Pope Stiffs American Gays 04
Rentboy Protest 10
Matthew Lopez’s Drag Destiny 24
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FREE | VOLUME FOURTEEN, ISSUE NINETEEN | SEPTEMBER 17 - 30, 2015
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22 HUMAN RIGHTS
Court says immigrant trans Mexicans deserve protection
Democrats support marriage equality… big deal!
PERSPECTIVE Locker room, bathroom flashpoints
16-17 Hating Kim Davis
18 Looking inside God’s Love We Deliver
A Place Where I Can Be Myself
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Boys will be girls
Miguel Gutierrez takes on age & beauty
38, 40, 43
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Pope to LGBT Catholics: No “In” at the Room Dignity, other gay groups excluded from World Meeting of Families during papal visit BY ANDY HUMM
ope Francis’ US visit September 22-27 will not include a meeting much sought-after by LGBT Catholics, nor will Catholics who affirm gay love be given any voice in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia that is the principal purpose of his trip. Despite this exclusion, no public protests are planned by LGBT groups as had occurred when Pope John Paul II visited New York in 1979 and 1995 and San Francisco in 1987, and when Pope Benedict XVI was in New York in 2008. “We’re just doing media,” said Jeff Stone, a spokesperson for Dignity USA and secretary of the New York chapter of the LGBT Catholic group. “The crowds are going to be so enormous we’d be lost in them.” “We really want the pope to talk with those of us who can let him know how Church teaching and practice harm millions of people around the globe,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA. “We’re especially concerned about ways in which what Church officials say leads to problems for LGBT youth –– violence, homelessness.” A parent herself, Duddy-Burke is also concerned about “the way they interfere with gay and lesbian parenting. It’s dehumanizing. They’d rather kids linger in foster care” than have LGBT parents. But appeals from Dignity and other LGBT groups including GLAAD for a meeting with the pope and inclusion in the World Meeting of Families have received no response, though Duddy-Burke continues to press the case with the US ambassador to the Vatican. The White House has made it a point to invite some out gay representatives to its reception for the pope, but this gathering of a thousand people on the lawn is not an opportunity for dialogue and Duddy-Burke, who is invited, has not yet decided if it would be worth the trip. In addition to these rejections, the arch-conservative archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput,
Pope Francis will visit the US, with stops in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York, September 22-27.
Francis has a penchant for feinting left on issues of LGBT and women’s rights, only to have a Vatican spokesperson follow up by saying that nothing in Church doctrine has changed. ordered that the Equally Blessed Coalition, of which Dignity is a part, be evicted from its planned meeting at a Catholic church during the families’ conference, objecting to a planned New Ways Ministry workshop on gender identity there. The Coalition has been denied the opportunity to host a table at the conference, though some individuals from the Coalition will attend. The Equally Blessed gathering had to be relocated to a nearby Methodist church. Ross Murray, GLAAD’s director of programs focused on religion and LGBT people, is going to President Barack Obama’s reception, he said, “to make sure there are LGBT people that are there and because it is good that the White House rec-
ognizes that. I don’t have higher expectations beyond that.” Murray, who is Lutheran, is focused on the Philadelphia meeting, even though the only openly gay person being allowed to speak is a member of Courage, the Catholic group for homosexual people who agree with Church teaching that it is wrong to act on their desires. “It’s an opportunity to interact with other Catholic families,” Murray said. “The Church is not just the pope.” GLAAD has prepared a lengthy media guide for the pope’s visit, including discussion of Catholic bishops continuing to fire gay employees from Church-run schools, often because the employ-
ee got married. Only one Catholic high school, St. Mary’s in Portland, Oregon, has repented of such a firing and adopted a policy of not discriminating against LGBT students, staff, and parents –– a recent move that prompted the local diocese to threaten the parish’s Catholic affiliation. Francis has a penchant for feinting left on issues of LGBT and women’s rights, only to have a Vatican spokesperson follow up by saying that nothing in Church doctrine has changed: homosexual activity, divorce, birth control including condoms, and abortion are still condemned; women are still excluded from the priesthood. In the run-up to this trip, the Vatican tried to soften up its image by making it easier to obtain an annulment of a marriage. But an annulment is a finding that the marriage was not valid. Another marriage is forbidden without such a finding. The pope also announced that, for the next year, women could be forgiven for abortions by a local priest, rather than requiring the intervention of a bishop (though priests already enjoy such latitude in the American Church). But the women must confess that the abortion was a grievous sin to get her excommunication lifted. These recent announcements have been portrayed in the mainstream media as indications that Francis is open to change, just as when he made his famous cryptic pronouncement about gays, “Who am I to judge?” Official church teaching, however, remains that homosexual activity is “disordered” and “evil.” Francis has been more upfront about his contempt for transgender people, despite making time to meet with one. The Vatican just ruled that it is “impossible” for a transgender person to be a godparent at a baptism, announcing in response to a Spanish transgender applicant that he has an “attitude opposite to the moral imperative of solving the problem of sexual identity according to the truth of one’s own sexuality.” He also used
THE POPE, continued on p.5
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
THE POPE, from p.4
“I don’t expect anything will change in our regard in our lifetimes because they would have to make the ‘natural law’ unnatural, which is the foundation stone of all their teaching on human sexuality.”
Dromm received a polite rejection from Dolan, citing the shortness of the visit, but promised to forward his letter to “those at the Holy See” responsible for the visit. Hundreds of thousands will likely throng to greet the pope, but it is questionable how much they will heed him. Stone said the “mood of the Dignity membership,” however, “was not that we want to rush out and see the pope.” The pope does sound “liberal” on issues like the environment and wealth inequality. But there does not seem to be much evidence that he has truly inspired Catholic business people to share their wealth with their employees or adopt greener policies –– any more than his continued opposition to samesex marriage is dissuading a majority of American Catholics from sup-
lying about God, He will curse you. Turn away from that sodomitical monstrosity known as the Catholic Church.” Many have turned away from the Catholic Church (including this reporter) for reasons very different than those cited by Westboro, but others are sticking it out. “There has been a fundamental shift in position by most American Catholics and in the Western World that we can be part of an institution and radically disagree with the teaching of the leaders while showing him respect as a leader,” said Lynch. “The leadership of the Church –– pope and bishops –– no
GayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
porting it nor gay Catholics from getting married –– somewhere other than in his churches, of course. GLAAD’s Murray said, “I don’t expect dramatic changes in policy. The Church moves very slowly. The best we can hope for is a change in tone.” He said that “all of our churches have been exclusionary. Even Unitarians at one point in time went through a process of recognizing how valuable their LGBT members are.” Murray conceded that there were democratic processes in most denominations to make those changes, but not in the Catholic Church, which is holding a Vatican
a “nuclear weapons” analogy in attacking what he sees as the evil of “gender theory.” Father Bernárd Lynch, an openly gay priest and leader on LGBT Catholic issues for more than four decades, said, “I don’t expect anything will change in our regard in our lifetimes because they would have to make the ‘natural law’ unnatural, which is the foundation stone of all their teaching on human sexuality. They should base sexual moral teaching on justice rather their power.” L ynch, who has done groundbreaking work in LGBT and AIDS ministries since the 1970s in New York and –– in recent years –– in London, spoke at a public rally protesting Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain in 2010, calling on him “to apologize for the hurt and harm and soul destruction that the Church teaching caused to young men dying of AIDS. The one thing they had was hope in their faith and the Church stole that from them.” For this, Lynch lost his membership in his Irish religious order at the age of 65, denying him a pension. Lynch sees some rays of hope, however. Retired Bishop Willie Walsh in the west of Ireland, he said, countered the Vatican view that the Irish referendum for same-sex marriage “was a defeat for humanity by saying it was a triumph of love. But he’s the only bishop in the world who has apologized for what the Church has done to us.” The others, he said, “preach a dialectic of fear instead of love.” Ve t e r a n g a y a c t i v i s t A l l e n Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, said he is “offended” that the de Blasio administration is treating the pope’s visit as a civic event, including the distribution of tickets via lottery to the papal pass through Central Park. Citing Francis’ “personal” rejection of the French ambassador to the Vatican because he is an out gay man and his opposition to LGBT and women’s rights, Roskoff said, “If the mayor doesn’t take these offenses seriously enough not to personally welcome the pope’s visit then we have a serious difference with him on the importance of these issues.” De Blasio said that being in a
meeting on climate change with the pope this summer was “one of the great moments, certainly in my professional life, in my life as a political actor, but humanly, as well.” Out gay Councilmember Daniel Dromm of Jackson Heights appealed to New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan for a papal meeting with “devout Catholics and others who want to work with him in the spirit of mercy and compassion to heal the pain of the past” around LGBT issues. “It is my hope that young people can be presented with the truth of God’s unconditional love in a way that I was not as a young Catholic.”
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA.
Father Bernárd Lynch, an openly gay priest and leader on LGBT Catholic issues who now lives in London.
synod of bishops on family issues in October that gays are also excluded from. Stone will be in Rome around the time of the synod for a meeting of the new Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, comprised of LGBT Catholic groups from the US, Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Malta, Chile, and Zambia — an attempt to “have a unified voice in the world” on LGBT Catholic issues, he said. One group concerned about gay issues that said it will be protesting the pope every step of the way during his US visit is the intrepid God Hates Fags Ministries out of the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church, starting with the pope’s White House reception. Westboro doesn’t mince words about Francis: “When you make an occupation of
longer warrants or gets the yes vote to what they teach.” Should Francis have a last-minute change of heart about meeting with gay representatives during the families’ conference in Philadelphia, he’s invited to the LGBT Family Picnic on September 26 at 1:30 p.m. at the John C. Anderson Apartments, the city’s housing for LGBT older people and allies. The picnic is hosted by veteran gay activist Mark Segal, president of the Magnus Hirschfeld Fund and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, Jim Kenney, that city’s Democratic nominee for mayor, and Margie Winters, who was fired from her job at the Catholic Waldron Mercy Academy for marrying her wife. Representatives from the Equally Blessed Coalition are also participating.
Appeals Court Finds Transgender Mexican Refugees Entitled to US Protection Ninth Circuit concludes abuse amounting to torture likely if three immigrants sent back home BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
federal appeals court has found that conditions for transgender women are so dire in Mexico that they may qualify for protection in the US under the international Convention Against Torture (CAT) based on the likelihood they would face torture if deported. On September 3, a threejudge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on cases involving Edin Carey Avendano-Hernandez, Fidel Mondragon-Alday, and Daniel GodoyRamirez, each identified as an immigrant transgender woman. In opinions written by Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen and joined by Judge Harry Pregerson and Judge Barrington D. Parker, Jr., the Avendano-Hernandez case presented the most complicated factual issues and was the one where the panel spelled out its analysis in greatest detail. Avendano-Hernandez grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico, and though identified male at birth, “she knew from an early age that she was different,” Nguyen wrote. “Her appearance and behavior were very feminine, and she liked to wear makeup, dress in her sister’s clothes, and play with her sister and female cousins rather than boys her age. Because of her gender identity and perceived sexual orientation, as a child she suffered years of relentless abuse that included beatings, sexual assaults, and rape. The harassment and abuse continued into adulthood, and eventually, she was raped and sexually assaulted by members of the Mexican police and military.” Even though the Immigration Judge (IJ) who first heard the Avendano-Hernandez case accepted her testimony about what she had suffered in Mexico as credible, both that court and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ruled against her claims. Avendano-Hernandez’s case was hurt by a number of factors: her failure to seek amnesty immediately after arriving in the US, alcohol
abuse that led to a felony drunk driving conviction, and her failure to abide by the resulting parole conditions. Among a variety of potential avenues for her to try to stay in the US, the IJ found the only one that remained open to her was protection under the CAT. In evaluating whether she faced the likelihood of torture if returned to Mexico, both the IJ and the BIA conflated sexual orientation and gender identity and concluded that life for gay people in Mexico had improved enough –– given progress on nondiscrimination protections, adoption, and marriage equality –– to preclude Hernandez’s CAT claim. The available evidence, however, suggests there has been far
dez was tortured ‘by public officials’ –– an alternative way of showing government involvement in a CAT applicant’s torture.” Nguyen specifically challenged the notion that Avendano-Her nandez’s abuse was unlikely to be repeated. “We reject the government’s attempts to characterize these police and military officers as merely rogue or corrupt officials,” she wrote. “The record makes clear that both groups of officers encountered, and then assaulted, Avendano-Hernandez while on the job and in uniform.” The appeals panel insisted that the applicant for CAT protection need not show that high govern-
“Recognizing same-sex marriage may do little to protect a transgender women like AvendanoHernandez from discrimination, police harassment, and violent attacks in daily life.” less progress on matters of gender identity, but neither the IJ nor the BIA credited Avendano-Hernandez’ testimony about the likelihood she would suffer torture in the future. “The IJ and the BIA do not appear to question that the assaults and rape of Avendano-Hernandez rise to the level of torture,” Nguyen wrote, pointing out that she was singled out for this treatment due to her “transgender identity and her perceived sexual orientation,” as evidenced by the language used by police officers and soldiers when attacking her. “Rape and sexual abuse due to a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation, whether perceived or actual, certainly rises to the level of torture for CAT purposes,” she continued. “The agency, however, wrongly concluded that no evidence showed ‘that any Mexican public official has consented to or acquiesced in prior acts of torture committed against homosexuals or members of the transgender community.’ In fact, Avendano-Hernan-
ment officials are involved in her torture. “It is enough for her to show that she was subject to torture at the hands of local officials,” Nguyen wrote. The BIA had discounted the potential for Avendano-Hernandez suffering future abuse, pointing to the passage of laws in Mexico “purporting to protect the gay and lesbian community,” an analysis the appeals panel concluded was “fundamentally flawed” because it assumed, without any evidence, that such laws would also benefit Avendano-Hernandez, “who faces unique challenges as a transgender woman… [R]ecognizing same-sex marriage may do little to protect a transgender women like Avendano-Hernandez from discrimination, police harassment, and violent attacks in daily life.” The dangers facing transgender Mexicans is amply documented, the panel found. “Country conditions evidence shows that police specifically tar-
get the transgender community for extortion and sexual favors, and that Mexico suffers from an epidemic of unsolved violent crimes against transgender persons,” Nguyen wrote, pointing out that Mexico “has one of the highest documented number of transgender murders in the world.” And, the appeals panel pointed out, the highest level of hate crimes occur in Mexico City, the jurisdiction with the most protective legislation regarding the gay and lesbian community. Instead of returning the case to the BIA for further proceedings, the appeals panel took the very unusual step of ordering immigration officials to grant Avendano-Hernandez CAT deferral relief “because the record compels the conclusion that she will likely face torture if removed to Mexico.” The Ninth Circuit’s conclusions in the other two cases followed from its analysis regarding Avendano-Hernandez. Despite affirming an Immigration Judge’s conclusion that Fidel Mondragon-Alday’s credibility suffered due to inconsistencies between her written and oral testimony, it found that because there was no dispute she is a transgender woman, even in the absence of credible evidence of past torture, “a ‘likelihood of future persecution may still be sufficient to merit withholding of removal.’” Because the BIA had erroneously relied on protections for gay and lesbian people to discount the possibility of future persecution of Mondragon-Alday, the case was sent back for reconsideration, with a specific directive to “consider the particularized dangers faced by transgender women” in Mexico. In the third case, the appeals panel found that the Immigration Judge violated Daniel GodoyRamirez’s due process rights by failing to explain the avenues available to her for redress, in particular an extension of the one-year filing deadline for asylum protection. Godoy-Ramirez’s “record,” the Ninth Circuit found, “contains
REFUGEES, continued on p.10
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Asbestos Delayed Chelsea Clinic Renovation Documents obtained under Freedom of Information Law show work stopped for one year, evacuation of staff required BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
imens. The records show that the design contract for the renovation was hile AIDS groups awarded to an architecture firm by and activists remain 2009 and the construction drawfocused on replacings were completed by August ing the services that 2011. DDC incorporated them into were lost when the city closed its the specifications, which were date Chelsea sexually transmitted disstamped “08/31/11,” for compaease clinic for a renovation, city nies that would bid on the $17 mildocuments obtained by Gay City lion renovation contract. The speciNews show that the start of the renfications were updated in December ovation was repeatedly delayed. 2012 to include $15,000 for remov“Regardless of when the city got ing asbestos from the clinic. its act together and was able to exeThe Bloomberg administration cute a contract with the winning allocated the cash for the renovabidder, there should still have been tion in the city’s 2013 fiscal year, a better, fleshed out plan for continwhich began on July 1, 2012. DDC uation of services,” said City Counsolicited bids in March of 2013 cilmember Corey Johnson, the out and selected the winning bidder, gay, HIV-positive Health CommitAndron Construction, on May 7, tee chair who represents Chelsea, 2013. The bid documents enviamong other neighborhoods. “They sioned the contract paying in three should have had a plan two years equal amounts over three fiscal ago, and they should have had a years. In an email, a DDC spokesbetter plan earlier this year.” person wrote, “The initial fund alloUsing the state Freedom of cation does not dictate final project Information Law, Gay City News schedule.” The contract was finalized in January of 2014 with Andron signing four copies in DDC’s offices, and then submitted to the comptroller’s office for approval in February. The comptroller listed the contract terms as running from March of 2014 to March of 2017. Andron began work in March of 2014, but quickly stopped after finding “additional substantial asbestos quantities and encountering difficulties of massive abateTHE LARGEST INDOOR ANTIQUES THE LARGEST INDOOR ANTIQUES ment in direct proximity to the FLEA MARKET IN NYC FLEA MARKET IN NYC functioning medical facility,” a DDC spokesperson wrote in an email. S ETHE PTE M B E R INDOOR PIER 94 LARGEST ANTIQUES The documents show that DDC’s 2 6 + 27, FLEA 2 01 5 7 1 1IN1NYC 2 T H AV E MARKET plan was always to keep the clinic SATURDAY 9AM - 7PM Saturday 54TH STREET + | Sunday 10am-5pm 9am-7pm open while the renovation occurred SUNDAY 5PM S E P T10AM E M B- E R PWEST I E R 9SIDE 4 HIGHWAY TH 2 6 + 27, 2 01 5 7 1 1 1 2 T H AV E in phases. In 2014, the city health SATURDAY 9AM 7PM 54TH STREET + department rejected that plan. OVER 600 BOOTHS OF TREASURES IN THE SUNDAY 10AM - 5PM WESTStreet SIDE HIGHWAY 54th + West Side Highway STYLE OF PARIS + LONDON FLEA MARKETS “This decision was made excluFURNITURE . FINE ART . JEWELRY . SILVER sively by [the city health departOVER 600 BOOTHS OF TREASURES IN THE Over. 600 Booths of Treasures in the style of Paris + London Flea THEMarkets. LARGEST INDOOR ANTIQUES PORCELAIN VINTAGE CLOTHING . COLLECTIBLES STYLE OF PARIS + LONDON FLEA MARKETS ment] based on the end user’s feedTHE LARGEST INDOOR ANTIQUES Furniture | Fine | Jewelry | Silver | Porcelain | Vintage Clothing | Collectibles FLEA MARKET IN NYC FURNITURE . TO FINE ARTArt . JEWELRY . MODERN SILVER TRADITIONAL MID-CENTURY back during initial construction THEFLEA LARGEST INDOOR ANTIQUES PORCELAIN . VINTAGE CLOTHING . COLLECTIBLES MARKET IN NYC Traditional to Mid-Century Modern TRADITIONAL TO MID-CENTURY MODERN SEPTEMBER P Iphase E R 9 4 (asbestos abatement),” the IN NYC 6 + 27, 2Show 01 5 7 1 1 1 2 T H AV E Featuring National Fine Art & 2Collectible S E P TLEJohnson M B EFLEA RPromotions: P IMARKET E R 9 4Black Memorabilia, DDC spokesperson wrote. PARTNERING WITH SATURDAY 9AM - 7PM 54TH STREET + 2 6 + 27, 2 01 5 7 1 1 $15 1 2 TADMISSION H AV E SUNDAY 10AM - 5PM WEST SIDE HIGHWAY to the specifications, According $15 ADMISSION PARTNERINGWith WITH Partnering $15 ADMISSION ON-SITE SATURDAY 9AM - 7PM 54TH STREETPARKING + ON-SITE PARKING asbestos ON-SITE PARKING S E10AM P T- E M B EWEST R P I E R 9 4 OVER 600 BOOTHS OF TREASURES IN THE surveys were conductSUNDAY 5PM SIDE HIGHWAY DELIVERY SERVICE DELIVERY DELIVERY SERVICE SERVICE STYLE OF PARIS + LONDON FLEA MARKETS FOR MORE ed in the 23,600 square foot clinic FOR MORE 6+ 27, OF2TREASURES 01 5INFORMATION 7 1 1 1 2 T H AV E . FINE ART . JEWELRY FURNITURE . SILVER OVER2 600 BOOTHS IN THE STYLE INFORMATION in 2004, 2010, and 2011. Among PORCELAIN . VINTAGE CLOTHING . COLLECTIBLES FOR MORE OF PARIS + LONDON FLEA MARKETS . INFORMATION VISIT NYCBIGFLEA.COM VISIT NYCBIGFLEA.COM TRADITIONAL TO MID-CENTURY MODERN SATURDAY 9AM -CALL 7PM 54TH STREET + FURNITURE . FINE ART . JEWELRY . SILVER . VISIT: NYCBIGFLEA.COM OROR 917.301.7708 five areas in the clinic, the surveys CALL 917.301.7708 PORCELAIN . VINTAGE CLOTHING COLLECTIBLES 917.301.7708 SUNDAY 10AM - 5PMOR. CALL WEST SIDE HIGHWAY found 3,440 linear feet of asbestos TRADITIONAL TO MID-CENTURY MODERN
obtained documents related to the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) contract for the renovation totaling roughly 2,800 pages. The clinic is operated by the city’s health department, and DDC oversees the construction of many city properties. The records were obtained from the city comptroller’s office, which registered the contract. The Chelsea clinic, which saw the most visitors in any year among the city’s nine clinics, was expected to be a central resource in the Plan to End AIDS. The plan, which aims to reduce new HIV infections in New York State from the current roughly 3,000 annually to 750 a year by 2020, will use anti-HIV drugs in HIV-negative people to keep them uninfected and in HIV-positive people so they are no longer infectious. People who visit the Chelsea clinic and have a sexually transmitted disease or a positive HIV test would be prime candidates for these drug reg-
SEPTEMBER 26+27, 2015 PIER 94 711 12 AVE
HE LARGEST INDOOR ANTIQUES FLEA MARKET IN NYC
SEPTEMBER 2 6 + 27, 2 01 5
PIER 94 7 1 1 1 2 T H AV E
SATURDAY 9AM - Featuring 7PM L Johnson 54TH STREET OVER BOOTHS OF Promotions: TREASURES IN + THE STYLE WITH600 National Black Memorabilia, Fine Art & Collectible Show 8PARTNERING
in “pipe insulation and associated fittings” and 14,737 square feet of other materials containing asbestos. “The work was stopped by [the city health department] and by 04.10.15, the building was fully evacuated,” the DDC spokesperson wrote. “Asbestos abatement resumed immediately after.” The final wrinkle was that Andron did not get paid. At the start of this year, the company wrote to the comptroller’s office complaining that it had not received any cash. A labor law lien had mistakenly been placed on the company. The lien was quickly removed, and Andron has received its first checks. DDC is now saying that the renovation will be completed in 26 months. “It is not going to take three years,” the DDC spokesperson wrote. “The estimated completion date will take place in Fall 2017.” The agency, which has sent senior executives to meetings about the clinic that were organized by Johnson, has said the same thing to activists who have been pressing the de Blasio administration to fully replace the services that the Chelsea clinic provided until it reopens. “The DDC, they have given us as much as a solid timeline as they are willing to and that is September 2017,” said Jeremiah Johnson, HIV prevention research and policy coordinator at the Treatment Action Group, an advocacy organization. “We just need services to continue now.” While activists were initially aiming their fire over the clinic closing at the city health department, they are now also targeting Mayor Bill de Blasio. Their view is that the city never prepared for the shutdown. “DDC told us it was only in March of 2015, with the closing, that they realized that personnel would not be able to continue to work there through the renovation,” wrote Jim Eigo, a member of ACT UP, the AIDS activist group. “I do not believe [the city health department] was prepared for a full closure of the clinic in March.”
$15 ADMISSION ON-SITE PARKING DELIVERY SERVICE
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Kim Davis Keeps Throwing Dust In Our Eyes Kentucky county clerk’s deﬁance grows ever more arcane BY PAUL SCHINDLER
ore than a week after a federal judge released her from jail over her refusal to issue marriage licenses, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis continues to resist an order that she do her job. While Davis spent almost five days in jail for contempt of court on orders from US District Judge David L. Bunning, all of her deputies, except her son Nathan, began issuing marriage licenses –– to same-sex and different-sex couples –– ending a Rowan County license drought that began after the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling in June. After her release, Davis took the rest of the week off, while speculation swirled about whether she was prepared to comply with Bunning’s order. One of her deputies, Brian Mason, said he was prepared to defy his boss if she tried to bar him from issuing additional licenses. When Davis returned to work on September 14, she announced she would not interfere with her deputies issuing licenses, but said her name would not appear on the forms and that she could not vouch for their legality. Licenses issued since then, signed by Mason, have identified him not as a deputy clerk but rather as a notary public, and included the notice that they were issued “pursuant to a court order.” Democratic Governor Steve Beshear noted that Bunning made no objection to the licenses and said he was comfortable with their legality. In spite of Beshear’s statement, the American Civil Liberties Union, which had taken Davis to Bunning’s courtroom over her refusal to issue licenses, expressed “concern” about whether the modified licenses were sufficient. As Gay City News went to press on September 16, the ACLU had not yet decided whether to take additional steps to resolve the uncertainty. ACLU remains in court with Davis over several other issues. Davis failed before Bunning, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court to win a stay on Bunning’s order that she issue
GayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
marriage licenses. She is now pursuing the same route regarding Bunning’s September 3 order that his mandate that she issue licenses applied not only to the ACLU’s plaintiff couples, but to all couples who seek a marriage license. The ACLU expects a decision soon from the Sixth Circuit on whether Bunning’s order that extended his ruling to all couples seeking licenses is valid. It’s hard to see how Davis could prevail. James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project, said, “Ms. Davis keeps asking the same question and getting the same answer from the courts –– that she has to do her job. Issuing marriage licenses doesn’t mean she approves of those marriages, it just means she’s doing the job she was elected to do.” In separate litigation, Davis has sued Beshear seeking relief from the state regarding her responsibility to issue licenses. On September 15, the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to grant the governor summary judgment –– dismissing Davis’ case –– but noted she “has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on her federal constitutional claims.” Despite the Sixth Circuit’s clear skepticism about the merits of Davis’ claims, then, she will be able to pursue her case. Davis’ continued legal maneuvering has cast doubt on the question of same-sex couples marrying in Rowan County, yet licenses continue to be issued. The more important question may be what the federal courts can do about her resistance. Bunning’s jail sentence was not intended as punishment, but rather as a means to force her compliance. Arguably, she is still not in compliance. The judge’s options at this point are uncertain, something that likely explains why the ACLU, while voicing concern, has not announced a clear next step. How the Davis case ends is significant, given reports that some local officials in North Carolina, where issuing licenses is mandated, and in Alabama, where clerks are empowered but not required to issue licenses, are following Davis’ lead.
Protest Against Rentboy.com Raid Targets Brooklyn Courthouse
Crowd of 70 demands charges be dropped, echoes widespread calls for sex work decriminalization
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
ome 70 people turned out to the federal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn to protest the raid on rentboy.com and the arrests of the gay escorting website’s chief executive and six of its employees, and to demand that the charges against all seven be dropped. “This is a waste of taxpayer money,” said William Dobbs, a gay civil libertarian, during the September 3 protest. “This doesn’t make the world safer or better.” Rentboy.com was raided by the US Department of Homeland Security on August 25 with help from the NYPD. Jeffrey Hurant, the chief executive, and the other six employees have been charged with violations of the federal Travel Act, a 1961 statute that bars using the mail, a telephone, or the Internet to facilitate interstate or foreign prostitution, among other offenses. The case is being prosecuted by the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which is headquartered in Brooklyn. “Right now, the US attorney controls seven people’s lives,” Dobbs said. “He is on the spot to
REFUGEES, from p.6
significant facts that suggest her possible eligibility” to have her case heard, “including being thrown out of her home for being transgender, the time she spent living on the streets, and her young age at the time of removal proceedings.” The case was sent back for reconsideration, with Godoy-Ramirez given
A demonstrator outside the Brooklyn federal courthouse on September 3 protesting the raid on rentboy.com.
Demonstrators make the case that decriminalizing sex work can lead to better public health outcomes.
drop the charges.” Holding signs saying “Decriminalize sex work” and “Protect sex work,” among many messages, protestors chanted and marched in a circle across from the courthouse while police, including NYPD, and some federal employees watched from across a street that is closed to through traffic. The raid and arrests have sparked angry denunciations on websites and Facebook and condemnations from at least 28 groups, including a number of leading LGBT groups. Members of the National LGBTQ Task Force turned out for the protest. A number of groups that condemned the rentboy.com raid had joined Amnesty International in calling for the decriminalization of prostitution just days before the raid. “This is an updated, digitized raid, just like Stonewall,” said Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, an LGBT political group, during the protest. For escorts who advertised on rentboy.com and joined the protest, closing the site has made their lives and livelihoods more difficult. Justin, 24, had used rentboy.com, craigslist, and backpage during his four years of escorting. Craigslist and backpage restricted the language
the right to argue she is eligible for the asylum filing deadline exception. Beyond the IJ and BIA’s failure to accord her appropriate due process, the panel concluded they also erred in finding she had not suffered past persecution in Mexico, despite “direct evidence that GodoyRamirez was raped on account of her transgender identity and pre-
he could use, and he found himself having to negotiate more with clients. “Negotiating was much more difficult,” Justin said. Rentboy.com did not produce that problem because it allowed him to say upfront what he would and would not do and what he would charge. He made more money on rentboy.com. “What made it easier, I didn’t have to worry that my posts were suddenly going to disappear,” Justin said. “I didn’t have to use coded language that was easily misinterpreted.” Michael, 22, did not fully share Justin’s view of rentboy.com, but it did allow him to be more selective among clients. “It’s a screening tool,” Michael said. “You’re better able to filter out a lot of people.” Andy, 24, has been in the sex trade for 10 years and finding his clients on the street or trading sex for a place to stay. He never used rentboy.com because of its $59.99 monthly fee. But he has friends who used it, and he was aware of its reputation. “I think rentboy was one of the most explicit online platforms,” he said. “In that way, it was safer… I think it felt safer to people because it allowed people to be more explicit.”
sumed homosexuality… The BIA failed to acknowledge that GodoyRamirez’s rapist repeatedly used homophobic, derogatory language while raping her.” As a result, the BIA was directed to reconsider Godoy-Ramirez’s claim of CAT relief as well an alternative avenue of withholding of removal. It seems likely that Godoy-Ramirez will qualify for some form of relief
and will not face deportation. These three opinions make a strong case for assuming that virtually any Mexican transgender woman whose gender expression and appearance were likely to make her a target of the police and military should be entitled to find refuge in the US. Time will tell if the BIA takes the court’s conclusions to heart as it hears future cases. September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Anti-Gay Flyers Surface on Jackson Heights Cars Councilmember Daniel Dromm alarmed by language about those who “deserve to die” BY BILL PARRY
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he NYPD’s 115th precinct in Queens is investigating the appearance of anti-gay flyers discovered on cars around Jackson Heights the weekend of August 29-30. The hate literature, written in English and Spanish, quotes Romans 1:18-32. “And the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error,” the flyer read. In the upper right hand corner, there was a hand clutching a Bible in front of a Rainbow Flag. City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, an out gay Jackson Heights Democrat, was particularly troubled by one passage in particular. “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die,” it read. “These flyers are deeply disturbing because it’s advocating for the killing of gay people,” Dromm said. “Right at the bottom. I’ve never seen that passage in bold print and it’s the farthest I’ve ever seen anyone go with this. It is disgusting and needs to be condemned by all of the good people of Jackson Heights in the strongest possible way.” In July, the Jackson Heights LGBT community joined together for a candlelight vigil marking the 25th anniversary of Julio Rivera’s brutal anti-gay murder there. Dromm became a notable figure in the
Councilmember Daniel Dromm.
rise of gay rights organizations in the neighborhood in the years following the Rivera murder. It was out of that organizing that the annual Queens Pride Parade, which draws roughly 40,000 people annually, emerged. “It is frightening when you see stuff like this,” Dromm said. “However, we have learned to live with the hatred. Still I can’t help but think maybe a child lives in the home of the person that is distributing these flyers. What if the child is at the stage where he or she is questioning their own sexuality and they’d see this flyer. What type of impact could that have? That could be devastating for that child.” Dromm is also troubled about the flyers’ religious tone. “Many of the churches have condemned us and used religion against us for centuries,” he said. “However, the translation on this flyer may be manipulated.” Dromm heard about the flyers from several constituents and alerted Deputy Inspector Brian Hennessy at the 115th precinct, who does not comment on ongoing investigations.
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New God’s Love HQ Doubles Its Space, Features 10,000-Square-Foot Kitchen After pitched battle over air rights sale, luxury development, group feeding those seriously ill back in Soho BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
The new God’s Love We Deliver building, with the adjacent residential high-rise made possible by GLWD’s sale of development air rights.
bike racks lining the bay’s walls. For the benefit of volunteers and employees who bike, there are showers in the basement to wash off the sweat. On the second floor is the hub and heart of GLWD — its new 10,000-square-foot kitchen. In spots along the walls are memorial and honor tiles that once adorned the former kitchen. Those with red hearts honor individuals who have passed on. Running things in the Joan Rivers Bakery is Chuck Piekarski, a GLWD employee. His post there was clearly meant to be, as he noted, since in Polish his last name actually means “son of a baker.” The late comic Rivers was a longtime God’s Love supporter. “The nice thing is Joan knew she was going to be honored with the bakery before she passed away,” noted David Ludwigson, the group’s chief development officer. In a light-filled corner of the bakery, a group of regular volunteers — they have all volunteered there for about five years, two to three times a week — were scooping dollops of low-sugar / low-fat cranberry scone dough into individual tin containers. Three hundred of these were loaded onto trays, which were then put onto a tall cart, which was wheeled into a high-tech, mansize oven to cook, after which they would be flash-frozen. “It’s so much safer for the food,” Pearl noted of the freezing method, which God’s Love has used since 2013.
“Everything that leaves here is frozen or chilled. Clients like the chilled-food model — they can eat what and when they want.” It’s all a streamlined operation. Some time ago, Piekarski realized that cracking hundreds of eggs each day was too time consuming. So he now uses liquid egg yolks instead that he buys by the quart. “When you cook 5,000 meals a day, you learn about efficiency,” Pearl explained. Nearby, another employee was mixing soup in big 60-gallon vats — vegetable bean or beef minestrone. Eighty-five staff and 8,000 volunteers keep GLWD running. All of the meals are provided to the clients for free. God’s Love started in 1985 as the AIDS crisis was gripping New York, advocating the concept of “food as medicine.” Fifteen years ago, the organization shifted its mission, and now provides meals to seriously ill people with any of 200 different diagnoses, including HIV/ AIDS, cancer, heart disease, and renal failure, plus Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. Children of sick individuals also get free meals, since people who can’t cook for themselves can’t do it for their kids. Half of the clients get frozen meals delivered twice a week — with each delivery covering the meals for half the week — while the other half opt for all the meals to be delivered on one day each week. GLWD doesn’t fry food, and no preservatives, additives, or artificial
od’s Love We Deliver recently took this reporter on a tour of its new building at Sixth Avenue and Spring Street, offering a look at the place’s interior –– and in particular the nonprofit’s high-volume, health-conscious cooking operation that sustains thousands of seriously ill people each week. The $28 million project — completed in a year and a half — has transformed GLWD’s former headquarters, a squat, two-story, 60-year-old building, into a new five-story facility, more than doubling its space to 48,000 square feet. In addition to its boosted height, the new building’s shiny aluminum cladding certainly makes it hard to miss. Originally a library for the blind, the former building was nondescript, and, when viewed from the outside, gave little sense of what went on inside. The new headquarters boasts large windows that both let in light and allow people to see what’s going on inside. “In our redesign, we wanted to let people from the outside know who we are,” said Karen Pearl, the organization’s president and CEO. “Before, with our little brick building, you couldn’t see what we were doing.” Similarly, increasing the sense of openness, the new entryway sports a staircase on the corner offering access from both Sixth Avenue and Spring Street. Not far from the front doors, in an area with slightly chilled air, volunteers were doing “meal packaging and kitting,” as Pearl explained. Each bag contained either regular food, modified food, or individually prepared food, per each client’s needs. For example, some meals are pureed for people who can’t chew. Adjacent to this area is the vehicle bay on Spring Street, which is now enclosed, where the GLWD vans pick up the food for delivery. The group hopes that the building will achieve a LEED Silver energy-efficient designation. In that vein, Pearl pointed out numerous
Chuck Piekarski runs the Joan Rivers Bakery.
flavors or colors are used. “We have to be extra careful with food because our clients’ immune systems are compromised,” she noted. The kitchen gets cleaned three times a day, and everyone around the food has to wear a hair net or hat. The group hopes to soon add a digester, which will break down any leftover food by using enzymes, after which the waste can then be poured right into the sewer. The third and fourth floors include office space for GLWD staff and areas for volunteers to gather. The fifth floor features a large communal education space with a demonstration kitchen, which will be used for teaching and donor events. Setbacks at the fifth-floor level have been used for terraces, with outdoor seating for volunteers and others to relax before or after their shifts. Finally, on the rooftop is a sweet-smelling, thriving garden featuring basil, mint, rosemary, bronze fennel, lemongrass, thyme, sorrel, dill, and more — all potential ingredients for the food. Recently, the mint had been included in iced tea and the basil in a marinara sauce. “The lemongrass was used to make a great lemongrass broth,” noted Emmett Findley, God’s Love’s manager of communications. In a unique arrangement, the GLWD building’s rooftop is techni-
GLWD, continued on p.13
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Volunteers putting scoops of cranberry scone dough in individual tins.
GLWD, from p.12
cally accessible to future residents of the new luxury residential highrise being built just to the north. “There actually aren’t that many apartments in there, so we don’t think a lot will come up here,” Pearl predicted. Allowing the open-space access to the rooftop let the developers extend their building farther toward GLWD than the zoning normally would have allowed, she said. Helping finance its own project — but raising neighbors’ ire — GLWD sold $6 million worth of air rights to that adjacent development. Neighbors who opposed both projects protested that because the deed restriction on the God’s Love property mandates community use, the development rights could not be transferred for a private, market-rate use. However, Pearl said, “There’s actually not anything that was not done 100 percent according to
building code. A lot of nonprofits are selling air rights. We could have built apartments on top but we didn’t.” Plus, she added, “The air rights were not addressed in the deed.” More to the point, she said, the air rights sale allowed God’s Love to build its great new building. During the construction, GLWD moved its operations to South Williamsburg and paid rent, which added to the project’s overall cost. Some Soho residents no doubt would have preferred that the organization simply relocate there, rather than build a new HQ whose design and materials, they charge, are not contextual with the surrounding area. But Soho is where God’s Love owned its property, and Soho is where it will now continue operating in its new state-of-the-art building, which its leaders are confident will allow it to better fulfill its mission of helping the severely ill through healthy food.
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A Subway Station to Stir Your Spirit 34th Street Hudson Yards stop opens to enthusiastic praise
Public art finds its place in transportation infrastructure.
BY LENORE SKENAZY
o yourself — and your soul — a favor. Hop on the 7 train and go to the last stop in Manhattan, the brand- spanking-new one: 34th Street Hudson Yards. You will emerge into the station and, I guarantee you, grin. Everyone does. I spent Sunday, opening day, just watching people get off the train and smile like they’d landed in Disney World. It’s not just that the place is so new and big and bright. It’s not just the amazing “inclinator” — an elevator that glides up and down an incline like something out of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” It’s not even the fact that there’s no gum on the floor, or trash on the tracks. I didn’t even see a rat — which was kind of disorienting. Like, “Am I still in New York?”
But that’s the point: This is very much New York. And maybe the optimism it engenders is the fact that our city (and state) made something this magnificent happen. You see, without exactly articulating it, a troubling notion had taken root in the back of my mind, and possibly yours, that New York’s civic glory days were over. Yes, we could build the Freedom Tower, but look how long it took. Look at how different it ended up from the original design. And yes, we built two baseball stadiums recently, but those were … baseball stadiums. And then suddenly the MTA unveils a transit hub that opens up a whole swath of previously no-man’s-land Manhattan, like the Golden Spike opening up the Wild West. And it does this with a station as uplifting as a cathedral. “It’s a point for urban equality,”
said Alex Restrepo, an academic advisor at LaGuardia Community College, taking an opening day stroll through the newness. “It’s also built on a usable scale,” added Michael Rohdin, an administrator of undergraduate studies at John Jay College. Unlike, say, the 72nd and Broadway Station, an express stop with just enough platform space for a ballerina to slide past a supermodel if neither of them has eaten breakfast, the Hudson Yards stop is vast. The platform is wide, but it almost feels as if the stairways are wider still. “And there are many entrances between the station and the mezzanine, so there won’t be so many choke points,” piped up Leo Wagner, a 14-year-old train buff visiting with his mom from Washington, DC. The train buffs were out in force, of course, all of them ecstatic. “I actually got chills — and not just because of the air conditioning,” said 17-year-old Jovan Griffith, a senior at Northeastern Academy in Inwood, taking photos. (He was right — the AC was working on the platform. Amazing!) “I like the design, the walls, the lighting — everything,” said an equally effusive Vincent LaFaro, a CVS customer service rep from Brooklyn. His friend Veniece Campbell had come in from Yonkers to exult in the new station. “It’s historic!” she said, promising she’ll be back soon. Then again, she has to be. She’s a
train operator, and on Thursday her run starts at that station. Outside on one of the new benches facing the new grass that looks about as natural as a Starbucks in the Sahara, retired Domino Sugar worker Robert Shelton sat basking in the sun — and in pride. “My daughter’s an electrician,” he said. “She helped to construct this.” This is a daughter who went to electricians’ school only after her parents begged the administration to let her in. It was a Downtown Brooklyn trade school that only accepted certain students. “You had to have been on welfare, an ex-offender, or a drug addict to go to the school,” Shelton explained. His daughter wasn’t any of those, but that’s the school her family had heard about in the Roosevelt Houses, and that’s where she wanted to go. Her parents wanted that, too. “So we took off from work and fought for her to go to school there,” recalls Shelton. “We said, ‘We pay taxes. Let her in.’” And the school did. Now, 30-something years later, she’s worked on everything from Bloomberg headquarters to the city’s newest gem. “I am so happy to be here today,” said her dad. See? This station is going to make a lot of us happy for a long time. Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids (freerangekids.com).
One of the entrances to the new 34th Street Hudson Yards station.
Passageways in the new station ensure a smooth flow of passengers.
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Democrats Support Marriage Equality… Big Deal!
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In its late August Summer Meeting in Minneapolis, the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution “in support of” the J u n e 26 mar r i age equality ruling by the Supreme Court. LGBT Democratic partisans are touting the resolution as a strong rejoinder to the Republican National Committee’s recent endorsement of feder al legislation to protect businesses and non-profits from discrimination claims by same-sex couples. Okay, so the Democrats are better than the Republicans. No shit. My response to the DNC resolution is, “Big deal.” Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis’ nonsense notwithstanding, the marriage equality question is settled in the US. The willingness of the Democrats to go on record in support of a done deal is of no moment whatsoever in political terms. Where we need the Democrats to speak up is on the odious issue of religious freedom exemptions that the Republicans are thumping at every chance and on the broader question of comprehensive civil rights protections for the entire LGBT community. T rue, the recently announced Equality Act, which would extend the protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to our community, has the sup-
port of all the Democratic presidential hopefuls and the party rank and file in both houses of Congress. Support, however, does not always translate into commitment and action. For the first two years of the Obama presidency –– let’s just say it, the LGBT-friendliest in history –– Democrats controlled both houses of Congress (the Senate commandingly) and yet the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which had languished for nearly two decades, did not get action. What the community got from that Congress was a hate crimes law and the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The Democrats –– in Congress and at the White House –– did not get all the way down the list of the community’s demands. In Australia this week, we saw a vivid example of how support does not translate into action. In an intra-party riff among the majority Liberals (who, oddly, are the conservative party there), Malcolm Turnbull ousted Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The key issues on which Turnbull differed with Abbott were climate change (Abbott being pretty much indifferent to the issue) and marriage equality. Abbott has consistently refused to allow a “conscience” vote in Parliament on the issue –– where his Liberals could feel free to buck him and support the opposition Labor Party’s legislation opening up marriage to same-sex couples. Abbott countered with a pledge to hold a referendum on the question in 2016 after the parliamentary elec-
tions. Turnbull had said he would have voted yes if a conscience vote were instead allowed. Now that he’s prime minister, however, Turnbull, perhaps in a bid to heal divisions in the party he just ripped apart, is sticking with the Abbott plan for a referendum (and he’s also not pushing any climate change initiatives beyond his predecessor’s position, either). So much for a new day in Australia. On marriage equality, the only difference is that, should the Liberals prevail next year and a referendum remain the only route, the prime minister will be a supporter not an opponent. Here in the US, we know the Democrats support our issues, and that’s hardly a surprise since their posture is clearly in line with a growing public consensus. As Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson put it so succinctly after the Supreme Court ruling in June, the day of the “gay exception” to the rules of how our society functions is over. That’s not to say that the rules will automatically be changed. Priorities are one factor. Even if a Democrat is elected president next year and the party regains control of the Senate (where they have a very good shot), the House is likely to stay in Republican hands. In the political horse-trading such divided government would entail, will the Democrats put the Equality Act high on their list? And, it should also be noted, beating up on GOP resistance to gay rights is a very appealing political strategy. Being for us is good for the Democrats. Taking the issue off the table may not be as compelling. As we head into election year, we need to hear from the Democrats not only that they’re with us, but more importantly that they plan to deliver.
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PERSPECTIVE: Straight, Not Narrow
Locker Room Kiss BY BEN KRULL
t was a lazy weeknight in the men’s locker room at the Prospect Park Y. “Have a good workout,” a lanky man changing next to me said, as the squat, gym-attired guy he was talking to kissed him on the lips.
The kiss was an innocuous act of affection — more a peck than a tongue-inmouth, go-get-a-room smooch. Yet witnessing this scene left me feeling that my heterosexual space had been violated. As a 56-year -old straight male I have seen public displays of affection
between men evolve from an oddity to a mainstream occurrence. In the 1970s and ‘80s, it was mostly confined to the West Village, where my Upper East Side friends and I would go to inhale progressive New York and — much to my later shame — find ourselves snickering at
men kissing and holding hands. In more recent years kissing males could be glimpsed all over town: on sidewalks, restaurants, subways, and buses. Through most of adulthood I was uncomfortable watching these gay lovers and participated in their repression, making crude jokes about their sexuality. Nowadays when I encoun-
NOT NARROW, continued on p.17
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: Looking Back, Looking Forward
The Homophobia that Never Disappears BY SAM OGLESBY
NOT NARROW, from p.16
ter same-sex couples sharing a physical connection I see it as an unremarkable part of the city’s scenery. My shift in attitude began when I started a 15-year stretch at my job working for a lesbian, who was living with her long-time partner. They seemed happier and more committed to each other than most straight couples I knew, making it impossible for me to deny the legitimacy of their love. More recently I fell in love with and became engaged to a woman who was active in a synagogue that had numerous families led by gays and lesbians. I joined the synagogue, and as I socialized with these gay couples and played with their children, I slowly came to perceive these families as no different than heterosexual-led households. GayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
It was a relief — even freeing — to encounter gays and lesbians without focusing on their sexuality. Still, my ease with sexual orientation stopped at the locker room door, where I reverted to traditional notions of sexuality. My stubbor nness over this aspect of manhood stems from the awkwardness surrounding locker room nudity. I was always careful not to allow my eyes to even glimpse the genitalia displayed in the showers or sit too close to someone in the steam room, lest I be suspected of homosexuality. In one gym I belonged to I would sometimes find myself naked in the steam room with a gay rights activist I knew from local politics. As we took our schvitz, I would become acutely aware of his sexual orientation, even though I never thought about it when we ran into each other, fully clothed, at political
his past June 5-7 promised to be a special weekend. In particular the sixth of June would be a red-letter day for me and my partner. On that day he would celebrate his 59th birthday and we, as a couple, would observe the 33rd anniversary of our relationship, having met more than three decades earlier in Southeast Asia where he is from. I had planned our celebration with care. We were going to Miami Beach and I had booked an accommodation in the Deauville Hotel, an elegant and historic place that had hosted the Beatles in the ‘60s when the Fab Four landed in Miami, making their American debut. Another special touch for the celebration was a birthday dinner being hosted by our old friend, Mark, a successful Miami businessman whom we had known for over 30 years. I had been Mark’s boss when we both worked in Indonesia, and we had kept in touch through the years. Mark was also a friend of my partner and our getting together in Miami was a long-awaited reunion that would give us a chance not only to see Mark but also to meet his family, his wife, and three sons. Mark had always been aware we were a gay couple and always seemed comfortable with that. On many occasions, he had assured me he had
nothing against homosexuality, that his wife’s best friend had been gay, and that it wouldn’t bother him in the least if one or more of his sons turned out to be gay. Looking forward to the birthday dinner with our old friend, I reflected on the hardships I experienced in the past due to my sexual orientation. The sadness when I was teased in elementary school and nicknamed Pretty Flowers because I brought a bouquet of roses to my first grade teacher. The humiliation and sorrow that occurred when my classmates wrote derogatory comments in my high school year book saying I was sissy and a freak. The professional blow I received when I was fired from an important government post that I had worked so hard to achieve. With the passage of time, these ugly events had receded to the memory dust bin and were almost forgotten. I was proud that I had overcome what at the time seemed like insurmountable obstacles and achieved professional success and personal happiness. Not only was I happy and satisfied with my own life, but I also felt we were all in a better place as a country and a society. Gay marriage had become legal in most of the US and was about to become the law of the land with a much anticipated Supreme Court decision I felt would certainly be a favorable one. And we had a wonderful president who often spoke favorably of the LGBT cause and the right of
gay people to full equality. As we readied ourselves for the much-anticipated get-together with our friends, I felt the celebration was a cap to happy, positive events in my private life and our nation’s public life. It seemed to me that we had begun a new chapter, a freer, happier time when people were not judged by things like sexual orientation, but by how they behaved as human beings. The meeting with our friend Mark and his family unfolded as the best of happy reunions. In spite of the passage of years and our not having seen each other for a long time, conversation was free and easy. Per haps the nicest surprise, aside from our discovering what a wonderful wife he had, was
My discomfort with the kiss derived from a latent unease with the idea of men loving men.
events. I dealt with these sweat-inducing encounters and the knowledge that there were other gays in the locker room by convincing myself that such males turned off their sexuality when they entered a health club. Holding to the fiction that the locker room was an asexual zone protected me from the homoerotic undertones of interacting with all the unclothed bodies I encountered in the showers, steam room, and
LOOKING FORWARD, continued on p.19
locker rows. The kiss destroyed that fiction and made me annoyed with being forced to re-conceptualize the one corner of my world that had been untouched by the gay rights movement. But I quickly realized that I was being unfair –– the locker room belongs to everyone with a gym membership, after all. My discomfort with the kiss derived from a latent unease with the idea of men loving men. The locker room was the last frontier of my homophobia. As traditional bastions of machismo become integrated, men like me will have to become more inclusive or find ourselves out of step with society’s hurried pace toward equality. In the end, there will be a revised definition of masculinity that is both broader than the old one and truer to what manhood really is.
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
Her Hairdo(n’t) Is Hardly the Problem BY ED SIKOV
R E E K I M D AV I S : Kentucky County Clerk Jailed by a Gaystapo Judge for Refusing to Sanction and Sign Gay Marriage Licenses” is the headline of George Lujack’s hilarious spoof on the website CowgerNation about the crank right’s latest poster bigot, Kim Davis, and the issues surrounding her weekend in the hoosegow for refusing to abide by the law and do her job. That “gaystapo” descriptor of the federal judge who found Davis to be in contempt of court and ordered her into the slammer just cracks me up! “Judge Bunning is the same homosexual advocate judge who in 2003 and in 2006 ordered Boyd County education officials to implement programs that mandated
school staff and students to undergo diversity education classes, i.e. a gay propaganda curriculum,” Lujack adds, lampooning paranoid wingnuts. He really nails the spirit of blind hatred that animates the objections to Davis having been reprimanded: “Many of the students objected to being forced to watch a gay propaganda film that denounced Christian views that opposed homosexuality as wrong while promoting homosexuality as a healthy, stable, and viable lifestyle that cannot be changed or challenged.” This guy should have his own show on Comedy Central. What’s that you say? It isn’t a parody? Oh. In fact, all the outraged screeds I read online about Davis and the case for reuniting Church and State turned out not to be the satires I’d been hoping to find. Dang!
(And there’s been precious little note that Judge David Bunning is the son of former professional baseball player and Kentucky US Senator Jim Bunning, who had his own impressive bona fides as a member of the crank right.) New York Times reporter Alan Blinder described Davis, who was freed from jail on September 8, as “a hero to Christian conservatives who oppose same-sex unions, and a caricature of rural backwardness to people who support it [sic].” I object to Blinder’s reading of what it is that Davis symbolizes for the LGBT community and our friends. Sure, Davis’ hee-haw Appalachian –– what is the word? Ah yes –– lifestyle has served as a springboard for much humor on the left, my favorite being a photo of the homely Davis with the caption, “When you’re so anti-gay that no one will do your hair.” But it’s scarcely the
multiply married hillbilly hypocrite’s “backwardness” that defines what she represents to the thinking world. Blinder blundered, but only in a minor way. The comparisons between Davis and Rosa Parks and Davis and Jews in Nazi Germany that gay-hating commentators have been floating are insulting beyond all measure. Take this, for instance, from the Christian Post’s Wallace Henley: “On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks had three choices. First, she could have complied with the city code, and moved to the rear of the bus. Second, she could have gotten off the bus and refused to re-board, as she did in 1943. On that occasion, the same driver demanded that, after paying her fare at the front, she exit, and walk outside to the rear entrance. Third, in 1955, Rosa Parks could have refused to budge because of her convictions. That is what she did. Kim Davis had
MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.21
PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad
Hating Kim Davis BY KELLY COGSWELL
ood ole Kim Davis, how we love to hate her. Long after she got sprung from jail and same-sex couples were issued their marriage licenses, it’s still Kim Davis as a lead on half the gay rags of the country and beyond. Mostly because she’s so easy to hate. She’s a woman, after all, and from rural Kentucky. Her garden-variety bigotry gives you license to make jokes about hillbillies and incest, rednecks and Possum Bottom Kentucky Honeymoon Lodge and Bait shop. You get to rant smugly about her stupidity and backwardness and ignorant accent, and even declare that she shouldn’t be sent to prison because it was bad enough that she already lived in “the soggy backlands of Rowan County, Kentucky.” And when you get tired of Kentucky-bashing Kim Davis, you get to ridicule her body and her hair, and her four marriages to three men, which allowed one self-declared Christian gay man the opportunity to frame an attack on her femaleness as a battle against hypocrisy, declaring, “God bless the whores who love multiple penises up their worn out holes…” and “cock-hungry crevices” to the delight of his
“progressive” Facebook friends. Women are participating too, in the same way former Southerners are first in line to sneer at redneck hillbilly pervs. I quit reading articles about Hillary Clinton sometime in 2008 when lefty dykes would join the men ostensibly going after her politics, but mostly attacking her shrill irritating voice, and her incompetent hair, and her childbearing, ball-breaking hips. In fact, they wrote similar attacks against Sarah Palin, who shared none of her program, but all the same shameful equipment. I also don’t read what most “progressives” have to say about Souther n politicians because there’s always gonna be some line in there equivalent to “Go BACK to the part of Amerikkka that hatches bigots by the hog full… GIT!!!” Because apparently there are no bigots up north. Or out west. No homophobia. No racism. No ignorance. No religious fundamentalists. No dead queers, no cop bigots. And by extension, the hillbilly heaven of the South has only those things. There are no large liberal swaths, or restaurants where black and white middle-class couples might all go for brunch. Or book fairs arranged by committees including black and white women that might
welcome a dyke like me. In fact, by implying the South is exclusively comprised of white ignorant hillbillies means there are no people of color at all, except, I guess, for a handful of morons waiting around to be the next certain victim. You have to wonder where they all went, the growing numbers of immigrants, of Latinos, of Asians, but especially the African Americans who produced the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and now a huge crop of anti-AIDS activists that you’ve probably never heard of like Dr. Joyce Turner Keller. Or Dr. Gina Brown. Who don’t count at all in how we perceive the South because they are black, female, and alive. Every time I see this kind of South-bashing, I can hear the pathetic little voices after the 2000 election blaming us for the Democrats’ loss, and asking why those idiot inbred hillbillies never vote in their own interests. Maybe we are. Maybe it was your own smug, bigoted assholery that sent poor people and women fleeing to the Republicans. And not just poor white people. And not just white women. Yes, racism is one of the primary reasons that the white working class keeps voting for the one percent, afraid those nameless hordes are gonna get their jobs or their homes or their women. But your classist, regionalist sneers do a pretty good job of alienating a wide range of people. In fact, the current Kim Davis-bashing has
DYKE ABROAD, continued on p.20
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: The Long View
Sex Work in the Wake of the Rentboy.com Raid BY NATHAN RILEY
hat happens now that rentboy.com is gone? Will the federal Department of Homeland Security follow up with additional raids on similar businesses? The advertisers on rentboy met a well-heeled clientele, and the income they lost has hurt. As these things go, the most dire impact has fallen on sex workers with the least income –– and often the least education, as well. Others are bouncing back, one young man telling me he is going back to porn to make up for his reduced income. Other escorts are gravitating toward existing alternative sites. Rentmen.com advertises its safety by pointing out, “Our company is based in Netherlands, where escorting is legal and we follow strictly the respective legislation.” Men4rentnow.com makes no such claim, but both sites offer advertisers a chance to post photos and describe their likes and preferences. They satisfy the basic advantage that rentboy offered over other forms of sex work –– giving advertisers and their prospective clients a chance to negotiate over the terms
of their time spent together. Amnesty International, UNAIDS, the Canadian Supreme Court, leading LGBT legal advocates, and hundreds of other organizations support sex workers’ rights with a common argument –– that the right to communicate with prospective clients is an essential safety issue. It allows sex workers to screen
Rather than adopting best practices, as some other nations are doing, the US is effectively pushing sex work into the underworld. against customers whose comments betray an undercurrent of hostility or danger and those who are absolutely blotto. Nightmare encounters can be avoided by identifying sketchy characters before a physical encounter takes place. Are you looking for bear or a twink, a top or a bottom, vanilla or kink? The federal complaint issued in conjunction with the rentboy raid turned these choices into a sordid narrative. In fact, establishing what customers want and escorts are willing to provide is essential for safety, something
LOOKING FORWARD, from p.17
the delightful personality of each of his three sons. Aged 17, 15, and 11, they were bright boys with lively personalities and, unlike many American children who seem bored with the company of older people, these kids were actually interested in what my partner and I had to say. Our personal rapport was excellent as we covered the whole spectrum of topics that could be discussed, both serious and humorous, and I found myself wishing I had such children, too. After numerous courses of food and many bottles of fine wine which culminated in a happy birthday toast and the presentation of a gift, I asked to be excused, wondering where the restroom was. Whereupon my friend Mark’s 11-year -old son piped up saying, “I know where the men’s room is. I’ll take you there.” Sitting next to Mark, I could not help but notice what I can only describe as a look GayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
Congress simply ignored when it enacted its most recent offensive in the war on prostitution in April. Already, it was illegal to hire security personnel to protect a brothel, even though sex behind closed doors is far safer than random pick-ups that occur on the streets. Rather than adopting best practices, as some other nations are doing, the US is effectively pushing sex work into the underworld –– a situation that has plagued the drug scene for decades. For 18 years, the New York Police Department ignored rentboy. com but when Homeland Security became interested, it joined the raid.
What’s next is anyone’s guess. Police have a mandate to pretend to be buyers or sellers of sex in order to entrap people partaking in commercial sex. A company based in the Netherlands can’t stop the US government or localities here from bottom-feeding with “buy and bust enforcement” on the Internet. It’s worth noting that the seven rentboy defendants face penalties of five years or more, simply for acting as brokers between adults deciding what games they wanted to play. Since the rentboy raid, several advertisers on that site have told
of parental concern registering on his face. As his son and I got up from the table, Mark also arose, mumbling, “Maybe I’d better come, too.” After my initial shock at his action, I tried to dismiss Mark's comment, telling myself that he maybe he really did have to go to the bathroom. I also tried to understand the overly protective parental instinct that often causes parents to hover over their progeny. But my gut told me otherwise. Knowing my friend, seeing his face, hearing his voice, it was plain to me what was going through his mind : “I am NOT comfortable with my 11-year-old son accompanying a gay man to the bathroom.” With a sinking feeling, I realized that contrary to his many statements to the contrary, my old friend was, indeed, homophobic and that the persistence of his homophobia was aided by the mistaken belief that being anti-gay is a conscious hate or dislike. That if we are well-intentioned and don’t actively despise
their stories online, emphasizing how the site offered them superior opportunities to the minimum wage economy and allowed them to be their own boss. The present moral panic –– as is clear in Congress’ most recent legislation –– is caused by alarm over trafficking where children and adults are forced into sexual slavery. There is, however, no reason to believe that independent sex workers, like those on rentboy, have anything to do with trafficking. Trafficking has no more to do with the sex work on rentboy than pedophilia has to do with homosexuality. The linkage between online sex work exchanges and sexual slavery is a myth created by those hostile to casual sexual encounters. And their approach is naïve, in thinking that they can make the behavior go away by prohibiting it in ever harsher terms. The thinking undergirding the movement for sex workers rights is a simple truth: sex work can be practiced safely and a just society owes a duty of care to help create such a safe environment. The overwhelming majority of commercial sexual encounters occur without anyone being harmed, but the Congressional mandate willfully ignores this truth and encourages government to step up a campaign of intimidation and harsh penalties. Once again, it’s clear that one of the greatest harms related to sex work comes from law enforcement efforts to eradicate it.
homosexuals that we cannot be homophobic. That when some of our best friends are gay, how could we be classed as fearing them and what they stand for? There was also the ugly, poisonous misconception that I couldn't entirely dismiss –– the view that gay people are inherently pedophiles. After this experience, I can only conclude, sadly, that much of the anti-gay bias that exists is unconscious, that my friend’s “unintentional homophobia” was a visceral, emotional reaction, and that there is no easy way to “cure” such feelings. At first, I contemplated confronting Mark and asking him for an explanation, but then I thought better of it. Even though the birthday dinner had been ruined for me, why should I spoil it for everybody else? Sam Oglesby is a New York-based writer who won the 2013 New York Press Association Award for Best Feature article.
PERSPECTIVE: Snide Lines
Altruism: Viral & More Dangerous than ISIS BY SUSIE DAY
arly this month in Germany, a few thousand refugees from war -torn Syria and neighboring countries spilled out of a train station and into Munich. Rather than being tripped by the locals, or thrown inside cargo trucks, or sorted out according to skin color (as per quaint Old World custom), the migrants were actually welcomed by droves of German citizens. Sick Germans. Virus-ridden Germans, who cheered and applauded the arrival of the migrants. Unhinged Germans, who dementedly handed out food, toys, and hot tea. These Germans were carriers of the dread Human Ego-deficiency Virus –– or HEV –– which crosses the blood-brain barrier to induce raving, uncontrollable selflessness in those it infects. Covering the Munich incident, the New York Times observed Silvia Reinschmiedt, local school administrator –– and person living with HEV –– as she handed out warm drinks to exhausted migrants. “I said to myself,” Silvia told the Times, “I have to do something.” If we are not careful, Silvia –– and thousands of infected Germans like her –– will continue to “do something.” Western civilization is in danger of being wiped out by niceness. O Deutschland! Deutschland! America weeps! Where be thy Teutonic toughness? Thy brave “über alles”-ism? Return to us thine “Good German,” that wise Aryan everyman whose noble credo has
rung out over the years to teach and inspire Americans: “Ach, I didn’t know! Und anyhow, it vas nicht mein problem!” Most shocking of all, O Deutschland, is that these plague-besotted German altruists appear to have acted in accordance with your chancellor, Angela Merkel, no doubt a prime HEV vector. Delirious with HEV, Merkel has announced that all Syrian immigrants will be allowed to come to Germany and apply for asylum, and that 500,000 would be accepted into the country yearly. What the hell, Deutschland? Once, you wanted to take over the world; now you want to take IN the world? There is a virus haunting Europe –– the virus of altruism. Once introduced into the body, the virus appears to spread by wiping out the “ME-1” cells, which protect the host’s inner sense of wellbeing from the pain of perceiving other people’s reality. Symptoms include a loss of nationalistic pride and a concomitant erosion of the belief that some people are just naturally superior. In advanced cases of the disease, citizens of Western civilization experience the delusion that it was Western civilization itself that caused the migrant crisis in the first place. Here is Annette Groth, German Parliament member, interviewed by “Democracy Now”: I listen carefully to the news… What is the root for this massive migration? It is war, it is terror, and it is the former US government who is accountable, and the NATO governments. I’m very sorry to say so, but it is the truth. It was Bush who invaded Iraq… Now Saudi Arabia,
DYKE ABROAD, from p.18
almost as much to say about hating people of color and immigrants as it does about Southerners, not to mention women. Not just because the jokes and rants have managed to erase people of color from the narrative of the South with all that hillbilly crap. But because the nature of the rhetoric raises questions about just how serious white progressives can be when they
with the help of German weapons, is invading Yemen. The whole Middle East is a zone by war and terror, so people are leaving their countries…. Although Germany has now imposed emergency border controls, it may be too late. What if the HEV virus travels to the United States???!!! So far, America is holding its own, having accepted only 1,500 displaced Syrians. But only days ago, President Barack Obama asked that 10,000 more be allowed inside our shores. Does he seem a little feverish to you? We must be vigilant. Our president, like Americans everywhere, could acquire the Human Ego-deficiency Virus in innumerable ways, from insufficient hand-washing to being hugged too hard by Desmond Tutu. HEV could be passed to ordinary US citizens through peers who pressure us into minor “helping” endeavors like reading to shutins or giving quarters to subway beggars. But these things lead to “harder stuff.” Soon we could find ourselves, blissed-out and sharing ladles with HEV-positive do-gooders in soup kitchens. White America might actually understand what it means to say, “Black Lives Matter.” In the final stages, with our collective American identity demolished, we could welcome to our shores Syrians, Mexicans, Guatemalans, Iraqis, Somalis, you name it –– as equal human beings!!! It should be obvious by now that HEV is far more dangerous to Western civilization than ISIS.
support #Blacklivesmatter or Syrian refugees or abortion clinics. After all, if you’re so fucking giddy, so absolutely happy to hate somebody with an accent, who comes from a region marked by poverty, who has a vagina, are you only gonna welcome those immigrants who don’t make grammar mistakes or too much noise when they move in next door? Or only support the “good” blacks who don’t interrupt Bernie Sanders’ nice
The United Nations predicts that 850,000 displaced people will cross the Mediterranean in 2015 and 2016. Already, various Latin America countries –– which were already pretty sick anyway –– are succumbing to the virus, with Venezuela taking 20,000 refugees, and President Dilma Rousseff saying that Brazil will welcome refugees with “open arms.” We must work together to contain this plague! In President Obama’s case, HEV treatment is relatively easy: we simply urge him to order more drone strikes and Arctic drilling. Meanwhile, we, as US civilians, must demand emergency funding for a vaccine! Like whatever cocktails Hungary or Israel used to build huge walls to keep out the virus! A little razor wire wouldn’t hurt, either. The best preventive care is to stay away from news media. You know how those jerks love a crisis, anyway. Whatever you do: Don’t look at the pictures. The crossings, the camps, the ribs sticking out, the weeping… Already, we’ve seen too many photos of that three-year-old boy drowned on the beach. News stories like that encourage us to forget that this kid was illegal; that he and his whole family were just needy, seedy foreigners from one more loser country. Because what if we were to look at people like that as if they had gotten caught at the World Trade Center on 9/ 11? Talk about sick. What if a red-blooded American were to look at a bunch of dying migrants somewhere and think, “My God. They’re actually killing my family”? Then we would have a real fucking full-blown epidemic. Susie Day is the author of “Snidelines: Talking Trash to Power,” published by Abingdon Square Publishing.
speeches with their shrill and angry demands? What about the dykes or fags or trans people who refuse to keep to their carefully delineated place? What about all the rural queers? If we step out of line, will you hate us, too? You betcha. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press. September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.18
the same three choices. She could have complied with the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, which had been affirmed by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, and issued the licenses to homosexual couples. Or, Davis could have gotten ‘off the bus’ by resigning her county clerk position. Third, she could have followed the example of Rosa Parks, and refuse to budge. Which is what Davis did.” Henley’s analogy is inane. Rosa Parks was not an elected public official; Davis is a county clerk whose job is to abide by the laws her office exists to service. Rosa Parks didn’t choose to be black; Davis chose to run for office and agreed to take the job after she was elected. Rosa Parks’ refusal to move from her seat was a personal choice involving no one but herself; as a county clerk, Davis necessarily involves the public in every aspect of her job –– all of the public, not just those of whom she personally approves. There is nothing remotely similar about Rosa Parks and Kim Davis. The Daily Kos reports that
“Davis’ lawyer Mat Staver, founder of the right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel, compared Davis to a Jew living in Nazi Germany.” This claim of similarity is, if anything, even more repulsive. The Jews in Germany, and Austria, and the Netherlands and Belgium, and Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and the rest of Eastern Europe were not slaughtered by the millions because of their religious beliefs. They were slaughtered because of their racial identity as perceived by the Worst Person Who Ever Lived. (You can keep your Stalin; you can have your Attila the Hun or your Nero. Vlad the Impaler? Nah –– he’s just got a cool name. It’s Hitler by a mile.) Despite the many hysterical claims to the contrary –– hysterical in the sense of being wildly out of control, not that of being terribly funny –– Davis is not being persecuted because she is a Christian. In fact, she is not being persecuted at all. There is no war against Christianity, nor is there a war against individual Christians. Too many Christian denominations fully accept gay men, lesbians, bisexu-
als, and trans folk for the first part to ring true, and far too many individual Christians who see the hate being spewed and vocally reject it keep the second part from being even remotely plausible. Ironically, on the day her cell door clanked open and Davis walked out a free extremist, the New York Times ran a story about a Muslim flight attendant who refused to serve passengers alcohol because serving alcohol was against her religion. Let’s see Davis’ defenders make common cause with her. Hey, if public officials can pick and choose which laws they care to uphold and which they choose to break in the name of religion, let’s also pick and choose which religions may be granted those exceptions and which ones we want to bomb the fuck to –– you should pardon the expression –– kingdom come. A semi-viral Facebook post posed this question: Would the cranks take the position they’re trumpeting about Kim Davis if a Quaker county clerk refused to issue gun licenses on the grounds that non-violence is a central tenet of her faith? Take a
wild guess. Davis getting sprung from the clink was a full-blown media circus, gratifyingly, indescribably hilarious, from the rewarding spectacle of Ted Cruz being physically blocked by a staffer for Southern Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee so that the Texas senator couldn’t hog the spotlight at the former Arkansas governor’s expense, to the triumphalist rally set to the tune of the theme song from “Rocky III,” Survivor’s bombastic “Eye of the Tiger.” When the Huckster and Davis stood onstage and raised their arms in what they comically misunderstood as Davis’ vindication, one could almost forget for a moment that she’d been freed by the same judge who’d sent her up the river in the first place on the condition that she stop breaking the law. Continuing the farce the following day, Survivor’s frontman, Frankie Sullivan, blasted Davis and her handlers for using the song without permission. Come on, Frankie! Davis got permission from a higher authority. Don’t you know she’s above mortal laws? Follow @EdSikov on Twitter.
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GayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
Director Roland Emmerich talks about his new film “Stonewall”
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
her e ar e moments in “Stonewall,” Roland Emmerich’s film about the 1969 riots that launched the modern LGBT rights movement, that look more like a set on a stage than a movie. “It all started with my choice of writer a little bit,” the director told Gay City News during a phone interview, referring to Jon Robin Baitz. “He writes great theater. I always knew I would get kind of a theatrical quality out of him.” While Baitz has written for film and television, he is best known for his plays. The film was shot on a stage over 42 days in Montreal, with Emmerich providing most of the estimated $14 to $17 million budget. Emmerich, who is gay, and his producers looked at and rejected sites in New York City as logistically impossible. “We realized very fast that we could not shoot this movie on location,” he said. “We knew we had to shoot this on a set.” The result is a mix of artifice and
reality, with the artifice pierced in moments by some very powerful scenes, including what for most viewers will be the first film depiction of the start of the riots that ran over several days in June 1969. The LGBT community has read about the riots, seen a few pictures of their aftermath, and heard them described by participants and witnesses. Seeing them vividly represented for the first time is breathtaking. Indeed, that scene feels as if it is too short. Emmerich chose to make Stonewall a personal story, which departs from the status that story has had in the LGBT community since 1969. For decades, the wider community has cared little about who was there, seeing Stonewall as the moment when we, not one person, struck back at a police force and a society that had been brutalizing us for too long. Emmerich included some real figures in the Stonewall story, including Marsha P. Johnson. Seymour Pine, Ed Murphy, Frank Kameny, and Bob Kohler, but his story is told largely by a group of
PHILIPPE BOSSÉ/ ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS
The cast of “Stonewall,” with Jeremy Irvine as Danny in the foreground.
Filmmaker Roland Emmerich.
fictional characters including Danny, a gay kid from Indiana, played by Jeremy Irvine, and Ray/ Ramona, a scare queen played by Jonny Beauchamp, who leads a pack of street kids who adopt Danny when he arrives in New York City. “It’s the only way I can make movies,” Emmerich said. “I have a very personal connection to stories… The character Danny was inspired by a young kid I know… I need something that personal.” We see Danny move from the kid who is in love with the quarterback of his high school football team, Joe, played by Karl Glusman, and is forced from his home after the two of them are caught having sex. Thrown out of his home, Danny travels to New York City three months before he is to attend Columbia University on a scholarship. He is beaten by police and witnesses the brutality that Ray and her peers contend with. Danny sees Kohler and his partner living as the 1969 equivalent of a married gay couple. He is seduced and discarded by Trevor, an older activist
STONEWALL Directed by Roland Emmerich Roadside Attractions Opens Sep. 25 Angelika Film Center 18 W. Houston at Mercer St. angelikafilmcenter.com/nyc Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas 260 W. 23rd St. bowtiecinemas.com AMC Lincoln Square 13 1998 Broadway at W. 68th St. amctheatres.com
played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. At the start of the riots, it is Danny who throws the first brick. When Danny returns to Indiana for a visit a year later, Joe is married and expecting a child. After a brief conversation, Danny begins to leave and Joe smothers him in a hug and will not let go. It is Danny who is free, but that is not how Emmerich sees that scene. “I wanted to make a movie about
STONEWALL, continued on p.34
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE
Drag Destiny A spunky Elvis impersonator trades in his blue suede shoes for spangled pumps
MCC Theater at Lucille Lortel Theatre 121 Christopher St., btwn. Bleecker & Bedford Sts. Through Oct. 11 Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m.; Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $69-$99; mcctheater.org One hr., 35 mins., no intermission
Dave Thomas Brown, Matt McGrath, and Keith Nobbs in Matthew Lopez's "The Legend of Georgia McBride," directed by Mike Donahue.
BY DAVID KENNERLEY
hese days, it seems like half the shows on New York stages grapple with issues of identity and self-acceptance. Matthew Lopez’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” about drag queens at a dive club in present-day Florida, lands squarely in that column.
The premise, about as fresh as a bowl of bar pretzels on a Monday morning, could have been lifted from a Lifetime TV movie circa 1998. Casey and Jo are young newlyweds living in a shabby apartment struggling to make ends meet. Soon after Jo discovers she’s pregnant, Casey gets axed from his job and their landlord threatens to kick them out for not paying rent. What ever are they going to do? Starry-eyed
Casey believes they can live on love. But there’s a twist. Casey, who worked as an Elvis impersonator at a seedy club on the Panama City strip, is replaced by a drag act, and before you can say “Kinky Boots,” he gets roped into donning a wig and dress and lip synching to an old Edith Piaf recording. Tracy tutors Casey in the art of drag and names him Georgia McBride. Turns out, he’s a natural. And the money ain’t bad neither. For those of you rolling your eyes right now, take note: This production is courtesy of the estimable MCC Theater and, under the steady hand of Mike Donahue, “The Legend of Georgia McBride” is a soul-stirring, crowd-pleasing winner. But be warned — the emotional intensity sneaks up on you. The performances, which pulse with authenticity, are terrific across the board. As Casey, Dave Thomas Brown handles the transition from hapless, loving husband to fierce drag queen with confidence and flair. Even more impressive is Matt McGrath as the aging but valiant Tracy, whose trenchant drag persona evokes an irresistible mix of Joan Crawford, Eve Arden, and Rosalind Russell.
DRAG, continued on p.33
When the Clothes Make the Man Playwright Matthew Lopez delves into drag with “Georgia McBride” BY CHRISTOPHER MURRAY
’ve never done drag in my life,” explained Matthew Lopez, 38, sitting crosslegged in shorts and a T -shirt on the grass at the Hudson River Park’s Christopher Street pier recently. His first exposure to drag, the playwright (“The Whipping Man”) and screenwriter (HBO’s “The Newsroom”) said came “when I was a teenager. There was one gay bar in my town, called the Fiesta, in Panama City, Florida –– where the play is set –– that had drag performances.” The play in question is “The Leg-
end of Georgia McBride,” a new work by Lopez now getting an MCC Theater production at the Lucille Lortel Theatre right down Christopher from the pier where we met before a recent performance. (See David Kennerley’s review above.) “Georgia McBride” is the story of a young married, soon-to-be father (Dave Thomas Brown) who gets fired from his bar job as an Elvis impersonator and dons a dress to make money as a drag performer. He’s not gay and learns a thing or two about himself in the process of a nightly transformation into wig and heels. “My junior or senior year of high
school, I would go to the bar and hang out with the drag queens in their dressing rooms and watch them get ready,” Lopez recalled. “I’d listen to them banter, watch the process of them putting on their faces and padding. I was 17 years old, and it was great. I loved it. Without totally understanding what I was seeing, I was absorbing the theatricality of it. I would watch the pieces come together, and then go into the audience and see them perform. I think I had a deeper sense than the rest of the audience of what it takes to do drag. I’ve always had a great respect for that.”
Lopez calls “Georgia McBride” a fairy tale. “As a young gay boy who was enthralled with the theater and with storytelling, it clearly got under my skin,” he said. “The intention of the play has always been to tell the story of transformation, not just of the main character, but of all the characters in the play, and drag is the springboard. The play is at its heart a fable of change and discovery and growth.” Casey, the unemployed Elvis impersonator, gets help in developing the drag persona of Georgia
MCBRIDE, continued on p.33
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
PREVIEWS BEGIN OCTOBER 15
BY A N E W P L AY
LL P E T E R PA R N E
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John Lee Beatty
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The Newhouse season is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. Special thanks to The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust for supporting new American plays at LCT. GayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
Shock and Awe Two new plays touch the heart with very different types of lyricism BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
MERCURY FUR The New Group Pershing Square Signature Center 480 W. 42nd St. Through Sep. 27 Tue.-Fri. at 7:30 p.m.; Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $27-$97; ticketcentral.com Or 212-279-4200 Two hrs., without intermission
here is a kind of violent lyricism in Philip Ridley’s “Mercury Fur,” now getting a first-rate New Group production that is — and should be — profoundly unsettling. In a dystopian New York City on the verge of destruction, a group of survivors and drug dealers break into a vacant apartment to host parties, where stimulated by potent drugs in the form of butterflies, the privileged rich can experience their most dangerous and taboo fantasies as the world crumbles around them. As the play opens, brothers Elliot and Darren are struggling to get a bombed out apartment ready for such a party. Controlled by the organizer Spinx, Darren and Elliot are constantly in fear for their lives, and their survival depends on adherence to a code that is implied but never fully delineated. It doesn’t need to be; their desperation tells us everything. In this case, they’ve been forced to move up the date of the party, and the pressure is on. When Naz, a squatter in an adjacent apartment, barges in, things begin to go wrong. The boys are having particular problems subduing the Party Piece, a young man on whom the Party Guest will act out his fantasies. As Spinx arrives with a zonked out woman called the Duchess, Lola, a transgender woman whose job is to get the Party Piece ready, has her work cut out for her. Throughout all of the chaos, we learn bits and pieces of backstory, piecing together what life was like before the first wave of destruction and seeing what the survival imperative can drive one to do. The escalating problems lead to brutality, and memories and reminders of who these characters once were pierce the haze only momentarily before desperation once again overtakes them, sending the play hurtling to its harrowing conclusion. Under Scott Elliott’s precise and powerful direction, this play is not
Paul Iacono and Zane Pais in “Mercury Fur.”
for the faint of heart or the squeamish. Yet for all the grand guiginol, it is a remarkably human play as well as a meditation on being able to consider the impact of one’s own actions. At the same time, the play provides no definitive answer. The cast is uniformly excellent –– and to a person fearless. The actors’ commitment to the bold theatricality of this piece is exhilarating. Zane Pais stands out as Elliot, who bears the brunt of the conflict while trying to save his younger brother and himself. As Darren, Jack DiFalco is both trusting and powerful. The relationship dynamic between the two men recalls George and Lennie in “Of Mice and Men.” Sea McHale is appropriately threatening yet also vulnerable as Spinx. Tony Revolori, in a heartbreaking perfor mance, is Naz, the outsider drawn into this world –– and to his own destruction. Paul Iacono as Lola is likewise affecting as her boundaries crumble. Peter Mark Kendall as Party Guest, Bradley Fong as the Party Piece, and Emily Cass McDonnell as the Duchess round
out the cast, all giving fine performances. As the play draws to a close and it appears that the sound and fury may, indeed, have signified nothing, one realizes that “Mercury Fur” has taken place in real time –– the short span in which violence, terror, and death can actually happen. Is it an existential comment or a warning? I don’t know. I do know it’s thrilling theater.
“A Delicate Ship,” the Playwright’s Realm production that just closed, is a deceptively simple play that resonates powerfully in the heart. In a story where three characters recall a Christmas Eve that changed their lives, Sarah and Sam are celebrating quietly at her apartment –– in love, they think, and possibly going to marry. Nate, a childhood friend of Sarah’s, barges in and over the course of the evening declares his love for her, explaining she is what holds his life together. The situation quickly spins out of control until Nate is finally thrown out of the apartment.
We know what the characters are thinking because playwright Anna Ziegler has them step out of character on occasion and address the audience –– their much older selves who are commenting on the action taking place. This may sound confusing, but it’s not in the least. The device gives the play its resonance because it under scores the way in which we accumulate memories, losses, questioning of the past, and experience as we move through life. As Sarah says the first time she steps out of character, “What if we just hadn’t opened the door?,” Ziegler knows that question cannot really be answered, and suggests, at least for Sarah and Sam, that making peace with not knowing is essential to surviving. Nate finds no such peace. Margot Bordelon directed a cast that it’s virtually impossible to imagine could have been finer –– with Matt Dellapina as Sam, Miriam Silverman as Sarah, and Nick Westrate as Nate. Each imbued their character with believable life and offered moments that took your breath away. Dellapina’s quiet subtlety was no less realized than Westrate’s more boisterous and antic performance. Silverman, who was superb in “You Got Older” last season, offered an understated complexity to Sarah. The three worked together flawlessly. Perhaps what is most remarkable about this play is that Ziegler is at times unabashedly poetic. We know this is literary, but it works. The abstraction and theatricality touch the heart in ways that only art can. September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Boys Will Be Girls François Ozon explores the gender twists and turns of a trio of friends and lovers BY GARY M. KRAMER
THE NEW GIRLFRIEND
COHEN MEDIA GROUP
othing is what it seems in cheeky gay French filmmaker François Ozon’s new comedy-drama, “The New Girlfriend.” Based on a Ruth Rendell novel, the film opens with lipstick, eyeliner, and blush being applied to a woman’s face. Although a wedding march is being played, the “bride” is actually the corpse of Laura (Isild Le Besco). Laura’s best friend Claire (Anaïs Demoustier) is delivering the eulogy at the funeral and has promised to watch over Laura’s infant daughter, Lucie, and her husband, David (Romain Duris). Already grief-stricken, Claire’s emotions take a further summersault when she arrives at Laura’s house one day to an unexpected discovery: David is dressed as a woman. He is as startled as she is, but relieved he can confide his secret to someone. He quickly explains that Laura knew he cross-dressed for fun and never in public. He asks Claire to keep it between them and not tell her husband, Gilles (Raphaël Personnaz). Initially taken aback, Claire eventually comes to enjoy the company of “Virginia,” especially after the two go shopping. In time, Claire’s friendship with Virginia becomes as intense as her bond with Laura had been. The characters in “The New Girlfriend” find themselves lying to one another, and their deceptions raise suspicions. The film’s main delight comes in seeing how the relationships among Claire, David/ Virginia, and Gilles form an elegantly twisted web.
Anaïs Demoustier and Romain Duris in François Ozon’s “The New Girlfriend.”
The difficulty for David in keeping his secret provides the film’s dramatic tension, but Ozon serves up plenty of amusement, as well. At a dinner one night, Gilles mistakes David’s admiration of a woman’s dress for his interest in the woman. When David, dressed as Virginia, is at the movies with Claire, he receives some not wholly unwanted physical attention from a handsy man sitting next to him (Ozon in a fabulous cameo). Still, even while David insists men have never turned him on — he is resolutely straight — the film rolls out a series of queer love triangles, as when Claire tries to persuade Gilles that David is gay in order to cover for his cross-dressing. A variety of same-sex coupling permutations –– real and imagined –– make for delicious twists in “The New Girlfriend.” The film is also an affecting drama about grief,
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love, and identity –– especially the co-dependency between Claire and Virginia that helps the bereft friends cope with their shared loss. When they spend a weekend at Laura’s country home, sad memories are triggered for Claire and it is David/ Virginia who becomes the caregiver. David wrestles with doubts about his identity, but his transvestism is handled with nuance and respect. A scene of Virginia and Claire each dressing to go out to dinner shows them working to move beyond the pain of Laura’s loss. Later, a drag performance at a gay nightclub is particularly liberating for the two girlfriends. Duris is remarkable as David and Virginia, and not just because he looks fetching in a wig and a dress. His performance is tender and touch-
GIRLFRIENDS, continued on p.35
A Trumped Up Take on Mexican Drug Wars Denis Villeneuve strains to see across the Rio Grande from the Canadian border BY STEVE ERICKSON
he world has been director Denis Villeneuve’s oyster. He’s abandoned his native Quebec after completing his best film, “Polytechnique,” going on to set his follow-up, “Incendies,” in an imaginary Middle Eastern country. Then he arrived in Hollywood, where he has now made his second studio film, “Sicario,” which shows the limits of Villeneuve’s brand of global cinema. Set in Mexico and the American Southwest, it was actually shot in New Mexico. To put it kindly, it
offers a gringo’s point of view on Mexico’s war on drugs. The shortcomings of Villeneuve’s perspective are glaring –– perhaps he should’ve made a film about the heroin problem in Vancouver’s skid row instead. Arizona-based FBI agent Kate (Emily Blunt) specializes in kidnappings. She gets a surprise when her team raids a house near Phoenix. They find one live man, whom they promptly shoot, but also 20 corpses hidden behind a false wall and a booby-trapped cellar. She’s then called to participate in a special team fighting Mexican drug cartels, where she’ll work with Ale-
jandro (Benicio del Toro) and Matt (Josh Brolin), whose backgrounds are nebulous. But they have great resources, like access to private planes, and they soon fly off to Juarez. Kate realizes quickly that no one takes her seriously and starts to question her role in the mission. “Sicario” comes dangerously comes close to endorsing Donald Trump’s view of Mexico and Mexicans. It does depict a corrupt Mexican cop with a touch of sympathy, emphasizing his closeness to his wife and son, but essentially Villeneuve depicts violence as a contagion slowly spreading north of the
border. A news report about the discovery of the house of corpses in Phoenix treats the deaths as a sign that the cartels are finally affecting “us.” “Sicario” shows little interest in ordinary Mexicans, unlike Gerardo Naranjo’s “Miss Bala.” Here, Mexicans are either drug lords, dirty cops, corpses (mutilated prettily), or children playing soccer. Even Alejandro is much more violent than Matt, although the latter is no saint. A line of dialogue emphasizes that Alejandro is Colombian, not a North American Latino.
SICARIO, continued on p.35
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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GayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
IN THE NOH
Big Ben Indomitable entertainer Vereen hits the big screen again
Ben Vereen in Oren Moverman’s “Time Out of Mind,” also starring Richard Gere and Jena Malone, now playing at the IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.
BY DAVID NOH
onsummate showman and ultimate survivor Ben Vereen is making his movie comeback in Oren Moverman’s “Time Out of Mind,” starring Richard Gere. In it, Vereen plays a down-and-out jazz musician who helps the homeless Gere reconnect with his long-estranged daughter (Jena Malone) in a New York that –– surprise! –– can often seem cold and heartless. Ever since “Pippin” on Broadway, Vereen –– indubitably Bob Fosse’s one major male muse, as opposed to his little army of fabulous ladies, like Gwen Verdon, Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, and Ann Reinking –– has thrilled audiences with his radiant triple threat talent, in his dazzling cabaret acts, films like “All That Jazz” and “Funny Lady,” and, of course, his unforgettable turn as Chicken George in that TV milestone “Roots.” Out of town on family business, I cadged a phone interview with him, and he immediately said, “You’re in Hawaii? I love Hawaii! I performed with the wonderful Honolulu Sym-
phony there. It was just magical. I heard they had to shut down for economic reasons but I hope they get it back together again!” I asked Vereen about his new film, and he said, “It’s by this wonderful director, Oren Moverman, who also did ‘The Messenger’ and ‘Ramparts.’ It’s a wonderful film about the homeless that doesn’t blame anybody, just merely says, ‘This is what’s happening.’ The way he shoots it, he puts you in the environment so you are walking and breathing with them. It’s a magical film, which says that we all must do something about this problem, for there but for the grace of God goes you. If you yourself look around Hawaii, you see a lot of homeless people.” I had to agree with him, as it’s become an island epidemic, with some other states offering one-way tickets here to get rid of their own homeless population. The very day Vereen and I talked, there were plans afoot to remove some 3,000 homeless people from a tent city they’d set up in Kakaako, Honolulu’s current center of gentrification. “More states should do what
they did in Utah,” Vereen said. “They’re not giving them a handout, but a hand up by putting them back into houses, giving them the medical attention they need, and making them more a part of the social fiber, giving them their dignity back. The way things are today and with us living in the United States of Greed, any minute now it could be you or I. You don’t think about it, as you’re too wrapped up in your own trying to make it, but when you realize there’s nothing to make, you have to find yourself a cardboard box.” Vereen had nothing but praise for his co-star: “Richard Gere is very generous and gracious and a very hard worker. I watched how he goes for his characterization: he engages totally and stays in character during the breaks, when they set up the cameras. I just sat there and watched this fabulous actor, whom I’ve admired for years, and was happy to have an opportunity to work with him. Vereen, born in 1946, raised in Brooklyn, and educated at the High School for the Performing Arts in Manhattan, has had an extraor-
dinarily long and busy career, and cited his first job in “The Prodigal Son,” by Langston Hughes and directed by Vinnette Carroll, as putting him on the map: “It was at the Greenwich Mews Theater on 13th Street, in the basement of a church. I tell young actors I teach today who all want stardom, ‘No, you want employment, so you can express your art. That’s what’s important. We’re all stars. You are a star. As you begin, you polish your star and whatever goes on in your life, you keep polishing it, and that’s why we’re talking together, because our stars are shining.’” Vereen benefited from his early contact with three master choreographers: “I wasn’t a ballet dancer, but George Balanchine was one of the people who okayed me to go to the High School for the Performing Arts. I did a Jerome Robbins piece with the Alvin Ailey company, but I was more of a modern/ jazz dancer, more Martha Graham, and David Woods and Norman Walker were my real teachers.” Was it difficult for him at all in the dance world back then as a straight black man? “I didn’t think about that. I was dancing, man! [Laughs.] Who’s straight or gay –– that’s your own individual thing. People have their own makeup about who they are, and we gotta embrace all of God’s creations and love one another. It’s okay to just say that in church, but once you step outside and say things like, ‘Well, God doesn’t want you to be that…’ God doesn’t care, because he is love!” It was “Pippin” that really made Vereen, winning him the Tony under the direction of Fosse, whom he described as “Genius. Genius. He was a taskmaster who wanted the greatness that you have inside you. He was relentless, making us do one step all day long. But that was the way he worked, a perfection-seeker. To do a Fosse –– which might look effortless –– requires discipline, and great talent [laughs]. And
IN THE NOH, continued on p.31
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
IN THE NOH, from p.30
you gotta have style, lots of style. But you work very hard to achieve even the tiniest nuance.” As dedicated and driven a performer as Fosse was a director, Vereen definitely shared some demons with him; “Oh, yes, they were serious! [Laughs.] But when you’ve had enough, you have to come to a place where you say, ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,’ and turn it over to your higher power. Together you can make a difference and great changes. You take that first step, which is to admit you have problems. Some people say, ‘I have a problem but I can live with it,’ but you don’t have to live like that. And there’s nothing greater than a life of sobriety. It’s been seven years for me, no, wait, eight years! [Laughs.] When you’re living it, you forget to count.” Vereen’s life bottomed out during a period in which first his daughter Naja was killed at 16 when a truck overturned on her car on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1987, and, five years later, he was struck by a car while walking along a Malibu highway. Asked how he managed to survive such horrors, he said, “They’re all lessons and the idea is not to wallow, but to learn from them and get up. Get up! Get up! I’m not finished with you yet! You get up and you do it step by step: if I can just get through this one moment, it will be better. I can build that up and have one minute, then maybe 20. And then, ‘Look! I have an hour!’ And if I can keep it up, I have a day and I know everything’s going to be all right.” Vereen’s most memorable screen role remains Chicken George in “Roots”: “What can I say about it. And now I’m about to do ‘Roots II.’ It was groundbreaking, still the highest rated TV show of all time, but the point is did we learn anything from it? Why are things the way they are and the world still dealing with race? My hope with ‘Roots II’ is to remember the people of James Island, now renamed Kunta Kinte Island, who did not benefit from that show and are still impoverished. They make most of their money from tourism, and most tourists are Europeans who go there to see that African door of no return in Gambia, where peoGayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
ple became slaves throughout the world. “We need to remember these people, and our own legacy in this ties in with all this dissension going on, with all of these killings and brutality and gun violence, going into churches and killing people and shooting young black men in the streets. What were the ‘60s and my generation of protesters all about? I think what happened is we took a tranquilizer or sleeping pill, people, and we gotta wake up!” I was eager to ask Vereen about the many legends he has worked with in the business. “Sammy Davis, Jr., the wonder man, my mentor, my guiding light. This guy was in a way a show-er for a lot of African Americans, as well as my Caucasian brothers and sisters, showing us his determination, his love and love of his craft, his art. “Barbra Streisand came to see me in ‘Pippin’ and hired me to do ‘Funny Lady.’ She was wonderful to work with and a perfectionist. But then all true artists are. Right now I’m directing ‘Hair’ in Venice, Florida, which will open November 10, and I expect perfection from everyone myself, because I’ve learned from masters like her and want to pass it on to young artists of today. I’ve reimagined ‘Hair’ and taken it to another place, using it to talk about where we are today and what have we have done. About Liza Minnelli, Vereen said, “I love Liza. As a matter of fact, I was thinking I gotta call her because we’re doing an act together next year and taking it on the road. I love that lady!” Vereen radiates such ebullient joy onstage that I was amazed to discover that he indeed gets nervous: “I always get nervous. I want them to like me and have an experience. Someone told me a long time ago, that if you are not nervous then you have no business going out on that stage. What’s going on instead is your ego, and that is E.G.O: Edging Goodness (or God) Out! So I take a step back, say a prayer from my group. I breathe and go forward and do it, and hope people receive what I have to give.” Contact David Noh at Inthenoh@ aol.com, follow him on Twitter @in_ the_noh, and check out his blog at nohway.wordpress.com.
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Figaro Here, Figaro There… Figaro Everywhere! Local opera companies present variety of works based on de Beaumarchais’ trilogy of plays
Monica Yunus in On Site Opera’s production of Giovanni Paisiello adaptation of “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” at the Fabbri Mansion.
BY ELI JACOBSON
ierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais’ trilogy of “Figaro” plays (“Le Barbier de Séville”, “Le Mariage de Figaro” and “La Mère coupable”) has inspired opera composers for more than three centuries. The Metropolitan Opera programmed Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” (1816) and Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” (1786) last season, and both will return in revival this season. John Corigliano’s 1991 “The Ghosts of Versailles” used characters from the less successful third play “La Mère coupable” (“The Guilty Mother”) in a freewheeling original story with supernatural and fantastical elements. In the 1990s, the Met programmed Corigliano’s “Ghosts” in tandem with the Rossini and Mozart “Figaro” operas to create a Beaumarchais cycle. Yet the three operas seemed only connected in theme: the musical style, tone, and content reflected three different centuries and nationalities. The recurring characters changed markedly in vocal register and musical style from opera to opera. This summer, two small local opera companies –– On Site Opera and the dell’Arte Opera Ensemble –– initiated their own Beaumar chais cycles. Both presented the once popular Giovanni Paisiello adaptation of “Il Barbiere di
Siviglia” which premiered in St. Petersburg in 1782. In June, Paisiello’s “Barbiere” initiated On Site Opera’s three-year “Figaro Cycle” that will present the North American premiere of Marcos Portugal’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” in 2016, followed by the US premiere of Darius Milhaud’s “La Mère coupable” in 2017. In August, the dell’Arte “Beaumarchais Trilogy” alternated the Paisiello “Barbiere” in repertory with Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” and the New York premiere of Hiram Titus’ “Rosina” (1980). Paisiello’s “Barbiere” was once so popular that offended opera lovers booed Rossini’s presumptuous new adaptation on its first night in Rome in 1816 –– yet within 20 years Rossini’s “Barber” drove Paisiello’s off the stage. Both “Barbers” display elegant craftsmanship –– but only one has the mark of genius. Whereas the Rossini sparkles with musical invention and comedic wit from the first note to the last, the Paisiello is gentle and lyrical in a conventional 18th century opera buffa manner. The two librettos follow one another closely, yet in each parallel situation Rossini comes up with a show stopper, Paisiello a pleasant also-ran. Giuseppe Petrosellini’s libretto for Paisiello’s “Barbiere” puts a greater emphasis on the love story and less on the comic qualities. Paisiello’s opera does pair up much better with Mozart’s contemporaneous “Le Nozze di Figaro” –– the orchestral writing is simpler but in the same style. Paisiello’s Rosina is a gentle lyric coloratura soprano given to melancholy cantabile arias, such as when comparing herself to a bird in a cage. One can more easily imagine this Rosina evolving into Mozart’s regal, wounded Countess than into Rossini’s peppery, wily coloratura mezzo. What the Paisiello reveals to us is the standard Italian comic opera style of the late 18th century: a foundation that both Mozart and Rossini drew from but that each transcended with their individual musical genius. On Site Opera specializes in site-specific staging (a good way to save on scenery!). The century-old Italian Renaissance revival-style Fabbri Mansion on the Upper East Side stood in for Don Bartolo’s townhouse, with the outdoor courtyard used in the first scene where Almaviva serenades Rosina in disguise. The action then moved indoors to the library for the duration. Artistic director Eric Einhorn’s production updated the period to the early 20th century to match the surroundings, and his staging was vivacious and precise. Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble presented their
“Barber” at the Rose Nagelberg Theatre at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, a black box basement space. A unit set consisting of a small platform stage framed by translucent curtains, suggesting the interior of a house, served all three operas. Screens, tables, and chairs were rearranged to suggest different rooms. Emilie Rault’s direction was hampered by a lack of the necessary doors in what is basically a bedroom farce without a bedroom (this made Rosina’s imprisoned state rather implausible). Candida K. Nichols’ costume designs for the On Site production were elegant and precisely indicated class distinctions, while Carly Bradt’s for dell’Arte were a perplexing mish-mosh of “Star Trek,” Bollywood, and ‘80s disco glam. Dell’Arte utilized a typically superb chamber reduction of Paisiello’s score by their artistic director, Chris Fecteau, for a dozen or so players (the highly competent Metamorphosis Chamber Opera), while On Site used a smaller consort of eight players. However, where On Site’s music director Geoffrey McDonald proved a true opera conductor shaping and underlining the music for comedic effect, dell’Arte conductor Daniela Candillari played the score as abstract classical chamber music, failing to stress tempo changes or underscore action. Both Rosinas were exquisite: On Site’s Monica Yunus radiated a sunny optimism that contrasted with her cool silvery soprano, and dell’Arte’s Alessandra Altieri revealed a rubytoned, jewel-like timbre, an elegant trill, and aristocratic phrasing. David Blalock’s Almaviva in the On Site production was poised and unflappable with a firm, ringing tenor, while Jonathan Morales at dell’Arte sounded more romantic and Italianate, even if more callow. On Site’s lower-voiced comedians were all superior to their counterparts downtown: Andrew Wilkowske’s Figaro radiated enthusiasm (though his character disappears in the second act) and Rod Nelman’s choleric Bartolo was vocally forceful –– almost a Verdi villain! Paisiello’s characters don’t play themselves like Rossini’s do and require creative singing comedians who can sell the Italian text and play rhythmically with the music. Figaro truly was everywhere this summer, with more to come next year. Make way for the factotum of New York City! In an online exclusive at gaycitynews.nyc, Eli Jacobson reviews dell’Arte Opera Ensemble’s August production of Hiram Titus’ “Rosina.” September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
DRAG, from p.24
The quiet scene where a contrite Casey visits Tracy (strikingly vulnerable out of drag) at her house to apologize for being a no-show is a tender and affecting counterpoint to the sassy drag numbers, choreographed by Paul McGill. Keith Nobbs is captivating in the dual roles of Jason the spineless, beer-swilling landlord, and Rexy the pushy drag queen (I confess I thought they were played by different actors until I checked the Playbill). Afton Williamson brings warmth and intelligence to Jo, avoiding the usual Southern trailer-trash stereotype. Okay, maybe Wayne Duvall, as the crusty, money-grubbing club owner/ emcee, hams it up a bit, but the approach fits the material. The convincing set of the dingy club (by Donyale Werle) is cluttered with costume racks, Elvis posters, Miller High Life and Ballantine Beer signs, tacky multicolored lights, and other junk. This dump sure could use some joy, and these spunky, sequined gals are just the ones to deliver it. The dialogue is spiced with welltimed zingers. When Eddie gets
angry because Tracy swiped his credit card to buy a bubble machine, she quips, “Well it’s not like my card was gonna work. I got a good price for it on eBay. Only used once at a Ted Cruz fundraiser.” Lopez (see Christopher Murray’s interview with the playwright on page 24) grounds the perky comedy in emotional truth, touching on the politics of drag and honoring its heritage. Resentful of Casey’s cavalier attitude, Rexy lashes out at him. “Drag ain’t a hobby, baby. Drag ain’t a night job. Drag is a protest. Drag is a raised fist inside a sequined glove. Drag is a lot of things, baby, but drag is not for sissies.” Are there maudlin moments? Of course there are. But witnessing Casey transform before our eyes into a stunning chanteuse, coming to grips with who he really is, helps us forgive any excessive sentimentality. My theater companion and I were so enthralled that after the show we headed around the corner from the Lortel Theatre to Boots & Saddle Drag Lounge, where equally talented drag performers have found their true voice and aren’t afraid to share it, loud and proud.
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MCBRIDE, from p.24
GayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
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McBride (a spangled and fringed Frankenstein’s daughter composite of Lisa Marie Presley, Reba McEntire, and the Judd Family) from the two drag performers (Matt McGrath and Keith Nobbs) that bar owner Eddie (Wayne Duvall) brought in to replace him. Casey hides his new job –– and his growing love of his new stage identity –– from his wife (Afton Williamson). The play incorporates a lot of crowd-pleasing lip-synching numbers choreographed by Paul McGill that read like a performance history of drag legends, including like Charles Busch, L ypsinka, and the Lady Chablis of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” fame, as well as the newer generation of stars found on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Director Mike Donahue, said Lopez, calls the play “the story of a boy who puts on a dress and becomes a man.” “There is a line in the play, ‘The only thing holding us back are the limits of our imagination,’ and I
Playwright Matthew Lopez.
think that includes what we ourselves are capable of and the scope of our world,” noted Lopez, who married his partner of 10 years this past summer. There’s a timeliness in the play’s exploration of how the personal can reverberate throughout an entire community, according to Lopez. “When the main character is given the opportunity to dig deep within himself to find something beautiful, it changes his whole world and everyone in it,” he said.
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STONEWALL, from p.22
unrequited love,” Emmerich said. “In my youth, I was in love with a kid… I wanted to have a story like that in there… In the end, Danny goes back only to be absolutely sure.” The use of fictional characters and their stories notwithstanding, Emmerich’s portrayal of the riot hews closely to the description in David Carter’s 2004 book, “Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution,” the definitive account of that event. Carter was not consulted on the film. “I read everything you can read about the Stonewall riots and what you learn really fast is there are different accounts that don’t really match up,” Emmerich said. The first trailer for the film drew protests over whitewashing because it was a white, gay guy throwing the first brick. Emmerich’s choice is defensible as there is support for it in reliable histories. Featuring the street kids as the instigators of the riot, as Emmerich does, is supported by reliable testimony as well. That was Kohler’s position. “He kind of felt it was these
kids,” Emmerich said. He declined to respond to the protest saying “It’s based on a trailer. I don’t comment on trailers.” Ultimately, Emmerich said he and Baitz wanted a diverse group represented in the film and they achieved that. “Robbie and I tried to portray different gay people,” he said. “Danny was always meant to be a catalyst character… I have to say I fell in love with all these characters.” Stonewall opens on September 25 with a “100-print release,” said Emmerich, who joked that he might not earn his money back. That means the movie will show in “every major city in America with one or two prints… A movie like this will never play with more than 300 prints. It’s more like an art house movie,” he said. It is unlikely that the film would have been made at all if Emmerich, who is known for directing blockbuster films, such as “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” had not championed it. “Nobody wanted to make this film,” he said. “You have to have a big name to get it made.” September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
GIRLFRIENDS, from p.28
ing in always focusing on his characters’ humanity. There may be comic moments –– as when David, dressed in black lacy bra and panties, gets his lower back hair waxed –– but this is the rare comedy where a man in a dress is played for sensitivity, not strictly laughs. Demoustier is also impressive in her role, making Claire’s emotional transformation — through anger, fear, denial, acceptance, concern,
and guilt — credible. With her red hair and freckles, the actress is stunning in a red dress, but can also play masculine at times in less flattering suits. Demoustier is a worthy co-conspirator with Duris. “The New Girlfriends” suggests just how fragile the relationships among the lead characters can be, but also reaches a soap operatic pitch — with betrayals and other surprises best not revealed. Ozon makes sure to have the last laugh, and that will leave viewers all smiles.
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SICARIO, from p.28
GayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
Villeneuve seems inspired by Kathryn Bigelow. That’s evident from his cool, detached treatment of torture and police brutality, which caused her so much trouble in “Zero Dark Thirty.” The discovery of a tunnel, shown through night-vision goggles, recalls the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in that film as well. “Sicario,” in effect, engages a dialogue with “Zero Dark Thirty” through Kate, who evokes Jessica Chastain’s heroine, but with Bigelow’s feminism removed. But it may be that Villeneueve is offering greater complexity by subverting simplistic “strong woman” tropes. From the beginning of “Sicario,” Kate suspects Alejandro and Matt are CIA agents. She’s often separated from her best friend in the FBI, who saves her life at one point. Villeneuve frames her in the back of cars and planes, surrounded by three men. She offers common-sense solutions and advice to Alejandro and Matt, which they reject. Halfway through the film, her dissatisfaction starts to take a toll on her looks. “Sicario” emphasizes her heavy smoking habit, something definitely not meant to make her look sexier. She winds up a figurative punching bag –– men supposedly on her side point guns at her repeatedly. Kate is marginalized by the men around her and the narrative itself, which turns into Alejandro’s revenge fantasy in its final stretch. I’m still unsure if this is a realistic depiction of institutional sexism or an example of the difficulties Hollywood movies have in creating room for smart, capable women. At least this question offers more food for thought than the film’s insulting
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Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, and Emily Blunt in Denis Villeneueve’s “Sicario.”
SICARIO Directed by Denis Villeneuve Lionsgate In English and Spanish With English subtitles Opens Sep. 18 AMC Lincoln Square 13 1998 Broadway at W. 68th St. AMC Empire 25 234 W. 42nd St. amctheatres.com Regal Union Square Stadium 14 850 Broadway at 14th St. regmovies.com
depiction of Latin Americans. “Sicario” may shine a fairly cynical light on the war on drugs, but it doesn’t bother asking bigger questions. Is it worth fighting at all? At one point, Matt mentions that 20 percent of Americans use drugs. With statistics like that, his realpolitik suggestion that the cartels can, at best, only be tamed into some semblance of order seems reasonable. But no one in the film ever talks about treating drug abuse as a health problem or legalizing drugs and taking away the cartel’s sustaining market. The film chips away at a real problem but misses the big picture by a mile.
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nown by comedy, theater, and LGBT benefit audiences –– from our town to Provincetown –– for her profane Molly “Equality” Dykeman character, Andrea Alton added another potent creation to her satirical arsenal last month, when “Possum Creek” made its debut at FringeNYC. Written and per for med by Alton and directed by Eric Chase, It was an unexpected and welcome change of pace (literally!) for Alton, whose sunny but dim Beth Ann is every bit as meek as Molly is brash — and just as much a product of her time. Set in Possum Creek, Ohio from the outset of the Civil War to m or e tha n 3 0 yea r s l a ter, the eight-character solo show begins as Beth Ann’s husband goes directly from the altar to the Union Ar my, vowing to
POSSUM CREEK The Celebration of Whimsy 21-A Clinton St. Btwn. Houston & Stanton Sts. Sep. 25, Oct.1-2 at 7 p.m. $18 at smarttix.com More information at possumcreektheplay.com
retur n and consummate their marriage. What follows is a series of beautifully crafted comedic misunderstandings, as the beyondnaïve virgin bride escapes to the relative privacy of an outhouse, where she composes letters to her absent Joseph (“I hope that you are enjoying the war,” she writes, in an early missive that nails her kind but clueless world view). Joseph’s failure to
POSSUM, continued on p.37
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POSSUM, from p.36
reply to a single letter doesn’t deter Beth Ann from penning thousands of them, full of wildly misinterpreted observations about the goings-on in her small rural town. Through the years, Beth Ann’s chipper disposition insulates her from life’s grim realities — although her inability to grasp the basic concepts of agriculture, reproduction, and the Underground Railroad tests the patience of the entire town. Oddly, the good citizens of Possum Creek never give in to temptation and yell at her, even when she’s playing a decisive role in the devastating waves of disease and starvation (Alton seems to imply that people were just more polite and decent back then, even when it was to their own detriment). Garbed in the same cartoonish, ballooning hoop dress throughout, Alton slips in and out of flawed characters (brimstone preacher, closeted neighb o r, c r a c k p o t d o c t o r ) w h i l e
Andrea Alton shines as a sunny but dim Civil War bride in “Possum Creek.”
playing Beth Ann with a level of sincerity that grounds the punchlines and slapstick in a sober, often sad reality. In a further triumph of tone, the events unfold in a style that mocks the hushed, plodding school of storytelling employed by Ken Burns — making “Possum Creek” a sweet and subversive Civil War satire that creates its own revolutionary blend of sex, race, heart, and hope.
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THU.SEP.17 BOOKS Wayne Hoffman Takes Us to P-Town’s Bear Week “An Older Man” is Wayne Hoffman’s new novel about a very randy, very furry 40-something man named Moe Pearlman, who’s dealing with mortality, loss, and loneliness during a trip to Provincetown for Bear Week, where he’s trying to find a bit of love and sex. Hoffman reads from the novel at the Bureau of General Services –– Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. Sep. 17, 7 p.m. For more information about the novel, visit waynehoffmanwriter.com.
Drunken, Careening, But Still Writing In her monthly reading series, “Drunken! Careening! Writers!,” Kathleen Warnock presents poet and photographer Guillermo Filice Castro, author most recently of “Agua, Fuego”; Joseph O. Legaspi, a 2015 Fulbright fellow and the author of “Imago”; and Debora Lidov, a medical social worker and Hunter College fiction, nonfiction, and poetry teacher whose work has appeared in Ars Medica, Salamander, the Threepenny Review, and upstreet. KGB Bar, 85 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Sep. 17, 7 p.m. Free.
Writers from Queens’ Queer Community Four writers from the Queens LGBT community –– Shelley Ettinger, Andrew J. Peters, Tim Fredrick, and Rigoberto Gonzalez –– read from fiction they published this year in an event emceed by writer Nancy Agabian. Ettinger reads from “Vera’s Will”; Peters from “Banished Sons of Poseidon”; Fredrick from “We Regret to Inform You”; and Gonzalez from “Mariposa U.” Queens Pride House, 76-11 37th Ave., #206. Sep. 17, 7-9 p.m.
schedule, Gutierrez presents all three installments in the series. He is joined by dancers Ezra Azrieli-Holzman, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Alex Rodabaugh, and Jen Rosenblit. New York Live Arts, 219 W. 19th St. Sep. 17, 24-25, 7:30 p.m.; Sep. 19-20, 26, 8 p.m. (Part 3); Sep. 19-20, 26, 3 p.m.; Sep. 22-23, 7:30 p.m. (Part 1); Sep. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Sep. 19-20, 26, 6 p.m.; Sep. 24-25, 10 p.m. Tickets are $35-$40; $28-$32 for students & seniors; limited number of subsidized tickets at $15 at newyorklivearts.org.
includes Christopher Daftsios, Marilyn Sokol, Lee Roy Rogers, Ian Gould, Nelson Avidon, Serge Thony, Andy Reinhardt, and Rebeca Fong. Theater Row’s Lion Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St. Through Oct. 3: Tue., 7 p.m.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. $55-$65 at telecharge.com or 212-239-6200.
CABARET Mx Justin Vivian Bond’s Career Silver Anniversary
“Whistleblower,” written, choreographed, and directed by Bessie and Obie Award-winner Mark Dendy, takes place in the mind of Chelsea Manning at the moment of her sentencing in a controversial trial for leaking proof of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and for divulging State Department secrets. Layered with transcripts from Manning’s actual trial, this provocative piece delves into transgender identity and explores the mysteries of the media and government propaganda. The performance includes original music by Heather Christian. Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie St., btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts. Sep. 18-19, 25-26, 7 p.m. Tickets are $16; $12 for students & seniors at dixonplace.org; $20 at the door.
“Dixie McCall’s Patterns for Living” kicks off a yearlong retrospective in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Mx Justin Vivian Bond’s career as a performing artist. This presentation, a revival of v’s cabaret debut, features accompaniment by Thomas Bartlett. Bond and longtime collaborator Kenny Mellman brought “Dixie,” their first official collaboration, to the spotlight on September 9, 1990 at Athens By Night, a hole-in-the-wall Greek restaurant in San Francisco. The show laid the groundwork for what became the pair’s legendary signature act, “Kiki and Herb,” and ultimately created the blueprint of every Bond show since. “Dixie” grew out of Bond’s obsession with the 1950s sultry glamour of Julie London, who played Nurse Dixie McCall in the 1970s TV show “Emergency.” Joe’s Pub inside the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St. btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Sep. 18-19, 25-26 and Oct. 2-4, p.m. Tickets are $25 at joes.pub.com.
To Judy, From Paris With Love
FRI.SEP.18 DANCE Inside the Mind of Chelsea Manning
Seth Sikes, who as a young boy in Paris, Texas, was captivated by Judy Garland, returns to New York with a revamped version of his tribute show. Conceived by Sykes and Tony-winning lyricist Lisa Lambert, the show includes new arrangements of some of Garland’s most popular songs. Liz Smith recently said, “I went off to see him last week and couldn’t have been more charmed. He’s young and handsome and enthusiastic. He doesn’t try to duplicate her sound. Sikes has boundless energy and a true, strong voice, with just the right amount of throb and drive and melancholy. The place was packed.” 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Sep. 18, 9:30 p.m. The cover charge is $25 at 54Below.com, and there’s a $25 food & drink minimum.
Encores for “Hick”
DANCE Miguel Gutierrez’s Meditations on Age & Beauty
PERFORMANCE Drag Stars Pop Vox LYNNE FRIED
Dancer and choreographer Miguel Gutierrez presents “Age & Beauty Part 3: DANCER,” the third and culminating chapter of a series of queer performance works addressing the representation of the dancer, the physical and emotional labor of performance, tropes about the aging gay choreographer, the interaction of art-making with administration, “queer time,” futurity, and mid-life anxieties about relevance, sustainability, and artistic burnout. During a two-week performance
“Hick: A Love Story,” which tells the story of the love affair and enduring friendship between Lorena Hickok, a hard-living butch reporter, and the patrician Eleanor Roosevelt, drawing from a 2,336-letter correspondence from the first lady to Hickok, was among standouts of the August Fringe Festival called back for encore performances. Written and performed by Terry Baum and directed by Adele Pran, “Hick” runs at SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam St., btwn. Varick St. & Sixth Ave. Sep. 18-19, 7 p.m. Tickets are $18 at fringenyc-encores.com.
In Bed With Roy Cohn In Joan Beber’s new play, “In Bed With Roy Cohn,” the colorful, controversial, powerful, and insidious closeted lawyer is at the end of life, supported only by his last remaining faithful servant, Lisette –– but visited by a host of bedfellows, including Julius Rosenberg, Ronald Reagan, Barbara Walters, Roy’s lover Serge, his mother Dora, and his own youthful self. In this wacky and surreal wonderland, Cohn’s muddled reality ultimately becomes clear. Katrin Hilbe directs a cast that
“The Ultimate Drag Off,” a live interactive game show musical where audience members vote and crown the next drag superstar, begins its 10th season tonight. This year, guests will include New York nightlife maven Michael Musto, Sirius Radio DJ and impersonation goddess Christine Pedi, Heather Parcells (“Finding Neverland,” “A Chorus Line”), and Michael Cusumano (“An American in Paris,” “Chicago”). Nightlife hostess Sweetie presides. Triad Theatre, Stage 72, 158 W. 72nd St. Sep. 18, 11 p.m., and every Fri. following. Tickets are $33 at DragOffNYC.com; $40 at the door.
Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First International air-hostess Pam Ann is in New York with a brand new show, “Pam Ann: ‘Queen of the Sky,’” in which she introduces two new characters: transgender Quantas flight attendants Caitlyn and Gloria. By her own admission, Pam Ann is hilarious, often shocking, and totally politically incorrect. Probably best to keep your seatbelt fastened for the duration of the flight. Joe’s Pub inside the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St. btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Sep. 18-19, 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 at joespub.com.
14 DAYS, continued on p.40
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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14 DAYS, from p.38
SAT.SEP.19 COMEDY Eddie Sarfaty in the Road
GALLERY Gay Men in Casual Pose The work of gay artist Mcwillie Chambers is featured in a new show at George Billis Gallery, 525 W. 26th St. Through Oct. 3: Tue-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. More information at georgebillis. com.
The Domestic Front: Everyday Queer Life This exhibition features 70 works drawn mostly from the Leslie + Lohman Museum collection and answers the question “What do gay people do when they’re not having sex?” These diverse works demonstrate what is unique and what is universal in everyday queer life. The show is an excellent opportunity to see works from the museum’s collection that in some cases have never been exhibited. Curated by James M. Saslow. Leslie + Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. Through Oct. 25: Tue.-Sun., noon-6 p.m.; open until 8 p.m. on Thu. More information at leslielohman.org.
TUE.SEP.22 THEATER Three Children’s Classics for Adults Only In its 2015-16 Off Broadway season, Company XIV presents three adults-only shows: the world premiere of “Cinderella,” a revival of tits sexy hit
Klezbos at 54 Below
WED.SEP.23 PERFORMANCE Being Your Fierce Bi Self Bisexual writers, poets, musicians, singers, artists, and photographers are invited to express themselves and listen in on others at the Bi Visibility Day Open Mic. Contact Sheela Lambert at fuscialadybug @ netzero (dot) com to sign up and plan on getting five minutes to be your fierce bi self. Bureau of General Services –– Queer Division, LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., rm. 210. Sep. 23, 7 p.m. A $5 door donation is requested.
THU.SEP.24 COMEDY Live from the Stonewall: Adam Sank After more than a decade of comedy everywhere from Fire Island to Malibu and on TV and radio, New York gay funnyman Adam Sank records his debut comedy album at the legendary Stonewall Inn. Add your laughter in Stonewall’s upstairs cabaret space as Sank tells his hilarious, envelope-pushing stories about sex, dating, life in the city, and why he strongly suspects his dog is a lesbian. 53 Christopher St., btwn. Waverly Pl. & Seventh Ave. S. Sep. 24, 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15 at adamsanklive. brownbagtickets.com, and there’s a two-drink minimum.
Isle of Klezbos, a sextet that features the stellar talents of vocalist Melissa Fogarty, reed player Debra Kreisberg, trumpeter Pam Fleming, accordionist/ pianist Shoko Nagai, double bassist Saskia Lane, and drummer/ bandleader Eve Sicular, are joined by Moe Angelos, the playwright and performer of Five Lesbian Brothers fame, in presenting a program of original and neo-traditional music, with highlights from the acclaimed run of Sicular’s musical documentary stage production “J. Edgar Klezmer: Songs from My Grandmother’s FBI Files.” 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Sep. 25, 9:30 p.m. The cover charge is $30-$70 at 54Below. com, with a $25 food & drink minimum.
Eulogy for the Dyke Bar
He Is Heavy, He’s My Brother “The Bone Bridge: A Brother’s Story” is artist and essayist Yarrott Benz’s harrowing memoir about teenage brothers, as different as night and day, trapped together in a dramatic medical dilemma — a modern miracle and a modern nightmare. Despite painful and violent conflicts, Yarrott, gay, bears full responsibility of keeping his straight, homophobic brother alive. The only case like it in history, the story unfolds over 13 years as the two brothers navigate through their enmeshed lives with all that they feel for each other: hatred and love, rejection and acceptance, disdain and respect. Benz, introduced by novelist and author Christopher Bram, reads from the book at Bureau of General Services –– Queer Division, LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., rm. 210. Sep. 24, 7-10 p.m. A $5 door donation is requested.
Karen Finley Looks Back on 1990 NEA Firestorm It was 25 years ago that Karen Finley gained international notoriety when North Carolina Republican Jesse Helms and other conservatives in the Senate vehemently denied her an NEA grant because they thought her art was obscene. At the same time, City Lights published Finley’s landmark book “Shock Treatment,” which included that work and excoriated homophobia and misogyny at a time when many artists and writers were under attack for challenging the status quo. City Lights has now published a 25th anniversary expanded edition of “Shock Treatment,” featuring a new introduction in which Finley reflects on that time, tracing her journey from the Midwest to San Francisco to the steps of the Supreme Court, where she and her fellow embattled NEA recipients prevailed. Finley launches her book tonight at Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen St., btwn. Stanton & Rivington Sts. Sep. 24, 7 p.m.
COURTESY: ADAM SANK
“Playing in Traffic” is an air-conditioned evening of comedy and cocktails with the delightfully neurotic and appropriately medicated Eddie Sarfaty. Danny McWilliams opens the show. Metropolitan Room, 34 W. 22nd St. Sep. 19, 9:30 p.m. The cover charge is $20 at metropolitanroom.com, and there’s a two-drink minimum.
holiday show “Nutcracker Rouge,” and the world premiere of “Snow White,” all conceived, directed and choreographed by Drama Desk Award nominee Austin McCormick. “Cinderella” (starring Brett Umlauf, Davon Rainey, and Marcy Richardson) runs Sep. 22-Nov. 15; “Nutcracker Rouge,” Nov. 24-Jan. 17; and “Snow White,” Jan. 26- Mar. 12. Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Ln., btwn. MacDougal St. and Sixth Ave. Tickets –– $40-$65, with VIP seats from $75-$105 for “Cinderella” and “Snow White”; $50-$85, with VIP seats from $100-$175 for “Nutcracker” –– at ticketmaster.com or 800745-3000. More information at CompanyXIV.com. You must be at least 16.
Macon Reed’s “Eulogy For The Dyke Bar” revisits the legacy and physical spaces of dyke and lesbian bars, an increasingly rare component of the gay and queer cultural landscape. Reed’s installation, made of cardboard and simple materials that unapologetically reveal her hand in their making, offers a full bar, pool table, neon signs, and hand-painted ‘70s-era wood paneling. Acknowledge the mass closing of dyke bars across the country, “Eulogy For The Dyke Bar” asks a host of questions, such as: Why are these spaces closing? What socio-economic, cultural, and technological factors contribute to this phenomenon? Are the same factors impacting spaces for gay men? Tonight, bartenders serve drinks in a night of story-telling and performance from across spectrums of age, gender, race, and sexuality. Le Petit Versailles Community Garden, 346 E. Houston St. at Ave. C. Sep. 25: happy hour, 5-7:30 p.m.; performances, 7:309:30; dance party follows.
DANCE Queer Future-Psychedelia Sarah A.O. Rosner and the A.O. Movement Collective presents “ETLE and the Anders,” an evening-length performance experience performed by a cast of 10 for an intimate audience. “ETLE and the Anders” is a foray into maximalism — hyper-saturated, queer future-psychedelia — featuring moving bodies, time-travel, possession, absence, presence, glitch theory, feminist revolution, and looping soundscapes. As Rosner delivers a lecture based on her “Infinite Theory of the Plural History of Everything,” the performers attempt to ensure that her prophetic vision of the future comes to pass. Using their bodies, research excavated by a team of 60-plus collaborators, and the audience, the AOMC will channel the far future into their performance. Loft 172, 172 Classon Ave., btwn. Myrtle & Park Aves., Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Sep. 25-27, Oct. 1-2, 4, 6-10, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 2, 9, 10 p.m. Tickets are $22 at brownpapertickets. com/event/2128463.
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September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
WeddingPrideDirectory CELEBRATING GAY AND LESBIAN MARRIAGE
ATTORNEYS Law Office of Rachel Einbund, PC 118 East 28th Street, #1005, New York, NY 10016 212-252-2125, firstname.lastname@example.org http://lo-re.com Law Office of Rachel Einbund is a boutique immigration law firm specializing in family petitions, marriage-based green card applications, and LGBT visa processing. We combine a one-on-one client-centered approach with cutting-edge legal analysis.
CENTER PIECES Edible Arrangements 133-22 Springfield Blvd. 718-528-3344 158-18 Cross Bay Blvd. 718-848-3344 1357 Fulton St. 718-622-3344 1557 Ralph Ave. 718-451-3344 www.ediblearrangements.com/ stores/StoreLocator.aspx
CEREMONY AND RECEPTION VENUES Cove Haven Entertainment Resorts* Our Pocono Wedding Packages provide the perfect intimate celebration for 2, with as little or as much privacy and intimacy and as your hearts’ desire. Beside the backdrop of the beautiful Pocono Mountains, or from a candlelit indoor ceremony, a Wedding Concierge can help you plan a special day that’s uniquely customized for you in every way. Discover all the ways you can create a Wedding to remember. 800-972-3820 CoveHaven.com/Pride Edison Ballroom Delivering Happiness One Event at a Time. 240 West 47th Street, New York, NY 10036 212.201.7650 email@example.com Entertainment Cruises* Emilie Hagon • Wedding Specialist 646-358-3117 • firstname.lastname@example.org Erin Trinidad • Wedding Specialist 646-358-3116 • email@example.com Grand Oaks Country Club Grand Oaks goes above and beyond when it comes to setting the standard for superiority in the industry. Award-winning chefs are dedicated to provide customized menus for the most selective tastes. 200 Huguenot Avenue, Staten Island. NY. 10312 718-356-2771 grandoaksnyc.com Highlands Country Club 955 Route 9D, Garrison, NY 10524 845-424-3254 The Highlands Country Club offers a unique blend of romance and elegance in a country setting, just one hour north of New York City. Established in 1898, the Highlands Country Club includes a grand ballroom and several indoor and outdoor spaces that blend old world elegance with the verdant surrounding landscape to accommodate up to 150 guests.
The Hotel Andrew 75 North Station Plaza, Great Neck, NY 516-482-2900 www.andrewhotel.com Leave the details in accommodat-
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La Marina 212-567-6300 La Marina, located in upper Manhattan, offers a variety of indoor and outdoor event spaces for parties of 50 -1,500, right on the shore of the Hudson River. Step into our extraordinary venue where the food, the scene and the music share a stage; where the George Washington Bridge consumes the panorama; Boasting unbeatable views and large open spaces, both indoors & outdoors La Marina can be your dream wedding. Landmark Venues 866.683.3586 LandmarkVenues.com Landmark Destination Weddings, Crave Caterers, The Boathouse At Mercer Lake, Stone House at Sterling Ridge, The Ryland Whitehouse Station, Celebrate At Sung Harbor, Hotel Du Village, Liberty House Restaurant & Catering For over 25 years, we have been celebrating beautiful weddings at our venues across News York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Marble Collegiate Church* Weddings at Marble Collegiate Church, renowned for our inclusiveness and diversity, we have many unique spaces to offer, from our elegant Sanctuary, to more intimate sacred venues. At Marble, your Wedding can be spiritual, beautiful and memorable. It’s a celebration of love. That’s what Marble Collegiate is all about. 1 West 29th Street, New York, NY 10001 212-686-2770 www.MarbleChurch.org Plaza Athenee 37 East 64th Street at Madison Ave, New York 212-644-0202 plaza-athenee.com Le Trianon, our ceremony space is elegantly appointed in natural earth tones with ten windows overlooking the townhouses of East 64th Street. For your wedding reception, the venue’s dazzling, gold-domed Arabelle restaurant provides one of the most unique settings in Manhattan with its blend of murano glass and brass chandeliers, chiffon colored walls and murals of Asian pagodas. Russo’s on the Bay 162-45 Cross Bay Boulevard, Howard Beach, NY, 718-843-5055 russosonthebay.com Exemplary service and exquisite cuisine combined with professional attention to detail was the best way to achieve customer satisfaction. Sirico’s Caterers Sirico’s is a tasteful event planning and catering hall in Brooklyn, maintaining a beautiful facilities with top-notch event services. With three event halls accomodating 300 guests. They pride themselves on elegant wedding receptions and private events that are second to none. In The Heart Of Dyker Heights 8015/23 13th Avenue Bklyn, NY 11228 718-331-29008–331–2900 www.siricoscaterers.net Soleil Caterers 212-316-5000 Your wedding day is one of the most memorable days of your life and we at Soleil Caterers would love to be a part of it. No matter what your theme or food preferences are, we
GayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
will work closely with you down to the last detail to be sure that every moment is exactly as you picture.
Terrace On The Park 52-11 111th Street Flushing, NY 11368 718-592-5000 www.terraceonthepark.com Award winning food, breath taking views, and impeccable service. Tio Pepe 168 W. Fourth St. in New York 212-242-9338, tiopepenyc.com At Tio Pepe you have a choice of atmosphere. The skylight dining room supplies a touch of romance while the enclosed sidewalk cafe provides a room with a view of Greenwich Village. The Vanderbilt at South Beach Waterfront Facility 300 Father Capodanno Blvd., Staten Island, NY 718-447-0800 www.vanderbiltsouthbeach.com Boasting both a luxurious banquet hall, as well as magnificent outdoor oceanfront space. Vavaldi’s 201-10 Cross Island Parkway Service Road Bayside, NY 11360 718-352-2300 www.vavaldiny.com Woodhaven Manor Caterers & Banquet* 96-01 Jamaica, Ave., Woodhaven, NY 11421 718-805-8500 woodhavenmanorny.com We have created the ultimate venue for the most special of celebrations!
ENTERTAINMENT Amazing Bottle Dancers Add a touch of tradition and excitement to your B’nai Mitzvah or Wedding! bottledancers.com 800.716.0556 East Coast Band New York’s Ultimate Party Band 516-354-2372 EastCoastBand.com Soul System Orchestras 1650 Broadway, Suite #503 New York, 800-466-7685 soulsystemorchestras.com Soulsystem Orchestras bands have been on the leading edge in providing “elegantly hip” wedding entertainment for the past 15 years. Clients can choose from a 3-piece ensemble to a 20-piece swing orchestra and beyond.
FORMALWEAR Lindman NewYork What the dress is to the bride, the necktie is to the groom. Well, perhaps not quite, but it is important. Well-designed neckties for you, the best man, and the groomsmen will capture—as well as add to—the style and sophistication of the wedding as a whole. 917-364-6675 LindmanNewYork.com
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HONEYMOON DESTINATIONS Sand Castle on the Beach 127 Smithfield, Frederiksted St. Croix, Virgin Islands 340-772-1205 sandcastleonthebeach.com Our quaint, beach side boutique hotel is designed to meet your personal vacation style. We maintain a sense of intimacy and freedom in this seaside oasis. It’s our home and we invite you to relax and unwind in this comfortable and tranquil setting. Villa Amor Camino a Playa los Muertos, Sayulita Bahia de Banderas Nayarit, Mexico 619-819-5407 hotelvillaamorsayulita.com. “Sweeping ocean vistas and a sexy room concept do away with outside walls and invite you to see Sayulita through a rustling fringe of palm fronds.”Travel+Leisure.
JEWELRY Fortunoff Fine Jewelry New Jewelry Boutique by Esther Fortunoff 1504 Old Country Road, Westbury, NY 11590 FortunoffJewelry.com 800-636-7886 Shop 24/7 - Phone appointments available Solomon Jewelers 74 Manetto Hill Plaza Plainview NY 11803 516-681-6111 www.solomonjewelers.com A third generation family business with seventy years of experience, Solomon Jewlers is the only premiere certified Verragio Dealer in NY State.
OFFICIANTS Alisa Tongg Storyteller & Celebrant For AisleBound Couples Ceremonies from Scratch Serving NYC, New Jersey and Pennsylvania 570-369-3955 www.alisatonggcelebrant.com For This Joyous Occasion Officiating Services & Seaside Ceremonies Andrea Purtell NJ Wedding Officiant Weddings, Vow Renewals & Baby Blessings Certified in NJ All Faiths/Non-denominational Traditions/Lifestyles Point Pleasant Beach Atlantic Highlands Red Bank Asbury Park Ocean Grove Island Beach Long Beach Island www.forthisjoyousoccasion.com firstname.lastname@example.org 848-333-9948
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14 DAYS, from p.40
SUN.SEP.27 BENEFIT Cheer on the AIDS Riders
PERFORMANCE A Venezuelan Man’s Story In “I, Inmigrante,” developed with and directed by Obie Award-winner David Drake, Migguel Anggelo, a Brooklyn-based, Venezuelan-born artist known for electric stage performances, creates a kaleidoscope of vocal theatrics and poetic storytelling that are hilarious and touching in equal measure. Through his original compositions and reinterpretations of Latin, folk, and pop classics, “I, Inmigrante” deftly explores the very personal themes of immigration, national pride, the barriers of language, the emotional ramifications of political dictatorship, and the dreams of the artist who must follow his passion (while wrestling with his demons) in order to find a place he can call home. Mau Quiros is musical director, with Britney Coleman and Michelle Walter on background vocals, Quiros on keyboards, James Quinlan on bass, Tim Basom on guitar, and Jake Robinson on drums. Joe’s Pub, inside the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Sep. 28, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 at joespub.com.
TUE.SEP.29 POETRY Women’s & Trans’ Open Mic Jam Vittoria Repetto, who styles herself the hardest-working guinea dyke poet on the Lower East Side –– hosts an open mic evening of women’s and trans’ poetry. Step forward and share up to eight minutes of your poetry, prose, songs, or spoken word. Kim Morales and Bracha Nechama Bomze are the evening’s featured writers. Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen St., btwn. Stanton & Rivington Sts. Sep. 29, 7 p.m. GayCityNews.nyc | September 17 - 30, 2015
GAY CITY NEWS
More than 100 cycling activists are making a 285-mile ride from Boston to New York, with stops in HIV-affected communities in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York along the way. The Braking AIDS Ride is a benefit for Housing Works, a New York-based AIDS services and advocacy group. Closing ceremonies for the Ride, which begins in Boston on Sep. 25, take place at Keith D. Cylar Community Health Center, 743 E. Ninth St. at Ave. D. Sep. 27, 5 p.m. For more information, visit brakingaidsride. org.
BENEFIT Inspiring LGBT Stories StoryCorps, the organization founded in 2003 by MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay that has given 100,000 Americans the chance to record interviews about their lives, pass wisdom from one generation to the next, and leave a legacy for the future, is honoring Evan Wolfson, the founder of Freedom to Marry, Elizabeth McCormack, a StoryCorps board member, and “Fun Home,” the Tony-winning Best Musical whose creators Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori will accept the award. Alison Bechdel, who wrote the graphic memoir on which the musical is based, will deliver a message by video. Humorist and journalist Mo Rocca emcees the evening. Capitale, 130 Bowery, btwn. Broome & Grand Sts. Sep. 29, 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $1,000 at goo.gl/ aEi9lt or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
WED. SEP.30 FILM Documenting Nazi Crimes Against Gay Men As part of “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945, an exhibition created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and presented in New York at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Pl. at First Pl., the museum, on Sep. 30, 7 p.m., presents the 2001 German film (with English subtitles) “Paragraph 175” titled for the portion of the German penal code that criminalized homosexuality and was employed to crush the vibrant Weimar Era gay subculture as the Nazis seized power. This screening is free. The exhibition runs through Oct. 2: Sun.-Tue., Thu., 10 a.m.-5:45 p.m.; Wed. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Museum admission is $12; $10 for seniors; $7 for students; free admission for children under 12; free admission Wed., 4-8 p.m.
Location, location, location. If they weren’t the three most important words in medical care, they are now. The Mount Sinai Health System provides exemplary care throughout the entirety of the city. In fact, our footprint even extends into Long Island, Westchester, and beyond. The system includes seven hospitals, more than 140 ambulatory practices, 31 affiliated community health centers, and over 6,100 primary care and specialty physicians. In addition, Mount Sinai maintains more than 80 relationships with local physicians and group practices serving patients in some 300 community locations throughout the region. Ironically, our number one mission is to keep people out of the hospital. We’re focused on population health management, as opposed to the traditional fee-for-service medicine. So instead of receiving care that’s isolated and intermittent, patients receive care that’s continuous and coordinated, much of it outside of the
traditional hospital setting. Thus the tremendous emphasis on wellness programs designed to help people stop smoking, lose weight and battle obesity, lower their blood pressure and reduce the risk of a heart attack. Mount Sinai is blurring the line between impossible and possible. Its pioneering research has led to breakthroughs in critical areas like cancer, heart disease and neuroscience. In terms of our stature and reputation, vision and innovation, we’d like to think that no other hospital system comes close to Mount Sinai. You, on the other hand, are closer than you’ve ever been before.
MOUNT SINAI HAVE OVER 300 LOCATIONS IN NEW YORK? BECAUSE THERE’S ONLY ONE MOUNT SINAI.
September 17 - 30, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc