Greater Focus on PEP Urged 07
Inside Edie Windsor's Win 20
Queer Treats at MIX, Anthology 34,51
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FREE | VOLUME FOURTEEN, ISSUE TWENTY THREE | NOVEMBER 12 - 25, 2015
November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Building community in Harlem
HMI launches comprehensive youth services citywide
A Capitale night for the women
17 FROM THE EDITOR Who gets the pooch?
Gradually smoldering passion
Post-Houston, our obligations to our trans brothers & sisters
GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
n overflow crowd numbering well over 100 –– with more than 100 more turned away by security staff at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on West 125th Street –– was testament to the hunger in Harlem for forging stronger social, political, and support ties among a diverse and growing LGBT population there. “Harlem is becoming the unofficial home of black and Latino gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people,” said Manny Rivera as he opened up the meeting. “And I say black and not African-American, because I am talking about African Americans, but also Caribbean Americans and African immigrants, as well.” Rivera is a member of Manhattan Community Board 10 and heads up its new LGBTQ Task Force, which along with Borough President Gale Brewer, played host to the November 5 town hall. Rivera and others noted the growing LGBT visibility in Harlem, though different sentiments were expressed about how new this was for the neighborhood and how receptive the neighborhood is to its LGBT brothers and sisters. John-Martin Green –– founder of the Gatekeeper’s Collective, which aims at “igniting the power of black same gender love” –– termed the gathering “an historic event because now there is such a task force. For the first time in the history of Harlem, we have convened in celebrating our community, while identifying gaps in policies and services. The second Harlem Renaissance is upon us, and this is a Harlem that is more inclusive and collaborative and productive than ever before.”
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Manny Rivera, who heads up the CB 10 LGBTQ Task Force.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
But Judge Franc Perry, a former CB 10 chair who in 2011 became the city’s first out gay black man elected to the judiciary, when he won a seat on the Family Court, suggested the spirit the evening was celebrating was not necessarily something new. Recalling that “before I got into politics, I was told to get a downtown address because Harlem wasn’t ready,” he said he ignored the advice because “Harlem was always inclusive.” Not everyone in the audience shared Perry’s upbeat assessment. A man who identifies as two-spirit stood up and, explaining he lives at 120th Street and Seventh Avenue, said, “I don’t feel safe there.” Others in the audience reflected the pressures of rising housing costs that all Harlemites, LGBT and otherwise, feel as the new “renaissance” takes hold. One man talked of the importance of tenants finding legal representation as we “lose our space in Harlem, in New York City.” For sure, the evening emphasized significant support that non-LGBT members of CB 10 and other Harlem leaders are offering their LGBT neighbors. Brian Benjamin, CB 10’s second vice-chair, said he had responsibility to make sure the full board followed up on the task force’s recommendations, singling out specifically the “need for behavioral changes, especially on the part of some police officers.” Benjamin explained that his older brother is gay, “but the family ignored it for a long time.” For his family and for Harlem, he said, “We need to deal with the family stuff.” State Senator Bill Perkins, a longtime LGBT advocate both in Albany and in his years on the City Council, told the audience, “I bur -
ied a brother who died of AIDS.” Then, urging the crowd to keep up the pressure on him and other elected officials, he said, “I hope you take advantage of the fact that we embrace you. We don't come just to be marked for attendance; we come for assignments.” Rivera and others lauded Perkins and Brewer –– both of whom stayed for the entire town hall that ran to nearly two and a half hours, speaking at both the evening’s beginning and end –– for their proven commitment to support the task force and the community. Brewer noted that of 600 members of Manhattan’s 12 community boards, 43 –– roughly seven percent –– are openly LGBT, a figure she would like to see grow. Rivera confirmed that “Gale has committed to specific outreach for more LGBT members.” The town hall opened on a celebratory note, with the task force honoring five leaders, Judge Perry included, and there the longstanding commitment of some non-LGBT Harlem leaders was emphasized. Among the honorees was 83-yearold Hazel Dukes, a past president of the NAACP who was described as having been “on the forefront of embracing the LGBT community” within the Civil Rights Movement. The other honorees were Harlem Pride president Carmen Neely, NYC Black Pride executive director Lee Soulja, and Kim Watson, the founder of CK Life, which offers members of the trans community life tools within the context of community and kinship.
“Harlem is becoming the unofficial home of black and Latino gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people,” said Manny Rivera.
All three reflected on the theme of building community in Harlem. Neely explained that Harlem Pride began as a block party in 2010. “I thought it would be a one-time event,” she said. “I didn't realize the need it filled.” Soulja said his goal at NYC Black Pride is “bringing everyone to the table. It’s not a black gay man dictating what a lesbian pride event should be, what a trans pride event should be. It definitely takes a village to make Black Pride happen every year.” Watson, the evening’s liveliest speaker, said, “I never accept a no… I have the audacity. We
HARLEM, continued on p.46
November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
Hetrick-Martin Launches Comprehensive Youth Services Initiative Citywide Partnering with community groups in all five boroughs, City Council-funded program targeting vulnerable populations
HMI alumni Tenaja Jordan, Jazmine Pérez, and Kenneth Soler, with HMI CEO Thomas Krever (l.) and City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (r.).
BY GEORGE DE STEFANO
etrick-Martin Institute (HMI), the nation’s oldest social service agency for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, this week announced an ambitious, City Council-funded initiative to provide mental health and support services in all five boroughs. The November 9 announcement coincided with HMI’s release of a new report, “Living at the Inter section: LGBTQ Youth of Color in New York City,” which documents the urgent and multiple needs of these youth: homelessness, hunger, sexual abuse and other violence, family rejection, and social marginalization because of their sexual orientation, gender expression, and race. “This City Council is proud to support LGBTQ youth with this new initiative,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “By providing health services that address the unique needs of LGBTQ youth, we are making a true difference in the lives of young New Yorkers who have often been neglected by the healthcare system in the past.”
The City Council has allocated $1,000,000 to the initiative, on top of nearly $250,000 in other grant funding to HMI in the current fiscal year. The funding, which will be administered by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), will enable the Astor Place-based HMI to expand services to LGBTQ youth and their families through partnerships with government and community-based organizations throughout New York City. The initiative will focus primarily on youth of color, homeless youths, immigrants, and those involved with the criminal justice system. The initiative comprises six components that expand cur rent services and provide new ones. They include hiring a staff psychiatrist at HMI, whose ser vices will be available to all partner agencies; expanded Saturday hours and services at HMI (mental health screening and assessment, and referrals to counseling, HIV testing, legal aid, and meals); training staff members of community-based organizations to support and care for youths with mental health challenges; family counseling and street outreach services; and working with city
agencies (Education, Probation, Youth and Family Justice, Administration for Children’s Services) to ensure that they have the skills to serve LGBTQ youth among their client populations. HMI also will hold a series of “LGBTQ youth summits” throughout the city to connect youths with service agencies and to develop strategies and programs to “effect change for the young people who need it the most.” The first summit will be held November 21 at St. Francis College in Manhattan. Dr. Emery Hetrick, a psychiatrist, and his partner, Dr. Damien Martin, a professor at New York University, founded Hetrick-Martin Institute in 1979. Shocked by the story of a 15-year -old homeless youth who had been beaten and thrown out of a shelter because he was gay, Hetrick and Martin convened a group of adults who created the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth (IPLGY). In 1988, the Institute was re-named to honor its founders. In its early years, the organization prioritized education, creating the Harvey Milk High School to provide a safe learning environment for youths victimized in public schools
because of their sexual orientation or gender expression. Today, HMI is the nation’s largest agency serving LGBTQ youth, with a dual focus on providing services and shaping policy. In 2013, HMI created a Center for LGBTQ Youth Advocacy and Capacity Building; a year later, it established a new organization in Newark, New Jersey, to provide mental health and afterschool services and to train staff at community-based organizations and government agencies. In the report, “Living at the Intersection: LGBTQ Youth of Color in New York City,” Thomas Krever, HMI’s chief executive officer, makes a case for the initiative’s network approach to delivering comprehensive services to LGBTQ youth, who, he says, “do not live within the isolation of any one organization… Their lives intersect with the broader systems and institutions that make up our society –– government, educational, health, community-based organizations, and so on.” HMI annually serves more than 2,000 young people, ninety percent of them youth of color. According to the report, more than 80 percent live at or below the federal poverty level. Eighty percent identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual; six percent identify as transgender females and one percent as transgender males. (Only one percent identifies as “questioning”; 15 percent say they are heterosexual.) Youths who come to HMI struggle with mental illness (36 percent have attempted suicide at least once, more than a quarter suffer from depression, and nearly 20 percent have been hospitalized for psychiatric conditions) and homelessness (more than half have “experienced at least one housing crisis”). HMI’s youth also have HIV infection rates three times higher than the national average. These disturbing statistics take on flesh and blood through the stories of five young people profiled in the HMI report. The conservative religious parents of Chase, a 20-year-old African-American gay
HETRICK-MARTIN, continued on p.21
November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Greater Focus on PEP Urged Advocates, health officials say those at risk know too little of post-exposure regimen and why it should be PrEP gateway BY ANDY HUMM
GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
ore and more sexually active gay men have gone on Truvada or PrEP, the pre-exposure prophylaxis drug, to prevent getting HIV. But for those not on the drug who experience exposure to HIV, there has long been the option of initiating a 28-day course of the drug in combination with others –– post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP. That treatment must be started within 24 to 72 hours of a possible exposure, such as having a condom break during anal intercourse. Access to PEP and PrEP is fast becoming easier through new city and foundation funding, but activists are calling for more, saying it is needed if they are to reach their goal of ending AIDS in New York by 2020. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis — who pioneered getting nPEP (non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis, for people other than medical professionals exposed to HIV in their work) into the hands of gay men who needed it by letting them call his cell phone — is now the city’s assistant health commissioner in charge of the Bureau of HIV/ AIDS Prevention and Control. Mount Sinai Hospital, where Daskalakis did much of his groundbreaking work, re-launched 24-hour access to nPEP citywide courtesy of funding from the Elton John Foundation. You can call 212-604-1701 to obtain emergency access to a three-day supply of the treatment until you can be connected to providers able to guide you through the 28-day regimen. This emergency access is available whether you are insured or uninsured. Mount Sinai also has a program for PrEP for the uninsured and underinsured. More on the hospital’s HIV/ AIDS services can be found at mountsinaihealth.org/patient-care/infectious-diseases. Explaining why PEP, available so much longer than PrEP has been, has gotten so little attention, Daskalakis said that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ veteran director “Tony Fauci calls PEP ‘PrEP’s ugly step-sister.’ It’s not as sexy. People forget about it.” According to Daskalakis, “PEP is a gateway to PrEP.” His strategy is to get people who access PEP to get onto PrEP to address their “ongoing risk for HIV.” He cited a study out of Amsterdam that found that gay men were successful in preventing a suspected exposure by using PEP but then went on to get HIV at rates higher than the rate for all men who have sex with men. The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will launch a new social marketing campaign on World AIDS Day, December 1, that will “highlight PrEP.” “We need to use the energy around PrEP to help people learn about PEP,” he said.
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, a senior staffer at the city health department, has been a leading proponent of both PEP and PrEP for those at risk for HIV.
“We need to use the energy around PrEP to help people learn about PEP,” Daskalakis said.
While PEP is routinely taken by doctors and nurses who get needle sticks in hospitals that might infect them, individuals who are exposed to the virus in non-occupational settings either through sex or needles often face barriers to getting hold of PEP, starting with their lack of awareness about it and how it can prevent HIV infection. Also, many medical settings –– from doctors’ offices to emergency rooms –– are not fully prepared to offer quick access to the drug, which must be initiated within three days of exposure to be effective. Jeremiah Johnson, the HIV prevention research and policy coordinator at the Treatment Action Group (TAG), said, “Ideally we’re giving people as many options as possible before they are exposed. The best thing we can do is educate people early about HIV, give them access to PrEP and condoms and clean needles, but if all else fails that person needs to be able to go to the ER or their doctor’s office and get blister packs of first doses for PEP. I’m a fan of making this as easy as possible at community health clinics and pharmacies outside normal business hours.” James Krellenstein, a founding member of the Prevention of HIV Working Group of ACT UP, said that nPEP is “disastrously unavail-
able” at present, but he is “confident” that Daskalakis can make it available as it should be through what are being called PEP Centers for Excellence in every borough. “It is disturbing that PEP has been readily available to health care workers for nearly 30 years, but gay men and trans women, who have been most impacted by HIV in the United States, are only now just getting a sustainable PEP system,” Krellenstein said. In a follow-up email, he added, “PEP needs to be promoted more heavily, but PEP is not a substitute for PrEP. PEP patients are excellent candidates for PrEP once they finish their 28 day-long PEP regimen. We know from the Amsterdam study that gay men who received PEP (and were not linked to PrEP) were four times more likely to become HIV-positive than gay men who did not receive PEP, reflecting ongoing risk behavior.” Krellenstein, 24, said he used PEP once in 2011, but now is on PrEP, the effectiveness of which is “highly supported by the data” –– with less conclusive data on PEP. “I’m in a sero-discordant relationship with my HIV-positive boyfriend, who is also an activist,” he said. “I’m on PrEP, he’s on treatment and undetectable. I’m negative. We don’t need to use condoms. It is much safer for me to get fucked by someone with HIV who is undetectable than having sex with a person who thinks he’s negative. PrEP gives power to the individual.” Johnson, 33, said, “I’m HIV-positive since 25. If PrEP had been available when I was 19, I wouldn’t be HIV-positive. For me, condoms were never going to work as a longterm strategy.” He added, “PrEP has launched a whole new wave of HIV prevention advocacy. However, it’s essential that we continue to look at comprehensive prevention. We need to address other issues like education, PEP, and improving health care access.” Charles King, the president of Housing Works, an AIDS services group, said, “The City Council has funded a very extensive new PrEP initiative for $3 million.” The PEP Centers for Excellence, however, are not yet included in the new funding — though a lot of new funding is pending in the city’s November budget modification that is being negotiated now (see Duncan Osborne’s “Broader City HIV Services Eligibility May Be on Deck” in the last issue of Gay City News at goo.gl/kCY4zS). King said that the End AIDS NY 2020 Community Coalition, of which Housing Works is a part, has “had positive conversations” about the spending increases being considered and
PEP, continued on p.20
US Judge Embraces EEOC Equating of Sexual Orientation, Sex Discrimination Alabama district judge relies on July ruling, but finds plaintiff’s factual claims lacking BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
t last, a federal district judge has expressly relied on the July 15 ruling from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that sexual orientation discrimination claims can be brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. US District Judge Myron H. Thompson of the Middle District of Alabama, ruling on October 29, rejected the recommendation of a federal magistrate judge that a sexual orientation discrimination complaint under Title VII be dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. Thompson determined that the EEOC was correct when it ruled that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII. Unfortunately, that conclusion did no good for the plaintiff, Roger
Isaacs, because the court found that his factual allegations included neither direct nor indirect evidence of discriminatory intent in his firing or his treatment by his employer.
hostile environment there. When he brought his complaint to Felder, the employer asked Arbor to investigate and report back. Isaacs, meanwhile, became the
Thompson’s decision is apparently the first by a federal district judge to rely on the EEOC’s July decision to hold affirmatively that sexual orientation discrimination claims can be brought under Title VII. Isaacs, an Alabama gay man, worked for Felder Services as a dietician for about six months. Assigned to work at Arbor Springs Health and Rehabilitation Center under a contract that Felder had with that facility, Isaacs claimed he was subjected to a discriminatory
object of an internal investigation at Felder for submitting unauthorized expenses for reimbursement. One of his assignments included periodic trips to Florala, Alabama, and, having suffered an injury in a car accident, he asked for permission “for a man he identified as his
brother but who was actually his husband to drive him to Florala, and for the two to stay overnight there,” Judge Thompson wrote. A dispute over whether the expenses for his husband were authorized got bigger when he also sought reimbursement for taking his mother along. In the end, the investigation concluded that Isaac was submitting unauthorized expenses, and Felder’s human resources director received the results of Arbor’s investigation of Isaacs’ harassment allegations, which found his charges to be unsubstantiated. The human resource director then brought the conclusion of the expenses investigation to Felder’s president and they decided to terminate Isaac “based on the improper reimbursement requests.”
ALABAMA, continued on p.9
Civil Union Property Is Not Marital Property, New York Court Finds Rochester judge concludes Vermont law of no use in divorce claim for house purchased prior to Canadian marriage BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
State Supreme Court justice has found that New York property purchased by a lesbian partner in a Vermont civil union prior to the couple’s Canadian marriage is not subject to equitable distribution in the their current divorce proceeding. Justice Richard A. Dollinger, on October 23, found that Deborah O’Reilly-Morshead, in filing for divorce, had the right to exclude from “marital property” the house she purchased in her own name in 2004, one year after she and Christine O’Reilly-Morshead entered into a civil union but two years before they traveled to Canada to marry. Deborah filed for divorce in Monroe County Supreme Court in Rochester in 2011, and Christine countersued, asking for dissolution of the civil union, as well, and that the house, which would be considered property of the civil union, be included as marital property in the New York divorce. Dollinger concluded that he had authority to dissolve the civil union, but that the house posed a more complicated question. Under New York’s Domestic Relations Law, “marital property” is
defined as property acquired during the marriage. Dollinger concluded, “The date of marriage –– and no other date –– is the time when ‘marital property’ exists.” And, when Vermont enacted its civil union law in 2000, it expressly declared that a civil union is not a marriage. Dollinger rejected the notion that the court treat the property the way it would be treated under Vermont law, pointing out the difficulties that would ensue in dealing with claims based on civil unions and domestic partnerships from a variety of jurisdictions over the past 15 and more years. He did note that other states, particularly in New England, had addressed this problem by including specific provisions when they enacted marriage equality laws. “Neither the New York Legislature nor the Court of Appeals has yet moved New York’s law into the same orbit as our neighboring sister states,” Dollinger wrote. “The Legislature, in the Marriage Equality Act, simply made same-sex marriage legal in New York. It did not mandate that same-sex couples, who were united in civil unions in other states, acquired property rights through that civil union that are equal to the property rights granted to married couples.”
Dollinger considered an alternative theory of treating the Vermont civil union as equivalent to a contract under which the parties agreed that property acquired during their civil union would be deemed jointly-owned property. While acknowledging that Christine’s argument along these lines “has a power logic,” the judge concluded that it went beyond what he was authorized to do under current law. The state’s highest bench, the Court of Appeals, he noted, had raised concerns on this score about “amorphous” agreements that would not provide the kind of “black line” test that the term “marital property” provides. Even though Vermont’s civil union law was not “amorphous,” Dollinger concluded that given his “limited authority” it was “unwise” for him to reach for a conclusion favoring Christine. Ultimately, Dollinger found that the failure of the New York Legislature to pass any statute recognizing out-of-state civil unions for any purpose effectively tied his hands. “In reaching this conclusion, the court is struck by the anomaly this case represents: this court is dissolving a pre-existing civil union, but only
VERMONT, continued on p.9
November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
ALABAMA, from p.8
Isaacs asserted Title VII discrimination claims on the basis of his sex, gender non-conformity, and sexual orientation, hostile environment sexual harassment, and retaliation for his allegations of harassment at Arbor. Felder’s motion for summary judgment was r eferr ed to a magistrate judge, who recommended granting the company’s motion across the board. The magistrate judge specifically asserted that the sexual orientation claim could not be made under Title VII. Judge Thompson granted summary judgment to the company on all claims, as well, but some of his reasons were different. Most importantly, he rejected the contention that a sexual orientation discrimination claim could not be brought under Title VII. Noting that the 11 Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over the district court in Alabama, has not ruled on the question of whether sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination under Title VII, Thompson wrote, “This court agrees instead with the view of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that claims of sexual orientation-based discrimination are cognizable under Title VII.” He specifically pointed out that the EEOC in its July ruling pointed to an 11th Circuit precedent that discriminating against an employee based on an interracial marriage or association was a form of race discrimination. By analogy, Thompson concluded that discrimination based on a same-sex marriage or same-sex associations is sex discrimination. Thompson also noted that as far back as the early 1990s the Hawaii
VERMONT, from p.8
allowing equitable property distribution based on the couple’s marriage,” he wrote. “Any ‘civil union’ property –– which would be subject to distribution if this matter were venued in Vermont –– remains titled in the name of the current title holder and is not subject to distribution.” Dollinger added, “Any further answer rests with the Legislature.” The transitional type of problem this case presents could linger for GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
Supreme Court ruled that state’s ban on same-sex marriage was sex discrimination. Gender nonconformity, Thompson concluded, would also support a claim of sex discrimination. “To the extent that sexual orientation discrimination occurs not because of the targeted individual’s romantic or sexual attraction to or involvement with people of the same sex, but rather based on her or his perceived deviations from ‘heterosexually defined gender norms,’ this, too, is sex discrimination, of the gender-stereotyping variety,” he wrote in an analysis in line with Supreme Court and other federal court rulings on “sex stereotyping” going back to 1989. Despite Thompson’s openness to the theory of Isaac’s case, he was unsympathetic to the facts before him. The plaintiff’s allegations, he found, failed to allege facts that would give rise to an inference that he was discharged because of his sexual orientation, and he agreed with the magistrate judge that the factual allegations were also insufficient to support Isaacs’ hostile environment and retaliation claims against Felder. Thompson’s decision is apparently the first by a federal district judge to rely on the EEOC’s July decision to hold affirmatively that sexual orientation discrimination claims, if supported by sufficient factual allegations, can be brought under Title VII. Since Felder won its motion for summary judgment, there would seem to be no reason for it to seek review of at the 11th Circuit, but the issue might get there if Isaacs were to appeal. He is represented in this lawsuit by Benjamin Howard Cooper of Cooper Law Group LLC, Birmingham, Alabama.
many years, so it would be helpful for the Legislature to accept Dollinger’s implicit invitation to add a provision to the Marriage Equality Law specifying how out-of-state civil unions and domestic partnerships should be treated in the context of dissolution proceedings brought in New York. Deborah is represented by Debra Crowder of Badain & Crowder, of Rochester, and Christine is represented by Vivian Aquilina of Legal Aid Society of Rochester.
Jury May Have to Weigh Chest Hair Patterns, Torso Tattoos
Chelsea gay couple claims their plastic surgeon used identifiable body shots of them in his ads BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
ill a Manhattan jury have to figure out whether a gay man can be identified by the pattern of his chest hair? Maybe, if the lawsuit brought by Doug Hill and James Moritz against plastic surgeon Douglas Steinbrech for the unauthorized use of their images in advertising material actually goes to trial in New York County Supreme Court. Justice Cynthia Kern, on September 28, granted summary judgment to Dr. Steinbrech on some of the gay couple’s claims, but she refused to do so on others, finding, for example, that a jury should decide whether a photograph of Moritz’s torso running from his chin to his knees would be recognizable enough based on the distinguishing features of his chest and facial hair. If they are, that would constitute an unauthorized commercial appropri-
ation of his image under New York’s Civil Rights Law. Hill and Moritz, who are fashion photographers, describe themselves as a “well-known gay couple in Chelsea.” This lawsuit may increase their fame! Between January and October 2012, the two men retained the services of Steinbrech and his company, Gotham Plastic Surgery, to get pec enhancement for Hill and butt tightening for Moritz. Steinbrech made “before and after” photographs to document his work and also made a video recording of Hill after completing the procedures. Hill and Moritz claim that in May 2014 they were surprised to find that their “before and after” photos appeared on “numerous commercial websites” without their consent. They provided Justice Kern with photos and screen shots which they claim “depict their pre- and post-operative states,” although in some of these images no faces are
shown. The images, from sites such as boyculture.com, gaytube.com, and YouTube.com, allegedly included shots of Hill’s torso in pre- and post-operative states and of Moritz’s buttocks and torso in pre- and post-operative states. Kern wrote that in the YouTube videos, Hill’s face and torso tattoos are visible, while in the still pictures, his face is not visible but his tattoos on his torso and shoulder are. The most revealing alleged picture of Moritz is a frontal shot from chin to knees. The two men advanced five different legal claims, but Kern explained that the Privacy Act, which provides that a person’s image cannot be used without their written consent for “advertising or trade” purposes, preempted all other claims. Anyone whose images are used without their consent can sue for damages, including punitive damages for intentional violations of the statute. Ker n rejected the argument
that Steinbrech could not be liable for any picture where a face is not shown. “Rather,” she wrote, “The question is whether the objectionable material presents a recognizable likeness of the plaintiff,” which is “generally a jury question.” Regarding the pictures in Steinbrech’s ads where Hill’s face could be readily identified, Kern granted summary judgment in his favor since Steinbrech submitted no consent forms authorizing such use. Kern denied Steinbrech summary judgment for his alleged use of body images of Hill that showed tattoos since the patient signed a consent form that specifically ruled out the use of such images. Since they did show his tattoos, “which are a distinguishing feature,” wrote Kern, the jury would have to decide whether they were recognizable as him. Moving on to the Moritz photos,
PLASTIC SURGERY, continued on p.30
72-02 Astoria Boulevard East Elmhurst, NY 11370 Contact Duane Henderson, Counselor 718-278-3240 Office • 914-714-8174 Cell
November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Advocates Hit Back at GOP Criticism of Cuomo Trans Rights Directive Democrats, trans leaders, Pride Agenda, TLDEF, GMHC take on Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan BY PAUL SCHINDLER
KEVIN P. COUGHLIN/ THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE
GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
dvocates for transgender rights hit back hard after the State Senate’s Republican leader, on October 30, raised questions about the propriety of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent announcement that New York will treat discrimination based on gender identity and expression as discrimination based on sex and disability, areas already covered by the State Human Rights Law. In a written statement, Nathan Schaefer, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, termed comments made earlier in the day by Senator John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican, “breathtakingly tone-deaf,” while Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay West Side Democrat, said his GOP colleague’s statement was “misguided.” “My concern is that we have coequal branches of government,” Flanagan said, as reported by the Albany Times Union. “I’m not speaking one way or another on the issue. These issues should all be vetted in concert with the Legislature.” In response, Hoylman, in a written statement, said, “Governor Cuomo was well within his executive powers to do so and I’m disappointed that the Republican leader of the Senate would question it, especially since the Republicans have repeatedly blocked the Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act [GENDA], carried by Senator [Daniel] Squadron and Assemblymember [Dick] Gottfried.” In announcing his decision about transgender rights at the October 22 Pride Agenda Manhattan fall gala, the governor, noting that the State Division of Human Rights has the statutory authority to interpret the Human Rights Law, said, “As governor of the State of New York, it is my opinion that in 2015 it is clear that the fair legal interpretation of the definition of a person’s sex includes gender identity and gender expression.” The regulations the Human Rights Division that were published on November 4 and can take effect 45 days later also spell
State Senate Brad Hoylman responded quickly to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan’s criticism of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s directive on transgender civil rights.
out that discrimination based ity. A unanimous bloc of Judiciaon “gender dysphoria” –– defined ry Committee Republicans were medically as having a gender joined by Bronx Democratic Senaidentity different from the sex tor Ruben Diaz, Sr., in voting down assigned at birth –– is discrimi- the bill on that occasion. Given the Republicans’ record nation based on disability, also a protected class under New York on GENDA, it is difficult to credit Flanagan’s claim that he was “not Human Rights law. Schaefer, like Hoylman, noted speaking one way or another on the Flanagan’s failure to act on GENDA issue.” But Squadron was willing to call his bluff, saying, in a written in his rebuke of the Senate leader. “John Flanagan’s criticism of release, “The governor is right and Governor Andrew Cuomo for act- well within his executive authority ing to protect transgender New to take action to prevent discrimYorkers from discrimination is ination against transgender New breathtakingly tone-deaf as Sena- Yorkers… If Majority Leader Flator Flanagan himself left the trans nagan is saying that, after years of community in the lurch only a few blocking the Gender Expression short months ago,” he said. “Sen- Non-Discrimination Act, the Senator Flanagan had a golden oppor- ate Majority is finally willing to send tunity to bring the Gender Expres- a message in support of basic civil sion Non-Discrimination Act to a vote in the Senate this summer but instead he left transgender New Schaefer, like Hoylman, Yorkers to face pervasive noted Flanagan’s failure and often vicious discrimto act on GENDA in his rebuke ination without the same statewide rights every of the Senate leader. other New Yorker enjoys.” Schaefer noted that GENDA has been in play for 13 rights and fairness for transgender years, ever since New York State New Yorkers, then I look forward enacted a gay rights law that pro- to passage of GENDA, which I have vided no protections based on long sponsored, on the Senate floor gender identity and expression. this session.” The Transgender Legal Defense GENDA, which has passed repeatedly in the State Assembly since and Education Fund and Gay 2007, has only once received a Men’s Health Crisis also issued committee hearing, in 2010 when strong rejoinders to Flanagan. “It is disingenuous for Senator the Democrats were in the major-
Governor Andrew Cuomo at the October 22 ESPA dinner in Manhattan.
Flanagan to suggest that the legislature was not given an opportunity to vet legislation to protect New York’s transgender community,” Michael Silverman, TLDEF’s executive director, said in a written statement. As Senate majority leader, he presides over a legislative body that missed 13 opportunities over more than a decade to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act… Instead, Senator Flanagan and his colleagues have buried the legislation in committee, ending any hope that it could be fully reviewed.” Anthony Hayes, GMHC’s vice president of public affairs and policy, said Flanagan “believes that the Legislature ‘can and should be included’ in these types of ‘deliberations, regardless of outcome.’ Perhaps the senator has amnesia, because he was Senate Majority Leader last session, which gave him the power to bring GENDA to the floor for real deliberation and debate.” Responding to Flanagan’s comments, Rich Azzopardi, a Cuomo spokesperson, said, “The governor exercised longstanding pre-existing executive authority to improve the lives of New Yorkers. He was proud to do so.” The new Division of Human Rights regulations will offer transgender New Yorkers protection from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and access to credit.
Longtime “David Letterman” producer Barbara Gaines (center) with Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum (left) and Kleinbaum’s partner Randi Weingarten, who is president of the American Federation of Teachers.
Honorees Lisa Davis, Citi’s global head of enterprise services, and recording artist Janelle Monáe.
A CAPITALE NIGHT FOR THE WOMEN
Former New York Liberty player Teresa Weatherspoon and friend Chanel County.
Center executive director Glennda Testone and her fiancé, Jama Shelton.
Cathy Renna and Karsie Elizabeth enjoy a dance at the afterparty.
GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
Community Center staffer Tiffany Mathieu.
PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO | In its 18th annual Women’s Event, the LGBT Community Center honored recording artist Janelle Monáe, longtime “Late Night with David Letterman” producer Barbara Gaines, and Lisa Davis, Citi’s global head of enterprise services. The November 7 event at Capitale on the Bowery, which raised money for the Center’s programs for lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender people, also paid tribute to Edie Windsor, the victorious plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s 2013 Defense of Marriage Act ruling, which played a critical role in the string of federal court victories that followed and led to full marriage equality rights nationwide this past summer.
Debi Mazar, who stars in the new TV Land series “Younger.”
Former Liberty player Sue Wick.
HIPAA Mystery at Harlem United
Healthcare provider says it’s not covered by federal healthcare provider confidentiality law BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
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n October of 2013, two outreach workers from the New York Harm Reduction Educators (NYHRE) were walking past a Harlem United housing facility on Lexington Avenue and they came upon a dumpster on the sidewalk that they said held records including “the full name, HIV diagnosis, secondary diagnosis of MAI, medication list, CD4 count, Viral Load, Social Security card, and New York State Benefit ID Card” of Harlem United clients. The workers went into the facility and reported to staff of the AIDS group that people were “rummaging through the exposed materials on the sidewalk,” according to a letter that Carolina M. Lopez, the NYHRE’s executive director, later sent to Harlem United and about a half dozen government agencies. The workers “were met with indifference by the staff at Harlem United,” Lopez wrote. The NYHRE workers took the records and carried them back to their own office where they were reviewed by a deputy director who concluded that they contained “a multitude of [HIPAA] and [Americans with Disabilities Act] violations, involving five individuals,” the letter said. Roughly two weeks later, Lopez filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which investigates breaches of patient records under HIPPA, the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. In the complaint, Lopez wrote, “The file contained confidential information about the HIV status, medical conditions, substance use histories, and personal identification of numerous clients at Harlem United.” On June 27, 2014, HHS began its investigation into a possible HIPAA violation by writing to Harlem United and asking if it was a “covered entity” as that is defined under federal law. More specifical-
ly, the federal agency asked, “Are any of the covered transactions transmitted in electronic form?” and “Does your organization furnish, bill, or receive payment for health care provided to patients?” Harlem United has been billing Medicaid for years. In 2012, the latest year Gay City News could find information for, Harlem United billed Medicaid just over $2.1 million, accounting for about 10 percent of the agency’s revenues that year, according to an annual form that non-profits file with the IRS.
“It’s very rare that a healthcare provider that collects and bills for services will not be a HIPAA entity.”
Currently on its website, Harlem United says it provides primary care services to clients at two health centers and uses “state-ofthe-art electronic medical records,” which would mean it is a “covered entity” as that is defined under federal law. It has been operating a federally qualified health center since 2007 where it provides healthcare to clients. But in its July 2014 response, Harlem United wrote, “No, neither Harlem United nor [North General AIDS Housing Development Fund Corporation] furnishes, bills, or receives payment for health care provided to patients.” The North General entity is a wholly owned subsidiary of Harlem United that operates the housing facility where the records were found. The agency declined to comment, and HHS did not respond to requests for comment. On July 31, HHS wrote to Lopez informing her that it had closed
HIPAA, continued on p.21
November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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The Inside Story of Edie Windsor’s Win
Roberta Kaplan brings admirable modesty to account of landmark 2013 victory over DOMA
W.W. NORTON & COMPANY
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
ore than 200 pages into “Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA,” Roberta Kaplan, the attorney who won the 2013 case before the Supreme Court that struck down the most significant part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, describes one of many moot court sessions she participated in as she prepared for oral arguments before the nation’s highest court. “You shouldn’t get into facts… your low-hanging fruit is all the things that are irrational,” one unidentified attorney advised her at the end of the session. “Make it about an irrational federal statute. De-gay the case. De-gay this case.” When it was passed, DOMA was an explicit attack on gay and lesbian couples. The lawsuit was brought by Edie Windsor after the death of Thea Spyer, her partner of more than 40 years and spouse after they married in Canada in 2007. Because DOMA required the federal government to treat the married couple as legal strangers, Windsor was presented with a substantial estate tax bill that she would not have had to pay if they were treated as legally married. The life that Spyer and Windsor made together was at the core of the case. As it made its way through the federal courts, Kaplan routinely said, “It’s all about Edie, stupid” to remind herself and the other members of the legal team that Windsor was their client and that she was central to the lawsuit. How a lawyer could “de-gay”
such a case is never explained. Kaplan writes that this comment sent her and her legal team “over the edge.” They did not follow that advice. “Then Comes Marriage,” which Kaplan wrote with Lisa Dickey, is filled with these sorts of anecdotes and not all of them accrue to Kaplan’s benefit. At her final moot court session, an exhausted Kaplan said, “Enough! If I have to during the argument, I’m going to throw handicapped people under the bus.” Spyer had multiple sclerosis that eventually made her a quadriplegic, and she spent the last 25 years of her life in a wheelchair. Kaplan describes Windsor as “furious,” and she quickly offered an apology. This kind of honesty makes “Then Comes Marriage” all the more compelling. “Then Comes Marriage” has sections that are essentially brief biographies of Kaplan and Windsor that feel as if they slow the storytelling, but when paired with the tale of the lawsuit, they offer fascinating insights, notable facts, and interesting contrasts. In 2006, Kaplan argued the marriage case that eventually arrived at the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court. Robert S. Smith was among the seven judges on the court and the most aggressive marriage opponent. The court declined to allow lesbian and gay couples to wed in New York. That was won by a vote in the State Legislature in 2011. When Kaplan was a summer associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, Smith was a partner there and they worked together on a pro bono death penalty case. Spyer was a therapist and many years before she met Windsor, Kaplan was briefly Spyer’s client when she was struggling with coming out of the closet. “Then Comes Marriage” is a very quick read. It also offers an inside look at how important cases wend their way through the courts. We do not usually see the frustrations and the intimate moments that must inevitably be a part of such high stakes legal battles.
PEP, from p.7
is “optimistic about new initiatives.” The group wrote Mayor Bill de Blasio on October 21 calling for almost $8 million in new prevention funding, $12.3 million for care, $6 million for STD clinic services, $2 million for public education and social marketing, and $54.5 million for housing and living well. “We continue to press for HASA for All at the city and state,” King said of the effort to open the support and entitlement services of the city’s HIV/ AIDS Services Administration to all HIV-positive city residents, not just those with an AIDS diagnosis. “We’ve asked
THEN COMES MARRIAGE: UNITED STATES V. WINDSOR AND THE DEFEAT OF DOMA By Roberta Kaplan, with Lisa Dickey W.W. Norton & Company $27.95; 336 pages
The book also offers a welcome contrast with “Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality,” which was written by Ted Olson and David Boies, Jo Becker’s “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight For Marriage Equality,” and “The Case Against 8,” a film documentary. Boies and Olson were the attorneys who brought the case that overturned Proposition 8, a 2008 California ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in that state. The Supreme Court heard the Prop 8 and Windsor cases at the same time, but the court declined to rule on the Prop 8 case on the merits, saying the official proponents of the initiative lacked standing. That left a lower court ruling striking down Prop 8 in place. Olson had boldly promised that the case would go to the Supreme Court and win marriage in all 50 states, but what he won was marriage in California. It was the Windsor case that led to the marriage wins in federal courts beginning in 2014 and that culminated in victory nationwide in 2015. The Prop 8 books and the documentary were an exercise in tireless self-promotion, and “Then Comes Marriage” displays some refreshing humility that was entirely lacking in those earlier accounts.
Governor Cuomo to add additional $20 million in non-Medicaid spending and $100 million in housing funds. Housing every person living with HIV in New York State would cost $100 to 120 million.” For more information about access to PEP nationwide, Krellenstein recommends going to pepnow.org. Housing Works’ World AIDS Day Rally, co-sponsored by scores of allies in the HIV/ AIDS community, is set for December 1 at the Apollo Theater from 11 am to 1 pm at 253 West 125th Street. It is free and open to the public. For more information visit housingworks.org/newsletter/update/lang/_ht. November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
HETRICK-MARTIN, from p.6
male, kicked him out of the house after he came home late one night to find the front door chained. His mother said only, “Throw the key in and get out.” Jessica, a 19-yearold multiracial trans female, has been “couch surfing” in different places since her mother threw her out of the house. Eddie, 17, her African-American gay friend, lives at home but in a hostile, homophobic environment. Though Jessica and Eddie have experienced family rejection, they found support and acceptance from their peers and the professionals at HMI. Denise, 22, a self-described queer woman of color, became homeless after she was raped. Lewis, 22, a multiracial transgender male, was verbally harassed and bullied in school and on the streets. His mental health problems were exacerbated when he dropped out of school and became homeless. Despite the recent advances in LGBT rights, including the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in favor of marriage equality, many of the community’s more vulnerable members experience serious, even
HIPPA, from p.18
the case because it “does not have authority to investigate your complaint… In this particular case, Harlem United does not meet the definition of a health care provider as it does not provide health care services. In a conversation with a Harlem United staff member, [the Office for Civil Rights] learned that Harlem United’s primary purpose is the provision of housing ser vices.” Gay City News sought the records under the federal Freedom of Information Act last year after Kelsey Louie, the chief operating officer at Harlem United until mid-2014, was accused of rigging a board election at Front Runners New York by registering clients at the AIDS Service Center NYC. Gay City News sought the records to determine if Louie, who now heads GMHC, had been accused of breaching the confidentiality of medical records. Louie and the AIDS Service Center NYC are not named in any HIPAA complaint. GMHC is named GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
life-threatening crises that affect their physical and mental health — poverty and homelessness, stigma, rejection, and violence. Hetrick-Martin Institute’s new LGBTQ youth initiative is a pioneering agency’s vision of change, and a plan for how to achieve it. At the event announcing the initiative, HMI CEO Krever thanked City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca for “spearheading” the project and acknowledged “the support and commitment” of the Council’s LGBT Caucus. Menchaca, the first out gay Council member from Brooklyn, praised HMI for its “transformative” approach to serving LGBTQ youth. “Every day, we are more and more aware that we must address our community’s issues as a whole — with wraparound services that are focused on our entire personhood,” Menchaca said. “This initiative will help us to do that more effectively. I am proud to be part of this groundbreaking project.”
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in a 2005 complaint, which was outside the date range for records that Gay City News sought. The Harlem United records were released to Gay City News this past September. Jonathan E. Montgomery, an attorney in the healthcare practice at Gordon Feinblatt LLC in Baltimore, was not surprised that HHS asked Harlem United if it was a “covered entity” because it is not immediately apparent that the agency is a healthcare provider. “It makes sense because they are not talking to a hospital where there is no question,” Montgomery said. “They have to establish their jurisdiction.” As to Harlem United’s assertion that it was not a “covered entity,” Montgomery said that was possible, but unlikely. “It’s very rare that a healthcare provider that collects and bills for services will not be a HIPAA entity,” he said. “I’ve never encountered [a federally qualified health center] that asserted it was not covered by HIPAA. It’s theoretically possible, but it would be very surprising.”
When Gay Couple Breaks Up, Who Gets the Pooch? A studio coop proves less contentious than a Basenji’s best interests BYARTHUR S. LEONARD
ouglas Gellenbeck and Michael Whitton, who had a 13-year relationship, bought a co-op studio apartment together on East 11th Street in 2008 and the next year registered as domestic partners with New York City. Some time during their relationship, Stevie, a dog, entered their life, as well. Now Stevie is at the center of a heated custody dispute. Unfortunately the family broke apart in 2014, with Whitton, behind in paying his share of the co-op costs, moving out. In May 2014, Gellenbeck filed a complaint in New York County Supreme Court claiming that Whitton had not contributed to the costs of maintaining the apartment since July of 2012. Gellenbeck no longer desired to “own or hold the apartment in common” with his ex-partner. Since the apartment has only one entrance and one bathroom, dividing the apartment in half was not an option, Gellenbeck said, so he asked the court to authorize a sale and distribution of the assets. He asserted that he had paid the initial 20 percent down payment and had, over time, also covered the majority of the expenses, and so should received a majority of the proceeds. In response, Whitton, without legal representation, argued that the apartment could be physically subdivided between the two men. On March 2 of this year, Justice Arthur F. Engoron agreed with Gellenbeck on the disposition of the real estate. The two men, however, remain in a dogfight over Stevie. In his complaint, Gellenbeck described Stevie as “a tan, female, mixed-breed, part Basenji dog,” whom he claimed Whitton had given him as a birthday gift. As the “registered owner” for purposes of the required health department license, Gellenbeck said, he should keep Stevie. He asked the court to issue a declaration that he is the owner of Stevie, and a permanent injunction against Whitton claim-
A tan –– or as fanciers say, “red” –– Basenji hound, the same breed as Stevie, the dog at the heart of this case.
ing any status as the dog’s owner. Whitton sharply disputed this, pointing out that he had “adopted” Stevie from an agency and, he claimed, been the stay-at-home partner who had spent more time taking care of the dog. In effect, Whitton argued it was in the dog’s best interest that Stevie should be his. Appar ently moved by both men’s affection for the dog, Engoron decided in his March 2 opinion –– based on a prior state trial court opinion in a similar dispute –– that he would make a decision about “what is best for all concerned,” placing the burden on both parties to prove why Stevie would have “a better chance of living, prospering, loving, and being loved” in the care of one partner as opposed to the other. In effect, Gellenbeck and Whitton would be posed like warring parents trying to prove that it would be in the best interest of a child to be in the custody of one rather than the other. Engoron also denied Gellenbeck’s request for a preliminary injunction barring Whitton from the apartment and giving Gellenbeck “exclusive right of possession” of Stevie until the case was concluded. Since Whitton technically remained a co-owner of the apartment, he should have access to the dog while the issue remained unresolved. But canine jurisprudence moved more quickly than the Gellenbeck-Whitton dispute was able to. In July, another New York
BASENJI, continued on p.48
November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Letter from the Editor
Post-Houston, Our Obligations to Our Trans Brothers & Sisters
PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN
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BY PAUL SCHINDLER In 1977, when gospel singer and Orange Juice pitchperson Anita Bryant took aim at the Miami-Dade gay rights ordinance, she didn’t opt for subtlety. The group she founded to mount a repeal effort at the ballot box she called Save Our Children. Her claim was that in sanctioning legal rights for gay and lesbian people, her right to instill Christian values in her children was compromised. Protecting the ability of children to be raised with the proper morality was perhaps Bryant’s effort to create what she thought of as a high-minded cover for the more insidious implications of the group’s name: that children are not safe around homosexuals, particularly those emboldened when society acknowledges their equal rights. Within a year, voters in St. Paul, Minnesota, Eugene, Oregon, and Wichita, Kansas followed Miami’s lead in turning back civil rights ordinances. Fortunately, the “protect the kids” hysteria was beaten back in November 1978 when California voters rejected a ballot measure that would have required public schools to fire gay and lesbian teachers. Fifteen years after Bryant stirred the pot in Miami, right-wing groups pushing to enact anti-gay initiatives in Oregon and Colorado, among other places, grabbed on to a scurrilous “documentary” called “The Gay
Agenda: The Report,” which purported to show the dangers of according gays “special rights,” but in fact was an almost pornographic exploitation of mainstream society’s anxieties about gay male sexual practices at the height of the nation’s AIDS crisis. Opposition to gay rights and equal treatment has not disappeared, even though attitudes have changed considerably over the past generation. Even fervent opponents of advances like marriage equality have, in recent years, adopted a far more moderate, reasonable tone –– one in which they are typically at pains to emphasize they have nothing against gay and lesbian people, they simply want to preserve what they say are important traditions as well as principals of religious liberty. That “moderate, reasonable” tone was absent from last week’s successful drive to overturn Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance, dubbed HERO. A fairly standard nondiscrimination measure that provided protections from housing, employment, and public accommodations discrimination based on 15 characteristics –– including sexual orientation and gender identity, but also race, age, sex, and religion –– HERO was rejected by more than 60 percent of the voters in Texas’ largest city. The message the ordinance’s opposition used was simple and ugly: “No men in women’s bathrooms.” Lest anyone miss the point, TV ads showed a young girl in a bathroom confronted by a faceless yet clearly menacing man in a plaid shirt. This crowd makes Anita Bry-
ant look like a master of nuance. The implication is clear: transgender women are really nothing more than male perverts in dresses. The willingness of the HERO opposition (including Texas’ two top elected officials –– on the eve of the election GOP Governor Greg Abbott tweeted “No men in women’s bathrooms,” and his lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, play a leading role in the campaign) to engage in the dehumanization of a portion of the community already struggling with unemployment, poverty, homelessness, violence, and serious healthcare challenges staggers the imagination. As gay, lesbian, and bisexual cisgender Americans, we still face plenty of challenges, resistance, bigotry, and ugliness, but many of us may have forgotten the worst of it. The worst of it is what our transgender brothers and sisters in Houston lived through over the past several months. We we have seen some pushback against the shame witnessed in Houston –– most notably in the decision this week by the Dallas City Council to provide protections based on gender identity and expression in its civil rights ordinance that essentially matches the provisions of HERO. But what happened in Houston must remind each of us to be vigilant in the face of any attempt we witness in our daily lives to dehumanize transgender people. We have to name it and call it out, and in so doing work to make it wholly unacceptable in our society and our nation.
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PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
Oh, Gimme a (Bathroom) Break! BY ED SIKOV
ivil rights in Houston went down the toilet –– excuse me, that was vulgar; I meant to write the commode –– on Election Day when voters resoundingly overturned an ordinance that prohibited discrimination against LGBT people in housing, employment, and public accommodation. The ordinance had been passed by Houston’s City Council
and was therefore law. But Houston’s bigot community –– a coalition of haters led by Christian fascists, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and other right-wing loons –– hated the concept of equality so much that they successfully shot it down by referendum. Houston’s landlords, employers, and school principals are once again free –– free to fire us, deny us housing, and generally treat us like shit. Shit and piss were in fact the central topics of the referendum. Instead of coming right out and admitting their hatred of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and trans people, the bigots turned Houston’s equal rights ordinance into a referendum on nefarious bathroom use. Because the law
MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.31
November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: Working Together for a Solution
PrEP Can Help Bring an End to AIDS BY LETITIA JAMES & BENJAMIN BASHEIN
hirty years ago, the world was still trying to figure out what HIV was –– let alone how to
prevent it. We remember New York City during those dark years –– when countless men in communities across the city were getting sick and dying before our very eyes. But we have persevered through the darkness, and today, we can end this epidemic with a simple pill. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a relatively new and safe medication for people who don’t have HIV to prevent the infection from taking hold after exposure to the virus. Several studies have proved that the risk of getting HIV was 92 percent lower for those who consistently took the pill. Being diagnosed with HIV in the United States should no longer be an immediate death sentence. Modern medicine can and will continue
to help people with HIV live longer and healthier lives. But each year, approximately 50,000 new HIV infections are diagnosed in the United States, and a disproportionately high rate of these cases happen in New York City. While new HIV infections have decreased among most populations, young gay and bisexual men of color have seen their HIV rates double. HIV is not just a health crisis, it is a financial one as well. The average cost to treat one person with HIV over the course of a lifetime is estimated at $400,000. These individuals are frequently discriminated against and continue to be at high risk of losing their jobs or facing homelessness. That’s why we need increased awareness around PrEP to help eliminate these challenges for the next generation. PrEP is a preventative medication for HIV-negative individuals that can effectively eliminate the risk of infection when taken daily. Without shame or stigma, all gay and bisex-
ual men and transgender women who are sexually active should consult with their healthcare professionals to determine if PrEP is the right option for them. The medical industry must also do its part. We need to provide new training for a health care professionals and ensure that STD clinics, community health centers, and student health centers citywide have the resources to educate their patients and administer PrEP. We must also train non-medical service providers –– such as social workers, case managers, correctional facility personnel, faith-based outreach workers, educators, substance use counselors, and others who work in New York neighborhoods most affected by HIV. If we are going to beat this epidemic, these professionals need to have the tools to discuss PrEP with everyday New Yorkers in an accessible way. Perhaps the biggest misconception about PrEP is that it’s too expensive for low-income New Yorkers. Medicaid in New York
State covers PrEP medication. And despite its high market price, even uninsured individuals who earn up to about $59,000 — or higher, in special cases — can receive it at little to no cost through a patient assistance program sponsored by the manufacturer. For those of us that lived through the 1980s, it seems a miracle to be discussing the true end of the AIDS epidemic in New York. We can truly end this horrific disease once and for all, but only if we work together. We call on each and every one of you to encourage your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors to know their status by getting tested, seek treatment if infected, and begin utilizing common sense prevention if not. Anyone interested in PrEP should reach out to their health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene can provide a list of clinics with experience in providing PrEP. For help getting Medicaid or low-cost insurance, call a city health department enroller at 718-953-8234. Letitia James is the New York City public advocate (pubadvocate.nyc. gov). Benjamin Bashein is the executive director of ACRIA (acria.org).
PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad
The State of the Queer Cuban Nation BY KELLY COGSWELL
a t e i n O c t o b e r, a h a n d f u l o f independent activists appeared for the first time before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington reporting on the state of the LGBTI community in Cuba and asking the commission to pressure the Castro regime not just on behalf of queers, but of any independent group trying to work for human rights on the island. In the video (at goo.gl/19wlyn), they seemed articulate, dignified, and maybe a little desperate, offering quiet reproaches to an international LGBT community that has a blind eye where Cuba is concerned, largely ignoring actual LGBT people trying to speak and work on their own behalf, while seeming to applaud every press release from CENESEX, the government-approved National Center for Sex Education run by the straight daughter of Cuba’s
GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
dynastic ruler, Raúl Castro. Carlos Quesada of the DC-based International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights, said that the “so-called visibility” of Cuba’s queers internationally was dependent on one name, Mariela Castro, and that “it contrasts with the actual situation of the members of the LGBTI community in Cuba.” Determined to see if they could get something done outside the CENESEX bubble, a coalition of Cuban groups, including the Free Rainbow Alliance of Cuba (Alianza Arcoiris Libre de Cuba), the Trans Fantasy Network (RED-Trans Fantasía), the Foundation for the Rights of the LGBTI Community (Fundación por los derechos de la Comunidad LGBTI), and Divine Hope (Divina Esperanza), a Christian group, decided to conduct their own study of the state of the queer Cuban nation. They prepared a questionnaire focusing on personal experiences of discrimination and violence,
and whether or not LGBTI people had basic information about their human rights. It was an ambitious project, especially for embattled independent groups. “By law, organizations that do not declare their support to the state are not allowed to be registered,” explained Juana Mora, of the Free Rainbow Alliance of Cuba, and former member of CENESEX. She let those words speak for themselves, knowing that the commission would be well aware that in Cuba, independent activists and journalists face harassment, discrimination, violence, and arrest. Later on in the presentation, she and Quesada described how queer activists were continually monitored and their research materials seized and copied, routinely denounced as counterrevolutionaries, threatened, and subject to detention and interrogation. Unsurprisingly, most LGBTI people approached for the study were too afraid or too disillusioned to talk to them. Mora told the commission, “In Cuba, there’s a culture of fear surrounding any discussion of human rights.
DYKE ABROAD, continued on p.51
PERSPECTIVE: Snide Lines
I’m an Editor; Whom Are You? BY SUSIE DAY
ho says us white leftists have no feeling for High Art? Hundreds of thousands of capitalist imperialist museum-going, operaloving, overly literate fuck-faces, that’s who. To smash this top-down bourgeois conspiracy, I am taking a couple of months off from writing this column to start a highly classy –– yet class-conscious –– literary journal, to be edited by yo mismo. As an editor, I can finally provide the sensitive artistic blowback needed to Fight the Power! Yes, editing is how I will change the System from within. Like if I want to call those dudes painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel racist patriarchal dickwads, I can –– cause I’m an editor! Best of all, I can get privileged, bourgie writers to “submit” their work, then inform them in a cool, professional manner that they suck. Already, I am getting a lot of thrillingly inadequate “submissions.” For example, somebody just mailed in a few weird poems by some small-town wannabe aesthete named Emily Dickinson. Here is some primo editing I did to make her work worthy of the Revolution: Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves And immortality. Unclear, comrade. Are you not feeling well? You’re not dead, are you? If you are not dead, why couldn’t you “stop for death?” If you are dead, how could you be writing this poem? To avoid confusing and/ or upsetting the People, I would suggest a more cause/ effect-oriented rhyme scheme at the outset. E.g., this might work: “As an activist, I can’t stop for Death / Because my busy schedule fighting for social justice leaves me out of breath.” “But just ourselves” verges on the non-grammatical and is not very succinct, either, when you come to think of it, which will be often, I hope, given the fact that we
PLASTIC SURGERY, from p.10
Kern first noted that there was a factual dispute about whether the photos he submitted to the court were in fact used in any advertising. A jury would have to sort that out and also decide whether the images, if used in ads, were recognizably Moritz. Focusing on the frontal image that ran from the knees to the chin, judge noted, “The only
are all deeply concerned about today’s global situation involving crises such as police violence, endless war, and climate change, and we do not have time to read things that just go on and on and on and on, for heaven’s sake, if you take my meaning, which I hope you do and if you don’t you should think about why not, it is imperative. “The carriage held ONLY ourselves / and Immortality” is more economical, word-wise. Actually, “Immortality,” especially when capitalized, seems like a word some white, ruling-class yuppies would use to celebrate gentrifying another neighborhood. Perhaps you could work in some grassroots, “People’s” imagery here. Replace “Immortality” with “LbertEE” or “Quilting BEE.” It’s a nice touch to make “Death” a male, and shows that you are a caring feminist. But do you really think that Death is “kind?” Or do you mean your statement ironically? If so, please rethink how your societal privilege to be ironic could offend a lot of people who are too oppressed to read this in the first place. Does Death come “kindly” for the thousands of impoverished, globally displaced multicultural laborers who fall prey to the machinations of an overweening US imperialist patriarchy? Are these people invited into “carriages” when they die? I think not. Why don’t you tell their story? “The carriage held only ourselves and thousands of impover ished, globally displaced multicultural laborers / All having a quilting bee” is probably closer to what you mean. On to your next poem: After great pain, a formal feeling comes The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs Okay, let me stop you here. Once again, I am forced to blame you for my not being able to understand something. Furthermore, it is not clear from your word choice that you have really suffered. I can’t tell you how many people have known greater pain than you have, toots. Try throw-
portion of Moritz’s face depicted in the picture is the lower portion of Moritz’s chin. However, the picture contains distinguishing features such as Moritz’s facial and chest hair. Thus, based on these distinguishing features, the court finds that a jury could find that Moritz is capable of being identified by the picture alone and, as such, determination of that issue must be left to the jury.” Since Mori-
ing away your class privilege and listening to the stories of others, less fortunate than yourself. For instance: Me. I, myself, have known great pain. Once, my corporate, dress-for-success woman boss slammed my hand in the door of her temp agency office. She was in the middle of firing me for using her Xerox machine to run off a few thousand save-the-earth flyers. So even though she said it was an “accident,” I didn’t believe her. From that, I learned that after great pain, a throbbing feeling comes. Actually, “throbbing” would be a good adjective to replace “formal,” as it denotes a certain salt-of-the-earth, workers’ sensibility missing here. But we digress… The soul selects her own society Then shuts the door; On her divine majority Obtrude no more. This is NOT a sentence. Are you even trying? Granted, agoraphobia may be a psychological problem, but do you really want to depict self-indulgent characters who can afford to stay inside all day and not go to work? Also, “divine majority” sounds like you are some Tea Party presidential candidate. Finally, avoid offending your readers by using big words like “Obtrude” that they have to waste valuable time looking up. Big words also wreak havoc with your spellchecker, or however that is spelled. I regret that my schedule allows me only enough time to read the first stanzas of your poems. But if these are any indication, you really need to buckle down and get proactive before they can meet our editorial needs. To prime your literary pump, you you might try studying some of the amazingly popular –– yet deep –– poems now posted on Instagram and Tumblr. And don’t forget to thank the masses for once again showing us the way! Good luck, comrade! And remember: If you’re ever stumped for a topic, just write about what you know. Susie Day, the author of “Snidelines: Talking Trash to Power,” published by Abingdon Square Publishing, will return in March.
tz did not authorize use of any images of his face, a picture of his chin that was recognizable would exceed the scope of the written release he signed. Bringing up the rear in Kern’s consideration was Moritz claim regarding pictures that he alleges depict his buttocks pre- and post-operative. Finding that “the pictures are devoid of any distinguishing or identifying features,”
she determined that he could not pursue a claim regarding them. As a matter of law, Moritz’s butt is undistinguished and anonymous. One irony of the case is that it was assigned –– albeit randomly –– to a lesbian judge. Now, the question is who might volunteer for jury duty to determine if Hill’s tattoos and Moritz’s chest and facial hair are enough to make a visual ID of the men. November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.24
would have enabled trans folks to use the lavatory of their gender rather than their sex at birth, the haters came up with what even I must acknowledge was a brilliant scheme: They produced ads in which menacing looking men entered ladies rooms, intent, one was asked to infer, on exposing their penises to or even raping the women inside. This strategy was cunning, deceitful, and ultimately successful: Exploiting people’s fears about bathrooms –– fears that are endemic in this country –– enabled voters to disavow their thoroughgoing hatred of LGBT folks and displace their disgust for us onto the inherently disgusting territory of toilets. On Election Day, Esquire.com’s Mark Warren posted a brilliant piece on the issue: the out lesbian “Annise Parker would go on to become mayor of Houston, and it is her equal rights ordinance that is on the ballot today, the same ordinance that is actually a government conspiracy to empower bathroom deviants, because bathroom deviants are everywhere, and everybody knows that this is the secret agenda of these people and their so-called ‘rights,’ because they might say that they just want freedom not to get fired or beaten up, which sounds deceptively reasonable, which is just like them, when what they really want is the right to engage in behavior so despicable that only the morally upright have taken great pains and considerable time to imagine it in every lurid, sweaty, vivid detail.” As the New York Times’ enlightened editorial on the subject pointed out, “Houston’s ordinance would allow transgender people to use public restrooms consistent with their gender identity. This is a fundamental right that does nothing to endanger others. There is absolutely no evidence, empirical or anecdotal, to suggest that transgender people have a proclivity to harass or sexually assault people in restrooms and locker rooms. Meanwhile, there is substantial evidence that transgender women face disproportionate discrimination and violence in all walks of life.” Warren and the Times editoriGayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
al board failed to appreciate what is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. Mike Moffitt of sfgate.com explains: two psychologists, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, concluded after a large-scale, decadelong study that, as Dunning describes it, “Very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is.” Moffitt picks it up from there: “Let’s say a politician comes up with an ingenious plan that would ensure universal health care while decreasing health care costs. According to Dunning-Kruger, no matter how much information is provided, the unsophisticated would 1) be incapable of recognizing the wisdom of such a plan; 2) assume they know better; and 3) have no idea of the extent of their inadequacy. In other words, stupid people are too stupid to know how stupid they are.” For instance, Jared Woodfill, co-chair of the so-called Campaign for Houston, described the equal rights law this way (with thanks to Alexa Ura, a reporter for the Texas Tribune): “This allows biological males, including registered sex offenders, to go into female restrooms, locker rooms, and shower rooms all under the protection of law. We think that’s dangerous public policy, and our position from day one has been we’re not willing to sacrifice the safety of our wives, our daughters, and our mothers at the altar of political correctness.” How Woodfill got from equal rights to registered sex offenders is anyone’s guess, except for stupid people, who see the connection immediately. It’s worth noting that Woodfill was chairman of the Republican Party of Harris County, Texas, from 2002 to 2014. Or this, from Dr. Ed Young, the senior pastor at Second Baptist Church in Houston (quoted approvingly by Heather Sells of cbn.com): “This is a moral issue, and if the Body of Christ does not vote and speak out, we are gone in the 21st century.” That one requires no response, except to wonder what party affiliation the Body of Christ has chosen. C
Scenes of Everyday Queer Life Curated by James M. Saslow runs through December 6, 2015
Follow @EdSikov on Twitter and Facebook.
Saul Bolasni, Untitled (Portrait of man with book), Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum.
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A Gradually Smoldering Passion
Directed by Todd Haynes The Weinstein Company Opens Nov. 20 Angelika Film Center 18 W. Houston St. at Mercer St. angelikafilmcenter.com Paris Theatre 4 W. 58th St. citycinemas.com/paris
BY GARY M. KRAMER s “Carol,” Todd Haynes’ outstanding adaption of Patricia Highsmith's classic lesbian novel “The Price of Salt,” a piercing study of the title character (Cate Blanchett), or is its’ primary concern the role Carol has as catalyst for her lover Therese’s (Rooney Mara) sexual awakening? This lush, gorgeous film is, to be sure, both a heart-rending drama and a stirring romance between two women coming to grips with their sexual identities in the conformist 1950s. The performances by the two actresses are nothing short of miraculous. “It’s ultimately Therese’s story,” said director Todd Haynes in an interview with Gay City News. “Carol is the object of desire, and she pretty much maintains that position through most of the film because she’s not the one in danger, the way Therese is. You have to compare their statuses, and who can get mortally wounded or eternally changed through pain by the other. And that’s really Therese.” Dazzling in its attention to period detail, Haynes’ film shows the characters bewitching each other when Carol, in a fur coat she wears like a suit of armor, browses in the department
Director Todd Haynes on set with Cate Blanchett.
Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara shine in Todd Haynes’ adaptation of Patricia Highsmith novel
THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Todd Haynes’ “Carol.”
store where Therese works. Carol is incredibly alluring, and when she asks Therese about a doll as a Christmas gift for her daughter, the shop girl suggests a train instead, hinting perhaps at her own tomboyish-ness. Their conversations, on the surface innocuous, are full of coded, discrete signals that underscore unspoken desires. The exquisite, slow-burn romantic tension Haynes creates in “Carol” makes the moment when the characters finally kiss after the film’s midpoint truly electric. The filmmaker said the intense desire and passion between the two women must play out in very specific ways. “In the book, when Carol puts her hand on Therese’s shoulder, she also gives Therese a quick kiss on the head, and Therese, in recounting it, ‘only feels [Carol’s] fingers burning through my shoulder… I missed the kiss,’ he explained. “The thing you most want to remember and feel and experience in real time, you miss because you’re preoccupied with something else.” A hand-on-a-shoulder scene is shown twice in the film, capturing the burning but stifled emotions Carol and Therese share. Other gorgeous visuals have Therese looking forlornly out a car window wet with rain, longing for something better that her relationship with Richard (Jake Lacey) –– something real, something different. Richard pressures Therese to spend the holidays with his family and travel with him to France. In contrast, Carol is seen trying to control her intense emotions, which range from anger to passion. She is fighting a battle for custody of her daughter Rindy (Kk Heim) with husband Harge (Kyle Chandler). Blanchett exhibits amaz-
ing self-restraint as a driven woman; a speech she gives in a lawyer’s office is a remarkably powerful moment. Cinematographer Ed Lachman, who also shot Haynes’ “Far from Heaven,” makes every scene ache with the poignancy of an Edward Hopper painting. “That’s what I like about period films is that you are holding up a frame that you are asking the audience to look into,” Haynes said. “A frame makes you aware that there is a point of view, that you’re not looking somewhere else. Someone is actually telling you what to see, and you’re being asked to figure out why. When a frame is obstructed, you desire to get past that obstruction to what is on the other side. It’s this game, but it stokes desire, so it’s all about levels of interference and obfuscation and boundaries. Things that can’t be said overtly, or directly, so all of that makes you burn with a hunger to get to these points.” In moving toward the core of “Carol” and the physical relationship between the two women, Haynes ramps up the desire and the suspense. “The viewer is wondering: How is it going to happen? What’s going to happen? Every time they go to bed and we cut to the next morning, you think, did something happen? Did I miss it?,” he explained. “The audience is in this state of pensive over-reading as well as Therese, and that’s exactly what Therese is experiencing.” Haynes relishes such moments in his film, and pointed specifically to a lunch between the two women after they first meet that had Therese a bit perplexed, but also smitten.
CAROL, continued on p.36
November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Jacob a. Riis Revealing New York’s Other Half Inequality remains a fact of life in America. A century later, this New York master’s photos still explode with outrage.
“heart - rending retrospective ” – The New York Times
mcNY.ORg 1220 FiFtH ave at 103Rd st
GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
At the End of the Road Anthology Film Archives presents the final journal of a Vietnamese drag queen and a restored look at Jack Smith
A scene from Nguyễn Thị Thấm’s documentary “Madam Phung’s Last Journey.”
BY GARY M. KRAMER
Jerry Tartaglia celebrates the work of the late gay performance artist and filmmaker Jack Smith with two programs at Anthology. In a phone interview, the curator spoke about how he became an authority on the work of Smith, who died at 56 in 1989. “I first met Smith when I accidently found his camera original of ‘Flaming Creatures,’” Tartaglia recalled. “I was working in a film supply house that recycled film stock, and by luck I saw images of Francis Francine and I brought him back the original image, and that created some trust in me. After he died, the custodians of his estate asked me to help get some of Jack’s work into shape, and it’s occupied 23 years of my life. In 2008, the heir of the estate sold the estate to Gladstone Gallery, and they engaged me to finish the work.” The opportunity for Tartaglia to present Smith’s works to audiences has become his passion, and he encourages both fans and those unfamiliar with the filmmaker to seek out these programs.
“He was over the top in the way,” Tartaglia said. “He had a very difficult personality, which got in the way of his self-promotion. There would be four to five people at his performances. There wasn’t the kind of success other artists had in that period. For people who are looking for a literal message or positive comments about queer identity, they will have to look and work at interpreting this work in the context of history.”
ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES
his coming week, Anthology Film Archives features several fascinating representations of queer life. Nguyễn Thị Thấm’s observational documentary “Madam Phung’s Last Journey” provides a look into the world of a traveling drag show that performs for rural audiences in Vietnam. Their leader, Madam Phung, a former monk, gives advice to her troupe of gay and transgender singers, warning them about the perils of booze and cards and to watch out for the police and gangs that could harm them. Working, she emphasizes means “growing up,” and the film makes her care for her troupe as palpable as the Southeast Asian heat. The crew is seen setting up and breaking down their stage in different fields and dressing up in drag for their shows –– and later undressing. One performer may admonish the director not to film her, saying, “My boobs are fake!,” but most of what is on display in this gritty documentary is real. Madam Phung candidly declares, “Life is tough. I have to be tough.” She recounts how she “ran away from the pagoda” where she was worshipping so she could pursue “worldly pleasures.” Despite the pleasures, her experiences on the road have included many hardships, some of which the film presents. She discusses her crushing debt (despite amassing gold bars to fund her travelling show) and how difficult it is to be gay or trans in Vietnam.
Most poignantly, “Madam Phung’s Last Journey” shows the pride one performer has in making dresses to wear on stage, as well as the strong emotion in a song about being “neither man nor woman,” and so not fitting in with the rest of the world. When someone explains that being gay is karma payback for sinning in a past life, the moment is quietly powerful. So too is this intriguing film that eventually explains why this journey is Madam Phung’s last.
“Smith creates a magic, and it’s a magic of transformation,” he said. “If a filmgoer is attentive and patient and remains present and attentive with his films, they will experience some of that magic. It is a body of work that is geared toward an audience that appreciates and yearns for romantic transformation.” Program 1, on November 13, includes “In the Grip of the Lobster,” which is a good example of Smith’s queer underground theater and camp aesthetic. “Gems, Clips, and Shorts” features rarely seen archival materials. Tartaglia chose these snippets because “each one is a complete cinematic, visual idea.” He added, “One is included because singer/ actress Tally Brown is in it, and there are so few images of Brown.” Program 2, on November 14, includes “Midnight at the Plaster Foundation,” which Tartaglia explained, “is the only complete [film] of one of Smith’s live per formances. I will play live musical accompaniment using his vinyl LP collection. His whole aesthetic is to create an environment that is open to catastrophe, and in those moments, something extraordinary would happen. He would push his actors and create a moment of truth in these per formances.” Other shorts in the program include “Song for Rent,” where Smith appears in a wheelchair as his alter ego Rose Courtyard, while Kate Smith sings “God Bless America;” “Milk Bath Scene from ‘Normal Love,’” a fabulous and heady clip excised from a larger work; and a fragment from “Hamlet in the Rented World.” Tartaglia acknowledges that Smith and his work were not well received by the gay community or the arts community generally at the time they were made, but he makes a case for why these films remain interesting and important curios.
Jack Smith in 1970.
MADAM PHUNG’S LAST JOURNEY Directed by Nguyễn Thị Thấm Icarus Films Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave. at Second St. Nov. 12-18 anthologyfilmarchives.org
JERRY TARTAGLIA PRESENTS: RESTORED WORKS BY JACK SMITH Anthology Film Archives Nov. 13-14 November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
NOW THROUGH JANUARY 3
FUNNY, INSIGHTFUL & REMARKABLE. The first major theatrical production I’ve seen that explores this modern reality of gay life .” JESSE OXFELD, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
“A LITERATE COMEDY-DRAMA ABOUT THE
NEW FRONTIER OF GAY MARRIAGE & PARENTHOOD.
It delves with intricacy and heart into the thorny lives of gay couples with children today.” CHARLES ISHERWOOD, THE NEW YORK TIMES
BY A N E W P LAY
L PETER PARNEL
D IR EC TE D BY
(in alphabetical order):
Tammy Blanchard Patrick Breen John Benjamin Hickey Alex Hurt Kellie Overbey John Pankow Stephen Plunkett sets
John Lee Beatty
Jennifer von Mayrhauser
original music and sound
LINCOLN CENTER THEATER 150 W. 65TH ST. • TELECHARGE.COM • 212.239.6200 • LCT.ORG
The Newhouse season is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. Special thanks to The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust for supporting new American plays at LCT. GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
Too Easy a Shot at Turkish Sexual Mores Deniz Gamze Ergüven leaves little to chance in catering to Western tastes MUSTANG Directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven Cohen Media Group In Turkish with English subtitles Opens Nov. 20 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at W. 62nd St. lincolnplazacinema.com COHEN MEDIA GROUP
Tugba Sunguroglu, Ilayda Akdogan, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Elit Iscan, and Gunes Sensoy in Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s “Mustang.”
BY STEVE ERICKSON
ustang” director Deniz Gamze Ergüven is Turkish. So is her entire cast, and that country is the location where her film was shot. Yet “Mustang” is the official nominee of France, not Turkey, for the Best Foreign Film category of the 2016 Oscars. It’s true that co-productions have made such national distinctions far less meaningful than they once were. Even so, the idea that a film could be made in Turkey but represent France gets to the flaws of “Mustang.” Remember how the entire Muslim world seems to get called to denounce each act of violence committed by one of its members? This is a film that could have been made to reply. Its denunciation of Turkish patriarchy preaches to the converted, particularly Western liberals, every step of the way. I’d be far more impressed with “Mustang” if I thought it had a chance of reaching anyone who’d agree with its villains. “Mustang” takes place 1,000 kilometers from Istanbul, in a village in Northern Turkey. School’s about to end for the summer. Five teenage sisters play on the beach with male classmates. A busybody from the neighborhood watches them and misreads their innocent fun as sexual and talks to their family. Decid-
ing it’s time to teach the girls how to become brides, the girls’ guardians lock them inside and confiscate their cell phones and computers. One girl is married off, but her new in-laws freak out because there’s no blood on the sheet after she and her husband have sex. The younger girls grow closer and try to hatch an escape plan. Ergüven does get lively performances out of her young cast. If they’re not getting a gigantic kick from each other’s company, they’re great actors. The loss of a sister to marriage really hurts. Additionally, the sunny cinematography keeps
the film from feeling too grim, as does the constant camera movement. A number of Iranian films –– Samira Makhmalbaf’s “The Apple,” Jafar Panahi’s “Offside,” Marziyeh Meshkini’s “The Day I Became a Woman” –– are evoked by “Mustang.” It seems to refer overtly to “Offside,” which depicted a group of girls in male drag trying to crash a guys-only soccer match. Here, the match is female-only, and, after an adventure on there way to it, the sisters arrive at the stadium, where the problem isn’t getting in but rather keeping their uncle from seeing their faces on TV. “The Apple” showed the real-life case of a man who locked up his daughter in his house; of course, such incidents aren’t unique to Iran. But Ergüven seems to have learned from such films’ feminist perspectives.
CAROL, from p.32
“That first lunch is so awkward,” he said. “Carol drifts off, and Therese is left hanging. What just happened?... You, the viewer, are like Therese in her little eternal chamber — you are reading all the gestures and signals, but you are also reading the mores of the time. Carol can invite Therese to lunch because a woman can invite a younger woman to lunch in that era. If it were a man, it would have been scandalous, unheard of, unthinkable.” As the women’s relationship becomes more serious –– and, as a result, more dangerous –– the story has each striving to protect their professional and family lives, but also their sexual happiness. This is what makes last act of “Carol” so powerful. “Way before Therese can find the syntax for her feelings for Carol, or understanding that this is
Unfortunately, she’s also learned how to tick off every box Westerners would expect from a film about Third World patriarchy: virginity tests, arranged marriage, wedding night expectations of broken hymens. Everything is here except female genital mutilation. She spares her heroines no humiliation, and just to make the point hit home even harder, she has one of them talk about how she’s still a virgin because she only has anal sex with her boyfriend. The problem is that the film hypocritically critiques Turkish puritanism while missing no chance to go in the opposite direction by showing off its teenage cast in revealing clothes. By the third time we see them in their underwear, the family might have a valid point that they don’t understand the effects of their burgeoning sexuality, though their idea of locking them away from boys as a solution is awful. The film also opportunistically neglects to mention Islam at all, although perhaps this was done to make its points more universal. The result isn’t Euro-pudding in the traditional sense, where Sophia Loren played a French Resistance fighter and Alain Delon a German officer, but it’s a sour mix that seems calculated to play better on the Upper West Side and Paris’ Left Bank than in Ankara.
a love that other people have felt — and there’s a problem in the world with that: you better get ready — you’re going to hit some obstacles,” Haynes explained. “It’s so primal. It’s not militant, it’s not liberation, there’s no social agenda, just these fragile shards of reading every glance, wink, accidental touch, for what it means, for your fate.” He added, “What I think great movies do, is, whenever we feel something in a movie, it’s our emotions, it’s not something the movie is producing; we’re producing the emotions.” In his sure-handed way of creating the emotions captivating Therese and Carole, Haynes offers audiences extraordinary room for engaging their own emotions. The Film Society of Lincoln Center presents a retrospective on Todd Haynes’ 20-year filmmaking career Nov. 18-29. Details are at filmlinc.org. November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
A Scaredy Cat Climbs Higher Ethyl Eichelberger Award in hand, Dane Terry has new album, slate of upcoming shows BY CHRISTOPHER MURRAY
hey all of you freaks out there come out come out it’s a bright new world and haven’t you heard everybody loves you now you don’t need no costume makeup or wig just put on something I mean think of the kids The new album is downloadable from his site on Bandcamp (daneterry.bandcamp.com), and if you care to support his artistic work with a $3 a month subscription, you can get access to his full catalog of four albums. Most of Terry’s songs, often nestled in familiar musical styles like 70s AM pop crossed with a bluesy country vibe, mine the dark and rich veins that run between normal as dirt and freaky as fool’s gold. He likes to call it Appalachian Fatalist or, in his newly-minted term, Frillbilly. With his shoulder-length dirty blond hair, tattoos –– he has “Scaredy Cat” inked on his stomach –– and goofy grin, Terry, 32, might be mistaken for just another Brooklyn-based sexy, geeky homohipster. But with the new album and his recent run of performances and accolades, Terry has come very near to being the musical darling of the Downtown performance scene. And now it’s official. Terry has just been announced as this year’s recipient of Per formance Space 122’s coveted Ethyl Eichelberger Award, which has formerly gone to such queer downtown heroes as Taylor Mac, Peggy Shaw, and Justin Vivian Bond. Named for the virtuosic performance artist who was a lead actor in Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company, the Eichelberger commissions a new work and is bundled with GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
here’s no good way to talk about normal. We’re all the same monkeys walking around in the same suits. Almost.” This comment arrived offhand from songwriter and performer Dane Terry, delivered in his singular Midwestern drawl, which manages to be both louche and wide-eyed at the same time. It could also serve quite well as a distillation of the thematic preoccupations of Terry, whom John Cameron Mitchell recently called “the millennial Cole Porter.” In fact, one of the songs from his quirky, kaleidoscopic, and moving new album “Color Movies” is titled “Normal At Last”:
the PS122’s RAMP Residency. It is awarded “to an artist or group that exemplifies Ethyl's larger-than-life style and generosity of spirit; who embodies Ethyl's multi-talented artistic virtuosity, bridging worlds and inspiring those around them.” Tall high heels to fill perhaps, but Terry has won the confidence of his peers. Obie and Bessie Award-winning performance artist David Cale, a friend and collaborator, describes him as “immediately spellbinding on stage. The song writing is at such high level, and his musicianship is a pretty wildflower.” Terry, who came to New York five years ago from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, taught himself to play piano before studying composition for a few years at the Ohio State University. “I literally got in by banging on a Steinway and crying and being like, ‘Let me in!,’” he recalled. Terry paid his dues for a decade playing cocktail piano –– “the most wallpaper Liberace jazz,” he said –– first at art gallery openings (his father is an artist and “one of the best art restorers this side of the Mississippi”), and then at innumerable weddings and events like Ohio’s annual Human Rights Campaign gala. Hence, his style is a strange and pleasing olio of one part Liberace-style syrup, another part formal training and his penchant for 20th century classical composers like Stravinsky and Schoenberg –– “Before it got too surrealistic. It got weird quick.” –– and then laced with a hefty dose of jukebox pop, with a nod to his heroes like Elton John, Leon Russell, and legendary studio bassist Carol Kaye (“La Bamba”). He even went through a novelty song phase and makes particular mention of Ray Stevens’ “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival”. At a recent performance, Terry did a fantastic cover of the hypnotic Laurie Anderson classic “O Superman.” “That song changed my life,” he said. “I was driving to work and was already running late, and I had my radio tuned to NPR.” He sat there in the parking lot for all eight minutes and 30 seconds. “I was 17 years old, I didn’t even know I wanted to be a musician. That was the first time that I was like ‘Oh. My. God.’” His adolescent Laurie Anderson epiphany aside, Terry never imagined becoming a performance artist in the theatrical world. “I was a music geek,” he said. “I wanted to be a rock star! I plinkoed into this.” (I had to look up “plinko.” It’s one of the contestant games on TV’s “The Price Is Right” and is yet another example of the fondly teasing Heartland sensibility that gives such crunchy color to his song
Songwriter and performer Dane Terry.
lyrics.) Following the success of his show “Bird in the House” done with a band at La MaMa in May, he’s bringing it back as a solo piece, first cabaret-style at Pangea in the East Village on November 23 (178 Second Ave. at 11th St.; pangeanyc.com), and then as part of the Public Theater’s “Under the Radar: Incoming” series January 15 and 16 (425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl.; publictheater.org). With the new album, the Eichelberger commission –– “It’s prestigious and it’s backed up with some moolah” –– and another new theater piece for synthesizer slated for La MaMa next summer, Terry is excited about the full-throttle momentum he has going, and also a little anxious. “I can’t have end things in mind when I work. I can’t have final projects to write for. It cages me in. I have to write. I have to sit down and puke it out and then say, ‘That’s what I want.’ Each thing I puke up gets stacked up onto the whole and if it sticks to that one, awesome. If not, I’ll put it on another stack somewhere, and then eventually there are these sculptures.” His describing the intensity of his artistic trajectory for the coming year brought us back to the “Scaredy Cat” tattoo on his belly. “I’d never gotten a stick and poke tattoo before. This was in a punk house in Oakland and payment was a bottle of whisky. It gives me a lot of confidence. I’m an anxious guy and that’s fine, but I’m still going to do things I’m afraid of, and consistently my body calls me Scaredy Cat. I have a lot of things I want to do. There is more pressure now that people have expectations. I feel terrified. There’s a lot to do. But I just heard that someone has made a wooden hand-printed sign with my lyrics on it to hang on their back porch in Alabama. So, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve made it.”
Dark Drama, Silly, Sweet Send-Up, and a Real Dog Thérèse Raquin” engrosses, “Dames at Sea” delights, Annaleigh Ashford is the only reward in “Sylvia”
THÉRÈSE RAQUIN Roundabout at Studio 54 254 W. 54th St. Through Jan. 3 Tue.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $47-$137; roundabouttheatre.org Or 212-719-1300 Two hrs., 30 mins., with intermission
BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
The Helen Hayes Theatre 240 W. 44th St. Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $67.50-$154.50; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 10 mins., with intermission
Gabriel Ebert, Matt Ryan, and Keira Knightley in Helen Edmundson’s stage adaptation of Zola’s “Thérèse Raquin,” directed by Evan Cabnet.
Cort Theatre 138 West 48th Street Through Jan. 24 Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $37-$147; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 90 mins., no intermission
DAMES AT SEA
ola’s “Thérèse Raquin” was a very dark novel, and in the new adaptation by Helen Edmundson now at Studio 54, it is a very dark play. That is not to say it’s not wonderful because it is. Zola pioneered a new literary style that he dubbed “naturalism,” but it is not the naturalism of 20th century acting that seeks to be as close to real life as possible. Rather, Zola’s naturalism sought to examine the effects of nature — birth, heredity, and the social position it affords — on humans. In the introduction to his novel, Zola writes he was concerned with “temperaments,” how they were formed, and the consequences that arose because of them. What on the surface looks like a moralistic warning against infidelity is much more complex. When Thérèse discovers her passionate temperament and chooses to follow it, tragedy ensues. Zola doesn’t judge, he observes, and in his naturalism tries to bring what he called the “scientific method” to his examination of human behavior. Edmundson’s adaptation is structured cinematically as a series of short scenes. In lesser hands, this kind of fragmentation is often clumsy, but she manages it well, writing fully and developing the characters slowly and with detail. After a lengthy but engaging exposition, the structure works for the piece, creating edgeof-your-seat suspense. Moreover, Edmundson has beautifully captured the spirit of the book in all its mid-19th century melodrama and grand guignol. Thérèse has been more or less forced to marry her cousin Camille by his mother, who also raised the orphaned girl. Camille is self-absorbed, sickly, and passionless, but Thérèse thinks he’s the best she can do to be secure. When the three of them move to Paris from their small village, however, she meets Laurent, who awakens her dormant sexuality, and they begin
Eloise Kropp and Cary Tedder in Randy Skinner’s revival of “Dames at Sea.”
a torrid affair right under the eyes of Camille and his mother. Together Thérèse and Laurent plan to get Camille out of the way, which they accomplish on a boating expedition, as Camille can’t swim. You can pretty much guess what happens. As you may also guess, the lovers do not live happily ever after. As fiercely directed by Evan Cabnet, the production is the theatrical equivalent of a page-turner. The magnificent set design by Beowulf Boritt is sometimes breathtakingly beautiful even at its most simplistic. The muted palette is echoed by Jane Greenwood in her fine costumes and in Keith
Parham’s exceptional lighting. The overall effect beautifully sets up the conflict between Therese’s nature, which frees her, and her physical confinement. The apartment in Paris, right above the shop that Thérèse opens with her mother-in-law, is coffin-like. With the passions of Thérèse and Laurent bottled up this way, combustion is inevitable. The four principals in the cast are consistently remarkable. Judith Light turns in a complex performance as Madame Raquin. Gabriel Ebert is compelling as Camille, self-involved but also cruel, giving a performance that is richly detailed despite the char-
acter’s superficial nature. Matt Ryan plays Laurent as a charming schemer who ultimately has to confront what he has done. T h e p r o d u c t i o n , h o w e v e r, belongs to Keira Knightley, making her Broadway debut. For much of the first part of the play she says nothing, but she fills every moment. She is so completely present, focused, and committed to what she is doing that her Thérèse is appealing, appalling, and heartbreaking all at once. Knightley is simply spellbinding, as is this entire production.
I’m not sure that anyone under 50 will get all the winking references to old movies in the musical “Dames at Sea,” but that hardly matters. This energetic revival is brightening up the Helen Hayes Theatre with charm and ener gy measured in megawatts. First seen Off-Broadway in 1968 in the
DAMES, continued on p.39
November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
DAMES, from p.38
It’s clear that A. R. Gurney’s “Sylvia” is nothing more than one of those anthropomorphic New Yorker dog cartoons spun out into a play. As one panel on the page, these can be mildly humorous. As a full length play, it is tooth-grindingly tedious. The play imagines what would happen if we could hear a dog’s thoughts. Middle-aged Greg finds a dog –– identified only as Sylvia on her tag –– in the park and brings her home, much to the chagrin of his wife, Kate. We hear the dog’s thoughts, and a battle begins for Greg’s affections GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
production that launched Bernadette Peters’ career, the show is a send-up of all the musical comedy tropes of the 1930s with a score that’s adorable pastiche. “Dames” is a backstage musical where a little girl from a small town arrives in New York and ends up a star on Broadway and engaged to handsome sailor… all in one day. The book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller and the music by Jim Wise manage to be both ironic and sweet. The cast is terrific. Lesli Mar gherita is Mona Kent, the diva who gets seasick and can’t go on. John Bolton in two roles is hilariously over-the-top. Eloise Kropp as Ruby, the small town girl who steps into stardom, looks like she just stepped out of a 1930s film and is just swell, as they might have said then. Mara Davi as Joan is the brassy girl. As the two sailors, Cary Tedder as Dick is bright and funny, while Danny Gardner, who has been so great in the clowning shows staged by Parallel Exit, here takes on the singing, dancing sidekick role with real charisma. Director and choreographer Randy Skinner has staged the show with a real sense of the period but added some contemporary physicality that makes all the dancing –– but especially the tap –– some of the best we’ve seen in a while. Skinner has a real sense of the period he’s lovingly lampooning, and his crew executes it perfectly. I admit, I really love the movies this show pokes fun at, but even if you don’t, this is a wonderfully fun evening of singing and silliness.
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Annaleigh Ashford in A. R. Gurney's "Sylvia."
between dog and wife. Have you nodded off yet? It gets worse, largely because it just rambles on with tired jokes. At it’s heart, “Sylvia” is really the story of a selfish, mean man happy to torment his wife and risk his marriage to salve his own ego. Gurney doesn’t even have the courage to follow this through in any honest way. Instead, everything’s tied up at the end with some sentimental claptrap about coming to love the dog and everyone learning to get along. It is as forced as it is false. Julie White plays Kate, and she is, as always, wonderful. Robert Sella plays several roles — another guy in the park, a female friend of Kate’s, and a therapist of unknown gender. All three characters are obvious caricatures, and Sella doesn’t act so much as toss off mannerisms. Matthew Broderick plays Greg with what has now become the robotic physicality and affectless whine he brings to every part. At times, he is almost unwatchable. The bright spot in all of this is Annaleigh Ashford as Sylvia. Easily one of the most accomplished physical comedians around, Ashford is is a consistent delight to watch. Then again, when sur rounded by insufferable adults, a dog with a great personality will always get the attention and brighten the mood.
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Women on the Verge Elektra, Tosca, and Lulu rock out
KEN HOWARD/ METROPOLITAN OPERA
Johan Reuter, Marlis Petersen, and Susan Graham in Berg’s “Lulu.”
BY DAVID SHENGOLD
he Boston Symphony, on October 21, gave a Carnegie Hall performance of Richard Strauss’ mighty “Elektra” that can surely be termed “historic” — as much for the remarkably skilled and sonorous playing under Andris Nelsons as for Christine Goerke’s extraordinarily committed, accomplished singing and acting in the title role. This brilliant score works very well in concert presentation, and Nelsons, though he occasionally overwhelmed the singers with the huge onstage orchestra, just as frequently honored what the composer termed “fairy-tale music,” the delicate passages. The Boston strings proved dynamically pliable, thundering forth with fortissimo chords –– and then cushioning the singers’ softest work with elegance. After triumphs elsewhere, Goerke’s wild success didn’t surprise, but was nonetheless thrilling to behold and hear. Considerably slimmed down, the soprano sported a shoulderless, Bette Davis-worthy red gown with aplomb. She crept onto the stage in character and never let up. She has deepened her mastery of the text with repetition, and elected — wisely — to give a generously extroverted and physically dynamic performance, roaming all over. Goerke’s voice retains freshness and pliability from her years singing Handel and Gluck. The refulgent, genuine dramatic soprano sounds she made in her lower and middle register are unparalleled in my live experience of this part, which sometimes gets awarded to singers known principally for high Bs and Cs. Goerke has these notes securely, but on this occasion only some leapt forward with room-filling volume. Similarly, she projected a huge range of dynamics without offering a true pianissimo. But these are both
insignificant limitations given such vocal magnificence and coloristic variety. It was great to see this New York-born singer — her dues more than paid –– enjoy this frenzied triumph, and to contemplate the Brünnhildes to follow. Jane Henschel remains an effective Klytaemnestra, with a sopranoish top, and Gerhard Siegel made a first-rate Aegisthus. James Rutherford (Orest) was solid but inexpressive and unspecific. Gun-Brit Barkmin –– whose ‘20s get-up suggested Little Edie Beale enacting “Pandora’s Box” –– enunciated Chrysothemis’ text meaningfully, occasionally showing some upper register freedom, but it’s largely a metallic, unlovely timbre. Not an “Elektra” soon forgotten.
Teatro Grattacielo’s verismo concerts always reflect admirable hard work and determination. I’m always grateful to hear these pieces that once held the stage. In the case of Umberto Giordano’s 1903 melodrama “Siberia,” heard October 24 in its 1927 revision at the Gerald Lynch Theater, the piece reflected the topicality of Russian suffering and Imperial cruelty in Western popular art in the Belle Époque. “Siberia” proved of limited musical interest, with none of the memorable melodic drive of “Andrea Chénier.” Act II draws repeatedly on “The Song of the Volga Boatmen”: pure kitsch, though the I Cantori New York Chorus served it nicely. Occasionally Giordano conjures diverting orchestral effects, and moments in the tenor’s part came to life; Raul Melo, some sharping under pressure aside, earned his check as Vassili, beloved of Stephana –– yet another operatic courtesan redeemed by true love but killed off by the patriarchy anyway. Marie Masters offered powerful top notes but wasn’t especially
distinguished otherwise, vocally or interpretively. Oddly –– in a genre so wrapped up in iconic female parts –– Grattacielo concerts, unless an Aprile Millo or Tiffany Abban is on hand, often make one think of Scarpia’s observation: “The diva is still missing.” The most d eveloped character –– the semi-comic, semi-villainous Gleby, for whom Giordano bothered to craft a vocal personality –– got the most verbally nuanced and plushly vocalized performance, from baritone Daniel Ihn-kyu Lee. Excellent cameos came from Jessica Grigg (Nikona) and Megan Monaghan as a convict’s young daughter — a more credible and touching scene than most of the action. Israel Gursky led more than serviceably, shaping the scenes as possible; occasionally string tone and brass flubs betrayed limited rehearsal. The audience responded warmly, and rightly so.
I didn’t agree with the fervent shouts of “Brava” for Angela Gheorghiu ’s smallscaled, efficient, and resolutely unmoving first Met Tosca October 29. The Romanian diva remains a canny manipulator of a still attractive, but increasingly insubstantial lyric soprano, best at the top. Sporting new costumes –– of course — she postured at divahood to beat the band rather than inhabiting an individual character. Yet all too often Paolo Carignani’s band beat her: in concerted passages she had to yell top notes or parlandos. Expertly calculated, her phrasing proved uninvolving emotionally. But what mastery she retains merits respect. Željko Lučić, somewhat overexposed hereabouts these days, by contrast gave an individually conceived and spontaneous-seeming spin on Scarpia. Within his –– also not immense –– vocal means, Lučić drew a crafty, self-entertaining creep worthy of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Roberto Aronica completed the opera’s trio with competent provincial singing, now marked by a tonal buzz. Act Three, alas, showed the limits of his dynamic control and phrasing imagination. Richard Bernstein remains a first-class Angelotti. It was Lučić’s night.
November 5 was emphatically Marlis Petersen’s night, as a fantastically energetic and remarkably sonorous protagonist of the Met’s new “Lulu.” In a stronger-willed characterization than some Lulus offer, no action seemed forced or unmotivated, plus Petersen sang 99 percent of Berg’s score with complete ease. A few super-high notes are merely sketched, but Petersen shirked nothing –– a very heartening accomplishment. William Kentridge’ staging was predictably fascinating and well-researched in terms of period visual style. Unlike Bart Sher’s wearisome pretentions, Kentridge’s approach showed insight into the piece and the relevant cultural
OPERA, continued on p.44
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IN THE NOH
Gentle, Inside Look at Ingrid Bergman’s Life Pia Lindström discusses her legendary, luminous mother
BY DAVID NOH
ngrid Bergman was nothing less than the greatest English-speaking actress in sound films. Having received solid stage and film training and experience in her native Sweden, she came to Hollywood in 1939 and at first struck audiences with her luminously natural, freshscrubbed look and unplucked eyebrows, which seemed revolutionary in the age of Dietrich and Crawford. She then dominated the 1940s with a string of successes in which she proved her magnificent range, despite her accent and big Nor dic physicality –– as an uber-sexy Cockney slut and heartbreakingly pathetic victim in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Hemingway’s Spanish Maria in “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” the Hoagy Carmichael-loving ideal heroine of the immortal “Casablanca,” a fragile Victorian wife being “Gaslight”ed, a ravishingly funny French Creole New Orleans courtesan in my favorite, “Saratoga Trunk,” and in what many consider Hitchcock’s greatest film, “Notorious.” Bob Hope would joke that Bergman was in every other movie of the era, but she went on from there, doing experimental Italian films with her second husband, director Roberto Rossellini; a foray with Jean Renoir (“Elena et les homes”); the Oscar-winning “Anastasia”; TV productions of “Hedda Gabler” and “Turn of the Screw”;
INGRID BERGMAN: IN HER OWN WORDS/ RIALTO PICTURES
INGRID BERGMAN: IN HER OWN WORDS/ RIALTO PICTURES
Ingrid Bergman wields the camera herself.
Ingrid Bergman with the three youngest of her four children, Roberto, Isabella, and Isotta Ingrid Rossellini.
her hilarious third-Oscar winning satirical Swedish turn in “Murder on the Orient Express”; a dazzling moment as another courtesan, but old and wrecked, in the botched “A Matter of Time”; and finally “A Woman Called Golda [Meir],” her swan song. Her life was a dazzlingly dramatic and fulfilled movie in itself and Stig Björkman’s “Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words” is a quite wonderful documentary –– made with the full cooperation of her surviving four children, Pia Lindström and Roberto, Isabella, and Isotta Ingrid Rossellini –– that easily could have been an hour or so longer than its 114-minute running time. Starting with the actress’ personal journals and letters, and using archival footage as well as family photos and home movies, it delivers a full-scale portrait of a jaw-droppingly gorgeous, sublimely talented woman who confessed to being painfully shy, but with a lion inside her. She also likened herself to a bird of passage, never settling for too long in one place with one man. The fact that all of her children seem fabulously well-adjusted, without a thought among them of writing a “Mommie Dearest” exposé, is a testament to her loving nature and, as all of them state at one time or another, irresistible sense of adventurous fun. When I interviewed Pia Lindström about this lovely film, I reminded her of the times over the years we’d run into each other at
events and invariably wound up talking about her mother. Lindström was always gracious and warmly candid about her, per haps realizing on some level that Ingrid holds a special place for her fans who, like me, discovered most of her films long after they were released –– as well as for my parents’ generation, by whom she was not only greatly admired, but was in fact the rare movie star who was really loved, like Gary Cooper or Judy Garland, almost a part of the family, especially after “The Bells of St. Mary’s.” There, she gave an iconic performance as the most radiant nun in movie history, an image that would haunt her when she chose to lead her own life. Bergman left Pia and her father to go to Italy and take up movieand baby-making –– scandalously out of wedlock –– with Rossellini, a decision that shocked Amer ica, to the point where she was denounced for immorality on the floor of Congress. So, it was a special occasion to talk to Lindström formally about her mother, and I opened by asking what prompted the making of the film. “It was originally Isabella’s idea,” Pia said. “She thought it would be a nice thing to do and it was just a matter of finding the right director. Stig Björkman had done some very good work, and I guess being Swedish helped. He knew some of the background, and we thought he would understand what the
project should be. It’s a very nice film, isn’t it? It has a good tone, isn’t judgmental, with no particular point of view. It’s kind to everyone, and that is also why we chose this director. “ I asked Lindström, who along with sister Isabella, has acted herself, how she rated her mother as an actress: “I think she was born to be a film actress. As you probably saw from the film, her father was a photographer and that was the love she saw on the other side of the camera. So she had no fear of the camera and knew she wasn’t playing to it, but to the person behind the camera. Working, smiling, laughing in front of it, the facility for it might have been natural, but it was cultivated from an early age. Plus, what she had, that so many film actors don’t, were the eyes. She could reach emotions and express them through her eyes. “I think that was the greatest thing she had. Even if someone else was talking, her eyes are really registering something; she’s not just listening politely. That is reacting, not stage acting, which would be that your eyes are all right, but a lot of it is the bend or the shape or the body and your voice. So I would rate her extremely high, and that’s what you responded to, more than her beauty. People said she was beautiful, but there are a lot of beautiful people. They’re lit beautifully; they spend a lot of time
IN THE NOH, continued on p.43
November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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IN THE NOH, from p.42
of time making people look good, not shooting them with a pimple on their face, anything to not make them normal because the movie style at that time was not to be realistic.” In moments like her hysteria in “Dr. Jekyll” and “Gaslight,” Bergman brought a raw, near-animal ferocity to the screen unseen in American film up to that time, except maybe as practiced by Bette Davis in her more stylized manner. In “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” her electrifying monologue describing the savage execution of her parents by Franco’s fascists stops your heart. Lindström agreed, saying, “She had the ability to portray real emotions, cry real tears, or feel horrible. That’s real art, to make the audience feel something and she had that ability. It was a real gift but I think it was part of her early childhood, being around her father and his camera. Her mother had already died when she was a baby and her father not too long after that, so I think she always had kind of a love for her directors, whom she saw as substitute father figures.” In one case, that love went beyond the platonically paternal: Victor Fleming, who was the first to really unleash her Hollywood talent as Ivy Brown in “Dr. Jekyll,” a character Miriam Hopkins had also essayed brilliantly a decade before, and which doesn’t even exist in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella. “Oh, yes!” Lindström said. “They loved each other so much. He also directed her in ‘Joan of Arc.’ She had done the stage play and always wanted to do the film. But there was no blood in it. It looked like a stage play and those were they days when people were first going on location and wanted to show something more gritty. It was a big flop. Fleming spent so much time lighting my mother, I don’t think she ever looked more beautiful, and then he died right after that. It was such a blow and two families were devastated by it. I thought that was a poignant experience for her.” Lindström herself appeared in the 1948 movie: “I did a crowd scene and watched my mother being dragged off to be burnt. GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
INGRID BERGMAN: IN HER OWN WORDS Directed by Stig Björkman Rialto Pictures Opens Nov. 13 Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at W. 62nd St. lincolnplazacinema.com
It was great fun being with all the kids, and we didn’t have to go to school. You were on the set, then you had lunch and they tried to make you read something, for schooling. I remember Victor Fleming paid me in a hundred pennies in a big sack. He was a very attractive man, and it was a sad story.” The documentary touches on the affair with Fleming, but leaves out other rumored dalliances, like those with Gary Cooper and Spencer Tracy (Katharine Hepburn’s niece, Katharine Houghton told me that Bergman was one of the few women that Hepburn was insanely jealous of). When I mentioned to Lindström that her mother almost lived like a man with complete independence, she scoffed, “Wait a minute! Wait a minute! What do you mean, ‘independent?’ She was always married, always had a man taking care of her! “Like when she was with [war photographer] Robert Capa –– that’s not independence, that just means you believe in what they believed in in the 1960s: free love! She fell in love a lot. That last marriage she had to Lars Schmidt –– they got divorced, but he still took care of her, financially, the business thing, everything! We don’t have a term for this anymore, but her path may have been a little bit freer.” I asked Lindström how all this free love and life affected her as a child.: “I didn’t know what was going on. It was only much later, when I was grown up, that we talked about it as adults She was open about her life, but not completely. I have children myself, but I’m not completely open with them. We all have things that we keep to ourselves, don’t we? And that’s a good thing! It works better that way, although I’m not
IN THE NOH, continued on p.44
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IN THE NOH, from p.43
sure if it works in every relationship, like with men and men or women with women. They don’t need to know everything you did in the past, do they? “When my mother was with Rossellini, I didn’t have a second family because she left me and went to Rome, while I lived with my father. I visited her once in London when my father took me there, and I met her again when I was 18. I met her children and they were adorable. And she was adorable. You know actresses –– they’re a lot of fun! They retain the ability to play.” Does Lindström have a favorite Ingrid Bergman movie? “I don’t have a favorite one. But one that touches me is “Autumn
OPERA, from p.40
history. Yet it’s far too cluttered and busy. A tremendous improvement would be removing the two (skilled) mime/ dancers who cavorted and postured Expressionistically –– and insufferably –– throughout the show, drawing focus off the principals. Typical of today’s Met, alas, this approach treats every orchestral interlude — and in “Lulu” that means the most beautiful music, bar none –– as something needing stage action. Editing would improve matters, but it’s still a worthwhile experience. Johan Reuter made a highly convincing Dr. Schoen, never ranting; for once the erotic bond between Lulu and Schoen seemed genui ne. El i z ab eth D eShong (Schoolboy) sounded just wonderful. Alwa’s near-impossible music did debuting Heldentenor Daniel Brenna few favors. Berg is hard on tenors: Paul Groves (Painter) commanded more attractive tone but inevitably screamed on top. Alan Oke — amusing as the Manservant — scratched out his other roles. As the lesbian Countess Geschwitz, the opera’s most sympathetic role, Susan Graham proved a good sport and –– despite some wear and tear on both range ends — in good form. At 78, Franz Grundheber’s droll, solidly sung Schigolch deserved commendation. Lothar Koenigs brought high competence, rather than a strong profile, to Berg’s ravishing chal-
Sonata.’ It’s her story and Ingmar Bergman’s story. That’s the woman I think of as my mother. In her other movies, which I saw as a child, like ‘Gaslight,’ she is an actress like I saw on the stage, but I like ‘Notorious’ the best and her performance in that very much. “But the subject of ‘Autumn Sonata’ is so relevant today when you think that if I have a talent or a gift, do I give it to the world or do I stay at home? Ingmar had had a child with Liv Ullmann, so that was his story, too, and they cobbled their stories together. If you travel as an artist and your child has chicken pox, do you go and do your art or do you stay at home and take care of the child? It’s a dilemma, and I think that subject matter is pertinent at al times.”
lenges. November 21’s matinee gets shown worldwide via HD.
Excellent tenor Piotr Beczala offered a local debut recital at Carnegie/ Zankel on October 30 that suffered from his reliance on a music stand. He simply seemed not to know Schumann’s “Dichterliebe” well enough to present it to sophisticated New York listeners — though, past some stiffness and slight flatting in slower songs, he vocalized attractively. The more ruggedly challenging songs evoked no fears about range or vocal scope. But his encore of Schubert’s “Mein!,” from the heart and memory, showed what had gone lacking in the earlier cycle. Pianist Martin Katz showed greater mastery of the style and score, but indulged in banging now and again. After intermission, Beczala warmed up more and more, showing greater tonal warmth and dynamic span, presenting Slavic songs in which he was more specifically communicative. Karlowicz’s melancholy output furnished several affecting moments, and Dvorák’s “Gypsy Songs” some real bravura. The four Rachmaninov chestnuts –– straight from the playbook of Beczala’s idol Nicolai Gedda –– were excitingly done by both artists. One can catch Beczala’s wonderful voice in the Met’s “Rigoletto” through December 12. David Shengold (shengold@ yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues. November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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GAY CITY NEWS
One side of the marquee on the Blood of Jesus Atlah World Missionary Church.
Transgender activist and mentor Kim Watson speaks, as Manny Rivera looks on.
GAY CITY NEWS
Family Court Judge Franc Perry.
HARLEM, from p.4
can only win this by bringing each other up.” As the town hall opened up to audience comments, a number of key issues emerged, the most compelling of which was the vulnerability felt by transgender residents of Harlem. Several transgender men and women spoke out about the need for unity and action among their trans brothers and sisters and for greater focus on the T within LGBT groups. Among the trans initiatives mentioned at the meeting was a
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November 17 “call to action” by the New York Transgender Advocacy Group and the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS for a trans-led town hall to discuss Governor Andrew Cuomo’s blueprint for the Plan to End AIDS by 2020. That meeting takes place from 5-8 p.m. on the third floor of 215 West 125th Street. On November 21, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent will host an afternoon Trans Day of Remembrance event that will include performances, a panel discussion, and a reading of names of transgender people killed in hate violence. That events takes place from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the Faison Firehouse at 6 Hancock Place, near 124th Street, between Morningside and Manhattan Avenues. Others at the town hall raised concerns regarding mental health services. Journalist and activist Antoine Craigwell talked about Depressed Gay Black Men, a group he founded to bring attention to what he sees as unaddressed mental health needs in the African-American community. Some gay and bisexual men, he asserted, “are contracting HIV as a passive form of suicide,” and then failing to get connected to treatment that could keep their infection under control. The issue that perhaps resonated most strongly among the town hall attendees was a marquee-style sign that has hung outside the Blood of Jesus Atlah World Missionary Church at 123rd Street and Lenox Avenue and, for the past several years, broadcast stridently homophobic messages. Currently, one side of the marquee reads, “Join the revolution to drive the sodomite interlopers, freaks and slave master land grabbers out of Harlem.” The flip side reads, “You
sodomites and freaks have soiled Harlem but ye shall be moved. Payback is a bitch.” According to CB 10’s Rivera, protests outside the church have only served to boost pastor James David Manning’s efforts to raise money. Working with Brewer’s office, community leaders have concluded the marquee itself violates restrictions placed on the building because of its landmarked status. The borough president advised that calls to 311 would in time prompt action from the city. Rivera said community leaders are also planning a Christmastime prayer vigil outside the church –– “just like in the Civil Rights Movement” –– to rally Harlem leaders and residents who want to stand with the LGBT community. A meeting to organize that vigil will take place on November 19 at 5 p.m. on the third floor at 215 West 125th Street. Brewer in her closing remarks also pledged to work with Harlem LGBT leaders looking to create a community center in the neighborhood. Both the Ali Forney Center, which serves LGBT youth, and SAGE, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, have their own spaces in Harlem, but the borough president agreed with others who spoke up saying a multi-purpose center serving as wide a variety of needs and interests as possible would be ideal. “I think the community center should be a big focus,” Brewer said. “The good news is that you’re not alone. Community Board 12 [serving Washington Heights and Inwood] is starting an LGBTQ task force, and they are focused on a community center, as well.” Rivera closed the meeting by mentioning another major initiative in Harlem –– the creation of Pride & Power, a group representing the interests of the black and Latino LGBT community in Upper Manhattan. He credited the Stonewall Democrats of New York City with advocating for the community citywide but said he and others in Harlem have been meeting recently to forge a similar group representing LGBT people of color. The next meeting of that planning group takes place on November 21, and Rivera said a “coming out” announcement formally launching Pride & Power would follow shortly. November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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BASENJI, from p.22
County Supreme Court Justice, Geoffrey Wright, issued an opinion in a dog custody case holding that pets are property, not people. Questions of ownership should be decided by reference to property law, and not to the family law principle of “best interest of the child” familiar from custody cases. The case Wright decided, Szubski v. Conrad, involved a dispute between a man and his former girlfriend about the ownership of a Doberman Pinscher. The girlfriend claimed it was best for the dog to be with her, but the judge decided for the man, who was clearly the animal’s owner. In a new ruling issued on October 26 and published by the New York Law Journal this week, Justice Engoron backed away from his earlier decision. Evidently Wright’s opinion had changed his thinking since March. “Logically,” Engoron wrote, “the word ‘all’ in the phrase ‘best for all concerned’ must either refer to all humans or to all humans and animals. Assuming the former, if the courts were to decide cases based on the nebulous ‘best for all concerned’ standard, we would perforce redistribute earth’s wealth in a manner the likes of which hitherto have not been seen. This might be good, bad, or indifferent, but authority to do so would have to come from the state or federal government, or some higher power.” He went on to note that Justice Wright “emphasized the difficulty in determining what is best for animals who, after all, cannot exactly tell us what they want. But what if they could? Or what if we could determine that on our own? Are courts obligated to take into account what is best for animals? That would seem to depend upon whether animals have rights, specifically, the right to have courts take into account what is best for them. Of course, this is, and arguably has been for some time now, a hot-button topic,” an allusion to a recent case that held that a court could not issue a writ of habeas corpus to release a chimpanzee from captivity, since animals don’t have constitutional rights. Engoron has now concluded that “animals do not have rights,” being persuaded by Wright’s opin-
ion as well as the chimpanzee case. “Evolutionary psychologists would say that membership in the same gene pool confers rights; but much as humans love Stevie, they cannot procreate with her,” he wrote. “Some, including this Court, would say that a Rousseauian ‘Social Contract’ confers rights; but, alas, only human beings are deemed to have contract rights enforceable at law. Some would say that ‘policy’ confers rights; but policy is for the legislature, law is for the courts. One could posit that historical antecedents confer rights; but historically, Anglo Saxon law has conferred rights on people, not pets.” Engoron observed that some would say that rights are derived from a “Supreme Being,” quoting from the Declaration of Independence. “Alas,” he lamented, “the drafters equated people with each other, not with animals, and made no mention of the latter being endowed with any right. If a ‘Supreme Being’ has bestowed rights on animals,” he concluded, “they need to be enforced elsewhere than in [State] ‘Supreme Court.’” As part of his lengthy consideration of the question of conferring rights on animals, Engoron noted, a bit defensively, “the Court’s prior ownership of Humphrey the basset hound and Wabber the tabby cat, which were beloved beyond all reason.” “Thus,” he concluded, “Stevie, for all the joy she brings to this world, does not have the right to have a court of law dictate a decision, in whole or even in part, on what is best for her. Accordingly, this Court simply erred in declaring that a ‘best for all concerned’ standard should be applied to the hearing that still needs to be held in this case. The correct law is the law of property, and this Court will determine and award possession of Stevie according to that law, and no other.” The hearing to decide this question will take place on December 10. Attorney David Wolf of Steven Landy & Associates represents Gellenbeck. Daniel S. LoPresti represents Whitton. Since she has no rights, no lawyer has been designated by the court to represent Stevie, whose opinions will not be consulted by the court on that fateful day. November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
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November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
DYKE ABROAD, from p.25
Because when Cubans hear these words they think you’re attacking the government. The other thing is, that since in Cuba there isn’t a culture of respecting human rights, many people responded that it was a waste of time, knowing that nobody would do anything about your problems.” In the end, though, the activists persuaded 150 people nationwide to participate. Of these, 26 were lesbians, 81 gay men, 19 bi people, 23 trans women, and 1 intersex. Sixty-six self-defined as white, 28 as being of African descent, and 44 as mixed race. Forty-four were between 15 and 25 years old, 56 were between 26 and 35, and 38 were older than 36. Their news wasn’t good. Despite the CENESEX “circus,” as Cuban queers typically call the institution’s displays, violence and discrimination are incredibly common, especially on the institutional level. Eighty-seven said they had been assaulted both verbally and physically by cops and arbitrarily detained. Forty-five had been discriminated against in the workplace, harassed, or fired. Sixty-seven had experienced violence within their own families, including being thrown out of their homes. Violence and discrimination, both within and outside the family, were worse the further you got from Havana. Cops regularly blackmailed and extorted rural queers. Worse, if they fled to Havana, they risked constant harassment and extortion by cops there and were often deported back to their place of origin. Trans people faced the worst of the violence and discrimination, especially if they were of African descent. Mora testified that, in general, very few of the people polled knew about international human rights agreements or worldwide advances in LGBT rights. Few had access to resources or support on the island, especially in the areas
of work and education. No statistics were kept about homophobic or transphobic murders. Few victims of violence even reported assaults because they weren’t investigated, much less solved and prosecuted. “Nothing happened to the guilty,” she said. “In only one highly public case was the murderer punished.” Sisy Montiel, coordinator of the Trans Fantasy Network, testified that she had become an activist because she was the victim of discrimination and violence, and as a young person was arrested so often for being “ostentatiously effeminate in public” that she barely finished high school. She eventually got sex reassignment surgery and found work in the theater, but many others like her were forced into prostitution or killed themselves, literally encouraged by the state to end their lives. Things weren’t much better now, she said. Kids are harassed so much in school they either leave or are expelled. Which means they can’t go to college or get decent jobs, usually forcing them into prostitution. Discrimination prevented most from getting medical care. Access was made even worse by racism, with black trans people being refused hormones and surgery. After screening a short film, “Situation of LGBT Population in Cuba, 2014-2015,” the activists offered a list of recommendations, which again emphasized the need to pressure the Cuban government to respect independent organizations, LGBT groups in particular and civil society in general, and how social change of any kind requires the basic rights –– to meet and assemble peacefully, to express themselves –– that Cubans simply don’t have. Not yet. The Cuban government declined to participate in the hearing. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.
THIS WEEKEND: MIX IT UP IN BROOKLYN
GayCityNews.nyc | November 12 - 25, 2015
MIX NYC, the 28th Queer Experimental Film Festival unspools in Brooklyn through November 15. On November 12, programs include “New Wave, No Wave, Tidal Wave: Feminisms Old & New,” “To Be Real: Queer Icons,” and “Against the Grain: Dysphoria, Displacement, Dissent.” On November 13, programs include “ChicagQ: A Selection of Recent Radical Voices from Chicago,” “White Girl Wasted — The Romance is Killing Me,” “Architectonics of Space & Time,” “Abject of My Desire: Losers, Punks & Queerdos,” and “Kids in the Stall: Cruising & Its Discontents.” The programs on November 14 include “Queer View Mirror: Scrapbooks, Found Footage, & Reinvention,” “Nitrate Kisses,” Barbara Hammer’s feature about the marginalization of Lesbian and Gay Sexuality,” “Love is Like the Weather,” “Watch This Show with Someone You Want to ____,” and “Cosmic Crystals.”
“Hanky Code: The Movie” is MIX NYC’s closing night feature on November 15 at 9 p.m.
The Festival winds up November 15 with “Batguano,” “With/Out The White Gaze,” and the closing night feature, “Hanky Code: The Movie.” Most films are $13; with the closing night feature at $20, and there are other
special events and parties. The Festival takes place at the MIX Factory, 155 26th St. at Third Ave. (R train to Fourth Ave. & 25th St.). For tickets and complete information, visit mixnyc.org/2015.
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November 12 - 25, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc 3/25/15 3:56 PM