Victory in 25-Year St. Pat’s Boycott 08
Obama Triumphal in Gotham 12
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FREE | VOLUME FOURTEEN, ISSUE TWENTY | OCTOBER 01 - 14, 2015
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Jerusalem Pride Stabbing Victim Finds Healing in a New York Yom Kippur
MORSELS The politics of Whole Foods
Push for Stonewall National Park inspires rare unity
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26 EDITOR'S LETTER A vindication for activism — and rehabilitation, too
Father John McNeill, gay Catholic pioneer, dead at 90
GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
Jerusalem Pride Stabbing Victim Finds Healing in a New York Yom Kippur BY PAUL SCHINDLER
GAY CITY NEWS
arden Noy, a 26-yearold finishing up his law studies at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University while he works at Israel’s Ministry of Justice, didn’t join that city’s LGBT Pride Parade because he is gay. Nor was he there to join an LGBT family member or friend. Instead he met up with several friends who are also straight to show support for a community that many in Jerusalem still consider “taboo.” What happened to Noy that day has made him into an LGBT ally advocate. Noy was one of six people stabbed during the July 30 parade, allegedly by an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man released from prison just three weeks before, after a 10-year sentence for a similar crime in 2005. Yishai Schlissel, 39, has now been charged with murder because one of the stabbing victims, 16-year-old Shira Banki, died from her wounds. Noy, stabbed in the back, suffered damage to his ribs and lungs and spent five days in the hospital. During a September 21 interview at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, New York’s LGBT synagogue on Bethune Street, where he was visiting along with two leaders from the LGBT-focused Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, Noy reported that he was “almost back to normal.” For several hours after the attack, however, his “life was at risk.” During his hospital stay, Noy was visited by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, by Orthodox Jews who apologized for what Schlissel is said to have done in the name of religion, and by members of the Open House. Visits from Open House members, including its executive director Sarah Kala and its development director Tom Canning, both of who joined him on his New York visit, had a profound impact on Noy’s life. “Before the parade, I was not connected to the community,” he
Yarden Noy, Open House’s Sarah Kala, CBST Rabbi David Dunn Bauer, and Open House’s Tom Canning.
explained. “After the parade, I began to know the LGBT youth who meet at the Open House.” The Open House’s work with youth is one of its principal missions. “We are saving lives every day,” Canning said, explaining that there is no such thing as sex education in Jerusalem. Referring to the predominance of Orthodox Jews in that city, he added, “These questions cannot be raised in many families.” The Open House has the only anonymous HIV testing clinic in the city, and it serves not only gay and bisexual men, but also sex workers and others. Canning said it is important to understand that Tel Aviv — the Mediterranean coastal city known for its nightlife and warm embrace of gay and lesbian tourists — is “not the real Israel.” In Jerusalem, he said, the LGBT community faces rejection from not only Orthodox Jews, but also the Palestinian community as well as culturally conservative but more secular Jewish residents. “The idea of the LGBT community in Jerusalem is still taboo,” Canning said. In fact, the risk of boycotts from the Orthodox community prevents
corporations from giving financial support to the Open House. The group’s fundraising, Canning explained, is focused primarily on Jewish LGBT communities in North America. In Noy’s view, the antipathy toward LGBT Israelis in Jerusalem contributed to the climate in which the stabbing took place. Referring to Schlissel, the alleged stabber, he said, “He is the head of the pyramid. He wouldn’t do it if he didn’t feel support. It is the environment, the opposition to the parade and to the gay community that are responsible.” Despite the tough climate in which the Open House does its work, Canning explained, “Jerusalem has changed.” “If you think about Pride a decade ago, people were throwing dirty diapers and urine at us,” he said. “Since the stabbing we have tried to engage with ultra-Orthodox leaders at the highest levels and have asked them to condemn violence.” In what Canning and Kala described as an unprecedented development, Israeli’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi, David Lau, spoke at a rally organized to condemn the stabbings. Though he made clear he opposed the Pride Parade, the rabbi, Canning said, “took a big risk… and
that’s important.” Out of the July 30 tragedy, the Open House is identifying inroads for dialogue with people the group was never before able to engage. As Kala sat with Gay City News, she received an email saying that for the first time, the Open House was invited to meet with students at an Orthodox school — this one for girls — to discuss an LGBT educational program developed by Orthodox LGBT activists. “The Orthodox community took the stabbings very hard,” Canning said. “They are very conflicted. They don't support Pride, but are horrified at the thought of someone doing this in the name of God.” In the days after the stabbings, Noy was vocally critical of the police. “It is clear the police were negligent,” he said, and pointed to an official law enforcement report that came to the same conclusion. Authorities were aware that Schlissel was out of prison and was speaking out in inflammatory language about the parade, but they acknowledged he was not placed under surveillance during the weekend it took place. Canning said the Open House had worked closely with police authorities in the months leading up to the Pride Parade. The problem was not antagonism toward the LGBT community — though in years past the Open House had an adversarial relationship with police — instead Canning explained it was a problem of “implementation.” In a climate where showing support for the LGBT community can result in ostracism from Orthodox quarters, Canning said, “For us, it’s a very strong message to have Yarden with us and have straight allies march with us. People will think, ‘Why don’t they come out? Is the problem with me? Why don’t I come out?’” As the LGBT community learns all over the world, visibility is key to progress. Asked whether there was par-
JERUSALEM, continued on p.40
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Defense Says John Laubach Died During Consensual Rough Sex Attorneys for Edwin Faulkner, Juan Carlos Martinez-Herrera concede their clients are hustlers, thieves, but not murderers BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
s the trial of the accused killers of John Laubach opened in Manhattan Supreme Court, the prosecution charged that Edwin Faulkner and Juan Carlos Martinez-Herrera acted recklessly or with depraved indifference when they bound the 57-year-old gay man and covered his face with the duct tape that caused him to choke to death. The defense asserted Laubach’s death was an accident that occurred during rough sex. “His original plan was to attend the birthday party of a friend, but instead he was kidnapped by these defendants,” Lanita Hobbs, the assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the case, told jurors during opening statements on September 28. Laubach was found dead in his Chelsea apartment on March 2, 2012. His hands and feet were tied and his apartment had been ransacked. The prosecution case is that Laubach, Faulkner, and Martinez-Herrera had an ongoing relationship that turned sour when the gay couple began stealing from Laubach. He and a friend, Hiram Lopez, had banned Faulkner, 33, and Martinez-Herrera, who will be 35 on October 1, from Laubach’s home. They returned, tied Laubach up, and stole from him, Hobbs said. The couple fled to Florida where they were arrested on March 15 of that year still holding many of Laubach’s possessions. The two are charged with second-degree murder in that they acted with depraved indifference, not that they intended to kill Laubach; felony murder, based on the assertion they caused Laubach’s death in the course of committing another felony; and kidnapping and robbery, the charges that form the basis for the felony mur-
der charge. Hobbs told jurors that the relationship was so bad that Laubach took to carrying a weapon. “He had resorted to carrying a knife for his protection,” Hobbs said. “A few days later, he was dead.” After discussing Laubach in terms that bordered on homophobic during jury selection, Hobbs painted a more sympathetic picture of the man in her opening statement. He was a floral designer who had suffered a stroke and still walked with a limp. While he paid younger men for sex, he also allowed them to store clothes and possessions in his home, take showers there, and sleep there. When prosecutors and defense attorneys have information about a victim or client that they believe a jury will find objectionable, they often disclose that early in a trial so jurors are not surprised and might become inoculated to it. “He was interested in teenagers,” Hobbs told prospective jurors on September 21. “He sometimes paid men for sex… You’re probably going to learn that he was promiscuous, you’re probably going to learn that he was attracted to younger men.” A prosecution witness will testify that Laubach had sex with him when he was underage, Hobbs told jurors on September 28, and she alluded to that during jury selection. Hobbs also aggressively attacked the defense argument that Laubach died accidentally during kinky sex. “This case is not about sex as the defense indicated to you during jury selection,” Hobbs said. “He was restrained in a manner that was inconsistent with consensual sex.” While Faulkner gave a lengthy statement to police after his arrest, the jury is not going to hear that statement. The prosecution cannot
Edwin Faulkner and Juan Carlos Martinez-Herrera at a court appearance earlier this year.
use it because it creates what is called a confrontation problem. Faulkner implicated Martinez-Herrera in the statement and the only way Martinez-Herrera could refute it is by calling Faulkner to the stand. The US Constitution bars compelling a defendant to give evidence against himself as Faulkner would likely have to do if he took the stand. Without Faulkner’s statement, there is no eyewitness to any crime. During jury selection and in her opening, Hobbs told jurors that they would not learn exactly who did what in Laubach’s apartment. “What we are going to do is give you the tools to make a reasoned assessment of what happened,” Hobbs said. Prosecutors have the butcher knife that Hobbs said was used to cut the lamp cord that bound Laubach. That knife has Martinez-Herrera’s fingerprint on it. They also have a roll of duct
CRIME, continued on p.10
POLICE ISSUE SKETCHES OF SUSPECTS IN EAST SIDE ANTI-GAY ASSAULT
One of two female suspects, in her mid-30s.
120 pounds, with long wavy black hair. She was wearing a white tank top, black pants, and black high heel boots. The video was taken outside the restaurant. Anyone with informing regarding the
A male suspect in his mid-40s.
GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
she received six stitches in the hospital, but nearly a week later was still walking only with the aid of a cane. The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating. Under state law, hate crime charges can be filed when victims are targeted due to their actual or perceived identity as one of a number of protected categories. Police identified the male suspect as white, in his mid-40s, 5’8” tall, weighing 180 pounds, and balding with a beard. He was wearing a long sleeve shirt and jeans at the time of the assault. One of the female suspects is white, in her mid-30s, 5’7” tall, about 130 pounds, with dirty blonde hair. She was wearing a light colored shirt, black pants, and light colored high heel boots. The second female suspect is also white and in her mid-30s, 5’7” tall, weighing about
The NYPD has released sketches and video of three suspects wanted in connection with a September 12 bias-related assault on Manhattan’s East Side. According to police, shortly after 1 a.m. on that early Saturday morning, a 27-year-old woman who was eating with her 46-year-old mother at BarKogi restaurant at 957 Second Avenue near 51st Street was attacked by a man and two women who shouted obscenities and anti-gay slurs at the victim, threw her to the ground, and dragged her across the floor by her legs. The victim, who police did not identify, suffered minor injuries to her knees and was treated at an NYU hospital and then released. WCBS-TV identified the woman as Tiffany Santiago, who said she and her mother had been mistaken for a lesbian couple by her attackers. Santiago told the news station that
A second female suspect, also in her mid-30s.
assault or the suspects can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. — Paul Schindler
Nissan Supports Equality on Every Road You Travel
Proud partner of the 2015 Gay Softball World Series #SameTeam for Equality
This summer, Nissan hit a home run with its partnership with the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) and its 39th Annual Gay Softball World Series event in Columbus, Ohio. The event made GSWS history with more than 185 softball teams competing from 43 cities across the United States and Canada. The multi-division tournament was more than just a ball game. The 9-day event also featured opening and closing ceremonies, community events, celebrity performances and more.
“Nissan has the most diverse consumer base of any automotive manufacturer and is eager to champion grassroots LGBT events that give consumers a chance to interact with both our vehicles and our LGBT and ally employees,” said Rick Ash, Senior Manager, Nissan Marketing. “It’s an honor for Nissan to bring more visibility to all of the LGBT athletes who competed.”
“Nissan has the most diverse consumer base of any automotive manufacturer and is eager to champion grassroots LGBT events that give consumers a chance to interact with both our vehicles and our LGBT and ally employees,” said Rick Ash, Senior Manager, Nissan Marketing. “It’s an honor for Nissan to bring more visibility to all of the LGBT athletes who competed.” Since 2013, Nissan has scored a perfect 100 in the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index for its LGBT-inclusive policies and commitment to the community. The company was among the fastest risers in the history of the index. Nissan’s commitment to the LGBT community starts with its own employees. The company strives to ensure internal policies and benefit packages are inclusive of everyone. And Nissan’s Gay Straight Alliance at Nissan (GSAN) is the driving force behind the company’s LGBT outreach efforts, focusing on its hometown of Nashville as well as on other regional LGBT events DiversityInc Magazine also named Nissan to its 2015 Top 25 Noteworthy Companies list for the second year in a row. The company is an active member of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce and a sponsor of the annual National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association convention. Nissan’s Diversity Office—with the help of GSAN—has sponsored several workshops for area business leaders where they can share diversity best practices for creating an inclusive environment for employees and supporting the LGBT community in Middle Tennessee.
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
COME OUT AND PLAY. Nissan proudly sponsors the 2015 Gay Softball World Series.
Always wear your seat belt, and please don’t drink and drive. ©2015 Nissan North America, Inc.
GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
Victory Announced in 25-Year St. Patrick’s Day Boycott New leadership opens Fifth Avenue parade to Irish gay group, one year after sponsor WNBC fielded corporate contingent BY ANDY HUMM
he 253-year old St. Patrick’s Day Parade has invited an Irish LGBT group, the Lavender & Green Alliance, to march for the first time, a move that will end a 25-year boycott of the parade that began in 1991 when the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, a group made up largely of Irish LGBT immigrants, applied to march and was denied. In response to ILGO’s application, the parade declared itself a Catholic procession and said gay groups were anathema, sparking massive protests by ILGO in the early years, and the determined efforts by Irish Queers, a successor activist group, to maintain the boycott since then. As a result, most progressive politicians in New York — including Mayors David Dinkins and Bill de Blasio — have stayed away from the parade for the past quarter century. The parade’s board of directors changed this past year, and is now led by chair John Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University, who got a non-Irish LGBT group into the parade last year, Out@NBC, the
LGBT employee group at the television network. WNBC, the affiliate the network owns in New York, telecasts the parade and is its chief source of revenue. The addition of that group to the parade did not end the protest from Irish Queers and their allies, including de Blasio, who insisted that only an invitation to an Irish LGBT group could bring the controversy to a conclusion. In a statement citing the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising for Irish Independence next year, Lahey said the 2016 parade “is a special opportunity for renewed commitment to Irish values and traditions and the Irish role in the 21st century. We are working with the government of Ireland on this anniversary year to teach our young people the lessons of sacrifice and heroism, of love and tolerance, embodied in the Irish spirit.” Brendan Fay, founder and chair of the Lavender & Green Alliance/ Muintir Aerach na hÉireann and an ILGO leader two decades ago, said in the release that the invitation “sends a positive message across the Irish Cultural landscape. As LGBT Irish Americans we thank John Lahey
and the members of the Board for this historic decision which reflects the feelings of most Irish and Irish Americans. With the decision, we cross a historic threshold and our members will proudly march up Fifth Avenue with our banner.” Fay has been one of the main organizers of the St. Pat’s for All Parade in Sunnyside, Queens that welcomed all comers, including LGBT groups, since 2000, and he said he hopes all Irish LGBT people and their allies feel welcome to join the Lavender & Green contingent on Fifth Avenue next year. In a subsequent written statement issued on his own, Fay said, “It will be a great day for the Irish diaspora and for all New Yorkers as we will honor the centenary of 1916 Rising together. The words from the 1916 proclamation, ‘cherishing all the children of the nation equally,’ will be real and meaningful.” In a separate statement, Irish Queers said, “We are happy and relieved to announce that after 25 years of struggle, we have won!” The group called it “a victory for grassroots organizing, civil disobedience, and street protests of the Irish Les-
bian and Gay Organization and its successor, Irish Queers.” The IQ statement said, “The parade issue has never just been about LGBTQ people. Irish people’s struggles are part of our identity: challenges to religious bigotry, demands for women’s rights, Irish republicanism, and struggles against racism in New York and Ireland are irreducible parts of the Irish experiences.” The statement said the protests began “as part of Irish queer people’s work to stem the homophobia-fueled tide of AIDS deaths, to push back on the power of the church in Ireland, and to end the pretense that Irish queers are not a central part of Irish culture and politics.” Anne Maguire, one of the founders and stalwarts of ILGO who wrote a history of the controversy, “Rock the Sham! The Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization’s Battle to March in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” said, “The first 10 years were hard but my hat's off to Irish Queers who never let us forget. It
ST PATS, continued on p.9
Black AIDS Leader Talks about Being on PrEP
Gary English, former head of People of Color in Crisis, cites personal and public health education reasons BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
GAY CITY NEWS
Gary English talks about PrEP in a friend’s Bed-Stuy home.
ary English is on PrEP. “One of the main reasons is I want to continue to be negative,” the 54-year-old English told Gay City News during an interview at a friend’s home in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. “As a person who wants to continue to be sexually active, as a mature man, this is one of the tools in the toolbox.” English is a part of a group of gay black activists who founded the Black LGBT Alliance of New York, which aims to revive HIV prevention efforts among black gay men including using pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, an anti-HIV drug for HIV-negative people to keep them uninfected. PrEP is highly effective when taken correctly. English headed People of Color in Crisis (POCC) from 1997 to 2007. The Brooklyn AIDS
group was lauded for Many Men, Many Voices, its comprehensive HIV prevention program, its annual Pride in the City event, and for its role in founding the Black Gay Research Group. In 2003, POCC, which was founded in 1989, co-sponsored the first Black Gay Research Summit. POCC was forced to close in 2008 after Michael Roberson, its executive director in 2007 and 2008, was caught stealing government funds. Activists also saw the New York State Black Gay Network shut down. “It’s unfortunate that we lost so much ground,” English said. “If those two agencies were still open, we would be further along.” For activists, such as English, who once played a central role in formulating and executing HIV prevention efforts among black gay men in New York City, watching the roll out of New
PREP, continued on p.9
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Brendan Fay, chair of the Lavender & Green Alliance that will march in the 2016 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, at this year’s inclusive Queens St. Pat’s For All Parade he founded 15 years ago.
ST PATS, from p.8
took far too long but it's over, at last.” Irish American politicians, including then-City Councilmember Tom Duane and Christine Quinn, his chief lieutenant at the time who went on to become speaker of the Council, were among the hundreds arrested in the early years of protest against the parade. In 1991, Dinkins tried to broker a compromise whereby ILGO marched with him within Division 7 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, but he and the group were met with derision and beer bottles, leading the mayor to compare it to marching for civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1960s. From that point forward, ILGO was excluded and Dinkins boycotted, though Republican Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg did not respect the boycott. Irish Queers paid tribute to original members of ILGO “who were also part of ACT UP, the Lesbian Avengers, and other important queer activist forces — who laid the
PREP, from p.8
York’s Plan to End AIDS has been a frustrating experience. The plan aims to reduce new HIV infections in the state from the current roughly 3,000 annually to 750 a year by 2020. The plan will rely largely on PrEP and other drug interventions to achieve that goal. The task force that drafted the plan included just two black gay men among its 63 members. None of the existing organizations in New York that specifically serve black gay men was represented on the task force though some of their recommendations were included in the plan. And they are not seeing the outreach to apprise black gay men GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
groundwork for this victory. We look forward to marching up Fifth Avenue with our community.” Irish Central reported that the parade organizers’ meeting at which Lavender & Green won approval to march was “crashed” by four members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians aligned with the event’s virulently anti-gay former chair, John Dunleavy, who "demanded" his reinstatement as “the parade's chief decision-maker.” Lahey then released an audit that showed that Dunleavy had misused $24,000 in parade funds for personal use, including vacation trips and medical bills. The story says that Dunleavy is threatening to sue over his removal as chair of the board, will stand in November for another term as chair of the parade committee and, failing all that, will form a new committee to take back control of the parade. The breakthrough comes after this year’s referendum in Ireland where more than 62 percent of voters opted to open marriage to samesex couples.
of the latest developments in HIV prevention, such as PrEP. “If the Cuomo administration is serious about ending the epidemic by 2020, they have to reengage the black gay community,” English said. “If we leave out the black LGBT leadership, it’s not going to happen because we know how to access our community.” Over 90 percent of the new HIV diagnoses in New York are in New York City. In the first half of 2014, there were 1,350 new HIV diagnoses in the city and 1,088 were among men, according to city health department data. Forty-six percent of all new diagnoses were
PREP, continued on p.19
“Candles For Clemency” Claims Victory
Cuomo pledges to establish review process for rehabilitated inmates BY NATHAN RILEY
CRIME, from p.5
tape that has both men’s fingerprints on it. They have video and cell phone records showing the couple repeatedly trying to use Laubach’s ATM card to take cash from his bank account. And they have recovered some of Laubach’s property that was pawned. The defense gave shorter opening statements. They pressed the kinky sex defense and, using the jury inoculation strategy Hobbs employed, the attorneys for Faulkner and Martinez-Herrera readily conceded that their cli-
speech before a crowd of 100 calling for justice mixed with compassion. “We are not our mistakes, we are human beings,” she said. “We have the capacity to change.” Speakers at the Mount Kisco demonstration emphasized the downside of Cuomo’s resistance to clemency to date. Holly Coomber, convicted for helping her foster parents commit sex crimes, committed her offense at age 17, and her supporters say that under current standards she would be considered a trafficked minor who was coerced. She has been in prison for 30 years. Judy Clark, a lesbian who was convicted for her role in the 1981 Westchester County Brinks robbery, a headline-grabbing crime staged by the radical Weather Underground that led to the murder of two police officers, has been a model prisoner, according to widespread accounts. She actively helps other inmates at Bedford Hills in their rehabilitation, and more than a thousand letters were sent to the governor last year seeking her release. She has been incarcerated for more than three decades. Renee Valdez, a spokesperson for the Release Aging Prisoners Project (RAPP), said people over 60 seldom commit new crimes. Some prison wards contain feeble inmates in wheelchairs, and their care resembles that provided by nursing homes. The website of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, of which Roskoff is president, listed endorsements for the “Candles for Clemency” demonstration from City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Bor-
ents stole from Laubach, but that is all they did, they asserted. “John Laubach died engaging in rough sex for which no one is responsible,” said Daniel Scott, the attorney for Faulkner, during his opening statement. “Edwin Faulkner may have acted negligently. He did not commit murder.” During jury selection, Scott called his client “a hustler and a thief” and he told jurors during his opening, “All of the evidence of larceny will be virtually uncontested.” Faulkner was on parole when Laubach died,
n a departure from his previous policy, Governor Andrew Cuomo is establishing a system to review requests to shorten prison sentences of rehabilitated prisoners. Four days before a planned demonstration near his Westchester County home that had the backing of a wide array of elected officials, the governor called longtime gay activist Allen Roskoff, saying, “I get it. I get it. It will be done.” Cuomo pledged to review requests for clemency from state prisoners. The September 26 demonstration in the parking lot of the Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco was the second annual “Candles for Clemency” gathering demanding that “Governor Cuomo get a heart; issue clemencies now.” Cuomo sent his chief counsel, Alphonso David, who earlier in his career was a staff attorney at Lambda Legal, to address the demonstrators and describe the new review plan. Promising to open lines of communications with advocacy groups working on the clemency issue, David explained that applicants would have to produce evidence of their rehabilitation and of community support for them after leaving prison. The requests would then go to other “stakeholders,” including the prison superintendent, the district attorney who prosecuted their conviction, and the prisoner’s family. Davis specifically offered the assistance of his office to help attorneys and advocacy groups navigate the clemency application process.
David emphasized that the process would be fair and impartial and not just open to handpicked prisoners. Up until now, clemencies have been offered to an occasional non-violent drug offender. But reform of the Rockefeller drug laws has left few drug offenders serving long sentences, David said, and the approach to clemency review now being developed would be a “new situation.” The governor’s office will consider applications from prisoners convicted of violent felonies that the New York State Board of Parole has traditionally seldom released. Particular attention will be paid to prisoners who received draconian sentences for crimes committed at a young age, elderly prisoners who pose little risk to society, and prisoners who have served long sentences but have demonstrated that their release would not harm others. David said “several” applications had reached an advanced stage. Shortening sentences for prisoners convicted of violent offenses may prove controversial, but meaningful reductions in the state’s prison population depends on the release of some inmates who fall into this category. In his five years as governor, Cuomo has issued five pardons, two of them to convicts already out of prison for years. Otherwise, his power to commute sentences or pardon inmates has largely fallen into disuse, with the pleas of prisoners and their families denied. Donna Hylton a former prisoner at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, gave a passionate
Former inmate Donna Hylton, speaking at last year’s “Candles for Clemency” demonstration.
ough President Gale Brewer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, seven local members of Congress, and 17 members of the City Council, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. The September 26 rally was organized by Roskoff and Tony Hoffman, a former president of the Village Independent Democrats. The crowd’s reaction to David’s remarks ranged from disbelief to applause, but they roared with enthusiasm when Brooklyn Councilmember Laurie Cumbo called for “structural changes and new policy” that would provide prisoners relief from harsh penalties. Two other Council members, both of them gay, Daniel Dromm of Jackson Heights and Corey Johnson from Greenwich Village, also addressed the gathering, as did Park Slope State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. At last year’s “Candles for Clemency” event, demonstrators marched on Cuomo’s home. This year, relishing the possibility that a victory is at hand, they began and ended their demonstration in the church parking lot.
and the defense may argue that the men fled what they believed was an accidental death because they feared that Faulkner would be sent back to prison. “When you hear all the evidence in this case you will understand why what they did makes sense,” Daniel Parker, the attorney for Martinez-Herrera, told jurors. Earlier in his opening statement, Parker said, “The evidence will show that Juan Carlos Martinez-Herrera did not rob, kidnap, or murder John Laubach… The evidence also will show that they are male prostitutes and petty thieves.” October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Before Manhattan LGBT Crowd, Obama Offers Triumphal Retrospective President lauds equality, jobs, health care gains as he mocks rhetoric from 2016 GOP hopefuls BY PAUL SCHINDLER
COURTESY: JON COOPER
n an address before an exuberant, largely LGBT crowd in New York City, President Barack Obama made a spirited case for the progress during his seven years in office not only on issues of concern to the queer community, but more generally on questions of economic prosperity and social justice. In his speech, the president specifically took on recent controversies pitting religious freedom claims against LGBT rights advances. Introduced by Jim Obergefell, who was the named plaintiff in this summer’s successful marriage equality case, Obama opened his remarks by reviewing the landscape of gains on LGBT civil rights issues during his presidency, which earned him repeated standing ovations from the 530 attendees who paid between $1,200 and $33,400 dollars for a seat at the September 27 event, an LGBT Gala fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) held in Midtown’s Gotham Hall. Calling Obergefell — who sued the State of Ohio to have the death certificate for his late husband, John Arthur, reflect the fact of their marriage — a “trailblazer,” the president went on to say, “We now live in an America where our marriages are equal.” He also noted, “Tonight we live in an America where Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is something that don’t exist.” At roughly the one-third mark in his 16-minute speech, Obama pivoted from the specifics of LGBT issues to the condition of American society generally and made an argument for his success aimed squarely at the Democratic base, saying, “It’s getting better for all us of.” Pointing to 66 months of consecutive private sector job gains, he noted that his 2012 opponent, Mitt Romney, had pledged to bring unemployment down to six percent by the end of his first term, a measure that the economy already beats by almost a full percentage point. That growth, the president argued, came despite warnings from Republicans that Obamacare — which he said has grown the number of Americans with health insurance by 17 million — would “kill jobs, explode the deficits, and destroy freedom.” The president contrasted gains in areas from budget reduction to clean energy production with the “spiraling economic crisis” of 2007 and 2008 and the two wars he inherited, and mocked his GOP critics, saying, “Those were the golden years, apparently. And then I came in and messed it all up. I don’t pay attention to much of this stuff, but you gotta give these folks credit for chutzpah.” Obama continued in this vein, adding, “So since everything was going so well back in 2007 and 2008, now if we can just repeal Obamacare,
President Barack Obama speaks to a group of 530 LGBT and allied Democratic supporters at Gotham Hall on September 27.
Gay embrace of Obama in public versus Pope Francis’ furtive meeting with defiant Kentucky county clerk.
and gut Wall Street reform, and shut down our government over women’s access to health care, and deny that the planet is getting warmer, they got a plan to get us back on track.” The president then returned to LGBT issues, noting the radically changed climate over just the past decade. “The good news is they probably won’t use marriage equality as a wedge issue [in 2016] like they did in 2004,” he said. Still, Obama noted that some Republican presidential candidates are reluctant to give up the ghost of gay-bashing. In an apparent reference to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, he said, one candidate “boasts that he introduced an amendment to end nationwide marriage equality — which isn’t even an accomplishment at all.” And, in an allusion to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, the president said another candidate thinks, “Americans should just disobey the US Supreme Court ruling entirely.” Obama then turned to the crux of a key issue that continues to divide Democrats and Republicans on the question of marriage equality — the use of religious freedom claims to sidestep equal treatment of same-sex and different-sex couples. “We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious
traditions,” the president said. “But that doesn’t give us the right to deny our fellow citizens their constitutional rights. And that even as we are respectful and accommodating genuine concerns and interests of religious institutions, we need to reject politicians who are supporting new forms of discrimination as a way to scare up votes. Obama also asserted, “We’ve come a long way in changing hearts and minds so that trans men and women can be who they are — not just on magazine covers, but in workplaces and schools and communities,” and then once again pivoted to the bigger picture. “Harvey Milk once said, ‘If a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone,’” the president said. “But for those of us who made it through the door, we have a unique obligation to reach back and make sure other people can make it through those doors, too.” The struggle, he said, is for “not just our own freedom but for everyone’s freedom” — including women, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, “non-believers,” and “the worker denied a living wage.” Saying that the 14 months between now and the 2016 presidential election “will not be easy,” Obama said, “Right now what makes me proudest to be a Democrat is that at our core, we really do believe in everybody having a shot.” In comments to Gay City News prior to the president’s remarks, US Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who chairs the DNC, reinforced Obama’s commitment to take the Republicans on over the effort to use religious freedom arguments to undermine LGBT rights advances, saying the party was “100 percent” committed to do so. In fact, she said, “We already do.” Wasserman Schultz also said she was “confident” that the DNC would take a strong stand in support of the Equality Act, introduced in Congress earlier this year, that would add protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and related federal statutes. “The rights of the LGBT community are the central civil rights battle of the day,” she said. “I’m confident we will continue to draw contrasts with the Republicans’ stands.” Asked her view on how Republican Speaker John Boehner’s resignation will affect the partisan climate on Capitol Hill, Wasserman Schultz saw little reason for optimism. “The Tea Party has already claimed Boehner’s head,” she said. “They will be insistent that the next leader toe the line.” Saying she had no idea whether California Republican Kevin McCarthy, who as majority leader is Boehner’s number two, had a lock on the post, Wasserman Schultz added, “It would surprise me if there is not a fight.” October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Portland Bar Nailed For Ousting LGBT Club
BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
he Court of Appeals of Oregon has affirmed an award of $405,000 against a North Portland bar and the bar’s owner, Chris Penner, for violating state public accommodations law by denying “equal accommodations” to an informal social club that included gay and transgender people. The September 23 ruling, which upheld a finding by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, rejected the owner’s outlandish argument that the bar hadn’t discriminated and its conduct was protected on First Amendment freedom of speech grounds. Rose City T-Girls, a group whose diverse membership includes lesbians, gay men, transvestites, transgender people, and cisgender straights, meets in Portland bars on Friday evenings, and for a time was gathering at Penner’s P Club in North Portland. In June 2012, Penner left a voicemail for one of the club’s regulars asking that they not come to his bar, explaining, “Um, I really don’t like having to do that but unfortunately it’s the area we’re in and it’s hurting business a lot.” When the club member left a return message asking for the “real reason” behind his request, Penner left a second message saying while one of his North Portland bars was doing well, Friday evening business at P Club was falling off. “I’ve done some investigating as to why my sales are declining and there’s two things I keep hearing: People think that (a) we’re a tranny bar or (b) that we’re a gay bar. We are neither,” Penner said in the message. “People are not coming in because they just don’t want to be there on a Friday night now… It’s all about money.” Cassandra L ynn, the recipient of the messages, transcribed them for the rest of the Rose City GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
T-Girls, who decided not to return to P Bar. Instead, they filed complaints with Bureau of Labor and Industries, which enforces the state’s public accommodations law. BOLI found a violation of the law and assessed damages of $50,000 for each complainant and $5,000 in penalties against the bar and Penner. On appeal, Penner’s counsel argued that the law had not been violated, since none of the complainants went to the bar after the owner’s messages were received so nobody had actually been turned away or denied services. The attorneys argued that if the entire case turned on the phone messages, then it was an unconstitutional penalty for speech. The Court of Appeals found these arguments totally lacking in merit, agreeing with BOLI that the phone messages constituted “an actual denial of service.” “Through the voicemails, Penner was not just stating his opinion, but was actually informing the T -Girls that they would not be served if they came to the P Club on Friday nights,” wrote Judge Douglas L. Tookey for the court. The club and its owner were not being held liable for their speech, itself, but for the “forbidden effect” of the speech, a denial of services by a public accommodation. Penner’s assertion he was justified in his position due to a fall off in business was also rejected. Such a defense has been held invalid in public accommodations cases dating back to the 1960s when the federal civil rights laws prohibited places of public accommodation from discriminating on racial grounds. If an owner could justify denying service to a class of people because other people would stop patronizing the business, laws banning public accommodations discrimination would be toothless, at best. A September 23 story in the Oregonian reported that once the judgment against Penner was finalized, his bank accounts were seized to satisfy the penalty, he laid off five employees, and the Twilight Room Annex — the new name he gave P Club after adverse publicity about this case — closed.
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Owner’s First Amendment free speech claim rejected by Oregon appellate court
Push for Stonewall National Park Inspires Rare Unity Decision rests with Obama, but hurdles here in New York remain as well
Congressmember Jerry Nadler, flanked by State Senator Brad Hoylman and City Councilmember Corey Johnson.
Martha Shelly speaks, while Community Board 2 chair Tobi Bergman and Congressmember Jerry Nadler look on.
BY ANDY HUMM
he political, community, and activist stars are aligned to make the area outside the Stonewall bar, scene of the ‘69 rebellion that sparked the modern LGBT movement, a national park run by the National Park Service. In a rare display of unity, New York leaders from Congress, Albany, and City Hall stood with LGBT activists and West Village community leaders to call on President Barack Obama to use his power under the Antiquities Act to designate Christopher Park across the street from the bar the “Stonewall National Monument” that would anchor the park. The exact parameters of the park have yet to be solidified, but it will require the intermediate step of New York City ceding the parkland to the federal government — a move city officials and neighborhood leaders seem to be down with. The press conference announcing the campaign, led by the private National Parks Conservation Association, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and West Side Congressmember Jerry Nadler, took place on a placid, sunny late summer Sunday afternoon September 20 — a sharp contrast with the six sweltering nights of angry demonstrations in late June 1969 when police conducting a routine raid on the gay Stonewall
Inn were met with fierce, militant resistance. The spirit of Stonewall was resurrected by Martha Shelley, a Stonewall participant and founder of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) that emerged in its wake. She said that it was the mass organizing that arose right after the rebellion that made the rebellion historic. “GLF was a coalition of radical gays from those mainstream organizations, gay radicals from socialist organizations, and street queens and dykes who’d never been organized before,” she said. “We made alliances with other groups that shared our dreams of a just society, like the Black Panthers and the women’s liberation movement.” In her eye-popping address (see full remarks in the accompanying sidebar), she went on to celebrate the success of “in-your-face tactics” and bemoan the ongoing oppression of women and people of color, American militarism then and now, and the excesses of “the filthy rich.” Nadler, who was credited by State Senator Brad Hoylman with “a terrific job” of building support for this designation through an almost “block-by-block” campaign, said it would be “the first unit within the park system dedicated to LGBT history.” Nadler said, “You can now walk by the Stonewall Inn without knowing anything about the history that took place here. We’re fighting to make sure these stories are not lost.” The Park Service was credited with being good at telling the story at historic sites. More than 65 percent of the nation’s 400 national parks are sites of historic or cultural interest. Gillibrand was one of several speakers who linked the Stonewall to Seneca Falls, New York, which has a park built around its significance to the 19th century emergence of the women’s rights movement, and parts of Selma, Alabama, which has one explaining that city’s significance in the 1960s Civil Rights movement. The linkage of Stonewall, Seneca Falls, and Selma was one that Obama himself made in his second Inaugural Address. Gillibrand said that subsequent victories for the LGBT movement “were borne from the modern equal rights movement launched at Stonewall.” Democrats Nadler and Gillibrand are introducing legislation to make the Stonewall National Monument designation, but no one expects that to pass a Republican-led Congress. The Obama administration has yet to take a public stand on using his power under the Antiquities Act to make the park, but Nadler believes the president would do so once the necessary preliminary steps have been completed. Congressmember Carolyn Maloney said, “This is already the heart and center of the LGBT movement in America,” the place the
community gathers after victories, defeats, and tragedies. “We need the government to catch up with the people.” Among the other political heavy hitters on hand to voice support for the campaign were Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Councilmember Corey Johnson, who, like Hoylman, represents the West Village. Several other endorsements, perhaps more significant, came on Sunday as well. New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver was on hand, and he will be responsible for leading efforts within the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio — who has also voiced support for a park commemorating Stonewall — to cede the land to the federal government. Also among the speakers was Tobi Bergman, chair of Manhattan Community Board 2 in Greenwich Village, which unanimously endorsed the idea but awaits a final proposal on what exactly the park will look like and whether it will include features such as a visitor’s center. The park will not include the interior of the bar, which is not the original ‘69 dive bar design. The real estate company that owns it has been resistant to selling it, including to those who want to make it into a museum. But the city did landmark the exterior earlier this year, a designation that comes with more protection than its earlier ones from the National and New York State Registries of Historic Place. Bergman called Stonewall “a place of liberation” that trumps some traditional neighborhood concerns about noise and congestion. But he doesn’t want the existing city park to change. Gay civil libertarian Bill Dobbs, a spectator at the launch, said, “The federal designation sounds great, but let’s see the details — especially how people who use the park are going to be treated.” The park is already home to George Segal’s “Gay Liberation” statue of one gay and one lesbian couple and is a rare place in the West Village where neighborhood residents, including homeless people, can rest on benches. The National Parks Conservancy Association is hosting a nationwide online petition to the president asking him to “use his executive authority to create a national park for Stonewall.” Go to NPCA.org for more information. Historian David Carter, author of “Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution,” widely considered the definitive account of the events that June, was also in attendance. He said, “Our history has to be made an integral part of US history, and making this into a national park legitimizes that history.” October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Father John McNeill, Gay Catholic Pioneer, Dead at 90
His 1976 “The Church and the Homosexual” affirmed gay love, a challenge to orthodoxy for which he paid a price BY ANDY HUMM
Fathers Dan McCarthy, Bernárd Lynch, John McNeill, and Robert Carter marching with Dignity/ New York in an early 1980s LGBT Pride Parade.
ather John McNeill, a Catholic priest, moral theologian, and psychotherapist, whose groundbreaking “The Church and the Homosexual” in 1976 challenged the condemnation of gay love by Church dogma and scripture, died on September 22 in Fort Lauderdale after a long illness. He was 90. He is survived by his husband, Charles Chiarelli. While Pope Francis was in the US talking about the “crisis” facing traditional family life, it is McNeill’s call for acceptance of same-sex love that is ascendant — at least among American Catholics. McNeill’s book was both a serious work of moral theology and a rallying cry for gay and lesbian Catholics to accept themselves and be embraced fully by their Church. He dismissed interpretations of the sin of Sodom as sodomy, citing Jesus’ own take on Sodom as a town that was inhospitable to outsiders. Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, the LGBT Catholic group, said in a written release, “John was really the first major prophet of the Catholic LGBT movement.” In his book, published with official permission (imprimi potest) of his Jesuit superior after a delay of several years, McNeill wrote that “the Church’s attitude toward homosexuality is another example of structured social injustice, equally based in questionable interpretations of Scripture, prejudice, and blind adherence to merely human traditions, traditions which have been falsely interpreted as the law of nature and of God. In fact, as we have seen, it is the same ageold tradition of male control, domination, and oppression of women which underlies the oppression of the homosexual.” McNeill’s book landed like a bomb on the rigid Catholic theological landscape and attracted worldwide attention. He appeared on the “The Today Show” and “Donahue” among many nationwide TV programs to publicize his thesis,
Father John McNeill with his husband Charlie Chiarelli, in 2012.
reaching millions and provoking the Vatican, at the direction of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), to have him formally silenced — forbidden to speak out publicly on the topic of homosexuality. McNeill accepted the silencing in the hopes that many other Catholic priests would come out to defend his writings, but that did not materialize. One priest who did risk standing up for gay love was Father Bernárd Lynch, his colleague in the New York chapter of Dignity that McNeill co-founded in 1972 with the late Father Robert Carter, also a Jesuit. Speaking from his London home, Lynch said, “John McNeill deconstructed the Christian scriptures to say there is no justification in Holy Scripture for what is being done to gay people.” L ynch said that the word from inside the Vatican was that “the reason John was silenced and eventually expelled from the Jesuits was that he was
giving homosexual people too much hope.” Lynch explained, “They were telling us that Sodom was destroyed by homosexual sins of men against angels, but John showed how in fact it was the sin of inhospitality to strangers and how the Church is practicing the very sin of Sodom by being inhospitable. It changed the whole discourse in the Christian Church.” Before meeting McNeill, Lynch said, “The sight of his book being reviewed did more for my mental health than all the shrinks I saw before or since.” L ynch, also an out gay man, was recently expelled from his Irish order for speaking out against Church homophobia after a lifetime of service, including the largest AIDS ministry in New York in the depths of the epidemic during the 1980s. Jeff Stone, secretary of Dignity/ New York, said, “I was with John
on many occasions over the past 25 years and saw how profoundly he affected so many people, through his books, his retreats, his psychotherapy practice, and his public witness. He brought a message of hope and liberation to LGBT Catholics and others at a time when there were very few religious voices proclaiming that gay was good, gay was holy.” In 1987, McNeill was expelled from his Jesuit order after breaking his silence in response to the Vatican’s 1986 “Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,” an infamous and vicious anti-gay diatribe by Ratzinger that said, “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.” Even more offensive was the letter’s blaming anti-gay violence on those working for LGBT civil rights, insisting that “the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.” That was too much for McNeill, and he spoke out forcefully against Ratzinger’s teaching. McNeill’s expulsion from the Jesuits was followed by an order barring Dignity chapters from meeting in Catholic spaces. The New York chapter was thrown out of the Jesuit-run parish of St. Francis Xavier in Chelsea that had helped it grow to a congregation of 300 for Saturday night services. The group now meets in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Greenwich Village. (In the past week, a small ray of hope became visible in a New
MCNEILL, continued on p.24
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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The Politics of Whole Foods
Organic-enough and expensive, can its food sustain the earth and the workers who deliver it? BY DONNA MINKOWITZ
ow do you live in New York City on $12 an hour or less, a typical Whole Foods wage? How can you buy organic food on even a middle class income here? How can you afford meat that doesn’t come from E. coli- laden feedlots where the animals have no room to lie down or move? How can you eat food that’s good for you and the planet without taking on (even more) debt? These are the burning questions for anyone thinking about the politics of food in New York right now. (Here’s one more: how will the popularity of organics help the 1.4 million New Yorkers who currently depend on soup kitchens and food banks?) All of these questions come into play in the politics of Whole Foods, a “green mission” corporation so contradictory I had to write about it twice. Last time, if you’ll remember, we were considering Whole Foods’ flagship store in Brooklyn, made of tastefully reclaimed bricks and wood but sitting on the banks of the Gowanus Canal, which seethes with PCBs, mercury, and pathogens. Activists had opposed the store’s siting because of the risks posed by dangerously polluted runoff from the channel, which floods regularly. They also said that the megastore would gentrify the neighborhood (leading to luxury condos that will make the canal even more flood-prone), and substitute low-paying Whole Foods jobs for the high-paying manufacturing jobs the neighborhood was previously zoned for. The last two predictions have already happened. (On the first point, environmental science suggests that the wetlands restoration locals were calling for would have provided much better protection for Brooklyn residents.) Still, Whole Foods is there now, and I myself, sadly, have bought barbecued organic turkey legs there. I’ve even enjoyed the beautiful roof deck/ restaurant/ bar, a half-indoor, half-outdoor space where sufficiently well groomed people can sit for hours and take in the view even if they haven’t purchased anything.
Whole Food’s Brooklyn store is located on Third Avenue at Third Street, right above the notoriously polluted Gowanus Canal.
The question for part two of this column is: Is Whole Foods— not just this store, but the entire corporation and its 412 stores around the country — good for the world or bad, beyond my personal convenience and enjoyment? First, let’s talk about its major claim to fame — making organic food more available. Food activist and fermentation revivalist Sandor Katz, who is probably the most prominent LGBT voice in the food movement, said, “Whole Foods has gotten big through a strategy of swallowing up all the small local and regional natural food stores. Sourcing supposedly ‘organic’ produce and meat at the scale they’re doing it results in food that has much lower nutritional value and that is produced and distributed at a great cost to the environment.” For example, said the former ACT UP/ New York member, “If you’re trying to raise pastured animals, there’s a limit to what scale you can do it at. If you have 5,000 cows, you can’t actually give them access to pasture.” So your “grass-fed” burgers and “free-range” eggs may not be exactly that, depending on where you buy them. No matter what nice labels products are given, said Katz, “environmentally sound practices are far easier to do on a small scale.” Notably, most of Whole Foods’ product sourcing results in meat and
produce being trucked for many hundreds or thousands of miles, leading to a far higher carbon output than farmers’ markets or food co-ops. Katz’s first concern is echoed by nutrition scientist Marion Nestle, one of the doyennes of food activism in America, who said of the big agribusinesses that have become major players in organic farming, “Big Organic always tries to add more pesticides to what is allowed under the ‘Certified Organic’ label.” Fruit and vegetables can, in fact, be certified organic but still contain some pesticides, Nestle reports, and Big Organic is always pushing to allow more and more harmful chemicals to be allowed under the designation. Still, she said, “There was no place to get that kind of food in my neighborhood until Whole Foods came to New York. They have high quality food for people who can afford it.” That category most definitely does not apply to Whole Foods’ workers. R yan Faulkner, who worked at the store in San Francisco for two years and was an activist in the IWW’s union drive there in 2014, said that neither he nor his fellow employees could ever afford to shop there, despite their 20 percent employee discount. “As a cashier, I was making $12 an hour — the checks were like jokes,” he said.
Even after Faulkner went on to receiving work in the regional distribution center, his wages only went up to $15.23. It wasn’t possible for employees to live on those wages inside the city limits, and many commuted two hours or more from outside the city. The other major grievance was computer -driven scheduling, which changed all workers’ schedules wildly week to week, “which made it impossible if you were going to school, or if you had kids,” Faulkner said. “The people with kids would just get in impossible situations. They would never know if they could pick their kids up.” In fact, Rhiannon Broschat, a Chicago employee, was fired for staying home with her child when schools were closed because of the polar vortex last year, and Trish Kahle, another Chicago worker, was fired when she was injured in a bicycle accident but couldn’t bring in a doctor’s note to account for her absences because she couldn’t afford a visit to the doctor. Worse, workers were pressured to work so much overtime and for so many days on end that, Faulkner said, accidents in the warehouse were common. “The least you ever worked was 12 hour days, and it was frequently 16,” he said. “I saw one guy cut off a couple of his toes in the machinery. There was so much blood on the floor, but they just gave him a little award for working every day straight for a month.” As in many companies today, Whole Foods has preferred to have fewer employees working many more hours than to have to hire more staffers, which would result in higher costs overall. “They would threaten your job if you didn’t work 16 hours, and they put a lot of pressure on you to come in on your days off,” Faulkner said. “I once passed out in the freezer from exhaustion.” If the chickens the store sold were treated in this way, Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey would likely protest. Whole Foods did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
WHOLE FOOD, continued on p.19
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
WHOLE FOOD, from p.18
If you’re wondering why Trish Kahle couldn’t see a doctor, take a good look at Whole Foods’ employee health insurance, where the individual deductible, Faulkner said, was $4,500 after the Affordable Care Act went into effect. (Employees at other locations have cited deductibles ranging from $3,500 to $5,000.) As a result, according to Faulkner and other workers, very few employees opt to use the coverage. (Whole Foods does offer health savings accounts to workers.) In June, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs announced that Whole Foods had been routinely overcharging its customers at all locations in the city. “New Yorkers who shop at Whole Foods have a good chance of being overcharged,” the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Abigail Lootens told Gay City News. In DCA’s investigation, 80 different types of pre-
PREP, from p.9
among African-Americans and 30 percent were among Latinos. By demographic groups, 793, or nearly 59 percent, of the new diagnoses were among men who have sex with men. However the math is done, if new HIV diagnoses among black gay men are not reduced substantially, the Plan to End AIDS fails. The same is also true of Latino gay men. The Black LGBT Alliance has a $150,000 contract that is jointly funded by the city and state health departments to develop pro-PrEP messaging that will target black gay men. The Alliance is working on the contract with the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. The groups will conduct 25-person focus groups in six locations across the state, and they expect to issue a final report in early 2016. The goal is to determine “what type of messaging is appropriate for black men who have sex with men,” English said. While English has personal reasons for going on PrEP, he also has what might be called public health reasons — he wants black gay men to see that becoming HIV-positive is not inevitable or a matter of luck and that they can take charge of their lives and bodies. “As a person who is on PrEP, I’m GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
packaged goods (from baked goods to nuts to meat, cheese, and seafood) were found to have packages with wildly overstated weights. The lowest was an $.80 overcharge for a package of pecan panko, and the highest was an overcharge of $14.84 for a pack of coconut shrimp. Journalist Tracie McMillan, who has covered the economics of Whole Foods extensively for Slate and the Food and Environment Reporting Network, said the systematic overcharging may be a result of “Whole Foods as a company having a culture of, ‘They’ll pay it! It’s fine!’” But as economist Richard Wolff has suggested, many of us are taking on further debt — for things exactly like overpriced coconut shrimp — in order to keep up with a lifestyle we imagine “normal” people can pay for. “The bottom line is, Whole Foods is a big business,” said longtime New York State environmental activist Laura Haight. “They don’t care about us.”
saying ‘I’m negative and you can stay negative as well,’” English said. When he talks about PrEP to his peers, they can be perplexed. “It seems they’re confused,” he said. “I tell them I’m on PrEP, they think I’m HIV-positive.” Men can be “apprehensive,” English said, and concerned that they will be mistaken for HIV-positive or that there may be side effects. English has heard some discussion that PrEP is some sort of medical experiment. “I think that by my telling them that I’m on it, they’re relieved,” he said. English had his own struggles with PrEP. He first visited a community health center in Brooklyn to get access to the drug. Staff there had never heard of the intervention. “They didn’t know what PrEP was, and I sat down and I explained it to them,” English said. He ended going to the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Chelsea and is now seeing a private doctor for the quarterly screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and blood work that are part of the PrEP regimen. “Negative men are in the closet in HIV prevention,” English said. “For a long time, it’s been only the positive men and that’s not fair to them to make them carry that burden.”
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Rogue Alabama Supreme Court Denies Recognition to Georgia Co-Parent Adoption In end run around federal full faith and credit constitutional obligation, eight of nine justices create “jurisdictional” quibble BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
nder the US Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, a state court is supposed to recognize the judgments of courts from other states unless those courts did not have jurisdiction over the parties or the subject matter of the case. Asked to rule on whether an Alabama court must recognize a Georgia adoption decree involving a same-sex couple, however, the Alabama Supreme Court manufactured a jurisdictional issue in order to reverse a ruling by Alabama’s Court of Civil Appeals and deny recognition to the Georgia adoption. As a result, the child’s adoptive mother, identified in court papers as V.L., will be denied visitation with the children she had been raising with her former partner. The Alabama court issued its September 18 decision in E.L. v. V.L. “per curiam,” which means that none of the justices took credit for this opinion. Justice Greg Shaw was the sole dissenter, arguing that there was no jurisdictional issue in the case and that the court was required to recognize the adoption. The women, involved in a relationship for six years during which they resided in Alabama, decided to have children through donor insemination. E.L. gave birth to one child in 2002 and twins in 2004. Following their birth, V.L. acted as a parent to the children along with E.L. The women decided jointly to have V.L. adopt the children as a co-parent, but that was impossible in Alabama at that time. They learned through friends in Georgia, however, that the Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta had granted second-parent adoption petitions, and the only thing that stood in their way was a six-month residency requirement. They rented a place in Georgia to establish residency, proceeded through the formal adoption procedures, and obtained an adoption decree on May 30, 2007, after which they resumed full-time residency in Alabama.
Subsequently they obtained new birth certificates for the children listing V.L. as a parent, presumably by showing the adoption decree to the appropriate Alabama clerk to obtain the new birth certificates. The women ended their relationship in November 2011, and V.L. moved out. E.L. eventually denied her further access to the children, so V.L. brought the Georgia adoption decree to the Jefferson Circuit Court in Birmingham, asking to have it registered and seeking a declaration of her legal parental rights, including “some measure of custody of or visitation with the children.” Her case was transferred to the County Family Court, which
They worked in Alabama and spent just a few days in the Georgia place for appearance sake when the child welfare officials came to interview the family regarding the adoption. E.L. also argued that Georgia’s adoption statute did not allow for the second-parent adoptions taking place in Atlanta, so the Alabama court did not have the power to approve such an adoption. Under Georgia law, she asserted, a third party can only adopt a child if the parents have first “surrendered or had terminated” their rights. The Alabama Supreme Court embraced this second, subject-matter objection to the Georgia court’s jurisdiction.
Somehow, the Alabama court concluded that the Georgia dissenter provided “the proper analysis” of that state’s adoption statute, and so could be relied on in rejecting the adoption on jurisdictional grounds.
awarded V.L. visitation rights. E.L. then appealed to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, which rejected most of her arguments but agreed that the family court should have granted E.L. a hearing on the “best interest of the children.” E.L., however, was not satisfied with that, since the appellate ruling implicitly rejected her argument that the Georgia adoption was invalid. She appealed that part of the decision to the Alabama Supreme Court, which ruled several weeks ago. In its ruling, the high court reversed the lower appeals court, concluding that Alabama was not required to give full faith and credit to the Georgia adoption decree. To reach that conclusion, the Alabama court had to find that the Fulton Family Court lacked jurisdiction either over this family or over the subject matter of the adoption proceeding. E.L. contended the women had not really established residence in Georgia, since they never moved into the residence they rented there.
E.L.’s assertion that Georgia law does not provide for the second-parent adoption V.L. secured is a matter that state’s Supreme Court has never addressed, but the Alabama Supreme Court premised its conclusion on a dissenting opinion of a single judge on the Georgia court when that bench denied review in a second-parent case. Somehow, the Alabama court concluded that the Georgia dissenter provided “the proper analysis” of that state’s adoption statute, and so could be relied on in rejecting the adoption on jurisdictional grounds. Under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the Alabama court may not inquire into the “merits” of Georgia court’s decision, but it has the authority to refuse to recognize it on jurisdictional grounds. The Alabama court concluded that the court “erred by entering the Georgia judgment by which V.L. became an adoptive parent of the children” and found that this error was jurisdictional, not just a misinterpretation of Georgia law. “The Georgia court was not empowered
to enter the Georgia judgment,” the Alabama court concluded, and thus “lacked subject-matter jurisdiction” over the matter. Justice Shaw’s dissent is clear and to the point. The provision in the Georgia adoption statute that the Alabama Supreme Court invoked “speaks to the merits of whether the adoption should be granted — not to whether the trial court obtains subject-matter jurisdiction,” he wrote, noting that Georgia statutes give the Georgia Superior Court jurisdiction “in all matters of adoption.” Shaw added, “This would include adoption matters where the petitioners fail to ‘satisfy’ the court that the requisites for an adoption were met.” While Shaw would “tend to agree” that on the merits the Georgia Superior Court erred by construing Georgia’s adoption statute to allow V.L.’s adoption of her child, that was irrelevant to a full faith and credit constitutional analysis. “Our case law prohibits an inquiry into the merits of a foreign judgment,” he insisted. “Further, I fear that this case creates a dangerous precedent that calls into question the finality of adoptions in Alabama.” The National Center for Lesbian Rights represents V.L. together with Alabama lawyers Heather Fann and Traci Vella. Although they criticized the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling, it was unclear whether these attorneys will seek US Supreme Court review. The nation’s high court has tur ned down prior requests to review lower court rulings on gay adoption issues, most prominently a US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision refusing to order Louisiana to recognize the New York adoption of a Louisiana-born child by a New York couple who were seeking an appropriate birth certificate. The Fifth Circuit concluded that federal district courts do not have authority to order state government officials to recognize out-of-state adoptions. Such case, it held, must be brought in state courts. Facing the outspokenly antigay Alabama Supreme Court, V.L. found that the state court route can in some cases be fruitless. October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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A Vindication for Activism — and Rehabilitation, Too
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BY PAUL SCHINDLER The past several days have witnessed two impressive examples of how activism — patient, persistent, uncompromising, and unwilling to settle — can pay off in the end. On Tuesday, the organizers of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade announced they would, for the first time, open the Fifth Avenue event to an LGBT Irish contingent, ending a standoff that dates back a quarter of a century. And, on Saturday, in response to a “Candles for Clemency” demonstration near Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Westchester County home, the state announced it was reviewing petitions for early release from prison inmates, some of them convicted of violent crimes, who have served long sentences and demonstrated evidence of sincere rehabilitation. The St. Patrick’s controversy dates back to the early 1990s, when members of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization (ILGO), denied entry into what organizers said was a “religious” event, were invited to march instead with Mayor David Dinkins. The insults and beer bottles that greeted the contingent — and the city’s first African-American mayor — recalled, in the mind of Dinkins and others, the ugly backlash against the Civil Rights Movement a generation earlier. The incident did, however, provide the moral high ground for LGBT advocates to call for a boycott of the parade.
Thanks to the resolve of ILGO leaders such as Brendan Fay and Ann Maguire and the willingness of politicians such as then-City Councilmember Tom Duane and his top lieutenant, Christine Quinn, to get arrested in demonstrations at the start of the parade year after year, the boycott enjoyed widespread support. Over the years, Mayors Dinkins and Bill de Blasio honored it, as did most progressive New York City politicians. Regrettably, Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg and, in 2000, Senate candidate Hillary Clinton did not toe the line, and so the parade was able to continue claiming an underserved respectability. This past March, the parade organizers pulled a move that could have undermined the resolve of boycott supporters. Out@NBC, the LGBT employee group at the network that owns WNBC, the parade’s chief sponsor, was allowed to march. It was thanks to Irish Queers, a successor activist group to ILGO that includes boycott veterans such as Emmaia Gelman, that opposition to the organizers’ gesture was mobilized. At their urging, de Blasio and other progressives remained on the sidelines on March 17, holding out for the inclusion of an Irish LGBT group. With new leadership, the parade has now invited the Lavender & Green Alliance — a group led by Fay, who for the past 15 years has produced a successful, inclusive St. Pat’s For All event in Queens — to join the ranks on Fifth Avenue. It’s a victory for Lavender & Green, for Irish Queers, for former ILGO stalwarts, and for the leaders and the community that heeded their unwaver-
ing call to stand up to injustice. Injustice is also the target of “Candles for Clemency,” an effort spearheaded by longtime gay activist Allen Roskoff, president of the LGBT-focused Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, and Tony Hoffman, a former president of the Village Independent Democrats. For seven years, Roskoff has worked to raise awareness of a population of aging prison inmates who have served decades of time but not been given an opportunity to demonstrate that what we’d like to think prisons can do — rehabilitate criminal offenders — actually worked in their lives. Roskoff has long had an interest in the case of Judy Clark, a lesbian who was convicted for her role in the 1981 Westchester County Brinks robbery that involved the murder of two police officers. Last year, more than 1,000 letters went to Cuomo attesting to the way Clark has turned around her life during more than three decades in prison and serves as a model and mentor for younger inmates at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. But Roskoff hasn’t limited his advocacy to that case, instead pushing the governor and his administration to undertake a thorough review of a broad range of clemency appeals. Cuomo called Roskoff to commit to moving on the issue and dispatched his top legal aide, former Lambda Legal attorney Alphonso David, to the Westchester County “Candles” demonstration this past weekend to pledge cooperation. The proof, of course, will be in the pudding, but in a state with far too many prison inmates, the governor’s willingness to acknowledge that rehabilitation should be a part of the correctional system’s mission and to consider compassionate release is encouraging. And the activists who mounted the “Candles for Clemency” campaign deserve praise.
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PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad
Storifying Stonewall BY KELLY COGSWELL
’m not surprised that the director of the new movie “Stonewall” sidelined the butches and drag queens of color for a hero who was gay and white and male and so macho that nobody was gonna be
checking his trousers to see if he had all the equipment promised by that pale chiseled face. After all, that’s what the LGBT movement did, tidying up its history almost as quickly as the broken glass and ashes were cleared from the West Village streets. Only four years after -
wards, Sylvia Rivera, one of the original Stonewall riot girls, had to claw her way onto the stage of the 1973 Pride celebration, wait out the jeers before she could speak about how trans women were getting beaten and raped in jail, and call on the community to look outside the inner circle of
white middle class concerns. Even now, national LGBT groups put forward only their whitest, most gender-conforming foot, and until recently would jettison the T any time trans issues seemed a stumbling block to pro-gay legislation. Questions of racism in our community are still barely acknowledged.
DYKE ABROAD, continued on p.23
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
The Standards Jonathan Capehart Sets For Himself BY ED SIKOV
onathan Capehart is one of the smartest, most conscience-driven journalists in the country. Currently a columnist and member of the editorial board at the Washington Post, Capehart was part of the winning team for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Best Editorial Writing for a series of New York Daily News pieces he and some colleagues wrote about Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Capehart is also an MSNBC commentator as well as a periodic understudy for many MSNBC shows. Unlike two other gay MSNBC contributors — who shall remain named Steve Kor nacki and Josh Barro — Capehart actually answered my interview request with a friendly, speedy acceptance. Here’s what we talked about: ED SIKOV: After the Supreme Court’s decision in the Obergfell v. Hodges case — the case that struck down state laws against same-sex marriage and provided federal legal status to all existing and future same-sex marriages — you wrote: “In three majority opinions spanning 12 years, Supreme Court
DYKE ABROAD, from p.22
So why would we expect more from the ear nest gay director Roland Emmerich, who told Buzzfeed he just wanted to make sure LGBT kids knew their history and, in particular, shed a little light on LGBT homelessness? I don’t even care that he said he wanted a “straight-acting” character that middle America could identify with, because isn’t that what most directors want, especially mainstream directors like Emmerich? He’s best known for blockbuster action films that feature likeable, macho central figures, and narrative arcs that never diverge as they move toward their inevitably exciting but happy conclusions. While he deserves his props for casting actor Will Smith as the lead in “Independence Day,” when that seemed a daring choice, and centering an interracial couple in “The Day After Tomorrow,” these movies still warn us not to expect subtlety or any careful handling of GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
Justice Anthony Kennedy gave dignity to the lives of lesbians and gay men. His rulings respected their struggle for full inclusion in the American Dream and opened its doors to them.” Why “their” and “them,” not “our” and “us?” JONATHAN CAPEHART: Ahhh, it’s the age-old tension. How much do I allow my identity to be a part of a piece? There are plenty of pieces where I have used “us,” “we,” and “our” in print and on television. I usually err on the side of not because using those pronouns all the time can set up a barrier between what I’m trying to say and the reader, who might not be LGBT and open to/ get the point I’m hoping they will see. In the case of the SCOTUS ruling, I was going for the sweeping statement from a remove to make the historical point less personal and more national in scope. Besides, I’ve come out so many times in my pieces and on television that if someone doesn’t know I’m a member of the tribe, that’s on them. ES: Who are your role models? Who has influenced you most? JC: So many people you’ve never heard of. But I’ll give you two. My longtime dear friend
what historians like to call facts. In fact, it seems he treated “Stonewall” like any fiction film, imagining that if somebody had to pick up that brick and throw it, and if it would help get this important story told, why not a nice white boy from Indiana that the rest of America could identify with — and maybe even elicit a little sympathy for LGBT issues, especially queer kids that were the bulk of the original Stonewall crowd? At least he didn’t pretend to be doing a documentary, unlike some films about ACT UP that also give the impression that our most important activists have always been white and male. For me, the problem of “Stonewall” and other films like it is as much the form as the usual content. Suppose Emmerich had been writing the film now, taking into account all the recent progress we’ve had in trans visibility, and deciding to give center stage, for instance, to Marsha P. Johnson. Would it have changed the film in
Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. His very example, just being himself as an openly gay black man in the world he inhabits, has taught me so much. And my mom, who never once quashed my dreams of being a journalist (and one who is on television, at that) despite us not having anyone in journalism or in television news in our family. Her faith in me and the faith of so many others in my potential taught me to encourage the dreams of others, no matter how impossible they might seem. ES: Do you have any particular responsibilities as a gay journalist of color that, say, a straight white guy doesn’t have? JC: Whatever responsibility I feel is of my own making. I don’t feel a responsibility to comment on everything that’s happening to black, LGBT, and black LGBT people. But I know that when I do comment, my voice will be heard loud and clear. Unlike in my LGBT pieces, I’m more likely to inject my personal experience and thoughts/ feelings — us, we, our, my — in pieces about black people, particularly men, being killed for mundane reasons. In those cases, I do it because, one, folks can see I’m black. But also, I want it to be crystal clear that despite whatever success I might have or that people think I have, my fate is no different than any of the men and boys we’ve
any significant way? Or like Dan, would a Marsha-like character exist mostly to suffer for a while, overcome adversity, and develop into a heroine, just in time for a happy, happy ending, in this case conveniently taking place before the real Marsha’s violent death. You’d get a black trans face in there, and maybe be closer to the facts, both of which are good, but not good enough, since what I want is a film about Stonewall and the queer experience that actually comes closer to the messy truth. That’s the fundamental problem, after all, with all these kinds of heroic social change films. They homogenize experience, flatten it out, so that it is impossible, for me anyway, to recognize “history” onscreen where all the activists are heroes, even if they are flawed. And success is always inevitable. Even last year’s movie “Pride” had that kind of glow about it. No matter that the queer campaign in Britain to support striking miners eventually failed, we did get to see hearts
MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.24
and minds changed as some conservative miners relinquished their homophobia and supported the queers in a big fuzzy hug at their own Pride Parade. The death of one of the gay characters of AIDS just lent an additional poignancy to the whole thing. I suppose it’s tempting, especially for embattled movements, to create these little mythologies in which we raise our fists at the right places, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and never fight with each other for more than a few minutes. But they aren’t real. Even if they are eventually made more representative, seemingly more accurate, these stories cannot be our stories until that traditional narrative is broken, twisted, queered. Until we learn to celebrate failure without sneering at success, and bust the story open to reveal how much we’ve accomplished, less by charging heroically ahead, than by simply persisting, sometimes in blind hope, sometimes in rage.
Father John McNeill receiving a City Council proclamation from Councilmember Daniel Dromm at a 2012 screening of Brendan Fay’s documentary about McNeill's life, "Taking a Chance on God."
MCNEILL, from p.16
York Times feature about Xavier High School, next door to the church but unrelated to it, which now has a gay-straight alliance group — unusual for a Catholic high school.) In addition to numerous awards fr om LGBT religious gr oups, McNeill was honored as a grand marshal of the New York LGBT Pride Parade in 1987. While not for mally laicized, McNeill was denied a Jesuit pension and made his living as a psychotherapist and through giving retreats. He authored numerous other books including “Taking a Chance on God” and “Freedom, Glorious Freedom,” which expanded on themes first explored in “The Church and the Homosexual.” In his autobiography, “Both Feet Firmly Planted in Midair: My Spiritual Journey” in 1998, McNeill recounted his experience as a starv-
ing American prisoner of war at the age of 17 in Germany during World War II. Seeing his plight — he was down to 90 pounds — a Polish slave laborer risked death and tossed him a potato and made the sign of the cross. It was then that McNeill vowed to become a priest. McNeill shared his life with Chiarelli for almost 50 years. In McNeill’s early appearances on TV defending his book, he acknowledged being “psychically gay” but was not open about his committed relationship. After the expulsion from the Jesuits, he opened up about it. The couple legally married in 2009. “John’s courage and fortitude around the LGBT movement was enabled and ennobled long before he came to the forefront by his love for Charlie Chiarelli,” Lynch said. “John would not have the strength to do what he did the way he did it without Charlie to come home to throughout.” John J. McNeill was born in Buffalo on September 2, 1925. He entered the Jesuits in 1948 and was ordained — by the notoriously closeted gay Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York — in 1959. He taught philosophy and moral theology at the Jesuit LeMoyne College in Syracuse and later at Woodstock College, which also had a Jesuit affiliation. McNeill’s involvement in activism against the Vietnam War moved him along the path of a more radical approach to gay activism. His brother Jesuit Daniel Berrigan was one of the leading peace activists of the era and later a member of the Woodstock Community of Jesuits upstate with McNeill and Carter. I encountered McNeill as a new
MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.23
mourned in the last 14 months alone. If Sandra Bland can die after a traffic stop; if John Crawford can be killed just for walking with a toy gun in Wal-Mart, which sells toy guns; if Levar Jones can be shot by a state trooper for following his order to get his driver’s license, then there but for the grace of God go I. ES: In one of your WaPo columns, you write: “The LGBT community must do a better job of making common cause with others seeking equality and freedom from discrimination. Where is the community on immigration? On economic inequality? On racial justice?” It’s easy to call for bridge building, but
member of Dignity in 1975 (I left the group and the Church in 1982). He gave a talk to the membership based on his as yet unpublished book and I will never forget him starting out by saying, “First of all, no serious moral theologian considers masturbation a sin.” An audible sigh of relief rose up from the assembled. McNeill actually put a heavy emphasis on Catholics needing to grow up into a mature faith and stop being dependent on what the hierarchy said. In accepting an award from the pro-gay New Ways Ministry in 2009, McNeill said, “One of the greatest beneficiaries of the fallibility of Church authorities has been the LGBT Catholic community. We came to realize early on that we could not accept and obey Church teaching on homosexuality without destroying ourselves physically, psychologically, and spirituality. Consequently, as a matter of survival we had to take distance from Church teaching, develop our freedom of conscience, and learn to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to us through our experience. The result has been that the LGBT community is leading the way to transform the Catholic Church into a Church of the Holy Spirit.” When his persecutor Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005, McNeill said it was the work of “the Holy Spirit” that would push more Catholics away from top-down governance and even trigger such reforms as women priests. But while Ratzinger was a divisive figure content with making his Church smaller if it were purer in doctrine, his leadership
how do you suggest we accomplish it in practical terms? JC: Easy. By reaching out and recognizing that LGBT people are touched by every issue roiling this country. There are LGBT undocumented immigrants. There are LGBT people who will benefit from criminal justice reform. There are LGBT people falling victim to excessive force by police. There are LGBT people denied racial justice. There are LGBT people caught in the yawning income inequality gap. The issues facing the community have always been more than about marriage. My hope is that it will do a better job of forging the alliances needed to make progress for all. A perfect example of this: All you need do is look at what Rea Carey is doing at the Nation-
did not provoke any serious backlash in favor of reform. Many look to Pope Francis as a reformer, and he is slowly working to shake up the Curia that governs the Church from the Vatican, but even he has declared himself closed to women priests and to allowing the use of artificial contraception, much less to affirming gay love. McNeill strongly advocated for women priests and equality. He once wrote, “At the heart of all homophobia is feminaphobia and the repression of the feminine. Gay men are seen as a threat to patriarchy because they are frequently in touch with and act in accord with the feminine dimension of themselves. It is clear that feminine and gay liberation are so intimately linked that gays should give full support to women’s liberation and vice versa.” Irish gay activist Brendan Fay’s documentary on McNeill, “Taking a Chance on God,” tells his stirring life story. Fay hailed him on Facebook as “Gay priest, prophetic witness, healer, warm friend, teacher, bearer of hope and tenderness — oh we will miss him.” Fay is planning a memorial service in New York, date to be announced. Out gay City Councilmember Daniel Dromm of Queens met McNeill at a Dignity meeting at the Woodstock Jesuit community in New York in 1974. In an email, Dromm wrote that despite all the adversity McNeill suffered at the hands of his own Church, he “remained kind, loving, and compassionate. History will eventually record John's theological viewpoint — that gay sexuality is as sacred as heterosexuality — was correct.”
al LGBTQ Task Force for a great example. Through Twitter and through action, she and the organization she leads are showing how to do build those bridges. ES: My final question is an homage à Barbara Walters: What makes you cwy? JC: Two things get me every time. Leontyne Price singing “America the Beautiful” in her “Return to Carnegie Hall” performance. When she hits that high-C on “sea to shining SEA!,” the tears just flow. It’s so beautiful. And the scene in “Auntie Mame” when she realizes who Patrick is and with outstretched arms cries in delight, “Why, darling, I’m your Auntie Mame!” There’s so much joy in that scene. So much joy. October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Trans Victory in Prison Rape Elimination Act Complaint
Maryland’s agreement to abide by administrative judge’s recommendations is a first under federal statute BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
he State of Maryland has accepted most of the recommendations from a state administrative law judge requiring its Division of Public Safety and Correction Services to implement key elements of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, a statute whose regulations address important issues regarding how to treat transgender inmates. The August 17 announcement from Stephen T. Moyer, the Division’s secretary — in response to Judge Denise Oakes Shaffer’s April 1 ruling on a grievance brought by inmate Neon Brown — has been described in some media accounts as the first legal victory by a transgender inmate under the PREA. The PREA was enacted with bipartisan support in both houses of Congress in 2003, following hearings and studies documenting the epidemic of sexual assault in the nation’s prisons. The legisla-
tion was intended to establish common-sense policies to reduce such violence, but Congress did not specifically authorize inmates to bring lawsuits to enforce their rights. Brown’s grievance made clear how far short the good intentions of PREA can fall. Corrections staff at the state’s Patuxent Institution, where Brown was incarcerated for purposes of a mental health assessment from February 4 through April 11, 2014, professed ignorance about the PREA and the specific regulations concerning transgender inmates. In trying to decide how to conduct a strip search of a transgender inmate, for example, Orlando Johnson, the facility’s chief of security, testified that it was a “make it up as you go” situation. When Brown arrived at Patuxent, she was immediately separated from the other inmates and taken to the medical unit. All incoming inmates are strip-searched for the purpose of detecting and confiscating contraband, but it was clear
from Johnson’s testimony that officers were also looking to see “if the inmate made the transition from female to male” (in fact, she was transitioning from male to female). The strip search was conducted by two corrections officers in the presence of medical unit staff. A female corrections officer searched the top half of Brown’s body, and then she was allowed to put on a top garment and a male officer searched the lower half of her body. Since hormone therapy led Brown to develop breasts while she had male genitals, Johnson decided to put her into administrative segregation — isolation — having judged that as a transgender inmate she posed a “possible threat to the security of the institution.” Neither he nor anyone else made an individualized risk assessment of Brown’s vulnerability at that time. Indeed, even before she arrived, officials had decided on isolation for her. The psychiatric evaluation on Brown was completed by February 20, but Patuxent kept her
in isolation for another 50 days and on only one occasion was she given access to recreational facilities. Brown claimed she was deprived of showers, but Judge Shaffer found she actually was allowed to shower, though not without adverse incident. “On at least one occasion,” Shaffer wrote, “unidentified correctional officers pulled a curtain back to stare at [Brown] while she showered,” and this was “not done for security purposes.” Brown testified that throughout her time there she “was taunted and harassed by Patuxent employees,” particularly Sergeant Dawn Halsey, “who repeatedly referred to the Grievant as an ‘it,’” Shaffer found. “Sergeant Halsey told the Grievant that she was not a real woman and should kill herself. These statements left the Grievant feeling belittled and contemplating suicide.” The judge also found, based on testimony by another inmate in an
PRISON, continued on p.40
72-02 Astoria Boulevard East Elmhurst, NY 11370 Contact Duane Henderson, Counselor 718-278-3240 Office • 914-714-8174 Cell
GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
Dedicated to Telling a Story of Love Ellen Page portrays Stacie Andree in her struggle to be recognized as the surviving partner of Detective Laurel Hester BY GARY M. KRAMER
Directed by Peter Sollett Lionsgate Entertainment Opens Oct. 2 Landmark Sunshine Cinemas 143 E. Houston St. Btwn. First & Second Aves. lanmarktheatres.com Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas 260 W. 23rd St. bowtiecinemas.com AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 1998 Broadway at W. 68th St. amctheatres.com
Ellen Page and Page with Julianne Moore in Peter Sollett’s “Freeheld,” based on real events in New Jersey.
that in a slightly more layered way. This wasn’t just a fight about coming out. It is about — Why do we have to live and compromise our love and relationships? I found that in my personal experience. I think telling this story is important because Stacie and Laurel did something crucial in a time of unimaginable difficulty, and I wanted to be a part of telling their story. LIONSGATE ENTERTAINMENT
he affecting drama “Freeheld” is based on the true story (and 2007 Osca r - w in n in g s h o r t documentary) about Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore), a dedicated detective in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, who must fight for justice when, faced with terminal breast cancer, she learns that her legal domestic partner, Stacie Andree (Ellen Page), is not eligible for pension benefits. In the days before civil unions there — never mind marriage equality — domestic partnership offered limited rights and protections, and the elected Freeholders of Ocean County had the power to decide the question of pension benefits for public employees in same-sex partnerships. The county’s refusal to grant Laurel’s pension benefits to Stacie would, after Laurel’s death, likely have forced her out of the home they shared. The film, written by Ron Nyswaner (“Philadelphia,”) and directed by Peter Sollett (“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”), chronicles how Laurel and Stacie at first reluctantly but over time emphatically challenge the pension denial. They enlist the help of Steven Goldstein (Steve Carell), an activist who founded Garden State Equality. Laurel’s partner on the force, Dane Wells (Michael Shannon), a straight ally, helps mobilize the fight for equality among her fellow officers. How the story turns out may not be much of a surprise, but “Freeheld” generates great emotional power — not primarily in the fight for equality but rather in the intimate moments between Laurel and Stacie — on a date or setting up their dream house. Moore and Page are incredibly endearing as a couple. The out lesbian Page, who plays Stacie as a tough but tender-hearted partner, spoke with Gay City News about making her passion project.
GARY M. KRAMER: You have a producer credit on the film. Why was this story important to be told, and told now? ELLEN PAGE: I attached myself to this film when I was 21, so it’s been a long time. I was involved pre-screenplay, pre-director, pre-Julianne. I think the film is important now because while the Supreme Court decision is amazing and unbelievable and the progress is astonishing, there is so much more work to do for true equality. In many civil rights movements, there is always some backlash. I think this film shows why that recent decision is so important. “Freeheld” tells the story in the macro and micro perspectives.
How inequality makes people feel: we’re not going to value your love; you are less than us. And the couple’s socio-economic situation has the real impact — especially when we talk about equality in the large political sense. And to convey what that decision means and what discrimination does is to make people feel that they are validated, and what their love is and that it is being respected. GMK: What emotional buttons does the story press for you and why? EP: I think I have a similar response to what it means to be together in a relationship that’s closeted. It was exciting to explore
GMK: You tend to play tough, determined women, but in “Freeheld,” your character is more passive. How did you approach this character? EP: Stacie is a very shy person. You get to know her and she’s incredibly funny and deeply, deeply sensitive. But she’s very quiet. Her journey is powerful. She did not want to invest in the activism at first. Doing so would acknowledge that her lover is going to die. She was doing her job, navigating the insurance companies, and activism. So she didn’t have an opportunity to be vulnerable. GMK: What sparked with you about Stacie in your meeting? EP: When I met Stacie, the thing that was most evident is her desire to tell this love story and make that the emotional through-line — her complete and utter dedication to
FREEHELD, continued on p.33
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Nailing the Riots, But Not Their Meaning STONEWALL
PHILIPPE BOSSÉ/ ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS
Director Roland Emmerich is most sure-footed when things get explosive.
Roland Emmerich struggles to capture LGBT life on the margins at the time of Stonewall BY STEVE ERICKSON
GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
first-hand experience with the lower depths he’s depicting. The charges of whitewashing are somewhat justified, although the complaint that “Stonewall” presents a world of butch white gay men is not. There are a number of black men and trans women in the film, but for the most part they’re relegated to the background. Even future activist Marsha P. Johnson gets relatively little screen time. Ray seems intended to be Latino, but this is never made explicit in the film. The film does succeed in presenting a vision of a time where gender identity was a lot more fluid than it is now among gay men. In the world of “Stonewall,” gay, drag, and trans are overlapping identities. In 2015, this seems rather refreshing. Duncan Osbor ne’s interview Roland Emmerich’s strengths as with director Roland Emmerich, the a director are extremely limited. To cover story from last issue, is availbe blunt, he seems best when he able at gaycitynews.nyc/fictioncan depict explosions and destruc- best-route-truth. tion. He’s tried sneaking in liberal politics among the apocalyptic visions, as in “The Day After Tomorrow,” but there’s something a bit contradictory about expressing an environmentalist message through a catastrophe the film obviously revels in. “Stonewall” is the kind of film that’s almost never been made: a Hollywood epic about the gay Jonny Beauchamp as Ray, a street kid, in Roland Emmerich’s rights movement. Gus “Stonewall.” PHILIPPE BOSSÉ/ ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS
enerally, trailers are intended to promote films and get people excited about them. The release of the trailer for Roland Emmerich’s “Stonewall” had the exact opposite effect. It depicted the milieu around the Stonewall Inn in the late ‘60s as 90 percent white, with few visible drag queens. The release of a cast list, featuring mostly white actors, didn’t help. Calls for protest and even a boycott followed. It’s interesting that “Stonewall” is the first film made within our community — at least to the extent that director Emmerich and screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz are openly gay — to generate such a response. “Cruising,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” and “Basic Instinct” drew similar protests, but they were greeted as insults from outsiders. This time, the outcry is about how a privileged white gay man depicts people of color — or leaves them offscreen, as the case may be. High school senior Danny (Jeremy Irvine), a white fictional character, lives in a small Midwestern town and keeps his gayness a secret, but gets caught having sex with another
boy in a car. His homophobic father throws him out of the house. He takes a bus to New York, where he heads to Sheridan Square. He meets a group of street hustlers led by Ray (Jonny Beauchamp), who hang out on Christopher Street and occasionally turn tricks. Danny wants to go to Columbia, but his parents are blocking his application from going through. On his first trip to the Stonewall Inn, he meets a cute guy, Trevor (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and becomes attracted to him, but he learns about the ugly side of gay life when the bar is raided by the cops. Most of the time, it seems as though Emmerich learned about New York bohemia from seeing “Rent.” One thing the film gets right is the way that many gay men, especially those who’ve been rejected by their birth families, form networks of friends and rely on them for support. Ray allows Danny to share whatever impromptu accommodations he has, and he does the same for all his many friends. The problem is that “Stonewall” can’t help making poverty and homelessness look photogenic and turn sex work into another obstacle to be overcome on its hero’s journey. I got the impression Emmerich has no
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
van Sant’s “Milk” is the only parallel that comes to mind, and I suspect van Sant would have done a better job of directing “Stonewall.” The Stonewall riots are genuinely stirring, as they play to Emmerich’s interests and he directs the action well, but the scenes in Middle America are corny sub-Spielberg stuff. The significance of the Stonewall riots may not have been the uprisings themselves — they weren’t the first protests at gay bar busts in the late ‘60s — but the wave of political activism that happened afterwards, as the relatively polite Mattachine Society (unflatteringly depicted in “Stonewall”) was left in the dust and more radical groups like the Gay Liberation Front, Gay Activists Alliance, and S.T.A.R. formed. “Stonewall” botches this moment and winds up almost depoliticizing the riots. In the end, it suggests their main significance was leading to Pride parades around the world. That’s true, but it’s a small part of a much bigger cause. Emmerich says he was inspired to make “Stonewall” by learning that 40 percent of homeless teens are LGBT. His heart’s in the right place, but the director of “Independence Day” is perhaps not the best person to capture the gritty and multi-racial reality of street life, then or now.
The Power of Us B Proud chronicles the beauty and burdens of the fight for LGBT families BY DONNA ACETO
Toby and Michael met during a party weekend in New Orleans 18 years ago.
FIRST COMES LOVE By B Proud Foreword by Edie Windsor $50; 148 pages Available at firstcomeslove.org
B PROUD, continued on p.29
STUART A. WATSON
the insecurities of illness or possible deportation. All of them introduced with respect and delicacy. When I returned to work at my Wall Street job after a weekend at the 1993 LGBT March on Washington — having said I was visiting friends in Maryland — I found a copy of an Anna Quinlan column face down on my desk. “The Power of One” was about knowing one gay person and because of that accepting all of them. It was written for the occasion. Our occasion. The past few years have been an entirely different journey than that of the ‘90s. It has been nothing short of whirlwind. “First Comes Love” is a book each of us will find personally important — likely for different reasons. But all of our lives have been affected by the changes in how our relationships are viewed by the society we live in. Now is our time to share the power of two — and three and four and more — with those who love us and understand the importance of our freedom but may not fully
Photographer and author Barbara Proud and her wife Allison L. Cassidy, who have been together for 26 years.
t was July of 2006 when I took my very first photo of a little girl named Jackie with one of her moms, who was then nameless to me. Busy for years doing photography chronicling the AIDS crisis, I was a latecomer to the marriage equality movement, but this was my beginning. News photography — barring a Pulitzer — is fleeting. “First Comes Love,” by B Proud, is forever. Unquestionably a stunning book, “First Comes Love” is so much more. It is a gift. The answer to Momma’s worries that we have no permanence, no one “to take care” of us. A gift for Aunt Margaret in Peoria to show her friends that she not only loves us, but a whole world of nieces and nephews out there, as well. Put it on her coffee table, for all of us. It’s possibly a gift for some of our best old college chums as well, just because they love us, too. Laws do not change hearts and minds. We saw that nearly a decade after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision as George Wallace barred the doors at the University of Alabama and when white Chicagoans rose up in rage at Martin Luther King’s open housing campaign. A picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures change hearts and minds. Proud’s gorgeous images come with a few beautifully written words, as well. Time was spent creating this work — far more time than simply finding a suitable light reading and environmental set-up. These lovely portraits are enhanced by a true connection between the photographer and her subjects. Over the years, Proud has given us some beloved activists like Barbara Gittings and Bishop Gene Robinson, as well as the Prop 8 plaintiffs and Edie Windsor. Her work is always a welcome reminder of how we have arrived at this place. And beyond the marquee names, we are invited to meet new faces. Happy secure couples and families, as well as some struggling against
Activist Barbara Gittings and photojournalist Kay Lahusen, who were together for 46 years until Gittings’ death in 2007.
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Leng Lim and Home Nguyen met 19 years ago while doing HIV prevention work.
B PROUD, from p.28
appreciate that everyone doesn’t. Proud’s book is the perfect vehicle to spread the word. Leng Lim, who shares his life with Home Nguyen, says it best in “First Comes Love”: “Relationships hold together because they contribute to the community and therefore the community needs to acknowledge what two people are trying to do together. It’s a com-
munity effort.” Jackie Marino Thomas is no longer a little girl. She is a beautiful young woman. Her activist mom Cathy is anything but nameless. With her other mom and Cathy’s spouse Sheila, the three make an iconic family portrait for marriage equality. I am forever grateful to have been drawn into the fight by them and to see it so beautifully represented by B Proud — her real name, by the way!
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Jay and Shirley, with their twin sons, have been together for 28 years; Jay won her battle for asylum from the Philippines with the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
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NYFF Short on Diversity, But Asian, Queer Choices Abound Weerasethakul’s magic doesn’t fully fire; Maddin cranks it up further; Da Palma explains himself 53RD NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL COURTESY: NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL
The colored tubes in the hospital for comatose soldiers in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Cemetery of Splendour.”
BY STEVE ERICKSON
fter several years of expansion, the New York Film Festival has settled into a comfortable zone. There are a handful of Hollywood entries — Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk,” Danny Boyle’s “Steve Jobs,” Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” — sure to draw the attention of the mainstream media. One hopes they’ll stick around for the Chantal Akerman, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Jia Zhangke films the festival has also programmed. With no Latin American or African films in the main slate (and only three films by women, although the sidebars offer a few more), the festival could be more diverse, though it offers a fair number of Asian films this year. Todd Haynes’ “Carol” is the highest-profile LGBT-themed film offered up, but there are numerous other queer treats — albeit mostly in the sidebars — such as the retrospective devoted to gay avant-gardists Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler, lesbian director Akerman’s “No Home Movie,” and husband-filmmaker couple Joaquim Pinto and Nuno Leonel’s autobiographical documentary “Fish Tail.”
Thailand’s foremost gay Buddhist surrealist filmmaker, A p i c h a t p o n g We e r a s e t h a k u l returns with “Cemetery of Splendour,” which centers around a hospital ward housing comatose soldiers suffering from sleeping sickness. One volunteer (Jenjira Pongpas Widner) relies on crutches to walk because one of her legs is shorter than the other, and another (Jarinpattra Rueangram) is psychic and can see the soldiers’ dreams. When soldier Itt (Banlop Lomnoi) wakes up, he becomes friends with the women, sometimes using the psychic as a communication device. As usual in Apichatpong’s world, “Cemetery of Splendour” is permeated by a gentle mysticism that comes to the fore most explicitly on a walk through a forest sculpture garden. However, many of its best ideas are only spoken about and not dramatized. I can’t exactly accuse the film of being drab — in fact, its use of colored tubes in the hospital is often quite beautiful — but I was disappointed that so much high strangeness is described rather than depicted. “Cemetery of Splendour” also seems to struggle to say something about Thai history — the men’s comas are said to give them
Sep. 25-Oct. 11 Various venues at Lincoln Center Complete schedule, tickets at filmlinc.com
the power to fight wars on behalf of ancient kings — but without much knowledge of the culture, this remains frustratingly opaque. The echoes of Apichatpong’s hospital-set “Syndromes and a Century” don’t make this film look any more inspired. (Plays Oct. 1, 9 p.m. at Elinor Bunin Munroe)
As Hollywood movies grow increasingly bigger and more bombastic, the work of Korean director Hong Sang-soo gets more and more intimate and devoted to a set of small concerns: the lives of filmmakers and the people around them, told through complex structures. “Right Now, Wrong Then” makes a possible lift from “Groundhog Day” in telling the same story twice with increasingly large variations. Filmmaker Ham Chun-su (Jung Jae-young) meets a young woman, Hee-jung, (Kim Min-hee), outside. Obviously attracted to her, he spends an evening getting drunk with her, but it goes no further than that. “Right Now, Wrong Then” charts minute aspects of heterosexual courtship and attempted seduction, but nothing much seems to be at stake. Hong has often been compared to the directors of the French New Wave, particularly Eric Rohmer, but this feels closer to mumblecore. Hong directs with his customary reliance on the zoom lens, conveying the atmosphere of a college
town in winter. In both sections, the set piece is the lengthy scene in which Ham and Hee-jung get drunk together, but the film doesn’t reveal much about the behavior of filmmakers not already showcased in Hong’s previous 16 films. An extremely prolific director, Hong is talented enough that I’m sure this is a momentary misfire. (Plays Oct. 9, 9 p.m. at Walter Reade; Oct. 10, 3:30 p.m. at Elinor Bunin Munroe)
Canadian director Guy Maddin’s “The Forbidden Room” takes all the unusual qualities of Maddin’s work and pushes them even further into excess. The ironic thing is that this ultra-Maddin film was actually made with a co-director, Evan Johnson. “The Forbidden Room” has a “Russian doll” structure of interlocking narrative, where a wrap-around section about bathing (written by poet John Ashberry) leads into a scene about life onboard a submarine. That, in turn, makes way for a narrative about a man’s attempt to ingratiate himself with a group of woodland thieves. Formally, “The Forbidden Room” takes Maddin’s familiar influences — the silent cinema of F. W. Murnau, avant-garde filmmakers like Jack Smith and the Kuchar brothers — and cranks up what he borrowed from them to 11 on the dial. The editing and use of rear projection are very aggressive throughout. The film is constantly in motion, racing from one story to the next. If you’re a Maddin novice, “My Winnipeg” or “The Saddest Music in the World” might be a safer bet. “The Forbidden Room,” however, is one of his most accomplished films and it’s sure to delight his cult audience.
I’ve always been skeptical of the claims made by the late Pauline Kael and her followers that Brian de Palma is a great director, although I think he’s made a handful of major films. By enabling de Palma himself to speak in an uninterrupted flow, “De Palma” directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow allow him to make a case for his body of work, as well as admit the flaws of films like “Snake Eyes” and “Mission to Mars.” “De Palma”
NYFF, continued on p.37
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
INT R OD U C IN G
Timely fact-based drama about the first sex-change surgery
It’s A Big Deal!
SKIPPER CHONG WARSON
Wayne Wilcox in by Bixby Elliot’s “Sommerfugl,” directed by Stephen Brackett, at the 4th Street Theatre through October 10.
BY DAVID KENNERLEY
ender bending has become a crowd-pleasing staple in contemporary pop culture and on New York stages, but “Sommerfugl” offers a sobering twist. The earnest drama, presented by InViolet Theater and written by Bixby Elliot, takes a historical tack, examining the first case of gender reassignment surgery (perhaps “realignment” is more accurate), performed on Einar Wegener/ Lili Elbe in Germany in 1930. “Sommerfugl” is the Danish word for butterfly (Lili is from Denmark). If the overriding theme is the wondrous power of transformation, the work also examines finding the courage to embrace your true self, with faithful support from loved ones, against formidable odds. Presented in a compact blackbox style space at the 4th Street Theatre, there is no stage or proscenium to separate the audience from the action, which intensifies the immediacy. In the startling initial scene, where Einar (Wayne Wilcox) stands naked before us, raw and vulnerable, front row patrons can almost reach out and touch him. “I am like a deceiver,” he proclaims. “Like a person who owns merely the façade of his own house but who does not own what is inside.” Jason Sherwood’s set, little more than a couple of chairs and some
GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
SOMMERFUGL InViolet Theater Company 4th Street Theatre 83 E. Fourth St. Btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Through Oct. 10 Mon., Wed.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m. $18; inviolettheater.com 85 mins., no intermission
props, is purposefully bare bones. Based on actual journals, letters, and news articles, the piece traces key moments in Einar’s bumpy journey to become Lili. We witness Einar don a dress for the first time in front of his wife Grete (Aubyn Philabaum, in a sensitive portrayal), a painter who has asked him to stand in after a female model cancels. It awakens long dormant, “pronounced feelings of femininity,” confirming that “nature has made a mistake.” Lili is born. Before long, Lili starts making appearances at social gatherings and winning hearts. Claude, a devilish, debonair womanizer, is especially smitten with her. But Lili is no whimsical parlor trick. After several failed bids for a cure (including electroshock therapy) and a suicide attempt, she finally finds a physician willing to perform experimental surgeries and
GENDER, continued on p.43
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Social Studies Trials of the well-to-do in two plays — one delightful, one deadly BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
istening to the hideous things politicians are saying about one another these days, it’s amusing to think that one woman calling another a “dog show name” and then refusing to apologize could threaten to destabilize an entire social order. But that’s the story in “The New Morality,” Harold Chapin’s comedy now getting a sparkling production at the Mint under the direction of Jonathan Bank. The lightheartedness here can be deceptive; the piece is actually a quite serious metaphor for how relationships of all kinds can turn on a single comment or action. Written during the early days of World War I and set in the summer of 1911 during a punishing heat wave, the play takes place on the river houseboat of Betty and Colonel Ivor Jones, where the couple have repaired to escape the heat of town. The boat is a fairly obvious symbol for the shifting foundation beneath the characters, as Ivor struggles to find a purpose now that he is out of the army and Betty tries to assert herself amidst the emerging women’s suffrage movement in England. Arguing with her neighbor Muriel over Ivor’s flirting and attentions, Betty uses the canine put-down and immediately takes to her bed, afraid she has mis-stepped and will become a social pariah. Silly, yes, but the essential question — which should be familiar to any fan of “Downton Abbey” — is what accommodations must be made to changing times. Portraying this as a neighborhood kerfuffle, Chapin points out the banality of most of what passes for disagreements and offenses, real or imagined, many of which have significantly more dire consequences. In the third act, E. Wallace Wister, husband of the deter minedly insulted Muriel, gives a long speech in which he takes a stand for progress and for the newly independent woman, what he calls “the new morality.” In the end, while there is no clear winner, Betty stoops — a bit — for the cause of peace. Prog-
Brenda Meaney and Michael Frederic in Harold Chapin’s “The New Morality,” directed by Jonathan Bank at the Mint.
ress may be plodding, but it can in no way be stopped. Bank has directed the piece with a clear eye and a sense of buoyancy that is first and foremost entertaining. There is a wonderful sense of life on the river, how close and insular it is, and the challenges that presents for the characters. The cast shines, particularly Brenda Meaney as Betty, who finds levels of depth and conflict beneath her frothy exterior. Michael Frederic is equally nuanced as Ivor, who struggles to balance his own concerns with a desire to keep the peace. Outstanding as Wister, Ned Noyes manages physical comedy and a quasi-Shavian monologue with precision and skill. The rest of the company — Clemmie Evans, Douglas Rees, and Kelly McReady — all do fine jobs in supporting roles. The marvelous sets are by Steven Kemp, and costumes by Carisa Kelly perfectly evoke the period. It is always exciting to go to the Mint. The company’s commitment to find under-produced works is fascinating, largely because they always resonate with a contemporary audience.
It takes special talent to craft a one-act play that is as tedious and pointless as A.R. Gurney’s “Love and Money,” now flopping about over at the Signature. Gurney, who has tirelessly chronicled the button-down drama and Bombay Sapphire-soaked tribulations of the super -privileged, has often
been entertaining. His latest piece, however, is a lazy bit of playwriting that is more of the same but less in almost every respect compared to the rest of his work. Cornelia Cunningham, snug in her Upper East Side brownstone, suffers under the weight of having too much money and so, having had the pleasure of it for 70 years or so, is planning to give it away in atonement for past sins. A young man presents himself at the door pretending to be a long-lost, unknown grandson. Oh, and Walker Williams, the would-be heir, just happens to be black, the product of an affair Cornelia’s wayward daughter had. (Gurney tries valiantly not to seem too racist in the exposition of this point, but at best it rings as false as the rest of the play.) If at this point, you’re thinking you’ve seen this play before, you have. John Guare’s “Six Degrees of Separation” had a great deal more to say. Cornelia, in fact, acknowledge the similarity of her situation to the Guare play, but that just makes this one seem twee and labored. The play lacks any real resolution other than Walker being exposed as a bad liar and Cornelia, as a result, making some crazy deal with him to pay for his acting school — rather than set him up in business. In other words, she’ll use her money to control people the way she’s always done. The story also includes a highstrung attorney who wants to protect Cornelia’s money, a salt-of-the-
earth, clear-eyed Irish maid, and a girl who comes to get a piano donated to the drama department at Juilliard. Maureen Anderman is perfectly cast as a generic emaciated Upper East Side geriatric widow, though she is wasted in this role. (Does anyone else remember her in “The Lady from Dubuque,” “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” or opposite Philip Anglim in the Scottish play?) Joe Paulik is decent as the young lawyer whom “the firm” sends to deal with Cornelia. Kahyun Kim is charming in the completely pointless part of the girl in search of a free piano, and Pamela Dunlap tries to channel Thelma Ritter from “All About Eve” as the maid. Unfortunately, Gabriel Brown as Walker is insufferable. Yes, we’re not supposed to believe him and he’s supposed to be annoying, but he’s also supposed to have some plausibility. Brown, who telegraphs every plot point, is a failure as a con man on all levels. He could use those acting lessons that are on offer. Mark Lamos has directed with a leaden hand, and the whole mess lumbers along aimlessly. At one point or another, everyone sings Cole Porter, and then we get to go home.
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October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
FREEHELD, from p.26
Laurel, to do what she thought Laurel would want. Having the visceral experience of meeting her and sitting with her and hearing her talk about Laurel, and taking me to the spot where Laurel got coffee or where she works. There was something about spending that time with her and connecting emotionally and understanding that experience in a deeper way. GMK: How did you personally relate to Stacie? Are you into volleyball, motorcycles, and older women? Are you a good dancer, and can you rotate tires in under eight minutes, and are you good with dry wall? EP: I’m horrible at all things like that. I wish I had more handson skills, but I don’t. Motorcycles kind of scare me. Older women are super hot, though. Stacie and I don’t have that much in common. That said, I’d be delighted to have the opportunity to learn some of those skills. GMK: How did you develop your on-screen relationship with Julianne Moore? EP: That was fun. What Julianne and I had going for us is we just connected really quickly. I don’t know if she was trying to make me feel more comfortable, but she was all physical, putting her leg and arm around me. We got rid of physical barriers right way, and all the barriers were gone after that. She’s extraordinary, fun, and goofy, and I felt protected by her. We became close and still remain close. We really did form a partnership on screen and off screen, too. I was excited to see her every day. We had our own special bond. GMK: Laurel has to live a double/ secret life. You had a secret life for a while, too. What can you say about that experience and your decision to come out? EP: It was the best decision I ever made, wish I had made it sooner. But I had to go on whatever journey I went on. Some people have a risk of being thrown in jail or killed for being gay. For me, being closeted was an incredibly sad and toxic experience, and it got to a point where I was done living like that. It created a ripple effect GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
of happiness in every aspect of my life. Being closeted does affect every aspect of who you are. There are people in the community who are far more vulnerable than me. I want to help them. GMK: What do you think “Freeheld” says about gay and lesbian stereotypes? The women are in traditional male roles, while Steve Goldstein is very flamboyant. EP: The film is a true story. In regards to Stacie and Laurel, we did our best with the info we had — pictures, costumes, etc. — to tell the story as authentically as possible. I understand you see a stereotype of a gay man, but that’s the benefit of having the closeted cop in the police office in the film. His coming out is moving. Steve Carell is playing Steven Goldstein a little quieter than he is in real life — and Goldstein is an amazing, passionate man. GMK: The film is very much about Laurel and Stacie’s dignity, and giving visibility to marginalized people who become citizen-activists. What prompts you to speak up and out? EP: For me, I’m living my life. I was closeted because of my job. I’m not anymore. My goals and intentions are positive. I’m doing this show [on Vice] called “Gaycation,” where I explore the LGBT communities and issues and difficulties in different countries. It hopefully will create a larger conversation about LGBT communities around the world. I want to talk about more experiences. Trans women of color have life expectancy of 35, and 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT. Those are troublesome statistics. I want to do what I can to talk about these issues and bring them to the forefront and give visibility to those who are vulnerable. GMK: The film is about creating a legacy. What do you want your legacy to be? EP: I feel really fortunate that I can be out. I thought it wouldn’t be a possibility for me to be out and walk down the red carpet with my girlfriend. And considering the pain and suffering that people who don’t have that privilege and luck is to be mindful and conscious of my situation and doing what I can with it.
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IN THE NOH
Aloha Oe, Mom An inevitable rite of passage, one memorable joker in paradise
KUMU KAHUA THEATRE
Jim K. Aina, Jason Kanda, Denise Aiko Chinen, and Randall Galius, Jr., in “Joker” at Honolulu’s Kumu Kahua Theatre.
BY DAVID NOH
y annual sojourn to Hawaii was, as always, memorable, marked this time by a true rite of passage, the funeral of my mother, Miriam Chun Noh. She was a complex, ferociously ambitious, and driven character, obsessed by business, at which she excelled, be it running hotels in Waikiki where I was raised or turning my father’s culinary inventions into an international concern, Noh Foods of Hawaii. She had a lovely graveside send-off at Diamond Head Cemetery, not far from her big house on the back slopes of that extinct landmark of a volcano, such a far cry from the downtown tenement where she grew up, the daughter of a plantation worker and his picture bride wife from Korea. I told my favorite story about her. As a busy career woman, she had more than her share of Joan Crawford similarities (I actually once gave her that star’s “My Way of Life” how-to book as a Mother’s Day present.) Not one to overly fuss over her appearance, she often wore
wigs to save time and, as a kid, I, of course, was fascinated by the row of Styrofoam heads in her dressing room (particularly the straw hat with the pageboy sewn into it). This practice stopped abruptly, however, when she overheard my little cousin Nora at a party, asking, “Why does Auntie Miriam always wigs? Is she bald?” The very next weekend found Mom at the Kamehameha Drive-In swap meet, hawking her faux-coiffures, which were eagerly snapped up by the black wives of servicemen. The memory of this makes me wonder if, among her other achievements, she was also the very first Korean to sell hair to African Americans.
The cultural highlight of my trip was the Kumu Kahua production of Yilong Liu’s play “Joker,” which also was part of this year’s New York Fringe Festival. Wil Kahele sensitively directed a marvelous cast, featuring handsome Jason Kanda in the title role of a closeted Filipino man whose past intrudes on his new life as a Honolulu restaurant owner with a wife (Denise Aiko Chinen)
and a hunky young stepson (a remarkably fresh and natural talent, Randall Galius, Jr., who is a student in real life who moonlights as a security guard at the Sheraton Waikiki, and, if there’s any justice, should become a huge star). These were people you loved, both onstage and off (during a warm post-show talk back), and they included the terrific Jim K. Aina, as a flamboyant reminder of Joker’s former life. Fabulously enough, Aina happened to be part of my inflight Hawaiian Airline service crew on the plane ride back to New York. Director and actor Kahele is a real mainstay of the Hawaii theater community, familiar to me over the years from various plays, a turn in the interactive live restaging of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy at Iolani Palace, and the Pearl Harbor film “Under a Blood-Red Sun.” I met with him at Kumu Kahua’s magical, historic downtown space and he told me, “I had seen the original production at the University of Hawaii, it was beautiful and I loved it. It was just so easy on the audience and on me as a reader when I first saw the script. I couldn’t put it down, and when I
heard it had been selected by my home base Kumu Kahua I begged to direct it. “I had gone through something similar in my life, you know, when you wish for something and it doesn’t happen. But you keep hoping it will happen, and when it doesn’t, you are devastated. And you can either be destroyed or realize that it slowly gets better — you eventually become able to stand up a little taller and go on. Liu is very talented, and I am so curious to see what his other plays will be about. “I’ve been asked to direct plays in the past, but this is the first one I went after myself. I started directing in 2010, and I like it as much as acting. I think it’s a natural move to get into directing, because I go to other shows as an audience member and it’s so hard not to be thinking, ‘Oh! That’s an interesting choice! What’s up with that costume? etc.’ It’s so hard to get out of that mode and be fully involved and feel like a voyeur. ‘Joker’ was a good show and I wasn’t taking any notes at all; I just went along for the ride.” There were a couple of cast changes in the play’s transfer to Kumu Kahua: “Jason was Joker and Aiko was his wife, but the other two characters were not played by the same actors. We had open auditions: Jim Aina originally wanted to play Joe, but his schedule wouldn’t allow him to do it, because Joe’s onstage all the time. But I saw him as Frank and I asked him if he would be interested in doing it. We had a lot of fun exploring that character, and he’s still finding things in it. “For Randy, Joker’s stepson, no young boys came out, and all the ones I was reaching out to had school or something. So I called Randall, and he was interested after reading the script. He came to audition for me and Jason, and I had them do the intimate dancing scene and they were great, with really good chemistry. We sent him outside and I looked at Jason and he said, ‘Yeah.’ “Randy does a lot of student films and we just got him a gig outside of school, in a little project. He’s really
IN THE NOH, continued on p.35
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Gay City News
IN THE NOH, from p.34
GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
good and really happy in the show. I don’t think he realizes how good he is, but that’s good. Stay humble. [Laughs.] “I personally got my first bite of the acting bug in 1994. That’s when the karaoke craze was going nuts and all my friends were pretty good singers. I wanted to sing better so I went to a voice teacher. Auditions were coming up for a play she was in, and she asked if I wanted to try out. I said, ‘Okay.’ Wow, ‘auditions’ sounded so big! I got in, and the rest is history, as they say. “I went to the University of Hawaii for a little while and am planning to go back to get my degree in theater. I’ve also done a lot of independent films and commercials. I liked my role in ‘Under the Blood-Red Sun,’ had fun playing around with it. ‘The Ride’ was my first film ever, so that will always be special to me. It was about a pro surfer who comes to Hawaii. He’s kind of cocky and wipes out, and when he is pulled from the surf, he’s in 1911, and the guy who pulls him out is Duke Kahanamoku. It takes you back to that time when surfing was more of a sport you did from the heart and not so competitive or commercial, and he learns that. If you ever fly Hawaiian Airlines, they have it on their DVD screen. I played ‘Auntie,’ a very flamboyant character, and it was hard for me to be so flamboyant after so many years of people saying, ‘Don’t be like that,’ and in this role they wanted more. You would get ‘lickings’ [spankings] if your mom saw you act that way. [Laughs.] That taught me a lot.” Kahele talked about growing up gay: “Yeah, it was hard. I lost my mom when I was three and my dad at seven. I was brought up by my paternal grandmother, and she was very strict. She had nine kids of her own and was saddled with four more in her 60s. So we were brought up with everything you can hit a kid with: rubber slippers, the hangar, the broom, anything that was within reach. Boys were boys and girls were girls and never the twain shall meet. So it was hard, and also because I didn’t have anyone to talk to coming out. Where do you go? What do you do? At that time there was Hula’s [bar] and stuff, but I couldn’t just go there. It was scary.
Wil Kahele on the set of “Joker.”
“I also had a gay uncle, and although there’s nothing wrong with it, he was kind of ‘that way’ and, when I saw that, I thought I don’t wanna be that. Plus, who did we have on TV? Paul L ynde and Charles Nelson Reilly, and I didn’t want to be that, either. I caught myself praying a lot: ‘Please make me straight, not even bi.’ It never happened, and then I finally realized it’s because you’re saying to me, ‘You are who you are because this is how I made you!’ In my little 18-year-old head I thought, ‘You don’t want me to die so because who I am is okay.’ When I realized that, so much was lifted from my shoulders.” The character of Joe in “Joker” particularly spoke to Kahele because he was hopelessly in love for years with one of his best friends. Although the guy was straight, they were so good together he thought his love interest was in denial and that he would just wait it out for it to happen. One drunken night he confessed his love: “He was very nice about it, knew I was way over the limit, and he just let me down very gently. So gently that I came away thinking I was very happy but I couldn’t remember why, so I think he told me what I wanted to hear. It took a long time to build that relationship back to where it was — it still isn’t quite there — but it’s just gonna take time to get it back.” After what he describes as a “very long dry spell,” Kahele is currently in a relationship. I wanted Kahele’s take on the quite vibrant, if relatively small, Hawaii theater scene which, in this
IN THE NOH, continued on p.37
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In the Met’s New “Otello,” Moor is Less A musical success is undercut by unaccountable dramatic choices
Sonya Yoncheva and Aleksandrs Antonenko in Bartlett Sher’s new Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi’s “Otello.”
BY ELI JACOBSON
he elimination of traditional blackface from Bartlett Sher’s new Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi’s “Otello” has occasioned considerable controversy online and in the print press. Both the Shakespeare play and Arrigo Boito’s libretto for Verdi’s opera refer to the Moor of Venice as “black.” By the Renaissance, “moor” (often “blackamoor”) referred to sub-Saharan Africans. The Moorish people are Muslim North Africans who migrated to Spain and Southern Europe, and their skin tone varies widely — many resemble Southern European Caucasians. All the Shakespearean Othellos I have seen have been played by black actors (though white stage Othellos from Tommaso Salvini to Lau-
rence Olivier have portrayed the Moor as a black man); but all of my operatic Otellos have been Caucasian singers in black makeup. What is crucial is that Othello/ Otello be “other” — a social outsider by reason of either race, ethnicity, or religion. It is one of the factors in Iago’s malevolent hatred, the opposition to his marriage to Desdemona, and the insecurity that causes Othello to so quickly believe she is betraying him with a younger white man. Visually, black skin is a powerful metaphor for “other” in an otherwise all-white cast (though an Arabic Muslim Othello/ Otello would resonate in our post 9/11 world). In Sher’s production, the lack of any indication of Otello’s “other” status didn’t register as a telling theatrical choice but rather just one more dramatic element that fell by the wayside amidst a barrage of pointless high tech sturm und drang scenic effects. The period has been updated to the late 19th century — contemporary with the opera’s composition. There’s nothing objectionable there. The production color scheme is limited to black, grayish blue, and silver, with the only flashes of color provided by Catherine Zuber’s costumes (Desdemona’s red ball gown in Act III underlining her alleged “scarlet woman” status). The scenery (designed by Es Devlin) and video projections (from Luke Halls) are constantly in movement while the soloists and chorus often simply stand downstage in serried rows or scattered clumps. The opening storm scene looks like an oratorio performed in front of a computer screen saver. Two stationary walls upstage serve as projection screens with doors that open up to admit 20-foot moving architectural façade set pieces constructed from Lucite. These translucent moving walls with inner stairs and arched doorways were reconfigured to create at least four different settings in Act II alone. Props and stage furniture were mostly absent, except for Act IV where Desdemona’s bedchamber consist-
ed of a French provincial bedroom set marooned in a cloud and sea-swept void. Donald Holder’s chiaroscuro lighting scheme favors brightly spotlighted soloists emerging from the dark shadows looming in the background. (However, the downstage strobe flashes that erupted at Otello’s Act I “Esultate!” entrance need to be rethought before the HD filming. Otello is not a Las Vegas magician, and he is not Madonna playing Madison Square Garden.) Though the libretto clearly indicates that Acts II and III take place during daytime in sunny Cyprus, the entire action unfolds in an eternal dark and stormy night under threatening grayblue storm clouds. which briefly changed to predawn gold mid-scene arbitrarily. All this visual overkill left the director and his cast almost literally in the dark and at sea. Nothing onstage creates a credible theatrical environment; any human action that constitutes drama gets lost in the shuffle. Sher contributes stage blocking of a dully basic and unimaginative sort but little actual direction of the principals and no discernable production concept. On opening night, the male leads reportedly were not at their best — Sonya Yoncheva’s radiant voice and presence as Desdemona shone like a light in the darkness. At the second performance on September 24, the talented principal singers abetted by a brilliant conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, asserted their strong vocal and dramatic personalities to counteract Sher’s inert production. Aleksandrs Antonenko’s ringing metal gong of a tenor has the basic vocal materials for an imposing Otello, but somehow the pieces didn’t come together. In the first two acts, the Latvian tenor’s squeezed Slavic voice production distorted vowels, line, and occasionally pitch. At less than full tilt, his sound was inexpressive, lacking softer colors and warmth. His interpretation seemed alternately stolid or distracted. Antonen-
OTELLO, continued on p.43
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COURTESY: NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL
Kim Min-hee and Jung Jae-young in Hong Sang-soo’s “Right Now, Wrong Then.”
NYFF, from p.30
races through the director’s life and filmography, juxtaposing an interview (in which Baumbach and Paltrow’s voices are never heard) shot against a plain dark background with plentiful clips from the work of De Palma and other directors. De Palma has been criticized for ripping off other filmmakers, especially Hitchcock, and for misogyny. He openly admits to the former —
IN THE NOH, from p.35
land of mostly outdoor fun and frolic and not a whole lot of heavy culture, can sometimes seem an anomaly to the uninformed: “I think it’s really interesting that each community theater here has their own special niche. Kumu does all the local stuff. Diamond Head Theater does Broadway musicals [having just finished ‘Sister Act’, it has announced — shudder — ‘Shrek’], Manoa Theater does Off-Broadway stuff. TAG does all the ‘different’ things [laughs], like ‘Pillowman.’ I saw ‘Smoky Joe’s Cafe’ when I was in New York. I was thinking, ‘We got the same talent in Hawaii, the only thing is we don’t have the money, special effects, sets, and gorgeous costumes, and lovely theaters. But we’ve got the talent, so we should all make a real investment and become the mecca of the Pacific. “Kumu Kahua is really looking for plays that our audience is going to relate to, which speak to everyone, from the young to those in GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
in fact, “De Palma” opens with a clip from “Vertigo” — but attributes feminist critiques of “Dressed to Kill” and “Body Double” to ‘80s fashion. As De Palma recounts his discovery of his voice and ability to launch a career, the film has a real joy. That largely fades after the ‘80s — de Palma is honest about the probability that his glory days are behind him. Still, “De Palma” makes a great case for the merits of films like “Carrie” and “Blow Out” and leaves one wishing for a de Palma retro.
their 80s. I want everyone’s stories to be told and that goes for playwrights, we can have our own ‘Iceman Cometh’ or ‘Death of a Salesman.’ I think local stories of the Pacific are just as intriguing.” I always love to see the audiences at Kumu, all ages and races, because they are there because they truly love theater and want to be there, not dragged to some worthy culture by a wife or girlfriend: “We have a loyal following, and they like the stories that we present. But not all of them, and they will tell us. ‘You know, Wil, that last one took a little while for me to get into and then they made a left turn. Off the cliff!’ They can’t all be ‘Mame’ or Hello, Dolly!’ [Chuckles.] “As long as it lets you have a conversation when you leave the theater, that’s the most important thing. If you go home and disagree with your spouse about what you saw, our job is done. Someone told me, ‘I’m processing it while having my coffee and still thinking about it.’ That’s good — it made you think!”
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Kick Out the Jams
A rock pioneer awaits the revolution and finds it won’t come BY MICK MEENAN
ike a tightening tourniquet, a racial color line crosses the Bronx in the 1960s, whites to the north, African Americans and Latinos to the south. A pudgy, headstrong Jewish kid with long hair, a pixie smile, and Talmudic expertise with rock lyrics mans a picket line. Emmett Till’s mutilated face sticks in his head. The demand: jobs for blacks, just a click or two north of the line at, of all places, White Castle. As he will observe, decades later, in his piquant, doleful “Another Little Piece of My Heart,” a black person could make their way about the Bronx without hassle, but groups of blacks or Puerto Ricans, let’s say, in a courtyard provoked a response as tribal as any Old World blood feud that sent the Irish, Italians, and Jews rummaging in a tool shed. The boy’s emerging sexual awareness and sense of his own unattractiveness inform Richard Goldstein’s “deep aversion to racism. It was absurd — rock ‘n’ roll had taught me that — and repugnant.” That statement is at the heart of his memories and should clue the reader into what he will encounter in this book. From the age of 19 with Lou Reed and Andy Warhol (and his wellchronicled coterie in all their self-reverence) to his infamous New York Times pan of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and beyond, Goldstein critiqued the music that today has grandparents thumping the steering wheel during their morning commutes. Goldstein will tell us candidly how it was to meet a puke-stained Jimi Hendrix. But this is not a rock biography. “Race was at the core of nearly everything in the sixties,” Goldstein writes. “Even more than sitars and exotic beats, it shaped the structure of rock. Even more than the war in Vietnam, it dominated politics. Even more than LSD, it defined the consciousness of my generation.” That is that topic that dominates his thoughts. So, such is the case, when Richard Goldstein, son of Jewish public-housing lefties, the buttered popcorn FDR scooped up by the Loews Paradise bucketsful, stands with the Congress of Racial Equality, giving one florid grease-joint manager plenty of tsuris, or woe. (Yiddish peppers this book, not surprisingly, as does the author’s “Bronxitude.”) A white mob metastasizes, the tribal beat quickens, and a protruding arm from a car shoots a black girl in the face with a BB gun. It is done. I break with my father, with my land, and thus become me, Goldstein declares, packing his sandals into a paper bag and hop-
ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE OF MY HEART By Richard Goldstein Bloomsbury USA $26; 240 pages
ping the el train to Greenwich Village where Dylan’s ethos hangs over the streets with the pot smoke. This creation story is as powerful as any of the eyewitness narratives by which Goldstein recounts the birth of ‘60s pop culture, the music along with the art, social criticism, and street activism that still defines, in 2015, American culture, politics, and class. Race and class are what the young man considers when he interviews the Doors, Janice Joplin, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, and the Who, among the other artists who changed music and harnessed the tectonic, vasodilating beat — by which Goldstein differentiates rock from other music — to drive millions of young citizens to the streets to protest the hypocrisy of the Vietnam war and racial oppression. The Bronx will implode, in its own particular way, along with other large urban swaths. Detroit, Newark, Oakland, Chicago, and Philadelphia are where the real fighting occurs, for Goldstein. Khe Sanh and Hue are diversions. Fifty years later, the music Goldstein
heard live is still on the radio, remastered and crystal clear, but some of those American cities never recovered. Goldstein respected the Black Panthers, because unlike other so-called liberationist groups, they were inclusive of women, whites, and gays. As for Goldstein’s own sexuality, he marries Judith Hibbard, a classmate in journalism school, at a Manhattan discotheque, where famed DJ Murray the K presides and the Velvet Underground plays. Goldstein will have many extramarital affairs, including with men, over the next several years, but does not consider himself gay in the sense of needing to come out and declare it. He suffers from depressions, typically after a mainstream publication like Life commissions him for a piece then bastardizes it to fit mainstream tastes. He wonders early on if he is schizophrenic. His marriage with Hibbard will not last and when Janice Joplin dies from a heroin overdose, Goldstein will plummet into his worst abyss. Maybe these mood dysfunctions were the result of an internal struggle, but Goldstein never says that. He is not on the barricades demanding equal treatment for gays and lesbians, but he does have strong same-sex attractions and acts on them with certain sultry, androgynous young men, like Groovy, whom he meets and trips with. Today, he is married to a man. “Am I gay? More or less. Homosexual? Not only. My sexuality has always been a congeries, but I am satisfied with the shake, full of stems and seeds as it may be.” Goldstein is typical of more men than the gay movement, perhaps, is willing to acknowledge. His early marriage, a not atypical choice for the ‘60s, even among those in the counterculture, was not a flight from self, but a reach for stability and was based on love and sexual attraction driven by the halcyon idealism and soaring lyrics of the Summer of Love. This is not a conventional memoir. It covers just four years, 1966-70, when Goldstein pioneers the Village Voice’s rock beat. A rookie Columbia journalism school graduate, where his long hair and contrarian ways — including authoring a book about campus drug use he later discovers is CIA-financed — made him few friends, will travel the nation during the greatest domestic strife since the Civil War. (That comparison may feel worn, but it fitting for this particular memoir — Goldstein is going to groove to the music, but he is going to witness a lot of death and loss, as well.) With chutzpah, he walks into the Voice’s office and tells editor Dan Wolf he wants to be a rock critic. It is
HEART, continued on p.39
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
HEART, from p.38
term “credibility gap” creeps from the Vietnamese jungles into the American lexicon, and thanks to YouTube, we can hear the Bronx diction and sense that hypocrisy remains in his crosshairs. Ray Manzarek lights a cigarette and makes sure Goldstein is left with more than just Jim Morrison’s rambling about the shaman. Goldstein respects the Doors, but he’s leery of Mr. Mojo Risin’s Lizard King shtick, as are his bandmates, growing impatient with the front man’s inebriation. Guitarist Robby Krieger says European fans are more politically informed and motivated than American ones, who only want the “religious experience.” Morrison is heavily bearded in dark shades. A baby-faced Goldstein, 26, his long hair no longer than the style, wears a classic funky dress shirt and conducts a measured, cerebral examination
a beat no editor has heard of, but Goldstein is sent to bring in copy. In short order, he is getting review albums by the crateful from every record label in the country and the Voice bulges with full-page concert advertisements. The New York Times and New York magazine will also feature his work, but it is the Voice, beginning with his Pop Eye column, with which Goldstein is associated. Interviews with the greats are here in this deceptively dense 240page book, but Goldstein packs in a lot of internal cogitation, as well. Other than a handful of them — Joplin most prominently, thus the book’s title — the book is not really about the rock stars. In Haight-Ashbury for the Summer of Love, a theme emerges in Goldstein’s work. The young hippies and musicians are generous with a mattress and LSD, but Goldstein’s working-class sensibility begins to sniff some hypocrisy. “At first I was appalled by all this. The hippies seemed so blockheaded, so forced in their mellowness, blowing bubbles or handing me the gift of a small rubber dinosaur. I could tell from their disregard Journalist and author Richard Goldstein. for money that they were securely middle class, while I came from a back- of the group’s musical approach, ground where dropping out meant wholly unlike most blather that only one thing: poverty. What I saw constitutes celebrity interviews looked dangerous and, even worse, today. This interview, a huge “get” for any journalist, was yet another indulgent.” The Revolution is needed to workaday piece in the hopper for recalibrate liberty and equality and Goldstein, by then into his third all the mouthed truisms, but when year of rock criticism. Something he wrote in “Anoththe cops come bashing heads, these tie-dyed middle-class mil- er Little Piece,” not about the Doors itants begin to look like so many specifically, but about reckoning poseurs with a safety net to fall with his sexuality, came to mind into. Blacks, on the other hand, watching the clips with the band: will go to prison. Poor whites, “The sixties were an age of faux canwell, they take a licking, as well, dor, nuggets of wisdom meant to be and better hope a mattress awaits therapeutic but actually just manipthem wherever they came from. ulative.” Goldstein already sees how For Goldstein, the love commune rock has become a multi-billion sitting on the shining hill by the dollar industry and it is the middle class driving the profits. bay is a passing Eden. He interviews the Doors on television, at a moment when the c HEART, continued on p.40 GayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
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JERUSALEM, from p.4
ticular significance in Noy, Canning, and Kala visiting Beit Simchat Torah during Yom Kippur, Canning responded, “On a personal level, we've have had a difficult two months. We hope this will mark an end to that, a change of pace, to start the new year on a positive step.
Yom Kippur involves a big element of self-reflection that’s appropriate regarding our work and our society. Rabbi David Dunn Bauer, who is the director of social justice programming at Beit Simchat Torah, amplified on that thought. Noting that the congregation’s Yom Kippur services draw a huge crowd to the Javits Center every year — a crowd that
HEART, from p.39
Goldstein makes rookie mistakes interviewing the mega-celebrities whose music was and will continue to be considered great. Early interviews with Morrison and Brian Wilson during his first California junket resolve him to more rigorously practice New Journalism, as done by lodestar Norman Mailer, with more ethical consideration, rather than simply hacking at “haunches of beef.” He explains, “Though it was hard to convey the true texture of their conflicts, it seemed essential to my role as a chronicler of the new, fragile art form that was rock.” These scruples he will reserve for true artists; the hordes of arrivistes are wasted for “fun and profit.” At the seminal Monterey Pop festival in 1967, standing before the stage, Goldstein looks around at the assembled “aristocracy” in their finery and imagines he and Otis Redding, the leading soul musician on hand, must have felt the same way. “This is the love crowd, right?” Redding cynically jests. “I was witnessing the birth of a new class pretending to be classless, and it was imperial at
PRISON, from p.25
adjoining cell as well as Brown, that correctional officers would stare into Brown’s cell, “not for the required purpose of determining whether she was alive, but to gawk and ‘giggle’ at her.” These officers “would threaten the Grievant and call her names,” leaving her in tears at times. Patuxent had no formal policy “mandating zero tolerance towards sexual abuse or harassment of transgender inmates,” provided no instruction to staff about how to relate to them, and when Brown complained to the chief psychiatrist, her complaints were not investigated. When Brown was able to get her grievances in front of Shaffer, the judge found that the improvised strip-search procedure did not itself violate the PREA, but that aspects of the intake process did. Strip searches of new inmates to detect contraband are a fact of life in prisons, but strip searches to deter-
the Israeli visitors would speak to on September 23 — he said, “At CBST, we have an experience that can’t be had anywhere else. To feel the love of 4,000 LGBT people and our allies. You won’t have that experience anywhere else in the world. We wanted to offer healing. It is something quite remarkable. The sense of community is so strong, and the commitment for
the core. The descendants of this bangled illuminati now dine on free-range meat and artisanal cheese. They colonize neighborhoods, driving out the poor and turning slums into Potemkin villages of art.” That description refers to 2015 and it is classic barbed Goldstein wrath pointed directly at hypocrisy. Open just about any page of this book and there it is. As the Who takes the stage, Goldstein is certain that there are seams in Pete Townsend’s guitar, the more easily to smash it to smithereens in what has become the band’s signature trademark of adolescent rebellion. Goldstein has already spotted the roadies hauling in bags of dry ice to simulate the explosions. All smoke, no fire, and this from one of rock’s best-selling bands. In 1968, at Chicago’s Democratic convention, Goldstein has all but traded in his rock beat for covering politics and the violent unrest sweeping the country. A protopunk group, MC5, gets electricity from a hotdog cart and amps up. “Kick out the jams!” they holler just before Mayor Daley’s cops start to bust heads. When Don McNeill, a young Voice colleague,
mine the physical sex of an inmate are not. Shaffer found that questions about the genital status of an incoming transgender inmate could be addressed through interviewing without the need for a physical examination. Turning to Brown’s incarceration in an isolation unit, Shaffer quoted regulations stating that “inmates at high risk for sexual victimization shall not be placed in involuntary segregated housing unless an assessment of all available alternatives has been made, and a determination has been made that there is no available alternative means of separation from likely abusers.” If that assessment has not been completed, an inmate should be held in isolation for no longer than 24 hours, and even if it’s concluded that isolation is the best available course, that should last no more than 30 days. Clearly, Patuxent violated these regulations. Shaffer credited Brown’s account
a better year is so strong.” Recalling the visits he received in the hospital from Orthodox Jews voicing their distress about the stabbings, Noy, whose body is healing, reflected on the care of his soul. The arrival of strangers offering their sympathy for the pain he endured, he said, was “heartwarming and encouraging.”
for whom Goldstein has felt a certain protectiveness, is slammed through a plate-glass window by cops breaking up a Grand Central Terminal Yip-In led by Abbie Hoffman, we get the sense the days of fake smoke are over for Goldstein. McNeill will later drown in a lake, tripping on acid, after his first gay experience with another young man. We know they die young — Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon, Jim Morrison, Janice Joplin — with the rare exception of Brian Wilson, who lived to write candidly about his mental health struggles. For Goldstein, the only true mourning is for Joplin, a poor Texas girl, bullied for being a slut, whose bandmates rallied around her whenever her drug use nearly crippled her. Goldstein is on Fire Island in October 1970 when he gets the word and rushes back to Manhattan. A ream of blank pages cannot tell the story, and a crippling depression has begun to take hold. “I threw away my beads and took my revolutionary posters off the wall. And then I cut my hair.” Nearly a half-century later, the story is told. Read this book.
when she testified, “The officers, they just treat me like crap. They talk — they call me all types of fags, and how — why do I want to get breasts, what makes me think that I’m a woman.” Brown was told that she was “disgusting” and was made to feel like “some type of animal… like I was just less than a human being.” “Based on the Grievant’s testimony,” Shaffer wrote, “I am persuaded that this type of disparaging behavior began almost immediately and continued through the Grievant’s stay at Patuxent.” In addition to finding that the facility was out of compliance with PREA, Shaffer found that Brown’s treatment by the staff was hostile environment sexual harassment. Although she was not physically abused, she was mentally abused. Shaffer concluded that Brown had not documented her claim for $75,000 damages for mental anguish, but she did recommend a payment of $5,000 in damages. The
judge also recommended that the Division determine “what, if any, disciplinary action should be taken against Sergeant Halsey,” and recommended that Patuxent adopt comprehensive policies and institute mandatory training. The only one of Shaffer’s recommendations that the State rejected was that Brown be given credit for good behavior for her time at Patuxent, Division Secretary Moyer arguing it was “entirely speculative” that she would have earned the credits had she received different treatment. Brown was represented in this process by two attorneys, Rebecca Simpson and Jer Welter. Widespread reporting of this decision could be beneficial given that many states have been dragging their feet in complying with PREA. Disciplinary consequences for corrections staff and damage awards to harassed and mistreated inmates may make the PREA appear more concrete to corrections officials nationwide. October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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GENDER, from p.31
provide hormone treatments. To her credit, Grete not only sticks by Lili’s side, but is the main engine behind her transformation. Regrettably, not all goes according to plan. Stephen Brackett, who earned well-deserved kudos for directing “Buyer & Cellar,” has lent his light touch here. So gentle that I wished certain dramatic moments landed harder. The risks are great and the stakes are high; we know this on an intellectual level, but feel it less emotionally. The highly appealing Wilcox (“The Normal Heart,” “Chaplin”) is well cast, por-
OTELLO, from p.36
ko’s broad features lack mobility and can look either brutish or impassive. After intermission, Antonenko’s acting and singing became more focused and engaged. A burnished bronze tone color emerged. As the Moor is consumed by jealousy and paranoiac rage in the final acts, he seemed physically and temperamentally energized, culminating in a powerful death scene. But, an element of nobility is missing — another director might have given him acting business that would deepen his characterization. As the master manipulator Iago, Željko Lučić’s stage demeanor tends toward the introverted and recessive — his manner was enigmatic and impassive. In the Shakespeare play, a quiet enigmatic Iago seems a valid concept. In Verdi’s opera, a more proactive, even melodramatic villain is crucial to provide dramatic focus and drive the narrative (especially with an Otello who needs dramatic prodding). Lučić’s burly baritone commanded his music — his cool, grainy timbre is distinctive and expressive if unitalianate. In her role debut, YoncheGayCityNews.nyc | October 01 - 14, 2015
traying an astounding conversion from Einar to Lili, often inhabiting a precarious middle ground in between. He delivers a mesmerizing, understated performance that, just below the surface, churns with a heady mix of desire, hope, and pathos. Not for one moment does he veer into camp. In multiple supporting roles, Bernardo Cubria and Michelle David add a refreshing shot of exuberance to the proceedings. If the story of “Sommerfugl” sounds familiar, it might be because it’s the subject of the much buzzed-about film, “The Danish Girl,” starring Eddie Redmayne, set to hit US theaters in late November.
va’s Desdemona was the most completely realized performance of the evening. She maintained an elegant vocal line with sculpted legato. Yoncheva’s cool lyric soprano has a dark core that fulfills the role’s spinto requirements, with enough cut and projection to soar over the ensembles. Her shimmering silvery timbre was on display in Act IV’s “Willow Song” and “Ave Maria,” culminating in a perfectly floated pianissimo A flat. Yoncheva’s fragile but sensual stage presence made Otello’s suspicions almost credible. The supporting roles made less impression. Nézet-Séguin’s tempos were fleet but never forced, details were savored and he relaxed when his soloists needed repose or expansion. Due to his efforts and the improving vocalism of his cast, this was a musically memorable “Otello.” Dramatically however, this production is not likely to improve over this run or in future seasons. “Otello” will be transmitted in HD on October 17 at 12:55 p.m. In a web-only extra, Eli Jacobson writes about the Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” revival starring Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.
October 01 - 14, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc