De Blasio’s Own “Religious Freedom” Problem 20
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Indiana's radical “religious freedom” law sparks unprecedented uproar
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Hosing the Hoosiers
Indiana’s radical “religious freedom” law sparks unprecedented uproar BY PAUL SCHINDLER
hen Indiana G o v e r n o r Mike Pence, a Republican social conservative, signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) on March 26, he seemed to understand instinctively that it didn’t pay to make a big show of it but apparently he was confident he could duck any major blowback. The private, invitation-only ceremony was attended almost exclusively by religious leaders, including some outspoken in their opposition to LGBT rights, but was closed to the press. If Pence thought that would keep the new law under the radar, he
catastrophically miscalculated. For nearly a week since the signing, the Indiana law has been a headline-grabbing national story, with most of the media characterizing the law as giving Indiana businesses and individuals a license to discriminate — particularly against the LGBT community, who unlike many other groups lack any specific state or federal civil rights protections there. The law, story after story noted, was the nation’s most sweeping law empowering businesses and individuals to claim religious exemptions from complying with state and local law. Three days later, the governor tried using the platform of the ABC Sunday morning news program “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” to put what by then
was an exploding controversy to rest. Pence aimed to buttress his claim that “this bill is not about discrimination,” but the nearly 11 and a half-minute interview was a debacle. The governor repeatedly refused to answer Stephanopoulos’ point-blank questions as to whether the law would allow businesses to discriminate against gay customers — or even whether the law should allow that. Pence quickly canceled other media appearances he had scheduled. The following morning, top Republican legislative leaders, Senate President David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma, appeared before the press in Indianapolis in an effort to salvage the case for the bill they just a week before had hustled through
@Benioff: Thank you @Salesforce Indiana for opposing discrimination law!
to passage. The two made little secret of their view that Pence had seriously fumbled in his Sunday ABC appearance. Not only was the gover nor thrown under the bus by legislative allies who crafted the bill he signed, he also faced criticism from
HOOSIERS, continued on p.5
Just Why Indiana’s Law Is So Insidious In a place with no statewide LGBT protections, businesses gain “religious freedom” to refuse service
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
n defending Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) — a named borrowed from a much narrower 1993 federal statute and similar measures passed in 19 states in the intervening years — Governor Mike Pence asserted, “This bill is not about discrimination.” The governor made his claim despite the refusal of legislators at several points during the bill’s consideration to accept amendments excluding local nondiscrimination requirements from its provisions — in a place with no statewide protections for the LGBT community. And despite the fact that the measure defines a broad universe of entities that can claim religious exemptions under a vast array of situations. “The Indiana General Assembly and governor have sent a dangerous and discriminatory message with this new law,” said Sarah Warbelow, the legal director at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “They’ve basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it’s ok to discriminate against people despite what the law says.” Building on last year’s US Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, which concluded that a closely held family business can assert religious rights under the First Amendment, the Indiana law defines “person” to include individuals, religious organizations, and virtually any
business or non-profit organization that is able to sue or be sued. According to Jennifer Pizer, the national law and policy project director at Lambda Legal, one thing that makes the Indiana statute more insidious than RFRAs enacted elsewhere is the provision that a “person” who believes their exercise of religion “has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened,” can assert that claim “regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” That is significant, Pizer noted, because of how a New Mexico photographer’s claim he could deny his services to a same-sex couple for their wedding, despite that state’s nondiscrimination law, was resolved under the RFRA enacted there. Finding that the case was a civil dispute between two parties that did not involve the government, the State Supreme Court ruled that the photographer could not claim a religious exemption. The same photographer, under the Indiana law, would be able to make his claim, both Pizer and Shannon Minter, legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), agreed. In his signing statement, Governor Pence asserted otherwise, saying of the measure, “If I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it. In fact, it does not even apply to disputes between private parties unless government action is involved.”
“He’s wrong,” Lambda’s Pizer said. NCLR’s Minter echoed Pizer, saying, “Pence’s statement is blatantly untrue.” The measure’s language, Pizer said, also provides a broad definition of what triggers a religious burden from which someone can claim an exemption. Even the belief that their exercise of religion “is likely to be burdened” — rather than demonstrating an actual burden suffered — allows a person to claim a religious exemption. “The usual rule is that a legal claim isn’t ripe unless and until the allegedly harmful event takes place,” Pizer said. Pizer and Minter offered different assessments on another provision of the Indiana law, one that allows a religious exemption claim “even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability” — in other words, laws that apply to everyone but have an incidental, but unintended impact on the exercise of religion. “That clause is standard in RFRAs,” Pizer said. Looking to the history behind enactment of the federal RFRA in 1993, she noted that the Supreme Court, in a 1990 opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, found that religious freedom does not provide exemptions from laws of general applicability. Congress, in an effort to redress what it saw as the resulting weakness in the freedom afforded for the exercise of religion, responded with RFRA, which specifically
INSIDIOUS, continued on p.10
April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
HOOSIERS, from p.4
INDIANA OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
Hoosier Republicans who never thought the bill was a good idea in the first place. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican, warned Pence in advance not to sign the bill, arguing it sends “the wrong signal.” “Indianapolis strives to be a welcoming place that attracts businesses, conventions, visitors, and residents,” Ballard said. “We are a diverse city, and I want everyone who visits and lives in Indy to feel comfortable here.” Former Senator Richard Lugar, a Republican who served Indiana for 36 years in Washington after spending eight years as Indianapolis mayor, told the New York Times, “I would not have passed this to begin with.” And Mitch Daniels, Pence’s GOP predecessor as governor and now the president of Purdue University, told the Indianapolis Star, “I guess the one thing I will say is a lot of people are heartsick about this. For those of us who feel like we spent years building up a great business climate and reputation for the state, you hate to see anything damage it in the way, at least for the moment, it has." Daniels hit on the most striking aspect of how the Indiana fracas unfolded — the widespread and unusually vocal criticism that Indiana is facing from the business community. SalesForce, a $40 billion worldwide cloud computing company based in San Francisco, has been among the most outspoken, with its founder and CEO Mark Benioff taking to Twitter to warn, “We are forced to dramatically reduce our investment in IN based on our employee's &
Indiana Governor Mike Pence signs the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act on March 26, with no reporters on hand.
customer's outrage over the Religious Freedom Bill,” and “Today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/ employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination.” Prior to Pence signing the law, Gen Con, a gaming convention that is annually Indianapolis’ largest trade show, threatened to pull out if he did so, and the Disciples of Christ denomination similarly warned it might cancel a scheduled 2017 convention in that city — a threat it followed through with on April 1. On March 30, the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees also jettisoned its plans for a fall convention in Indianapolis. The NCAA, which holds its Men’s Final Four Basketball Championship in Indianapolis beginning April 4, posted a statement on its
website from its president, Mark Emert, saying, “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.” In a tweet addressed to the governor, Jason Collins, the out gay retired Brooklyn Nets player, asked, “.@GovPenceIN, is it going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come to the #FinalFour?”
HOOSIERS, continued on p.16
De Blasio, Cuomo Bar Non-Essential Government Travel to Indiana Schumer rejects Pence comparison between Indy law, 1993 fed statute NY senator championed BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
e s p o n d i n g to Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo separately announced bans on non-essential travel to Indiana by government employees. “It’s a deeply disturbing reality right now in Indiana and I hope, before it’s too late, that they turn back,” de Blasio said at a press conference. “I will instruct all New York City agencies to prohibit any non-essential travel to the state of Indiana.” The mayor was at a community center in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood to announce a $3
GayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
billion grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to repair and install resiliency measures at 33 public housing developments in the city that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. He was joined by a number of elected officials, including Senator Chuck Schumer, who was a champion of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993. Elected officials in Indiana, notably Governor Mike Pence, have said that Indiana’s law is the same as the federal act. “Any comparison between the two is false and disingenuous for two reasons,” Schumer said at the March 31 event. “First, in our bill we wanted to maximize the religious freedom of individuals provided there is no compelling government interest against them. If
there was ever a compelling government interest, preventing discrimination is that, so it has no application. Second, our bill was aimed at individuals, giving individuals more religious freedom. What Indiana does is give corporations and companies more freedom to reject. That’s different.” Separately, Cuomo announced that state employees would be barred from any non-essential travel to Indiana. It is not clear how much or how little city and state employees travel to Indiana, but the travel bans add to the growing public pressure on that state to reverse course on a law that is widely perceived as little more than a license to discriminate against LGBT people. The law has spawned a ferocious outcry. Rochester, Seattle,
San Francisco, Washington, DC, Minneapolis, St. Paul, West Palm Beach, and the states of Connecticut, Vermont, and Washington have all banned their public employees from using tax dollars to travel to Indiana. The public employee union, AFSCME, cancelled a conference that was scheduled for Indiana this year. Pence, a Republican governor, and the leaders of the State Legislature have moved from defending the law to saying they would enact a clarification of it. “This proposal in Indiana really undercuts decades and decades of progress on human rights and civil rights in this country,” de Blasio said. “The notion that government would allow overtly discrimination undercuts so much of what we fought for.”
State Budget Disappoints Advocates on Plan to End AIDS Albany agrees to $10 million where tens of millions sought, better news on runaway youth, LGBT health network BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
GAY CITY NEWS
hile advocates were looking for tens of millions of dollars or more in the final state budget to pay for the plan to reduce new HIV infections in New York to 750 annually by 2020, the final state budget contains little new money to fund the plan. “We’re definitely well short of where we want to be,” said Charles King, president of Housing Works, an AIDS group, and the co-chair of the task force that drafted the plan. The state budget will spend $5 million to fund a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) program at the state AIDS Institute, a unit of the state health department. The PrEP program, which gives anti-HIV drugs to HIV-negative people to keep them uninfected, will pay for insurance co-pays, the quarterly testing that people on PrEP must take, and other expenses. The PrEP program was made a permanent part of the budget. The AIDS Institute received another $5 million to fund other components of the plan.
That second pot of cash is good for five years. “It’s $10 million, which is not near ly enough, but it’s a longterm commitment,” King said. Gover nor Andrew Cuomo endorsed the plan last year. Recent press reports have noted that Cuomo has taken to championing various causes, such Governor Andrew Cuomo, at last year’s LGBT Pride March in as ethics reform or leg- Manhattan, announcing his support for the Plan to End AIDS in New York State. islation that would give the children of undocT h e p l a n r e l i e s o n P r E P, umented immigrants access to state funds for higher post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), education, and then not including a n t i - H I V d r u g s t a k e n b y a n them in legislative packages or not HIV-negative person with a recent funding them adequately. The plan exposure to the virus to prevent to end AIDS appears to be suffering infection, and treatment as prevention (TasP), which involves the same fate. On a February 26 appearance HIV-positive people taking medon “Capital Tonight,” an Albany ication so they are not infectious. cable news channel program, King All three of these so-called biosaid that $104 million in the state medical interventions are highly budget would be a “dream num- effective when taken correctly. The Cuomo administration, ber,” but he told Gay City News that that dollar amount assumes that which is emphasizing biomedical all sorts of other funding is in place interventions to make the plan succeed, won reduced HIV drug pricas well.
es with manufacturers last year. The plan was nearly derailed when a legal office in the state health department determined that the governor lacked the authority to negotiate those deals. In the budget, the Legislature gave Cuomo that authority through 2020. “That ended up being a very hard fought battle,” King said. Among the complaints from legislators was that the Cuomo administration had not released the final version of the task force’s draft plan and so there was no roadmap showing how the state could reduce the current 3,000 new HIV infections annually to 750 by 2020. “We have been told that the governor is personally committed to doing an event,” King said, referring to the Cuomo administration releasing the blueprint. That event may happen in late April. When the plan is released, advocates can return to the Legislature and seek additional funds or changes in laws that they believe are necessary for success. Other elements of the plan that were in the proposed budget, which was released in January, were
BUDGET, continued on p.26
Chelsea, With Highest HIV, Syphilis Rates, Loses City Clinic Health department directs patients to West 100th Street as community clinics try to fill in BY ANDY HUMM
he well-known Chelsea STD clinic on Ninth Avenue at 28th Street, run by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Health (DOHMH) in the neighborhood with New York’s highest HIV and syphilis infection rates, was shuttered for two to three years for renovations on March 21. Patients are being directed more than 70 blocks north to the Riverside STD clinic at 160 West 100th Street, leaving no such facilities in Manhattan south of there, but three in and around Harlem. Relocating clinic
services in Midtown or Downtown was deemed to be “prohibitively expensive” by the department. The shuttered clinic was in an area that a few years ago lost its only hospital — St. Vincent’s in the West Village — to luxury condo development. Community testing facilities are scrambling to take up the slack, with some in place and some not and with the department yet to promote them as alternatives. The department poster on the closure only refers patients to West 100th Street. City Councilmember Corey Johnson of Chelsea, the out gay and openly HIV-positive heath committee chair, said he knew of
the plans for the renovation last year and got the department to agree to remain partially open at the site while the work proceeded. But staff filed a grievance about unsafe working conditions from the construction — which were also “less than ideal for patients,” according to the department — and the facility was closed entirely. Johnson said the cost of staying in the area “was deemed to be way too high.” He said he was able to get a funding increase of $150,000 for the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Chelsea and while that facility does provide low-cost screening services and more that are often free to patients with limited means, it does not offer the
completely free service that the city clinic was providing. Dick Gottfried, chair of the Assembly Health Committee who also represents Chelsea, said in a written statement that given the high syphilis infection rates in Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen in particular, “this is not a good time to make it more difficult to get testing. If people have to travel miles away, will they go untested and untreated, and will infected people continue infecting others?” Gottfried said he will reach out to Dr. Mary Bassett, the city health commissioner, to explore possible downtown alternatives including
CHELSEA, continued on p.15
April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Corey Johnson Runs Afoul of “Broken Windows” Policing
Chelsea City Council member ticketed for subway infraction and police commissioner chimes in BY ANDY HUMM
ut gay City Councilmember Corey Johnson, a C h e l s e a Democrat, was given a ticket March 25 for walking between moving subway cars — an infraction whether the train is in motion or not. Johnson paid his $75 ticket and had nothing but praise for the police after the incident, but the story ended up in the tabloids when police sources leaked it, characterizing the encounter as an important person trying to get out of a ticket. From the start, statements from Johnson’s office confirmed he had already paid the fine. The Daily News broke the story, putting three reporters on it, citing an unnamed “police source” who said of Johnson, “He was making a big deal about it. He was saying this is what’s wrong with broken windows. He identified himself. He pulled out his cell and started making calls.” The Associated Press wrote that Police Commissioner Bill Bratton “said Mr. Johnson… made a complaint about ‘what he thought was inappropriate behavior… on the part of sever al police officers’” and that there would be an investigation. DNAInfo.com, reporting that Johnson “tried to call NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton or Chief of Department James O’Neill,” said the commissioner responded, “It’s not something that I or Chief O’Neill would have interfered with. The officers stopped him for something that he readily admits did occur. And so there’s no issue around that.” Johnson’s public statements sound as if he wants to put the incident behind him. “The Council Member has the utmost respect for the men and women of the NYPD and looks forward to a continued partnership with them,” his chief of staff Erik Bottcher wrote in a statement. Bratton also told DNAInfo.com, “There are two different stories.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton injected himself into public discussion of a subway infraction ticketing of City Councilmember Corey Johnson.
The Council memBratton’s statements ber’s and the ver sions presented by raise several issues — our six police offibeyond the remarkable fact that cers.” According to the website, the comthe police commissioner waded missioner said the into a matter of this nature. issue would be settled by the Civilian centerpiece of Bratton’s policing Complaint Review Board (CCRB). Bratton’s statements raise sev- under Mayor Bill de Blasio, who eral issues — beyond the remark- campaigned on ending stop and able fact that the police commis- frisk, the use of which was already sioner waded into a matter of this dramatically declining by the nature. First, Johnson has never last year of Michael Bloomberg’s said he planned to take the matter administration. Like stop and to the CCRB, and a source close to frisk, however, the impact of the him told Gay City News he has not broken windows policy falls disand will not. The Council member, proportionately on youth of color. “So many police resources are however, has declined to respond to specific questions about Brat- focused on sanctioning people ton’s assertions nor is he providing — usually people of color — who his version of the interaction with engage in innocuous activity that the police, leaving unanswered the many people do not consider dancharacterization by police sources gerous,” Gangi said. “Is this effective? Do we need police officers that he tried to pull rank. But another, more significant with badges and guns ticketing issue is raised by this incident: people? If we decide it is an issue, why are six officers needed to tick- why do we have police officers et a commuter for a minor infrac- doing it? Why not MTA personnel?” Gangi said the fines imposed tion? That is deeply troubling to Robert Gangi, director of the Police under broken windows disproporReform Organizing Project at the tionately impact youth of color, Urban Justice Center, which was who may have dif ficulty paya major force behind curtailing the ing their tickets. If they are later abuse of stop and frisk and is now stopped for another minor infracfocused on ending the broken win- tion, he said, “they get arrested for dows policing that results in tick- victimless acts.” “Corey Johnson is not going to ets and, in some cases, arrests for minor infractions. The policy is a suffer lifelong consequences for
this,” Gangi said. “But young men of color get a criminal record that follows them around for the rest of their lives.” Broken window tickets, he charged, are “driven by quotas” and have to stop. “Most people did not become police officers to arrest people in a park at night or riding a bike on the sidewalk. I’m not saying these things can’t be problematic. But a police officer should say, ‘Get the bike in the street.’” Gangi goes to night court to witness young people getting arraigned and sees them come out either angry or shaking their heads in resignation. “If they didn’t have antagonism for the police before, they have it now,” he said. Johnson has been a critic of broken windows policing and a champion of police reform. But Gangi said most politicians from de Blasio on down have become much more cautious in their criticism of such enforcement techniques since the December murders of two police officers in Brooklyn by a mentally unstable man — who then shot and killed himself as other officers closed in on him. Those murders followed weeks of demonstrations calling for police reform. Bratton challenges the notion that subway car-hopping ticketing is driven by quotas, citing a recent death of someone falling onto the tracks when moving between cars as justification for strict enforcement. (Full disclosure: I have over the years traveled between subway cars, and this newspaper’s editor acknowledges a recent ticket for traveling between cars while the subway was in a station.) But Gangi is critical even of politicians with a long record of supporting police reform. He opposes Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s call for 1,000 new cops in this year’s budget. “The NYPD is involved in racially discriminatory, wasteful activities every day because of broken windows,” he said. “Our job is to make broken windows anti-quota driven and make that a politically safe position for the mainstream.” April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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FBI Takes the Wrong Side in Same-Sex Marriage Debate Manhattan gay man says authorities came to his house after he left four messages for anti-gay Princeton prof BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
as the Federal B u r e a u o f Investigation taken sides in America’s same-sex marriage debate? A 2014 visit that two agents paid to a 61-year-old gay man suggests that at least some in the bureau may have come down on the con side. “They woke me up, they were pounding on the door,” the man told Gay City News. “I was in a pretty deep sleep.” The FBI agents, a man and a woman, arrived at his Manhattan apartment at roughly 6:30 a.m. this past November. He cracked open the door and the agents presented their identification saying they wanted a word with him. As the man turned to put on some clothes, the female agent quickly put her foot in the door to prop it open. After he dressed, the agents entered the apartment and the conversation lasted about 10 minutes. The man is a practitioner of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals,” a 1971 book that details how less powerful communities can organize against powerful interests. Among
INSIDIOUS, from p.4
allowed such exemptions unless the government can show a compelling interest addressed in the least restrictive manner. In Minter’s view, however, the Indiana law’s language regarding laws of general applicability “is an extremely unusual provision and further evidence that the drafters of this bill are attempting to create a huge, virtually unqualified license to discriminate — and throwing out the window the longstanding limits on RFRAs. This is not about protecting religious liberty, this is about creating special religious entitlements to discriminate and violate other laws.” New York Law Professor Arthur S. Leonard, Gay City News’ legal correspondent, pointed to another unusual provision in the Indi-
the 12 rules are “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon” and the man excels at ridicule. He regularly calls LGBT community opponents to engage them in debate or leave them challenging or taunting messages. He never threatens them, but he is not above being insulting — his favorite epithet is “cracker” — and forceful. “I do it all the time,” said the man, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid any repercussions in his professional life. “It makes me feel better. I have a lot of aggression… It makes me feel better to fuck with their heads… I do multiple calls in a week when I’m in the mood.” The FBI visit resulted from a message he left for Robert George, a Princeton University professor who has opposed the push for marriage and who defended the Texas sodomy law in a US Supreme Court brief written for the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, two right-wing groups, in the 2003 case that struck down sodomy laws nationwide. George is among the best-known LGBT community opponents. “I love using that word,” the 61-year-old told Gay City News. “I think that what I said was, ‘That
for all your fancy credentials, you’re just another garden-variety cracker bigot.’” George is understandably sensitive to phone messages. In 2012, Theodore Shulman, a pro-choice activist, pleaded guilty to two counts of harassing and threatening pro-life activists, including George, and was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison and three years of post-release supervision. “It is a matter of public record that I was among those threatened by Mr. Shulman,” he wrote in an email to Gay City News. “I do not comment on interactions with the FBI or state authorities on that case or others. I can say that when I receive threatening messages or messages containing racial or other abusive epithets, I forward them to the proper authorities. Usually I forward them to campus security officials, who make decisions about where to go from there. I do not, however, make requests. Rather I leave the matter of possibly investigating a threat to the judgment of law enforcement professionals.” The 61-year-old told Gay City News that he has left about four messages for George over two years and what is notable is that
he never left his name or contact information. That means the FBI had to do some work to find him. Equally notable is that a Freedom of Information request seeking all the FBI documents related to the November interview produced no records, so the agents did not deem the interview important enough to enter in the FBI’s central records system. So why were they there? The FBI did not respond to an email seeking comment. The male agent appeared to be aware that the visit risked appearing like the FBI was signing up with George. The man reported that the male agent kept saying, “‘I don’t want to take sides here’… That was the point he was making. He didn’t want to get involved in a political dispute.” The female agent was “mean,” the man told Gay City News, and she kept asking, “Have you learned your lesson?” The man hasn’t learned his lesson. “I would love to call him again,” he told Gay City News. “I’m waiting for this to shake out… I like the idea of fucking with him. If all this trouble is an indication that I did, I’m very happy.”
ana statute — the vague formulation of what constitutes the exercise of religion. The definition in the law “includes any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.” Apparently, Leonard noted, the “church of one” will do as the basis for claiming an out. In assessing the Indiana statute, Lambda’s Pizer took pains to emphasize that its most insidious implications can yet be challenged head on. The Indianapolis nondiscrimination ordinance — and other local enactments across the state — she said, “may still be enforced if a court appropriately finds that there’s a compelling interest in enforcing it and that doing so is the least restrictive means of serving that interest.” At the same time, she cautioned, “post-Hobby Lobby, the legal stan-
dards have been changed in uncertain, worrisome ways.” Indiana courts or the federal courts would have to accept the proposition that combatting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity served a compelling government interest — a finding that is certainly no foregone conclusion. Observers who have been following the developments in Indiana have uniformly concluded the measure gained traction as a response to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision last year striking down that state’s ban on marriage by same-sex couples. Pence, denying any discriminatory intent, grabbed onto what he apparently saw as a safer harbor in explaining Indiana’s need for this legislation. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning
the Affordable Care Act,” the governor said in his signing statement, in a reference to controversy over the Obamacare requirement for contraceptive coverage in employer healthcare plans. “A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.” Though Pence is surely disingenuous in denying that this bill represents a backlash against gay and lesbian gains on the issue of marriage equality, his statement highlighted another concern critics of the law have raised: that the breadth of exemption claims this bill makes possible under any state or local ordinance from Indiana’s nearly 8.5 million “churches of one” has virtually untold potential for mischief going forward. April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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GayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
Gender Identity Bias Claim Under Obamacare Advances US judge finds federal administrative finding allows trans man to pursue suit against hospital BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
e c i d i n g a n important issue under the federal Affordable Care Act for the first time, Minnesota US District Judge Susan Richard Nelson denied a motion by a Minneapolis area hospital and its emergency physicians to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a transgender man claiming the defendants violated the ACA because “he received worse care because of his status as a transgender man.” The Mar ch 16 ruling is an important first step in recognizing the right of individuals to sue for discrimination under the ACA. Jakob Tiarnan Rumble was 18 when he claims to have encountered discriminatory treatment because of his gender identity at Fairview Southdale Hospital’s emergency room in June 2013. Rumble was suffering from painful inflammation of his female genitals, and his doctor prescribed antibiotics but they didn’t take care of the pain, making it difficult for him to walk. His mother, a health care
professional, determined he needed emergency care and took him to Fairview’s emergency room. There, he immediately encountered difficulties due to the difference between his male appearance and his female-identified driver’s license. Though he told hospital personnel he identifies as male, he was given a female designation in the hospital’s records and on the wristband issued to him. In the emergency room, Rumble encountered a physician whose alleged treatment of him is painful to read. According to the court, Dr. Randall Steinman “allegedly asked Rumble in a ‘hostile and aggressive manner,’ ‘[w]ho are you having sex with?’ When Rumble asked Dr. Steinman ‘what he meant by that [question],’ Dr. Steinman asked, ‘[m]en, women, or both?’ Rumble alleges that ‘Dr. Steinman seemed angry, and held his face a few inches from [Rumble’s] face when he asked questions.’” Rumble also contends that after telling Steinman that he was in a great deal of pain and asking that he “please be gentle,” the doctor “took a strip of gauze and [alleged-
ly] wiped [Rumble’s] labia in a very rough manner,” the court wrote, quoting from the complaint. According to Rumble’s complaint, both doctors and nurses at Fairview treated him as if he were an oddity beyond the scope of their medical knowledge. Rumble also pointed to problems with billing for the services he received. He was denied insurance coverage because “the diagnosis is inconsistent with the patient’s gender,” even though Rumble alleges the ultimate diagnoses of his problems concerned conditions “that can, and do, affect people of any sex or gender.” Rumble claims to have been so traumatized by his experience at Fairview that he can’t return there for treatment, even though it is the hospital most conveniently located to his home. An investigation of his complaints by the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is ongoing. What makes the court’s ruling significant is that the ACA incorporates non-discrimination requirements of several federal discrimina-
tion laws, none of which expressly mentions gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination. The task before the court was to decide whether developments in administrative interpretation and court decisions extending the sex discrimination prohibitions to include gender identity discrimination should be recognized under the ACA. The court also had to make the preliminary determination that the reference to nondiscrimination laws give patients a right to sue directly in federal court under the ACA, in addition to any administrative complaint procedures that might be available. Judge Nelson resolved both questions in Rumble’s favor, at least in deciding his complaint should not be dismissed. The judge took note of an opinion letter issued by Leon Rodriguez, director of the HHS Office of Civil Rights, stating that the ACA “extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions
GENDER IDENTITY, continued on p.18
Puerto Rico Urges Reversal of Anti-Marriage Equality Ruling Attorneys for the commonwealth, in brief to appeals court, abandons earlier defense of island’s ban BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
n an unusual turnabout, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which to date had been defending its ban on licensing or recognizing same-sex marriages in response to a suit brought by Lambda Legal, is now urging the First Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a district court ruling that dismissed the challenge. Lambda Legal sued on behalf of several same-sex couples seeking either to marry in Puerto Rico or to have their marriages from other jurisdictions recognized. On October 21, US District Judge Juan M. Perez-Gimenez granted the gov-
ernment’s motion to dismiss the case, finding that a Supreme Court ruling from 1972 rejecting a Minnesota marriage equality appeal because it did not present a “substantial federal question” remained binding precedent. The vast majority of recent federal marriage rulings have concluded that subsequent high court rulings superseded the 1972 precedent. Perez-Gimenez also concluded the commonwealth had a rational basis for distinguishing between same-sex and different-sex couples, relying on arguments that have been routinely been rejected over the past two years, including by four circuit courts of appeal. Plaintiffs appealed to the First
Circuit, and Puerto Rico’s response was due on March 20. Its brief, filed by the commonwealth’s solicitor general, observed that the Supreme Court’s refusal to stay any marriage equality ruling since October 6 and its January decision to hear an appeal of an adverse ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals — in marriage cases from Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky — make clear that the 1972 precedent no longer controls. Puerto Rico’s lawyers further wrote that they agree with the plaintiffs’ contention that denying same-sex couples of the right to marriage implicates a fundamental right, which means that the commonwealth’s ban must be
held to some form of heightened or even strict judicial scrutiny. And, though the first Circuit applied the most deferential standard — rational basis review — to sexual orientation discrimination claims prior to the 2013 Defense of Marriage act ruling by the Supreme Court, it might now employ heightened scrutiny in this case. Under either theory, the lawyers conceded, the ban on same-sex marriage was no longer defensible. “It is not usual for the Executive Branch of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to refuse to defend the constitutionality of legally-enacted statues,” the commonwealth
PUERTO RICO, continued on p.19
April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
NJ Bias Law Ruling Could Impact Dharun Ravi’s Conviction State high court nixes conviction based solely on victim’s perception, part of charges against Rutgers student BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
unanimous ruling by New Jersey’s Supreme Court striking down part of the state’s Bias Intimidation Law has implications for some of the charges on which Dharun Ravi was convicted in the wake of the 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi, a gay Rutgers University freshman who was Ravi’s dormitory roommate. Th e cour t ’s Ma r c h 17 r u l ing came in the case of David Pomianek, Jr., a white man convicted by a superior court jury of bias harassment of an African-American co-worker by locking him in a cage at work for a brief period of time. Pomianek considered the incident a “harmless caper,” according to Justice Barry Albin’s opinion. Under the New Jersey Bias Intimidation statute, a person could be convicted even though he did not intend to intimidate the victim or even have knowledge that the victim might be intimated by his conduct, so long as the victim felt intimidated and believed he was being harassed based on a category protected under the law. In this case it was race. In the Ravi case, it was sexual orientation, which together with gender identity are also outlawed grounds for harassment. The jury in Pomianek’s case found a lack of intent or knowledge on his part, but convicted based on the victim’s perceptions of being harassed because of his race. Pomianek’s conviction was reversed by the New Jersey Appellate Division, which concluded that a conviction “based on the victim’s perception” and not on the “defendant’s biased intent” would violate the First Amendment. The Appellate Division then “read into” the statute an intent requirement and sent the case back to the superior court for a new trial. The state appealed, and the Supreme Court focused on the 14th Amendment’s due process clause rather than the First Amendment. “In focusing on the victim’s per-
GayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
Tyler Clementi was 18 at the time of his suicide.
ception and not the defendant’s intent,” wrote Justice Albin, “the statute does not give a defendant sufficient guidance or notice on how to conform to the law. That is so because a defendant may be convicted of a bias crime even though a jury may conclude that the defendant had no intent to commit such a crime.” Disagreeing with the Appellate Division, however, Albin found that courts cannot “rewrite” a statute to supply a missing intent requirement. “That level of judicial tinkering with legislation exceeds the bounds of our authority,” he wrote. Since the court had resolved the case on 14th Amendment grounds, it refrained from addressing the Appellate Division’s First Amendment finding. The court reversed Pomianek’s conviction. According to the court’s opinion, no other hate crime law in the country imposes liability based solely on a victim’s perceptions. The ruling leaves intact the other two operative provisions of the law, criminalizing intentional or knowing bias intimidation. Proving the requisite intent has been a major stumbling block in hate crime prosecutions around the country, deterring some prosecutors from bringing hate crime charges in cases that appear, at
NEW JERSEY, continued on p.19
Young and Healthy, But Not Virally Suppressed New Yorkers under 24 the least likely HIV-positive group to be linked to care, treatment BY JULIE “JD” DAVIDS
ew Yorkers living with HIV who ar e younger and healthier have the lowest rates of both linkage to care and undetectable viral loads in the first year after diagnosis, according to a presentation at the recent 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2015) in Seattle. The figures from 2006-2013 show that overall city rates of care and viral suppression rose during that period. By 2013, around 86 percent of New York City residents with HIV knew their status, with 76 percent of them linked to care. Nearly 70 percent of those on treatment had undetectable viral load. However, Lucia V. Torian, PhD, the city’s head HIV epidemiologist who presented the data, speculated that New York City may not reach the very high levels seen in San Francisco and Australia, locations lauded for achieving the benchmarks set by global AIDS groups to end the epidemic. The goals of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Plan to End AIDS, which will be carried out by the State AIDS Institute, hinge on raising rates of HIV diagnosis and treatment success and on providing access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for those at high risk of HIV infection who wish to take it. The study demonstrated that rates of viral suppression rose after the establishment of city, state, and federal policies that broadened guidelines for antiretroviral use and mandated active linkage to care efforts, which Torian described as “don’t just hand someone a business card; make the appointment for them and document that they actually showed up for care.” But across the years of study, those who were young (18-24 years old), healthy (as measured by CD4 count), or both had significantly lower rates of care and viral suppression. Dr. Donna Futterman, the direc-
tor of the Adolescent AIDS Program at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx who has spent decades working with young people with HIV, wasn’t surprised. “What is a surprise,” she explained, “is that we as a community aren’t doing better at this. When they are diagnosed there’s not a community context, there’s no historical context. The kids feel very isolated, guilty Martez Smith, a 23-year-old HIV-positive social work master’s that they ‘made the student at Long Island University. mistake’ and did this. care are not a priority for them. If Still, it’s a big secret and so they’re afraid to tell any- I’m facing a housing emergency one and you really can’t take these and I’m couch surfing, going to the medicines if you can’t disclose, doctor and getting a CD4 and viral especially to the people you live load test is not at the top of my priwith. So the kids who are living at orities.” Smith recommended making a home or with partners they have kept this a secret from… If you’re broad range of services as accessiafraid to disclose, you’re not going ble as possible. The study — based on the city’s to take them.” Futterman noted, “Adult clin- HIV surveillance registry, which ics are almost running on routine, holds more than eight million lab very little time for each patient. reports — looked at all those 18 The teens need a lot more support and older who were newly diagand time to both process the diag- nosed with HIV between 2006 and nosis and process the medication.” 2013. Linkage to care was meaShe continued, “We really can’t sured solely by reports of CD4 and blame the kids, the adults haven’t viral load tests, meaning that a done their jobs. We need to go back doctor’s visit would go unnoted if to the drawing board and find out labs were not drawn. People were what kids are really thinking today considered virally suppressed now, not just go on what they used if their count was under 400 copies at the six month and 12 month to be thinking.” Martez Smith, a 23-year old marks. However, another CROI 2015 black man sexually active with other men and who is living with presentation cautioned that 12 HIV, offered his thoughts on Tori- months of data post-HIV diagnosis an’s data. A master’s of social work may not predict who is in care and student at Brooklyn’s Long Island virally suppressed over the long University, Smith argued it takes term. In a poster presentation, Dr. more than HIV-specific services to Jonathan Colasanti of Atlanta’s meet the needs of young people of Emory University School of Medlow socioeconomic status who are icine and colleagues showed that rates of both care continuity and facing an HIV diagnosis. “For example, I am a member of viral suppression for HIV patients the New York City house and ball in that city were significantly highculture,” he said. “A lot of people er for the 12-month snapshot than who are involved in that scene, for 24 or 36 months. Thus, while being of lower socioeconomic sta- the city health department’s data tus, are not engaged in treatment indicates that progress has been and care because treatment and made in one-year rates of care and
viral suppression, the road to ending the epidemic in New York City may be steeper than short term numbers may imply. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the city health department’s assistant commissioner for the Bureau of HIV Prevention and Control, told Gay City News that the city recognizes the challenges faced by the young and the healthy, saying that this data “poses a challenge to the healthcare delivery system to identify novel and youth-friendly ways to support care… The health department is working hard with our partner clinics to develop plans that improve their efforts at suppressing their populations’ viral load.” But despite the improvements in the numbers, Torian expressed skepticism — having lived in New York for several decades — that the city would reach the levels of viral suppression to meet the ambitious UNAIDS goals San Francisco and Australia have achieved: 90 percent of people with HIV diagnosed, 90 percent of that group in care, and 90 percent of those in care showing an undetectable viral load. She said the city can get close, but it would likely take further legal and policy changes, as well as community mobilization and buyin, to see plummeting HIV incidence in adults. Daskalakis noted that New York has a significantly larger, older, and more complex epidemic than the locales Torian mentioned, but believes significant gains are nonetheless possible. “We are working hard to accelerate the bend in NYC’s curve,” Daskalakis said. “This won’t be easy, but it is achievable using the latest technology, community support, and political will. The stars are aligned to make this happen. I am an optimist, but also believe we have all the tools we need to leverage at hand.” Julie “JD” Davids is managing editor of TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com. CROI 2015 presentations, including study abstracts and webcasts, are available at croiconference.org. April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
CHELSEA, from p.6
Bellevue Hospital eight blocks east and the department’s headquarters at 125 Worth Street. Johnson is also working with the Community Healthcare Network to get its mobile unit with free screening and treatment to set up outside the closed Chelsea clinic two days a week. The unit is available in the West Village on Mondays (from noon to 8 p.m. at Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue) and Fridays (on Christopher outside St. Veronica’s Church) and at 14th Street and Second Avenue on Tuesdays from 1-9 p.m. Freddy Molano, who heads up the group’s infectious disease and LGBT services, said he is “trying to secure the funding” for it. He hopes to have a second mobile unit “by early summer” thanks to the past efforts of the network’s late director, Catherine Abate. “The reality is that people know [the Chelsea clinic] at that location and very few are aware it is closed,” Molano said. “When you have an STI, you need that service right away.” He is concerned peo-
GayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
ple will not go to West 100th Street instead. C a l l e n - L o r d e , a t 3 5 6 We s t 18th Street, has long run a sexual health clinic and doesn’t just screen for STIs but treats them and is a big prescriber of pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP), two HIV prevention tools. While not a free clinic, executive director Jay Laudato said that “all services are offered without regard to one’s ability to pay.” Patients under 22 are served free “if using our adolescent program.” “We can’t replace a public facility,” Laudato acknowledged, calling the Chelsea clinic “a vital access point, a destination for LGBT people.” He said it takes time, for instance, for a transgender person with HIV to build up trust with a facility — as many did with the Chelsea clinic — and they may hesitate to go elsewhere. Laudato is meeting with the health department on April 9 to discuss further options for the neighborhood. Gay Men’s Health Crisis has the David Geffen Center for Testing at 224 West 29th Street that takes walk-ins Monday to Wednesday
and sees people by appointment on Thursdays. That facility has now added syphilis screenings. Anthony Hayes, a GMHC spokesperson, said of the free clinic’s closing, “We’re eager to work with the department of health to see many of these vital services continue in Chelsea.” Another option for Lower Manhattan residents is the Mt. Sinai clinic at 275 Seventh Avenue, between 25th and 26th Streets, 12th floor, which does free HIV screening along with other health services for a fee. That clinic, which can be reached at 212-604-1701, is the successor to the St. Vincent’s HIV clinic. Luis Santiago, a member of ACT UP/ NY, said, “We’re trying to get more services for testing in the gay community and this move by the department of health is in completely the other direction.” Expense “was not an excuse,” he said, given that infection rates in Chelsea “are the highest in the city. Jay Kallio, a Chelsea resident and longtime LGBT and healthcare activist, used the Chelsea clin-
ic when she got a needle stick in her apartment building’s garbage area and needed PEP. “Time was of the essence,” he said, “and Callen-Lorde was booked and couldn’t see me.” Kallio said that moving the department’s clinic to West 100th Street “is not very good for the decrepit and disabled like myself. Getting up there will be prohibitive for me. Once you get sick, you’re not too ambulatory and getting on the subway is not only a schlep, it exposes me as someone on chemo to all kinds of flu.” The department has outlined plans to tackle the steep rise in syphilis among men who have sex with men, particularly in Chelsea were the rate is six times that of the city at large, including distributing “millions of condoms,” “low/ no cost STI screening and treatment,” “prophylactic treatment” for some high-risk individuals, and more. But none of it will be emanating from the familiar clinic fronted by Chelsea Park and the doughboy World War I monument dedicated “to the soldiers and sailors of Chelsea.”
HOOSIERS, from p.5
The measur e Pence signed was also criticized by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and employers with local workforces including Alcoa, Cummins, and Eli Lilly. And Indiana drew an avalanche of criticism from other US corporate giants, with Apple’s out gay chief Tim Cook taking to the Washington Post on March 29 to urge business leaders to stand up to the type of discrimination the state’s new law represents. The Human Rights Campaign noted that Cook’s call was quickly heeded by American Airlines, Levi Strauss, Microsoft, Orbitz Worldwide, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Symantec Corporation, and Wells Fargo. Perhaps nothing, however, stung as badly as a weekend statement from Bill Oesterle, CEO of the Indianapolis-based crowd-sourced business review website Angie’s List. The company, Oesterle said, was halting plans to expand its corporate headquarters in that city and would “begin reviewing alternatives for the expansion of its headquarters immediately.” By Mar ch 31, the political ground had fallen out from under Pence, with Indianapolis insiders telling reporters that the gover nor’s political future — which was assumed to include the hope of a presidential run — was now in doubt. In an extraordinary front page editorial titled “Fix This Now,” the Indianapolis Star demanded quick action on ending the crisis that had enveloped Indiana. From Sunday forward, Pence gradually changed his tune. On ABC, he said there was “a tremendous amount of misinformation and misunderstanding around this bill,” and next charged its opponents had engaged in “shameless rhetoric about my state and about this law.” Repeating his contention that discrimination was not the intent of and had nothing to do with the new law, Pence said, “George, look, we're not going to change the law, okay?” In an op-ed written the following day for publication in the Wall Street Journal on March 31, the governor gave no ground on the new law itself, but spoke more emphatically about his opposition to anything like a “license to dis-
criminate,” writing, “I abhor discrimination… If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn’t eat there anymore. As governor of Indiana, if I were presented a bill that legalized discrimination against any person or group, I would veto it.” But events were fast getting ahead of Pence’s ability to find friendly TV venues and to write exculpatory opinion pieces. Just hours after the Journal op-ed hit the streets, the governor told a crowded press conference he wanted the Legislature to craft a fix before the week was out. “After much reflection and in consultation with leadership in the General Assembly, I've come to the conclusion that it would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone," he said. The political test the governor now faces is in amending legislation so it will not have the impact that its most ardent supporters clearly intended — to exempt businesses from any public accommodations requirement to serve customers they’d rather not, particularly same-sex couples able to marry in Indiana since the Supreme Court declined review of a federal appeals court marriage equality ruling. Already, the rightwing American Family Association, in comments to the New York Times, voiced fear that Pence’s effort to amend would mean “a capitulation that enshrines homosexual behavior as a special right in Indiana.” Indeed, Democrats in Indiana have said the only way to fix the new law is to provide specific provisions barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in state law — something that surely never in his wildest dreams was on Pence’s agenda. On April 1, the Indianapolis Star reported that Republican legislative leaders were meeting with business and sports executives to review a proposed amendment to make clear that the new law does not, in the newspaper’s words, authorize any business or person “to refuse to offer or provide its services, facilities, goods, or public accommodation to any member of the public based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in addition to
race, color, religion, ancestry, age, viding any civil rights protections national origin, disability, sex, or not established in state law, after several localities adopted LGBT military service.” Business critics of the Indiana non-discrimination ordinances. Just as the quagmire Pence law have not yet commented publicly on the proposal, though Free- finds himself in has led to calls for dom Indiana, a coalition opposed statewide LGBT nondiscrimination to its enactment, faulted the lack protections in Indiana, the nationof specific affirmative nondiscrim- wide debate has focused attention ination protections based on sex- on the lack of any such protections ual orientation and gender iden- in more than two-dozen states. tity. “According to current media An April 1 letter from roughly 40 reports, the proposal being consid- high tech leaders, responding to ered falls far short of these princi- the spate of anti-LGBT bills that ples, leaving the door wide open for have popped up, instead urged discrimination,” the group said in a corrective actions by the laggard states. written statement. Meanwhile, the American Family Association, warning @StephenKing: Indiana’s that the Legislature is considering “waterReligious Freedom Restoration down” language to act is gay discrimination, pure last week’s law, urged and simple. You can frost a dog its supporters to contact their legislators, turd, but it’s still a dog turd. and pray for them. How events will play out in Indiana is unclear, as is the impact its political turmoil will have on efforts underway in other states to push “To ensure no one faces discrimback on gay rights in the wake of marriage equality’s dramatic ination and ensure everyone preadvance in the past six months. A serves their right to live out their recent tabulation by the Human faith, we call on all legislatures to Rights Campaign of state-lev- add sexual orientation and genel measures targeting the LGBT der identity as protected classcommunity — through religious es to their civil rights laws and to exemption laws, nullification of explicitly forbid discrimination or local protections that go beyond denial of services to anyone,” read state law provisions, bills that tar- the letter from leaders of compaget the use of sex-segregated facil- nies including Yelp, SalesForce, ities like bathrooms and locker Twitter, Ebay, Zillow, and Cisco rooms by transgender people, and Systems. “Anything less will only laws promoting conversion ther- serve to place barriers between apy for LGBT youth — identified people, create hurdles to creativi85 bills pending in 26 legislatures ty and inclusion, and smother the kind of open and transparent sociacross the country. But as Gay City News was ety that is necessary to create the going to press on April 1, Arkan- jobs of the future. Discrimination sas’ Republican governor, Asa is bad for business and that's why Hutchinson, announced he was we've taken the time to join this not prepared to sign legislation joint statement.” At a moment when the LGBT recently passed there that is similar to Indiana’s, saying he wanted c o m m u n i t y f a c e s a w a v e o f to narrow its scope to match the backlash, Indiana has badly provisions of the 1993 federal Reli- overplayed the social conservagious Freedom Restoration Act. tives’ hand. The counter -backHutchinson’s wariness in follow- lash seen in the past six days is ing Pence’s lead is notable given unprecedented in its speed and that it was only in February that breadth. Whether that’s enough Arkansas enacted a measure that to turn a critical corner remains bars local governments from pro- to be seen. April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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GENDER IDENTITY, from p.12
of masculinity or femininity” and prohibits “discrimination regardless of the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the individuals involved.” Rodriguez’s letter is not “controlling” as precedent, but the court can defer to it as an interpretation by the agency charged with the ACA’s enforcement. Rumble’s description of the problems he encountered at Fairview, Nelson concluded, were sufficient to raise the issue of discriminatory treatment on the basis of sex and gender identity. On the question of a right to sue, Nelson wrote, “Congress likely intended to create a new right and remedy in a new context without altering existing laws.” The court could also consider Rumble’s allegation that his treat-
ment was a violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, among the first in the nation to provide protection against gender identity discrimination. Nelson’s lengthy and detailed analysis of the legal issues might encourage the hospital and its physicians to pursue a settlement rather than an appeal. In that case, where no final decision on the merits results, no formal judicial precedent would be established. If the defendants hang tough and force Rumble to litigate on the merits, his case could provide the appellate vehicle to pin down the extent of protection against discrimination the ACA affords health care consumers. Attorneys Christy L. Hall, Jill R. Gaulding, and Lisa C. Stratton of St. Paul and Katherine S. Barrett Wiik of Minneapolis represent Rumble. April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
PUERTO RICO, from p.12
attorney’s wrote. “It is even less usual to adopt a somewhat different position at the appellate level than the one espoused before the lower court.” H o w e v e r, t h e y c o n t i n u e d , “Because Puerto Rico’s marriage ban impermissibly burdens Plaintiffs’ right to the equal protection of the laws and the fundamental right to marry, we have decided to cease defending its constitutionality based on an independent assessment about its validity under the current state of the law.” Then, quoting from the 2003 Supreme Court sodomy ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, the attorneys wrote, “If History has taught us anything, it is that ‘times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invokes its principles in their own search for greater freedom.’ It is unclear from the brief whether the government is asking the First Circuit to issue a final ruling
NEW JERSEY, from p.13
least circumstantially, to involve defendant bias but where there is not strong evidence of that intent. The Ravi trial, which concluded in March 2012, became a rallying point for people concerned about the bullying of gay students. He was charged with using a webcam to spy on Clementi having sex with another man in their dorm room and then sharing the images with others online, leading Clementi, a sensitive young man whose recent coming out to his parents had not been a total success, to become despondent and ultimately suicidal. Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge just days after learning that the webcam images were spreading on Twitter. Rutgers University undertook major reforms in response to the incident, and Clementi’s family established a foundation to promote understanding for LGBT youth. Charges were brought against Ravi under several provisions, including the one struck down in the Pomianek case, and the judge allowed evidence about ClemenGayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
on the merits or merely to reverse the motion to dismiss and remand the case for further proceedings in the district court. If the First Circuit reverses the dismissal order, it is likely that the Supreme Court will have issued its ruling, anticipated to come by the end of June, before the district court would get around to issuing a ruling on a subsequent motion for summary judgment from the plaintiffs. It remains possible that the Legislature will authorize some kind of attempted intervention to present a defense of the marriage ban. Some never-say-die opponents of marriage equality in Puerto Rico continue to insist, as the Sixth Circuit majority held, that the question of “defining” marriage should be left to the political process and that an institution whose heterosexual definition has long been custom cannot have suddenly become unconstitutional. These opponents will undoubtedly attempt to put such arguments before the First Circuit — even though that circuit essentially rejected them in its 2012 ruling striking down DOMA’s ban on federal recognition of legal samesex marriages.
ti’s reactions to learning about the webcam spying to be presented to the jury. The New York Times, on March 18, reported that jurors in the Ravi case “said after the conviction that some of the most convincing evidence of Mr. Ravi’s guilt came from Mr. Clementi’s own complaints and online posts after he learned that he had been spied on.” The Ravi judge was sufficiently concerned about flaws in this provision of the law that he did not enhance Ravi’s sentence to reflect conviction on this ground, according to the Times account. Ravi received a short prison sentence —30 days — and was released after only 20 days for good behavior. The state appealed the judge’s failure to enhance the penalty due to the bias harassment conviction. Ravi’s lawyer raised constitutional concerns in responding to the state’s appeal. The case is still pending in the New Jersey court system, but the State Supreme Court’s ruling makes it likely Ravi will prevail on that point and perhaps even have that portion of his conviction overturned.
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Now, de Blasio Creating His Own “Religious Liberty” Problem BY KATHERINE STEWART
protected category. Our legal system and our culture permit religions a kind of leeway to which other groups are simply not entitled. Religious groups are allowed to do things, such as discriminate against women, LGBT people, and people of other faiths, that other groups are not allowed to do. This is precisely why the Constitution separates church and state. It is also why the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion separately from freedom of speech — because they are different and are handled differently by the courts and by our system of taxation. The fact that religions are allowed to endorse discriminatory views and engage in discriminatory practices is exactly why we should not have a state-subsidized network of
any of the more than 60 evangelical churches that were once holding regular worship services in New York City’s public schools share views that make them unacceptable to a lot of New Yorkers. A number of them are part of religious networks closely affiliated with anti-gay ministries. The Village Church, for instance, which was planted inside PS 3 in the West Village, had an ongoing ministry called GAME, or “Gender Affirming Ministry Endeavor," which was a member of the "ex-gay" organization Exodus Inter national. Some of the churches subscribe to a hierarchical view of gender arrangements referred to as The fact that “Male Headship.” The pastor religions are allowed of the church that was planted in my children’s old public to endorse discriminatory elementary school, PS 6 on views and engage in the East Side, instructed the discriminatory practices congregation to pray that all aspects of gover nment and is exactly why we should not have society would be taken over by a state-subsidized network of fundamentalist Christians. On Monday, the US Supreme religious organizations operating Court declined to review a Secout of our public schools. ond Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upheld a standing ban by the city’s public schools on the use of their facilities for reli- religious organizations operating out gious services. Shortly thereafter, the of our public schools. De Blasio has repeatedly expressed office of Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement that his administration opposition to the Department of Edu“remains committed to ensuring that cation’s (DOE) long-held policy of religious organizations are able to keeping church and school separate. use space in city schools on the same It is obvious why a politician would be motivated to bend and compromise on terms provided to other groups.” The argument for allowing the these principles: to curry favor with churches to reenter and operate out special interest groups by doling out of the public schools, espoused by a public benefit. But such a comprode Blasio and others, is that we need mise would come at a steep expense to to have the same standard of “equal a city as tolerant and diverse as New access” for everyone. We can’t exclude York. The first problem is that the religion but not soccer, the argument churches will quickly come to domgoes. But religious groups aren’t the inate the school networks. That’s same as soccer clubs. No one would because if you decide for any number think twice about banning a soc- of reasons not to allow a soccer club to cer group that discriminated against operate in the public school, nobody LGBT people and, say, Hindus, for will accuse you of bias, whereas if example. But religion is a separate, you decide not to give the space to the
churches you will be said to be violating their rights. Also, as the DOE discovered over time, the churches planted in public schools inevitably try to make their presence felt in the school community. The church planted at PS 6, for instance, left their signage in the auditorium, where all the children could see it. Other parents complained that the churches planted at their kids’ public schools handed out postcards to children in the community inviting them to attend “the church at your school,” creating the false impression in children that the school was somehow associated with and endorsed the church planted within it. One of the churches handed out hot chocolate to the children during recess and invited them to attend services. A public school father reports that his daughter asked, “Daddy, is the church part of our school?” Furthermore, if houses of worship are allowed to operate in public schools, the taxpayers will end up subsidizing one particular variety of religion — evangelical Christianity — because that is the only variety of religion that plants houses of worship in public schools in any significant numbers. And finally, to the point of the Second Circuit’s majority decision, New York has a legitimate concern that allowing churches in will expose it to violations of the Establishment Clause, which will result in still more legal expenses and a needless waste of administrators’ time. It is useful to remember that there was nothing wrong with the policy of keeping church and school separate. Planting churches in New York City’s public schools is not a long-established right that was taken away. Excluding groups because they are religious in nature is not to discriminate against their specific religious beliefs. It’s perfectly constitutional; indeed, it’s exactly what the Constitution does when it prohibits the establishment of religion and deals with the freedom of speech and of religion in two seperate and distinct clauses. Supporting churches in public schools may make sense for de Blasio’s politics. But it’s a really bad deal for New Yorkers. Katherine Stewart is the author of “The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children,” published by PublicAffairs. Follow @kathsstewart on Twitter. April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus – “It’s Not Over,” the title perhaps referring to the abnormal length of time it’s taking Liz Smith to be reduced to a pile of ash after Signoservative. By trivializing a serious rile lit that fire under her ass in the story of corruption with unfound- late 1980s. ed allegations of homosexuality, Kirchick then launches into they demonstrate their inability inadvertent comedy: “an explato judge the real issues because nation for Schock’s seemingly they’re transfixed on minor ones.” gay appearance is that the Illinois Let me be clear: I do not “want” Republican is like many straight, Aaron Schock. I have no sexual metrosexual, socially unaware desire for right-wing assholes or the young men from the Midwest who men who sport them. Call me crazy, don’t always understand the social but the instant I find out that a guy signals they’re broadcasting with is a turd I lose interest. their fashionable clothes and finIn defending Schock, Kirchick icky grooming habits.” indicts himself: like Schock, KirThat’s it! Schock is only acting chick is a morally compromised, like every other Midwestern straight untrustworthy sellout. Opposing guy who’s oblivious to the social hate crimes laws citing freedom of signals flashed by their passion for conscience proves the first, and his mani-pedis and faux ormolu miressay’s appearance on the Daily rors! Hey Maxim: How about an Beast demonstrates the third. How article (by me) about the hoards of does a member of a minority group straight men rushing to buy faux ormolu mirrors at the Peoria Home Depot after stopping by the nail salon for a touch up? If someone named Michelangelo Signorile Kirchick tries to peddle is “the Torquemada the same idea, remember: I pitched it first. of this campaign.” Really, James? As for Kirchick’s assertion that “it’s more responsimake a name for himself? Simple: ble, journalistically, than simply by advocating against his own com- asserting that someone is gay,” I munity’s interests. Kirchick is the have a question for him: Precisegay man’s answer to loony Ben Car- ly who has asserted, in print or son. What attention would either of online, that Aaron Schock is gay? them get if they took a sane position I challenge him to name one writer on, say, anything? — other than Itay Hod, who made As for being self-hating, Kir - the claim (sort of) on Facebook in chick’s scorn for the gay communi- 2014 — who has done it. Every ty – or as he calls us, “the gay mob” article I looked at online — and I — isn’t evidence of self-hatred. No, looked at many — made a specifit’s the rest of us he holds in con- ic point of avoiding the assertion. tempt. With the exception of Hod’s FaceWhen Kirchick gets around to book post, I found no writer or indicting a gay man by name, he publication stating for a fact that goes wildly overboard: Michelangelo Aaron Schock is gay. It reminds Signorile is “the Torquemada of this me of Tallulah Bankhead’s immorcampaign.” Really, James? Okay, tal response when somebody let’s compare the two: asked her if Montgomery Clift was Torquemada: led the Spanish gay: “How should I know, darling? Inquisition He never sucked my cock.” Signorile: advocates outing hypFinally, it’s time to put to rest ocrites — or better, kill — the infinitely Torquemada: responsible for the repeated trope that Schock decoratexile of 200,000 Spanish Jews ed his office in the style of “DownSignorile: responsible for outing ton Abbey.” This is a vicious insult Liz Smith — to “Downton Abbey.” Kirchick Torquemada: ordered 2,000 employs it, of course, but so does Jews to be burned at the stake Signorile: has a new book out c MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.23
Aaron Schock’s Seat is Up for Grabs BY ED SIKOV
ey, Gays: Leave Aaron Schock Alone,” James Kirchick’s article on the Daily Beast about how mean we’re being to the disgraced Republican now ex-congressmember from Illinois, makes me want to puke: “According to his gay antagonists, Schock deserves to be outed because of his anti-gay voting record. That consists of opposition to gay marriage, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the institution of harsher criminal penalties for hate crimes. Disagreement with the latter proposal should hardly be considered a requirement by the gay community for qualification as an ally, considering that many gay intellectuals, policymakers, and writers (this one included) oppose hate-crimes legislation on freedom of conscience grounds. There’s no evidence that Schock personally discriminated against gay people...” Where does one begin to rip apart this drivel? First: who are these “many gay intellectuals, policymakers, and writers” (besides Kirchick, that is) who oppose hate crimes legislation on the grounds of “freedom of conscience?” For that matter, what does the word conscience mean when it describes the minds of people who single out (among others) African-Americans for brutal murder solely because of the color of their skin? Conscience slips into nonsense when applied to the three white men in Texas who dragged James Byrd, Jr. behind their pick-up track for three miles along an asphalt road in 1998, Byrd remaining conscious as his skin — which evidently by pure coincidence happened to be black — was shredded and scraped off his body and dying only when the truck hit a rut and his head was torn off. Or the two straight men who, the same year, tied Matthew Shepherd, a 21-year-old gay college student, to a fence out in the middle of the Wyoming nowhere and tortured him and left him to die for no other reason than his sexual orientation. The concept of “freedom of con-
GayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
science” is currently being trotted out to defend bigots who refuse to accept public accommodations laws on religious grounds and think they have the right to deny service to people they perceive to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender because, they say, their religion demands that they shun us. Using the word conscience to oppose laws against hate speech is problematic but at least it’s arguable; Americans are free to hate whomever we please and we’re equally free to say so. I, for example, hate James Kirchick. And the First Amendment guarantees us the right to express hateful thoughts, though no publisher is under any obligation to publish them, no television station to air them, no college to teach them. But to oppose hate crimes laws by citing freedom of “conscience” is a grotesque perversion of the word. If prison holds any deterrent function at all, imposing stiffer sentences for crimes based on hatred of whole classes of people is sensible social policy. It’s ridiculous to have to point this out, but when Schock per sonally voted to continue discrimination against gay people in the military in 2011 he was personally discriminating against gay people in the military. And his opposition to gay people’s right to civil marriage is personal discrimination as well. Kirchick’s is a reactionary fantasy world in which the words personal and discrimination, like conscience, have no meaning. Sure, voting to continue Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is not the same as some crackpot fag-basher knifing one of us in a gay bar parking lot. But members of Congress have the power to institutionalize or outlaw discrimination, and when Schock personally cast his vote against the repeal of DADT, he voted to keep it institutionalized. Kirchick continues: “Gay men want Schock to be gay because, well, they want him. More importantly, they also want him to be gay because it would fit into a convenient narrative about gay conservatives: that they are all morally compromised, self-hating, untrustworthy sellouts. What really angers the gay mob is that Schock is con-
PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad
Killing Queers for Jesus BY KELLY COGSWELL
ou can almost see it coming, the train wreck of queers and religion, especially if a Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage is framed in a way that encourages religious exemptions. Already, nonprofit religious institutions have a lot of leeway to discriminate. But the new Indiana law has implications far beyond church services, or even the selling of wedding cakes and floral arrangements. In fact, our apartments, our jobs, our health are at stake. And we have to be more thoughtful than the guy I saw on a panel Friday who first sneered at religious nutcases, and when he got chastised for his attitude and for ignoring the positive role churches have in the lives of many Americans, including queers, became all ass-kissy. And went on at length about the “real people of faith” who are apparently all nice, good-hearted folks practically poised to join us on the frontlines fighting for LGBT human rights. Reverence and snark are equally disastrous. There’s no way to deal with things like HIV/ AIDS in places like Louisiana or Alabama unless we find some way to get local churches on board. On the
other hand, we can’t ignore the vast numbers of queers of all races and ethnicities who have fled the slow asphyxiation or active tyranny of their local church. “Real people of faith” can be absolutely terrifying in their sincerity. Matt McLaughlin, a Califor nia attorney, who recently submitted a ballot initiative which would actually require the state to execute gay people, honestly believes same-sex relations are a “monstrous evil” that has to be addressed. And while he may be a nut, his “Sodomite Suppression Act” is more or less identical to the legislation that American pastors like Scott Lively have coldly and rationally encouraged in West African countries like Uganda. And in Brazil, where trans people can get free gender-reassignment surgery and lesbians and gay men can get married if they want to, adopt kids, serve in the army, or march in the largest Pride Parades in the world, LGBT people are facing increasing violence on the street, due at least in part to the growth of American-style, anti-gay evangelical churches. While evangelicals numbered just 5 percent of the previously Catholic population in 1970, UK’s the Guardian estimated last year that 22 percent of Brazil’s 200 million people are now participating in Pentecostal churches. In the next
few decades, they will be the majority. And unlike most Americans, they don’t just sit passively in their pews. In 2013, more than 800,000 people attended a March for Jesus rally in São Paulo that included anti-gay propaganda. They’ve bought up hundreds of radio and TV stations, not to mention legislators, who defeated the 2013 bill that would have prohibited discrimination or inciting violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Queers are feeling it in the street. Even before this evangelical upsurge, almost one LGBT person a day was being butchered in homophobic and transphobic murders in Brazil. Now the violence is only increasing as the evangelical Christian Right emerges as a national power. Many queers were terrified last week when a video went viral showing huge rows of “Gladiators of the Altar,” screaming en masse that they “were ready for war in the name of the Lord.” They saluted like Hitler’s Nazi youth, promising to hunt down queers and also threatened to attack participants in Brazil’s African religions, which include a vast majority of LGBT attendees. These “gladiators” are not some fringe group, but part of the enormous Universal Church of the Kingdom of God which has raised
so much money it’s put Edir Macedo, the founder, onto the Forbes billionaire list. They immediately yanked the video, and issued statements asserting that the event was just a performance in church and that its army of “Gladiators of the Altar” was only a missionary group that wasn’t going to actually kill queers, just get them incarcerated in conversion therapy. In fact, their website claims the group’s only regular activity is “bible classes that meet once a week.” Silas Malafaia, the multimillionaire head of the Assembly of God, another of the country’s largest evangelical groups, has declared himself “public enemy No 1 of the gay movement in Brazil.” According to the Guardian, Malafaia said he will support anyone who can topple the relatively gay-friendly Worker’s Party, which is struggling to stay in power. During last year’s election, he threatened opposition candidate, environmentalist, and fellow evangelical Marina Silva that he’d drop his backing if she didn’t retract her support for same-sex marriage. And she did. My point here is not that US queers should start arming themselves against anti-gay militias, but that LGBT progressives should get serious about grappling with religious institutions as a major force in American life that can either support our efforts or feed bigotry, inspire violence, and terrify people into silence. Yes, it can happen here.
PERSPECTIVE: Snide Lines
Another Lunatic Leftists Comes in From the Cold
BY SUSIE DAY
ou want to know why I’m nuts, Doctor? I’m part of the lunatic left, that’s why. My delusions of intellectual grandeur are great enough to make me believe that I can actually comprehend the bombings, the embargoes, the torture — all wrought by the good old US of A — while everybody else goes shopping. Look at what we do to hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen. Look at Tikrit this very second; look at Sana’a.
At least the dead there are nameless; NBC Nightly never tells you who they were. Here in the States, it’s harder. When you learn of deaths caused by our government, the names slip out. Names like Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Tanisha Anderson. Black people, Doctor. Very seldom white. Well, you asked, Doctor. You asked me why I thought I was crazy. Being queer is only a small part. Look at me, Doctor. Look at my political buttons, my thrift-store clothes. Smell the patchouli. I’m a peace activist. I don’t have boundaries, Doctor. But then, neither does the US of A. We both just take every-
thing over. In my case, though, it’s psychological. Here’s an example of the insanity that happens when you believe the personal is political. According to our Declaration of Independence, it is a “self-evident” truth that all “men” — in the patriarchal terms of our slave-owning founding fathers — have a soul that is “created equal.” Now, a few years ago, a five-foot-high little white lady I loved more than anyone — you would have liked her, too, Doctor — died young, not on the street of police bullets, but in bed, of a mild heart attack. Even though she was my mother, she cannot be blamed for my condition. Then today, I read in the Guardian, “Police killed more than twice as many people as reported by US government,” or an average of 928 people a year. If I can’t comprehend the quiet little death of my own mother, how can I possibly
SNIDE LINES, continued on p.23
April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.21
everyone else. It’s wrong, damn it, as any fool can see. “Downton Abbey”’s elaborate upstairs sets as well as its exteriors are filmed at Highclere Castle in Berkshire. The rooms feature an eclectic mix of styles, from the early Victorian through the Edwardian, with Gothic elements, too, as well as 19th century Continental ones. Aubusson tapestries from the 17th and 18th centuries hang on the walls along with a number of portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the most prominent English portraitist of the 1700s. “Downton Abbey”’s style is, in a word, authentic. Aaron Schock’s office, in contrast, is what my people call halu-
SNIDE LINES, from p.22
understand the brutal and needless yearly deaths of 928 unrepeatable human individuals whom I will never meet? I can’t. I can’t do the math. So I go nuts. Because, you see, underlying all my so-called politics is that still, small voice —p.s., this voice is searchable online in our national archives — that tells me: every life weighs the same. But irony of ironies, Doctor: in America, believing this is the clinical definition of insanity. But you know what really drives me crazy? Peace. Real peace is horrifying because all your boundaries are gone. You are no longer female or male; you’re not black or white or red or brown; not rich or poor; you have no sexual orientation — and what’s more, none of that matters. Peace is that thunderous sense of dumb, heart-splitting glory in the most negligible of things. Peace is beyond words or identity or recognition or prizes. That’s why nobody gives peace a chance. They’d lose everything if they did. Still, I try to peel back the eyelids of America. I decry the-loss-theloss-the-loss forever of these beings to the world. America gets it when you talk that way about the World Trade Center. Not so much when you say things like “Black Lives Matter.” Still I say it. I say it loud and often. I march around with other wacked-out politicos in the cold and dark because people of color GayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
cious — Yiddish for beyond hideously ugly. The pomegranate paint is tasteless and garish, as are the cheesy (yes, you got it) faux ormolu mirrors and foofy sconces. Schock’s office’s interior design bears as much resemblance to “Downton Abbey” as the Lady Bunny’s wardrobe does to Chanel, and it captures exactly the same design sensibility (Bunny, keep your good cheer as you take that one for the team). So let’s put that phenomenally stupid trope in the ground and bury it, along with Aaron Schock’s political career. He and his atrocious taste, along with the nutty opinions of James Kirchick, are a shande for the gayim. Follow @edsikov on Twitter.
are being hunted and humiliated in respectable suburbs. We lie down in the streets of Manhattan because people in the streets of Staten Island will never get up. I hand out badly xeroxed flyers I forgot to proofread that talk about the US-capitalist-imperialist-racist-prison-industrial-complex, and everywhere I go, I get these looks that say, get that obnoxious creep away from me. Let’s face it, Doc, I am obnoxious. Plus, as a white person, I still don’t really get it. And I can’t remember how I should talk to sane people, the ones who don’t
Here’s an example of the insanity that happens when you believe the personal is political. get it at all. Like you, Doctor. I mean, look at you. Haven’t you been indoctrinated to promote what is sane? Don’t you dutifully believe the pundits and legislators and commanders and police commissioners who daily preserve — in well-modulated, National Public Radio tones — the stabilizing wisdom that white American lives are naturally more valuable than any others? Doesn’t this permit you to pay bills, read the paper, load the dishwasher with complete mental health? Americans like you,
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SNIDE LINES, continued on p.24
Still Looking BY MICHAEL SHIREY
hen I first moved to New York, I would watch HBO’s “Girls” with my friend Kerry, laughing as she squirmed at the seemingly endless string of bad decisions Hannah made. For like Lena Dunham’s character, Kerry was also a writer — and Hannah often hit a little too close to home. And while I love “Girls,” I never had that personal connection with it — especially not to the gay character Elijah, even if he is played expertly by Andrew Rannells. Nor do I really relate to any gay character on television. I was too old for Kurt Hummel (“Glee”) and Shane Harvey (“Faking It”), too young for Jack (“Will & Grace”), and, while I would love to say I am confident enough to relate to Connor or even Oliver from ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” I’m just not. Enter “Looking” — another HBO
project that follows a group of gay men living in San Francisco. The show had such promise, marketed as a 21st century spin on Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” delights, and at the center of this project was Jonathan Groff, who played main character Patrick. After two episodes of watching the misadventures of Patty and friends, I quickly realized that, for better or worse, I related to this train wreck of a character, and thus the show as a whole. Don’t get me wrong — there was lots awry with “Looking,” especially the first season. Patty’s awkwardness and naiveté were hard to watch (and at times, harder to believe), the asshole known as Augustín was infuriating at times (like, “why were they even friends with him?” infuriating), and Dom’s slow-crawling career indecisiveness (really, what is peri peri chicken?) wasn’t so much problematic as much as boring. The best character by far was Richie, played nicely
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by Raúl Castillo, the only one whose life wasn’t plagued with self-inflicted drama. His one flaw was seeing whatever he saw in Patrick (though it did give hope to an awkward gay such as myself). Please note: I am choosing to ignore Russell Tovey’s character, whom I have never liked. Kevin didn’t really do anything for me, except maybe his nice ass and those handle bar ears. Season one left audiences disappointed, but season two started with the promise of a faster story line and more sex. While those things didn’t necessarily happen, the show seemed to start figuring itself out. Augustín, easily the most despicable character in season one, did a complete turn around, sobering up in search of a more meaningful life. Dom’s life may not have improved to the degree that Augustín’s did, but his development was notable and set up to easily be continued in future seasons. (Plus, for whatever reason, chicken window sounds way better than peri peri chicken.) Better still, Doris — formerly known as Dom’s one-dimensional fag hag — became an actual character and took center stage when her father died in one of the show’s strongest episodes. New character Eddie, played by “Mean Girls” actor Daniel Franzese, made for a great addition, providing honest representation for the HIV-positive community and a strong role model character who worked with trans youth. Of course it all went back to Patrick, who continued to make bad decisions, abandoning a stable relationship with Richie for a rocky trust with Kevin that need not have spanned an entire season. But for all of his mistakes, Patty was just figuring out his life, and that hon-
esty, however painful to watch, is what I related to. We all have our faults — characters have the disadvantage that their blunders are often exaggerated for the benefit of viewers. And by the end of season two, when Patty walks into Richie’s barber shop, it is clear that he has crossed a threshold, even if it remains abstract. Sad truth be told, by the time Patrick and “Looking” found their footing, most people, including the gay community, had written it off. It is hard fault HBO for cutting a show when its own community has thrown in the towel. And while I eagerly await to see what HBO does to wrap up “Looking” in a promised two-hour movie, I am more concerned with what show will take its place, if any. The question remains: If not “Looking,” then what? Is it really that hard for a show to have a cast of queer characters not stuck in supporting roles? And what about diversity and minority representation? Netflix, as usual, is a head of the curve with diverse characters like “Orange is the New Black”’s Sophia Burset (played by trans woman Laverne Cox) and Titus Andromedon on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (brought to life by the animated Tituss Burgess). ABC has the chance to put spotlight on a strong HIV-positive storyline next season with Oliver in “How To Get Away With Murder” (which now features TV’s only HIV-positive character). But all of these roles (and others on lesser shows) are still just supporting characters. Let’s hope television networks will keep trying — and avoid repeats of some embarrassing attempts (NBC’s “The New Normal”). For now, I’m hoping for something that sticks and I’ll start looking for something new.
So I’m obnoxious, so what? Also, my motives are not pure. Right now, for example, I simply want to make you ashamed of all the suffering I can’t stop. Oh yeah – I came here to fix my suffering. I am tired of being an outsider, Doc. I am willing to give up activism in order to become sane. You got to bring me in from the cold, Doctor. I’m lonely and nobody likes me. Make me fit in. Please. Make me an American again.
SNIDE LINES, from p.23
Doctor, work all day, every day, to stave off the lunatic prospect that somewhere outside your sanity pod, people are screaming. Your sanity also allows you to accept me: another ignorable, sign-waving crazy. Because allowing me to wave a sign proves that you still live in a democracy, Doctor — you straight, white, middle-class male of European descent, you.
April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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retained. They include $116 million item to build 5,000 housing units over five years for people with special needs, people with HIV, and the homeless. Another $27 million will be used for rental assistance for people with HIV. Those dollars are from a one-time $440 million settlement from a lawsuit. Advocates have long pointed to data demonstrating that housing stability increases treatment compliance, which in turn contributes to a positive person achieving an undetectable viral load at which point they are essentially not infectious to sexual partners. The budget, which is for the fiscal year that began on April 1, partially decriminalizes possessing syringes; advocates sought full decriminalization. It bars police and prosecutors from using condoms as evidence when the person possessing the condoms is charged with a misdemeanor or violation; advocates wanted to ban using condoms as evidence entirely. AIDS groups will be turning their attention to the city budget for the fiscal beginning on July 1, and they will be seeking new cash from the
de Blasio administration for new programs. “We think these new initiatives should be funded with new money,” King said. In 2013, 95 percent of the new HIV diagnoses in New York were in New York City so the plan will not succeed without the city’s participation. Separately, the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), the statewide LGBT lobbying group, said that the budget “nearly doubles the amount of funding for Runaway and Homeless Youth to $4.48 million” and that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health Initiative, which is funded by the AIDS Institute, had maintained funding at $4.97 million. The runaway and homeless youth funding had been cut by $4.0 million since 2008. “This is the first appreciable increase in funding for runaway and homeless youth since 2008 and represents years of advocacy,” said Nathan M. Schaefer, ESPA’s executive director, in a written statement. “As a result, fewer kids will be forced to fend for themselves on New York’s streets or to resort to survival sex just to find a warm place to sleep at night.” April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Photo Essay by Michael Shirey | Ask someone you know about Suite Bar NYC, located at 992 Amsterdam Avenue on the corner of West 109th Street, and they are likely to snicker. But any of the employees, talent, or regulars will tell you that it is one of uptown Manhattan's best kept secrets. In fact, this neighborhood watering hole is one of the few gay bars on the west side of Manhattan above Hell's Kitchen and works hard to keep their patrons — a mix of locals and Columbia students — happy. The bar is known for its karaoke nights hosted by Glam Gavin and a variety of drag shows hosted by Jackie Dupree, Brenda Dharling, Miz Cracker, and Octavia Anyae, among others — and recently celebrated its 10-year anniversay on Sunday, March 29. A large crowd turned up for the birthday festivities, hosted by Jackie Dupree and featuring performaces from all of the "Ladies" of Suite, including resident bartender Danielle Synera. Later on in the evening, the microphone was handed over to patrons to sing karaoke. So Happy Birthday Suite — and here's to another 10 years! Visit suitenyc.com for show schedule and additional information.
GayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
Approaching the Runway Frédéric Tcheng chronicles Raf Simons’ debut at Christian Dior BY GARY M. KRAMER
DIOR AND I
GARY M. KRAMER: This is your third fashion doc. Why do
ior and I” is the third fabulous fashion documentary — after collaborations on “Valentino: The Last Emperor” and “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” — made by out gay filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng. It is also the first he alone directed. This new film observes creative director Raf Simons in 2011 as he prepares his first haute couture show for the House of Dior. Simons creates designs, chooses fabrics, and gets to know his staff, whom he manages well. He also has setbacks, an exquisite if grandiose idea on how to stage the fashion show, and a severe case of nerves. Tcheng nimbly edits together the eight intense weeks of Simons and his staff preparing their show, seamlessly intercutting archival footage of Christian Dior to give a sense of the fashion house’s history as its future is unfolding. The filmmaker recently spoke via Skype with Gay City News about making “Dior and I.”
Raf Simons, creative director of the House of Dior.
you have such an affinity for this world, and how did you come to make “Dior and I”? FRÉDÉRIC TCHENG: I think it’s just an opportunity, really. I am not particularly fashion oriented or coming from a fashion background. For me, the most important things are the story and the characters. I don’t go to fashion shows except to film. Olivier Biolobos, the head of communication and PR at Dior, fell in love with “Diana Vreeland.” I asked him about the future of Dior with John Galliano out. I told Olivier that if it was going to be Raf, I wanted to document his arrival. Raf’s approach was very different, much more modern. His process was also like that of a painter; his
Three Women Olivier Assayas has fresh things to say about what faces aging stars BY STEVE ERICKSON
ate in French director Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria,” someone compliments a young actress by saying “She’s modern.” This praise, especially directed at a woman, sounds typically Assayas. For him, women seem to embody the energies and contradictions of present-day capitalism. He’s written memorable roles for Maggie Cheung (“Irma Vep,” “Clean”) and, to a less-
er extent, Connie Nielsen and Gina Gershon (“demonlover”) and Asia Argento (“Boarding Gate”). While being married to Cheung may have allowed him access to her emotional reserves, there’s something a bit unreal about the other female characters I’ve named. They’re symbols more than flesh-and-blood women, and Nielsen’s punishment at the end of “demonlover” — seemingly for the sin of working in online pornography distribution — left a bad taste in my mouth. With “Clouds of Sils Maria,” in
references and collaborations with his models were totally refreshing. This film was a negative mirror of “Valentino.” What happens after the master steps down and the newcomer arrives when there is this strong sense of legacy? GMK: How did you meet Raf and gain his trust, and that of the workers, to make this film? FT: We had very little time to gain everyone’s trust. It was stressful for me because this was my first foray into solo directing. We had a few days to convince them we would do a good job. The seamstresses had no problem; they were open and grounded. Once they knew I was more curious about learning, not
which men only briefly appear, Assays relieves his female characters from the burden of first and foremost representing modernity; he allows them to age naturally, as well. One has to remember the film comes out of a culture that’s allowed Isabelle Huppert and Catherine Deneuve careers no American actress in her 50s and 60s could easily enjoy. While hardly angstfree, “Clouds of Sils Maria” is not as doom-laden as American counterparts that tell stories about aging female performers. Middle-aged movie star Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) is asked to appear in London in the play in which she first became known as a young woman 20 years ago. Then she had played Sigrid, a beauty who drives her much older boss
Directed by Frédéric Tcheng The Orchard In English and French with English subtitles Opens Apr. 10 Film Forum 209 W. Houston St. filmforum.org Film Society of Lincoln Center 165 W. 65th St. filmlinc.com
just filming, they were welcoming. The Dior side of it was a big corporation, so I had to jump through hoops to meet everyone along the hierarchy to open the doors. The most difficult one was Raf for reasons that are kind of known — he’s reluctant to have any public presence and shies away from cameras and public exposure. He was physically uncomfortable being filmed. When I was rolling Raf coming into the building to meet the seamstresses for the first time was when I met him. I had to convince him to give it a try. He gave me a one-week trial period, and once we started engaging face to face it
DIOR, continued on p.29
CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA Directed by Olivier Assayas Sundance Selects In English and French and German with English subtitles Opens Apr. 10 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at W. 62nd St. lincolnplazacinema.com
Helena to suicide. The older Maria will now play Helena. Following the suicide of the
WOMEN, continued on p.35
April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
DIOR, from p.28
became a very different story. We got to know each other very quickly. This came at an opportune time. It would not be possible to do it now.
GMK: Were there any moments that you were especially grateful to capture? FT: I couldn’t have dreamt of a better set for the final runaway show. That was my MGM moment! [Laughs.] What surprised me was the level of emotion that Raf brought toward the end of the film. I was praying for that, but I didn’t expect it, knowing his personality and how modest he is. He didn’t like to flaunt his emotions. He’s very thoughtful and generous and understanding of other people’s creative processes, and that certainly applied to me. He later told me didn’t want to be too close during filming because he didn’t want to influence my decisions in the film. GMK: What can you say about filming the fashion show that ends the film? The slow-motion runway was inspired. The models seemed to just float! FT: That happened by chance. I’m very happy with how it turned out. Credit Léo Hinstin, who is the cinematographer for the runway segment. He has worked with fashion runways before. I said I didn’t want it to look like typical runway. I wanted a slightly different look and he came up with slow motion and the low angle that made them look sculptural. When I got the GayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
GMK: What observations can you make about what you saw during shooting? FT: People were not always happy with the change, but I tried to show how it was welcome in different ways. I lucked out with the personalities of the premières [managing seamstresses]. I couldn’t have dreamed of more different, conflicting personalities. One is very happy-go-lucky, the other very anxious. It was great to see how Raf made it a point to challenge not only himself but also his collaborators. He talked in his interview with me about trying to make couture not just visually different but also changing the industry and technique of couture by being innovative in the process itself.
Director Frédéric Tcheng.
footage and played it the first time, I started crying I was so moved by the lightness of the footage. GMK: Raf compares himself to Dior in the film. How are you like Dior? What qualities as a filmmaker do you share with the famous designer? FT: I indentified with Raf most — maybe it was my personal journey as it was the biggest scale and responsibility I have done. He had to deal with the legacy of Dior, but I had to deal with my subject and honor them and find my own voice and do something uniquely mine. His creative struggles mirrored mine. Dior was a late bloomer. He worked for other people for a long time — several designers before he started his own line when he was 40. He had several careers, and he came from somewhat of an architectural background. I started as an engineer and got my degree in civil engineering. He was reserved, and that’s something I share with him, and Raf does too. When I read Dior’s autobiography, he seemed totally genuine in the way he expressed himself. I liked his simplicity. He doesn’t seem self-conscious about how he comes across. I liked the humanity of Christian Dior and how he talked about his collaborators. You get a vivid sense of him and his team from his book. That’s why I decided to use it in the film, and after I met Raf it became obvious — there were so many parallels that the process had not changed in 50 years. It was a way of juxtaposing the past and the present the way Raf does the same with an archival jacket with pants. The two could cohabit and create something new. The voice of Christian Dior became a big part of it as I was researching and as I was shooting, it became very clear, as a voice-over [by poet and writer Omar Berrada]. In editing, we started building the film around that.
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She’s Come a Long Way, Baby First-rate revival of Wasserstein drama about friendships and feminism BY DAVID KENNERLEY
hen it premiered on Broadway in 1989 (after a successful stint Off Broadway beginning the year before), “The Heidi Chronicles” was more than just an awards juggernaut, snapping up Best Play Tony and Drama Desk Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, among many others. The sharply observed comic drama, tracing one woman’s rocky path to self-discovery in a male-dominated society across Elisabeth Moss and Jason Biggs in Wendy Wasserstein’s “The Heidi Chronicles,” three decades, was nothing short of directed by Pam MacKinnon. a cultural phenomenon. At a period where many considered Women’s Lib as passé as tie-dyed T-shirts — it was the “The Heidi Chronicles” is back, in its first Broadera of Reaganomics and “Greed is Good” — the way revival. Which begs the question: How has play reminded us that, despite women sport- the play aged? Astonishingly well, I must say. Turn on any ing shoulder pads and power suits, total gender morning show these days and you’ll find the equality was still a ways off. The stalwart but fragile Heidi Holland was a topics of gender equality and work-family balpioneering art historian and essayist schooled at ance as vital as ever. Just last month, Patricia Vassar and Yale, specializing in masterful, mar- Arquette created a splash with her badass Oscar ginalized women artists. The play had an extra acceptance speech, demanding equal pay and degree of resonance being written by Wendy rights for women. An argument could be made that the depicWasserstein, at a time when women playwrights were particularly scarce on the Great White Way. tions of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s are now further And now, more than a quarter-century later, in our collective rearview mirror and carry a
THE HEIDI CHRONICLES Music Box Theatre 239 W. 45th St. Through Aug. 9 Tue.-Thu. at 7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat., Wed. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $59-$139; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 35 mins., with intermission
more provocative weight of nostalgia than when the drama first premiered. Another key theme, concerning good friends trying to sustain friendships over long periods while juggling careers and families, is also just as potent today. It doesn’t hurt that this “Heidi Chronicles,” astutely directed by Pam MacKinnon (one of a growing number of women Broadway directors, I might add), is receiving a savvy, slick production at the intimate Music Box Theatre. The impressive set, by John Lee Beatty, morphs seamlessly from sleek lecture hall, to a church basement hosting a women’s consciousness-raising group, to a wedding celebration at the Pierre Hotel, to a pediatric ward at Bellevue Hospital. Scene changes come alive with period pop music (by Jill BC DuBoff) and projected montages (by Peter Nigrini) of iconic newsmakers like Jimmy Carter, Geraldine Ferraro, and Ronald Regan. The cast is well up to the task. In the title role, an incandescent Elisabeth Moss has effectively shucked off her “Mad Men” Peggy persona, yet embodies Heidi with just as many swirling undercurrents. And that’s not to say the char-
HEIDI, continued on p.31
Comedy Tonight Two revivals and a new play offer fun for the early spring BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
W JOAN MARCUS
Kristen Chenoweth in the revival of “On the Twentieth Century,” at the American Airlines Theatre.
atching the smashing revival of “On the Twentieth Century” now at Roundabout, one is struck by two things. First, the joys that the inherently implausible form of the classic book musical can deliver and, second, the thrill of watching a great big Broadway star at the height of her powers. That’s the performance of Kristin Chenoweth, who returns to Broadway in a bravura performance that makes beautiful use of
her incredible triple threat talents — singing, dancing, and comedy. Chenoweth plays Lily Garland, a movie star en route to New York from Chicago on the titular train. On the train, also, is her one-time producer and paramour Oscar Jaffee who, down on his luck, wants to sign Lily to a Broadway contract to save his own career. The book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green has the typical 1930s jokes about the art of the stage versus the “celluloid slime” of the movie business, andis joined to one of Cy Coleman’s best scores. Lily is traveling with her matinee idol-ish, self-obsessed boy-
friend Bruce Granit and revels in her newfound wealth and power — and a chance to lord it all over Oscar, with whom she was once in love. It’s the kind of story that even though you know exactly where it’s going, you can’t wait to go on the journey. A subplot concerns a seemingly wealthy religious zealot who is eager to finance Oscar’s play about Mary Magdalene starring Lily —saving him and the theater at the same time. It’s a lovely bit of satire about popular taste and religion, made even more trenchant by the
COMEDY, continued on p.31
April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
HEIDI, from p.30
acters don’t share the same DNA — both are conflicted women making their way in male-driven fields (advertising and art). Heidi is prone to self-doubt and feels guilty for letting boyfriend Scoop call the shots, betraying her feminist leanings. “I allow him to make me feel valuable,” she admits to her “sisters” at the women’s rap session. Returning as a guest speaker at her high school, Heidi has a breakdown while giving a talk on her supposed successful career. As delivered with increasing intensity by Moss, the lump-in-the-throat scene is the most forceful in the play. Bryce Pinkham brings a manic, off-kilter charm, honed during his acclaimed lead turn in “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” to Heidi’s soulmate, Peter, a renowned pediatrician. Halfway through the play he discloses he’s gay, slamming the door on any romantic fantasies Heidi had of him. As portrayed by Pinkham, the brainy, mischievous Peter explodes the typical gay sidekick trope, and his monologue about losing friends to AIDS is devastatingly poignant. Heidi’s other BFF, who tries on a
variety of personas over the years, including as an aide in a Montana women’s collective and as a television producer in New York City, is played with fervor by the versatile Ali Ahn. “I’m sorry Honey but you’re too deep for me,” she says to Heidi. “By now I’ve been so many people, I don’t know who I am. And I don’t care.” Jason Biggs, best known for the “American Pie” film franchise, turns in a solid performance as Scoop, Heidi’s one-time journalist boyfriend who started the Liberated Earth News in the late 1960s and, appropriately enough, publishes a materialistic, trendy magazine in the 1980s called Boomer. He does lunches at Le Cirque. The myriad supporting roles are ably handled by Tracee Chimo, Andy Truschinski, Leighton Bryan, and Elise Kibler. “Our friends are our families,” Peter says of the distinct bonds forged among gays whose biological families may have shunned them. I first heard that incredibly astute, oddly comforting sentiment over 25 years ago when “Heidi Chronicles” first premiered. As delivered in this intelligent, vibrant revival, it rings just as ardently today.
COMEDY, from p.30
current NBC “sequel” to its absolutely ghastly “The Bible.” Meanwhile, back on stage, Chenoweth tears into every moment with precision, charm, and artistry that is awe-inspiring. From “Steel Pier,” we knew she could dance. From “Scapin” with Bill Irwin, we knew she was a brilliant comedienne, and from anything she’s done, we knew she had an operatic voice that slides easily into musicals. It’s been a while, though, since we’ve had the joy of seeing her use her full range. There isn’t a note or a gag that doesn’t land perfectly in her performance. Chenoweth and the show are supported by a stellar cast. Andy Karl as Lily’s boy toy is back in the ring after his terrific bout in “Rocky” last season. The comic skills he showed in “Legally Blonde” and even “Altar Boyz,” are on full display, and he is both suave and silly, fantastically over-the-top doing bits and physical comedy that recall GayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY Roundabout Theatre at the American Airlines Theatre 227 W. 42nd St. Tue.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $67-$147; roundabouttheatre.org Or 212-719-1300 Two hrs., 35 mins., with intermission
‘30s screwball comedies. Together, he and Chenoweth get the biggest laughs in the show, at once antic and endearing. Peter Gallagher as Oscar is very good with a kind of oleaginous suavity that is consistently funny. The songs are set a little low for his voice, but he and Chenoweth are also well matched for the comedy. Mary Louise Wilson, on the other hand, doesn’t quite bring off the
COMEDY, continued on p.36
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Nellie’s ‘60s “Weekly Reader” from McKay; stellar Sturges BY DAVID NOH
allelujah! The ever-surprising and original Nellie McKay has a new CD out of songs from the 1960s, “My Weekly Reader.” In addition to a melting version of the Beatles’ “If I Fell,” she sings works by Country Joe, Moby Grape, Frank Zappa, Richard Fariña, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the Kinks, what she refers to as “weapons of mass distraction.” “I just wanted to go back in time and we did,” she told me over dinner at Vegetarian’s Paradise 2 in the West Village. “I don’t quite know where they all fell on the Hit Parade. I think back then it was easier to get on the radio. Some of them definitely wouldn’t be on the Hit Parade today. We have two Alan Price songs from the 1970s. “It’s a small miracle that I have all these wonderful studio players from Los Angeles on the album, who have played with people like Keith Richards and John Lennon. They go on the road with me and my New Yorkfellas, and we all know each other a little too well. “Although I don’t know Frank Zappa’s music that well, I gather he was a complicated person and I’m singing ‘Hungry Freaks, Daddy.’ My mother first heard that in the 1960s, in the background when she was applying for a job with a buttoned-down type guy with his All-American wife and kids. She thought, ‘How perfect.’ Zappa’s son Dweezil plays guitar on that track. We were recording in the studio that Dweezil had blocked out for eight months so we were fortunate to get in there that day, and he volunteered his time and sounds great. I think he knows the song pretty well [laughs], mother’s milk, so to speak. He’s good. “Béla Fleck plays on ‘Murder in My Heart for the Judge.’ He came in sight unseen and just tried out all kinds of stuff. And everything he played was perfect of, of course. So that was lovely, what a nice surprise. The song is from Moby Grape and is of course so topical because just around the time we were recording it there were those two non-indictments in a row. It’s the kind of song you can just keep adding things to because there’s always some new injustice, it’s still relevant, unfortunately.” Asked if she had a favorite on the album, her answer was typical Nellie — equal parts frustrating and adorable: “No, I couldn’t pick one out of all of them. I wouldn’t want to make any of them feel bad. But ‘Itchy Koo Park’ just makes me so happy. Let go of your cares. That’s what the world needs. Everyone is so grounded in reality. Even when you go on vacation, they’re always checking in. Everyone has accepted not just capitalism but careerism as a way of life, and that’s very depressing. I think now there’s such cyni-
Nellie McKay at Vegetarian’s Paradise 2.
cism that there’s this feeling that we’ve looked at the 1960s and decided that was a utopian fantasy, but surely what we’re living now is a bubble that’s about to burst. “If I had a child and he asked me for a Smartphone, I’d say, ‘Wouldn’t you prefer a drink, instead?’ It’s an addiction that gets inside your head, heart, and soul, it’s not just physical. With so much corporate malfeasance, we are living in a surveillance state. The government can hear everything we talk about because I have my phone on and I imagine yours is somewhere around. They can hear when you go to the bathroom — the government tracks us. “Look around us. There are four cameras in this restaurant above us. What possible kind of theft or violence could happen here? I don’t think it’s just an insurance issue. I’m a woman and therefore much more likely to be attacked than a guy. But I hate the cameras — we have to live with risk. It’s like when people see bears in their neighborhood — kill them! There’s no acceptance of risk.” What I’ve always loved about McKay is that she has always been political but never in a bludgeoning way: “Well, not until this article [laughs]. We have a thing on this album for the group stoppornculture.org. It mostly deals with hetero porn because that mirrors more the unbelievable inequality in society. It’s hard to see, in say New York City, but women are more than half the population and something like 70 percent of the work force but only own one percent of the property. “What really concerns me about the porn industry is that it’s predatory and targets 12-17-year-old boys — now they’re even 11. They
want to hook them young so they have a customer for life. It’s not about freedom of expression. It’s big business, but they’re teaching hate and this has become not only their primary means of sex but the most powerful by far, because those messages are being sent to the brain via the penis and the penis is a very powerful receiver. “What worries me is that it drains boys and men of empathy, and that defeats everything we work toward. The internet makes it affordable, accessible, and anonymous. Gonzo, the most trafficked site, is so violent and hate-filled. I’ve always been let people do their thing, but we’re talking about an industry. “You might say, well, if people sign a contract and agree to something then everything should be all right. But people would work for less than minimum wage if we didn’t have laws, would accept all kinds of jobs. In state fairs in the 1920s and 30s, it was popular to put a black man in a batting cage and throw baseballs at his head, the idea being that they have hard heads. He agreed to that in theory and got paid. But how much of that was cultural and economic? And it’s not okay. Sensitivity and kindness can be taught just like violence and hate. “There’s this social construct of masculinity and that makes for a lot of bad in this world when you have an industry and culture that supports it. Porn is a distasteful subject and that’s how they managed to highjack that culture and turn something that should be very dear to us into a commodity. Look at what the media does to us. If every black person is being seen as a criminal, or Arab a terrorist, then every woman is being seen by most of these men as any number of epithets. Does that not have an effect? No, I did not see or read ‘50 Shades of Grey.’ Should I? [Laughs] I’d rather just talk to you. There was this campaign ‘50 Dollars Not 50 Shades,’ giving it to a woman’s shelter, so I did that.” Many, myself included, have wondered about McKay’s sexual orientation, so I came right out and asked if she was gay. “Oh, no. As Brett Butler said, ‘I’m not buff enough to be gay.’ She also had a line, ‘I look like a lesbian art teacher from Santa Fe,’ and I feel like that, too.” I told McKay that this news will disappoint a number of lesbians I know, especially after her brilliant portrayal of Billy Tipton, the jazzwoman who led her life as a man: “Oh, I don’t wanna hurt anybody. You can say I said it ‘with a twinkle in my eye.’ But that orientation thing, that could change... one can hope.” McKay’s not in a relationship: “It’s not even because of my career. When you have a dog and even when you hire someone to look after her when you’re on the road, I feel very responsible for her. I just got back and she watches me leave — like ‘where are you going?’ — and I’m not even going out for most of the day. She wants me there, emotionally. How most people cope with a human kid, but she is very needy. It’s ‘Anna Karenina’: you have to choose between your
IN THE NOH, continued on p.33
April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
IN THE NOH, from p.32
young with money who have taken over this city. My Mom and I call them FUNGHI: Fucked Up Narcissistic Greedy Horrible Idiots.” McKay appears at 54 below April 13-18 (254 W. 54th St.; 54below. com/artist/nellie-mckay).
On April 10-23, Film Forum is gloriously paying tribute to one of cinema’s greatest and possibly funniest auteurs, Preston Sturges. This director wrote some of the best scripts of the 1930s before being given his chance to direct in 1939 at Paramount where, for about five years, he flourished with a series of brilliant films dissecting American culture, mores, and politics. Then, he crashed and burned due to commercial failures that followed his early successes, vicious studio politics, and his own profligate drinking and spending. His acclaimed classics — ”The Lady Eve,” “Miracle of Morgan’s Creek,” “Hail the Conquering Hero,” and my favorite, the chic “The Palm Beach Story,” are being screened, but a few he scripted are rarer and
IN THE NOH, continued on p.36
FILM FORUM VIA PHOTOFEST
child and your man and I can’t do what she did. Not anymore. Knock wood.” McKay just got back from doing the “Prairie Home Companion” Cruise of the Caribbean “where I sang ‘Wooden Ships.’ It was delightful, so lovely. Eighteen hundred NPR listeners trapped together on one vessel. But everyone has their own take on things. NPR listeners are like cats. My mother read that and she said, ‘Yeah, free thinkers.’ People with more fascist leanings tend to have dogs, yes-men. “I performed every night. Garrison [Keillor] whipped us into submission with his cold, hardened Lutheran charm. We didn’t get any sleep on this cruise, and I didn’t even get to take the free steel drum lessons that were offered. Always rehearsing, then two shows in a row to divide up the ship and you’ve got to get into the ocean some time. I sound like a Kardashian. I don’t mean to complain. I only have a shower in my apartment now, so, even while I was performing, all I could think about was taking a nice
bath, nothing about the show at all.” For me, McKay is the ultimate artist, completely unbought by any vested interests and uncompromising in her work, which can be as triumphant as her shows about convicted murderer Barbara Graham and Tipton or it can be puzzling, as a recent Café Carlyle gig where she seemingly posited herself as the oldest chorine in the world, complete with cane. Some bewildered patrons, unfamiliar with her eccentricity, were whispering “How old is she?” and even grumbling. “I love resistance,” McKay said. “It’s my favorite audience. You get to tussle with them, like Bill Maher who enjoys playing the Red States. It’s a challenge. I think the New York and LA city slicker audiences are the toughest. David, you seem very rare in that you feel like you’re flesh and blood, but most people are just jaded professionals, and they get very phony in that, because they’re so worried about alienating people who could help them. They become calcified.” McKay is a devotee of the blog “Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York”: “He talks about ‘yunnies’ — the
Margaret Sullavan in William Wyler’s “The Good Fair,” with a script by Preston Sturges.
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Capital Thrill Vocal treats in Washington and New York BY DAVID SHENGOLD
a jet-black, commanding bass as Friedhold, Guntram’s would-be preceptor, earning himself an ovation among the many that greeted this exceptional event.
March 5 at Tully witnessed a fascinating recital of French CONCERTOPERA.ORG
n February 27, a good-sized crowd heard Washington National Opera “Dialogues of the Carmelites,” the company’s first attempt at Poulenc’s riveting dramatic study. Francesca Zambello’s production played quite well in Hildegard Bechtler’s sensibly spare sets, though the deployment of dress extras out of “Les Miz,” increasingly frequent these days, sapped concentration in the score’s often ravishing transition passages. I’ve seen “Dialogues” stagings featuring a greater sense of community and religiosity, but Zambello fostered a fine rapport among the six principal Carmelite characters, a group worthy of any international stage. In good voice despite announced indisposition, Dolora Zajick (Croissy) needed more verbal specificity in her first scene with Blanche — the superb, elegant Layla Claire, vocally unbettered in my experience of the role and a terrific, classy actress — but Zajick rose to considerable heights in her harrowing death scene. Elizabeth Bishop handled Marie’s demanding range with aplomb and dynamic variety; she’d deepened the portrayal since essaying it at the Met in 2013, just as Ashley Emerson’s largely crystalline and appealing Constance advanced on her St. Louis effort last summer. Leah Crocetto sang Lidoine forthrightly and admirably, without quite mustering the radiant, effortless floating top notes. Sheila Nadler’s experience and still-valid vocalization movingly anchored Jeanne. Despite strong casting — Shawn Mathey (Chevalier) and Alan Held (Marquis) — the tricky first scene, at the de la Force home, seemed to elude conductor Antony Walker. It took some time into the evening for Walker’s orchestra to supply convincing rhythm support for the characters’ utterances. Solo instruments — used by Poulenc in haunting echo of Mussorgsky’s historical operas — were, however, consistently eloquent.
Robert Dean Smith in the title role of Washington Concert Opera’s production of Strauss’ “Guntram.”
Walker seemed more firmly in his element two nights later, when his own Washington Concert Opera — which performs at Lisner Auditorium — earned gratitude and ovations with Richard Strauss’ first opera, “Guntram,” only the second professional performance the 1894 work has received in this country. The orchestra played beautifully from the first bars of the “Lohengrin”-like Prelude, with welcome special eloquence from the woodwinds and brass sections as well as the solo cello and violin. The cast was remarkable. Robert Dean Smith proved anew his skill and dependability in long, arduous Heldentenor roles: even in Strauss’ revised 1940 version, the title character sings all night, with challengingly low tessitura punctuated by high passages. Smith started rather matter-of-factly but rose to something like eloquence, not least in Guntram’s beautifully scored final peroration. Marjorie Owens, who made a successful Met debut as a one-off Aida in January, was even better here as Freihild, the soaring part Strauss wrote for his soprano fiancée. Owens has the radiance and freedom at the top to confront Strauss’ music with pleasing abandon; her tenure at Dresden has made her conversant and expressive in the idiom. Major American companies should be hiring her forthwith. The two low-voiced Dukes, old and young, were in capable hands: remarkably steady veteran Tom Fox and up-and-coming Zachary Nelson. Wei Wu skillfully wielded
music by the deservedly sought-after Anna Caterina Antonacci and her frequent pianist, Donald Sulzen. Antonacci’s soprano is not in itself so exceptional as to timbre and the top gets rather narrow, but she’s one of today’s great singing actresses and diseuses, with Gallic music a particular strength. Debussy, Duparc, and Poulenc songs all got subtle, persuasive readings, and Ravel’s striking “Kaddisch” really seared. Berlioz’ sublime “Mort d’Ophelie,” while insightful, needed more float than Antonacci has to give; but some local orchestra — why not the Met’s? — should invite her at once to do the same composer’s “Mort de Cleopatre,” a stunning early cantata that’s among her calling cards. Poulenc’s monodrama “La voix humaine” followed the intermission. Between Poulenc and Jean Cocteau, on whose play it’s based, a gay sensibility permeates this work, so remote from the texting era. In suitable period nightdress and coat, Antonacci gave a brilliant, nuanced performance, working an orange phone and every other verbal, musical, and theatrical device superbly. I don’t expect to see it surpassed.
Another consistently compelling artist, mezzo Sasha Cooke sang a fine Carnegie/ Zankel recital March 12 alongside the welcomely omnipresent Julius Drake. Cooke might have spared us Haydn’s “Arianna a Naxos”; agents and presenters should advise singers that this cantata has been way over performed locally in recent years. Cooke was duly musicianly, but Italian doesn’t showcase her at her most expressive, and she sometimes edged into top notes rather hard and flat. Much more on point vocally and emotionally were four obscure
Liszt lieder and Mahler’s “Wayfarer Songs,” of which the elegiac “Die zwei blauen Augen” proved very affecting. After intermission the industry-heavy crowd heard the world première of the song cycle “Of All the Moons” by Pulitzer-winning Kevin Puts, whose intriguing opera “The Manchurian Candidate” just bowed successfully at Minnesota Opera. The songs set five evanescently imagistic poems by Marie Howe. Puts here wed neo-Romantic, Barberesque vocal lines with a more angular, rhythm-driven piano part, supplying richer melodic material than he gave to some of the opera’s characters. Both musicians brought to bear tonal clarity and expressiveness; the songs made a good impression, especially the haunting final two numbers. A spirited Granados foursome — again, home ground — and some Cole Porter encores ended a worthwhile evening, “a genuine recital” as one friend observed.
On March 18, Carnegie Mainstage presented a fun evening devoted exclusively to bel canto, ending with spirit the season-long projects curated by Joyce diDonato. The intention and commitment she described in her recent master classes were evident from her very first phrase; she sang several bang-up numbers from “Stella di Napoli,” her latest CD, and joined Laura Claycomb — a capable, experienced if not especially distinctive coloratura, bravely jumping in for an indisposed Nicole Cabell — in the wonderful duet from Bellini’s “Capuleti”, a work in which diDonato shines and should be heard in New York. Lawrence Brownlee, her longtime colleague and friend, sang wonderful nuance and lyricism in two Donizetti arias. His voice, attractive at all dynamics, sounds terrific in the Carnegie acoustics. The inevitable encore was the great trio from “Le comte Ory,” turned with style and a love of restrained sound that all three singers share. Maurizio Benini provided knowing support with a terrific back-up band — no less than the Philadelphia Orchestra, its strings lavishing sheen onto the non-sung passages. David Shengold (shengold@ yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues. April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
CAROLE BETHUEL / CG CINEMA/ SUNDANCE SELECTS
Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria.”
WOMEN, from p.28
playwright, she and her assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart) travel to the Swiss Alps to rehearse lines. Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloe Grace Moretz), a scandal-prone Hollywood star who seems based on both Lindsay Lohan and elements of Stewart’s own life and career, prepares to play Sigrid, but her mirroring Maria’s youth brings out the aging actor’s anxieties and makes Valentine’s job much harder. Maria and Valentine aren’t lesbians. However, the play they read to each other endlessly is a homoerotic love story. From the dialogue and plot outline we hear, it seems similar to Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s biting “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.” Sexual tension emerges between Maria and Valentine, even if it seems out of place and has no real outlet in the context of their relationship. “Clouds of Sils Maria” revisits some of the territory explored by “Irma Vep,” in which Cheung played herself as a Hong Kong movie star adrift on a low-budget silent French film remake. The most obvious connection is that Maria and Valentine go see Jo-Ann act in a cheesy 3D Hollywood scifi movie and then argue about its merits, evoking the argument about the respective worth of Hong Kong action movies and French cinema between Cheung and a journalist in “Irma Vep.” Maria’s problems with the movie feel both cultural and generational. ValGayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
entine contends that sci-fi genre tropes are no sillier than any other conventions and that Jo-Ann really dug into her part. Maria can’t get past mutation and superpowers as plot elements. One might think that Assayas, as a middle-aged man making French art films, sides with Maria, but I suspect he’s more sympathetic to Valentine. As a critic for Cahiers du Cinéma magazine in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Assayas championed North American horror directors like David Cronenberg, Joe Dante, and John Carpenter, as well as Asian genre cinema. He even defended “Titanic” in a 1997 article in the French newspaper Liberation. “Sils Maria” refers to the Swiss town where most of the film’s action takes place. Maria and Valentine hike through the hills reading dialogue from the play to each other. Assayas captures some truly majestic vistas, but the weakest parts of “Clouds of Sils Maria” are set here. A watered-down mysticism enters the plot when Maria and Valentine get up early to watch a particularly beautiful cloud formation known as “the snake” (and shown in a silent film Maria and Valentine watch). And, the eventual fate of one of the characters mirrors that of one of the women in the play a bit too glibly. That said, this variation on “All About Eve” is far smarter and more deft at avoiding cliché — or at least having fun with it — than most films that are made about the lives of performers.
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musicals. With its bright score, hilarious book, and, here, a joyful, winning production directed by Scott Ellis, the return trip is a complete delight.
I have been peripherally aware of Larry David for years, though I’ve never seen
ter than these. Sullavan plays an orphaned waif magically granted the power — by Frank Morgan’s horny millionaire — to enrich any slob in Budapest, and she picks impoverished lawyer (and master farceur) Herbert Marshall. Husky-voiced Sullavan pretty much sets the template here for Jean Arthur, Luise Rainer, Dorothy McGuire, Audrey Hepburn, Diane Keaton, Julia Roberts, Audrey Tatou, and any other actress whoever tried to essay gamine witchcraft. And nobody did wide-eyed, irresistibly maddening innocence better. You just want to eat her
up, as she coos over her “foxine,” a piece of ratty rabbit she’s convinced is more precious than sable. The movie within a movie which she ushers — an absurdly high-toned adultery melodrama — is worth the price of admission. The magnificently tragic Sylvia Sidney never caught a break in her 1930s tenement dramas, so “Thirty Day Princess” (1934) is an utterly disarming display of her considerable comic gifts in a dual role. She plays a Ruritanian princess (with a fab wardrobe, by Howard Greer, who knew what to do with her big tits, unlike her usual Par-
David Rockwell, glorious costumes by William Ivey Long and lighting by Donald Holder, the production looks spectacular. Jon Weston’s sound design is also worth noting because the singers sound completely natural — no easy feat in current musicals. “On the Twentieth Century,” first on Broadway in 1978, was one of the last big old-fashioned
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” and didn’t watch “Seinfeld.” So per haps I came to his new Broadway comedy “Fish in the Dark” a little behind his rabid fans. That didn’t dampen the pleasure of his highly conventional but consistently amusing play. It’s the story of a family being torn apart by the death of the father and the battle over who is going to take in the overbearing mother. In the vein of Neil Simon’s comedies, it’s character and situation-driven, as David’s character Norman Drexler is the somewhat hapless guy at the center of a familial tempest. David is mostly a onenote performer and the role is a popular trope, the anguished man in the center of an insane world like
Larry David in “Fish in the Dark,” his debut as a playwright and actor on Broadway.
COMEDY, from p.31
role of Mrs. Primrose, the ersatz evangelist. While she’s certainly game to try, her voice isn’t equal to the songs and her big number, “Repent,” is careful and lacks the edge it needs. The rest of the supporting cast does a fine job, and the ensemble is terrific. With spectacular sets by
IN THE NOH, from p.33
definitely should not be missed for the very special Sturges magic that propels them. The April 14 offering is a very compelling double and if you have a special someone you want to impress with your good taste and romantic flair, by all means grab ‘em and go! “The Good Fairy”(1935), from a play by Ferenc Molnar in which Helen Hayes starred, is enchanting. It is scripted by Sturges, directed by William Wyler, and stars Margaret Sullavan — you can’t get credits bet-
FISH IN THE DARK Cort Theatre 138 W. 48th St. Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m.; Wed. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $49-$155; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 15 mins., with intermission
the father in “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” but he has a quirky charm that works. And David had the good sense to surround himself with some of the top character actors in the business, including the always marvelous Jayne Houdyshell, Ben Shenkman, Lewis J. Stadlen, and Rosie Perez in a terrific turn as Norman’s housekeeper. Director Anna D. Shapiro knows exactly what the material is and delivers all the set-ups and gags sharply. This may not be groundbreaking playwriting, but it is a lot of fun, and sometimes laughing at the inanity of relatives is just what anyone with a family needs.
amount designer Travis Banton, whom Sidney once told me, hated them) on the loose in Manhattan. She also plays the commoner who gets the chance to impersonate her, with the most captivatingly twinkly smile, all the more so for being rare in her tear-strewn career. It’s by the far the best of all the many royal-on-the-run films, including “Roman Holiday.” The film also features Cary Grant, super handsome and debonair here, but not quite the matchless comedian he would become two years later in “Sylvia Scarlett.” (209 W. Houston St.; filmforum.org).
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April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
Bad Words for a Good Cause
The daring, dirty, vulgar, and often hilarious songs that you’ll never hear at a PG-13 cabaret all come to the forefront in a show where half the proceeds go to Live Through Love, which raises awareness about the battles against discrimination and rewards out LGBT high school seniors with college scholarships. The Duplex, 61 Christopher St. at Seventh Ave. So., Sheridan Sq. Apr. 4, 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 at theduplex.com; $20 at the door, and there’s a two-drink minimum.
Return of the Popinjay Popinjay, the gay shock rapper who just release his new single and video “Hide Yer Dads,” appears at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie St., btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts. Apr. 2, 7:30 p.m.; Apr. 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 & 25, 10 p.m. Tickets are $15; $12 for students & seniors at dixonplace.org; $20/ $15 at the door.
CABARET Torch Bearer
Hot Time ‘Round Midnight
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.2-4, 6-10, 13-14, 7 p.m.; Apr. 11, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $85-$155 at 54below.com; add $5 for admission at the door. Food & drink minimum is $30. Door open at 5:15 for 7 p.m. shows.
“The Midnight Cabaret” is a sexy soiree featuring an alluring line-up of dancing ladies, circus spectacles, live music, and a DJ after-party. Tonight, the show begins with the jazz ensemble Carte Blanche, followed by Murray Hill hosting performances by fly girls Jenny Rocha & Her Painted Ladies, burlesque phenom Stormy Leather, darling dervish Ben Franklin, renaissance circus performer Joshua Dean, ‘20s tapping sensation Gin Minsky, singer Honi Harlow, and Darlinda Just Darlinda. Following the show, DJ Murray Hill keeps the party going. Drom, 85 Ave. A at E. Sixth St. Apr. 4, 11, 18 & 25, doors open at 10:30 p.m., with live music at 11 and cabaret at midnight. Admission is $15 at dromnyc.com; $20 at the door.
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. Apr. 3 & 17, May 1, 29, 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 at spincyclenyc.com or 212-352-3101, and there’s a $20 food & drink minimum.
Rumi Missabu, Iconic Cockette, in Two Appearances “I Wonder What Became of Me” is an evening of music, performance art, spoken word, and film with actor, director, producer, mentor, and drag pioneer Rumi Missabu, an original member of the gender-radical San Francisco troupe the Cockettes. Missabu is joined by Donna Personna, Lady Quesa’Dilla, Piranha Stasia, Trangela Lansbury, Jarvis Earnshaw, Mark Galamco, Stephen Boyer, and Koy. Bureau of General Services—Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St. room 210. Apr. 11, 6-8 p.m. Suggested donation is $10. Immediately afterward, Missabu, aka John Bartlett, presents the world premiere of his new theater and dance attraction “The Questioning of John Rykener,” based on a true tale of the persecution of a cross-dressing male prostitute in the medieval England of 1395. The performance is dedicated to the memory of trans activist Marsha P. Johnson, whose body was found floating in the Hudson River shortly after Manhattan’s Pride Parade. Room 301, 8:30 p.m. For information about the production, email email@example.com; to support it financially via PayPal do so using eric. firstname.lastname@example.org.
DANCE Stephen Petronio Meets Merce Cunningham
Judy, From a Boy in Paris, Texas SARAH SILVER/ JOYCE THEATER
Comedian Eddie Sarfaty, author of “Mental: Funny in the Head,” a book of essays, and a guest on “The Today Show,” Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” and “The Joy Behar Show,” is joined by Nancy Witter (a finalist in Nick at Nite's search for the “Funniest Mom in America”) and newcomer Chris Arruda. Metropolitan Room, 34 W. 22nd St. Apr. 3, 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 at metropolitanroom.com, and there is a two-drink minimum.
Funny in the Head Eddie Sarfaty
The Stephen Petronio Com’s 30th anniversary culminates with pany’s the launch of “Bloodlines,” a five-year project to incorporate works by postmodern American dance trailblazers into its repertory. The first season pairs “RainForest,” Merce Cunningham’s iconic, 20th-century masterpiece, with “Locomotor/Non Locomotor,” Petronio’s now complete two-part work. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave. at 19th St. Apr. 7–8, 7:30 p.m.; Apr. 9-11, 8 p.m.; Apr 12, 2 & 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10-$59 at joyce.org or 212-242-0800.
Seth Sikes is back with an evening of Judy Garland’s most celebrated songs — some of them in her key! Sikes, backed by a seven-band helmed by Mark Hartman, recounts how Garland captivated him as a young boy in Paris, Texas. 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Apr. 16, 7 p.m. Tickets are $25-$65 at 54below.com, and there’s a $25 food & drink minimum.
FRI.APR.10 PERFORMANCE Michael Bennett Meets Andy Warhol
FILM Learning While Queer
“Teaching to Transgression” is a film and reading series that critiques decidedly queer educational relationships between individuals and institutions — while participants share snacks, beer, and soda. Do queer people occupy classrooms differently, why, and in what ways? To what extent have queer presence and logics existed historically as a rupture in institutionalized educational logics and frameworks? Tonight’s session examines Jordan Scott’s 2009 “Cracks.” Jordan Martin facilitates the conversation. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Services Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. Apr. 4, 7 p.m. Suggested donation is $5.
“Color Me, Warhol,” conceived, choreographed, can directed by Raja Feather Kelly, is an imagining of how Warhol would have interpreted “A Chorus Line.” Fifteen dancers bring to life Warhol’s ideas, philosophy, and iconic visuals through Kelly’s unique dance-theater style intended to be radical yet accessible. Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie St., btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts. Apr. 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, 7 p.m. Tickets are $16; $12 for students & seniors at dixonplace.org or 212-219-0736; $20 at the door.
April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Gay City News Honored With 11 Awards By New York Press Association Parent newspaper groups, serving boroughs citywide, earns total of 40 commendations BY PAUL SCHINDLER
ay City News returned this week f r om t h e a n n u a l Better Newspaper Contest held by the New York Press Association with a total of 11 awards for editorial, design, and advertising excellence. The March 27-28 event, held in Saratoga Springs, was the culmination of competition among 177 newspapers statewide whose nominations wer e judged by juries of journalists from Texas, in an annual rite in which states are matched for the evaluation of contest entries. Gay City News, for the second year in a row, placed first in Coverage of Religion for stories that Arthur S. Leonard, Andy Humm, and Paul Schindler wrote about recent controversies over religious exemption laws as well as Michael Luongo’s feature examining the relationship among the Vatican, the Italian government, and that nation’s LGBT community. One judge wrote that Luongo’s piece offered “a perspective I haven’t read elsewhere.” A first place award also went to the newspaper for its Editorial Pages, the judges lauding “outstanding editorials with well presented viewpoints” and recognizing the work of Kelly Cogswell, Nathan Riley, Ed Sikov, and Schindler. The newspaper’s website homepage also snagged a first place award. Gay City News’ art director Michael Shirey scored a first place for Multi-Advertiser Pages for his design of the newspaper’s Family Pride pages, which judges rated a “per fect promotion… nicely designed [with] simple page headers and a single background color [that] provide continuity between pages, while differing colors easily distinguish each advertiser.” Cogswell received a second nod from the judges with a second place finish for Best Column. In their comments, judges said she has “a great voice and natural storytelling talent” that makes for “refreshing and modern and well-written” columns.
GayCityNews.nyc | April 02 - 15, 2015
The newspaper was also recognized with a second place in Community Leadership for its role in producing community forums on education and on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. Duncan Osborne and Schindler were recognized with a third place finish in Coverage of Crime, and Shirey and Schindler were given a third place award for Overall Design Excellence. The design award recognized, in the judges’ words, “a newspaper that puts emphasis on its articles, using design to make long-form journalism readable and accessible.” Shirey earned a third place for Best House Ad Campaign for the promotion of the Best of Gay City Contest, which the judges said used “brilliant colors and bold graphics” to create “excitement… in the air.” The newspaper also won honorable mention for Best Use of Photos on Website, for Luongo and Donna Aceto’s chronicling of the Village Halloween Parade, and for Shirey’s design of a Large Space Ad. Gay City News’ sister newspapers at NYC Community Media also thrived in Saratoga this past weekend. The Villager won 13 awards, including four first place finishes. Editor Lincoln Anderson earned top honors for his Editorials and in the Best News Story category for his piece on the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Cartoonist Ira Blutreich and photographers Milo Hess, Q. Sakamaki, and Jonathan Alpeyrie also earned first place awards. The Villager was also recognized for Editorial Pages, Overall Design Excellence, Photographic Excel-
lence, Crime Coverage, Coverage of Religion, Obituaries, Columnist, Art Photo, and its LGBT Pride Special Section Cover. Chelsea Now, edited by Scott Stiffler, earned four awards, including two second place finishes, for its feature writing, and Downtown Express, helmed by Josh Rogers, won a first place award for an art photo by Milo Hess. The four newspapers’ new affiliates at the Community News Group, which has titles in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, were also winners in Saratoga. The Brooklyn Paper, which is edited by Vince DiMiceli, won first place awards for Rookie Reporter and Best Front Page, with second place finishes in Headline Writing and Spot News Photo. DiMiceli’s Bay News won second place for Coverage of Local Government and Coverage of the Environment. In Queens, editor Roz Liston’s Bayside Times earned first place
for Editorials and second place for Editorial Pages. The Times Ledger, which Liston also edits, earned second and third place in Spot News Coverage and an honorable mention for Coverage of Local Government. In total, the newspapers of NYC Community Media and the Community News Group, owned by Jennifer and Les Goodstein, ear ned 12 First Place Awards and 40 awards overall. The Goodsteins’ group placed second among all newspaper groups in New York State at the Saratoga awards ceremony. Jennifer Goodstein said, “We’re pleased that our newspapers are serving the boroughs across the city with the highest standards of excellence as judged by our peers in the industry. Every week, we're proud to demonstrate the vital role community newspapers play in the neighborhoods that are home to them."
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1/16/15 12:39 PM April 02 - 15, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
GAY CITY NEWS, APRIL 2, 2015