in his life. At their hotel, Abdellah pretends to be sleeping as he spies on his naked brother drying off after a shower. When Slimane talks with Abdellah about the impor tance of learning French and leaving Morocco, Abdellah is torn. But in the film’s second part, we see


SALVATION, continued on p.25

Report from the Jihadist Front Abderrahmane Sissako’s story of Mali is a Muslim response to terror BY STEVE ERICKSON


t’s sad when foolish people try to defend their faith in ways that wind up promoting stereotypes about it. It’s even tragic, as the massacre at Charlie Hebdo shows. Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Timbuktu,” made in Mauritania but set in Mali, is a cri de coeur from a Muslim artist against Islamic fundamentalism that many people have been waiting for. Expect Islamophobes to ignore it. Booked for a two-week run at Film Forum, it’s unlikely to receive more than a small arthouse run in the US. Alas, the Muslim stereotypes of TV shows like “Tyrant” and “Homeland” will reach a far greater American audience than this report from the frontlines against groups like Boko Haram. Near the Malian city of Timbuktu, a group


of Islamic fundamentalists strut into a town and take over. They declare bans on music and women going outside without wearing gloves and socks. Cattle herder Kidane (Ibrahim Ahmed aka Pino) lives in the Sahara with his wife Satima (Toulou Kiki), daughter Toya (Layla Walet Mohamed), and 12-year-old shepherd Issan (Mehdi A.G. Mohamed). They’re isolated enough to avoid the jihadists (the term used in the film’s credits and press materials). The local, moderate imam is cast away, and the Sharia courts issue awful sentences for the most trivial offenses. Unfortunately, Kidane’s path crosses with the jihadists when he accidentally kills a fisherman who slaughtered his favorite cow, GPS. Forced to live by their laws, he’s called to their improvised court. Sissako does justice to the beauty the fundamentalists thoughtlessly trash. In one of the

TIMBUKTU Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako Cohen Media Group In Arabic, Bambara, English, French, Songhay, and Tamasheq with English subtitles Opens Jan. 28 Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St. film’s first few scenes, they use ancient wooden masks for target practice. One might think the desert would be dry and monochromatic, but Sissako and cinematographer Sofiane El Fani bring out its full range of colors. Aided by expert production and costume design, his characters’ dwellings and clothes are bright and lively. Mali


TIMBUKTU, continued on p.26

January 22 - February 04, 2015 |


Butterfly Cage

Lesbians hew faithfully to their S&M roles in Peter Strickland’s fantastical romantic drama BY GARY M. KRAMER

THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY Directed by Peter Strickland Sundance Selects Opening Jan. 23 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. The film opens with Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna) bicycling to the home of Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen). After Evelyn rings the doorbell and waits two minutes, Cynthia answers. “You’re late,” she scowls, and brings her maid into the living room, and adds, “Did I say you could sit?,” when Evelyn positions herself on the couch. “You can start by cleaning the study,” Cynthia commands. “And don’t take all day this time.” The scene, it is revealed, is a master/ slave routine — there is even a notecard detailing precise instructions and dialogue — that the women perform for their erotic pleasure. Their role-playing even


SALVATION, from p.24

him taking his brother’s advice. A critical episode when Abdellah has a sexual assignation with a stranger signals he is finally accepting his homosexuality. Taïa captures Abdellah’s longing beautifully, poignantly, and even painfully. These encounters are shot — as is most of “Salvation Army” — with a minimalism that draws viewers in, even if the drama can at times feel detached. But there is something hypnotic about Taïa’s filmmaking here; it is always full of emotion, even when the characters are a bit aloof. A | January 22 - February 04, 2015



esbians, lepidopterists, and S&M practitioners for m an overlapping Venn diagram of sorts in “The Duke of Burgandy,” writer/ director Peter Strickland’s arch and ecstatic romantic drama. The film takes its visual cues from 1960s and ‘70s European arthouse softcore — think Radley Metzger — and its aural sources range from butterfly sounds to soap bubbles popping.

involves Cynthia denying Evelyn the opportunity to go to the toilet, as well as a “punishment” that takes place behind the closed bathroom door when Evelyn fails to hand-wash Cynthia’s panties properly. Hint: it explains why the mistress is always drinking large glasses of water. “The Duke of Burgandy” plays out this and other S&M scenarios several times and not just for the dark amusement it gives the characters and the audience. Strickland is emphasizing the power positions of the two lovers. Evelyn admits how grateful she is to be “used” by Cynthia, a woman who is all she ever dreamed about but never thought she would find. While Cynthia is anxious to please her lover with her discipline, the film shows her veneer is starting to crack. Evelyn’s happiness is dependent upon Cynthia being unhappy about her maid skills at boot polishing, panties laundering, and house cleaning, and then chastising her for it. In bed together, Evelyn is aroused not but her lover whispering sweet nothings to her, but by Cynthia giving her a verbal spanking. When she pleads to Cynthia to use “more conviction” in her stern reprobation, it is both funny and telling. One of the film’s best sequences involves Evelyn’s meeting with a female carpenter (Fatma Mohamed). The carpenter describes a bed that allows the lovers to sleep on top of one another, noting that it takes eight weeks to construct. Evelyn is disappointed at having to wait, but when the carpenter tells her about another product to facilitate the couple’s water sports, she becomes

Sidse Babett Knudsen in Peter Strickland’s “The Duke of Burgundy.”

more enthusiastic. Such moments are among the film’s charms. The superbly controlled performances Strickland gets from his lovely actresses are what makes the film so captivating. That they rarely break character is part of the film’s fun. When Evelyn expresses disapproval about Cynthia wearing clothes not suitable for her dominating role or an act of betrayal is discussed, the moments play like a lovers’ spat, but they could be part of the couple’s role-playing. The ambiguity is quite delicious. Likewise, the film’s narrative — which repeats scenes and images and includes several hypnotic sequences, including one that begins and ends with the camera zooming into Cynthia’s dark crotch — suggests a variety of interpretations. Precision is both the style and subject of “The Duke of Burgundy.” Shots of pinned butterflies underscore the dominant/ submissive relationship between the women, who are often reflected in glass and mirrors. There are voyeuristic scenes of Evelyn looking through a keyhole to see Cynthia getting dressed,

scene in a hammam is exquisitely sensual as an older man washes the mud off Abdullah’s body. Lingering shots emphasize the story’s competing themes of purification and eroticism. “Salvation Army” jumps ahead 10 years for its second part, and here the adult Abdellah (Karim Ait M’Hand, a great physical match for Mrini) is initially involved with Jean (Frédéric Landenberg), an older Swiss professor. Their relationship, however, is yet another exchange of sex for something else. We next see Abdellah in Geneva with a student visa, searching for a place to live while he waits to start school. As he wanders the city and washes himself in a public

which mirror Evelyn looking at a specimen under a microscope. (The film’s title is the name of a butterfly species.) And there are shots of the women’s lovemaking, some discreet, others explicit. We see several episodes of women, Cynthia included, lecturing about butterflies at seminars made up entirely of women, even if a few are just mannequins — in line with Strickland’s offbeat skewing of reality. As the film builds to a climax, the lovers start to discuss their relationship more honestly. “It would be nice if you did it without having to be asked” each of them says to the other. Cynthia is talking about getting a massage for her injured back, while Evelyn wants her lover to lock her in the trunk at night. The film’s sex and S&M scenes are more about explicating the dynamics of the women’s relationship than in simply showing off their eroticism. But the cinematography practically drips with dreamy romanticism, and “The Duke of Burgundy” yields considerable sensual pleasures.

bathroom sink, his despair is palpable. When he finally arrives at the Salvation Army, the ending is deliberately open-ended. Taïa’s impressionistic film does not build to a dramatic climax, but each scene creates a distinctive feeling. Abdellah has a wide variety of encounters with strangers in his life, and moments from his childhood are reflected and refracted in his adult experiences. Audiences who embrace the filmmaker’s oblique storytelling technique will make connections and draw parallels. Taïa, whose book fleshes out his story more completely, has adapted it into a subtle film with less explication but no less power.



Hard to Be a Witness Aleksei German’s swan song travels to another planet to plumb depths of 20th century Europe

t’s hard to be a god, according to the title of Russian director Aleksei German’s posthumously released film. It’s also hard to be a filmmaker, and that was especially so in the days of the USSR. Then, state support for unconventional work jostled with censorship of it. Two of German’s six films were banned for varying lengths of time. After the fall of communism, the free market’s censorship set in, a force as strong in the US as in Russia. As a result, Americans couldn’t see German’s 1998 final-days-of-Stalin opus “Khrustalyov, My Car!” beyond one-off festival screenings. “Hard to Be a God” would be a difficult film under any circumstances, but it benefits from knowing German’s oeuvre. For one thing, while his films generally don’t resemble each other, “Hard to Be a God” builds upon the immersive nightmares of “Khrustalyov, My Car!,” taking them much further. Unless one has read brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s source novel or seen the film several times, the narrative of “Hard to Be a God” is hard to follow. The premise and some of its events remind me of Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court.” Scientists from Earth are living on the planet Arkandar, which suffers under a dictatorship in a period roughly equivalent to the Middle Ages. No one is allowed to read

Directed by Aleksei German In Russian with English subtitles Kino Lorber Opens Jan. 30 Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave. at Second St. or write, and the scientists are supposed to hold back from influencing Arkandar’s politics and history. However, Don Rumata (Leonid Yarmolnik) is recognized as an outsider by the residents of Arkandar and treated as a god. He tries to act like one, leading to complications. “Hard to Be a God” had an unusual production history. We’re lucky to be able to see it within two years of its completion. German wanted to make it as his debut film, as far back as 1964. His solo debut was instead the 1971 “Trial on the Road” (also playing in a three-film German retrospective alongside “Hard to Be a God” at Anthology). The events of 1968 ensured that it would be very difficult to adapt the novel under communism. In a freer climate, German returned to the project in the late ‘80s but then embarked on “Khrustalyov, My Car!” The production of “Hard to Be a God” lasted six years and involved building castles, and its post-production took an additional five years. German died before the film was completed. Its final post-production was super-


Ibrahim Ahmed aka Pino and Layla Walet Mohamed in Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Timbuktu.”


TIMBUKTU, from p.24

is known for its music scene, with artists like Tinariwen and Amadou & Mariam gaining an international following for their mixtures of blues, rock, and indigenous styles; the soundtrack of “Timbuktu,” which mixes Malian and orchestral music (composed by Amin Bouhafa), is remarkable. The film shows the impossibility of a ban on music


— song is fully integrated into its characters’ lives. Unfortunately, “Timbuktu” falls a little short when it tries to show resistance to the fundamentalists. Slowly but surely, their pronouncements take on real force. The harmless pastime of soccer earns one man 40 lashes, so a group of children mime a soccer game without a ball. Sentenced to 80 lashes for singing, a woman breaks out into song





Leonid Yarmolnik in Aleksei German’s “Hard to Be a God.”

vised by his wife, Svetlana Karmalita (who also co-wrote the script), and son, Aleksei German, Jr. An acquaintance reported that half the audience at the Museum of the Moving Image’s recent screening of “Hard to Be a God” walked out. It’s not hard to see why. Very few films are this accomplished; similarly, very few are so unpleasant. The sci-fi pretext is quickly abandoned. Essentially, this is Europe’s Middle Ages, with overtones of the Holocaust, and it makes Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Andrei Rublev” look like kid stuff. German had an unusual knack for creating the sensation that the spectator is visiting a real place, aided here by his film’s 170-minute duration. First developed in “Khrustalyov, My Car!,” the approach bears full fruit here. I can understand why some people wouldn’t want to sit through a film that essentially amounts to Russia’s long-delayed answer to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Salò.” “Hard to Be a God” might be unwatchable if rendered in low-fi shakycam. Thankfully, the black-and-white cinematography is lush, even when depicting filth and ugliness. (German used two different cinematographers, but their work


under the whip. Alas, these scenes strive too hard for poetic effect and wind up feeling a bit corny. There’s an oddly calm and placid tone to “Timbuktu,” especially at first. The fundamentalists’ takeover seems like something with which one can argue, as the town imam tries. They ignore him. The film emphasizes the multicultural nature of Mali; while some of the fundamentalists have quite dark skin, they tend to be lighter -skinned than the people they’re ordering around, suggesting their domination is a new form of colonialism. Even the fundamentalists seem confused about their mission, while they carry it out with deadly force. Told to make a video emphasizing his conversion from Western values, a former rapper is too nervous to make it through several takes, each one more awkward.

GOD, continued on p.32

Sissako reminded us that the whole world wasn’t anticipating a Y2K Armageddon in “Life on Earth,” made for the “2000 Seen By” series, which brought apocalyptic visions from Don McKellar and Tsai Ming-liang. He attacked neocolonialism in his last film, “Bamako.” Slowly paced and relatively muted in tone, “Timbuktu” fits into the tradition of African art cinema. Slowly, Sissako has become one of the few directors from sub-Saharan Africa to have an audience outside it. Such exposure sometimes brings questions about authenticity, especially when one is working with European financing, as Sissako is here. However, in this case, Sissako uses his platform to cry about something of great importance and urgency. His characters ignored Y2K in “Life on Earth,” but they can’t ignore the rise of Islamic fundamentalism now.

January 22 - February 04, 2015 |



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High Stakes Money, judgment, relationships all feature in two new pieces BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE

Rimalower doesn’t strive for anything deeper than asking people to laugh at his antics, and so the experience is largely voyeuristic rather than engaging. The larger costs of his behavior and how those relate to our own struggles with money are left unexamined. One wishes director Aaron Mark had pushed him further. Money and our relationship to it are hot topics in contemporary culture, but as diverting as “Bad With Money” is, it’s unfortunate the piece isn’t — you should pardon the expression — richer.



o hear him tell it, the title of Ben Rimalower’s one-person show “Bad With Money” is an understatement. His money addiction has led him into all sorts of dark and felonious places — but rather than being behind bars, he’s on stage at the Duplex confessing, after a fashion. Appropriate to the venue, the show is really a one-hour cabaret act sans songs that is a series of anecdotes about the lengths Rimalower has gone to feed his obsession with lucre. As with many addicts, it doesn’t seem like he has gotten much pleasure from some ill-gotten gains. The stories are appropriately horrifying to those of us who manage to be slightly more responsible with money, at least to the point of not stealing from friends or thinking that gay prostitution is a career option. The difference between him and — hopefully — most of us lends an inevitable bit of Schadenfreude to the evening. Rimalower is larger than life on the small stage and very charming, and there were points in the tale when there were audible gasps from the audience. If you’ve ever been despondent over missing a credit card payment, this show will fix that. There are worse things that

Ben Rimalower in “Bad With Money” at the Duplex.

BAD WITH MONEY The Duplex Cabaret 61 Christopher St. at Sheridan Sq. Jan. 21 & 28, 7 p.m. Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26, 9:30 p.m. $25-$50 plus a two-drink minimum or 800-316-8559 60 mins., no intermission could happen — many of which have likely never occurred to you. It’s not clear whether or not Rimalower’s been cured of his addiction — one assumes not, based on the show’s final moments — and the

WINNERS AND LOSERS Soho Rep 64 Walker St. at Broadway Through Feb. 1 Wed.-Sun at 7:30 p.m. $35; Or 866-811-4111 90 mins., no intermission piece would be enhanced by a little more introspection and perspective. As shocking and entertaining as his horror stories are, he misses an opportunity to be more than a cabaret performer.

The theater of ideas can be rocky terrain to negotiate, given the often questionable entertainment value of polemics and philosophical discourse. Fortunately, with “Winners and Losers,” now at Soho Rep, Marcus Youssef and James Long have created an economical and engaging piece that succeeds. The overarching theme is that what makes one thing a winner and another thing a loser varies according to individual tastes. Over the course of 90 minutes, the play delves into the substantive and the superficial, even taking suggestions from the audience at two points in the performance I saw.


WINNERS, continued on p.36

Beautiful Chaos Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson star in a non-linear but heart-wrenching love story



he concept may not be particularly original: Events are examined in non-linear fashion, refracted through concepts in physics related to time, so that we can see how choices one makes shape experience from that moment forward. But Nick Payne’s play “Constellations,” now at Manhattan Theatre Club, succeeds marvelously. The play is written with economy and is highly relatable, receives fine direction from Michael Longhurst, and features exceptionally precise


performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson. This short piece leads us through the relationship between Roland and Marianne from cute meet to hard final choices. This is territory that has been trod by no lesser playwrights than Michael Frayn and Yasmina Reza, and the echoes of Tom Stoppard here are inescapable. Payne limits the scope of his story to one relationship and a handful of moments portrayed several times from different perspectives and sometimes different plot points. “Constellations” is both simpler — in a very good way — and more heartfelt than larger works by other playwrights. If not as sophisticated an intellectu-

al exercise as some more ambitious, though in some cases obscure, plays, it benefits from tempering the head with the heart, creating a piece that is primarily about human experience and only incidentally a meditation about time. We come to care about Roland and Marianne, and can clearly see how their actions have consequences and how life is nothing more than an accumulation of choices and life-changing results. Payne, through his characters, encourages us to look inward and grapple with the existential question gay playwright Thornton Wilder


STARS, continued on p.31

January 22 - February 04, 2015 |


A Romeo for the Rabble

A contrarian troupe revivifies one of the most produced plays of all time BY DAVID KENNERLEY

THE TRAGEDY OF ROMEO AND JULIET Shakespeare in the Square The Gym At Judson 243 Thompson St. at W. Fourth St. Through Feb. 8 Tue.-Thu., Sat.-Sun. at 8 p.m. Fri. at 7 & 10 p.m.; Sun. at 2 p.m. $15-$45; Two hrs., 15 mins., with intermission This conceit aligns perfectly with this troupe’s penchant for breaking rules and blasting expectations, all in service to making the Bard’s work more accessible to the common folk. Which, if you think about it, was the intent when the plays were first staged in the late 16th century. If the goal, according to director and SITS cofounder Dan Hasse, is to “blow the dust off Shakespeare’s plays and revive the original bear-baiting, beer-drinking rowdiness of Elizabethan theater,” then consider its mission accomplished. Polished production values, even-



he title is “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet” but that matters little to the upstart Shakespeare in the Square theater company, known as SITS. Its latest effort, a revamping of the well-trod staple, often plays like a spoofy comedy. And yes, the comedy is intentional.

ness of tone, and cadenced line delivery are not the priority here. It starts when you enter the austere black-box space at the Gym at Judson and are confronted with a booth selling beer and wine. Cast members are already at work, belting out spirited songs — though instead of Elizabethan ballads, we hear ditties by the likes of David Bowie. A host of sorts repeatedly beckons you to imbibe and enjoy. Calculated casualness is a large part of the evening’s appeal. Four lucky volunteers are escorted to the prime seats flanking the stage for a more immer sive experience, a nod to the viewing gallery overlooking Elizabethan stages. During the Capulet masked ball scene, these VIPs join the revelry onstage and are given a free drink. From time to time, cast members cavort with these and other audience members. The setting is intimate — I counted only 60 seats in the house. This anything-goes spirit is at once genial and inclusive. Hasse allows his five actors, former NYU acting students who tackle multiple roles with abandon, a wide berth to interpret the iconic characters. Quite a few are played with the winking broadness of sketch comedy. Except for Juliet, female roles are played by men, as originally staged. While some theatergoers will be amused by this madcap approach, others will surely be rankled. As Romeo, the son of Montague,

Elise Kibler and Taylor Myers in the Shakespeare in the Square production of “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.”

the strapping Taylor Myers, deftly handles the evolution from lovelorn reject to love-struck husband. Myers’ Lady Capulet is convincing, though he’s less successful delineating his minor roles. Chris Dooly brings a menacing intensity to the role of Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, as he defends the honor of the House of Capulet, and his Paris makes a tantalizing suitor for the young Juliet. The lone female cast member, Elise Kibler, portrays 13-year-old Juliet with an alluring blend of innocence and pluck, though is less confident with her secondary roles. In a few weeks, look for Kibler in her Broadway debut, where she appears alongside Elisabeth Moss and Jason Biggs in “The Heidi Chronicles.” The tireless Jack de Sanz plays Juliet’s nurse for laughs, and he often gets them. Rounding out the cast is Constantine Malahias, who shifts easily from the devoted Mercutio, Romeo’s best bud, to the gruff Lord Capulet. Forsaking period costumes, designer Liz McGlone mostly opts for everyday garb that appears

pulled from the actors’ closets, such as tight black jeans for Myers and Dooly, and a basic black dress for Kibler. Although minor quick-changes help distinguish characters — a corset morphs Romeo into Lady Capulet, thickrimmed glasses mark Paris — a few more identifiers would have helped. SITS prides itself on dissecting the First Folio, the definitive version of Shakespeare’s works published in 1623, and restoring original passages and correcting errors often included in modern productions. Accustomed to performing outdoors in Washington Square Park for a shifting, often distracted crowd, this is the five-year-old company’s first official Off-Broadway production indoors. The rough edges, however, are less easily overlooked by a paying audience in a bona fide theater. Not only is the troupe bent on delivering a good time to theatergoers, they are clearly having a blast themselves. Did actors improvise and crack each other up in Shakespeare’s day? This vibrant albeit warped production has us believing they did indeed.

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Blissful Survivor After a high-low-low life, Bettye LaVette takes up residence at the Carlyle BY DAVID NOH




here are damn few singers today as purely exciting as Bettye LaVette, who has a new CD out, “Worthy,” and is about to wow the Upper East Side at the Cafe Carlyle, January 27 to February 7 ( the-carlyle-new-york). Her sinuous, searingly involved huge talent aside, I became particularly enthralled with her after reading her jaw-droppingly honest memoir, “A Woman Like Me.” Among the more colorful tidbits: her working briefly as a prostitute, a career that ended up with her being dangled by her pimp in her underwear from the 20th story of a building on Amsterdam and 78th ; affairs she had with Aretha Franklin’s husband, as well as Otis Redding and Ben E. King; and how it was actually Tina Turner’s choice to stay with Ike to see what she could learn from his beatings. Professionally, LaVette went through endlessly frustrating and heartbreaking career non-starts and disappointments, which would have made anyone else throw in the towel — but now make her happily employed state all the more sweet. “You’re my fifth interview of the day,” were her opening words in our phone interview. “I’m just sitting here in West Orange, New Jersey, smoking a joint, looking out the window at the snow, and sipping on champagne. It’s not so bad.” After a life that could, with understatement, be described as “turbulent,” I asked LaVette if she could ever have seen herself sitting up in Jersey, with four cats, blissfully married to Kevin Kiley, an antique dealer. “I certainly didn’t… but, yes, I married this record historian who knows more about me musically than I know myself. He sent me his first email years ago when he heard I was about to make a record, saying, ‘I’ve been a fan of yours for 11 years and wanted you to know I don’t want this producer to do it with you. He doesn’t know what to do with you.’ “So I sent him a message back: ‘First off, do you have any money to take me into the studio? Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been in a studio?’ “I didn’t sign with that producer and when ‘A Woman Like Me’ was coming out, he sent me a message saying, ‘I’m so glad you did that. I’m an antique dealer doing a show in Detroit and I’d like to take you out to dinner and apologize for being so forward.’ “And he completely saved my life both in and out of bed!” LaVette is now enjoying more success than she’s ever had. “I’m so happy now with the things people like yourself are saying about me,” she told me. “All

Bettye LaVette appears at the Café Carlyle January 27-February 7.

my life I’ve wanted to be in those conversations about my contemporaries — who’s the greatest singer — because my name never came up in those and I’m just thrilled about that. I am glad to be still so strong and vital and given the respect of being an older artist, but I’m being dealt with as a new discovery! This gives me a different route from my contemporaries who may now be has-beens, but I’m an old never-was, kind of unique. I’ve denied the word ‘comeback’ because I haven’t been anywhere. I was working for 50 bucks a night and now I’m working for more, but I never worked in a hospital or joined a church or lived in my car. I’ve been the same drunk broad, singing for all this time.” LaVette is over the moon about her new CD: “I love this album so much. The title of it is ‘Worthy.’ I just thought that that sounded like such a haughty claim, so I didn’t want my picture on the album and didn’t want the name to be big. Very small, and even in singing the title song I didn’t want to sing it loud and kept the background very simple. I didn’t want to be patting myself on the back or beating my chest.” Although her name may still be a bit obscure to some, I recall LaVette from the Golden Age of Disco when her song “Doing the Best That I Can” was one of the absolute 5 a.m. anthems of the Paradise Garage. “That was my first and only time, per -

forming in a huge gay club. My husband found this invite for it, the ‘Fire Down Below’ party, with this drawing of two guys with flames all around them, reaching for each other’s dicks. “I’m a singer, not a disco queen or a dancer. I had recorded that song for the words and had never heard the disco production they put under it, which I hated. So when I came out on stage that night, I didn’t know where they put my voice arrangement or where to come in. But everyone in the club knew the words and were singing it, so I just sang along with all you guys! I didn’t know the thing was even selling. I was just stunned — and do you know it wound up being in the top 10 of the 100 disco songs? “We left the club, and Mel Cheren and the other white gay guys from West End Records took me out to Fire Island for the first time, and oh my God, we had the greatest time in the world. We were there until mimosa time the next day. I will never forget the night or the outfit that I wore: this sheer pink thing and I wore a nude bodysuit under it. They told me it was a gay affair and I wanted to be gay.” That was at the height of the party years, just before AIDS: “I recorded the Springsteen song ‘The Streets of Philadelphia,’ and when I sing it at the Carlyle, I explain that I never knew I would


IN THE NOH, continued on p.36

January 22 - February 04, 2015 |


Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson in Nick Payne’s “Constellations.”

Limited Engagement! January 27th – February 21st c

STARS, from p.28

posed in “Our Town” when Emily asks the Stage Manager, “Does anyone ever realize life as they live it… every, every minute?” The answer, of course, is no, even if the Stage Manager suggests that saints and poets may be exceptions. Under Longhurst’s direction, the scene-and-variation structure moves quickly and effortlessly from one version to the next, and the relationship between Roland and Marianne begins to expand and contract. The pace may be rapid-fire, but it is always clear and takes us deeper into these deceptively simple characters. Tom Scutt’s set is a simple platform surrounded by balloons, which with Lee Curran’s excellent lighting, places the events in an ethereal mileau, appropriate for a play whose turf is “the multiverse.” Gyllenhaal and Wilson give sublime performances. If at first the slight variations in the repetitive scenes seem like an acting exercise, they swiftly move into richly conceived and committed performances that reflect all the nuances of how experience influences character. Wilson, who is British, and Gyllenhall, who is extremely convincing as British, manage the awkwardness and indirectness that we’ve come to

CONSTELLATIONS Manhattan Theatre Club Samuel J. Friedman Theatre 261 W. 47th St. Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m.; Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $155; Or 212-239-6200 70 mins., no intermission think of as innate to that nation’s character from years of watching Hugh Grant and Colin Firth in a seemingly unending stream of rom-coms. Roland and Marianne are both appealing characters, despite — or perhaps because of — their darker sides, and the star power Gyllenhaal and Wilson bring to their roles doesn’t hurt either. The fact that they are believable and compelling in all of the vignettes is a tribute to their skill at crafting characters. At its core, the play is the latest piece to examine what’s popularly called the “Butterfly Effect,” also sometimes known as chaos theory, which posits that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause a hurricane in another. In this instance, a simple story that examines the inescapably chaotic nature of human relationships becomes a delicate play of the first order. | January 22 - February 04, 2015

At the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, 416 West 42nd Street

Tickets $25.00 – $35.00 212-279-4200



Mostly Metropolitan

Armiliato was less comprehensively in charge of “Aida” January 2, with two singers

Three revivals yield some bright spots BY DAVID SHENGOLD


December 30 marked my fourth viewing of the Met’s Salzburg-created Willy Decker “Traviata,” referred to by its non-fans among conservative operagoers as “the Red Dress ‘Traviata.’” The staging has its limits and demands a terrific lead performance. While nothing historic happened, I noted happily that the leading trio proved the most balanced I’ve seen yet in this tightly wound production: a repertory performance well enough cast and executed that no one who didn’t go in expecting Callas and Kraus could have felt cheated. Marina Rebeka, announced as indisposed, sounded challenged for a mere few minutes before her voice freed up. She omitted Act One’s (in any event unwritten) high E flat


GOD, from p.26

blends seamlessly.) Almost the entire film consists of Steadicam tracking shots that move alongside the characters, probing among them. The camera gets very close to



eon Botstein came up with another intriguing novelty December 19 at Alice Tully Hall: after a staging of 1931’s play-to-be-read “The Long Christmas Dinner” by gay author Thornton Wilder, Botstein led his American Symphony Orchestra in Paul Hindemith’s 1960 operatic adaptation. Jonathan Rosenberg directed both multi-generation dramas capably, though I didn’t like his replacing Wilder’s use of coded doorways for characters’ exits in the play version with — in the case of mortal departures — melodramatic death rattles. It might be salutary to try the same approach and stage both the Wilde and Strauss versions of “Salome.” Here, with both pieces in English, it was interesting to hear how and where Wilder had slightly condensed or altered his play in crafting the libretto. For example, the departure of Sam as a doomed soldier in World War I evidently took on far greater meaning after the devastation of that war’s successor. Hindemith’s harmonically deft score makes it the pivotal musical moment, with a striking sextet anchored by Sam — baritone Jarrett Ott, singing very suavely and with verbal point. The other outstanding members of the cast — most of whom did fine, though one frequently deployed veteran tenor came to genuine grief — were the two mezzos: refulgent, spirited Sara Murphy and rich-toned, subtly phrasing Catherine Martin. This was a well-conceived, timely evening.

Soloman Howard in “Aida.”

but nailed the trail of tricky C sharps Verdi assigned. Rebeka showed more dynamic than coloristic range, but there’s no question she’s a genuine Violetta. She could phrase more on the words but does bring feeling and musicianship to her work. Boyish and naive-looking, Francesco Demuro made an apt Alfredo and, though his voice isn’t huge, brought to bear pleasant Italian lyric sound and native phrasing that filled the bill very nicely. Quinn Kelsey sang Germont extremely well, a “real deal” Verdi baritone, and — I thought — with considerable dramatic nuance. Pray for him and/or Stephen Powell to jump in to the upcoming “Ernani“ revival. The staging irons out most of the small parts into members of Violetta’s heartless fan club — perhaps just as well, since we had been dealt a disconcertingly raucous Flora and a mediocre Gaston. Only Maria Zifchak (Annina) and James Courtney (Dr. Grenvil) are allowed to create characters and these experienced artists did so effectively. In the pit, Marco Armiliato’s leadership was sound and considerate.

the actors. In his most audacious move, German had characters periodically speak directly to the camera, if not the audience. However, the pacing is deliberately wearying: it replicates the sensation of being trapped on a train for hours. “Hard

entering the cast anew; some tempi dragged. Virginia-born soprano Marjorie Owens, an established artist in Germany — and co-incidentally married to Quinn Kelsey — joined the company with a risk that paid off: her first-ever Aida. Handsome onstage and a sensitive musician, she brought consistently attractive lirico-spinto tone to the testing role, rising easily to its iconic high notes. The audience was clearly happy. Her engagement is welcome; bring on “Don Carlo” and “Lohengrin,” please! Carl Tanner’ rough-hewn tenor offered little sensuous tone but at least had the bite and consistency to project Radames’ music — until Act Three, when hit by an attack of phlegm with which he struggled manfully, trying not to spoil duet passages with Owens. After years of soprano repertory Violeta Urmana managed her old mezzo role of Amneris creditably but not without perceptible effort and some hard tone. George Gagnidze’s healthy-sounding old fashioned barnstorming suited Amonasro well. Two excellent basses appeared: Dmitry Belosselskiy, dramatically a cipher as Ramfis, and the exceptional recent debutant Soloman Howard, alert and striking as the King.

There’s pleasantly perverse life in Richard Jones’ veddy British “Hansel and Gretel” yet. January 3 witnessed a last-minute substitution by mezzo Jennifer Johnson Cano, who vocalized Hansel’s music well and fit right into the production. Stronger projection of words would have been welcome — but only Dwayne Croft’s strongly cast Peter succeeded in that respect, partly due to Andrew Davis’ sweeping but not sufficiently magical conducting. Heidi Stober made Gretel unusually credible and sang decently, but her middle voice has little of the radiance Humperdinck’s music rewards. Robert Brubaker’s Witch remains amusing, but can’t we have the dramatic mezzo the composer envisioned? Michaela Martens — her Gertrud far better acted and sung than most — would be a strong candidate to sing the Witch, as might Urmana, or Deborah Voigt, a skilled comedienne audiences instinctively like with the right vocal format. A bright spot in the overall fun performance was the lovely-sounding Dew Fairy of star-in-the-making Ying Fang, still at Juilliard. David Shengold ( writes about opera for many venues.

to Be a God” does not move quickly. German philosopher Theodor Adorno famously declared “No poetry after Auschwitz.” In the field of cinema, this has generally been interpreted to mean that one shouldn’t depict the concentration

camps directly in narrative cinema. “Hard to Be a God” holds up an indirect mirror to the worst of the 20th century via the Middle Ages. It may be unpleasant to watch, but despite technically being science fiction it’s powerful and real.

January 22 - February 04, 2015 |


Photo Essay by Michael Shirey | The 16th annual GLAM Awards warmed up an otherwise bitter cold winter evening on January 13. Bianca Del Rio and Michael Musto hosted the raunchy nigh at BPM, presented by Cherry Jubilee (bottom left), that celebrated the best in New York City nightlife. The evening’s event, which kicked off with an elaborate “Wizard of Oz” tribute, also included performances by Chelsea Piers, Marty Thomas and the Divas, and recording artist Kelly King. More than 25 awards were handed out throughout the evening, including the Living Legend lifetime achievement award to veteran drag queen Sweetie, Breakthrough Performer to Sutton Lee Seymour, Best Promoter to Justin Luke,

and Best Bar Night to Holly Dae and the cast of “Queen.” Bob the Drag Queen was the big winner of the night, garnering awards for Best Duo, with Pixie Aventura, and Best Hostess, along with the prize for Best Comedy Performer — originally awarded to Bianca Del Rio, who handed it over to Bob, saying “That bitch has been working — [she’s] talented and fucking smart. She deserves this.” The “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner did accept the night’s top prize, Entertainer of the Year. During her acceptance speech, the rarely humble Bianca urged her fellow nightlifers to “look to the people who came before you, not the people who came on your chest." A complete list of winners is at | January 22 - February 04, 2015



MARRIAGE, from p.4

the right to marry. Having listened to the audio recording of the arguments, I share the view of gay journalists present in the courtroom that the panel is likely to vote 2-1 in favor of marriage equality. Arguing for the Texas plaintiffs, attorney Daniel Lane strongly urged the judges to make a decision and not wait on the Supreme Court — despite the fact that the high court was conferencing on other marriage cases that same day. He pointed out that his clients had pressing needs to be married or have their marriages recognized, which could not wait on final resolution of the issue in Washington.

Later on January 9, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, in a matter it had been mulling for some time, finally rejected a petition from Idaho Governor Butch Otter, a Republican, that a larger panel of judges reconsider a three-judge marriage equality ruling from October. As is usual in such circumstances, the Ninth Circuit did not issue an opinion explaining why it denied the Idaho petition. One of the circuit’s most conservative judges, however, Diarmuid O’Scannlain, among three dissenters, wrote a lengthy opinion citing the 1972 precedent and emphasizing that federal courts traditionally abstain from deciding issues about the domestic relations policies of the states. Here, he focused on Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the DOMA case, which faulted the 1996 law’s failure to respect the states’ role in marriage by withholding federal recognition. Federal judges, however, have found plenty of quotable material from Kennedy’s opinion for both sides of the underlying marriage equality argument. The Ninth Circuit’s denial was widely expected — even by Otter and his attorney general, who are also seeking Supreme Court review.

On January 12, US District Judge Karen E. Schreier handed plaintiffs a summary judgment victory in a South Dakota mar riage equality case brought on behalf of six same-sex couples by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and local attorneys. It may


not be big news these days when a federal district judge rules for marriage equality — more than three dozen have done so since December 2013 — but the constitutional theory they rely on is a significant matter. Contrary to Judge Duffey, who dismissed the Georgia plaintiffs’ due process claim, Schreier premised her decision on the fundamental right to marry, rejecting the argument that Supreme Court precedents on this question are not applicable because they involved only different-sex couples. “The Supreme Court has also refused to describe the right to marriage by reference to the individuals wishing to exercise that right,” she wrote. “The right at stake is not a new right to samesex marriage, as defendants contend. Instead, the substantive due process right is the right to marry, which right is fundamental.” Since the right at stake is fundamental, Schreier subjected South Dakota’s ban to “strict scrutiny,” and found that the state’s justifications — channeling procreation into marriage and proceeding with caution — flunked the test. Neither was a compelling interest only achievable by denying same-sex couples the right to marry. Because the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals, in whose jurisdiction South Dakota is located, has not yet issued a marriage equality ruling as part of the current round of litigation, Schreier stayed her order pending the state’s appeal. Eighth Circuit appeals are already pending from marriage equality rulings in Missouri and Arkansas, but oral arguments have not been scheduled.

The final court action prior to the Supreme Court’s announcement it would take up the mar riage cases from Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky involved the litigation in Michigan. There, a federal district court judge, on January 15, found that more than 300 same-sex couples who married between a March 2014 marriage equality ruling from a different US district judge and the October appellate ruling overturning that decision are entitled to have their marriages recognized. Rejecting the state’s argument that the adverse ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on October 6 effectively invalidated

the marriages, District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith wrote, “what the state has joined together, it may not put asunder.” The couples married after District Court Judge Bernard Friedman, last March 21, ruled that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages violated the 14th Amendment. Friedman’s ruling came late on a Friday afternoon, but several counties opened their offices on Saturday and couples rushed to take advantage of the opportunity to marry. The Sixth Circuit issued a stay late in the day on March 22, halting the weddings.

“What the state has joined together, it may not put asunder.” After the Sixth Circuit’s stay last March, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, acknowledged that the hundreds of marriage performed were legal marriages, but argued that since the stay put the state’s marriage ban back into effect, the marriages would not be recognized while the appellate process played out. In response, some of the couples who married, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, filed suit to compel the state to recognize their marriages. A second lawsuit was filed on behalf of people who were married in other states but live in Michigan, claiming that their marriages were also entitled to recognition. Goldsmith’s January 15 ruling rejected a motion to consolidate the two cases, asserting they presented distinctly different issues. Regarding the weddings that took place in Michigan, Goldsmith concluded that “the continued legal validity of an individual’s marital status is a fundamental right” protected by the 14th Amendment’s due process clause. Despite the Sixth Circuit’s reversal of Friedman’s original decision, Goldsmith found, “the same-sex couples who married in Michigan during the brief period when such marriages were authorized acquired a status

that state officials may not ignore absent some compelling interest — a constitutional hurdle that the defense does not even attempt to surmount.” In other words, the state did not argue there was some compelling reason not to recognize these marriages. Instead, it asserted it was premature to recognize them until there is a final conclusion to the original marriage case at the Supreme Court. In Goldsmith’s view, once a clerk issued a license and the marriage was solemnized, it was a legal marriage and the married couple had a right to be treated the same as all other married couples in the state unless the state produced a compelling justification for treating them differently. Even if the Supreme Court upholds the Sixth Circuit, the marriages in question would still be valid, Goldsmith concluded, because they were carried out pursuant to a duly issued federal district court decision that had not yet been stayed or reversed on appeal. The state’s argument that a reversal of the original district court ruling might lead to the awkward and difficult process of having to unravel these marriages was “an oversimplified misstatement.” Goldsmith wrote. Goldsmith found that the plaintiffs adequately showed that the har ms they suffered were not just monetary, though a couple’s inability to have a co-parent adopt a partner’s child or to have one partner enroll in the other’s employee benefits program does have financial implications. The harm to a couple’s dignity cannot be compensated entirely by money since they suffer an irreparable injury every day the state denies recognition to their marriage. Recognizing that the state might want to appeal his ruling, Goldsmith granted a 21-day stay of his order. As a result, Michigan may be able to delay his ruling until the Supreme Court settles the underlying marriage case Judge Friedman decided last March. The state has not yet indicated whether it would appeal Goldsmith’s ruling, with much of the immediate discussion in Michigan focused on the Supreme Court’s announcement the following day that it would be reviewing Friedman’s original ruling.

January 22 - February 04, 2015 |


END GAME, from p.5

to license a marriage between two people of the same sex, and 60 minutes to the question of whether its requires a state to recognize such a marriage lawfully performed outof-state. There was no word on how those blocks of time would be apportioned among the numerous parties. On the plaintiffs’ side, all of the major LGBT rights groups are involved in some capacity in one or more of the cases and they may well draw on experienced Supreme Court litigators from major law firms who volunteer to argue such cases as cooperating attorneys. There will likely be jockeying on the plaintiffs’ side to determine who will argue on which issues. The most pressing question, of course, is whether the court will use this case to declare a constitutional right to marry throughout the US or, at the least, to have those marriages recognized wherever a married couple might travel or reside. But to those following gay rights litigation generally, the question of what theories the court uses to decide the case will also be of significant interest, particularly since the four circuit court of appeals decisions upholding marriage equality have adopted different theories. The theory ultimately employed could have an effect on other, non-marriage litigation. Judge Jeffrey Sutton’s opinion for the Sixth Circuit held that a 1972 Supreme Court ruling — which dismissed a constitutional challenge to Minnesota’s ban on same-sex marriage because the case did not present a “substantial federal question” — precludes lower courts today from ruling on marriage equality. The same reason-


ing was used in the Louisiana and Puerto Rico district courts’ rejection of marriage equality claims. Those defending Prop 8 raised the same argument during oral arguments before the Supreme Court, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dismissed its significance, pointing out that in 1972 the Court had not yet issued its rulings holding that sex discrimination cases should be evaluated using heightened scrutiny, which places a higher than normal burden on the government in defending a law under challenge. Given the weight Sutton’s opinion gave to the 1972 precedent in his Sixth Circuit ruling, the issue is likely to be discussed again. The four circuits that upheld marriage equality last year all found the 1972 precedent was no long binding, noting that subsequently the high court, in several rulings, expanded on its view that marriage is a fundamental right — though that had already been the crux of its historic 1967 decision striking down bans on interracial marriage. The high court has also issued a string of significant gay rights rulings in the past two decades — striking down a Colorado anti-gay constitutional amendment on equal protection grounds in 1996; finding sodomy laws unconstitutional in 2003; and ruling in 2013 that DOMA’s ban on federal recognition of legal same-sex marriages violated both the due process and equal protection rights of same-sex couples. In short, it would be ludicrous to suggest that same-sex marriage does not present a “substantial federal question.” Even the high court’s most outspoken opponent of gay rights, Justice Antonin Scalia, might

CUOMO, from p.9

misdemeanor or violation. The task force’s plan sought full decriminalization of needle possession and favored an outright ban on using condoms as evidence in any crime. Condoms are typically used as evidence when a person is charged with prostitution, which is a misdemeanor. Gay City News was told that the budget contains funds to pay for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), anti-HIV drugs for HIV-negative people to prevent them from becoming infected. As the newspaper went to press, that allocation could not be found in details provided by the governor’s office online. | January 22 - February 04, 2015

concede that point, since his dissenting opinions in the sodomy and DOMA cases both proclaimed that the majority’s rationale would open up claims for same-sex marriage. In fact, many of the recent lower court marriage equality rulings have quoted from Scalia’s dissents to support their finding that a right of same-sex couples to marry is a logical extension of those earlier rulings. Significantly, the Supreme Court’s opinion in the DOMA case did not even mention the 1972 precedent. The Fourth and 10th Circuits held that same-sex couples were being deprived of a fundamental right to marry and that the states had failed to show a compelling justification for that. Ruling on that ground would likely not affect the high court’s continuing reluctance to find explicitly that sexual orientation discrimination is constitutionally suspect and can only be justified by a compelling rationale — a holding that would be relevant in the context of other gay rights claims. The Seventh and Ninth Circuits, in contrast, premised their decisions on equal protection grounds, with the Ninth Circuit holding that sexual orientation discrimination calls for heightened scrutiny by the courts and the Seventh Circuit’s analysis broadly following the same approach. An equal protection ruling from the Supreme Court that explicitly applies heightened scrutiny would have a more far-reaching effect in other gay rights cases outside the marriage issue — which is why it seems more likely the high court would take the narrower route of a fundamental rights analysis. On the other hand, justices

In June, Cuomo endorsed the plan that will use PrEP, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and treatment as prevention (TasP) to prevent new HIV infections. HIV-positive people who adhere to their treatment regimen are generally regarded as non-infectious. The goal is to reduce new HIV infections in New York from the current roughly 3,000 annually to 750 by 2020. Earlier comments by Dan O’Connell, the director of the state AIDS Institute, suggested the Cuomo administration was not going to spend a great deal of new cash on the plan. “New York already spends more money than any other state on HIV services,” O’Connell said on a January 13 appearance on Capital New

might be leery about reaffirming too broad a fundamental mar riage right, for fear it would put in play constitutional challenges to laws penalizing polygamy, adultery, and incest. If a fundamental rights decision carries the day, depend on Justice Scalia to exclaim in a fiery dissent that the court is effectively gutting the right of states to limit marriage to unions of two unrelated adults. The best prediction at this point would be at least a 5-4 vote to reverse the Sixth Circuit, most likely on due process grounds. If Justice Kennedy writes the opinion, however — as he did in the Colorado, sodomy, and DOMA cases — it may be that its theoretical underpinnings will be subject to debate since he has refrained from using familiar constitutional doctrinal terms in his gay-related decisions. It is hard to explain the high court’s refusal last month to stay the Florida district court decision without predicting this outcome. There has been some speculation that Chief Justice John Roberts might also vote to reverse the Sixth Circuit, even though he was a dissenter in the DOMA case. Roberts wrote the Prop 8 opinion for the court, effectively letting the lower court’s decision striking it down go into effect and reviving marriage equality in California. By adding his vote to a marriage equality majority, the chief justice would have the power to keep the opinion for himself or to assign it to the justice of his choice — one way to ensure the case is decided on the narrowest grounds possible. Recall that this appeared to be Roberts’ strategy when he voted to uphold Obamacare in 2012 and wrote the majority opinion.

York, an Albany cable news program. “It’s not so much a huge new investment. It’s being as smart as we possibly can and being as aggressive as we possibly can to eliminate new infections and to keep people from progressing from HIV to AIDS.” State law allows the governor to amend the proposed budget for 30 days and then the Legislature votes up or down on it. Even before Cuomo’s speech, advocates were saying they were prepared to fight for their proposals. Their position did not change. “There would have to be a new state allocation,” Quattrochi said. “The whole plan cannot be implemented with no new money.”



IN THE NOH, from p.30

be in the theater, which I did when I was in ‘Bubbling Brown Sugar’ on Broadway. So, just from that, I probably know more gay men than any other R&B singer in the world. And now, everybody is dead, also my former husband, a gorgeous college graduate who got strung out on crack. Originally, I was like, ‘I can’t sing no Bruce Springsteen song,’ but the words sound like they were written for all of my friends and husband and I almost cry thinking about it. I always thought gay men were better women than women, all the things women should be, they embraced.” In her book, LaVette is also quite open about her own bisexuality, namely, her affair with the irresistible Marrie Early. “Yeah, if you look at the whole book, not only was I bi, I was everything else. Gay men are still more attractive to me than the aver age man, and gay women are still attracted to me. That was one of the many things I did, but I have to say I find women annoying, if anything. That’s why it’s so hard for me to have girlfriends. All my friends are guys because I don’t act the way the average woman does. There are some really masculine things about me because my father and I were so close and I assumed his attitude. “My grandson is the first boy in our family in 100 years and I just adore him. I sat at edge of his bed when he turned 16 and I said, ‘Your grandmother smokes marijuana on a regular basis. I know you know what it smells like, but you can’t smoke it because you got tests to take. You can’t remember if you smoke marijuana.’ So now he’ll be 30 this year and I got him a job at the City Winery. He’ll come over and smoke joints and eat chitlins with me on Monday. “l never lied to or stolen anything


WINNERS, from p.28

Were this just a string of opinions about who’s a winner and what’s a loser, it would quickly grow tiresome, but what becomes apparent soon enough is that this is a larger meditation on how culture and experience shape perception and how our opinions become reality, regardless of contradictory


from anyone, or tried to get over or cheat anyone. I’ve certainly done things I’d never do again but nothing I’m ashamed of. I don’t have any fantasies I’ve never acted out. The only thing I’ve ever imagined that I haven’t done is having money, but I’ve got this wonderful husband who’s absolutely insane and he’s all the things that I’m not. LaVette not only sounds but looks terrific today. “Oh shit, I’m glad I can still fit in my clothes but I’m keeping my body hidden. When Motown [who never actually signed her] was stupid enough to give me an award, I was the only person there who was a size six and I acted badly. When [songwriter] Mickey Stevenson gave me the award, I said, ‘I have no idea why they did this. I tried all kinds of avenues to get into Motown when I was in Detroit, when Mickey first started practicing being Berry Gordy. I’ve known these three guys [composers] Holland, Dozier, and Holland [who also got an award] for so long, and it would be too embarrassing to say what I’ve offered for them to produce me. And this gentleman, Berry Gordy, I actually know people to whom he still owes 10 or 20 dollars when he worked with them on the line at Chrysler! That’s how close I am with my city.’ “Every award winner sang a song with this three-piece band and I said, ‘I don’t need the band.’ I sang Sinead O’Connor’s ‘I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got,’ picked up my award and my husband off the floor, and sat down, while Janie Bradford was whispering in Berry’s ear, ‘I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I didn’t know she was gonna say that!’” One eye-opening story in LaVette’s book was the night Brian Holland’s wife showed up at a club to confront Diana Ross about the affair she said Ross was having with her husband. The encounter left the singer not only beat-

en up, but “America’s Supreme sweetheart was left standing in her slip, panties, and bra.”: “You know, when Martha Reeves wrote her book, I was excited because we had hung together all these years and recited that story to each other a thousand times. It wasn’t in her book and when I recently worked with her, she said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ I felt like an idiot, but that is what we talked about — Diana’s fucking her way to the top. “Now I don’t know that she did that, but that’s what we thought and said [Ross did have a child by Berry Gordy], and I know it was Smokey [Robinson] that brought over all the cute girls for the cute guys, who told them, ‘I’d like for you to sing for me,’ although they didn’t with me. Whenever my little shit would fall apart at the other companies, I would run back over to Motown and be mad at them because they wouldn’t sign me. But maybe they were right because I would have caused a lot of trouble for them and acted the way I did at the awards show. But I do know that one of Smokey’s main problems with [his wife] Claudette was that he fucked everybody he met.” “I recently made a statement on my Facebook page about Diana and Mary Wilson that ‘I’ve never seen any one of you muthafuckas pregnant. Why is that?’ A friend of mine sent me pictures of Diana pregnant with her kids but I’d never seen her pregnant and I don’t think anybody in Detroit has. I was going around saying that that was Berry’s baby, and people said, ‘You just sayin’ that cuz you ain’t as big as she is.’ No, I’m saying it cuz I’m from Detroit, a small community, and at some point all the blacks were together, as you white people all think we are!” While many of her contempo-

raries are wheezing out their songs with difficulty, LaVette’s musicality remains seemingly effortless and strong: “When I was young I wanted to sound like Doris Day or Judy Garland, wanted everything to be clear. My manager sent me to vocal lessons, which helped me learn how I do sound and how to work with that as opposed to how I want to sound. I pretty much sound like Ray Charles or James Brown, and when I vocalize it’s just to make sure the sound comes out and I can get as many lows or as many highs as I can go — and that’s not really that high. “When I was doing the presidential inauguration with Renee Fleming, we were harmonizing on the side to everybody else singing, standing on little heated footpads, and she was just wonderful. On ‘My Girl,’ I said, ‘No, you gotta come down,’ and I kept bringing her down to where it was. We just had the greatest fun, singing background for everybody who didn’t know it was Renee Fleming singing backup. “She’s got a great voice and body in terms of being able to handle the strong physical activity, which people don’t realize is needed. When you sing like me you have to be as strong as Otis Redding, and I’m half his size. When I come off stage it’s like coming out of a fight, I feel like somebody’s been kicking me.” Asked about meeting President Obama, LaVette said, “I told him, ‘You’re absoluely perfect and do you know you’re the same age as my career?’ That tickled him and he laughed. I wanted to say something really insightful and intellectual to Michelle, but I was crying through the whole thing, and we held hands. I said, ‘You know.’ And she said, ‘I know you know.’ And I said, ‘I know you know I know.’ That was all I said, and I told my husband later I felt like an idiot.”

facts. The play asks us to look at the very human practice of relegating things to the labels we assign them and the impact of that tendency on our relationship to the rest of the world. Appealing and authentic, Youssef and Long, who also wrote the piece, have an easy chemistry on stage and a performance style that creates the illusion the audience is

involved in a discussion taking shape in front of us. It’s an effective technique for creating intimacy and immediacy with the performers and the ideas, and the two performers responding in real time to audience suggestions creates the impression the evening is unscripted. Fortunately it’s not; instead, the thoughtfulness and sophistication of the material is enhanced by its simple

presentation. The piece is performed on a bare stage with minimal props, and director Chris Abraham gets lively, focused performances from Youssef and Long. It’s a well-conceived and compellingly presented evening that both entertains and inspires insights that will likely keep you thinking and talking long after the curtain comes down.

January 22 - February 04, 2015 | | January 22 - February 04, 2015


THU.JAN.22 CABARET From Winnetka to Maplewood


Two time Tony-winner Christine Ebersole (“Grey Gardens,” “42nd Street”), who now makes her home in New Jersey, presents “Big Noise from Winnetka,” an evening of classic and re-imagined Broadway hits, pop and jazz standards, and anecdotes about growing up in the titular Chicago suburb. 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Jan. 21-24, 28-31, 7 p.m. The cover charge is $60-$140 at, and there’s a $30 food & drink minimum.

Toshi at 31

Recognizing True Identities The Bi Book Club discusses chapters on identity, challenging labels, and liminality in Robyn Ochs & H. Sharif Williams’ “Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men.” Bureau of General Services, LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., rm. 210. Jan.22, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

GALLERY The Legacy of AIDS in Gay Art F o r a s i x t h y e a r, G a y M e n ' s Health Crisis and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art host “Art & AIDS: Amor y Pasión,” an exhibition featuring 45 artists living with HIV and AIDS. Utilizing diverse media, the artists produced their work in weekly therapeutic art classes run by GMHC's Vo l u n t e e r, W o r k a n d W e l l n e s s Center, with art teachers donating


Emerging Squirts Dan Fishback curates and hosts “Squirts,” a series of emerging queer performers. On Jan. 23, 10 p.m., Dominick of the Red Umbrella Project presents Jennifer Miller, Leah James, and Mars Hobrecker & Sabina Ibarrola. On Jan.24, 10 p.m., Lourdes Ashley Hunter of the Trans Women of Color Collective presents Ishmael Houston-Jones and Sparklez & Tinker Coalescing. On Jan. 25, 6 p.m., Sasha Alexander of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project presents Overall Father Derrick “Pop Dip” Labeija, Kiyan Williams, and Marcos Dura. The Club at La MaMa, 74A E. Fourth St., btwn. Second Ave. & Bowery. Tickets are $18; $13 for students & seniors at Afterparty, to which admission is free, on Jan. 25, 8:30 p.m. at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie St., btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts.

SAT.JAN.24 Queer Stories

MUSIC All About Gavin Creel

THEATER Remembering Fifth Grade in the ‘90s Mariah MacCarthy, winner of the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award and’s 2012 Person of the Year, reunites with director Leta Tremblay (“The Foreplay Play”) on their site-specific hit “Mrs. Mayfield’s Fifth-Grade Class of ’93 20-Year Reunion” — a look at what happens when a group of former classmates hovering in their 30s reunite for an evening of partying and reminiscing. The play is immersively staged and intimately drawn, with audience party-goers eating chili and drinking beer as calamities, revelations, and battles for affection, power, and ownership of memories unfold around them. Aw e s o m e ‘ 9 0 s m u s i c a n d d a n c e breaks included. Lauren Hennessy stars as a trans woman who pursues a lesbian romance. Hennessy, who identifies as a “transgender male actress” has become something of a sensation on Buzzfeed with a video — that’s garnered 1.5 million hits — about his decision not to transition. “Mrs. Mayfield” is presented by Caps Lock Theatre at an undisclosed East Village apartment audience members will be informed of after reserving tickets. Jan. 22-25, 29-31, Feb. 1, 5-8, 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 at capslocktheatre. com; seating is limited.

novel from Leslie Feinberg — who died in November — widely acknowledged as a pioneering look at the complexities of gender. The book is no longer in print, but this event’s organizer, Lana Povitz, can provide a free digital copy to those who email her at lpovitz at gmail. com. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division, LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., rm. 210. Jan. 25, 6-9 p.m.






R o c k e r, s i n g e r, a n d s o n g w r i t e r To s h i R e a go n and her band, BIGLovely, present a series of performances as part of “Toshi’s 31st Annual Birthday Celebration.” Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Jan. 22-24, 9 p.m.; Jan. 25, 7 p.m. Tickets are $25-$30 at



their time. The work sold during the exhibition allows the artists to increase their financial independence, which is particularly important for those who live on a limited income. “AIDS and HIV have been a subject for many gay artists for the last 30 ears and have, unfortunately, become a recognized theme in gay art history,” said Hunter O'Hanian, Leslie-Lohman’s executive director. The exhibition is co-curated by Osvaldo Perdomo and David Livingston. 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. Jan. 22-Feb. 1. Opening reception, Jan. 22, 6-8 p.m. On Jan. 24, 6-8 p.m., curator Jonathan David Katz hosts “A Conversation on ArtAIDSAmerica,” where he discusses the upcoming national museum exhibition showcasing 30 years of art responding to the AIDS epidemic in the US. The museum screens the documentary “The Universe of Keith Haring,” an intimate portrait of the late artist whose mantra was that “art is for everyone!” on Jan. 29, 6-8 p.m. The screening is followed by a discussion led by Julia Gruen, executive director of the Keith Haring Foundation. Leslie-Lohman’s hours are Tue.-Wed., Fri.-Sun., noon-6 p.m.; Thu., noon-8 p.m.

Write, actor, director, and storyteller Drae Campbell, winner of the 2011 Miss LEZ title, hosts “Tell,” an evening of queer storytelling. This installment, “Surprises,” features New York-based performer Becca Blackwell, spoken word artist and storyteller Harvey Katz, who does transgender educational workshops around the country, Elana Lancaster, an LGBT health advocate and occasional storyteller who lives in Brooklyn, and Brooklynite Katia Perea, a serious cartoon fan who teaches sociology at CUNY. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division, LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St. Jan. 24, 7:30-10 p.m.

SUN.JAN.25 BOOKS Stone Butch Blues Whether you loved it, hated it, or never even read it, you might be interested in joining a discussion of “Stone Butch Blues,” a 1993

Celia Keenan-Bolger, Caissie Levy, and friends welcome Gavin Creel back to the US after an award-winning run in “The Book of Mormon” in London’s West End. Keenan-Bolger, Caissie Levy, and others perform songs Creel either wrote or recorded in a one-night-only benefit for the Performing Arts Project. Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Jan. 26, 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $30-$200 at

WED.JAN.28 YOUTH Focus on Homeless Young LGBT New Yorkers The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City hosts a forum that examines the special challenges facing LGBT young people who are homeless, the options open to them, and how public policy needs to address their needs. Andy Humm, a Gay City News reporter and co-host of cable TV’s “Gay USA,” moderates a panel that includes Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, Lillian Rivera, director of advocacy and capacity building at the Hetrick Martin Institute, Kate Barnhart, executive director of New Alternatives, Nicole Avallone, director of youth services at the LGBT Community Center, and Kim Forte, a supervising attorney in


WED.JAN.28, continued on p.39

January 22 - February 04, 2015 |


WED.JAN.28, from p.38

the Legal Aid Society’s LGBT Law and Policy Initiative. LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., rm. 210. Jan. 28, 8 p.m.

has been performing Judy for 20 years at Don’t Tell Mama’s, is winner of seven individual MAC Awards. 343 W. 46th St. Jan. 31, Feb. 14, 8 p.m. The cover charge is $25 and there’s a two-drink minimum. Reservations at 212-757-0788 or




Five Dyke Writers

Marin Mines the Midwest

SAT.JAN.31 CABARET Happy Days Are Here Again — And Again Now in its fifth year, Rick Skye and Tommy Femia — named Best Duo of 2012 by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC) — have extended their run of “Judy and Liza Together Again,” at Don’t Tell Mama through Valentine’s Day. The mother-daughter team sing some of their personal favorites, including “Maybe This Time,” “New York, New York,” “Over the Rainbow” (sung movingly by Femia), and, in a powerhouse finale together, “Get Happy” and “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Femia, who


GALLERY Analog Collages “David Lavine: Collage” is an exhibition of the artist’s one-of-a-kind paper collages, hand-cut with scissors and assembled with archival tape and glue. There is no

scanning, reprinting, or photocopying, or any type of digital manipulation. But all printed matter is fair game — textbooks, posters, magazines, catalogs, coloring books, maps, comic books, art books. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division, LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. Feb. 6-Mar. 15. Opening reception is Feb. 6, 7-10 p.m.



Five New York dykes read from their latest novels and discuss the experience of writing queer fiction in the big city. Cindy Rizzo’s first novel, “Exception to the Rule,” won the 2014 award for Best Debut Fiction from Golden Crown Literary Society, and in September she published her second novel, “Love Is Enough.” Ann Aptaker, whose debut novel is “Criminal Gold,’ is an art curator and exhibition designer whose first love is writing, especially a tangy variety of historical crime fiction. R.G. Emanuelle has been an editor, writer, and typesetter for more than 20 years, whose love of cooking and culinary school degree motivated her romantic novella “Add Spice to Taste.” Jane Hoppen’s fiction has been published in Story Quarterly, Western Humanities Review, Feminist Studies, The Dirty Goat, PANK, and Superstition Review, and her novel “In Between” was published in December 2103 and a novella, “The Man Who Was Not,” followed last June. Susan X. Meagher, author of dozens of novels, most recently published “Out of Whack.” Bureau of General Services — Queer Division, LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. Jan. 29, 7-10 p.m.

Marin Mazzie, whose turns on the Great White Way have included “Bullets Over Broadway,” “Ragtime,” “Passion,” “Kiss Me Kate,” and “Spamalot,” steps back into her formative years as a Midwest girl and sings the music she loved best then. 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Feb. 4-7, 7 p.m. Cover charge is $50$ 1 1 0 a t 5 4 b e l o w. c o m , and there’s a $25 food & drink minimum.



of activities in an era when tweets and texts are what too often pass for writing. Tonight, Sofjia Stefanovic welcomes actress, singer, dancer, and author Molly Ringwald, critic, writer, and blogger Maria Popova, comedic storyteller and author Kambri Crews, photojournalist and New York Times bestselling author Deborah Copaken, pornographic actress, writer, director and model Stoya, and comedian, actor, and writer Sabrina Jalees. Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Feb. 6, 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 at

COMMUNITY Honoring Project Reach and Don Kao In 1985, Project Reach was launched in Chinatown as one of the first efforts to build a diverse, multi-racial, multi-ethnic counseling and advocacy organization to serve youth in addressing the issues, including drug and alcohol use, that divide and threaten communities and undermine the prospects for young people’s futures. Don Kao, an Asian-American gay dad, who has lived with AIDS for decades, was the founding director, a post he continues to hold. Kao is honored this evening in a program that includes a roast emceed by CBS anchor Cindy Hsu and Project Reach youth and a screening of “The Project Reach Experience — Why It Works,” a video by Nicholas Chesla, Toussant Bonaparte, and Lateef Wearrien that chronicles the impact of his work on both individual lives and on the multitude of communities the organization serves. Alice Tan Ridley, an “America’s Got Talent” finalist, performs a medley of hits spanning the past three decades. During the evening, Project Reach also lays outs its vision for the Social Justice Freedom School, which will utilize the group’s 30-year anti-discrimination and organizing readiness trainings as the foundation of its core curriculum. Steelcase Showroom, 4 Columbus Circle at W. 58th St. Feb. 5, 6-9 p.m. Contributions for this event can be made on the DONATE page at Be sure to select "Youth Empowerment Fund."

FRI.FEB.6 WRITING Belles Lettres


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“Women of Letters” is a monthly event in New York celebrating that most civilized | January 22 - February 04, 2015


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