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What Utah Anti-Bias Law Tells Us About Nationwide Fight 04




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What Utah Anti-Bias Law Tells Us About the Nationwide Fight As Legislature claims to balance civil rights, religious liberty, back-channel influence of legal scholar scrutinized





n the eve of a critical State Senate committee hearing on a measure providing, for the first time in Utah history, nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said, “The desire exhibited by the Mormon Church to work toward common ground should serve as a model for other faith traditions here in the United States.” The measure, Senate Bill 296, was adopted just a week later and, on March 12, signed into law by Republican Governor Gary Herbert, capping what Equality Utah, the state’s LGBT rights group, said was a seven-year effort. In the immediate aftermath of the bill’s enactment, the ACLU of Utah called it “historic.” On Facebook, Jennifer Pizer, the national law and policy project director at Lambda Legal, terming the new law “an historic shift,” wrote, “Momentum! Onward!!” Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), posted the message, “Wow. Just Wow.” But, as those outside of professional LGBT advocacy circles learned details about the bill — what provisions it included, what areas were not addressed, how it was negotiated, and what was included in a second, companion measure — those initial exuberant assessments, and Griffin’s use of the word “model” in particular, drew no small amount of fire. That dissent peaked this week when Queer Nation called attention to a University of Illinois law professor, Robin Fretwell Wilson, who the group said “wrote” the Utah measure. In a March 16 release, Queer Nation documented Wilson’s extensive record going back years in pressing for broad and damaging religious carve-outs from LGBT rights and marriage equality measures. “It’s shocking that the Human Rights Campaign ignored widely available information about Wilson and has partnered with someone who is clearly seeking to do great harm to the LGBT community,” Ken Kidd, a group spokesperson, said. Leading advocacy groups — HRC included, but certainly not alone — were quick to challenge the characterization of Wilson as author of SB 296. No one, however, could dispute the influence Wilson wielded in advising Utah legislators — even if largely behind the scenes — as they negotiated with Equality Utah and other advocates. As the community sorts out the pluses and minuses of the Utah legislation, Wilson’s ded-

University of Illinois law professor Robin Fretwell Wilson.

ication to interposing herself into that state’s legislative debate may be the most important cautionary take-away. Even before the flap over Wilson’s role blew up, however, advocates were taking pains to emphasize that Utah was not, in fact, a model for the nation. In what was pretty clearly an across the board retreat from the initial high-fiving, they acknowledged a well-known political reality about Utah — even before protections were broadened to encompass sexual orientation and gender identity, the state had the nation’s most sweeping religious exemptions in its nondiscrimination laws. “Utah is as near to a theocracy as we have in this country,” Kendell told Gay City News this week. Nobody, of course, tried to argue that religious exemptions don’t pose a danger — last year’s Hobby Lobby ruling from the Supreme Court, the community’s repudiation of the religious exemptions HRC and others long supported in the effort to pass the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, efforts by bakers and florists to use their religious beliefs to avoid public accommodations laws and deny ser vice to same-sex couples marrying, and efforts underway right now in numerous states to provide religious opt-outs from nondiscrimination laws and marriage equality rulings all made that impossible. What champions of the new Utah law argued, instead, is that the LGBT community was no more disadvantaged than any other cat-

egory provided nondiscrimination protections by the broad exemptions religious groups and their affiliates enjoy in that state. As Lambda’s Pizer put it, “the new law does not attempt to improve that framework,” but it does secure “equal treatment of LGBT people within that framework.” Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, was one of many advocates who told Gay City News, that “no new exemptions were created” specifically limiting the protections afforded LGBT Utahns. Strictly speaking, that assertion is not completely correct. In several sections pertaining to housing provided by religious groups and their affiliates — which the law’s chief sponsor, Senator J. Stuart Adams, told Gay City News pertained to situations like dormitories at Brigham Young University — exemptions in cases of sex nondiscrimination were expanded to include opt-outs based on sexual orientation and gender identity. BYU can now, presumably, have sex-segregated housing and also enjoy immunity from charges of anti-LGBT discrimination in the provision of that housing. Beyond the narrow question of whether religious groups are given wider leeway to discriminate against LGBT Utahns than against, say, women or blacks, other aspects of the law and how it was adopted make clear that the enactment of SB 296 was not simply a matter of extending existing civil rights protections to the LGBT community. Both the content and the process were marked by an “exceptionalism” that could establish dangerous precedents — negative models, of sorts — that opponents of LGBT rights and marriage equality in other states where contentious debates are ongoing could use to their political advantage. Despite the fact that religious exemptions from nondiscrimination law are well-established and widely acknowledged as broad in Utah law, the new law’s sponsors saw fit to amend the language regarding what religious organizations qualify for such exemptions. The new language makes clear that affiliates of faith institutions —such as hospitals, universities, adoption agencies, and child welfare organizations — are included. A key debate about religious exemptions involves how far beyond the narrow practice of faith such exemptions extend, so the Utah language arguably strengthens the hand of such affiliates in opting out of nondiscrimination requirements. Both NCLR’s Kendell and Rose Saxe, the senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBT Rights Project, argued that the amended language was more of a “clarification” than any expansion in scope for religious exemptions. And both Saxe


UTAH, continued on p.5

March 19 - April 01, 2015 |


UTAH, from p.4 | March 19 - April 01, 2015


and Lambda’s Pizer noted that Utah does not have a Catholic hospital system as might be found in New York or Chicago nor does the Mormon Church have a child welfare social service network, so there is less occasion than might be expected for contested job discrimination claims. That, of course, is not an argument that the exemption is not problematic, but rather that it is less likely to create actual problems in the lives of LGBT Utahns. What both Saxe and Kendell did acknowledge, however, is that the Utah legislation took the extraordinary step of exempting the Boy Scouts of America from the state’s employment nondiscrimination requirements, as if it, too, were a religious organization. The US Supreme Court, of course, already recognizes the Boy Scouts’ ability to exclude gay adult leaders as part of that group’s protected expressive rights. “That is unfortunate and inappropriate,” Saxe said, “but not a deal breaker.” Kendell emphasized that though the Boy Scout language was “a concession” — one made to what is already reality — it was not “a compromise on the breadth of the bill.” Perhaps even more extraordinary than the Boy Scout language was a provision of the new law headlined “Religious liberty protections – Expressing beliefs and commitments in workplace – Prohibition on employment actions against certain employee speech.” Here, employers are barred from penalizing workers for expressing “religious or moral beliefs and commitments in the workplace” unless that would be “in direct conflict with the essential business-related interests of the employer.” That basic rights of free expression deserve protection is not an exceptional idea, but the decision to recognize those rights only in the context of acknowledging the rights of LGBT people to be free of discrimination certainly is. The implicit assumption is that the rights of LGBT people — and LGBT people only — must, of necessity, be balanced by a religious right, and perhaps an invitation as well, to express moral objection to those rights. Another striking feature of the Utah legislation — especially when considered in the context of what’s going on nationwide — is the preemption of any local ordinances that govern employment and housing discrimination. Just last month, the LGBT community waged an unsuccessful fight against such a preemption law in Arkansas, where the Republican Legislature acted in response to several municipalities moving forward on LGBT rights initiatives. Tennessee enacted a similar law several years ago, and in both cases advocacy groups have argued that Red State action of this sort throws a roadblock up against local relief in more urbanized parts of a state, where political progress is possible. In Utah, however, where 17 of 243 municipalities and two out of 29 counties provide what Equality Utah’s Williams said were “meaningful

protections to about half of the state’s population,” there was essentially no debate about the preemption provision. According to Williams’ account, that is likely because the existing local ordinances don’t go as far as the new state law does. The local ordinances’ enforcement mechanisms levy fines on offenders, but provide victims with no compensation for damages and legal costs, something the state law does accomplish. Still, as the LGBT community faces efforts at preemptive strikes on local civil rights gains, the willingness of advocates to accept exactly that in Utah could come back to bite them. The most significant shortcoming of the Utah legislation may be in what it does not provide for — any protection from discrimination in accessing public accommodations, typically defined as any good or service that is offered for sale on a general basis to the public at large. In spelling out its employment and housing nondiscrimination protections, the new law explicitly states there is “no specific class created for other purposes.” In light of the Hobby Lobby ruling and with private businesses stepping up to claim a religious-based right to deny their goods and services to same-sex couples planning their weddings, public accommodations have become one of the most contested fronts in the culture wars. Everyone involved in making SB 296 law readily acknowledged that is a battle not far off in Utah. “By addressing employment and housing without public accommodations, the law sidesteps many of the most contentious issues of religious refusals of goods and services,” Lambda’s Pizer said. “That is an exceedingly important project for a future day, hopefully soon.” Equality Utah’s Williams, clearly worn out from a 45-day legislative session where his group scrambled to get the jobs and housing bill done, said they would be back in the next session to push on public accommodations. He acknowledged the issues involved there would be more complex than those already resolved. And Adams, the Republican sponsor of this year’s bill, agreed it was likely the LGBT media would soon have occasion to speak to him again. But if public accommodations were ducked in the jobs and housing bill, they did not go completely unaddressed by the Legislature. In a second bill sponsored by Adams and titled “Protections for Religious Expression and Beliefs About Marriage, Family, or Sexuality” — which Williams and every other LGBT advocate said was sprung on them by surprise at the 11th hour — the Legislature spells out the exemptions religious organizations and affiliates enjoy from being drawn into facilitating marriage ceremonies involving same-sex couples. In addition to the customary provision that no religious leader or congregation need perform any marriage contrary to their beliefs, the language also exempts religious organizations

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah.

from providing “accommodations… facilities, or grounds” for use in a wedding ceremony. Asked about that language, Adams confirmed it was intended to bar any public accommodations claim made against a religious organization that might on occasion rent out its space to the public. The primary aim of this second bill, SB 297 — which the governor has not yet, but is expected to sign — was to provide a “stepping out” for county clerks unwilling to perform marriages for same-sex couples. The notion of providing a legal avenue for public officials not to do their job is, of course, objectionable, but as Equality Utah’s Williams explained, the bill, which his group opposed, has both benefits and drawbacks. Under existing Utah law, county clerks are required to issue marriage licenses, but not to actually perform ceremonies. Only about half of the counties currently do so, which means, Williams said, that in more remote and conservative parts of the state same-sex couples may have difficulty finding someone locally to preside over their wedding. SB 297 insures every Utah couple of access to an officiant through their county clerk’s office. Staff at the clerk’s office, however, can refrain from marrying same-sex couples, but if they do so they cannot marry any couple. And they must find a “willing designee,” who need not be a public employee, to take their place. That designee must preside over the marriage of any couple who wishes to marry through the county clerk’s office.


UTAH, continued on p.14



With Parade Crowd Thinning, Gay NBC Group Warmly Received First LGBT contingent in 24 years toward the rear on St. Pat’s, while Irish Queers offer raspberries



The OUT@NBCUniversal contingent in the March 17 St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue.

Frank Comerford, the chief revenue officer for NBCUniversal’s local TV stations and a parade director.


Irish Queers protest the exclusion of Irish gay organizations from the parade.



o m e n t s before OUT@ NBCUniversal, a n L G B T e m p l o y e e group, stepped onto Fifth Avenue in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Craig Robinson, NBCUniversal’s chief diversity officer, responded cautiously when asked to predict how the crowd would react. “I don’t know,” Robinson said. “Anytime you are the first anything, you have to wait and see.” Robinson need not have been so cautious. As the contingent marched from 48th Street to 79th Street behind a green banner that read “NBCUniversal” and “The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Ally Employee Alliance,” when the crowd, which had thinned substantially since the parade’s start roughly four-and-a-


half hours earlier, had any reaction, it was uniformly supportive. As they entered the 50s, a man on the east side of Fifth Avenue began an exuberant chant of “Equal rights, equal rights” as a woman next to him yelled “Bravo.” A few blocks later, a group of women behind a banner that read “Half Mad McLaughlins” cheered as OUT@NBCUniversal went by. Told it was the first LGBT group to march in the parade since 1991, they responded with “We know, we know.” The contingent of about 60 people, all wearing green sashes that read “OUT@NBCUniversal,” even received waves and polite smiles from a crew of Catholic clergymen who were greeting marchers outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. At 11 a.m., when the march began, the crowd was four and five people deep along Fifth Avenue. By the time OUT@NBCUniversal stepped off at roughly 3:30, some

blocks had a handful of viewers. In blocks above 57th Street, the Central Park side of Fifth Avenue was often entirely empty. Still, the reaction was strikingly different from 1991, the one and only time prior to this year’s parade when an LGBT group marched. Then, Mayor David Dinkins invited the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization to march with him, though without their banner. The move infuriated John Cardinal O’Connor, then the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York and a leading antiLGBT voice. O’Connor’s greeting of Dinkins in 1991 was cursory and cold. The crowd heaped insults on Dinkins and the marchers, leading one mayoral aide that year to call the march “two miles of hate.” Dinkins compared it to the treatment given to civil rights marchers in Southern cities in the 1960s. LGBT groups were banned after 1991 and the annual protests over the

ban have meant that every parade since then has been marked by controversy. Many elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, have heeded the call to boycott the parade. When this year’s contingent reached the 60s, Frank Comer ford, the chief revenue officer for NBCUniversal’s local TV stations, said, “I don’t know,” when asked what the fuss was over an LGBT group marching in the parade. “The response has been nothing but positive since we started.” Comerford is also a parade director for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He urged OUT@NBCUniversal to apply for a slot last year. The application was submitted and approved in three weeks’ time in September. WNBC, the local TV station that broadcasts the parade, is owned and operated by NBCUniversal. Controversy over gay exclusion moved Guinness, a beer brand owned by Diageo, and Heineken beer to pull out as sponsors last year. Guinness and Heineken returned as sponsors this year. As the OUT@NBCUniversal group was gathering on 48th Street prior to marching, David Foster, a senior producer at MSNBC, greeted Comerford saying, “I’ve got to give you a hug. Thank you for everything.” Robinson portrayed OUT@ NBCUniversal participation in the parade as the same as any other group’s participation. “It wasn’t a negotiation,” he said. “We were not part of the selection process.” But if there was little controversy on Fifth Avenue this year, there was between the Irish LGBT groups that have been battling since 1991 to get into the parade and OUT@NBCUniversal. A major issue is that the demand to parade organizers was never that any LGBT group be admitted, but that an Irish LGBT group be allowed to participate. The move this year was seen as economic and intended to protect NBCUniversal’s commitment to the parade and its organizers. Having OUT@NBCUniversal in the parade allowed both parties to claim that


ST. PATTY'S, continued on p.13

March 19 - April 01, 2015 |

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It’s time to stop dealing with diarrhea and ‘Start the Conversation’ about Fulyzaq today. Indication FULYZAQ ® (crofelemer) is an antidiarrheal indicated for the symptomatic relief of noninfectious diarrhea in adult patients with HIV/AIDS on antiretroviral therapy. Important Safety Information about FULYZAQ FULYZAQ® (crofelemer) delayed-release tablets should not be used for the treatment of infectious diarrhea. It is important that your healthcare provider considers infectious causes of diarrhea before you start taking FULYZAQ. If infectious causes are not considered, and you begin taking FULYZAQ based on a probable diagnosis of noninfectious diarrhea, there is a risk that you will not receive the appropriate treatments, and your disease may worsen. • FULYZAQ tablets should be swallowed whole. FULYZAQ tablets should not be crushed or chewed. You may take FULYZAQ with or without food. You should follow the instructions of your healthcare provider. • If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider before taking FULYZAQ. The safety and effectiveness of FULYZAQ have not been established in people younger than 18 years of age. • In clinical studies, the most common adverse reactions associated with FULYZAQ – occurring in at least 3% of patients taking FULYZAQ – were upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis (inflammation of the lining of the tubes which carry air to and from your lungs), cough, flatulence (intestinal gas passed through your rectum), and increased bilirubin (a waste product of the breakdown of red blood cells). • You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088. Please see following page for brief summary of Prescribing Information for FULYZAQ. Snap a picture of our logo and show your doctor to ‘Start the Conversation’ | March 19 - April 01, 2015



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WHAT IF I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT FULYZAQ? • For more information, please see the full Prescribing Information at or speak to your doctor or pharmacist To report side effects, a product complaint, or for additional information, call: 1-800-508-0024. Rx Only Manufactured by Patheon, Inc. for Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 8510 Colonnade Center Drive, Raleigh, NC 27615 Copyright © Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. US Patent Nos. 7,341,744 and 7,323,195. FUL-RALAB49-062014 Fulyzaq is manufactured for Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. by Patheon, Inc. and distributed under license from Napo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ©2014 Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in USA. FUL50-0614

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March 19 - April 01, 2015 |


Return to the Edmund Pettus Bridge

“If Selma Taught Us Anything, It’s That Our Work Is Never Done”


President Barack Obama, with Michelle Obama, Congressmember John Lewis, and (in wheelchair) Amelia Boynton Robinson, a 103-year-old activist who was knocked unconscious by a state trooper in the 1965 march.



n a remarkable 32-minute speech in Selma, Alabama, the scene of bloody conflicts 50 years ago on the road to establishing the right of African Americans to vote, President Barack Obama paid tribute to the Civil Rights heroes of that era while tying their efforts to the broader push for dignity for black Americans over the past 150 years — and also to the nation’s expanding frontiers of equality across the board. The March 7 speech was a direct rejoinder to critics who have charged that the president is unappreciative of American “exceptionalism.” Following remarks by Georgia Congressmember John Lewis, who as a 25-year-old was a leader in the Selma effort, Obama said, “It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes. And John Lewis is one of my heroes.” Placing the struggles of Lewis and others into the broader context of American history, the president said, “There are places and moments in America where this nation’s destiny has been decided. Many are sites of war — Concord and Lexington, Appomattox and | March 19 - April 01, 2015

Gettysburg. Others are sites that symbolize the daring of America’s character — Independence Hall and Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral. “Selma is such a place. “In one afternoon 50 years ago, so much of our turbulent history — the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham, and the dream of a Baptist preacher — met on this bridge. “It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the meaning of America.” Obama then insisted, “We cannot examine this moment in isolation. The march on Selma was part of a broader campaign that spanned generations; the leaders that day part of a long line of heroes.” The president emphasized how unlikely the victory of the Civil Rights activists was, saying, “What they did here will reverberate through the ages. Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible; that love and hope can conquer hate. “As we commemorate their achievement, we are well-served to remember that at the time of

the marches, many in power condemned rather than praised them. Back then, they were called Communists, half-breeds, outside agitators, sexual and moral degenerates, and worse — everything but the name their parents gave them. Their faith was questioned. Their lives were threatened. Their patriotism was challenged. “And yet, what could be more American than what happened in this place? “What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people — the unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many — coming together to shape their country’s course? “What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this; what greater form of patriotism is there; than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals? “That’s why Selma is not some outlier in the American experience.” Later in his remarks, Obama

specifically linked the progress in Selma and throughout the South to other advances in American society, saying, “Because of what they did, the doors of opportunity swung open not just for African-Americans, but for every American. Women marched through those doors. Latinos marched through those doors. Asian-Americans, gay Americans, and Americans with disabilities came through those doors. Their endeavors gave the entire South the chance to rise again, not by reasserting the past, but by transcending the past. “What a glorious thing, Dr. King might say. “What a solemn debt we owe.” The president then wove a verbal tapestry of Americans who had expanded the nation’s horizons over the past 200 years, saying, “We are Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea — pioneers who braved the unfamiliar, followed by a stampede of farmers and miners, entrepreneurs and hucksters. That’s our spirit. “We are Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer, women who could do as much as any man and then some; and we’re Susan B. Anthony, who shook the system until the law reflected that truth. That’s our character. “We’re the immigrants who stowed away on ships to reach these shores, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free — Holocaust survivors, Soviet defectors, the Lost Boys of Sudan. We are the hopeful strivers who cross the Rio Grande because they want their kids to know a better life. That’s how we came to be. “We’re the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South. We’re the ranch hands and cowboys who opened the West, and countless laborers who laid rail, and raised skyscrapers, and organized for workers’ rights. “We’re the fresh-faced GIs who fought to liberate a continent, and we’re the Tuskeegee Airmen, Navajo code-talkers, and Japanese-Americans who fought for this country even as their own liberty had been denied. We’re the firefighters who rushed into those buildings on 9/11, and the volunteers who signed up to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. “We are the gay Americans whose blood ran on the streets of San


SELMA, continued on p.10



Stepping Up the GENDA Pressure One More Time Transgender civil rights advocates voice determination at City Hall, in Albany, but route to victory unclear




SELMA, from p.9

Francisco and New York, just as blood ran down this bridge. “We are storytellers, writers, poets, and artists who abhor unfairness, and despise hypocrisy, and give voice to the voiceless, and tell truths that need to be told. “We are the inventors of gospel and jazz and the blues, bluegrass and country, hip-hop and rock and roll, our very own sounds with all the sweet sorrow and reckless joy of freedom. “We are Jackie Robinson, enduring scorn and spiked cleats and pitches coming straight to his head, and stealing home in the World Series anyway.”



GBT rights advocates and elected officials gathered outside City Hall on March 12 to press the case for enactment of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) in Albany this spring. The press conference, organized by the Empire State Pride Agenda, and featuring several out gay members of the City Council as well as City Comptroller Scott Stringer, highlighted what have become familiar benchmarks in the long-stalled effort to win statewide civil rights protections for transgender and other gender-nonconforming New Yorkers. More than 12 years have passed since the state enacted the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, a gay rights measure where transgender protections were purposely excluded in what Councilmember Corey Johnson, an out gay Chelsea Democrat, call a “deal” that “was wrong.” While major cities and some counties in the state — including, locally, New York City and Suffolk and Westchester Counties — do provide transgender rights protections, about 40 percent of the state’s population live in areas with no such ordinances. According to the Pride Agenda, one third of all transgender New Yorkers have experienced homelessness in their life, two thirds have faced job discrimination, and almost 30 percent have suffered a serious physical or sexual assault. The measure, which has been passed repeatedly by the Democratic-controlled Assembly in recent years, has never gotten a floor vote in the Senate. Yet, even as the bill’s two sponsors — Chelsea Democratic Assemblymember Dick

Melissa Sklarz, flanked by Marty Algaze from Assemblymember Dick Gottfried's office, at the March 12 City Hall press event.

Gottfried and Lower Manhattan/ Brownstone Brooklyn Democratic Senator Daniel Squadron — appeared in Albany the same day with Pride Agenda executive director Nathan Schaefer to talk about GENDA, no Senate staffer attended the City Hall event. Squadron’s only press release that day involved the demand that the Chinese Lunar New Year be made a public school holiday. To date, GENDA has failed to move in the Senate due to Republican intransigence. With the GOP currently in control of the Senate, the best leverage activists have is the five-member rump caucus of Independent Democrats, who are in a power sharing arrangement of sorts with the Republicans. Asked whether it had won any commitment from that group’s leader, Jeff Klein of the Bronx, or any other members to press for the bill, Matthew McMorrow, the Pride Agenda’s director of government affairs, said, “They’re all fully supportive. We are in conversations with them. They have made it a priority. We’re just trying to get it higher on their priority list.” One activist involved in the campaign to pass

The president, however, took note that the progress achieved 50 years ago opening up the right to vote faces challenges today in state after state as well as in Washington, DC. “Right now, in 2015, 50 years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote,” Obama said. “As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed. Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood, so much sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, the Voting Rights Act stands weakened, its future subject to political rancor. “How can that be?  The Voting Rights Act was one of the crown-

GENDA told Gay City News that the bill’s supporters were disappointed that the Assembly did not put it forward in the current horse trading surrounding the state budget. McMorrow noted that Governor Andrew Cuomo, for the first time, pushed for GENDA’s passage in his annual State of the State speech. Johnson, however, pressed Cuomo for more, saying, “It’s time, I hope, for the governor to show some leadership.” Jason Cianciotto, the director of public affairs and policy at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, injected a new argument into the discussion of the transgender rights bill. Noting the disproportionately high rate of HIV infection among transgender women of color, he said, “Governor Andrew Cuomo, thank you for committing to sign GENDA if it comes to your desk. We know you understand that without GENDA, your Plan to End AIDS by 2020 will not be realized.” In a follow-up email, Cianciotto elaborated, writing, “Any plan to end AIDS, from New York to California, needs to address the root causes — the socio-economic, cultural, institutional, political, and legal drivers of the epidemic — that concentrate HIV infection among young transgender people of color.” Melissa Sklarz, a transgender rights advocate just named co-chair of the Pride Agenda Foundation, sounded a bit weary at how long the fight has gone on but also determined to raise the community’s sights. “I’m no longer willing to fight just for equality and justice,” she said. “I want to see transgender faces, hear transgender voices. Hire transgender people.” The Pride Agenda is planning its annual Equality & Justice lobbying day in Albany for April 28.

ing achievements of our democracy, the result of Republican and Democratic efforts. President Reagan signed its renewal when he was in office. President George W. Bush signed its renewal when he was in office.  One hundred members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right to protect it.  If we want to honor this day, let that hundred go back to Washington and gather 400 more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore that law this year.  That’s how we honor those on this bridge.” And while arguing that the work is not yet over, Obama rejected the idea that nothing has changed in

American society, saying, “We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, or that racial division is inherent to America. If you think nothing’s changed in the past 50 years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or LA of the '50s. Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing’s changed. Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was 30 years ago. To deny this progress — our progress — would be to rob us of our own agency; our responsibility to do what we can to make America better.” March 19 - April 01, 2015 |



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Mobile Marriage License Window Remains Shuttered Probate judge won’t gamble he can sort out federalism crisis Alabama Supreme Court is egging on BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


labama’s Mobile County Probate Court is not issuing marriage licenses to anybody, as Judge Don Davis — caught between a federal district court order that names him and a contradictory ruling from the State Supreme Court — tries to figure out exactly what he is supposed to be doing. On January 26, US District Judge Callie Granade, in a lawsuit brought by a same-sex couple in Mobile County, ruled they were entitled to receive a marriage license because the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. Granade delayed her ruling until February 9 to give the state a chance to seek a stay from a higher court pending its appeal. The defendant in that case, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, a Republican, asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court to stay Granade’s order, but was turned down. Marriages began on February 9, and Strange’s appeal sits essentially ignored at the 11th Circuit, which indicated that it would not take up the case while the appeals of the Sixth Circuit marriage equality cases are before the Supreme Court. In Mobile, Davis initially took the position that since he was not a defendant in the marriage case, he would not issue licenses to what by then was an expanded group of victorious plaintiffs. They went back to Granade, who clarified her order to require Davis to issue licenses. Two organizations opposed to marriage equality filed an emergency petition with the Alabama Supreme Court, purporting to represent the interest of the state, calling on that court to stop the probate judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. After seeking responses from the probate judges, on March 3, the Supreme Court issued a decision ordering an end to the issuance of licenses to same-

sex couples by the state’s probate judges. Given the order he had from Granade, however, Davis had submitted a request to be dismissed from the state lawsuit. In its March 3 order, the State Supreme Court directed him to advise it by letter within two days “as to whether he is bound by any existing federal court order regarding the issuance of any marriage license other than the four marriage licenses he was [earlier] ordered to issue.” After winning additional time to respond, Davis, on March 9, asked the Alabama Supreme Court to excuse him from following its order “out of concern that doing so would require him to violate the federal district court order.” Two days later, the state high court refused his request, finding that Granade’s order only applied to the plaintiffs in the case she decided. “Federal jurisprudence contemplates that a federal district court adjudicates the obligations, if any, of a defendant or defendants only with respect to the plaintiff or plaintiffs in the case before the court,” the Alabama court wrote. Since the case had not been brought as a class action on behalf of all those seeking marriage licenses, reasoned the high court, Granade’s order could not require Davis to issue licenses to any other couples. Noting that Alabama law states that probate judges “may” issue “marriage licenses,” the court wrote, “To the extent he exercises this authority, he must issue those licenses in accordance with the meaning of the term ‘marriage’” as defined in Alabama law. Davis finds himself in a dilemma, since he is unsure whether the Alabama Supreme Court correctly determined his obligations under Granade’s federal order. So he kept the marriage window closed in his courthouse and went back to her court with an emergency motion to stay her ruling, because he had been “placed in a potential


ALABAMA, continued on p.13

March 19 - April 01, 2015 |


ALABAMA, from p.12

conflict” between her order, the Supreme Court’s order, and a separate administrative order issued prior to the state’s high court ruling by Chief Justice Roy Moore, a fierce critic of Granade’s ruling. Granade’s response suggested she is sympathetic to Davis’ plight, but otherwise unmoved. “Although the court would agree that the developments in these same-sex marriage cases has at times seemed dizzying, the court finds that Judge Davis has not shown that a stay is warranted,” she wrote. Orders are typically stayed when the party seeking one can show they are likely to win on the merits. Davis didn’t even try to make that argument, and Granade also found he had failed to show that denying the stay would cause him “irrepa-

rable harm.” Davis pointed to the Alabama Supreme Court’s refusal to exempt him from its order, but Granade responded by making clear he is bound by the federal court’s order. Meanwhile, the victorious plaintiffs have petitioned the federal district court to expand their case to a class action, a motion on which Granade has not yet ruled. The Alabama Legislature, though, is leaving nothing to chance. Anticipating the eventual arrival of an unambiguous, unchallenged right of same-sex couples to marry there, the House of Representatives on March 12 approved a bill that would excuse ministers and judges from performing any marriage ceremonies to which they have religious objections. Davis’s marriage window — for the time being, at least — remains closed.


City Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Irish Queers’ Emmaia Gelman with longtime activist Allen Roskoff and Matthew McMorrow of the Empire State Pride Agenda.


ST. PATTY'S, from p.6

the ban was over and an LGBT group was in the parade. This, in turn, allowed sponsors to return. “All these guys care about is money,” said Emmaia Gelman, a member of Irish Queers, of the parade organizers. “Now that they’re all back in, I don’t know what we’re negotiating about.” Gelman was one of roughly 50 people who protested the continued exclusion of Irish LGBT groups from the parade. Starting at 11 and continuing for two-and-a-half hours, activists chanted and displayed a green banner that read “Let Irish Gays Into Irish Parade.” | March 19 - April 01, 2015

The gr oup had planned on remaining silent when OUT@ NBCUniversal went by, but they ultimately decided against waiting nearly five hours for that moment. City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, an out gay Democrat who represents part of Queens, was on hand for the protest and he saw a crack in the 24-year ban. Conversations with some parade organizers have led him to believe that an Irish LGBT group may march in 2016. “I’ve had conversations with some on the organizing committee who understand the issue,” Dromm said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that an Irish gay group will be in this parade next year.”



UTAH, from p.5

NCLR’s Kendall ter med the “stepping out” provision “reprehensible,” Williams said he was “shocked” when SB 297 surfaced, and even Adams, who sprung the bill on him, spoke empathetically of the Equality Utah leader having to offer testimony on it, saying, “Troy didn’t want this bill.” By all accounts, the sudden emergence of a new, second piece of legislation designed to protect “religious expression and beliefs about marriage, family, or sexuality” was the handiwork of Robin Fretwell Wilson, the University of Illinoi law professor whose role in Utah Queer Nation made an issue of this week. Nobody disputes Wilson’s role in crafting this second bill; in fact, advocates blame her for it. “Unlike SB 296, [297] was not the product of joint work by [Latter -day Saints] Church lawyers and the LGBT community,” Lambda’s Pizer said. “Rather, it was drafted by a law professor (Robin Fretwell Wilson) who has been pressing hard for capacious reli-

gious exemptions nationwide. It was introduced without warning in the midst of the announcement of SB 296 and, in its initial form, posed very serious threats to LGBT people and others.” Pizer, Equality Utah’s Williams, and NCLR’s Kendell all said that, despite being sandbagged by the introduction of 297, advocates managed to remove some of the more far -reaching exemptions regarding same-sex marriages that Wilson originally drafted into the bill. When the new bill first surfaced, Kendell tweeted, “Hold everything in Utah. New very evil bill. Decent bill is SB296, bad bill is SB297. Would eviscerate ALL non-discrim laws. Double-cross?” Assessing the revised measure that passed, she said that Wilson “got a thimbleful of what she originally sought.” Where professional advocates challenge Queer Nation’s narrative on Wilson’s role in Utah is on 296, what Kendell called the “decent bill.” Fred Sainz, an HRC spokesperson, flatly denied any collaboration between his group and Wil-

son on the nondiscrimination bill. City for a meeting of the FederalReferring to a March 16 panel in ist Society. Williams said Wilson Washington where HRC’s legal called to invite him to breakfast, director Sarah Warbelow appeared where he first met her and learned with Wilson and others, Sainz of her close collaboration with the in a statement to Gay City News Republican legislators his group said, “Yesterday afternoon was had been negotiating with. the first interaction HRC staff have had with Robin Fretwell Wilson regarding the Utah legislation. SB “When Ms. Wilson 296, the addition of sexual orientation is in town, LGBT folks and gender identity should be very wary.” to the employment and housing non-discrimination codes, was drafted by Equality Utah and nego“A week later, I realized she tiated by them directly with the LDS church and state legislators. was still in town,” he said. “And I Attorneys for all of the movement learned that when Ms. Wilson is in legal groups, including HRC’s legal town, LGBT folks should be very director, provided input on the lan- wary.” Even if Wilson’s influence had guage directly through EU.” That account was echoed by pr eviously been unknown to NCLR, Lambda, the ACLU, and Equality Utah, it was not a secret. Equality Utah’s Williams. Accord- A February 26 story in the Deseret ing to Williams, the legislation News reported her impending trip was already in relatively final form when Wilson arrived in Salt Lake c UTAH, continued on p.15


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UTAH, from p.14

to the Federalist Society event and said she “could play a role in helping state lawmakers draft legislation balancing religious rights and protections against discrimination for LGBT Utahns.” From the perspective of Republican lawmakers, Wilson’s role was pivotal. “She was very active and was very helpful,” Adams, the lead sponsor, told Gay City News. “She played what I would say was a significant role. She was very insightful.” At the March 5 Senate Business and Labor Standing Committee hearing, Senator Todd Weiler, a Republican, told Wilson, “I hope your name is known in annals of Utah history for bringing all of the stakeholders together. I can’t overemphasize how important your involvement has been.” The hearing lasted just under two hours, with Wilson’s testimony taking up roughly 25 minutes of that time. Wilson did not return Gay City News’ call as promised, but she did prompt Adams to reach out to the newspaper. Asked about Wilson’s influence, NCLR’s Kendell said, “It’s not at all surprising that she was behind the scenes.” Kendell’s view is essentially that the proof is in the pudding. Acknowledging several drawbacks in the nondiscrimination law, she said, “Highlighting those things — which anyone can read — is not the headline here. Before this, we were representing transgender workers who couldn’t pee at work. We were representing lesbians who were playing the pronoun game we all used to do at work 30 years ago.” And Kendell pushed back at negative commentary about the new Utah law. “I’ve been mystified by the criticism of the Utah law,” she said. “I feel like this is huge win for Utah… I think the critique may well be grounded in suspicion that something nefarious happened. But there was never any attempt to hide what’s in the bill.” In Utah, Troy Williams spoke to the larger significance of the new legislation. “For the first time, we were at the table with Republicans, with | March 19 - April 01, 2015


straight folks, with Mormon leaders,” he said. “We were actually able to sit down with people with access and power.” Wi l l i a ms s a i d the new l a w accomplishes “something very important for the lives of LGBT Utahns,” and he offered a nuanced view of what lessons the rest of the country can draw from his experience. “We agree that this is monumental for Utah but it is a not a model for the rest of the country,” Williams said. “But, what I would like to see elsewhere is the spirit of collaboration which was unprecedented here.” Republican J. Stuart Adams, the chief Senate sponsor of both new Utah laws, sounded a similar theme in assessing what transpired in recent weeks. “Something happened in Utah that was beyond the definition of religious affiliates and beyond the nondiscrimination protections,” he said. “It’s very easy to look at something through your own eyes but it’s harder to look through other people’s eyes. If you’re going to have success, you can’t get lost in the minutia. We would never have gotten this done without trying to treat each other with fairness and respect.” There is no reason to question Adams’ sincerity, but it’s hard not to hear an echo of Robin Fretwell Wilson in his comments. Wilson is very adept at explaining far-reaching religious opt-outs in ways that seem innocuous, and she is dedicated to arming religious conservatives with the arguments they need to win the day. At a Federal Society gathering to discuss last summer’s Hobby Lobby ruling, she advised the crowd, “If we set up religious liberty as a straight-up contest with other values in our society, you can almost be assured that you’re going to lose, at least when you add other values of LGBT rights.” There is little doubt Wilson will bring her road show to other states where outsized claims of religious exemptions are currently being pressed — to the detriment of LGBT equality. She will work to make those efforts seem more palatable, and advocates for the LGBT community need to be vigilant in pushing back and naming her work for what it is.

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An Egyptian Chef Whose Suggestions Bear Heeding Kabob Café in Astoria delivers ambitious treats for meat-lovers and vegetarians alike BY DONNA MINKOWITZ


was afraid of Astoria’s Kabob Café because of Yelp. I’m not proud of it, but I was. Several Yelpers had claimed there was “filth,” “cobwebs,” and even a roach spotted crawling on the unique Egyptian café’s art-laden walls. I try to be openminded about restaurants, but I do draw the line at vermin. Still, new friends Karen Taylor (the celebrated community organizer) and her wife, Laura Antoniou (the celebrated BDSM author), had recommended the place, and the food sounded thrilling: Lamb cheeks in pickled lemon sauce. Grilled goat cooked in honey. Oh vegetarians, I know I have neglected you in these reviews so far, so think on this: “Three kinds of mushrooms ground and spread… [with] spicy tomatoes and homemade yogurt,” according to Kabob Café’s menu, which only exists online and guides the physical distribution of food there only as a sort of spiritual template. Pumpkin dumplings, according to a Yelper. Humita (a Quechua Indian dish from South America, what was it doing on this otherwise Egyptian bill?): a “crêpe filled with stewed corn served in fresh tomato sauce and topped with homemade farmer’s cheese.” When I met Karen and Laura there one wintry Saturday afternoon, I entered the tiny storefront on Steinway Street, in the far less yuppie and more Arab section of Astoria. I saw mismatched chairs with velvet cushions and some variously beautiful and cheesy-looking paintings and souvenirs of Cairo, but no cobwebs or insects. Many restaurants have been said to make you feel like you are guests in somebody’s home, but this is the only one that has ever really made me feel that way, for good or ill. The chef and only staffer, Ali El Sayed, had just gotten back from vacation, and said his cupboards were barer than usual. He asked us to pick among the following things for lunch: cauli-

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flower, beets with lemon, apples, garlic, and dill, green fava-bean falafel, lamb, duck, chicken, porgy, squid, and rabbit. Ali, tall, big-bellied, and gray-haired, in a black artist’s beret and chef’s whites, began to cook for us as my friends and I sat and talked. I knew from Yelp and from my friends that Ali’s meals take a long time, so we asked for hot tea, which he served us in glasses, with loads of mint leaves floating at the top. The chef’s miniscule kitchen goes the length of the tiny room, and perhaps dominates it. I’ve eaten in restaurants with “open kitchens” before, but none has ever been as open as this. El Sayed is courtly and gracious, but he’s also occasionally overly talkative, on subjects ranging from politics (leftist, thankfully) to religion (he’s against it) and sex (he’s for it, in all of its varieties). Sometimes he even makes fun of his diners. Still, if you come with friends, he will not interrupt you much. After Laura, Karen, and I had discussed (solely among ourselves) “A Song of Ice and Fire,” Snape from Harry Potter, and a recent controversy in the International Ms. Leather contest, Ali brought out three naked plates for us, strewn decorously with the spice blend called zaatar and with sumac, plus a few drops of olive oil. Then he brought the first entrée for us to spoon onto those plates: roasted cauliflower in an extraordinary pomegranate sauce, with pinenuts, skinny slivers of red pepper, and sautéed chicory leaves. I’ve had some amazing cauliflower dishes around town, but this one was different. This roasted cauliflower dish reminded me of a parable from the gnostic Gospel of Thomas where Jesus asks his disciples to tell him what he is like. One says, “You are like a righteous angel.” Another says, “You are like a wise philosopher.” But the disciple to whom Jesus gives the prize says, “Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying what you are like.” Jesus says (more or less), “That’s exactly what I wanted! You’ve become drunk from the intoxicating stream I have been tending.” It was far better than an amazing similar dish at the Palestinian restaurant Tanoreen in Bay Ridge, hitherto my standard for the best Arab food in New York. I wanted to go on eating it until cauliflower came out of my nose. Though in that gnostic text Thomas was rewarded for not trying to put into words what his own, spiritual version of that cauliflower dish was like, I will now put my foot in it and try anyway. With most attempts to make cauliflower taste good, the challenge is to temper its aggressiveness, but not so much that it loses its unique flavor. This cauliflower somehow blended with its tangy pomegranate friend (I believe lemon was also involved) in such a way that there was

no tension between its pungency and the sweet, lappable sauce. Next Ali brought duck, which, reader, is not my favorite animal to eat. But pieces of the roast thigh were succulent, with a wonderful, mysterious sweetness. They were served with dollops of a gelatinous-textured grain that Ali told us was a “polenta of cassava,” slim wedges of buttery roasted squash, and an appetizing wild green called horta. I like foods that quiver, and my fork went back again and again to that curious cassava jello-polenta. It bounced in my mouth. Next came lamb, tiny, meaty little chops that went on and on in the mouth. My friends and I fought over them. They came in a somewhat different pomegranate sauce, with roasted apple bits and carrots. I wanted dessert, but was too full (it was only lunchtime, after all). Laura told me about an exquisite dish Ali makes with phyllo dough stuffed with cooked fruit like peaches, pear, or apple and sauced with honey. I went alone for a second visit and had the pumpkin dumplings, which were ethereal on their plate of tomato sauce and homemade yogurt, the very lightest, most sublime dumplings I’ve ever had. For my second dish, I had a “torly” of rabbit (a traditional Egyptian sauté-stew of meat and vegetables) which brought my mood down abruptly, because it only tasted okay. The potatoes, the main vegetable here except for some golden raisins that did not fit in, tasted like potatoes from an average diner. The rabbit (flesh I usually adore) was disappointing, too, with one exception: the meat closest to the bone was extraordinary, far more delicious than the euphemistically deboned rabbit I’ve had elsewhere. (Here, you could see the tiny legs and thighs, and imagine the bunny hopping about. Sorry, lovers of bunnies.) To be fair, it was not the first dish Ali had suggested to me that day, it was the last at the end of a long list. He had pushed an artichoke stew with lemons that I no doubt should have ordered instead. So, take his suggestions. Also: take a lot of cash. Expect to spend $35-$40 a person, despite the humble room. Kabob Café is cash only, and just as there is no printed menu, expect your bill to be impressionistic and not itemized with any degree of nicety. The food is worth it. BYOB, although Ali also has some wines he is happy to serve you. The place is utterly queer-friendly, and the meat is halal and freshly slaughtered. Ali regularly forages for some of his wild herbs and greens on land he and a friend own upstate, and says he expects to forage more vegetables from there soon. “The part of human beings where our essence comes out is our genitals,” the chef told me as he fixed my dumplings. I couldn’t agree more. But it also comes out in the food served by our hands. Kabob Café, 25-12 Steinway Street, Astoria, Queens, is not wheelchair accessible. Closed Mondays. March 19 - April 01, 2015 |

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PERSPECTIVE: A Life Examined

French Fries, With Love Rejected BY SAM OGLESBY




s we had been doing once a month for several years, Edith and I met at 11:15 a.m. in the lobby of the Film Forum on Houston Street for a “members only” sneak preview of a critically praised, but obscure film. I think it was an early Cary Grant picture that nobody has ever heard of. As a contributing member of the Film Forum, Edith receives regular invitations to these events and, back in 2012 or 2013, began inviting me to join her. When she extended her first invitation, I did not know Edith very well. We had met one summer through mutual friends at a picnic in Central Park on the Great Lawn. One of those group get-togethers where everybody brings something and you always end up with too much of one thing and not enough of another, a surfeit of dessert or not enough wine (“Oh, I thought I was supposed to bring cake, not booze”) — the kind of oversight that makes everybody laugh and feel relaxed. On that Sunday afternoon, the crowd ice-breaker was Bono, a huge, imposing Alsatian of impeccable breeding who sat obediently at the edge of the picnic blanket dolefully eyeing plates of human goodies — hummus, salami, gruyere — wanting, but never daring to lunge forward to claim his share. The group must have numbered a dozen or more, old friends who had known each other over the years and had dutifully kept in touch in spite of foreign postings with the United Nations or the multinational corporate world. Central Park in the summer was our usual reunion spot. Sever al newcomers had been brought along as candidates for admission to the circle. Edith was one of the new faces introduced by a woman working in Geneva who had met her on a mission to Kenya and found her interesting. Occupying opposite, far corners of the picnic blanket, I had little chance to befriend Edith on that

first encounter. There had been a brief introduction after which I promptly forgot her name. Midway through the festivities, I glanced over and noticed Edith sitting quietly in her corner, rather alone, but not unhappy, contentedly looking out at the hundreds of bodies on the Great Lawn engaged in the ritual celebration of another New York City summer. I found myself forming that initial impression which is always so important in human contact. Edith was, I thought, plain and unassuming. Although I don’t remember doing it, Edith and I must have exchanged contact information, because several weeks after the Great Lawn event I received an email from her asking if I might be interested in going to a midday screening at the Film Forum. By way of explanation for inviting me, Edith said she knew I had spent five years in Indonesia and the film she was proposing dealt with that reprehensible era in the 1960s when hundreds of thousands of Indonesians were killed in an ethnic blood bath during the rise of the dictator Suharto. I readily accepted her invitation, making a mental note that she must know that I am gay and have a husband, an Indonesian man, whom I had been partnered with for over 30 years. Our film date went well, very well. I had not had so much fun in years. After the movie we lunched at a wonderful

hole-in-wall off Houston and then walked in Soho for what must have been several hours. Edith was an expert, par excellence, on Lower Manhattan, full of factoids and anecdotes about the buildings and shops we passed. During our stroll we talked effortlessly about many things; the quiet, plain woman I had first seen on the edge of a picnic blanket was, in fact, brilliantly stimulating and at the same time unassuming and modest, despite what I later learned to be her Harvard doctorate. Our post-Film Forum date was followed by long email exchanges on everything under the sun, from shoes and ships and sealing wax, to cabbages and kings, so to speak. The film get-togethers became a regular event that I greatly anticipated. After half-a dozen encounters, I found our friendship warming into intimacy. We often linked arms when we walked the streets and sometime we would finish phrases the other had started. And in spite of Edith being a modern woman in every sense, I came to see that she appreciated having the door opened for her and help with putting on her overcoat. I greatly enjoyed making these gestures for her. Our most recent film date took place on a sunny, spring-like day in early January. I noticed gratefully as we strolled to our spot for lunch Edith’s subtle accommodation to my slightly reduced pace

due to debilitating and painful arthritis that has cropped up in my knees. Other friends, including my husband, were not always so understanding, urging Lazy Bones, the Old Man to get with it and walk faster. I treasured Edith for her empathy. We ended up lunching at one of those delightful old-world New York City eateries that are easy to overlook if you don’t know about them and, of course, Edith did. Settling in to our checkered table cloth and crisp white napkins, and attended by a lovely lady server with a lilting Irish brogue, I was in high spirits. I felt closer to Edith that day than I ever had before. Our orders arrived. Mine was a steaming bowl of seafood soup and Edith had fish and chips. Her portion was enormous, a veritable mountain of French fries spilling over the plate. With a twinkle in my eye and with what I thought was a playful wave of my hand, I plucked a fry from her platter with a flying pincer movement of index finger and thumb. I reveled in what I realized was, for me, a newly-found flirtatious intimacy with the opposite sex. After digesting my prey, I dove in for another morsel of chips, then settled into my soup du jour, laughing quietly to myself about what a flirt I had suddenly become. A minute later, I went for a third raid on Edith’s huge mound of chips. Incredible to me, my playful theft was greeted by an angry snarl from Edith. Her face turned dark and mean and in a high-pitched, strident tone, she hissed at me, “That’s my lunch you are eating. STOP IT !” I immediately withdrew my hand, the fry dangling helplessly from my thumb and forefinger. I let it drop on the table cloth and pointed my face toward my soup bowl. Another word was not exchanged between us for the rest of the lunch. When the meal was over, our Irish server removed Edith’s plate; half of the fries were still there, uneaten. When we found ourselves out on the street an awkwardness enveloped us; I mumbled something perfunctory about what a fun day it had been and Edith gestured to the subway stop, saying she had to go. Unaccountably my mind raced


FRENCH FRIES, continued on p.19

March 19 - April 01, 2015 |


FRENCH FRIES, from p.18

back 68 years to when I was a seven-year -old boy in Tokyo. I was sitting on the stairs in our house next to our beautiful young servant girl, Chioko. We had a game that I loved playing with her. I would point to features on my face — nose, lips, eyes, chin — and say the words for those things in English and she would then do the same thing in Japanese. Our mispronunciations would result in giggles and laughter and Chioko would always end up hugging me and saying to me in Japanese “Kawa-ee nay!” (“You are so cute.”) My first flirt with a girl had just occurred. But at the end of one of these playful language lessons, my mother appeared. Standing over us, she said with a mocking tone and a frowning sneer, “Well, Sammy Boy, I see this little maid has got you in her clutches ! Get back to work, Chioko !” I was so ashamed and embarrassed that I

never flirted with a woman again until I pinched Edith’s French fries. They say that things always happen “in three’s,” so that means I am bound to have another flirtatious encounter with another female. But I am 75 years old now and 68 years passed between my first two fumbling hetero attempts. So I doubt if I will have that third chance. And you know what? It doesn’t really bother me. I take comfort in a paraphrase of an old saw: “Better the (gay) Devil you know !” My experience with Edith saddened and confused me for a while, but now when I look back on what happened, I smile and think maybe sexuality is a floating crap game with no losers. She put me back in my place where I really belong as a gay man. Sam Oglesby is a New Yorkbased writer who won the 2013 New York Press Association Award for Best Feature article.

Were you there? Providers in the New York City area, and across the country, monitor and treat conditions related to the September 11th terrorist attacks — like asthma, heartburn, certain cancers, depression, and PTSD. These providers treat responders and volunteers who participated in rescue, recovery, or clean-up on or after 9/11, as well as those in the WTC dust cloud or who lived, worked, or went to school or daycare in lower Manhattan south of Houston or into parts of Brooklyn.

Learn More. Call 1-888-982-4748 or visit World Trade Center | Pentagon | Shanksville, PA Image is a model portraying an actual member of the World Trade Center Health Program. | March 19 - April 01, 2015



Sustaining the Approaching Apocalypse of Uppity Queers





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, Donna Minkowitz, Gregory Montreuil, Christopher Murray, David Noh, Sam Oglesby, Nathan Riley, David Shengold, Yoav Sivan, Gus Solomons Jr., Tim Teeman, Kathleen Warnock, Benjamin Weinthal, Dean P. Wrzeszcz




NATIONAL DISPLAY ADVERTISING Rivendell Media / 212.242.6863

Gay City News, The Newspaper Serving Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender NYC, is published by NYC Community Media, LLC. Send all inquiries to: Gay City News, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Phone: 212.229.1890 Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents (c) 2015 Gay City News. Gay City News is a registered trademark of NYC Community Media, LLC. Jennifer Goodstein, CEO Fax: 212.229.2790; E-mail:

© 2015 Gay City News. All rights reserved.






f I could, I’d give up on words and just publish a photo of a cute kitten. Maybe the one with a furry little face sticking out of a boot. Or, if you prefer, I could offer beefcakes, or hot dykes galore. Whatever would elicit that smile, a satisfied little coo. And while you were enjoying all the overwhelming cuteness, I’d pipe in a little music laced with the subliminal messages that would get you to do more than write a quick check, but engage with queer lives in some systematic, enduring way that would go beyond the ups and downs of this week’s campaigns. Is it even possible? Not the kitten stuff, but creating a movement, a kind of long-lasting brand loyalty that would attract people for a lifetime? In this country, we love the individual more than the community and, at every opportunity, perpetuate the myth that we all pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and don’t owe nobody nothin’, not ever. So instead of appealing to the greater good, we usually market outrage in brief bursts, like a fire sale or pop-up store. Another gay guy was murdered in Jamaica, come to this demo. Two

dykes got screamed at in a Paris train station when they dared to kiss, sign this petition. Shall I feed you statistics on dead trans women? Or even the living? The rates of LGBT poverty, our lack of education? Violence? Yeah, I could get out my big stick and whack it around until I have your attention or you flee, too burnt out to care any more. Or because you only picked up this gay rag for the bar listings, or to read a little fluff piece on theater, maybe, or about that actor who finally came out and is so fucking happy he practically glows. Right, better to go all upbeat and vomit rainbows, the other tactic to pull you in, and educate you, at least a little about all those heroes on the ground. I was in Kentucky last week and went to a big thing on the ACLU and queer rights. The people were great, and so optimistic it made me tired, how they reconceived every defeat as a victory. Years ago, when the law passed banning same-sex marriage, they didn’t cancel their party. Because after all, look at how many LGBT groups grew out of the fight. And the fact that the bigots even drafted the bill at all is proof that we’re getting stronger and today they can see us on the horizon — the approaching apocalypse of

uppity queers that will no doubt take place minutes after the Supreme Court acknowledges that we deserve equal rights, at least in the marriage bureau. I don’t know if I could pull it off, facing each defeat with hope and renewed energy. I’m not very Zen. Most activists aren’t. Hell, nobody is. Hence the carrots and the sticks. And why it’s so hard to deal with the stuff that’s not life or death, but merely devastating in a daily sort of way, like discrimination in housing and employment and education, or bullying. These things that have no end in sight. Sure, they can be partly addressed with legislation. But even a win in the Supreme Court won’t end the marriage battle everywhere. Like with the Voting Rights Act, we have to continue to pay attention and be bold enough to demand that laws are actually enforced. Regions can still create impediments, block actual roads, scare the crap out of people, close the clerk’s office when a queer turns up. Look at the black civil rights movement or the women’s movement. They make it look like protecting change is even harder than creating it. It requires a lifetime vigilance, not just the ADD of emotional appeals and manipulation. It’s a real danger that once we can all put a ring on it, complacency will set in and gay money will stay in gay pockets. And all those student activists going door to door will turn to something more exciting.


DYKE ABROAD, continued on p.21


Bill Bratton’s Possibly Inadvertent Truthiness About Marijuana BY NATHAN RILEY


ew York n e e d s to take marijuana seriously. People are dying because we won’t create legal markets and offer the protection of the law to marijuana sellers. Commissioner Bill Bratton recently turned an ele-

mentary question of law and order into a joke with rhetorical overkill: “People are killing each other over marijuana more so than anything that we had to deal with in the ’80s and ’90s with heroin and cocaine.” His remark led everyone to scoff. After all, in 1988 during the crack years, there were 1,896 murders in this city. The jump from 45 to 54 in the first two months of

this year versus 2014 might seem like small potatoes. But I’m allergic to this kind of reasoning. I remember when the constant increase in AIDS deaths failed to energize the United States, while less than a hundred cases of measles provoked a nationwide health response this year. This country responds to some kinds of crises, while blithely ignoring others.

A marijuana dealer who has been a friend for decades is worried. His friends are being robbed at gunpoint. It can happen to him. They can’t go to the police and ask that messengers be protected. His bosses may have to hire someone to persuade the robbers to stop. Words alone will not do the trick. When people are denied the protection offered by the law, violence is abetted. The Washington Post wonk column r eported that homicides fell 24 percent after pot was legal-


LONG VIEW, continued on p.21

March 19 - April 01, 2015 |


Christ’s Emissary Calls Us Maricónes BY ED SIKOV


ne unexpected measure of progress in media coverage of LGBT lives is the fact that I had to go all the way to the Andean Air Mail and Peruvian Times for this week’s lede. (It’s a single entity — formerly an English-language newspaper, now a website.) The subject is a bill that would have legalized civil unions in Peru: “The debate over the legislation heated up in the days leading to the vote, with opponents and supporters holding separate protests. The legislation, proposed by lawmaker Carlos Bruce, faced stiff opposition in a conservative country where the Catholic Church still plays a strong role in public and private life. “Monsignor Luis Bambarén, bishop emeritus of Chimbote, told Peruvian media that he strongly opposed the legislation, and called Bruce a ‘maricón,’ Spanish for ‘faggot.’ “‘Congressman Carlos Bruce is making a fool of himself with all of this, appearing — excuse me for the term — like a faggot in the middle of everything,’ said Bambarén. ‘He himself has said he is gay. Gay is not the Peruvian word, the word is faggot.’ “Bruce responded that the bishop’s comments ‘reflect the hate that is typical of homophobia,’ and said he was disappointed a representative of the Catholic Church, ‘appar-


ently lacking arguments, now resorts to insults.’ “Bruce added that Bambarén’s statement is not in line with the position of Pope Francis. “‘It bothers me that he insults three million Peruvians who share with me the same orientation,’ Bruce said. ‘I hope he apologizes.’” Bambarén did just that in a written statement. “I respect and embrace those born homosexual and ask the same of their families and society,” the statement said. “If homosexual people felt offended, I apologize and I pray for them.” If we felt offended? If? On behalf of the world’s maricónes, Monsignor, I don’t accept your apology, but I might consider doing so if you included our tortilleras calientes hermanas in your most un-Jesus-like hate. Your narrow-minded bigotry is itself narrow-minded. ¡Talk about invisibilidad lesbiana! In any case, keep your prayers to yourself. We don’t want them. And in case readers are wondering, the measure went down to defeat.

Me, Too, Lady! Vi a T o w l e r o a d c o m e s t h i s recent letter to the syndicated column “Dear Abby,” now written by Jeanne Phillips. Mom is concerned because her teenage son had his first kiss, and it was with another boy. But that’s just the beginning: “When [my son] was in eighth

DYKE ABROAD, from p.20

Demobilization will, I suspect, reinforce existing divides in our community. Not only among gay men and dykes, bi folks and trans people,


LONG VIEW, from p.20

ized in Colorado. Surely the lives saved are more important than Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s unpleasant high after getting zonked by Colorado’s potent weed. After all, she was right as rain the next day, but she blamed her experience on legal drugs. She likely never factored into her candy bar | March 19 - April 01, 2015

grade, he had a crush on a girl named ‘Lisa.’ She rejected him because she had a girlfriend. Then he dated a girl, ‘Annie,’ but it didn’t last because he said he felt only friendship for her. Then he became friends with this boy ‘Joey’ in high school, who spent the night several times. He told me from the start this boy was gay (this is the boy he kissed). Now Joey has a girlfriend. To say the least, I’m confused.” Kids today! As uberqueen Paul Lynde sings in “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Why can’t they be like we were/ fucked up in every way! What’s the matter with kids to-day?” (Okay, he doesn’t sing “fucked up” but rather “perfect.”) Back in my day, gay boys were gay boys and baby dykes were baby dykes, and we all got tormented by creeps, and life was simply horrendous. Now the little twerps are scampering freely all over the place, and chaos reigns! “Abby’s” advice to Mom was simply to love her son and let him work out the rest.

I Promise Not to Make Fun of the Reporter’s Name Charlie Butts, of OneNewsNow. com, writes: “[Oklahoma] State Sen. Joseph Silk, a Republican, introduced a bill that would allow business owners the freedom to follow their religious convictions amid accusations of discrimination from homosexual activists. The political storm began with a New York Times

but along chasms of race and ethnicity, class and region. Even marital status. If you’re single and plan to stay that way, what have you won from this long, expensive campaign? The most vulnerable in our community will be

consumption the increased potency of marijuana in recent years. Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance tried steering the conversation in a constructive direction: “I’m not sure if Bratton intended to make the point that marijuana prohibition leads to violence, but that is what he is saying. It is obvious that the marijuana plant and its use by itself are not leading to

story published March 5. After the story published, says Silk, his office was flooded with ‘hundreds and hundreds of vulgar, vile emails, just absolutely hate mail, death threats to myself and my family, horrible backlash from the LGBT community.’ Some of those emails, especially the threats, have been turned over to the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation.  “The newspaper story was about efforts in legislatures across the country to ensure business owners have freedom of conscience. “‘They don’t have a right to be served in every single store,’ Silk, referring to homosexuals, was quoted as saying. ‘People need to have the ability to refuse service if its violates their religious convictions.’” If it’s true that Silk and his office staff were barraged with hate mail from our team, then it’s disgusting. There is no excuse for threatening the opposition personally. Nobody deserves hate mail, especially the menacing variety. As for sending vulgar messages, the LGBT community should feel free to have at it. After trying my hand at an ugly rant or two, I’ve decided to take a higher road by pointing out that a “religious convictions” exemption to civil rights laws is a bogus attempt to circumvent basic American values. Whether Senator Silk or his apologist Butts likes it, we’re all equal in this country. Claiming that discrimination is protected by religion is a cheap perversion of any religion that claims to be based on love. More important, it’s against the law. Follow @edsikov on Twitter.

left behind unless we start to see the goal of our movement as more than just mere equality with a heterosexual world that is neither just in social terms nor particularly happy. We need a broad and enduring vision that we can aspire to.

the killings. It is the fact that marijuana is illegal and control over the illicit market is what leads to violence over the profit of this plant.” Notice Newman’s sly observation about Commissioner Bratton’s intentions. Was he saying, “Marijuana prohibition leads to violence?” Whatever his meaning, he certainly provoked a debate. And according to his department, it is

true that every one of the drug-related murders this year stemmed from robberies of marijuana dealers. We should take everyone’s life seriously, and most certainly pot dealers’ lives matter. Ending marijuana prohibition isn’t about making life easier for stoners; it’s a matter of life and death. Everyone should be concerned.


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.


March 19 - April 01, 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. | March 19 - April 01, 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

March 19 - April 01, 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. | March 19 - April 01, 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



Grindr Not Liable for Hook-Up With Underage User Internet service provider not held to gatekeeper standard on content BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

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gay man’s attempt to hold Grindr responsible for his arrest and prosecution for sex with a minor was cut short on March 13 when a federal judge in New Jersey ruled that an “interactive computer service” provider enjoys statutory immunity from liability for harm resulting from content third parties post to its service. Ruling on Grindr’s motion to dismiss William F. Saponaro, Jr.’s suit, the task before District Judge Jerome B. Simandle was not to determine the truth of the 54-yearold’s claim he was unaware that the boy who turned up for the threesome with him and his 24-year-old friend Mark LeMunyon was only 13 years old. Instead, he ruled on whether if the assertion were true that fact provided grounds for a liability claim against Grindr. According to Saponaro’s complaint, LeMunyon set up the threesome after the 13-year-old boy, who was a registered Grindr user, contacted LeMunyon seeking a “sexual encounter.” Saponaro alleged he is not a registered Grindr user. Grindr’s terms of use limits the service to adults. Saponaro claims that when he questioned LeMunyon about the boy’s age, he was assured he must be at least 18 since he is a Grindr member. The three had a sexual encounter in June 2012 in Saponaro’s Cape May house, and the two men were arrested shortly afterward on charges of sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. They could face prison terms of up to 20 years. In his suit, Saponaro claims Grindr was negligent “by allowing the minor to hold himself out as an adult of consenting age on its on-line service.” Saponaro asserts he reasonably relied on Grindr’s terms of service and that Grindr’s negligent failure to verify the age of registrants led to his arrest. The cost of his criminal defense has been high, he said, and he is also asserting a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The federal Communications

Decency Act affords broad protection to providers and users of any “interactive computer service,” who are not to be treated as the “publisher” or “speaker” of information provided by “another information content provider.” In other words, Grindr is not liable for information posted to its service by individuals and can’t be held responsible to act as an editor or gatekeeper regarding such content. By contrast, a newspaper may be held liable for printing defamatory letters to the editor. Saponaro’s complaint relied on a 2008 decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that found, an online roommate-matching service, liable for violating laws against housing discrimination. That website required applicants to fill out a questionnaire inquiring about their sex, family status, and sexual orientation, in violation of a local nondiscrimination law. Judge Simandle found the situations distinguishable. Roommates. com’s questions, on their face, violated the law. Grindr’s questionnaire asks for information, but there is nothing illegal about collecting such data in the context of dating and match-making. Congress has made clear, Simandle found, that it is US policy to “preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation.” Holding internet service providers responsible for third-party content would severely stifle online freedom of speech on the internet, since providers would likely err on the side of excluding material rather than risk being sued. The cost of monitoring the voluminous information posted would, as well, be prohibitive for providers, said the court. Simandle also found that since Saponaro himself is not a Grindr user, he cannot seek to impose any duty on the company. Similarly, his argument that “defendants must clearly have foreseen the potential for use by minors,” the court concluded, might be relevant to a claim made by a minor, but not to the harm a non-Grinder user asserts he experienced from the actions of a minor. March 19 - April 01, 2015 |


I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing Eytan Fox’s offers a candy-colored story of finding yourself in kitschy self-expression BY GARY M. KRAMER

O | March 19 - April 01, 2015

Directed by Eytan Fox Strand Releasing In Hebrew with English subtitles Opens Mar. 27 Quad Cinema 34 W. 13th St.

Ofer Shechter in Eytan Fox’s “Cupcakes.”


GARY M. KRAMER: Pop songs and sex. Your film is very much about fostering happiness, which was also the theme of your last drama, “Yossi.” What accounts for the tonal shift from serious character study to light and sunny musical? EYTAN FOX: People think I’m a somber film director or that



ut filmmaker Eytan Fox’s joyful musical comedy “Cupcakes” may well give viewers a sugar buzz. Six friends — Anat (Anat Waxman), Keren (Keren Berger), Yael (Yael Bar -Zohar), Dana (Dana Ivgy), Efrat (Efrat Dor), and Ofer (Ofer Shechter) — enter the UniverSong contest, as the Israeli delegation to the competition, with a tune they wrote and perform on a lark. In the process, all of them overcome personal and professional fears and embrace their identities without worrying about what other people think. It’s a simple, upbeat message, effectively conveyed. Dana, an aide to Israel’s cultural minister, initially worries about the ramifications of being in a cheesy singing contest. Meanwhile, Ofer’s impending fame impacts his relationship with his closeted lover, Asi (Alon Levi), whose parents happen to be the Israeli delegation’s conservative sponsors. Part of the char m of “Cupcakes” is Fox’s embrace of the kitsch involved in these kinds of competitions. From Ofer performing Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” in drag to the six singers discovering Paris, which plays host to the contest, with tinted sunglasses, the infectious pop music and fun, candy-colored images and costumes provide this confection’s irresistible icing. Fox — in what he said was his first Skype interview ever — spoke with Gay City News about making his film.

Director Eytan Fox with Ofer Shecter.

“Cupcakes” is different for me. I have these sides in my soul. If I had any budget I wanted, I’d make a musical, not just serious chamber pieces about gay soldiers with identity questions. I don’t think that it is surprising that I made both “Yossi” and “Cupcakes.” Their subject matters and ideas are important to me, and the characters are similar. Ofer’s character has traces of Jagger’s character in him from “Yossi & Jagger” [the heart-rending film to which “Yossi” was the sequel]. GMK: “Cupcakes” is more in tone with your musical TV series, “Mary Lou.” How did you come to develop this film?

EF: The plot is based on a bunch of close friends who were sophisticated journalists — music, film, and theater critics — who decided to write a song that would rep Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest. They got a notice that they were chosen, so they asked me to go with them and be their babysitter. GMK: You certainly convey the outrageousness of the contest in “Cupcakes.” Can you talk about how you developed the film’s contest? EF: Eurovision has become a gay circus. In 1999, Israel sent Dana International, a transsexual, to represent them in this com-

petition. All the politicos in Israel were in an uproar. When she won, the gay community went to the streets dancing and singing. It’s a stupid pop competition, but it meant so much for us. Conchita Wurst from Austria, a woman with a beard, won the last Eurovision song competition. Americans don’t know about Eurovision. I grew up with it but we didn’t get the rights, so we made up the UniverSong contest, which allowed us to use music that was not strictly European. It was an opportunity to use ‘70s kitschy pop music, which I love. I’m not ashamed of it. You can eat in a fancy restaurant one day and enjoy it, then have a cheeseburger and enjoy that, or hummus and falafel. It doesn’t have to be either/ or. GMK: In the film, Keren blogs about the UniverSong contest being a guilty pleasure. What are your guilty pleasures, and why do you feel guilt about them? EF: I still hear “Love Will Keep Us Together” and it makes me smile immediately. I don’t know that I’ll jump up and dance in front of you on Skype, but this music we chose for “Cupcakes” makes me happy. It is a guilty pleasure. The world has changed and high and low culture lines are not as strict, but the world I grew up in was very strict about it. It was considered childish, or gayish, feminine, weak to like certain music. Boys liked Pink Floyd or


CUPCAKE, continued on p.32


Larry Kramer’s Search BY DAVID EHRENSTEIN


Author, playwright, and activist Larry Kramer.




n the spring of 1989 I went to New York — a city I was born in but left for Los Angeles in 1976 — and paid a visit to my old Gay Activists Alliance compadre Vito Russo, for what would prove to be the last time. I was in town to do research for my book “The Scorsese Picture: The Art and Life of Martin Scorsese,” which would be published three years later and dedicated to Vito’s memory. Like countless other invaluable gay men in 1989, Vito was dying of AIDS. As always his spirits were high and we laughed uproariously together at all manner of human folly, gay and straight, past and present. His admiration for Larry Kramer was one of the few really serious topics we discussed that day. It wasn’t until I was out the door and down the stairs that the sadness overwhelmed me. So I went to visit Larry, whose health was reportedly little better than Vito’s. Medically speaking that may have been the case. But the man who stood before me at the door of his One Fifth Avenue condo appeared neither beaten nor bowed. I wanted to check in on what Larry was up to for many reasons, one of which concerned the fact that sometime around 1981 he had begun working on a project entitled “The American People” — an “alternative history,” as the saying goes, of the nation from a gay perspective, bringing to the fore the multifarious contributions gays made to this country that were miscast, ignored, or deliberately “written out” of “accepted” historical accounts. With his life then seemingly in the balance, I wondered what steps Larry had taken to complete “The American People,” or, if he were to leave us before doing so, assign it to another party (no not me, I was manifestly unqualified) for completion and publication. As it turned out, my fears on that day were unjustified. Other times not so much. In 2001, Larry received a liver transplant. Unaware of the whys and wherefores of the situation, Newsweek said he was dying and the Associated Press went further, declaring Larry flat-out dead. Wishful thinking on the part of a status quo that utterly despised him. But on that day in 1989, it was plain to me at least that Larry wasn’t about to “go gently into that good night” if he could help it. All over his living room were giant, neatly arranged stacks of manuscript — in what form and to what degree of completion only Larry knew. His cool resolve (sadly not as famous as his roiling anger) assured me he had the matter well in hand. He was going to finish what he started, and he wasn’t making plans to die. Now in 2015, the fruits of Larry’s labors stand before us in a 777-page volume that is only part one of

his more-than-magnum opus. Subtitled “Search For My Heart,” “The American People” is a novel, far from the sort of historical study many were expecting, but very much in line with the brand of historical “fiction” whose exemplar is Honoré de Balzac. This “Splendeurs et misères des gays” is not what those familiar with Larry’s plays, screenplays, novels, and polemical cris de coeur might have thought him capable of. Imagine if you will Robert Musil’s “The Man Without Qualities” reconfigured in the style of John Dos Passos’ “U.S.A.,” with a soupcon of Samuel R. Delany’s “Dhalgren,” Walter Benjamin’s unfinished “Arcades Project,” and Stéphane Mallarmé’s barely started “Le Livre,” in which the poet proposed an exploration of “all

existing relations between everything.” A Very Larry Idea. “The American People” will be formally finished next year when Volume Two is published, with Larry, one hopes, still around to either answer questions or — as only he can —grandly declining to do so. He’s “had his say.” As for what he’s said “means,” the best place to start is with what he has to say about one of the text’s key figures — Abraham Lincoln. I say “figure” because the 16th president of the United States has come to be regarded not as a flesh and blood human being but rather a secular icon — a demi-God who lived among us but, like Jesus Christ, was destined for death, whose arrival rendered him a massive marble deity very much on the order of the “Space Jockey” in “Alien” and just as unreal. In short, this statuary Lincoln was perfect for acknowledging his admirable efforts at ending slavery as well as the tragic Civil War that went hand in hand — all at a discreet “polite” distance. That a man named Abraham Lincoln actually walked the earth, did his deeds, and put on his pants one leg at a time (rather than being ceremonially lowered into them) are facts those who wish to preserve him in amber are determined to ignore. Consequently, the notion that Lincoln was a sexual being is supposedly “covered” by his wife and children — marriage being the ideal “closed door” whose “privacy” must at all cost be maintained. That anything else of a sexual or romantic nature may have taken place in Lincoln’s life is therefore secular “sacrilege.” “Abe was not interested in women and never would be,” Larry declares with nonchalant sangfroid. “His first partner was young Billy Greene, who was fifteen, and then Abner Ellis, seventeen.” Joshua Speed, the most important of Abe’s amours is copiously quoted and/ or paraphrased from documents Larry has examined: “From the first night we met I held him in my arms, each night for going on four years. And he held me in his arms even tighter. We were both big strapping young men and my big bed took quite a beating. If Billy came upon us, or Abner, in the middle of our occupations, they would throw a pillow at us. Oh how we laughed, all of us. Those were happy days. Abraham was twenty-eight. I was twenty-two.” “Between 1837 and 1842 Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed are lovers,” Larry declares. going on to make mention of Speed’s note that “I know full well there are many like us.” But like all men of their class and ambition, Lincoln and Speed were required to marry. And while Abe impregnated Mary on their wedding night and fathered four children afterwards, Speed’s marriage (to one Fanny Henning) “was never consummated.” Abe, Larry declares, “would not March 19 - April 01, 2015 |


Vito Russo and Larry Kramer.

By Larry Kramer Farrar, Straus and Giroux $40 ; 777 pages

expecting an attentive reader to take up where he has left off. For Larry has considered same-sex relations, their meaning and method for decades in different forms and contexts. Recall the wrestling match between Alan Bates’ Rupert and Oliver Reed’s Gerald in Larry’s adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s “Women in Love,” beautifully directed by Ken Russell in 1969. Many a male heart still flutters at the sight of that scene. By exceedingly sharp contrast, there’s his infamous 1978 novel “Faggots,” where Larry broke most decisively with the hedonism he

FILSON HISTORICAL SOCIETY | March 19 - April 01, 2015

Wilkes Booth. Booth, in the words of Walt Whitman, possessed “a face of statuesque beauty.” Mentioning Whitman’s own gayness, of course, was considered utterly outrageous until very recently. Likewise the way the Lincoln-besotted “good gray poet” suffered at society’s hands because of said gayness: “I am still punished for my looking and loving. I am denied the right to teach. I am forced to move from place to place because of untrue things people say about me. My books are made mortified and burned to crisps.” That the poet who, despite his love of Lincoln, found his murderer physically attractive indicates that more Whitman scholarship need to be done. More is needed on Booth (apparently a hustler of sorts), as well. Larry notes that one of the conspirators, Lewis Payne, was the Lincoln assassin’s lover. Seeing the famous picture taken of Payne, that’s not at all hard to imagine. Indeed no lesser an eminence than Roland Barthes enthused in “Camera Lucida,” his book on photography, “In 1865, young Lewis Payne tried to assassinate Secretary of State W. H. Seward. Alexander Gardner photographed him in his cell, where he was waiting to be hanged. The photograph is handsome, as is the boy: that is the studium. But the punctum is: he is going to die.” So what is to be done about all this? That is the question “The American People” asks and only partially answers, Larry fully

A Novel


have married” if Speed hadn’t married first, adding an observation from the bypassed beloved himself: “This thought occurred to me while gazing upon Abe in his coffin. This lie of mine.” So there you have it. Abraham Lincoln was — gasp! — a “homosexual!” Clutch those pearls like there’s no tomorrow! Or better still, turn to professional “historian” Doris Kearns Goodwin for a bridge over these troubled waters. Her book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” (from which Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s stultifyingly “tasteful” “Lincoln” was fashioned) says of Speed and Lincoln, “Their intimacy is more an index to an era when close male friendships, accompanied by open expressions of affection and passion, were familiar and socially acceptable. Nor can sharing a bed be considered evidence for an erotic involvement. It was a common practice in an era when private quarters were a rare luxury... The attorneys of the Eighth Circuit in Illinois where Lincoln would travel regularly shared beds.” See how it works? “Nothing to see here. Keep moving.” But Larry will have none of this. In “The American People,” he goes on to note that years after their initial affair Speed met Lincoln at a Washington, DC, hotel on the eve of the second inauguration. But that’s not all. “It is at this last meeting between Joshua Speed and Abraham Lincoln in that Washington hotel” that, according to Larry, Lincoln first meets John

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE Volume I: Search for My Heart

cal screeds, collected in his 1989 anthology “Reports From the Holocaust,” didn’t take the form of a simple “I Told You So.” Rather they’re an impassioned “Why Aren’t You Doing Anything About This?” We did, and ACT UP, one of the most important and far-reaching political action organizations this country has ever known, was born. In “The Nor mal Heart,” the play for which he is most fondly regarded, the AIDS crisis produces unspeakable horror, both personal and political. But on the personal front, at least much love is left in its wake. It’s part of what Larry wishes to explore in “The American People: Search For My Heart,” and he does so by looking at same-sex eroticism as a very common fact of existence — not a “scandal” or a “secret” whose “exposure” is to be feared. Larry will have none of that. Abraham Lincoln is far from the sole historical figure whose sexual truth “The American People” reconsiders. There’s George Washington “a cold fish with many tadpoles swimming beside him,” one of whom is his French boyfriend

Abraham Lincoln, photographed by Alexander Gardner in 1863.

Joshua Speed.

had long enjoyed. He was widely castigated by “the gay community” at the time. But from today’s perspective it was almost as if Larry sensed the disaster of the AIDS pandemic was just around the corner. (One of the reasons why this hellishly intense novel has never gone out of print.) Still, for all his Cassandra-like pronouncements, Larry’s polemi-

Lafayette. Herman Melville’s virtual stalking of the beautiful but unresponsive Nathaniel Hawthorne is wryly discussed. And then there’s Mark Twain, who in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” wrote the first gay American novel — a fact only critic Leslie Fiedler in his 1948 Parti-


HEART & HISTORY, continued on p.38



The French Connection

“Manon,” “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” take bows at the Met


Vittorio Grigolo in Massenet’s “Manon” at the Met.



rench opera has become something of a stepchild in the international operatic repertoire — it doesn’t always get the love and attention it needs even in Paris. Its specialists are few and far between, and the French style has become internationalized, losing character, delicacy, and perfume. The Metropolitan Opera, historically a major purveyor of the internationalized French style, presents two major French operas this month. Massenet’s “Manon” is like “La Traviata” and “Madama Butterfly” in that the title heroine is in nearly every scene and carries the entire evening. If the soprano fails to convince, the opera fails as well. However, unlike the Verdi and Puccini operas, “Manon” also has a tour de force tenor role. On the March 9 opening night of the Met’s first revival of Laurent Pelly’s 2012 production, Vittorio Grigolo did his best work to date in New York, easily taking the show.


As the titular courtesan, Diana Damrau works very hard — too hard in fact, and the effort shows. She fills out every moment with specific detail and maintains a high level of energy (too high as the teenaged Act I Manon — she came off like a hyperactive hoydenish tomboy). Damrau’s sung and spoken French pronunciation is more than respectable (her husband Nicolas Testé is French). Her voice has darkened and lowered; I found her middle register husky and labored, and her easy top notes have hardened. The legato passages lack beguiling spin and float, with a reliance on declamatory phrasing. When Damrau took her foot off the gas pedal, a more youthful appealing sound emerged. Her presentational acting is all surface — never once did she seem to relax into the character and she had all the fatal allure of a soccer mom. Striking supermodel poses does not automatically make one sexy. Damrau is a fine serious artist but she is profoundly miscast as Abbé Prevost’s anti-heroine.

A generous performer and gifted actor, Grigolo is a perfect match for the reckless, impressionable, emotionally self-destructive Des Grieux. The Italian tenor always seems impulsive on stage — hotheaded and driven by instinct and emotion. Grigolo’s over -the-top moments, unlike Damrau’s, arise from his own Latin temperament and intense personal investment in the character and situation. His lean, bright tenor blossoms on high, making it perfectly suited to the French idiom. In the Act II dream aria “En fermant les yeux,” Grigolo sustained an intense mezza voce with subtle gradations of tone and verbal expression. He climaxed the final death scene by throwing himself over Manon’s body, emitting a howl of grief like a wounded animal. The moment was not melodramatic but rather cathartic. Canadian baritone Russell Braun was vocally solid but visually stolid as the rascally Lescaut. Christophe Mortagne was a droll scene-stealing delight as Guillot, and Dwayne Croft, despite some vocal dryness, a persuasive de Brétigny. Nicolas Testé as the Comte des Grieux performed with insight and style despite an unimposing, soft-edged bass-baritone. Emmanuel Villaume’s conducting achieved big-scaled lyrical scope at the expense of incisive detail.

This season the Met has presented two casts in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” The starrier first cast, headlined by Vittorio Grigolo and Thomas Hampson, was transmitted in HD in late January. However, the second cast led by James Levine was in every way more convincing and stylish. Grigolo’s Hoffmann was erratic vocally and dramatically — he sang loudly when he should have been using voix mixte and crooned when power was called for. His Hoffmann remained the same hotheaded Latin lover throughout — even as the drunken wreck in Luther’s tavern. Hampson refused to alter his customary ramrod posture, pompous air of self-regard, and sculpted coif as the Four Vil-

lains. His baritone sounded gray and dried out and disappeared entirely in the lower regions of this bass role. The best of the ladies was Erin Morley as Olympia — a crystalline, exact coloratura soprano used with charm. Hibla Gerzmava’s Antonia was richly sung with a sturdy lyric bordering on spinto soprano. However, Gerzmava is a stiff dull actress and lacked fragility as the doomed maiden. Christine Rice sang solidly and pleasantly as Giulietta but lacked vocal and visual seductiveness — probably she’s a natural Nicklausse. Kate Lindsey exuded enigmatic mystery and androgynous allure as both Nicklausse and the Muse but her slender resiny mezzo-soprano was one size too small in the house. Bart Sher’s busy, dark-toned production threw a wet blanket over the efforts of everyone involved, including a vivacious Yves Abel in the pit. On March 11, Matthew Polenzani’s Hoffmann had all the musical polish, vocal discipline, and dramatic focus that Grigolo lacked. His bright plangent tenor cannily maneuvered the huge Met auditorium. Laurent Naouri was surprisingly vocally puissant as the Four Villains, with native diction, a wide vocal range, and four vibrant characterizations full of droll wit and macabre panache. Karine Deshayes, another native French artist, has a medium-size mezzo with soprano brightness on high scoring in her arias. Audrey Luna’s Olympia was a dead ringer for the young Carol Burnett, and her excursions above high C (up to the A flat above) had an unearthly ease. Within the normal soprano scale, Luna’s thin tone turns sour and unpleasant, but she is a force onstage. Susanna Phillips’s fresh, appealing soprano and girlish vulnerability promised a perfect Antonia, but sadly her soprano tired during the final trio and the climactic D flat was a whimper. Elena Maximova was a visually and vocally voluptuous Giulietta who dominated the stage. Levine clearly loves this score and his reading was rich in detail and sweeping in musical command. March 19 - April 01, 2015 |

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Desert of the Mind

Lisandro Alonso’s “Jauja” chronicles Viggo Mortensen’s dark journey into Patagonia BY STEVE ERICKSON





ike all great films, Argentine director Lisandro Alonso’s “Jauja” makes up its own rules. Or, at the very least, it synthesizes its influences, which seem to stretch from John Ford’s classic Westerns to Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Buddhist surrealism, into something really new. Its elliptical narrative and refusal to answer most of the questions it raises are bound to disappoint liter al-minded spectators, but I think it’s by far the most accomplished of Alonso’s films and the best new release of 2015 so far (granted, the year is very young). Like much of Alonso’s work, “Jauja” is about a man who finds himself lost in the wilderness. (In one Alonso film, that mysterious landscape turns out to be Buenos Aires’ Cinematheque.) In theory, Alonso has taken a few steps closer to the mainstream: making a period piece and casting a Hollywood star, Viggo Mortensen. But this isn’t “Howard’s End.” Mortensen doesn’t speak a word of English in “Jauja,” and the film casts a hard glare on Argentina’s genocide of its indigenous people. “Jauja” takes place in Patagonia, Argentina during the late 1880s. Mortensen plays Captain Gunnar Dinesen, a Dane who’s working as an engineer for the Argentine army. His 15-year-old

Viggo Mortensen in Lisandro Alonso’s “Jauja.”

daughter, Ingeborg (Viilbjørk Mallin Agger), lives with him. In an all-male environment, she arouses much attention, despite her tender age, and a young soldier falls in love with her. They run off together. When Dinesen finds out the truth, he dashes off into the desert to find her, despite his men’s warnings about Patagonia’s dangers. These warnings turn out to be well-founded. “Jauja” was shot in a near ly square 1.33 frame, like a pre1953 Hollywood film. The cinematography is slightly fuzzy with rounded edges, just enough to remind us we’re watching a movie that was shot on video. At first, the landscape is gloriously green. It’s not entirely clear what time of the year “Jauja” takes place, but it seems comfortable enough for a man to leisurely pleasure him-

CUPCAKE, from p.27

Led Zeppelin or Bruce Springsteen, and I was listening to Whitney Houston. At some point I did like Bruce Springsteen, but why can’t I like both him and Whitney? GMK: Scissor Sisters’ Babydaddy was instrumental in creating the key song used in the film. Can you discuss how you worked with him on the film? EF: Scott Hoffman/ Babydaddy is a friend of mine. He came to Israel for vacation, and one evening I showed him around Tel Aviv. And I


Directed by Lisandro Alonso The Cinema Guild In Danish and Spanish with English subtitles Opens March 20 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. Film Society of Lincoln Center Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center 144 W. 65th St.

self in a hot spring. Thunder often rumbles ominously in the background, though. Alonso’s framing contrasts action in the front and back of the scene. He’s working on a narrow screen, but he uses every inch of it, often having actors move from the foreground to the background. While Alonso’s direction seems influenced by the “festival cinema” reliance on master shots and long takes, it’s not at all rigid. Whether a shot needs to run 10 seconds or two minutes, that’s how long it lasts.  As “Jauja” progresses, its landscape seems to turn into Dinesen’s mental space. Green grows sparser, dark colors more common. The cinematography remains striking, but the spaces through which Dinesen travels aren’t the kind that would attract tourists to Patagonia. Rocks outnumber grass.

wanted to know if he had ever written a Eurovision-style kitschy pop song, and we wrote an ABBA-esque song for the fun of it. It wasn’t one he wanted to publish but it was exactly the song I needed for the film, so he let us use it. GMK: Ofer is a gay man who is out and proud and likes to perform in drag. He is often referred to as one of the “ladies” in the contest preparation. Do you think this reinforces queer stereotypes and effeminate, negative connotations of gay men? EF: When I became known as the older gay filmmaker in Israel, there were complaints

The cave in which he meets an eccentric elderly woman has a vaginal slit for an entrance. Objects are passed down over centuries. A Danish-American, Mortensen spent part of his childhood in Latin America, where he learned Spanish. He speaks both Danish, presumably learned from his family, and Spanish in “Jauja.” Mortensen has always had a chameleonic quality. As Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” he warned Keira Knightley’s Russian-Jewish character against the danger of trusting “Aryans” too closely. But as Dinesen, Mortensen appears to be the perfect Nordic conqueror. It’s part of the film’s plan for Dinesen to learn that Latin America can get a hold over him. One of the many co-producers of “Jauja” (and the co-composer of the two pieces of music heard during it), Mortensen gives a largely non-verbal and increasingly athletic performance in its second half. However, Alonso strips away macho pretense from acts like horseback riding and rock climbing. If it were made in the early ‘70s, “Jauja” could have played as a midnight show for months to stoned moviegoers. Who knows what its chances of finding an audience, despite Mortensen’s presence, are now? It evokes the “acid Wester ns” of post-”East Rider” America, powered equally by the collapse of the old Hollywood studio system and repulsion at the Vietnam War. These films had a short initial life, and Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man” is the only film of the past 20 years that picked up where they left off. Alonso takes the baton from Jarmusch. If the title weren’t already taken, “Jauja” could have been called “Let’s Get Lost.”

that all my characters were straight-acting and easy to swallow for straight audiences. They say I should be more outrageous. I have different representations of gay characters in my films and TV shows — “Mary Lou,” for example. I’m not that person who lets his hair down. I never wore a dress and danced in the street, but for me it was a wonderful experience to have a character who is not a tough army officer who happens to be gay, but Ofer, who embraces gay culture and is not ashamed


CUPCAKE, continued on p.33

March 19 - April 01, 2015 |


The Wretched of the Pound Kornél Mundruczó’s allegory examines brutal realities of oppression and retaliation BY STEVE ERICKSON



WHITE GOD Directed by Kornél Mundruczó Magnolia Pictures In Hungarian with English subtitles Opens Mar. 27 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. Lincoln Plaza Cinemas 1886 Broadway at W. 62nd St. MAGNOLIA PICTURES

ake the opening scene of Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó’s “White God”: a 13-year -old white girl rides her bicycle through deserted Budapest streets, followed by a pack of feral dogs. The very title of this film signals its allegorical intentions, through an allusion to Sam Fuller’s “White Dog.” That film was about a dog trained to attack African-Americans. (Coincidentally, “The White God” was also the original name of an album by neo-Nazi heavy metal band Burzum. Given Mundruczó’s leftist politics, the irony is thick.) In using animals to stand in for the human underclass, “White God” benefits from the vagueness of its allegory. Imagine the opening scene restaged with black or Arab men following the girl, and it quickly becomes problematic. A few years ago, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “The Help” played side by side in multiplexes, and the former proved to be a far more daring and less patronizing treatment of the demand for freedom. In a near -future Hungary, a tax is placed on owners of mixedbreed dogs. Lili (Zsófia Psotta) owns a “mutt,” Hagen (played by two dogs, Luke and Bodie), but her father (Sándor Zsótér) doesn’t want to pay the tax and doesn’t like Hagen much anyway. After an argument in the car, her father dumps Hagen in the street. Lili tries to find him, and Hagen tries to find his way home, but he winds up abused by humans. A homeless man sells him to a dogfight organizer. After participating in one fight, he manages to escape

Zsófia Psotta in Kornél Mundruczó’s “White God.”

and run with a pack of feral dogs. They’re all caught and placed in the pound, but this turns out to be a temporary situation. Meanwhile, Lili talks back to her music teacher and gets busted with drugs, which she's holding for a friend, at a nightclub. Last year, a few critics voted for Jean-Luc Godard’s dog Roxy as one of 2014’s best actors for his “performance” in Godard’s “Goodbye to Language.” Roxy benefited from his owner’s loving gaze but didn’t do anything spectacular. The dogs in “White God” really do give outstanding performances. The two brothers who play Hagen are listed second in the cast and deserve such prominent placement. Hagen goes through hell in “White God.” It’s hard not to believe that Luke and Bodie understand his character arc. Some of the other feral dogs have their own distinct personalities. Perhaps all this will be familiar and obvious to dog owners — after being bitten by a dog when I was

CUPCAKE, from p.32

about that. The couple in many of my films often features one gay man who is more restrained, more macho. GMK: The film is all about characters facing their fears and going from resisting performing to embracing it and becoming empowered, or as one character says, going from “Why?” | March 19 - April 01, 2015

four, I’ve never liked them much — but it seems like a remarkable accomplishment on the part of Mundruczó and animal trainer Teresa Miller. “White God” mixes sentimentality and cruelty. It starts off as a sweet tale of a girl and a dog, although family films usually don’t start at the slaughterhouse. (No cows are killed on-screen, but their carcasses are torn apart and we see future steaks walking placidly to their fate.) Lili’s father won’t let Hagen sleep in the same bed as her, but he doesn’t want to put up with Hagen’s wails of loneliness. Lili plays the trumpet to the dog to calm him and sleeps in the bathtub rather than submitting to her father’s will. A colleague brought her young daughter to the press screening where I saw “White God,” per haps misreading the plot summary. After the first half hour, this becomes a brutal film. The credits emphasize that no animals were harmed in its making, but the

to “Why Not?” What can you say about taking risks, the luxury of making mistakes, and seeing a familiar street from a different angle? EF: I didn’t want to make a silly rom-com, I wanted to deal with issues I care about. It is about being authentic and being who you are, and loving Captain and Tennille and enjoying singing. People should be encouraged to do what makes them happy, and groups and communities can help with that.

dogfights are convincingly faked. Mundruczó does use sound and off-screen space to suggest, rather than directly depict, much of the film’s violence. He also fragments the dog’s bodies with closeups that come very close to them and then cut quickly away. He’s learned a lot from action directors like Paul Greengrass and the late Tony Scott, although I doubt anyone will accuse “White God” of being “chaos cinema.” “White God” eventually allows its dogs to get revenge, evoking recent Quentin Tarantino films, not least in its goriness. Yet Tarantino seems to think violence is justified when committed by characters on the right side of history. “White God” finds something both awesome and appalling in the violence perpetrated by the dog pack, conveyed in broad panoramic shots of dogs facing down police. This ambivalence is one area where the film benefits from being about animals, rather than human minorities — it can safely suggest that the oppressed are capable of horrible deeds. In the end, the white God is replaced by a teenage girl with a trumpet and no idea what's next on the agenda beyond simple decency.

The film is about the sense of community, which is how it was when I grew up in Israel, but it’s not like that any more. It’s about how family or friends can help its individual members of their group do their things and be happy. It is about doing your thing and sharing what you are doing with others, caring for others, and creating a dialogue and social change. Uplifting people is the reason I make films.



History Boys and Girls


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Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos, and Lin-Manuel Miranda in Miranda’s “Hamilton,” directed by Thomas Kail.



he new musical “Hamilton” now at the Public Theater owes its inspiration partly to Ron Chernow’s exhaustive biography “Alexander Hamilton” and partly to the animated TV series “Schoolhouse Rock!” The latter was a series of Saturday morning animated shorts that ran from 1973 to 1999 and were designed to make sophisticated concepts accessible to kids through song and rhyme. I mean the comparison as a compliment. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical — he’s responsible for the book, music, and lyrics — is a dynamic rap and R&B-infused, sung-through romp traversing Hamilton’s life and the dawn of the American experiment. The immediacy of the storytelling and the contemporary expression naturally invite comparison with historical musicals such as “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson,” which was more antic, “Here Lies Love,” which was more concept-driven, and, of course, “1776,” which was more reverential toward the history. The narrative structure is linear, tracing Hamilton’s life from the West Indian island of Nevis to New York, through the Revolutionary War and the establishment of the United States, and ends, almost, with his death at the hands of Aaron Burr in a duel. Miranda has infused the story with undertones that resonate deeply today — including sex scandals, financial intrigues, and the impact of immigrants. As they say, the more things change… What works so well in all this is the development of the characters. Hamilton is an over-eager, passionate, and dedicated man. His failings — a sexual affair, his inappropriate affection for


his sister-in-law, and his belligerence — are perfectly suited to the rap and R&B score Miranda has created. And Miranda deserves high marks for turning a debate on monetary policy into a heart-pounding duet. There are a few moments when rap lyrics feel as though they've been poleaxed into place, but for the most part they are extraordinary, with internal rhyme structures that are simply brilliant. Miranda has established himself as a great contemporary lyricist. The one discordant note in the piece is the depiction of King George III as a petulant fop. In fact, the need to portray him in the conventional theatrical shorthand for gay is lazy and an easy laugh that doesn’t even attempt to sketch in the realities of the character. There may not be time to get into the complexities of British politics that George faced, but the portrayal is nonetheless gratuitous and glaringly out of place. Still, the king’s song “You’ll Be Back” is funny, and in this brief role Jonathan Groff, done to the teeth in velvet and ermine, is delightful. You will probably laugh, but it’s still a cheap shot. Miranda in the title role is extraordinary, displaying the buoyancy bordering on manic that he had in his previous show, “In The Heights.” Here, he’s acquired a focus that applies that energy in service of a more complex, conflicted character. At times, there are unexpected depths of feeling in his Hamilton. The rest of the cast is uniformly excellent. Leslie Odom, Jr. is outstanding as Burr, and there are powerful performances from Christopher Jackson as George Washington, Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton, and Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler. Of the supporting characters, though, the standout is Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette and later Thomas Jefferson.

Diggs has star quality to be sure, but he also has an extraordinary voice and a facility with the complexities of the music that is remarkable. David Korins’ typically ingenious scaffold set is versatile and gorgeous. Howell Binkley’s lighting design is appropriately theatrical, making great and subtle use of color, and Paul Tazewell’s costumes and Charles G. Lapointe’s hair and wigs evoke the period splendidly. Thomas Kail’s sharp direction and Andy Blankenbuehler’s inspired choreography keep the show crackling —and audience members on the edge of their seats — throughout. It would be a real downer to end with Hamilton’s death, and Miranda wisely delivers a big, upbeat ending that celebrates his legacy, which went unappreciated in many quarters in his era. Though it is no novel concept, “Hamilton” concludes by making the point that the history we perceive is in the hands of who tells the story. Fortunately for history, audiences, and the contemporary musical theater, Hamilton’s story is in very talented hands.

For a democracy, we Americans sure love royalty. Queen Elizabeth II and her family are endlessly fascinating — through weddings, funerals, and 12 prime ministers over the past 60-plus years. While no one outside the inner circle may ever really know HRH, the new play “The Audience” provides a tantalizing view of who she might be. As Shakespeare wrote of Henry V, the monarch is always someone upon whom the common people project their lives and perceptions to make him or her accessible. Peter Morgan’s delightful play “The Audience” purports to give us a view of Queen Elizabeth through her weekly audiences with the prime ministers who have served during her reign. We see a young woman grappling with her fate along with a very seasoned Winston Churchill, the dif-


HISTORY, continued on p.39

March 19 - April 01, 2015 |


Double Blind

Looking for happiness at the corner of deception and perception BY DAVID KENNERLEY


m I getting the real thing or a placebo?” That’s the question at the center of “Placebo,” Melissa James Gibson’s bold new drama about desire and sticky relationships set against the backdrop of a clinical trial, now at Playwrights Horizons.

Playwrights Horizons 416 W. 42nd St. Through Apr. 5 Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m. Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 2:30 p.m. Sun. at 7:30 p.m. $75; Or 212-279-4200 95 mins., no intermission

The study drug, brand name Resurgo, is designed to stimulate the libido in women (“the female Viagra,” somebody calls it). Yet this wry, thoughtful drama is concerned with arousal of all sorts — sexual, emotional, spiritual, intellectual — in both women and men. Louise is a doctoral candidate working with study participants at a university research hospital, where one particularly desper ate patient, Mary, is wracked with dread over losing her sex drive. Louise, as it happens, has got problems of her own, like an ailing mother in steep decline and a testy, nicotine-addicted boyfriend named Jonathan slogging to finish his dissertation on a classical philosopher. When Tom, a handsome scruffy “lab dude” comes on the scene, her life is complicated further. The study is double blinded, meaning that both patient and administrator do not know who is taking the actual medication or the placebo, so as not to bias results. Under the direction of Daniel Aukin, a frequent collaborator of Gibson’s, this savvy if at times labored drama makes full use of placebo as metaphor for the human condition, contemplating the power of positive thinking and | March 19 - April 01, 2015



the haphazard pursuit of happiness (“stalking happiness with a machete,” Tom calls it). “Do you think it becomes real… after you do it for a while?” wonders Louise. “Does fake happiness make you happy?” The placebo effect, as presented here, is not just the province of clinical trials. For her part, Gibson injects the script with fascinating, clever touches. For instance, Louise reveals the origin of placebo, a Latin word meaning “I shall please” that refers to mercenary mourners in the Middle Ages paid to “act like they care.” Characters keep tripping each other up with pesky homonyms (needing/ kneading me, oral/ aural stimulation), underscoring the glitches inherent in everyday discourse. When not obsessed with achieving their desires, they seek “the desire to desire.” The versatile Carrie Coon, who scored a Tony nomination as the sloshed, dimwitted Honey in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” delivers an impressive turn as the sullen, snarky health technician more skilled at caring for others than for herself. As her conflicted, live-in boyfriend, William Jackson Harper shifts nimbly between bouts of bravado and self-doubt. The supporting cast is no less talented. Florencia Lozano brings a menacing intensity to Mary, aching to know if she’s taking the real drug. Alex Hurt (hunky son of actor William Hurt) adds a weirdly alluring dimension to the underwritten stock character of office geek. Problem is, the cast might be doing their jobs too well. As written, the characters are an unappealing, sorry bunch. A central conflict — will Louise and Jonathan resolve their differences and stay together? — is blunted because, frankly, it’s difficult to care. What’s more, the intentionally protracted scenes, like a repeated recording of a couple having savage sex, Louise singing an entire dirge in Latin, or the final smackdown between the embattled lovers, are more tedious than captivating. More successful is the budding relationship between Louise and Tom, who invent a silly relay race

Carrie Coon and Alex Hurt in Melissa James Gibson’s “Placebo,” at Playwrights Horizon through April 5.

game, running back and forth from a vending machine. The temperamental machine, I might add, groaning when fed dollar bills and occasionally spitting them out on a whim, deserves to be listed in the cast of characters (Ryan Rumery gets credit for the sound design).

So, like any well-controlled clinical trial, does this engaging albeit uneven enterprise offer up any significant conclusions — in this case, about stalking happiness? Not so much. As Mary proclaims, “We’re the double blind leading the double blind.”

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Dorothy's Dozen A cabaret star’s many identities; Japanese film goddesses BY DAVID NOH



woman, very strong. People aren’t used to seeing a stronger woman — not so young — and so there was some resistance. I had to get very tough. This is why I love Madonna! She has a lot to say about older women. Older women staying sexy, the value of the more experienced diva, older women being relevant and not putting up with sexist ageism. If my show has a serious theme, this is it. All my divas are older and still fabulous performers and offer so much to the world. I am not mean to them. I tease a little but mostly I feel I honor them in a fun way. I love all my divas... except Sarah Palin. But I even like her a little... and she’s not really a diva.” In the often scattershot world of cabDorothy Bishop as Renée Fleming. aret, it’s nice to know that Bishop has found a real called me Eleanor and would say, home at the Metropolitan Room: “[Owners] Bernie and ‘Eleanor, you look too pretty. Get Joanne Furshpan have been so out!’ And then, as I got to the door, good to me and really believe in the shaking in my character shoes, she show. In this day and age, if a small would say in a sweet voice, ‘Dorshow doesn’t sell out, they will can- othy?’ ‘Yes ma’am?’ ‘Have a great cel you. Bernie has kept this show show,’ and she would wink. I guess running despite the sometimes that’s what you call method acting? lower attendance. But the audience Well it’s definitely what you call a is growing. I mean this is what any diva.” Originally from Jacksonville, small business needs — time to catch on — and it is. If Bernie was Florida, Bishop attended Florinot behind it and it was all about da State, went to graduate school profit, I would be back in a base- at Yale, and then came to New York, where she worked regional ment somewhere.” Bishop’s favorite opera sing- operas. With critic James Jorden, er is Maria Callas, and she toured who directs her show, she started for14 months in the play about her, a company, Parterre Productions. “Master Class,” with no less than “But as I got closer to 40,” Bishop Faye Dunaway: “Faye, like Callas said, “I got really unhappy because and Madonna, was steely strong, I wasn’t working enough. I was not always perfect, and fierce. Very basically a secretary paying for old Hollywood. She would not really voice lessons, so one day I belted ‘I hang out with us much. I was the Dreamed a Dream’ for my teacher understudy for the role of Sharon at the time, Bill Schuman, and he and had to sing ‘Vieni T’affretta’ said, ‘Dear if you can belt like that, from ‘Macbeth.’ I didn’t go on until get the hell out of opera and go the last two months. Faye would audition for theater.’ “So I did and I got a lot of call call me in her dressing room and would be in character as Maria. backs and an agent, but I was still She was stunning and giant — she frustrated. So I built my first cabahad that energy, the star quality ret show with Phil Hall, videotaped thing. She was mesmerizing and it, and sent it to ships and got hired scary and still gorgeous, but she never really knew my name. She c DOROTHY, continued on p.39 March 19 - April 01, 2015 |


nce upon a time, in the distant BR (Before RuPaul) era, real women ruled our hearts in gay dives. Barbra Streisand at the Lion, Bette Midler at the Continental Baths, Ellen Greene at Reno Sweeney made us swoon, cocktails in hand, with their big, actual voices, talent, and camp sensibilities. Carrying on the sorely missed tradition of those ladies is Dorothy Bishop with her dazzlingly versatile, hilariously rambunctious show “The Dozen Divas,” which she is doing again on March 27 at her very welcome home, the Metropolitan Room (34 W. 22nd St.; metropolitanroom. com). With a mind-boggling array of wigs and even more mind-boggling quick changes onstage, she effervescently evokes, first, Joan Rivers in heaven (a bold choice, indeed), and then moves on to Kim Kar dashian, replete with her infamous Paper ass shot, and the really big guns: Barbra, Liza, Judy, Cher, Madonna, Shirley Bassey, Sarah Brightman, Renée Fleming, Stevie Nicks, and, oh yeah, Sarah Palin. Asked who her favorite diva was, Bishop responded, “Oddly, Stevie Nicks. I am a professionally trained opera singer from Yale so she is the least like my real voice. But I grew up with Fleetwood Mac and could just imitate her easily. And I love her and her music and her goth, witchy ways. It is one of my favorite moments in the show. ‘Landslide’ is my absolute favorite song in the world and I want it sung in my funeral. And, an aside, my sweet mom — who passed a year and a half ago — used to come hear me sing with this rock band in high school. We were loud and not very good, but I sang ‘Landslide.’ She loved it and used to ask me to sing it, this woman from 1950s music, so I just loved it that she liked Stevie. “My second favorite is Renée Fleming. I get to use my pipes! And I am proud that I am the only Renée impersonator. Of course I do Renée singing jazz. I wouldn’t dare try to

impersonate Renée singing ‘Rusalka.’ If I could do that, I would be at the Met, not the Metropolitan Room. “I still enjoy doing the classics such as Barbra, Liza, Cher, Dolly, Shirley Bassey — and it’s fun because I get to put my own spin on them. But Renée and Stevie are super special to me.” Bishop first made her name with gay audiences at the club Splash, which she says was “an evolution of me headlining on cruise ships. I started out as kind of a copy of Sarah Brightman but then my humor just had to be in the show so I started making it funny, but still sang some beautiful pop opera versions of ‘Un bel di,’ ‘Nessun Dorma,’ ‘Carmen.’ They wanted me to incorporate the gorgeous go-go boys. So I would be singing disco ‘Nessun Dorma’ or the ‘Queen of the Night.’ And these two boys would just step out on stage in G-strings and dance. I was only supposed to have two. But somehow communication would get lost and I would sometimes have one and one time I had four. The audiences were fabulous. They would set up cocktail tables and there was no cover. Real oldschool night club gig. I miss it! “That is where I met Lady Bunny — who later used me in her Sarah Palin spoof — Hedda Lettuce, and Sherry Vine. Such great performers and they continue to support me today. I mean, they don’t send money [laughs], they are just great people, professional and fun.” Asked she ever felt discrimination from gay audiences as a straight female performer, Bishop said, “At Splash, in the beginning, the gays were confused. I was something different. A biological woman who was basically doing drag and singing opera and dance techno opera and doing comedy. But the great thing about the gays is if something is unique and good and they like it, they embrace it. I am happy to say they do seem to have figured me out. “Sometimes the straight crowds are harder. They were tough on the ships. I was singing opera, classic pop, and Broadway. I was very glamorous and not a young



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9921 Fourth Ave. in Brooklyn (718) 833–2793, Put your best face forward with the help of David Biro, who was voted one of “New York Magazine’s” best doctors. The medical office offers Botox, microdermabrasion, and laser hair removal.

Emergency Medical Care 200 Chambers St. in New York, (212) 962–6600, Emergency Medical Care is a gayfriendly healthcare practice and an efficient and compassionate urgent care concept. It is a healthcare practice dedicated to better, timely medicine. | March 19 - April 01, 2015


Sand Castle on ohe Beach 127 Smithfield, Frederiksted St. Croix, Virgin Islands 340.772.1205 Our quaint, beach side boutique hotel is designed to meet your personal vacation style. We maintain a sense of intimacy and freedom in this seaside oasis. It’s our home and we invite you to relax and unwind in this comfortable and tranquil setting.

Villa Amor Camino a Playa los Muertos, Sayulita Bahia de Banderas Nayarit, Mexico (619) 819-5407 “Sweeping ocean vistas and a sexy room concept do away with outside walls and invite you to see Sayulita through a rustling fringe of palm fronds.”Travel+Leisure.


Anna Sheffield 47 Orchard Stl, New York (212) 925-7010, Anna Sheffield Jewelry offers a timeless alternative to the traditional world of Ceremonial and Fine jewelry with an extensive collection of finely crafted baubles. Our elegant array of rings includes signature styles of mixed precious metals, inverted-set diamonds and solid gold gemstones.

Party Planners and Expos Bosco’s Wedding Planning Expo (914) 337-3826, Before you walk down the aisle, walk down ours; Bosco’s Wedding Planning Expo is the place to find your best bet wedding contacts. Visit our website for an Expo near you.


Classic Party Rentals 336 W. 37th St. in New York (212) 752–7661 At Classic Party Rentals, exceptional customer service is its hallmark. It offers a network of party specialists that can provide everything you need anywhere you need it.

REAL ESTATE SERVICES Accurate Building Inspectors

1860 Bath Ave. in Brooklyn (718) 265–8191, Accurate Building Inspectors is a full-service home and building inspection firm servicing the tri-state area since 1961.

Kikco Property Management PO Box 408, Sayville, NY (631) 597-7018, Rental properties, venues for parties and honeymoon packages.


Andaz Wall Street 75 Wall Street, New York (212) 699-1636, Sophisticated urban gay weddings have access to over 14,000 sq. ft. of unique indoor and outdoor spaces right in the heart Wall Street.

The Andrew

the townhouses of East 64th Street. For your wedding reception, the venue’s dazzling, gold-domed Arabelle restaurant provides one of the most unique settings in Manhattan with its blend of murano glass and brass chandeliers, chiffon colored walls and murals of Asian pagodas.

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Russo’s on the Bay

Brooklyn Museum

Shakespeare on the Hudson

162-45 Cross Bay Boulevard, Howard Beach, NY, (718) 843-5055 Exemplary service and exquisite cuisine combined with professional attention to detail was the best way to achieve customer satisfaction.

200 Eastern Pkwy. in Brooklyn (718) 638–5000, The Brooklyn Museum is an extraordinary venue located in the heart of Prospect Heights. It has one-of-akind backdrops for private events.

216 Route 385, Catskill, NY (518) 947-1104, This remarkable event space now features three beautifully romantic cabins ideal for both large groups and private weekends.

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Sheraton Tribeca New York Hotel

Various locations in New York (516) 501-9700, Whether you desire timeless elegance ON THE GREEN, the regal splendor OF LAWRENCE, deco glamour at The Palace, retro nostalgia at The Omni, or a personalized catering style Off The Green, Carlyle has something for everyone.

Columbia’s Faculty House 64 Morningside Dr. in New York (212) 854–1200 A smart and stylish choice for your unique New York City wedding, the prized University landmark has classic, flexible spaces with a surprising, modern twist.

The Edison Ballroom 240 West 47th Street, New York (212) 201–7650, With its award-winning executive chef and personalized service, the Edison Ballroom continues to provide the perfect environment for all occasions in an elegant private event space in the heart of Times Square, New York.

Grand Oaks Country Club 200 Huguenot Ave. in Staten Island (718) 356–2771, Formerly the South Shore Country Club, this new and improved Staten Island venue can provide the perfect. elegant backdrop for your reception with prime dates still available.

Houston Hall 222 W. Houston St. New York (212) 582 2057, A massive space on West Houston Street has plenty of room to create the event of your dream...or a rowdy Beer Hall wedding. Eternal love, beer and a complimentary minister!

Plaza Athenee 37 East 64th Street at Madison Ave, New York, , (212) 644–0202 Le Trianon, our ceremony space is elegantly appointed in natural earth tones with ten windows overlooking

370 Canal St. in New York (212) 966–3400, Let the Sheraton Tribeca help you celebrate your same-sex wedding. The sleek, modern hotel works with various New York City wedding venues in the area.

Tio Pepe 168 W. Fourth St. in New York (212) 242–9338, At Tio Pepe you have a choice of atmosphere. The skylight dining room supplies a touch of romance while the enclosed sidewalk cafe provides a room with a view of Greenwich Village.

The Vanderbilt at South Beach 300 Father Capodanno Blvd. in Staten Island, (718) 447–0800 Boasting both a luxurious banquet hall, as well as magnificent outdoor oceanfront space.

Whyte Hall 577 Fire Island Boulevard, Fire Island Pines (631) 597=6060, Sequestered but easy to reach, this dramatic is located in one of your favorite locations. Experience the magic of Fire Island at its finest.

Yacht Owners Association 101 W. 23rd St., New York (212) 736–1010, Yacht Owners Association has over two decades of experience planning events at sea, and the largest number of yachts in the tri-state area. The Yacht Owners Association can accommodate weddings anywhere from 2 to 600 guests.


Ace World Travel 8320 13th Ave. in Brooklyn (347) 915–4287, This full-service and certified romance travel agency specializes in destination weddings and honeymoons. It can also create custom-built itineraries.

Alger House

45 Downing Street, New York (212) 627–8838, Alger House is a great venue for smaller weddings and corporate events (30 to 106 guests). The very private reception hall has high ceilings, custom lighting, and nearby transportation.




HEART & HISTORY, from p.29

John Wilkes Booth, in an 1865 photograph by Alexander Gardner.

happen to the story of this plague. Then it just becomes the next man’s story. One begets another. Yes, it’s usually always men.” This underscores the book’s sole weakness. “Sister Grace” may be a lesbian (though Evelyn was not). But only a few other Sapphic sisters are mentioned from time to time (as on page 350). And there is but one transgender figure (“Evvilleena Stadtdotters”) who puts in an appearance. But that’s the way it is with Larry, who at 80 years of age with so much history behind him and so many loved and lost along the way is beyond caring what people will think. He simply swan-dives right in and has his say about all and sundry, devil take the hindermost. Moreover, he’s out to settle old scores, as “Sister Grace” is intent on correcting the errors of “Vilma Dimley” of the New York Truth — obviously Gina Kolata, the health reporter for the New York Times that Larry battled constantly in the darkest days of the epidemic. And leave us not forget “Dr. Gudrun Organo,” who in 1665 discovered that the “underlying condition” passed from monkeys to man. This is of course a reference to what’s now known as the HIV virus. But in Larry’s hands, it also suggests gayness itself — not at all a disease, but a “condition” affecting us all, regardless of “orientation.” That’s made clear in a passage concerning President James Garfield’s letter to his lover James Harrison Rhodes (yes we’ve had many gay presidents) stating, “I would that we lie in each other’s arms for one long wakeful night and talk not in the thoughts or words of the grand old masters, not from the




san Review “Come Back to the Raft Ag’in, Huck Honey!” — has pointed out, albeit in abject horror. Larry of course feels nothing of the kind. The love that Huck and Tom enjoy is a thing of beauty and joy forever. This love, rather than the use of the word “nigger” is why “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is so “controversial.” Controversy is mother’s milk to Larry. “The American People” begins in the prehistoric swamps of the Florida Everglades where the monkeys who would become humans fuck and devour one another (“There are endless opportunities for anything to jump the barrier between monkey and man… We didn’t descend from the apes. We are apes.”) and provisionally concludes hundreds of pages later where a devouring monkey named J. Edgar Hoover is contemplated. And that’s not to mention such offhand observations as one that declares “President Peter Ruester” — the one who will not say “boo” about “a strange and terrifying and fatal disease [that] has appeared in America attacking gay men” — jump-started his pre-political acting career by working as a male hustler. Larry leaves no stone unthrown. “What is it about historians such as Stephen Ambrose, who in his much-praised biography of Meriwether Lewis, ‘Undaunted Courage,’ leaves the most courageous thing out? How can any sentient person read anything about Lewis without realizing he was gay?,” Larry wonders of the only Lewis and Clark expedition historians are chary of examining. “The American People” serves them all notice. The book has no footnotes and lists no “sources” as is traditionally done. Instead, a series of interlocutors with fanciful names step forward on the stage of the page to introduce various matters. “Dame Lady Hermia Bledd-Wrensh” anyone? She’s a specialist in the history of contagious diseases. How about “Dr. Sister Grace Hooker” — clearly a tribute to pioneer pro-gay researche r D r. E v e l y n H o o k e r w h o s e semi-namesake notes “History is a story. A story that can only remain a story until some historian comes along and tries to change it, to fuck it all up and over, which I know will

Lewis Payne, in an 1865 jailhouse photograph by Alexander Gardner.

See how it works? “Nothing to see here. Keep moving.” But Larry will have none of this. Bards sublime, but in that language whose tone gushes from the heart.” Yes Garfield’s “Search” for his “Heart” was not in vain. Others have been severely hampered, as interlocutor “Fred Lemish,” the Larry stand-in of “Faggots,” cast here as a researcher into the Jamestown colony of the pre-revolutionary war period, spells out. There were no women among these early settlers, therefore same-sex relations were a matter of course and “relief.” A love affair between two of these settlers is described — and comes to a tragic end when an apparent psychopath among the settlers hangs one of the lovers. “The American People” mentions many such genocidal incidents, such as the mass graves found 100 miles north of Wichita, Kansas with a sign dated March 1, 1913 declaring, “These sexual perverts are dead courtesy of Kansas Eugenics Institute.” “Eugenics” and American-born pseudo-science of selective genocide came to full fruition when it “jumped the pond” to Germany, where Adolph Hitler made his mark incinerating Jews and homosexuals. In the case of the latter, the maniacal dictator could have been reacting to a same-sex dalliance that Larry discovers might well have taken place in his youth

with one Joseph Newman. Larry need hardly have played the “the Hitler card”; in his view of history, all sorts of people and institutions conspired to keep the gays at bay. When the word “Homosexual” first appears in 1869; invented, for salutary purposes, by a gay Hungarian journalist named Károly Benkert, it was quickly taken up by medical authorities to “label” a new “mental illness’ they could then propose to “treat” — which they did until the gay rights movement fought back and the American Psychological Association declassified it as something in need of “cure.” Still, as Larry points out, the dictionary definitions of “homosexuality” marks it as an “Orientation” and an “Activity” — which neatly prevents historians from identifying anyone as gay. Unless you’ve got letters or pictures or videos to back it up, everyone is presumed “straight.” He also points to self-appointed “Morality” authority Anthony Comstock who not only spearheaded literary censorship but founded the YMCA created in response to “the cravings of young men for companionship with each other.” Cue the Village People. Still and all, “The American


HEART & HISTORY, continued on p.39

March 19 - April 01, 2015 |


HISTORY, from p.34


Shirley Yamaguchi.


DOROTHY, from p.36

as a full time entertainer. I saw the world. Some places I never want to see again — North Africa, the UAE, and the Caribbean, my least favorite — but South America, Buenos Aires, India I loved. I sang with some of the best bands in the world — especially Cunard. It was stressful, though. You had one hour. If your charts weren’t great, the band got mad. On some other lines — I won’t say which — the bands were horrible.” Bishop is currently “still single. Oddly enough, I can’t seem to find a man who wants to date 12 differ-


ent women at once. Right now the love of my life is my mini Chihuahua, Luther, whom I rescued off the streets of Puerto Vallarta while I was on tour with the show last spring. He sings in my act. He was sick on the streets, I nursed him back to health, and I was warming up backstage and he just started singing with me! And he is so cute. You have to come to my show to see him!”

Starting March 21, Japan Society is screening “The Most Beautiful: The War Films of Shirley Yamaguchi and Setsuko Hara” (337 E. 47th St., through Apr. 4; These two actresses, among the most lovely and iconic of all Japanese film stars, were both born in 1920 and became famous in propaganda movies of the China and Pacific wars. As the program notes state: “This series illustrates how their respective roles on the silver screen transformed along with Japan itself — from young maidens serving an empire allied with Nazi Germany to mature women walking different paths in a defeated nation promoting democracy under American hegemony.”

HEART & HISTORY, from p.38

People” isn’t just a compendium of consulting room horrors (a scene in which a youth is castrated to “correct” his gayness by “making him a woman” and consequently killing him — stands out in abject gruesomeness) and casual snark (“The Bohemian Club is where all the old rich queens of America’s ruling elite get drunk, dress up in drag, feel up the giant redwoods and each other, and somehow get their rocks off | March 19 - April 01, 2015


ficulty of the Suez crisis with Anthony Eden, and Elizabeth’s warm relationship with Harold Wilson. The story, bouncing back and forth across time, hits both history’s high points and the human interactions at play behind the scenes, while the queen’s equerry who shepherds the PMs in and out also offers some interesting facts about the castles and their contents. In addition to the prime ministers, Elizabeth also interacts with her younger self in memory scenes that imagine what the young queen might have felt about the role thrust on her at such a young age. As both history and character study, “The Audience” is a warm and appealing piece. What makes this work — as was the case with

Morgan’s 2006 film “The Queen” — is the radiant Helen Mirren. She had practice in the film, but here Mirren shows her magnificent gifts as a stage actress, handling the various ages of Elizabeth with a precision, fluidity, and honesty that make the character fascinating, human, and believable at every age. Mirren is aided in her masterful illusion by the recognizable costumes — to any dedicated royal watcher — and the team who transform her from age to age largely on stage. Director Stephen Daldry does a wonderful job of keeping the play moving and making the vignettes work together as a comprehensive whole, and designer Bob Crowley gives it all just the look you would expect. To paraphrase one of Elizabeth’s predecessors, we were very amused.

Helen Mirren in Peter Morgan’s “The Audience,” directed by Stephen Daldry.

Hara is considered the Garbo of Japan, not only for her luminous work for directors ranging from Yasujirô Ozu to Akira Kurosawa to Mikio Naruse, but also for her mystery. She never married, was billed “the Eternal Virgin,” and lives today in seclusion in Kamakura, refusing all requests for photographs or interviews. Hara may have made the more important films, but it was Yamaguchi who led the really intriguing life, indeed, the stuff of movies. She was born to Japanese parents in Manchuria and was fluent in Mandarin. A popular singer, as well, she made her film debut in 1938 under the Chinese name Li Xianglan, and was considered an ambassador of Japan-Manchuria goodwill. In “China Nights” (1940), she plays a Chinese woman who hates the Japanese but falls in love with a Japanese man. In one scene, she is slapped by the man and reacts with gratitude rather than hatred. This scene repulsed its Chinese audience, and one of her songs “Souzhou Serenade” has been banned in China to this day. Yamaguchi apologized for this movie after the war, citing her youth and ignorance. In fact, the Chinese government

without women”). For 500 pages in, a straightforward, deeply heartfelt novel bursts through, relating how a Jewish youth, not at all unlike Larry, became enthralled by the “Masturbov” family, particularly its eldest son Mordecai who becomes the narrator’s first love. Larry is treading on ground previously covered by the Roths — Henry and Phillip, resolute heterosexuals both. What neither Roth could conceive of is the love a gay boy like Larry craved and how a lifetime of experiences, including a pandemic that threat-

arrested her on charges of treason for collaboration with the Japanese in her film work, and it was her birth certificate that saved her, proving she was not a Chinese national. In 1946, she moved to Japan and, under her birth name, Yoshiko Yamaguchi, made movies with directors including Kurosawa. When she took on roles in Hollywood and on Broadway, in the musical “Shangri-La,” she changed her first name to Shirley. Married for five years in the 1950s to sculptor Isamu Noguchi, Yamaguchi later married Japanese diplomat Hiroshi Otaka, who died in 2001. A member of Japan’s parliament for 18 years beginning in 1974, Yamaguchi was one of that nation’s first prominent citizens to address its brutality during wartime occupation, advocating reparations for Korean “comfort women” forced into sex slavery by the Japanese military. Though she long harbored guilt over her role in Japanese propaganda films distributed in wartime China, her music always remained popular there and superstar Jacky Cheung had a big hit with a song with her Chinese name as its title. Yamaguchi died last year in Tokyo at the age of 94.

ened to do away with him and all his kind, failed to destroy his need for the love of another man. Larry has happily found his heart. The lover whose break-up with him inspired “Faggots” is now Larry’s husband. That’s why a “Heart” both real and metaphorical, beats from these pages, in a way I dearly wish Vito were here to read. Larry’ rhetorical excesses would doubtless send his eyebrows sailing skywards, but of the rest he would surely say what he always said: “Oh I just love Larry. Don’t you?”




Photo Essay by Michael Shirey | Drag queens took over the Monster Bar on March 15, featuring hosts Bob the Drag Queen and Monet X Change, Chandilier Period, Terra Grenade, and more. The show is drawing attention as of late -- Ru Paul tweeted about the March 8 show, and model Naomi Campbell stopped by and even treated the audience to a show down the runway. "Look Queen" is every Sunday at the Monster, 80 Grove Street in Sheridan Square; showtime at midnight.


Photo Essay by Michael Shirey | “The Meeting*” — the monthly gathering of the International Order of Sodomites — journeyed under the sea this past weekend to pay homage to Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Comedian and IOS chair Justin Sayre hosted the event with music direction by Tracy Stark. Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), who originated the role of Ariel’s sidekick Sebastian in the Broadway adaptation of the play, kicked off the night with “Poor Unfortunate Souls” — his favorite song from the movie. Fellow “Mermaid” veteran Eddie Korbich (“Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”) followed with “Positoovity,” a dance number originally written for the stage adaptation. Marissa Mulder closed the evening with a beautiful rendition of the show’s anthem, “Part of Your World.” Other highlights from the evening included Sayre’s pop culture stand-up — which poked fun at everything from HBO’s gay-themed show “Looking” to Kathy Griffin’s short-lived

run on E!’s “Fashion Police.” Sayre and Jenn Harris (“Silence! The Musical”) also invited audience members on stage to take a stab at imitating the Ariel’s iconic hair flip — which yielded comic results. “The Meeting*” convenes monthly — the next meeting will be on April 19th at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street inside the Public Theater, and tackles the Indigo Girls. For more information, visit and

Photo Essay by Michael Shirey | The Skivvies — pop-duo Lauren Molina ("Rock of Ages") and Nick Cearley ("All Shook Up") — kicked off their new monthly show "Splashdance!" at 42West in the OUT Hotel, 514 West 42nd Street. The night featured a long list of mashed-up melodies, ranging from the Beatles' "Blackbird," Nelly's "Hot in Herre," and Meghan Trainer's "All About that Base." The night's many special guest's included Ephraim Sykes and Phillipa Soo from "Hamilton" and James Carpinello, recently in "Rock of Ages." For future Skivvies shows, visit their website

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March 19 - April 01, 2015 | | March 19 - April 01, 2015


THU.MAR.19 BOOKS Anne Elliott, Sonia Pilcer & Stephen Policoff “Drunken! Careening! Writers!” host Kathleen Warnock welcomes Anne Elliott, whose novella “The Beginning of the End of the Beginning” was released this past fall; Sonia Pilcer, who latest book, “The Last Hotel: A Novel in Suites,” is based on the residential hotel her father managed on the Upper West Side in the 1970s; and Stephen Policoff, whose second novel, “Come Away,” was published in November. KGB Bar, 85 E. Fourth St. , btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Mar. 19, 7 p.m.

Cinema that Says Something The Socially Relevant Film Festival New York aims to shine a spotlight on filmmakers who tell compelling, socially important human interest narratives across a broad range of issues. This year’s offerings address LGBT rights, gun control and police brutality, race relations and discrimination, violence against women and their empowerment, the Middle East conflicts, the environment and climate change, immigration and exile, and the US economy. Among the festival’s feature-length screenings is “Love Is the Highest Law” (Mar. 20, 10 p.m., Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick St. at Laight St., just below Canal St.; $15) from Lilya Anisimova, a School of Visual Arts student who takes a firsthand look into three powerful stories connected by the theme of overcoming stringent anti-LGBT laws, both in Russia and the US. The festival runs Through Mar. 22, with screenings and industry panels at venues throughout Manhattan. For a complete schedule and tickets, visit

THEATER When Brightness Vanishes Based on his young adult novel “Absolute Brightness,” James Lecesne, a co-founder of the Trevor Project, presents “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,” in which he portrays the citizens of a Jersey Shore town where a 14-year-old boy has gone mysteriously missing and everyone is forced to examine their lives as well as the knit of a fractured community. Plastic Theatre founder Tony Speciale directs. Gay City News’ David Kennerley termed “Absolute Brightness” a “richly articulated… flash of brilliance.” Dixon Place, 161 Chrystie St., btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts. Mar. 20-21, 27-28, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 at or 212-219-0736.

FRI.MAR.20 DANCE Harkness Dance Festival


Celebrating Women in the Bronx

The Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance concludes its 15th annual BAAD!Ass Women Festival, celebrating the empowerment of women through art, culture, and performance in evenings of dance, theater, film, poetry, and more. On Mar. 19, 8 p.m., filmmaker Alicia Anabel Santos presents “Reaching for the Moon” (free), a bio-drama about the passionate and tumultuous love affair between American poet Elizabeth Bishop and the Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares, set mainly in Brazil in the 1950s and ‘60s. On Mar. 20, 8 p.m., Elizabeth “Macha” Marrero hosts “Let Me Tell You!” ($15), with Annie Rachel Lanzi-


The 2015 Harkness Dance Festival, “Stripped/ Dressed,” concludes with Sally Silvers’ “Actual Size Plus” playing homage to the films and motifs of Alfred Hitchcock. Mar. 20-21, 8 p.m.; Mar. 22, 3 p.m., 92nd Street Y, Buttenwieser Hall, Lexington Ave. at 92nd St. Tickets are $25-29 at

PERFORMANCE Three Years of Diznee Distortions Cult hit “Distorted Diznee,” a Las Vegas-style parody revue featuring drag stars Holly Dae, Bootsie LeFaris, Pixie Aventura, and Brenda Dharling, celebrates its third anniversary tonight. Laurie Beechman Theater, inside West Bank Café, 407 W. 42nd St. Mar. 20, Apr. 3 & 17, May 1, 29, 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 at or 212-352-3101, and there’s a $20 food & drink minimum.


7:30 p.m. Kõrvits will discuss “Kreek’s Notebook” just prior to the concert, at 7. Tickets are $25-$50, with $20 student & senior tickets available at

CABARET Carole J. Bufford’s Heart of Gold

TUE.MAR.24 NIGHLIFE Tear Your Heart to Pieces The granddad of all gay karaoke in New York lets you be the star you are, using a wireless mic and choosing form more than 12,000 songs. Karaoke jockey OhRicky emcees. Pieces, 8 Christopher St., just off Sixth Ave. Mar. 24, 8:30 p.m.-4 a.m. No cover charge; $6 drinks all night. Best to sign up by 8 p.m. 54BELOW.COM


lotto reading from her memoir “L is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir,” and performance artist Danielle Abrams presenting “Bounce Pinky Bounce,” her show about coming up a Black and Jewish child of a bankrupt city who blossoms into a light-skinned, freckle-faced voracious queer butch artist. On Mar. 21, 8 p.m., writer Tyra Allure hosts an evening of work by women of trans experience including comedienne Katrina Goodlet, dancer Leiomy Maldonado, poets Olympia Perez and Elizabeth Rivera, and singer Sparklez ($15). On Mar. 27, 6 p.m., B!YOUth is a free evening of youth focused art and culture presentation followed by an open mic, a dance off, and an after-party. BAAD!, 2474 Westchester Ave. Westchester Sq. For complete information and tickets, visit

In “Heart of Gold: A Portrait of the Oldest Profession,” Carole J. Bufford peers behind the drapes at this age-old trade with music spanning more than a century immortalized by Ella Fitzgerald, Ethel Waters, Julie London, Libby Holman, Elton John, Donna Summer, Liza Minnelli, Dolly Parton, and Reba McEntire. 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Mar. 21, 9:30 p.m.; doors open at 8:45. The cover charge is $35-$45, with premium seating at $75 at 54below. com; add $5 for purchase at the door. There is a $25 food & drink minimum.

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 April. 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 has been performing Judy for 20 years at Don’t Tell Mama, is winner of seven individual MAC Awards. 343 W. 46th St. Mar. 21 & 28; Apr. 4, 11 & 25, 8 p.m. The cover charge is $25 and there’s a two-drink minimum. Reservations at 212-7570788 or

THEATER Inside Tennessee Williams Writer and performer William Shuman delves into the personal world of a towering, brilliant, and tortured American playwright in “En Avant! An Evening with Tennessee Williams.” Drawn from Williams’ own journals and letters as well as writings about him, “En Avant!” recounts four major elements of his life: his family (including his schizophrenic sister lobotomized in 1943, his frigid mother, and his verbally abusive father), his three most important lovers, his seminal works, and his battle with inner demons. Stage 72 at the Triad, 158 W. 72nd St. Mar. 24, 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 at

MUSIC Joanna Wallfisch & Dan Tepfer Fred Hersch calls her “a real discovery — a first-rate musician in every way.” London-raised New York singer-songwriter Joanna Wallfisch teams up with pianist Dan Tepfer (2011’s “Goldberg Variations / Variations”) on a new duo album, “The Origin of Adjustable Things.” The pair celebrate the CD’s release tonight . SubCulture, 45 Bleecker St. at Mulberry St., Mar. 24, 8 p.m.; doors open at 7. Tickets are $15 at; $18 at the door.

WED.MAR.25 CABARET Mark Nadler Sings, Plays Piano, and More!

MUSIC Estonian Songs The Stonewall Chorale presents “From Estonia with Love,” an evening of works by two of that nation’s most esteemed composers: Berliner Messe, by Arvo Pärt (in celebration of his 80th birthday) and the New York City premiere of “Kreek’s Notebook,” by Tõnu Kõrvits. Church of the Holy Apostles, 296 Ninth Ave. at 28th St. Mar. 21,

Mark Nadler, a polymath talent who sings, plays piano, tap dances, and does stand up, appears for three nights at 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Mar. 25, Apr. 15, 7 p.m. Tickets are $35-$65 at, and there is a $25 food & drink minimum. Add $5 to the cover charge for purchase at the door.


14 DAYS, continued on p.43

March 19 - April 01, 2015 |


p.m. & Apr. 27, 9:30 p.m., four finalists sing a new song, a repeat, and a theme song; and on May 4, 9:30 p.m. they sing a new song and make a heartfelt case for themselves. Tickets to each show begin at $16 at

MUSIC Mary Gauthier in Tribeca Singer/ songwriter Mary Gauthier, a New Orleans native who is a GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Music Artist nominee for her most recent album “Trouble & Love,” appears at City Winery, 155 Varick St. at Vandam St. Mar. 29, 8 p.m.; doors open at 6. Tickets are $25-$32 at




Divas in HK


MON.MAR.30 CABARET Makin’ Noise With Gavin Creel

14 DAYS, from p.42

FRI.MAR.27 MUSIC Tuned and Toned Well-Strung, wrote Gay City News’s Joseph Ehrman-Dupre, “sits in a remarkably unique niche in the world of string quartets. Blending classical pieces by Mozart and Vivaldi with Top 40 hits from Britney, Rihanna, and P!nk, the group is all about defying expectations.” Its brand new show, “Popssical,” directed by Donna Drake, is written by the quartet and includes musical arrangements by it as well as by David Levinson and Bruce Carter and videos by Randy Rainbow. 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Mar. 27, 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $30$65 at; add $5 for admission at the door. The food & drink minimum is $25.

Marty Thomas, Kelly King, and Marissa Rosen welcome special guest stars to Diva Mondays at Industry, 355 W. 52nd St. Mar. 30, 11 p.m.

In a benefit for the Performing Arts Project (, Susan Blackwell, Liz Callaway, Celia Keenan-Bolger, and Caissie Levy sing songs written and/ or recorded by Gavin Creel, in honor of his return from his award-winning turn in “The Book of Mormon” in London’s West End. Joe’s Pub, inside the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., btwn. . E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Mar. 30, 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $30-$200 at

NYC’s Next Top Drag Queen “New York’s Next Top Drag Queen Contest” kicks off tonight, hosted by Holly Dae and with judges Arsenio Amadas (Mr. Eagle 2013), Macchia (the MAC and Bistro Award-winning producer of “Cabaret Cares”), and Frankie C. Metropolitan Room, 34 W. 22nd St. On Mar. 30 & Apr. 6, 7 p.m. eight firstround contestants perform two new songs each week; on Apr. 13, 7 p.m., six semi-finalists perform mini sets; on Apr. 20, 7

CABARET Torch Bearer In “The Lady With the Torch,” two-time Tony winner Patti LuPone (“Evita,” “Gypsy”) performs an eclectic collection of torch songs by composers and lyricists including Arthur Schwartz, Howard Dietz, Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn, Billy Barnes, Harold Arlen, George and Ira Gershwin, and Cole Porter. Musical direction by Joseph Thalken. 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Apr. 1-4, 6-10, 13-14, 7 p.m.; Apr. 11, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $85-$155 at; add $5 for admission at the door. Food & drink minimum is $30. Door open at 5:15 for 7 p.m. shows.

ART Gay Erotic Manga Jiraiya is known the world over for his muscular pin-up style photoreal illustrations of Asian men and his bestselling Japanese manga. In his first New York appearance, he talks about his craft and signs copies of “Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It.” Bureau of General Services — Queer Division, LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St. Mar. 27, 7-10 p.m. Note: Jiraiya is an anonymous figure, so attendees are asked to respect his “no facial photography” rule.


FRI.APR.3 NIGHLIFE Full Bunny Easter Egg Hunt

BGSQD.COM | March 19 - April 01, 2015

Gay Night @ Full Bunny Contact is an Easter egg hunt cranked into insane overdrive, with participants locked inside a 20X20 foot steel cage with three hung Easter bunnies, all hell bent on destruction — yours. The evening includes music and a dance floor, but the real fun is the chance to be a silly kid again. You can ride the rabid rabbit — an oversized mechanical bunny who’s foaming at the mouth and wants nothing more than to toss you into oblivion; shoot a giant marshmallow peep with a paintball gun; shoot baskets against a bunny defender who has a giant carrot; or putt an egg on a three-hole course. Or you can just have your dark future foretold by a psychotic bunny fortune teller. The Clemente, 107 Suffolk St., btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts. Apr. 3, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Admission is $20-$60 at




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