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LOVE MUST PREVAIL NYC PRIDE 2016 COVER PHOTO BY DONNA ACETO/ COVER DESIGN BY MICHAEL SHIREY

© GAY CITY NEWS 2016 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

FREE | VOLUME FIFTEEN, ISSUE THIRTEEN | JUNE 23 - JULY 06, 2016


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June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

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WE ARE ORLANDO PERSPECTIVE: A New Young Voice L U X U RY R E N TA L S BUILDING UPON EXCELLENCE FOR 40 YEARS

THE PRIDE OF

THE WEST VILLAGE

Love is Love is Love After Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Awards sonnet

NO FEE

Olivia Rose Lanziero Azzolina, a 13-year-old seventh grader at Léman Manhattan Preparatory School.

BY OLIVIA ROSE LANZIERO AZZOLINA

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The hand that trembles uncontrollably, That grips the gun that fires at an open sea of smiling Faces. A mouth that shoots the Words that stop the heartbeat quick; grasp the breathing In a fist. A fist that punches the eyes of the pure and clean souls that stepped valiantly out of there Homes searching for the drug that injected smiles Onto their faces. The faces that longed for the antidote To a seemingly incomparable ribbon of pain tied in a perfect bow By the boy or girl that broke the heart that Did not know that the drug of happiness that came with Side effects. The side effect of death that night, Written on the label plastered to the bottle of sunshine that sat waiting in a club. Because love is love, is love, is love. You love that girl, you love that boy who Loves that boy, who loves that girl.

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The light switch of a life slammed down by the commanding Barrel of a gun. A gun purchased with a receipt — be sure to practice gun safety! But you didn’t listen. Your hatred crept into Your fingertips. Your chaotic mind, bleeding signals Dropping like army men. Their parachutes expanding, Slowing pin-drop thoughts oozing into that Crooked smile that sees the Good in your evil actions. Because love is love, is love, is love. Olivia Rose Lanziero Azzolina, a 13-year-old seventh grader at Léman Manhattan Preparatory School, wrote this poem in response to the Orlando tragedy for an English class taught by Aubrey Sherman. Sherman’s class recently completed a series of poetry workshops led by Savon Bartley, a spoken word artist from Urban Word NYC. June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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MIKE DESANTO

Love Must Prevail

The Puerto Rican Flag outside the Stonewall Inn commemorates the many Latino lives lost at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in the early morning hours of June 12.

REMEMBRANCE

POLITICS

SPORTS

ORLANDO

A cop who really was New York’s finest

City’s First Lady urges gays to take on guns

Gay racecar driver aims for Indy 500

New York honors Orlando

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18

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38 - 71

FILM

GALLERY

IN THE NOH

PRIDE

Taking risks, following dreams

An outsider sees all

That voice

A weekend of Pride

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GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

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DONNA ACETO

Protesters lay down in front of Trump Tower on June 21.

Protesters Target Trump Tower, Evangelicals Meeting With Him ACT UP, GetEQUAL denounce GOP hopeful’s racism, confront Christian Right leaders BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

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TRUMP DUMP, continued on p.17

DONNA ACETO

hanting “Silence equals death, fuck the NRA” and “Racist, sexist, antigay, Donald Trump go away,” some 200 people joined a protest held at Trump Tower to counter the rhetoric that the presumptive Republican nominee for president has used to attack Muslims, Mexicans, and other groups. “We’re tired of the bigotry and hatred and murder,” said Andrew Velez, a member of ACT UP NY, the AIDS activist group, during the June 21 protest. “After the massacre in Orlando, he said, ‘Well, if there had been more guns that might not have happened.’ He’s a fool who needs to be put out to pasture.” Carrying a long rainbow banner that was designed by Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow Flag, that read “Republican Hate Kills,” the crowd spent an hour chanting and listening to speeches. Passersby, who had to squeeze through the narrow space left between the front of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue at 57th Street

and the protestors, sometimes joined in the chants. One or two made insulting comments about the protestors and were quickly confronted with cries of “Shame, shame, shame.” The protest was organized by ACT UP NY and a coalition of Muslim, Latinx, and LGBT organizations. Four counter-protestors showed up with signs reading “Build the wall” and “Deport illegal aliens.” When one counter -protestor chanted “Build the wall,” members of ACT UP responded with “Around Trump.” Trump has offended large swathes of the American public with his pronouncements that Mexico was sending rapists and drug dealers across the border into the US. Trump’s promise to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented people in the US was met with derision by some of the Republicans who were vying for the nomination because it simply cannot be done. His declaration that he would ban Muslims from entering the US has provoked similar responses. Protesters in front of Trump Tower on June 21.

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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HOUSING

Advocates Fault Cuomo For Broken Promise on New Housing AIDS groups join others in criticizing how $20 billion over five years became just $570 million in fiscal ‘17 BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

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GAY CITY NEWS

Dozens of protesters turned up outside Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Midtown office on June 21 to protest what they termed a broken promise on new housing initiatives to combat homelessness.

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GAY CITY NEWS

ith the New York State legislative session ending without an agreement on how to spend billions that Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed be used to fight homelessness, advocates and their allies are pummeling the governor for breaking a promise. “The governor is on the hook for promising 20,000 units of supportive housing, but then come budget time, he only funded 6,000, and now he comes back and funds 1,200,” said Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, a Democrat who represents part of Queens, at a June 21 protest outside of Cuomo’s Manhattan office. In January, Cuomo proposed spending $20 billion over the next five years to build affordable housing, emergency shelter beds, and supportive housing, which combines housing with social services. When the state budget was passed for the fiscal year that began on April 1, only 6,000 supportive housing units were funded. The budget said that Cuomo would negotiate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the State Senate and Assembly that would control how the $1.9 billion in the budget for housing would be spent. On June 17, the session’s end, advocates learned that just $570 million would be spent on housing in the current fiscal year and just $150 million of that was new money. AIDS groups were interested in the MOU because of its implications for the Plan to End AIDS, which aims to reduce new HIV infections

from the current roughly 3,000 a year to 750 annually by 2020. The plan, which is currently being implemented, uses anti-HIV drugs in HIV-negative people to keep them uninfected and treats HIV-positive people so they are no longer infectious. Some science supports the view that stable housing, nutrition, and other services make it easier for HIV-positive people to remain adherent to their medication regimen. AIDS group want to enact HASA For All, which is pending in the City Council, that will allow the city’s HIV/ AIDS Services Administration (HASA) to serve people who are HIV-positive, but have not progressed to AIDS, in addition to those with an AIDS diagnosis, who are already served. HASA supplies rental assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, and other services. As more people with HIV take anti-HIV drugs, that later stage of HIV infection is increasingly rare. An estimated 6,000 HIV-positive people in the city would be financially eligible for HASA, but are currently denied services because they do not have AIDS. Mayor Bill de Blasio is committed to enacting HASA For All, but only if the state funds a portion of the cost. Housing Works, which participated in the June 21 protest, believed that a deal was in the MOU to fund costs related to HASA For All, but it was stopped by the State Senate, which is controlled by the Republicans. “There was an agreement between the governor and the Assembly including HASA for All… and there was an agreement with the city,” said Ginny Shubert, a principal at Shubert Botein Policy

Queens State Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi (center) was harshly critical of Governor Andrew Cuomo, unwilling to endorse the views of some activists that it was the Senate Republicans who posed the biggest problem.

Associates, a consulting firm. “The Senate killed it… The sad thing is we were there, we had it, which is not insignificant, the governor and the mayor on the same page.” Shubert is allied with Housing Works, a leading AIDS services organization. Hevesi, who participated in the MOU negotiations, said that the Senate is not to blame because there was nothing to kill. “We were nowhere near an agreement on HASA,” he said at the protest, which was organized by the Campaign 4 NY/ NY Housing, a coalition of more than 300 housing groups from across the state. The protest drew several dozen people, who spent an hour chanting and giving speeches outside Cuomo’s office. Charles King, the chief executive at Housing Works, is credited with developing the Plan to End AIDS, along with Mark Harrington, the head of the Treatment Action Group, a policy organization. King, who is known for his aggressive advocacy, has largely avoided criticizing Cuomo, whom he has to rely on for money and to implement policies. While King was not at the protest, Housing Works was not silent. Andrew Coamey, the senior vice president who oversees construction, facilities, and housing at the agency, spoke and called on Cuomo to “show some honesty, show some integrity,” and “keep your promises.” VOCAL-NY, another AIDS housing group, also joined the protest. In late 2015, anonymous staffers in the Cuomo administration were cited in a news article saying

the governor would propose spending $200 million on the Plan to End AIDS in the current fiscal year. In 2014, King said that $104 million for the plan would be a “dream number.” But when the budget was introduced, it turned out the promise was for $40 million a year over five years and even that amount is not in the budget for the current fiscal year. “The other thing that is just as egregious to me is the promise last year on World AIDS Day, the $200 million,” Hevesi said. “He came up with $10 million this year, that’s it.” Cuomo has developed a long track record of making bold promises that he does not keep and, like many politicians, of making bold pronouncements that are less than accurate, but his willingness to attack critics, as he has attacked de Blasio, has generally meant that he has few people criticizing him. The possibility that negotiations could reopen are distant because the urgency that comes with the legislative session ending is gone, Hevesi said. “It’s absolutely possible, but in reality, it’s highly unlikely,” he said. “The impetus or a catalyst to push the negotiations forward has now stopped… They’re not going to do it later, it’s an election year. People are focused on their own election, they’re focused on their own district, or quite frankly they’re going on summer vacation… I have no indication that they’re going to reopen the MOU negotiations any time soon.” The Cuomo administration did not respond to a request for comment. June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

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REMEMBRANCE

A Cop Who Really Was New York’s Finest

Sergeant Charlie Cochrane, gay pioneer, honored with West Village street BY ANDY HUMM

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The New York Daily News’ coverage of Charlie Cochrane’s dramatic 1981 testimony on behalf of the city’s gay rights bill.

GOAL/ FACEBOOK.COM

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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

stone’s throw from the Stonewall Inn where cops battled LGBT rebels in 1969, the corner of Sixth Avenue and Waverly Place was named for the first police officer with the guts to come out publicly, the late Sergeant Charlie Cochrane, co-founder of the Gay Officers Action League, or GOAL. It was a surreal scene in the bright sunshine on the morning of June 17 as police brass, police union bigs, GOAL members, veteran gay activists, and Cochrane’s family gathered for the ceremonial unveiling of “Sgt. Charles Cochrane Way” outside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, in whose basement GOAL was founded in 1982. That launch came only a year and a half after the parish’s pastor conducted the funeral for church organist Vernon Koenig — killed in the anti-gay West Street Massacre outside the Ramrod bar on November 18, 1980 — without acknowledging Koenig’s male partner or the anti-gay attack that killed him. Times change — even if the Catholic Church and the NYPD still have a lot of progress to make before all LGBT people, particularly transgender women, feel safe with them. The NYPD’s Chief of Department Jimmy O’Neill praised Cochrane, who died of cancer in 2008 at age 64, as a cop with a reputation for being able to “see in the dark. He had the integrity, foresight, and courage to look ahead. He came out as a gay cop when they feared losing their jobs and being harmed.” Detective Brian Downey, the new president of GOAL, said, “Today is the celebration of a great man who exhibited great courage.” Cochrane’s sister, Mary Ann Sundresh, said he “could not stand by” and allow human rights abuses “of himself or of the people in the community” whom he served. Dr. Patrick Suraci, an NYPD psychologist and GOAL co-founder, recalled that in 1978, after Mayor Ed Koch banned discrimination on

Members of the late Sergeant Charlie Cochrane’s family with (at r.) City Councilmember Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and (at rear, in uniform) Detective Brian Downey, president of the Gay Officers Action League.

the basis of sexual orientation in city jobs by executive order, “PBA [Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association] head Sam DeMilia said that homosexuals cannot do the job of a police officer.” In a New York T imes op-ed, DeMilia wrote, “The overt homosexual is distinguished by his speech, mannerisms, conduct, and dress. These have generally been received negatively by the public. There is no reason to believe that public attitudes toward these features that distinguish homosexuals will change once he puts on a police officer’s uniform.” Current PBA head Pat Lynch was on hand for the ceremony as was the head of the sergeants’ union, Ed Mullins. Suraci also said that Cochrane received a phone threat warning

that GOAL’s first meeting would be bombed. Cochrane dutifully informed all those intending to come “and all 11 of us still showed up.” City Councilmember Corey Johnson, who is gay, was born the year after Cochrane’s famous coming out. Reviewing Cochrane’s achievements more than 30 years ago, Johnson said, “It didn’t come easy.” Just five days after the Orlando atrocity, the dedication was not publicized, apparently for fear of having to secure a large crowd in its wake — though police are providing unprecedented beefed up security outside LGBT venues citywide and are preparing to do so at the June 26 Pride March. In fact, David Rothenberg, the veteran gay activist and founder of the Fortune Society, which works to pro-

vide support to ex-prisoners, guided Cochrane into his public role, but was not informed of the street corner dedication. He later shared memories of Cochrane, saying, “He was a sweet and wonderful man.” Rothenberg and Cochrane befriended each other in a Village gay bar when someone burst into the establishment in an agitated state and Cochrane instinctively drew his gun. “You’re a cop!” Rothenberg said. Eventually, Cochrane confided, “I can’t stand the lies anymore.” Rothenberg, who choreographed his own coming out on TV’s “David Susskind Show” in the early 1970s, urged Cochrane to make his coming out “a celebratory thing.” He gathered a bunch activists, including this reporter, to help prepare Cochrane for his 1981 testimony before the City Council for the longblocked gay rights bill, at which time he announced publicly he was gay. Right before Cochrane spoke, a PBA official testified against the bill, saying that there were no gay cops. The chair then called “Sergeant Charles Cochrane” to objections from some gay people in the chamber, who assumed this constituted testimony from two opponents in a row. Cochrane, then 38, began, “I am very proud of being a New York policeman” to applause from opponents and rumblings from gay people unaware of what was to follow. After a pregnant pause, Cochrane declared, “And I am equally proud to be gay.” The pro-gay side erupted in wild cheers that shook the Council chamber to its 1811 foundations. Except for the bill’s final passage in 1986, there was never a more dramatic moment in the long history of that fight. “We gays are loathed by some, pitied by others, and misunder stood by most,” Cochrane said. “We are not cruel, wicked, cursed, sick, or possessed by demons. Why must others be so concerned with my sexual activity and choice of consenting partner?”

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COCHRANE, continued on p.23

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


HUMAN RIGHTS

Transgender Latinas Assert Visibility in Jackson Heights Fifth annual march highlights violence facing community, pledges solidarity with Muslim Americans

OFFICE OF COUNCILMEMBER DANIEL DROMM

ANDY HUMM

Members of Make the Road New York, on June 13, demanding justice for transgender women in Queens.

City Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Public Advocate Letitia James join the marchers.

BY ANDY HUMM

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GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

ANDY HUMM

rans Power!” “Keep Yo u r H a n d s O f f My Sisters!” “Don’t Fuck with Us!” Those chants rang out one day after the atrocity in Orlando as scores of transgender Latinas and their allies brought their mourning and defiance to the sidewalks of Jackson Heights, Queens. On the evening of June 13, they marched 40 blocks from their Roosevelt Avenue headquarters at Make the Road New York, across the commercial strip of 37th Avenue, and then back again onto busy Roosevelt Avenue. “This is where we bring things home — to our neighborhoods,” out gay City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, representing the most diverse neighborhood in the country, told the crowd at a pre-march rally. “I started Queens Pride to show people that we are in this community — in every community. The transgender community has suffered a lot and been attacked right here in Jackson Heights. We’re upset about Orlando. We know we are under attack here, too. We are all in this fight together.” It was the fifth annual Translatina March and planned long before the Orlando massacre, in the wake of which organizers committed themselves to “work with the Muslim community and other communities of color to end violence and hate.”

Bianey Garcia, the LGBT organizer for Make the Road New York, at the June 13 march.

Speaker after transgender Latina speaker, mostly recent immigrants speaking in Spanish, testified to the perils they fled in their homelands and the continued threats they face daily here in New York. Victoria from Honduras said it was hard to leave her country, “but the government there does not help and there is violence from organized groups.” But in Queens, she said, she had to deal with a stalker who would not believe that she is not a sex worker and “beat me with a chain” and threatened to kill her. With Dromm’s help, the

police caught the perpetrator and found that he was a drug-dealing gang member. “Why don’t we seek help from the police?” asked Xena who works with the New York City Anti-Violence Project and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. “We trans people are at high risk for violence, especially police violence. We rely so much on ourselves for safety. We need support from outsiders — from bystanders.” Dr omm said that an added problem with getting these victims of discrimination and vio-

lence to come forward is their lack of legal status here. “Hate is nothing new to the transgender community,” said Public Advocate Letitia James, invoking Islan Nettles, who was murdered in Harlem in 2003, and Pearl Love, a woman attacked on a city subway because of anti-transgender hatred. “Our country is still far from where it needs to be.” Several of the speakers spoke of having to walk the streets as inconspicuously as possible to avoid harassment and worse, but on the night of the march they felt they could be themselves — with safety in numbers. “We usually keep our heads down and hope for the best,” said Bianey Garcia, the LGBT organizer for Make the Road, which led the march. Many of the bystanders on the street met the marchers with blank or curious looks, but the transgender women did not encounter any hostility and were applauded and high-fived by many others as they passed by Latino and South Asian businesses and residents. Hector Figueroa, president of Local 32BJ SEIU, one of the city’s major labor leaders, joined the march midway. “I live in Jackson Heights,” he said. “We’re calling for an end to the violence that is tearing our families apart.” Three of the Orlando victims, Figueroa said, were from his hometown in Puerto Rico.

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CRIME

Mark Carson Killer Gets 40-Year-to-Life

Elliot Morales given consecutive sentences for second-degree murder as hate crime, weapons charge

JEFFERSON SIEGEL

NYPD HANDOUT

Mark Carson, 32, was gunned down point blank by Elliot Morales in the West Village in May 2013.

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

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lliot Morales, convicted in March of second-degree murder as a hate crime in the May 2013 close-range shooting of Mark Carson, a gay man, in the West Village, has been sentenced to 40-years-to-life in prison. In imposing the sentence on June 14, Judge A. Kirke Bartley of Manhattan Supreme Court said a “chilling video” statement Morales made to police after his arrest betrayed “an evil nature” like “a character out of a Steven King novel — in short, a monster.” Shannon Lucey, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, asked for the maximum sentence for Morales, saying that Carson was “executed for being a proud openly gay man.” In a written release after the sentencing, Cyrus Vance, Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said, “Any life lost to gun violence is a tragedy for our city. But homophobic, hate-fueled incidents like this one are particularly unconscionable. As we mourn the lives lost in Orlando, we remain committed to doing everything we can to combat and prevent crimes against LGBT New Yorkers. We must never allow violence and hate to undermine the progress we have made as a city, a state, and a nation.” At trial, witnesses testified that Morales, 36, encountered Carson, 32, and his friend, Danny Robinson, on Sixth Avenue near West Eighth Street. As the men argued, with Morales using anti-gay slurs, they moved north and then onto Eighth Street where Morales first displayed a gun and then fired a single shot, striking Carson in the head and killing him. Morales fled east on Eighth Street and was caught by Henry Huot, a uniformed police officer, moments after

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Elliot Morales, who acted as his own attorney, and his legal advisor, Adam Friedman.

the shooting. When he was captured, Morales made statements that police recorded in which he admitted killing Carson. In testifying, Morales, who represented himself, with the assistance of a legal advisor, Adam Freedman, claimed he believed Carson was armed and about to shoot him. He also said that he was drunk, and in cross-examining Robinson elicited testimony that he and Carson had also been drinking. Though the jury was given the leeway to consider both a self-defense justification and the possibility that Morales’ intoxication meant he did not have the legally required mental state to be guilty, the jury returned a verdict roughly one day after being sent to deliberate. Contrasting Morales’ preparedness in the courtroom with the impression he left in his videotaped statement — where he said of Carson, “I fucking shot him dead. Diagnosis dead doctor.” — Bartley said, “You remain as much an enigma to me as the first day you walked into this court.” The judge also said, “I can’t say I’m surprised that you refuse to accept responsibility for what you’ve done.” That statement came in response to comments Morales addressed to Carson’s family and friends during the sentencing hearing, when he described the victim’s death as “a tragic accident” for which he was “really, really, truly sorry.” Morales also used that occasion to claim that Carson died due to the negligence of emergency medical personnel who he claimed did not administer oxygen to the dying man but rather stood around “arguing and shoving each other.” In addressing the court, Morales, who indicated he would appeal his conviction, said it was “beyond my comprehension” how he

could be convicted of a hate crime against a gay man since he himself claims to be bisexual. Robinson testified at trial that Morales called him and Carson “faggot” among other “angry slurs.” In his statement at sentencing, Morales also asserted that comments a juror made to the Daily News after his conviction were evidence of bias against him during his trial. Prior to the sentencing, Morales asserted a variety of procedural claims, which Bartley found were “not inextricable” with the court moving forward with sentencing. The judge also rejected Morales’ efforts to claim that a prior violent felony conviction should not be considered in rendering a sentence. In addition to the conviction on second-degree murder as a hate crime, Morales was found guilty on five counts of criminal possession of a weapon, one count of menacing Henry Huot, the police officer who arrested him, and one count of menacing a gay bartender at a West Village restaurant prior to the shooting of Carson. He was sentenced to 25-years-to-life on the murder conviction and must serve a 15-year sentence consecutively on one of the weapon possession charges, so he would not be eligible for parole until he had served the 25-year minimum for murder plus six-sevenths of the 15-year weapon conviction sentence. After the sentence had been handed down and Bartley was prepared to adjourn the case, Morales attempted to speak again. The judge, standing up, said, “You will not have the last word here,” and walked out of the courtroom. Outside the courtroom, Florine Bumpars, Carson’s aunt, asked what she would say to Morales if she had the chance, responded, “I have nothing to say to him. He got what he deserved.” June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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15


CRIME

El-Amin Could Face 15 Years in Dallas BBQ Assault At pre-sentencing hearing, defense says three years more fitting IDNYC is my go to ID card in NYC. With benefits like movie tickets, recreation discounts, and free cultural memberships, IDNYC is the must have card for all New Yorkers.

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he prosecution could ask that Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for his part in a fight in a Chelsea restaurant, while the defense is asking that he be sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison. “He’s looking at five-to-15 if the judge deems him a predicate felon,” said Percy Gayanilo, 42-year-old El-Amin’s attorney, following a June 14 hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court. El-Amin was eating with friends in Dallas BBQ at 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue on May 5, 2015 when he was attacked by Jonathan Snipes, 33. Snipes and his then boyfriend, Ethan York-Adams, 26, were drunk and had been fighting with each other in the restaurant. Snipes thought that someone had called him a “faggot,” though he could not say who, and he struck El-Amin with his purse, which held his keys, a sunglasses case, a cellphone charger, and his résumé. El-Amin and Snipes fought as the older and far larger El-Amin pushed Snipes to the floor. They were separated and then fought again. El-Amin then struck York-Adams with a chair as the two younger men stood with their backs to him. That final moment in the fight always presented El-Amin with the greatest risk of a guilty verdict. Snipes and York-Adams refused medical attention the night of the assault, saying they lacked insurance to pay for an emergency room visit. Facing five felony charges for assault and attempted assault, a jury convicted El-Amin on four of the five on May 25. The June 14 hearing came after the prosecution served notice that El-Amin is a predicate felon, citing a 2008 felony conviction in Michigan. The defense filed a motion opposing the designation, saying the Michigan statute is overly broad. The prosecution will respond by June 28. If Arlene Goldberg, the judge in

Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin as he appeared on Dallas BBQ surveillance tape released by police last year.

the case, agrees with the prosecution, El-Amin faces a minimum of five years in prison and up to 15 years, with five years of post-release supervision. If she decides he is not a predicate felon, the minimum is three-and-a-half years, with two-and-a-half years of post-release supervision. Twenty-four friends, family members, and allies packed Goldberg’s small courtroom on June 14 to show support for El-Amin. There was outrage over the fight immediately following the incident because Snipes told some media that he had been attacked in an anti-gay hate crime. None of the charges against El-Amin was filed as a hate crime. Since then, there has been far more sympathy for El-Amin, with some seeing race as playing a role in the prosecution. El-Amin is African-American and Snipes and York-Adams are white. Dr. H. Sharif “Herukhuti” Williams, a professor of interdisciplinary studies Goddard College, compared the El-Amin case to the one brought against Brock Turner, a white Stanford student, who was convicted this year of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and sentenced to just six months in jail. “Mr. El-Amin is facing a decade or more in prison,” Williams told Gay City News. “The young man who raped the woman in California is getting six months… We exist in a society in which jail is too harsh for certain people, but not others. If jail is too harsh for certain people, it’s too harsh for all people.” June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


JUL Y FIREWORKS OF

DONNA ACETO

Members of the AIDS housing group VOCAL-NY joined the protest.

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CRUISES SPACE IS LIMITE D!

TRUMP DUMP, from p.6

The protest called attention to Republican resistance to gun control legislation.

DONNA ACETO

GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

LUXURY YACHT

DONNA ACETO

“My family can no longer be attacked,” said Patty Rosado, who was among the organizers of a boycott of Fire Island businesses owned by Ian Reisner, a gay real estate developer who donated to Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, and Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, both of whom have antiLGBT records. “It has to stop. I am so angry, I am so angry with him.” Trump’s response to the June 12 killings of 49 people in an Orlando, Florida, LGBT nightclub was widely criticized because the candidate seized on the deaths to claim that he was correct about the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism” and that people “are congratulating me for being right.” The gunman may have been a jihadi or he may have been mentally ill. The FBI, which is investigating the killings, will likely not reach a conclusion, if it ever does, for months or longer. The Trump Tower protest was one of two targeting the celebrity on a day when he met with roughly 900 Evangelicals to discuss his candidacy and what a Trump presidency would look like. That meeting was held at the New York Marriott Marquis. GetEQUAL picketed there and disrupted a press conference the Evangelicals held following their meeting with Trump. “I disrupted it when Tony Perkins started speaking,” said Heather Cronk, a co-executive director of the activist group, referring to the head of the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT group. Angela Peoples, also a co-executive director of GetEQUAL, posted a video on Twitter of her dogging Perkins for over a minute as he was leaving the hotel and apparently searching for his ride.

GetEQUAL’s Heather Cronk, who earlier in the day confronted Tony Perkins, leader of the antigay Family Research Council, after he met with Trump at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

“You are responsible for hate and lies, a culture that has fueled violence against our community,” Peoples can be heard saying to Perkins as she cor nered him in a revolving door. “What do you have to say for yourself, sir?” At the press conference, Cronk said, a reporter asked the Evangelicals if any of them would be endorsing T rump and they all said they would not. “This was bad day for Evangelicals, it was a bad day for Donald Trump,” Cronk told Gay City News at the Trump Tower protest. “He got nothing out of this.”

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POLITICS

City’s First Lady Urges Gays To Take on Guns Chirlane McCray, citing community’s success in working “the wheels of power,” lauds power in coalitions

DONNA ACETO

New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray at the June 13 Orlando vigil outside the Stonewall Inn.

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

J

ust one day after a vigil at the Stonewall Inn commemorating those lost in the Orlando gay bar massacre was transformed into a rally calling for more stringent gun control measures nationwide, New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, led off with the same issue in an interview with Gay City News. “I was thinking last night during the vigil that it would be so wonderful if the next big issue, or one of the next big issues, that the community could take on would be gun safety, or something like that, a thing that is bigger than the community itself in terms of an issue but that would have such resonance and such a deep effect on the community,” McCray said in opening up her remarks at City Hall on June 14. Before a crowd of several thousands packed into the narrow Christopher Street blocks sur rounding the Stonewall the evening before, Governor Andrew Cuomo had touted New York State

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as a model for tough gun laws, a view echoed by both the leader of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and the head of the trauma surgery unit at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. Even before anyone spoke, the crowd at the vigil, organized by the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, chanted, “What do we want? Gun control. When do we want it? Now?” Reflecting on “all of that ener gy” she witnessed at the Stonewall vigil, McCray told Gay City News, “I think of groups that really know to move the wheels… know how to work the wheels of power, and the gay community has been so successful in doing that. There’s already an anti-gun group, and then you get churches involved and the gay community involved, and then you can make some progress.” That perspective is of a piece not only with the way her husband, Mayor Bill de Blasio, has approached his political career but also with how the couple have worked together during his first term, most notably on the issue of mental health.

In 2009, when de Blasio, then a Brooklyn member of the City Council, was running in a competitive field for city public advocate, he often character ized his skill and experience as an “organizer” as among his key strengths. For her part, McCray has been a highly active and visible first lady, working out of the mayor’s suite of offices at City Hall. In November, de Blasio and McCray jointly announced the launch of ThriveNYC, described as “mental health roadmap for all, with several dozen new initiatives aimed at creating a more “holistic” approach to public mental health efforts in the city. Just last month, McCray barnstormed church congregations across the five boroughs to enlist faith leaders and their communities in working in a coalition aimed at making the plan a reality. Asked whether her comments about the gun issue were infor med by her thinking and the mayor’s regarding coalition building, she said, “I think it’s the only way you make giant leaps, make real progress. It’s like what we’re trying to do with mental health. It touches on everyone, either directly or indirectly. You can’t just say this is the domain of our public health department — it’s not going to work, we’re not going to get anywhere. It’s really got to bring in everybody, which is what we’re doing.” And even as McCray sees a crying need for greater gun regulation, she also sees the issue — and the Orlando tragedy — in mental health terms, as well. “It’s a public health issue that hasn’t been seen through that lens as much as it should be,” she said. “And I think for that reason I would love to see the gay community embrace it. Just as much as I want to see the gay community embracing mental health reform. Both are so important. This young man — how clearly we don’t know, I mean there was

no diagnosis of this young man — but we know he abused his wife. We know he was troubled. We know he was not well. And that could have been prevented. He could have been treated, and we would not be here today talking about this, perhaps.” Beyond the issues of gun control, mental health reform, and building popular support for moving on both fronts, McCray also addressed the responsibilities political leadership has in moving the discussion and providing solutions. On that question, she addressed both the critical election choice facing the nation in November and the influence New York — and by implication, its mayor — can have on shaping the conversation beyond the five boroughs. “ We w i l l b e b l e s s e d t o g e t Hillary Clinton as president, because I think she will provide leadership that takes us forward,” McCray said. “I don’t know what you do with the Trumps, the Giulianis, who want to stay in the gutter. Clearly they need to be educated because they’re just wrong.” Dismissive of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s obsession over President Barack Obama not using the term “Islamic terrorist” in describing ISIS-inspired attackers, she said, “This is not what this is about. This is not what we need to be discussing.” She added, “Certainly, leadership’s responsibility is not to be reactive, not to be trading insults. They have to have a high bar and take people forward.” But in an election in which New York will almost certainly vote Democratic and the race, if it is close, will be decided in states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Iowa, what impact can leaders in New York wield? “People do look to New York for leadership,” McCray said. “There’s that saying if it can happen in New

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MCCRAY, continued on p.27

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

19


PRIDE is fighting for our rights and dignity at work and in our communities.

LGBTQ and worker rights are human rights.

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union 20

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


BROOKLYN PRIDE LIGHTS UP A PARK SLOPE EVENING

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO | Following an afternoon Pride Festival along Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn’s LGBT community and its allies took over the avenue again for the traditional evening Pride Parade on June 12. Despite occasional threats of rain,

GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

both the festival and parade, celebrating their 20th anniversary, drew big crowds and enjoyed good old-fashioned summer weather. The parade’s grand marshals were Queens City Councilmember Daniel Dromm (seen with Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

below left), a founder of the Pride events in Brooklyn’s sister borough, Brooklyn State Supreme Court Justice Debra Silber (on the right immediately above), and the Griot Circle, a Brooklyn-based group that serves LGBTQ people of color as they age.

21


EMPLOYMENT

Title VII Sexual Orientation Bias Claims Divide Trial Courts

As EEOC presses cases nationwide, reckoning at Supreme Court seems just a matter of time BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

R

eversing a position it held dating back 50 years, the Equal Employment Oppor tunity Commission (EEOC) last July issued a ruling that a gay man could charge a federal agency where he worked with sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for denying a promotion because of his sexual orientation. The Baldwin v. Foxx decision is an administrative ruling, not binding on federal courts. Federal trial judges, in fact, remain sharply divided on the issue. During May and June, judges in Virginia, New York, Illinois, Mississippi, and Florida issued rulings in response to motions by employers seeking dismissal of Title VII claims regarding sexual orientation discrimination. In each case, the employer argued that the plaintiff’s Title VII claim had to be dismissed as a matter of law because the federal employment discrimination statute does not forbid sexual orientation discrimination. Title VII was enacted as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The House committee considering the bill heard evidence regarding sex discrimination, but it decided to send the bill to the floor without including “sex” as a prohibited basis for discrimination, based on the view it was too controversial and might sink the bill. During the floor debate, Howard Smith of Virginia, a conservative Democrat opposed to the proposed ban on race discrimination, proposed an amendment adding “sex” to the list of prohibited grounds. Early histories about the bill suggested that Smith’s aim was to kill the measure. More recent accounts have countered with the view that Smith, although a racist, actually supported equal rights for women and genuinely believed that sex discrimination in the workplace should be banned. (His amendment did not add “sex” to parts of the bill that addressed discrimination in other areas.) Smith’s

22

amendment passed as did the overall bill, and the Civil Rights Act went into effect in July 1965. Because “sex” was added only through a House floor amendment, the Committee Report on the bill says nothing about it, and the subsequent debate in the Senate, where committee consideration was bypassed, devoted little attention to it. As a result, the “legislative history” of Title VII provides no explanation about Congress’ intention in including “sex” as a prohibited ground of discrimination.

ory, while others have rejected attempts to “bootstrap” sexual orientation or gender identity into Title VII in this way. More recently, several feder al appeals courts have endorsed the idea that gender identity discrimination claims are really sex discrimination claims, and a consensus to that effect has begun to emerge. Progress has been slower on the sexual orientation front. Last summer’s EEOC’s decision in Baldwin v. Foxx presented a

For the quarter century that followed, the EEOC and the federal courts consistently rejected claims that the law outlawed sexual orientation discrimination.

For the quarter century that followed, the EEOC and the federal courts consistently rejected claims that the law outlawed sexual orientation discrimination. Without any legislative history to fall back on, they ruled that Congress must have intended simply to prohibit discrimination against women because they are women or against men because they are men, nothing more complicated or nuanced than that. This interpretation was challenged in 1989, when the Supreme Court ruled in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins that a woman who failed to conform to her employer’s sex stereotypes could bring a sex discrimination case under Title VII. That seminal case signaled a broader and more sophisticated view of sex discrimination. Since 1989, some lower federal courts have used the Price Waterhouse ruling to allow gay or transgender plaintiffs to assert sex discrimination claims by relying on the sex stereotyping the-

startling turnabout of the agency’s view. The EEOC adjudicates only those discrimination claims against federal government agencies, not non-governmental and state and municipal government employers. In Baldwin v. Foxx, the EEOC, exercising its appellate authority regarding claims by federal employees, reversed a ruling by the Transportation Department that a gay air traffic controller could not bring a sexual orientation discrimination claim under Title VII. Looking at the developing federal case law since Price Water house and seizing upon a handful of federal district court decisions allowing gay plaintiffs to bring sex discrimination claims under a sex stereotyping theory, the agency concluded that a sexual orientation discrimination claim is “necessarily” a sex discrimination claim and should be allowed under Title VII. Since that ruling, last July 15, many federal district judges have faced motions by employers to dismiss Title VII sexual orientation

discrimination claims. In some cases, district court judges were bound by appellate precedents within the federal circuit to which their decisions can be appealed. In other circuits, however, the question is an open one and some judges have followed the EEOC’s lead. On May 5, US District Judge Robert E. Payne in Virginia found that he was bound by Fourth Circuit precedent to reject a sexual orientation discrimination claim under Title VII, even though the plaintiff, an out gay administrative assistant at Virginia Union University, alleged clear evidence of antigay discrimination by the university president. Payne, though noting the split among federal trial courts regarding the EEOC’s Baldwin ruling, found that a 1996 Fourth Circuit decision in Wrightson v. Pizza Hut of America was still binding. A district judge on Long Island, Sandra J. Feuerstein, reached a similar result in Magnusson v. County of Suffolk on May 17, dismissing a Title VII claim by an out lesbian custodial worker at the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, who alleged that her failure to comply with her supervisors’ stereotypes of how women should dress made her the object of discrimination. Feuerstein, relying on prior decisions by the New York City-based Second Circuit Court of Appeals, dismissed the claim, asserting that the plaintiff’s “claims regarding incidents of harassment based on her sexual orientation do not give rise to Title VII liability.” In contrast, on May 31, a senior district judge in Illinois decided that in light of the EEOC’s Baldwin ruling, he would not rule on an employer’s motion for dismissal but rather stayed the case pending resolution of an appeal of a dismissal of another Title VII sexual orientation case at the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In Matavka v. Board of Education, Judge Milton I. Shadur confronted a school district’s motion to dismiss the claims by an employee at

c

EMPLOYMENT, continued on p.30

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GOAL/ FACEBOOK.COM

NYPD Chief of Department Jimmy O’Neill at the dedication of the street-naming in honor of the late Sergeant Charlie Cochrane.

c

COCHRANE, from p.10

He told the Daily News that while he had “some anxiety” about testifying, “it was something I had to do.” Cochrane explained that he was out to several hundred people in the department and that Koch’s police commissioner, Robert McGuire, had given him permission to testify. Rothenberg said TV news crews went to Cochrane’s precinct after the hearing to get reactions from police there. “They said, ‘He’s Charlie. He’s a good guy. That’s his business,’” Rothenberg recalled. Two years later, police raided Blue’s — a West 43rd Street bar mostly frequented by transgender women of color and the object of constant complaints from people who worked at the New York Times across the street. Police smashed up the bar and beat patrons, and the LGBT community responded with a massive protest. “I was a marshal for it,” Rothenberg said, “and we saw 50 cops with batons led by Charlie. I said to him, ‘We’re not going to have a problem, are we?’ He said, ‘You keep your troops in line and I’ll keep my troops in line.’” Edgar Rodriguez, a retired officer and a past president of GOAL, said Cochrane addressed his class of rookies at the academy in 1982. “He entered in full uniform with the police academy integrity control officer who is in charge of discipline, and in military fashion we all shot up to our feet at attention,” Rodriguez recalled. “After he ordered for us to be at ease, he said he was starting a fraternal organization very much like the Emerald Society and the Guardians but for lesbian and gay police officers and asked if anyone was interested in joining. All I could then hear and feel was my heart pounding. I thought, ‘This can’t be real. It has to be a way to find out who is gay and fire them.’” Rodriguez remained silent and did not join then, but did eventually connect with Cochrane and another GOAL co-founder, the late Sam Ciccone, and started his coming out process in 1986. Pete Gavigan, 76, who worked as a plainclothes transit officer, said Cochrane “was my best friend. I was at the first meeting of GOAL in ’82 and I was with him the day he died. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body. You couldn’t tell Charlie what to do. He didn’t take no for an answer.” GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

23


c

MCCRAY, from p.18

York, it can happen anywhere, and we’re trying to provide that kind of leadership.” She then ran through a list of issues where she believes the city is showing leadership — its treatment of transgender school children, universal pre-K, city ID cards to ease the hurdles undocumented immigrants face, job fairs for the LGBT community. “We’re doing what we say should be done,” McCray said. “So I think that’s the goal of leadership. Not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.” De Blasio, despite having run against a prominent out lesbian, then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in the 2013 Democratic mayoral primary, actually bested her among LGBT voters and has enjoyed good relations with the community. One area of disagreement, however, has been city support for religious institutions — some of them with a fierce anti-LGBT ideology — whether in making public school space available to them for weekend worship services or in subsidizing their own denominational schools’ security expenses. LGBT critics have been joined by First Amendment advocates in charging that such policies have eroded a necessary principle of church and state separation. Asked how the city administration can forge conversations with such faith organizations about their hostility to the LGBT comGayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

“We will be blessed to get Hillary Clinton as president, because I think she will provide leadership that takes us forward,” McCray said. “I don’t know what you do with the Trumps, the Giulianis, who want to stay in the gutter. Clearly they need to be educated because they’re just wrong.”

munity, McCray initially misheard the word “forge” and said, “I think we can’t force those conversations.” She next emphasized the value of the mayor and his team leading by example. “I think the things that we do to educate people and raise awareness and to encourage conversations do the most,” she continued. “Showing our openness, showing our willingness to embrace all communities, I think that actually goes a long way to helping those communities that are not as comfortable with it to understand… You lead by demonstrating, by modeling. That’s the most powerful thing we can do.” In a conversation that focused on a number

of very serious topics, McCray’s lightest touch came at the very beginning, in an allusion to her early years in New York, when she dated women and wrote a now famous — then, less so — essay in Essence magazine titled “I Am a Lesbian.” In introducing himself, this reporter referred to New York as the center of LGBT life in America, and McCray responded, “Absolutely. That’s why I came here.” Then, perhaps mindful that as first lady she car ries a broader portfolio than that, she quickly added, “I mean, I came here for more than that. I came here to work, in publishing. This is the headquarters of that, too.” And, then, this: “There’s no place else to be.”

27


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r owing up in Tyler, Texas, I never missed a service at the First Baptist Church. I especially liked Sunday School, which began at 9 a.m., with kids my age gathering to sing gospel songs from a small spiral-bound hymnal called “Youth Sings,” immediately followed by prayers of face-wrenching sincerity in Jesus’ name. I was usually the pianist and was often reminded by the person leading the singing not to get “too fancy,” but just play the chords as written. Connie, a girl in the class, told me that when my playing got too “show-offy,” she lost her place and couldn’t sing. We broke up into small groups for Bible study, boys and girls in separate rooms. I found myself in the group with a hot thug named Tommy Rudd, who bullied me at school. My Sunday School teacher, Mr. Blake, was in his 20s, married, and wore two-toned white and tan wing-tipped shoes. He was a teller at the People’s National Bank, and I had a major crush on him. I even wrote him an anonymous note asking him to meet me behind the Dairy Queen one Thursday night after choir practice. I sat for hours in my car, parked a short distance away. I was frightened and sexually stimulated to think that he might actually show up. At church, Mr. Blake made me afraid when he talked about the wrath of God and the certainty of punishment for sinners. Years later I recalled those fears as I sat in the AIDS ward at St. Vincent’s Hospital next to the bed of my dying partner, Sam Byers. My life with Sam lasted 16 wonderful years, beginning in 1977 when we met at the Gold Coast, a gay bar in downtown Chicago. I was acting in a film called “A Wedding,” directed by Robert Altman. Shooting took place in an Episcopal church in Oak Park and at a crumbling mansion on Lake Michigan just south of the US Naval Training Base near Waukegan. On the set Monday through Saturday, I was Reverend

David Ruteledge, a Southern Baptist preacher; and at the Gold Coast on Saturday nights, Gerald Busby, a horny gay man on the prowl. I was attracted to Dennis Christopher, another actor in the cast — but when I tried to initiate a friendship, he softly said, “I don’t think we’re supposed to like each other,” referring to our characters in the film. This was my first time acting in a movie, and I didn’t get what “staying in character” meant until Dennis spoke these words to me. Sam, on the other hand, fell for me as much as I fell for him, and being in his arms made me feel like I was finally home. He was 25 — 15 years my junior, and that pushed a big button for his father, just eight years older than I. Sam’s parents eyed me with suspicion and distrust. On their first night in New York, Sam and I stayed with friends and gave our apartment at the Chelsea Hotel to his mom and dad. We forgot to hide sex toys, which were kept in the top drawer of the table next to our bed. They, of course, snooped, and were shocked and offended to see a pink 10-inch dildo. They knew then for certain that I was an evil influence on their son. As they righteously harangued Sam and me, I thought of how different my parents had been when they discovered a copy of One, a gay publication in the ’50s, under my bed. Mother told me it was dangerous to put paper under my bed because it might catch fire — “What if somebody dropped a match, and you know that mice and roaches are attracted to paper.” I never heard either of my parents use the word “sex,” nor did I ever hear them call each other by their first names. They were always “Daddy” and “Mother,” even to each other. They were born in the last decade of the 19th century in Lueders, Texas, way out west. My mother’s nine sisters were tough, loud harridans, and all of them lived into their 90s. I liked best Aunt Zada, my lesbian cousin Ruth’s mother,

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BUSBY, continued on p.34

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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c

EMPLOYMENT, from p.22

J. Sterling Morton High School in Cicero, a Chicago suburb, that “he experienced severe harassment from his coworkers and super visors, including taunts that he was ‘gay’ and should ‘suck it,’ frequent jokes about his perceived homosexuality, and hacking of his Facebook account to identify him publicly as ‘interested in boys and men’, and an email stating ‘U… are homosexual.’” Shadur noted that existing precedent in the Seventh Circuit rejects sexual orientation discrimination claims under Title VII, which would “would appear to bury” Matavka’s lawsuit. However, last September 30, that circuit heard a plaintiff’s appeal from the dismissal by a different federal trial judge of a sexual orientation discrimination claim in the case of Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College in Valparaiso, Indiana. “Should Hively follow recent district court decisions in finding Baldwin persuasive,” Shadur wrote, “that finding plainly would affect the disposition of Morton High’s motion. That being so, the prudent course at present is to stay this matter pending the issuance of a decision in Hively.” A three-judge panel of an appellate circuit cannot depart from existing precedent within that circuit, but a majority of the active judges in a circuit can do so. The Seventh Circuit sometimes moves quickly — as it did in 2014 when it ruled affirmatively on marriage equality cases out of Wisconsin and Indiana in just one week. But it has been eight months since oral arguments were held in Hively, which suggests that there may be lively discussion among the circuit’s nine active judges about a draft of the three-judge panel’s opinion. A Seventh Circuit ruling reversing the district court’s dismissal of the Hively complaint would be a major breakthrough for Title VII coverage of sexual orientation claims. Meanwhile, two decisions issued in June took opposite views on the question. In Brown v. Subway Sandwich Shop of Laurel, US District Judge Keith Starrett of the Southern District of Mississippi bowed to prior Fifth Circuit rulings rejecting sexual orientation claims

30

under Title VII. He even claimed, somewhat disingenuously, that the EEOC’s Baldwin decision did not support the plaintiff’s claim, stating that Baldwin “takes no position on the merits of the claim and resolves only timeliness and jurisdictional issues.” Though the EEOC ruling technically was about the Transportation Department’s dismissal of the claim and not ultimately on the merits, the EEOC unquestionably took a “position” on whether sexual orientation discrimination claims are covered by Title VII. Without doing so, it could not have established jurisdiction in the matter. In Baldwin, the EEOC clearly stated that sexual orientation discrimination claims are “necessarily” sex discrimination claims.

Last summer’s EEOC’s decision in Baldwin v. Foxx presented a startling turnabout of the agency’s view.

In contrast to Starrett, US District Judge Mark E. Walker of the Northern District of Florida was amenable to the EEOC’s position. Finding that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has no binding precedent on the question, he refused to dismiss a “perceived sexual orientation” discrimination claim in Winstead v. Lafayette County Board of County Commissioners on June 20. Pointing out that the 11th Circuit, in Glenn v. Brumby in 2011, ruled that a gender identity discrimination claim could be considered a sex discrimination claim under the Equal Protection Clause using a sex stereotyping theory, Walker found that the Baldwin ruling, which also discussed sex stereotyping as a basis for a sexual orientation claim, was persuasive and should be followed. Walker rejected the argument

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EMPLOYMENT, continued on p.31

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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EMPLOYMENT, from p.30

made by some courts that using the stereotyping theory in this way was inappropriately “bootstrapping” claims of sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII. “These arguments seem to this Court to misapprehend the nature of animus towards people based on their sexual orientation, actual or perceived,” he wrote. “Such animus, whatever its origin, is at its core based on disapproval of certain behaviors (real or assumed) and tendencies towards behaviors, and those behaviors are disapproved of precisely because they are deemed to be ‘inappropriate’ for members of a certain sex or gender.” Walker concluded, “This view — that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is necessarily discrimination based on gender or sex stereotypes, and is therefore sex discrimination — is persuasive to this Court, as it has been to numerous other courts and the EEOC.” He also asserted that it “follows naturally from (though it is not compelled by) Brumby, which is binding Eleventh Circuit precedent. Simply put, to treat someone differently based on her attraction to women is necessarily to treat that person differently because of her failure to conform to gender or sex stereotypes, which is, in turn, necessarily discrimination on the basis of sex.” Ironically, Walker turned to an opinion written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, an outspoken opponent of LGBT rights, to seal the deal. He quoted from Scalia’s opinion for the Supreme Court in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, a 1998 decision that samesex harassment cases could be brought under Title VII. “No one doubts, that discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation was not ‘the principal evil Congress was concerned with when it enacted Title VII,’” Walker wrote, quoting Scalia, and continued the quote, “‘But statutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils, and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed.’” Scalia was opposed to relying on GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

“legislative history” to determine the meaning of statutes, instead insisting on focusing on the statutory language and giving words their “usual” meanings. Walker argued that his decision not to dismiss the Title VII claim “does not require judicial activism or tortured statutory construction. It requires close attention to the text of Title VII, common sense, and an understanding that ‘in forbidding employers to discrimination against individuals because of their sex, Congress intended to strike at the entire spectrum of disparate treatment of men and women resulting from sex stereotypes.’” That last quote came from a 1971 court of appeals ruling later cited approvingly by the Supreme Court.

We stand together in solidarity.

A Seventh Circuit ruling reversing the district court’s dismissal of the Hively complaint would be a major breakthrough for Title VII coverage of sexual orientation claims.

Walker’s decision provides the most extended district court discussion of the merits of allowing sexual orientation discrimination claims under Title VII, but it will not be the last word, as the EEOC pushes forward with its affirmative agenda to litigate this issue in as many federal courts around the country as possible, building to a potential Supreme Court ruling. So far, the Supreme Court has refused to get involved with the ongoing debate about whether sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination claims are covered under Title VII. It refused to review the 11th Circuit’s decision in Glenn v. Brumby, but it can’t put things off much longer. An affirmative Seventh Circuit ruling out of Chicago in the Hively case would create the kind of “circuit split” that usually prompts the Supreme Court to agree to review a case.

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COUNCIL HONORS SIX LGBT LEADERS AT PRIDE

Jennifer Flynn Walker with her spouse Bela August Walker.

Krystal Portalin (fourth from l.) with Councilmembers Helen Rosenthal, Daniel Dromm, and Carlos Menchaca, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Councilmembers Ritchie Torres, Jimmy Vacca, Mark Levine, and Corey Johnson.

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO | At a June 8 celebration at City Hall, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the seven-member LGBT caucus honored six leaders in New York’s LGBT community. The honorees were Jennifer Flynn Walker, a co-founder and longtime leader at Voices of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL-NY), Charles Rice-Gonzalez, an author and the co-founder of BAAD!, the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Krystal Portalatin, a co-founder of the youth empowerment group FIERCE, Ed Garcia Conde, a blogger

who founded Welcome2TheBronx as well as that borough’s first HIV support center, longtime transgender and Democratic Party activist Melissa Sklarz, and the legendary diva Barbara Herr. The Council’s LGBT Caucus includes Rosie Mendez (who was sidelined by a fall) and Corey Johnson from Manhattan, Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer from Queens, Ritchie Torres and Jimmy Vacca from the Bronx, and Carlos Menchaca from Brooklyn. Other councilmembers also participated in the festivities.

Barbara Herr with Council Speaker Melissa MarkViverito

Melissa Sklarz with Bronx Councilmember Jimmy Vacca.

Ed Garcia Conde.

Emcee Ron B. entertaining the crowd, while Queens Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Brooklyn Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, and youth from the Kids 4 LGBT Rights Now at the Earth School on the Upper East Side get in on the fun.

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Charles Rice-Gonzalez.

Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, the majority leader.

The Lavender Light Black and People of All Colors Gospel Choir entertained.

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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BUSBY, from p.28

and Aunt Meta, the one nearest my mother’s age. Meta was just fourand-a-half feet tall; her husband, Frank, was almost seven feet tall and wore overalls. As a 10-year-old gay boy, I loved to watch Aunt Meta and Uncle Frank doing routine things around their house. It seemed so primitive yet so intensely alive. Aunt Meta would say to Uncle Frank, “Get me a catfish,” and he would grab a large metal hook from his tool shed and wade into the shallow part of the nearby Brazos River to a large rock in the middle of the stream. Uncle Frank knew the catfish fed there. He’d stand perfectly still for several minutes, then, like snow falling, let bits of crackers fall from his huge hand into the water. The catfish immediately swarmed around the slowly sinking crumbs, and Uncle Frank would suddenly plunge the steel hook through the body of a 20-pounder. With the fish still on the hook, he would carry it back to the house and nail it by its bottom lip to a wooden post just outside the back door. Aunt Meta would be waiting with a ladder she’d lean against the post once the fish was in place. Wearing an apron over her dress, she would climb the ladder with a butcher knife and a pair of pliers, slit the skin strategically, fasten the pliers to the skin, and jump off the ladder ripping the skin from the fish. Then she would cut it into smaller pieces, bread them, and deep-fry them in hot shortening, in a black iron pot over a wood-burning fire. As we ate, Uncle Frank would say, “This is a good mess of fish.” Sam’s mother and sister came to see him shortly before he died. A consoling male nurse ushered them to Sam’s bedside in the middle of the quarantined ward where I was already sitting. After a few polite words, the nurse deftly made his way between the rows of beds toward another patient. I thought of Walt Whitman in a field hospital attending hundreds of young casualties of the Civil War, all moaning in terrible pain. Here at St. Vincent’s, the young AIDS patients weren’t moaning. They were anesthetized with morphine dripping into their veins through plastic tubes. They were dying quietly, no less terribly than Whitman’s young soldiers, slipping slowly out of consciousness.

When Sam and I were diagnosed HIV-positive in 1985, my first thought was, “Who infected us, and when?” In the early ’80s, we explored independently the nocturnal fantasies of the S&M scene at the Spike and the Eagle’s Nest. It was possible, I thought, to be temperate in that exotic indulgence, and I chose the cowboy persona, a conceit I brought from Texas and was comfortable with. In my new role as a bottom, I liked bondage, which reminded me of the gift-wrapping I’d done as a child. The Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue back then provided perfect models of twine, tied tight around a package. At the Spike, I hooked up with a musician who had studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and taught solfège at Hunter College. He was into underwear as well as bondage, and was specific about how I displayed myself wearing the underwear he’d bought me on Orchard Street. Most of the S&M devotees I knew in the ’80s were painstakingly bourgeois in their appearance and behavior, and they were serious to the point of stultification. There wasn’t much laughing in the leather and cowboy scenes. Yet that very opaqueness ratified the sexual appeal of costumed young men displaying the shibboleths of commitment to the roles they had chosen to play, and with which they identified. The signals of preference were as rigid as those of any religious ritual: keys on a ring worn on the left side meant top; on the right side, bottom. Blue and red handkerchiefs worn left or right also indicated whether you were top or bottom and whether you wanted a penis or a fist. All this formality inspired an intimacy akin to raping (with a fastidious sense of style) a sexy stranger, or being raped by one. When drugs became a component of the routines, the dangers became harder to ignore. Crack was the drug of the moment and its effects instantaneously released all inhibitions. They also made the practical aspects of bondage an ordeal. Who wants to tie slipknots in a cotton clothesline when you’re rapturously stoned? Finally Sam died, and I despaired. My friend Craig Lucas asked the Actors Fund to sponsor

c

BUSBY, continued on p.102

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

35


Community Center executive director Glennda Testone.

DOES THE GARDEN PARTY HAVE A PERFECT SUNNY RECORD?

N e w Yo r k S t a t e A t t o r n e y G e n e r a l E r i c Schneiderman.

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO From the very best recollections here at Gay City News, the annual Garden Party hosted by the LGBT Community Center on the Monday prior to the big Pride March always enjoys good weather. This year, on June 20 — the longest day of the year — the Center’s luck held out, making for a gorgeous party at Hudson River Park’s Pier 84 in Midtown, with prime Manhattan restaurants offering tastings to go with cocktails, entertainment, and remarks by community leaders and elected officials.

Alphonso David, counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer with Andy Praschak.

Former State Senator Tom Duane with Erik Bottcher, chief of staff to City Councilmember Corey Johnson.

36

Leah Dindial, a winner of a scholarship from the Imperial Court of New York.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum (r.) of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, with Rabbi Rachel Weiss and her wife, Julia Tauber (l.).

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


SPORTS

Gay Racecar Driver Aims for Indy 500

Raised a stone’s throw from iconic track, newly out Freddy Niblack loves the aggressive pursuit of speed BY GARY M. KRAMER

W

GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

COURTESY: FREDDY NIBLACK

ith LGBT athletes become more prominent with every passing sports season, gay racecar driver Freddy Niblack is poised to break out. This 44-year-old, who came out in racing last year, is not just proud, but driven — he wants to be the first openly gay man to compete in the Indianapolis 500. It’s not a pipe dream. He has won more than 200 trophies on the circuit, and has been racing since he was five. Niblack grew up in Speedway, Indiana, just two blocks west of the Indy 500 track. He has the ability, the skill, the talent, and the résumé to run an Indy car. He also is getting the support of the gay community. It wasn’t just the proximity of the famous race course that appealed to him. Niblack explained that racing is in his bones. “When I’m not in a racecar, I have a reaction,” he said. “Racers are wired differently. We are very focused. My normal is your extreme.” Niblack is not shy about acknowledging that racing “is an aggressive sport and only the strong win.” “I like the dominance and aggressiveness and speed, the challenge of perfecting my craft,” he added. This year he will have many opportunities to race his two cars, an F2000 that goes about 160170 mph, and a Pro Mazda that reaches about 185 on the track. His demanding schedule takes him to tracks in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, and California. And each of these races is a double header, which means he races twice a day both days he is there. All of this racing is to prepare Niblack for what he hopes will put him on track to race at Indy next year. “Those cars go to 200 mph, so it’s getting acclimated to that speed moving forward,” he explained. What makes a racer successful, according to Niblack, is the momentum. “When the car gets going and you’re in a rhythm, your momentum makes you faster,” he said. Niblack is gaining considerable momentum of another sort since coming out professionally — embraced by both the racing and LGBT communities. “I think that people knew I was gay, but it was like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” he said. “I finally got to a point last year where I needed the gay community’s love and support. I felt alone and lost. I knew something was missing, but I didn’t know what it was. It was the support of the gay community.”

Freddy Niblack hopes to return to his hometown next year as one of the racers in the Indianapolis 500.

However, the racing community didn’t know how to market a gay driver, and a potential sponsor withdrew his support of Niblack because they didn’t want a “pink racecar,” Niblack said, adding tartly, “I never had a pink racecar in my life.” Instead, he found valuable support in his sponsor, Laundry and Tan, a Midwestern company that provides both coin-op laundries and tanning services. “When no one else would sponsor me, Mike Gilley, founder and CEO, said he would,” Niblack said. “It was instant. With Laundry and Tan, I was able to breathe and be myself. It was more than a business deal. They take care of me and are not ashamed of me.” Niblack said has not encountered any other gay racers on or off the track, and he also understands that racing is not something the gay community gravitates to. That said, the compassionate, heartfelt messages he has received from members of the LGBT community has meant a lot to him. “Their love and support is the most amazing feeling,” he effused. Niblack reflected on how bringing his whole self to his career as a racecar driver can pay dividends in terms of his performance. “This year is the first year I’ve been out,” he said. “I think when you live your life in a way where you have to be stifled and limit what you say and where you appear, it limits me. But you fear losing your ride, your team, and your sponsors. If I had to go without the support of the community, it would take the enjoyment out of what I do. I don’t know that I could continue.” While Niblack has a sense of responsibility as a gay athlete and role model, it goes beyond just inspiring pride among the LGBT community. He

also wants to prove to the straight community that he can break stereotypes and be a winner where people are not accustomed to seeing gay faces. The racer admitted he would love to have a boyfriend, but acknowledged that a career on the road — not to mention the racetrack — makes that difficult. Even those willing to have a partner who’s often out of town might be given pause by his high-risk game. “It’s hard for guys to watch me drive 200 mph week after week after week,” he said. As for accidents, Niblack has had a few scrapes, one in particular at the Silverstone circuit in the UK, where he went upside-down and broke his sternum and shoulders. Most people, he said, wonder how he gets into a small car and races really fast without being scared. “It’s normal to me,” he explained. “Being scared in a racecar is not normal. There are times when things have happened and I’ve been scared, but I think if I got to the point where I was afraid, I couldn’t do it.” The brotherhood of racers provides him with a measure of comfort. “Most of us racers have a common respect for one another,” Niblack said. “That’s what keeps us safe. You are aggressive while racing, but not to compromise someone else’s well being. I race better when I’m happy. When you are angry, you make mistakes and at 200 mph, there is no room for mistakes.” It’s clear that Niblack is a happy racer, and more so now that he is out and proud. Still, he went back to one factor that could help make him even happier yet. “If the right guy came along — and he can cook,” he said.

37


WE ARE ORLANDO

DONNA ACETO

DONNA ACETO

Thousands gathered outside the Stonewall Inn just hours after news broke of the gay bar massacre in Orlando, Florida.

Speaker after speaker emphasized that hate is no response to Orlando.

In Two West Village Vigils, Message Is “We Shall Overcome” Less than 12 hours after news of Orlando massacre, Queer Nation, faith leaders assembled shaken New Yorkers

I

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

DONNA ACETO

DONNA ACETO

38

DONNA ACETO

n two vigils in the West Village on the evening of June 12, one crowd numbering in the thousands, another in the hundreds voiced shock, grief, and anger over the murder of 49 patrons of a Orlando, Florida, gay bar in the early morning hours of the same day. Speaker after speaker emphasized that the violence cannot be isolated from a climate of antiLGBT hatred that continues to persist across the nation, but also pledged to continue building community to respond to hostility and bigotry where it exists. At the same time, both crowds rejected the notion that hate is an appropriate response to the violence and specifically called out efforts to pit the LGBT community against the Muslim community over a tragedy in which the shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, is reported to have phoned 911 just prior to the melee and pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Mir Seddique, Mateen’s father, told NBC News that his son, who legally changed his last name a decade ago, was angered several months ago when, accompanied by his own young son, Mateen witnessed two gay men kissing in Miami. The picture of the shooter grew considerably more complicated in the days that followed, with

Mirna Haidar of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

Activist and “Gay USA” co-host Ann Northrop.

Judson Memorial Church’s Reverend Donna Schaper.

news that he may have frequented the bar as a patron and, perhaps alternatively, his wife drove him there several times in a potential scoping of the site. The attack on Orlando’s Pulse nightclub came on the night it was holding its weekly Latin evening. Ken Kidd, a member of Queer Nation New York, which took the lead in organizing a rally outside the Stonewall Inn that drew several thousand people, told those assembled, “We come together because this is a community that will never be silent again. I ask every person to think of someone you knew who was killed because of anti-LGBT hatred. Think of a time when you felt unsafe in your own community.

And I want every single one of you to think not of what anyone else, not of what I, but of what you can do to change that.” Saying the LGBT community should draw strength from the 49 Pulse nightclub patrons who were killed, Kidd said, “We must go forward in love.” Mirna Haidar, a representative of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, told the Stonewall crowd that she has faced discrimination in the US as a Muslim refugee and as a gender-nonconforming woman, but urged everyone to avoid allowing the LGBT community to be set against Muslim Americans because of the Orlando massacre. At that point, a heckler started

screaming, “It is a Muslim issue” over and over again. The crowd turned on the heckler, shouting, “No hate. No hate.” Haidar noted that federal blood donation guidelines bar sexually active gay and bisexual men from giving blood, a stinging stigma that the community continues to bear due to unscientific fears. Michael Pruslow, who came down to the West Village from his home in Washington Heights to attend the vigil, voiced discomfort with the focus on the word “hate.” “It’s not about hate,” he told Gay City News. “Yelling that is just the same thing as what happened. We need more love. We need to love each other.”

c

WE SHALL OVERCOME, continued on p.59

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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39


WE ARE ORLANDO

Second Stonewall Vigil Focuses on Guns Speakers urge federal government to follow New York lead on assault rifle ban BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

W

DONNA ACETO

hat was billed as a vigil for the people murdered by a gunman in an Orlando nightclub quickly became a rally in support of gun control legislation as elected officials, the head of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV), and even a trauma surgeon called for tougher federal laws to control such weapons. “We passed gun control laws in this state,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo early in the June 13 event, which drew thousands to the West Village, filling Christopher Street from Waverly Place to Seventh Avenue with the crowd spilling onto Grove Street. “We are saying to our federal government, ‘We know it can be done.’” In 2013, New York passed the SAFE Act, which bans assault weapons and strictly limits other weapons’ features and more tightly regulates their sale. While NYAGV describes the law as “one of the strongest gun laws in the country,” it has had some implementation problems. Referring to assault weapons, Cuomo continued, “This is an American curse, it is not an international curse.” The crowd was already primed to talk about the issue. Before the rally began, the crowd was chanting, “What do we want? Gun con-

The crowd spilled out from the block of Christopher Street from Waverly Place to Seventh Avenue.

trol. When do we want it? Now.” Cuomo was initially heckled by a man in the crowd, though his complaints were inaudible. The heckler was quickly shouted down by other audience members. Leah Gunn Barrett, NYAGV’s executive director, told the crowd

that the Orlando gunman had been interviewed by the FBI twice, but was still able to buy a gun in Florida. “We need to restrain this legal means of terrorism,” she said. The gunman, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando early in the

morning on June 12. He injured another 53 people. Police killed Mateen after storming the club in an effort to rescue people who were being held inside. The victims were overwhelmingly Latino and young

c

40

DONNA ACETO

DONNA ACETO

Thousands voiced solidarity with the Orlando bar victims and survivors at the Stonewall on June 13.

GUNS, continued on p.41

Leah Gunn Barrett, who heads New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


WE ARE ORLANDO

DONNA ACETO

Mayor Bill de Blasio reassured shaken communities.

c

GUNS, from p.40

us all,” she said. “He attacked us because of who we are and because of who we love… If a ban existed, I am sure this would not be called what it is being called, the greatest mass murder in US history.” Mayor Bill de Blasio, who spoke last, sought to reassure the crowd. “When thousands of people come together, it is a renunciation of hate,” he said. “We say to Latino New Yorkers, we stand with you and we will protect you, we say to LGBT New Yorkers, we stand with you and we will protect you, we say to Muslim New Yorkers, we stand with you and we will protect you.” The mayor brought Chirlane McCray, his wife, and Police Commissioner William Bratton with him. When Bratton spoke, the heckling and booing was so loud that his comments could not be heard. The crowd was growing impatient toward the end of the roughly two-hour event, so when McCray began to speak, audience members began to yell, “Say their names” referring to the victims. In a moving close, the rally ended with people stepping to the podium

and reading aloud the names of the 49 victims as people in the audience held small lights or lit cellphones in the air. After each name, the crowd responded with “presente.” At a vigil, that means he or she is here. The event’s only amusing moment came when Nick Jonas, a performer who has teased his gay male fans with innuendo suggesting his is gay, stepped to the podium and a large portion of the crowd began to chantm, “Say you’re gay, say you’re gay.”

DONNA ACETO

and included many gay, lesbian, and transgender patrons. The murders sparked vigils across the country, including a June 12 vigil that was held outside the Stonewall Inn. That earlier event drew about 1,000 people to the bar. The 1969 riots that started following a police raid of Stonewall are seen as marking the start of the

modern LGBT rights movement. New York City’s LGBT community often regularly meets at the site during momentous events. Dr. Sheldon Teperman, who heads the trauma surgery unit at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, described the wounds caused by assault weapons, saying they “explode organs and sever limbs.” He said that the high one-to-one ratio of deaths to injuries was typical of such guns. “We need to take that seminal piece of legislation, the SAFE Act, and spread it across this nation,” Teperman said at the vigil, which was organized by the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, an LGBT political group. Even speakers who made comments that were closer to what is typically heard at a vigil joined the gun control chorus. City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, an out lesbian who represents Manhattan’s Lower East Side, discussed Mateen’s motivation in the deaths, which has been described as a hate crime, but took note of Mateen’s weapon. “He killed 50, but he attacked

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41


WE ARE ORLANDO

Mourners Commemorate Orlando Victims in Jackson Heights Daniel Dromm, out gay councilmember, brings together Muslim, other faith leaders wit LGBT advocates BY NATHAN RILEY

Q

JOHN MCCARTEN/ NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL

ueens, the borough of immigrants, held a vigil to commemorate those killed in the Orlando gay bar massacre, demonstrating the solidarity that has developed there between the LGBT community and members of the many religions that call the borough home. In a matter of hours of the news emerging out of Orlando, out gay City Councilmember Daniel Dromm reached out to Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu leaders as well as elected officials and LGBT activists, calling on them to join together to affirm their unity, deplore extremism, and honor the Orlando victims. Early in the evening of the shooting, mourners packed the recently named Diversity Plaza, located in the shadow of the 74th Street/

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito with Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Roosevelt Avenue #7 elevated stop. The commercial center of Jackson Heights, the area’s shops offer a wide array of ethnic foods as well as overseas telephone service, testament to the vitality of the Asian

and Latino immigrant communities who inhabit the neighborhood. The Pulse nightclub in Orlando was having its weekly Latin night when the attack occurred. Just one week before, the

plaza was the site of the Queens Pride Festival. A tearful Dromm, in a short opening statement, said simply, “I don’t want this incident to separate us. Love conquers hate.” Ali Najmi, president of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, said, “We simply condemn this horrible, dreadful attack.” Members of the LGBT community, he said, “have been our strongest allies.” Omar Mateen, the 29-year-old shooter who was himself killed in the assault, phoned 911 shortly before entering Orlando’s Pulse nightclub to pledge his allegiance to ISIS. His father, Mir Seddique, told NBC News that his son had been angered several months ago seeing two gay men kiss on the street in Miami when Mateen was with his own young son.

c

JACKSON HEIGHTS, continued on p.70

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WE ARE ORLANDO

SAY THE NAMES Stanley Almodovar III, 23

Amanda Alvear, 25

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33

Antonio Davon Brown, 29

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28

Juan ChevezMartinez, 25

Luis Daniel Conde, 39

Cory James Connell, 21

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32

Simon Carrillo Fernandez, 31

Leroy Valetin Fernandez, 25

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22

Paul Terrell Henry, 41

Frank Hernandez, 27

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30

Javier Gorge-Reyes, 40

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21

Brenda Lee Marques McCool, 49

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25

Kimberly Morris, 37

Akyra Monet Murray, 18

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25

Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez, 27

Xavier E. Serrano Rosado, 35

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24

Edward Sotomayor, Jr., 34

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33

Martin Benitez Torres, 33

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37

Franky J. DeJesus Velazquez, 50

Luis S. Vielma, 22

GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31

PRESENTE 43


WE ARE ORLANDO

THE BRONX HONORS ORLANDO PHOTO ESSAY BY WILLIAM ALATRISTE In a June 15 vigil outside the Bronx County Courthouse on the Grand Concourse overlooking Joyce Kilmer Park, members of the LGBT community and allies gathered to commemorate the murder four nights earlier of 49 patrons at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, who were gunned down by Omar Mateen, who also injured at least 53 others. The vigil, called by out gay Bronx City Councilmembers Ritchie Torres and Jimmy Vacca, was also attended by Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. — William Alatriste is the official photographer for the New York City Council.

44

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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6/16/16 2:40 PM


WE ARE ORLANDO PERSPECTIVE: A Global Response

We Must Show the World We Are Unafraid BY JESSICA STERN

O

utRight Action International is shocked and saddened by the deadly massacre at Latin Night at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12, and extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the 49 people whose lives were taken and the more than 50 people injured. These events were not only a tragedy for the LGBTIQ community in Orlando but for all humanity. Our way forward must emphasize community-building from a global perspective. Some commentators have questioned whether the location of the attack — a gay nightclub — is relevant to understanding it. Omar Mateen’s decision to attack

a gay nightclub, a safe place for LGBTIQ people to gather, timed during the Pride celebrations of June, cannot be extricated from the motivations and consequences of the attack. More LGBTIQ people were killed at Pulse than in any other known LGBTIQ bias-motivated attack in US history. Clearly, this was an act of hate and violence against LGBTIQ persons, our freedom of assembly, and our fundamental dignity. The attack at Pulse nightclub is about more than ISIS — including the on-going violence experienced by LGBTIQ people in the US and the lack of gun safety. However, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the massacre, so we must examine ISIS’ conduct, put it in perspective, and consider it within the context of the threat of US military response.

The line between ISIS fighter and sympathizer is at best blurry and possibly irrelevant. Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS, and ISIS subsequently claimed responsibility. ISIS’ semi-official news agency, Amaq, claimed responsibility for the deaths, posting in English and Arabic, “The attack that targeted a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando, Florida, and that left more than 100 dead and wounded was carried out by an Islamic State fighter.” Al-bayan Radio, a station owned and operated by ISIS, broadcast, “One of the Caliphate’s soldiers in America carried out a security invasion where he was able to enter a crusader gathering at a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando, Florida... where he killed and injured more than a hundred of them.” Since December 2014, OutRight has documented more than 41 men accused of sodomy and killed by ISIS, according to ISIS’ own accounts. Prior to the deaths in Orlando, the highest number of men killed at one time by ISIS for sodomy, or a related charge,

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was four in July 2015 in Fallujah Province. Little is known about the men who were killed there, including whether they ever engaged in homosexual acts or personally identified as gay; ISIS does not provide substantiating information or charge victims in a court of law. OutRight has observed that ISIS typically claims quick public responsibility for these killings, using social media as a central component in its campaign of terror. These acts of violence by ISIS exist on a continuum with its targeting of many vulnerable groups, a subject we discussed at an August 2015 meeting of the UN Security Council. The coming days and weeks will bring mourning, information, and debate as we try to make sense of the most widespread loss of life in the US since 9/ 11. We caution against drawing harmful conclusions about Muslims from the recent attack. Conflating the actions of one person with the beliefs of an entire religion — or

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June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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ISIS with Islam — is dangerous. OutRight stands in solidarity with Muslims everywhere. We refuse to allow the LGBTIQ community’s tragedy to be used to pit minorities against each other. LGBTIQ people, Muslims, LGBTIQ Muslims, and our allies must support one another and stand strong against bigotry and violence. We must enact gun control and meaningful gun safety. The killings in Orlando were made possible by inadequate policies on gun control and gun safety. More than 32,000 Americans are shot to death every year — a higher rate than any other developed nation. Omar Mateen bought his weapons legally. We must recognize that LGBTIQ people are not the only group targeted by ISIS, which has systematically attacked women and girls, Christians, Turkmanis, Kurds, and Yazidis. Anyone who violates ISIS’ fundamentalist notions of gender and sexuality or is deemed “inappropriate” is targeted in its apocalyptic worldview. We cannot compromise the

human rights of LGBTIQ people, and the tragic loss of life in Orlando must not be used to justify military action. The safety and security of LGBTIQ people in Iraq and Syria, within and beyond ISIS control, must be central in our response. Regional backlash and escalation of violence against those perceived as not conforming to traditional notions of gender and sexuality is a real danger.

LGBTIQ people in the US. While the scale of this massacre is unprecedented, violent crimes against the LGBTIQ community in the US are not. In 2015 alone, more than 21 transgender individuals were murdered in the US, most of whom were trans women of color. The Latino community in Orlando was on the frontlines of the attack at Pulse. Through holistic law, policy, and programming, aimed to promote

The tragic loss of life in Orlando must not be used to justify military action.

The US gover nment should investigate the application of the principles of universal jurisdiction to hold ISIS accountable if that group’s command responsibility is established in the case of Orlando. Due process should in all instances be upheld. At OutRight, we understand the devastating attack in Orlando in the context of violence targeting

non-discrimination and access to education, healthcare, and employment, we can put an end to these unacceptable levels of violence. The tragedy of Orlando is a call to action: it underscores with heart-breaking clarity the need for a globalized understanding of current events and the place of LGBTI people in the global community. For those who thought that ISIS would

only impact their lives in Iraq or Syria, we are with you. For those in Brussels and Paris who experienced violence at the hands of ISIS, we are with you. For those in the US who are newly members of this unwanted club, we are with you. It is time to channel our sorrow and anger into the best response: strong community-building. With LGBTIQ people, Muslims, LGBTIQ Muslims, and our allies globally, we must seek a peaceful and holistic strategy focused on community well-being to move us forward. As we enter into this new era, I urge all — friends and allies — to reclaim this Pride Month! Show the world that we are not afraid, we will not hide, and we will not stand down… And to our friends who we have lost, may you always rest in power. Jessica Stern is the executive director of OutRight Action International (outrightinternational. org), formerly known as the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, which advocates on behalf of LGBTIQ people worldwide.

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MARCH WITH US | Sunday, June 26 (Meeting time and place TBD) St. Luke’s will be marching with the Diocese of New York and many Episcopal churches, led by the LGBT Concerns Committee. Meeting place and time for Sunday will be posted on St. Luke’s Facebook, Twitter and website on Friday June 24.

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e could have died in a spray of Uzi bullets. I was running late, but Glen Martin was already there, drinking a beer. Glen called from a pay phone as I was leaving my apartment. He was yelling with sirens in the background. “Thank God you’re still home… Don’t come down here… They shot up the place with a machine gun… Bullets came through the door and windows… There’s blood everywhere… I saw Jörg bleeding on the sidewalk… I think they killed him… I don’t know how many more…” Glen and I were 25. We were meeting at the Ramrod at midnight to begin his 26th birthday celebration. Three men died and six more were injured when the son of a preacher went on a rampage with an Uzi and handguns in front of the Ramrod on West Street. It was Wednesday, November 19, 1980, a week before Thanksgiving. Despite Glen’s admonition, I ran down there anyway. The police had blocked off the area. A number of gay men gathered on Christopher Street. Rumors were that more men were shot on West Street. We had no idea how many gunmen there were. Maybe it was a Mafia pay-off revenge hit? Could one of the teenage thugs from Carmine Street have gotten a gun and set about proving his manhood? Turns out the killer was the son of a Christian preacher, a married father with two kids, a man with a history of drug and alcohol addiction. Ronald Crumpley also claimed his thoughts were being haunted by homosexual ghosts. His preacher father had counseled the homophobic Crumpley a couple of days earlier that maybe he “had a homosexual problem himself.” So the son stole his dad’s car, drove through the night to Virgin-

ia, robbed a gun store, returned to New York with the two semiautomatic pistols as well as a .357 magnum revolver and the Uzi. If he had known how to fire semiautomatic assault weapons, Ronald Krump could have killed 100 or more men. I’m 61 now, and 36 years later the violence continues. This time it’s 49 dead, more seriously injured. Now, however, the nation and the world are in shock. In 1980, the Ramrod shooting was barely mentioned in the local news sections of the daily papers. Orlando is a travesty that might have been avoided with serious gun restrictions. But the root cause is not immigration, FBI checks, ISIL cells, or the Muslim faith. It is more universal. This violence is fueled by faith-based homophobia. As more is revealed, it appears as if Omar Mateen may have been leading two lives. One as a religious married father who took his son to prayer services. The other, a man — gay, bisexual, questioning? — who over the years traveled more than 100 miles to join those enjoying our hard-fought rights to dance and commune freely. The facts of the two cases suggest the possibility that both Ronald Crumpley and Omar Mateen were closet cases whose inter nalized homophobia, informed by the culture they were raised in, caused them to kill those who lived freely. What makes my husband, Bob Gibbons, and me cry are the readings of the names — most were in their 20s and 30s, young men and women, Latino, Latina, African-American, Asian, white, multi-racial, gay, transgender, bi, maybe straight, fluid, whatever. Despite our tears, we are also given hope. Up here in the Catskills,

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RAMROD, continued on p.69

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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WE ARE ORLANDO

Gun Debate Largely Omits Talk of Suicides Nearly two-thirds of gun deaths involve shooter taking their own life BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

I

n the days following the June 12 killings of 49 people in an Orlando, Florida, gay club, LGBT gun control groups popped up around the country, including two named Gays Against Guns that formed independently in New York City. Dozens of established LGBT groups joined AIDS, progressive, and faith groups in endorsing limited gun control measures. While Orlando launched vigils, rallies, and even a protest at the headquarters of the powerful pro-gun lobby, the NRA, in Vir ginia, little is known about how often guns are used in attacks on LGBT people. “There isn’t a lot of information on how gun violence impacts LGBTQ communities specifically,”

said Emily Waters, the research and education coordinator at the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which issues annual reports documenting attacks on LGBT people. “One thing that we do know is that of the 24 reports of [anti-LGBT] hate violence-related homicides in 2015, 14 of them were gun-related.” What is known about guns generally is that in any given year most of the gun deaths in the US are not homicides, they are suicides, and suicides are not often discussed in the debates over guns in America. In 2013, the latest year for which data is available, there were 33,636 gun deaths in the US, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those, 21,175 were suicides and 11,208 were homicides. The remaining gun deaths were accidental or undeter-

mined. More than 42,000 people commit suicide every year in America and roughly half of those suicides are committed with a gun, according to data from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. While various claims are made about the prevalence of suicide among LGBT people, little is also known about that phenomenon. But there is no doubt that suicide with a gun has touched the community, most notably in the death of Rodger McFarlane, who was for years a leading figure in AIDS and LGBT groups. McFarlane took his life in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, in 2009 when he shot himself in a state park. At the time, friends, including playwright Larry Kramer, insisted that the 54-year-old McFarlane had simply made a choice. Dr. Howard Grossman told

Gay City News in 2009 that his suicide was a “rationally-made decision.” While that is possible, other facts in his life suggest that mental illness played a role as it does in the vast majority of suicides. McFarlane was the first paid executive director at GMHC from 1983 to 1985. From 1989 through 1994, he was the founding executive director of Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS, the theater industry group that has raised millions to support HIV/ AIDS service organizations. He served as executive director of the Gill Foundation, the philanthropic organization founded by gay Denver software entrepreneur Tim Gill, from 2004 through late 2008. While successful in these non-profits, he struggled financial-

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WE ARE ORLANDO PERSPECTIVE: No Progress In Dividing

A Crime Targeting the Latinx LGBTQI Community BY ALEXIS PAMPILLON

T

oday more than ever, we have a responsibility to talk deeply about the reasons at the root of why situations like #PulseOrlando happened. All day that Sunday, I was at a conference where the majority of people in attendance were Latinxs, and I didn’t totally understand what was happening. I didn’t know how to handle the news, but at some point I started to understand that this attack was not just what the media was saying

or implying as the “biggest terrorist attack.” The reality is that this was a targeted, explicit attack on “Latino night” organized at a gay club — an intentional space for people of color LGBTQI-identified folks. We must look at this with an intersectional lens. As migrant people of color who are LGBTQI and gender-nonconforming, we are vulnerable to a lot of systems that seek to divide us and oppress us. The perpetrator, whose name doesn’t deserve to be mentioned, acted from a place of anger. He was clearly deeply troubled and

had internalized hatred. In a world where the patriarchy manifests in hyper masculinity and our media follows an agenda to vilify specific races and religions, our society may choose to place blame in order to simplify and justify these acts. I choose to not do this, but look at this with a bigger lens to understand the layers and complexities. A lot of the victims and survivors were from Puerto Rico and of Latin American decent, who are mainly migrating to the US due to the lack of economic opportunities in their land and oppression from coloni-

PERSPECTIVE: America Owning Its Homophobia

Scapegoating Muslims Hides Homegrown Oppression BY EMAN ABDELHADI

I

n November of 2001, a month after the United States invaded Afghanistan, Laura Bush gave a radio address detailing the struggle of Afghani women at the hands of the Taliban. Her speech launched what would become a new tactic on the Right: the use of women’s oppression in Muslim societies to justify American intervention. In the coming years, we would hear endless reports of the Taliban’s deplorable treatment of women, always in the same breath as a defense of America’s presence in Afghanistan. Time magazine’s infamous cover piece “What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan” was the apex of this rhetoric. Treating gender inequality as a problem unique to the Muslim world accomplished two goals. First, it helped the Right escape accountability for women’s oppression within the United States. Second, it lent their profit-driven imperialism a moral weight. In reality, conservative politicians have invested in the continued inequality between men and women in America. Women earn 79 cents to every dollar a man earns in this society. Sociologists have documented a persistent mother’s penalty in wages, while men earn a fatherhood premium. One in five women will be the victim of rape in her lifetime, compared to one in 71 men. Women are poorer than men in all racial and ethnic categories. American households still, by GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

and large, follow neotraditional models wherein men earn more money outside the home while women take on disproportionate amounts of household and childcare labor. The Right, of course, has been no friend to women — it has waged a war on reproductive rights, gutted welfare initiatives, and done precious little to address wage gaps. Yet over and over, politicians treated women’s oppression as a uniquely Muslim problem, justifying America’s wars abroad. Of course, American intervention did not improve the lives of Afghani or Iraqi women; instead the wars destroyed economies — rendering all members of society, including women, unable to access food, shelter, and basic healthcare. Rape and sexual assault have often increased with the compounding of violence. And American rhetoric has demonized indigenous feminists who were doing the work of women’s liberation long before Bush’s sudden interest in their lives. Now, homophobia is replacing gender inequality as the moral justification for American foreign and domestic policies, from the hawkish to the xenophobic. After the Orlando massacre, politicians scurried to pledge their protection to LGBT communities. Many of the same figures who — in very recent memory — wanted gays out of their chapels and trans folks out of their bathrooms are suddenly committed to fighting homophobia now that it’s being penned as a Muslim problem. In the wake of

zation. Most of these people were working class, low-income, and scraping by to survive, only to meet homophobia with a gun. I’m part of Make the Road NY, a community organization for Latinxs, people of color, and immigrants. As a community, we refuse to accept the narrative from the media that this person did this because of religion and we refuse to further condemn the Muslim community when they are also facing the backlash from the narrative that the media is controlling. Alexis Pampillon works with Make the Road New York (maketheroad. org), which aims to build the power of Latinx and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services.

Orlando, the criminal’s Muslim identity was emphasized above his love of guns, his obsession with the NYPD, his fragile, toxic masculinity, or his history of violence. Parallel to the Bush administration’s use of gender inequality, the emergent rhetoric helps kill two birds with one proverbial stone. Politicians get to erase the continued oppression of LGBTQ people in this country and escape culpability for that environment while increasing their approval ratings. Even though the killer was American-born while several of his victims were immigrants, Donald Trump emphasized the need for stricter immigration policies, include banning Muslims and building a wall between the United States and Mexico. Where was Trump’s concern for queer lives before this? Hillary Clinton’s speech was scarcely better; her response to homophobia, apparently, is to bomb ISIS. In a vigil in front of Stonewall in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo promised to treat this like September 12, 2001. Unfortunately, the mostly white, upper middle class crowd at Stonewall did not see this for the threat that it is.  In the queer community, we should know better. Like gender inequality, homophobia is not foreign to the United States or primarily perpetuated by Muslims. There are more than 100 antiLGBT bills before legislatures across the nation during this election cycle, yet none has been proposed by Muslims. Police forces like the NYPD — which are posing as our protectors right now — continue to systematically target queer communities, especially trans women. Queers in this country suffer from higher rates of suicide, higher job and housing discrimination, and higher poverty rates — on average — than straight

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WE ARE ORLANDO

HRC’s New Posture On Guns Complicates GOP Alliances With few Republican supporters already, leading LGBT lobby faces tough choices BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

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GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

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hen the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) made what it called a “significant policy announcement” of endorsing some limited gun control measures, the nation’s largest LGBT rights group also opened itself up to possible conflicts with some donors and the politicians it supports. “If what they’re saying is gun control is a gay issue, then the question is where do you draw the line on others?” said Ken Sherrill, a professor emeritus of political science at Hunter College. In a special meeting on June 16, HRC’s board of directors adopted a policy that supported “limiting access to assault-style rifles, expanding background checks, and limiting the ability for suspected terrorists, and those with a history of domestic abuse to access guns.” The new policy was announced the next day. In some respects, HRC’s hand was forced by a gunman murdering 49 people in an LGBT club in Orlando, Florida, on June 12. On June 16, dozens of LGBT, AIDS, progressive, and faith groups issued a statement that called for preventing “known and suspected terrorists and those convicted of violent hate crimes from legally buying guns” and ensuring that “criminal background checks are required on all gun sales, including online and at gun shows.” HRC was not among the signatories when that statement was first released, though it has since been added. HRC resisted taking such a position previously. In 2011, after Jared Loughner killed six people and severely injured Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic member of Congress from Arizona, an HRC spokesperson told Gay City News, “With respect to gun rights, there are many LGBT people that feel strongly about their own personal gun ownership rights… That said, we try and swim in our own lane though and not take positions on issues that could dilute our core message of equality for all Americans.” The positions of all the groups, including HRC, closely mirrored two pieces of legislation proposed by Democrats in the US Senate. That legislation and two alternatives introduced by Republicans were defeated in procedural votes on June 20. Since its founding, HRC has presented itself as a bipartisan political organization. While Democrats are its most frequent allies, a few Republicans have voted for legislation that HRC supports. If HRC, which did not respond to requests for comment, should now decide to score gun control votes in its Congressional Scorecard,

Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, won praise from HRC when he endorsed marriage equality in 2013, but was also the recipient of $88,000 in NRA support this year.

When then-Congressmember Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, was severely injured in a gun attack that killed six people, HRC said it was not “dilute our core message of equality for all Americans’ by taking a position on guns.

which is issued after every Congress, it could have problems with some Republicans it has praised in the past. Republican Rob Portman, the US senator from Ohio, won plaudits from HRC in 2013 when he endorsed same-sex marriage. Portman, who has a gay son, voted with HRC in 2015 on legislation to protect LGBT youth. But Portman, who is running for reelection this year, was endorsed by the NRA in 2010 and again this year. That progun group spent just under $88,000 this year to help his campaign. In May, HRC issued a press release that praised 29 House Republicans for supporting an amendment to a defense appropriations measure that barred federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The amendment, which was offered by Sean Patrick Maloney, an out gay Democrat from New York’s upstate Hudson Valley, first passed, but the House leadership held the vote open beyond its deadline, allowing seven Republicans to switch their votes and defeat the amendment. Some of those 29 supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which barred employment discrimination based sexual orientation and gender identity. That now-defunct legislation has been replaced by the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected classes in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The new legislation has a single Republican sponsor in the House, Robert Dold of Illinois, out of 175 sponsors. In the Senate, Mark Kirk of Illinois, also up for reelection this year, is the only Republican sponsor out of 41 sponsors. But 21 of the 29 Republicans who earlier

supported ENDA have received donations from the NRA since 1998 that range from $1,000 for Justin Amash in Michigan to $28,350 for Charlie Dent in Pennsylvania, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. Some of the 21 are retiring and at least one, Amash, has soured in his relationship with the gun group. If HRC scores gun control votes, it risks losing the support of the few Republicans who have been allies at times. “In that case, you move away from the basic rule, which is reward your friends and punish your enemies,” Sherrill said. If HRC does not score such votes, it risks making its new position look toothless and it could alienate the grassroots LGBT gun control groups that have sprung up after Orlando. But HRC may not be interested in being tough on gun control. “It depends on what HRC’s purpose is in doing this, in taking a position on gun control,” Sherrill said. “At least one read on it is that it’s trying to reposition itself into the constellation of more general progressive organizations out of the single issue constellation.” Part of the reason that HRC has been a single issue group is that this posture avoids arguments over matters that are not seen as central to the LGBT community. Some of HRC’s claimed 1.5 million members could well have positions on guns that are closer to the NRA than the organization’s new position and may object if the groups starts to spend cash on the issue. “Are there going to be new money resources coming into HRC or are we going to divert resources into this?” Sherrill said. “I think it’s likely they are going to have to explain to their donors why they are doing this.”

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WE ARE ORLANDO c

WE SHALL OVEROCME, from p.38

The Stonewall vigil emphasized the ongoing battle against anti-LGBT bigotry.

c

WE SHALL OVERCOME, continued on p.60

CBST’s Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Reverend Fred Davie of the Union Theological Seminary, and Reverend Vanessa Brown of the Rivers of Living Water singing “We Shall Overcome.”

DONNA ACETO

gation to be here to offer my condolences to the families of those people killed.” Blanks, in a mixture of weariness and determination, added, “We’re fighting today. It never ends. We really shouldn’t have to be fighting so hard. But we are.” Several blocks away, on the steps of Judson Memorial Church across the street from Washington Square Park, a group of interfaith leaders led a more somber vigil that emphasized the dangers of Orlando polarizing Americans with a false choice between the LGBT and Muslim communities. “We reject any divisions based on faith,” Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah told a crowd of several hundred. She noted the poignant intersection of Shavuoth, the Jewish festival celebrating God giving the Jewish people the Torah, Ramadan, the Islamic commemoration of the first revelation of the Quran to the prophet Muhammad, and LGBT Pride Month. As Judson’s Reverend Donna Schaper offered a prayer to the “God of many names” and spoke of the incomprehensibility of the violence in

DONNA ACETO

GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

DONNA ACETO

Explaining, “I was just a mess this morning,” Pruslow said of the Stonewall gathering, “We need to be here. People are so quick to chastise each other, even within the gay community… There is a way to fight without violence.” As Pruslow spoke to the newspaper, the crowd replaced its “No hate” chant with “More love, more love.” Despite the conciliatory words emphasized throughout the Stonewall event, which began with the crowd singing “We Shall Over come,” several speakers pointed to persistent lingering homophobia in the US that must be confronted. “This massacre did not happen in a vacuum,” said Ann Northrop, a longtime activist who is co-host with Gay City News contributor Andy Humm of “Gay USA,” television’s weekly LGBT news hour. She noted an early morning tweet from Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, since deleted, that read, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Northrop concluded, “We must triumph over this hate.” Tom Duane, the former state senator and city councilmember, told the crowd, “Now Marco Rubio cares about us. Now Bush cares about us. Where the hell were they during the Republican primaries that were spewing all that hate?” Kevin Graves, a DJ and activist, framed the alternatives the nation faces in responding to Orlando. “Make no mistake,” he said. “This country is at a crossroads with two alternatives. One is the path of hate and fear. The other is one of love and kindness. Choose the path of love. And action.” But for many in the crowd, the immediate need was for solace. Michael Bruno, an Upper West Side resident, explained, “I really didn’t know what to do. This is the only place I knew to come to get away from all the media reports. I heard there was going to be a crowd.” Gemma Blanks, who lives in Forest Hills, Queens, said, “Hearing about it online, I needed to immerse myself with my community, my family. There is an obli-

The Stonewall vigil had heavy NYPD protection.

59


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Orlando, a heckler passing by yelled out, “I’ll tell you what the problem is. It’s radical Islam, and they should all be arrested immediately.” Faisal Alam, the chair of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, told the crowd, “There are no words for me to share my feelings as a queer Muslim.” Then saying, “I can go on and on about how Islam condemns violence,” he noted that a white man heading to the Pride celebration in West Hollywood — identified as James Wesley Howel of Indiana — was arrested in Santa Monica after police found possible explosives, assault rifles, and ammunition in his car. The assault rifle used in the Orlando attack, he said, was the same model used in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut. “The religious right, the political right will use this as a wedge,” Alam warned. “We must stand against Islamophobia.” Sadya Abjani, who is also a member of the Muslim Alliance, said her first “selfish thought” when she heard the news that morning was, “Don’t let the shooter’s name be Muslim.” Reverend Chloe Breyer, executive director of the Interfaith Center of New York, told the crowd, “Islamophobia is not the answer to homophobia.”

Saying she “felt broken” when she heard news of Orlando that m o r n i n g , R e v e r e n d Va n e s s a Brown, senior pastor of the Rivers of Living Water, an LGBT congregation, said, “There is a religious and political agenda that produces a climate of hate. We know that.” Brown ended by saying, “We are crushed down, but this is my word for anyone who can hear me, we are not destroyed.” The Judson vigil ended just like the Stonewall gathering began, with the singing of “We Shall Overcome.” To support the victims and survivors of the Orlando attacks, visit the GoFundMe pages established by Equality Florida, the LGBT rights group in the state (gofundme.com/ PulseVictimsFund),or by Orlando Pride (gofundme.com/29bubytq).

DONNA ACETO

JOSEPH LICHTER, D.D.S.

WE SHALL OVEROCME, from p.59

Sadya Abjani of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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61


WE ARE ORLANDO

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO On June 16, several hundred people gathered at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center for a somber commemoration of the victims of the previous weekend’s mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. There, they gathered around the Survivor Tree — a pear tree saved during the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and replanted where they stood, opposite the memorial’s waterfalls — and hung rainbow-hued ribbons. Representatives were on hand from the city’s first responder units, including FireFLAG, the group representing LGBT firefighters, and Brooke Guinan, the FDNY’s first out transgender female firefighter (at lower l.).

ORLANDO VICTIMS REMEMBERED AT 9/11 MEMORIAL UN AMBASSADORS TRAVEL TO STONEWALL IN ORLANDO’S WAKE

COURTESY: US DEPARTMENT OF STATE

woman — but vigilante violence that is not contested by the state is something that is extremely prevalent. And so we’ve seen in so many parts of the world people being targeted just because of who they love. And this is a group that wants to change that.” Tree, whose role at Stonewall dates back decades and who now lectures on the era before the Rebellion at high schools, noted that prior to his 2010 death, the inspector responsible for the June 1969 raid, Seymour Pine, apologized publicly to the gay community. Nations joining the US, the European Union, and the UN at the Stonewall gathering included Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Israel, Japan, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Officials from OutRight Action International and Human Rights Watch were also on hand.

COURTESY: US DEPARTMENT OF STATE

62

COURTESY: US DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Ambassadors and other representatives from 16 nations, the European Union, and the United Nations joined Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, for a special roundtable at the Stonewall Inn on June 16. The visit’s purpose was to reflect on both the tragic events in Orlando four days before and also the impact of the 1969 Rebellion in the West Village on the US and global LGBT rights movements. In remarks addressed to Tree Sequoia, the Stonewall host who greeted the dignitaries, Power said, “We couldn’t think of a more symbolic place a few days after the monstrous attacks in Orlando to come than this one, because what you described back in 1969 was people who didn’t feel safe, weren’t safe loving who they loved and being who they were, and viewing Stonewall as a refuge. And when you think about what happened at the Pulse in Orlando, these were people who felt completely safe… People were feeling safe; they were feeling secure, and then that sense of security was completely shattered.” Power went on to note that elsewhere in the world, “not only is being LGBT criminalized — in some countries, there’s even the death penalty that can be imposed just if you’re a man loving a man, if you’re a woman loving a

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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CLINTON 63


ADVERTORIAL

BABELAND WORKERS CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR FAIRNESS IN THEIR WORKPLACE

WE ARE ORLANDO PERSPECTIVE: Focusing Our Love and Anger

The Answer to Gun Violence is Feminism BY CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

T By Lena Solow and Phoenix Casiño, Employees at Babeland The tragic mass shooting in Orlando has brought national attention to the issue of violence against the LGBTQ community. This act of extreme violence is in addition to the pervasive atmosphere of violence and harassment that queer people and people of color experience on a daily basis. As workers at Babeland, New York City’s iconic feminist sex toy shop, many of us belong to these communities. We are vulnerable to harassment and abuse from customers and have not been supported by management in ensuring our safety. That’s why we chose to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), and why we need community support to secure a fair contract. Like all workers, we deserve to feel safe in our workplace. As sex educators and sales associates, we deal with the same issues that workers across the country face: part time schedules, limited access to health benefits, no recourse for unfair firing, lack of transparency from management, and disgruntled customers who threaten us with harassment or even violence over the phone and in person. For those of us of with oppressed identities, these workplace issues are compounded by sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, and racism. We were driven to unionize because, among other issues, we have to worry about customers threatening our safety. We need to have a fair process for dealing with people who come into the store and make comments to employees and fellow customers that are tantamount to hate speech. And we need to know that we won’t be fired or disciplined for taking steps to ensure Babeland remains a safe space for the community. As queer and trans people, we are already statistically more susceptible to institutional violence, homelessness, joblessness, and lack of healthcare. When our jobs are more sustainable, our lives become safer. For a long time, we were either ignored or retaliated against when we asked for basic protections on the job. Then we decided it was time to come together and demand – not ask – for what we need to have a safe and equitable workplace. When we ask for things as individual employees we are alone and oftentimes powerless, but when we come together we have the strength to affect real and lasting change. We were thrilled at the positive response from our community to our union victory last month. We voted overwhelmingly to unionize. Now we begin the work of negotiating a union contract with our employer. We are hopeful that the company will sit down with us, in the near future, and bargain a fair contract. For too long we’ve worked without the important workplace protections that can only come from a union contract. Through collective bargaining, we are hoping to win job security, a process to address grievances without fear of retaliation, and clear and reasonable work rules and duties. This is what we as queer and trans people need to feel safe every day, and we hope that our community will stand with us and the RWDSU as we fight to win a fair contract at Babeland. To support our campaign, let the company know that you stand with Babeland workers by using #DildosUnited and #FistsUpforBabeland via social media.

64

o me, being anything doesn’t mean already being it, it means embracing a conscious journey of becoming it. For me, this applies, in the words of the late writer Paul Monette, to “becoming a man,” but certainly in my reckoning also to becoming an ally, and, for my purposes here, becoming a feminist. So, bear with me as I think out loud in writing as a gay man about the connections between preventing gun violence and feminism. My apologies to the trans folk, lesbians, bisexual people, and our straight female allies and friends who already got this down a long time ago. Thanks for your patience. It was heartening last week to hear President Barack Obama become the first sitting president to refer to himself as a feminist, in front of the 5,000 attendees at the inaugural United State of Women Summit in Washington, DC. That, along with Hillary Clinton becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee for president and accepting that mantle at the Brooklyn Navy Yard June 7, seemed to indicate a sea change and welcome the moving forward of this country in its understanding of and embracing of feminism and the complexities of gender issues. But in between those two events was the Orlando shootings. How can we as the queer community best understand and help direct productive energies to the campaign against such devastating and devastatingly common occurrences in our country? Here’s my answer: by under standing that the solution to gun violence in America is feminism. Let me trace this thinking.  First, we as queer people need to clearly realize that homophobia is a form of sexism. Gay men in particular need to engage and affirm this understanding to combat our

own unavoidably internalized sexism that we carry simply by being males in our society. I have come to understand homophobia as a traumatizing, culture-prevalent sanctioning of any violation of gender norms. Setting aside — for a moment — developmental considerations of trans folk, lesbians, and bi people, little boys like I was once are taunted and bullied not because they may eventually grow up to suck dick or form romantic attractions and relationships with other men, but rather they are shamed and humiliated as a form of social control for being sissies. That means acting like or sounding like girls and women. Lisping, dancing, playing with dolls, wearing the wrong colors, harmonizing with the vacuum cleaner, being “too emotional”: these are the ways that boys break our intensely held and enforced rules about gender performance and call down the wrath of our families and communities against us. While girls may enjoy a slightly broader expression of emotion and gender variance, the limits are made crystal clear when one steps across the line. Bisexuals still face enormous anger from others — including from within our own community, disgracefully — for not fitting into some pre-packaged role and lifestyle. And transgender people or those exploring or stretching across the gender spectrum incur perhaps the most intense disapprobation. It’s a great good that trans rights and the right to gender confirmation have now emerged as major social justice priorities of our time. But if homophobia directed toward gay males is society’s way of extending sexism to boys and men who defy gender conformity, what’s the connection to gun violence and its eradication? It’s two things. One: cultural male dominance is enforced by violence, whether that

c

FEMINISM, continued on p.81

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

65


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66

GUN DEBATE, from p.50

ly and filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009. McFarlane reported assets worth $26,000 and owing $241,000 to the IRS, $63,000 to New York tax authorities, and $85,000 in other debts. He could also be erratic and volatile. “He was just a really complicated man,” said Tim Sweeney, who replaced McFarlane at the Gill Foundation, in 2008. “Brilliant and difficult and accomplished… he would suck the air out of the room in a meeting and then he would disappear on his own in the desert for several weeks.” For all of that, he carefully planned his suicide. McFarlane purchased the gun he used to kill himself in Denver roughly a year before his death. In a letter to a friend, he called it “my gun, which I cherish like a Samurai’s blade.” The letter, which he mailed to a friend the day before his death, was among records that Gay City News obtained from the New Mexico State Police a few months after McFarlane’s death. His various reasons for his suicide were contradictory. He feared debilitating disease that would result in his becoming a patient and pointed to his back surgery and recent bouts of angina as threatening that outcome. But he had also recovered from or successfully treated those things. “I’ve always planned to off myself before I became seriously ill,” he wrote. “I always imagined that would come with a sudden diagnosis, a clearly marked crossroads like a stroke or lung cancer. But I’ve re-thought that, especially over the last four years… I was afraid I’d have a heart attack in a public place, be taken unconscious to the ER, and wake up after surgery in permanent patienthood.” McFarlane kept his plan secret, though his letter suggests that he believed the one friend was concerned about his future. “I think you’ve sensed something was up with me for many months, but couldn’t pin it down,” he wrote. “You’ve gently inquired on the phone a couple of times since December and even wondered aloud what I was doing when we were together a couple of weeks ago in New York.”

McFarlane sold or gave away all of his possessions. He paid off his remaining debts and cashed out his 401(k), including paying the taxes. He closed his Denver apartment and moved to Truth or Consequences, where he prepaid his cremation. The police documents suggest that he never used the weapon prior to his suicide. A man who was riding his bike in the park stopped by a public toilet near where McFarlane was sitting on a large blue tarp. The man entered the toilet then came back out after hearing a shot.

McFarlane purchased the gun he used to kill himself in Denver roughly a year before his death. In a letter to a friend, he called it “my gun, which I cherish like a Samurai’s blade.”

The man asked McFarlane if that was “a little dangerous shooting around here,” he wrote in a statement for police. “[H]e replied, yes, just wanted to make sure it worked.” The man reentered the toilet and quickly came out again after hearing a second shot. Seeing McFarlane, he reported the shooting to park staff, who contacted the police. As suicides often do, McFar lane left some of the people who knew him questioning how well they knew him and torn about his actions. “I have no small amount of anger about the tragedy of someone who in his life gave such tender care-taking to those whose bodies were deteriorating not allowing himself that same journey,” Sweeney told Gay City News in 2009. “I am frustrated that he did not want a circle of people to be around him. It makes me feel that in some ways I never really knew this man.” June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

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The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

LGBTQ Network

WE ARE ORLANDO PERSPECTIVE: What Can We Do?

How We Respond — A Call for Reader Comments BY CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

L

Salutes

GAY

PRIDE Find out how the Chamber supports LGBT owned business and professionals through its Business Accelerator Program, professional networking, member benefits, business advocacy, and other programs. For more information, visit us at:

www.manhattancc.org/committee_guide/ join_lgbt_committee.aspx Photo by Michael Luongo

212 473 7875 manhattancc.org/lgbt 68

ike many of you reading this, I awoke Sunday morning, June 12, fired up the computer, and read about a shooting over night at a gay bar called Pulse in Orlando. As I made the coffee and fed the cat, the estimates of the deaths rose from 20 to 49 and details about the shooter begin to dribble out online in the now all-too-familiar rhythm of gun violence tragedies in this country. If you’re anything like me, all these shootings feel like they hit close to home and some completely undo me. This most recent is one of those. So was the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut. One of the young victims was the irrepressibly joyous younger son of my lifelong best friend from high school. As the aftermath of that shooting rolled out, each detail more horrifying than the next — a Shakespearean tragedy of trauma, unaddressed mental health issues, and indefensible political maneuvering — I faced two major hurdles: The first was accepting that it had actually happened. Never before in my life had I experienced such an intense feeling of disassociation — that bizarre unlinking that can occur in our minds and hearts when reality is just too unbearable. Could this really have happened? It took me several weeks to accept that it had, that this wonderful little boy that I had shared chocolate chip pancakes with a few months before was gone, that his brother and parents were starting a nightmare rollercoaster ride that would change their lives forever. The second issue I faced: What should I do? What kind of response can I make that will be meaningful. That I can bear? That might possibly do some good? And now here I am again fac-

ing the inconceivable. Just the previous evening, I was eating nachos and cracking wise at a noisy sports bar on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope with pals from the Lambda Independent Democrats at their annual pre-parade event as part of Brooklyn Pride. And now I was confronting the events of a shooting at a gay club. It pains me to know that today dozens of families are beginning that same awful, awful journey that my high school buddy traveled down. My heart goes out to them. And yet I am still faced with this twin conundrum. How to take care of myself and others in the face of such regular gun violence and the reality of attacks against my own queer community? So, I want to open up this conversation amongst Gay City News’ readership to help us find the most healing and most impactful way to respond to this latest tragedy that hits our community so close to home in this Pride Month. We invite readers to tell us: How do you cope with such events when they occur? What do you think you’ve done that has helped you and others? What do you see yourself struggling with emotionally? Do you shut down and stuff your feelings down? Or are you inconsolable? Do you see others responding emotionally in a way you wish you could? And what do you think are the best ways to respond as an individual and as a community in action? What types of advocacy may be most impactful? Is posting your feelings or calls to action on Facebook or other social media sites useful or just shouting into the wind? At least thr ee vigils — two in the West Village, one in Jackson Heights — took place that

c

RESPONSE, continued on p.69

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


WE ARE ORLANDO c

RESPONSE, from p.68

Christopher Murray, LCSW-R, is a contributing writer to Gay City

c

RAMROD, from p.48

more than 100 people gathered the night of the shooting in uptown Kingston, at the corner of Wall Street and Front Street with flowers and candles for the Orlando victims and survivors. The following day, June 13, the LGBTQ Center in Ulster County opened its doors and windows as more than 250 gathered inside and on the sidewalk to remember those we had never met. Among the tributes was a singalong to a song by Holly Near, one of the first out lesbian performers in the ‘70s. Beginning with one singer, we all joined in with “We are a gentle, angry people, singing, singing for our lives…” My husband Bob protested at the Stonewall the day after the Rebellion there started in June 1969. We were both active in responding to AIDS before it was even named. And though we didn’t know each other yet, we were both among the hundreds of other gay men as well as lesbians at a memoGayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

presents

In the Shadow of a Dream CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

Sunday evening, less than 12 hours after the community began to absorb the tragic news out of Orlando. What type of activism matters? Donations to the Anti-Violence Project? Calling one’s congressperson? What have you done as an activist? What do you wish you had done in previous situations? What most frustrates or frightens you about how “stuck” we seem as a nation in the face of gun violence and homophobic attacks? As we move through the rest of this Pride Month, let’s try to do what we can do to take care of ourselves, each other, and our whole community that is suffering — in Orlando and well beyond. And let’s try as well to under stand the natur e of our own responses and how to match compassion with action to lessen the likelihood of finding ourselves waking up into another nightmare again soon.

The 17th Midtown International Theatre Festival

by John A. Adams Directed by Alexander Harrington

Officers from the NYPD guarding the LGBT Community Center on Sunday, June 12, hours after news broke of the Orlando massacre.

News and a psychotherapist in private practice in Greenwich Village. He can be reached at christophermurray.org. Please respond by sending your thoughts to Editor@gaycitynews.com or responding online in the comments section at gaycitynews.nyc/respond-callreader-comments.

rial at the Ramrod on Thursday, November 20, 1980. Last week, I looked up the names of those who died on November 19, 1980. They were young, just a few years older than the legal drinking age — Vernon Koenig, age 24; Rene Malute, age 23; and Jörg Wenz, age 21. Glen and I knew Jörg. He was a six-foot, six-inch sinewy blond German, with size 13 boots. Jörg worked at the Ramrod as the door guard, admitting men wearing proper leather and jeans gear and keeping watch for the fag bashers. Jörg’s photo was on the boarded-up Ramrod door the night we left the flowers. Thirty-six years later, the roses we left for the Orlando victims and survivors were also placed for Jörg — and Vernon and Rene, too. Tim Gay, who was the Democratic district leader in Chelsea from 1992 to 2005, and his husband, Bob Gibbons, live in the Catskill Forest somewhere west of Woodstock and Mombaccus Mountain.

A violent homophobe meets his match in a dying AIDS patient. July 18-23, 2016 Workshop Theater Main Stage 312 W. 36 St., New York City www.midtownfestival.org 69


JOHN MCCARTEN/ NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL

City Councilmembers Barry Grodenchik, Jimmy Van Bramer, and Daniel Dromm.

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JACKSON HEIGHTS, from p.42

(The picture of the shooter grew considerably more complicated in the days after the Jackson Heights vigil, with news that he may have frequented the bar as a patron and, perhaps alternatively, his wife drove him there several times in a potential scoping of the site.) Letitia James, the city’s public advocate, called for a moment of silence to remember the victims of the shooting. “Fifty lives lost, 50 reason to stand together,” she said. “We will not allow one criminal individual to define who we are.” James called for stricter gun control laws saying, “We must fight back against right-wing” politicians who resist doing more about access to assault-style weapons. James told Gay City News, “I have been there many times when Muslims have been attacked. We are all in this together, and there are more of us united by love than there are haters.” Many speakers remarked that June is both the month of Pride and the month of Ramadan, a sacred Islamic holiday. Melissa Mark-Viverito, the City Council speaker, said, “Our hearts are heavy. It is about extremism, not about religion.” State Senator José Peralta focused his remarks on the need for more gun control measures, saying the Orlando slayings were a reminder of similar incidents in recent years that ripped through a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, the Virginia Tech campus, and a holiday party for county workers in San Bernardino, California.

“Enough is enough,” Peralta said. State Assemblymember Michael G. DenDekker called for courage, saying, “I’m still going to go out. I’m still going to live free.” Out gay City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who was there with his husband, Dan Hendrick, denounced homophobic violence. “They were trying to scare us into not being who we are,” he said, adding that members of the LGBT community must continue to “walk through the streets holding hands, even kiss.”

Many speakers remarked that June is both the month of Pride and the month of Ramadan, a sacred Islamic holiday. Other elected officials voicing their sorrow and echoing the call for unity included State Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and James Sanders and Councilmember Barry Grodenchik . Brendan Fay, the indefatigable fighter for LGBT inclusion in Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, struck an emotional high note, saying, “I know what it’s like to be denounced from the pulpit. I am aware of the grief felt by people who simply wanted to go out and dance. I stand before you with grief and anger. We send from this place our love to those have suffered lost and take a stand against bigotry and hatred.” June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


47 years after the Stonewall riots, New York University joins Greenwich Village in celebrating a turning point in LGBT civil rights.

We salute the leaders, friends, and allies, then and now, whose tireless advocacy continues to further equality, inclusion, and support for individuals from every community —

in New York City and beyond.

GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

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Gay City News, The Newspaper Serving Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender NYC, is published by NYC Community Media, LLC. Send all inquiries to: Gay City News, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Phone: 212.229.1890 Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents © 2016 Gay City News. Gay City News is a registered trademark of NYC Community Media, LLC. Jennifer Goodstein, CEO Fax: 212.229.2790; E-mail: jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

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FOUNDING MEMBER

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FOUNDING MEMBER

LOVE MUST PREVAIL BY PAUL SCHINDLER In December 1950, when William Faulkner accepted the Nobel Prize in Literature in a speech in Stockholm, he confronted the agonizing existential fear that weighed heavily on the minds and spirits of people everywhere. Just five years after Hitler’s terror had been halted, it was impossible to forget that the World War was finally laid to rest only with atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a new war, the Cold War, heated up between the US and the Soviet Union, Faulkner’s analysis of the quandary boiled down to this: “There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up?” Yet, Faulkner did not, in fact, accept those terms of debate. Instead, he said — boldly — “I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail.” As I consider the horror of what took place at the Pulse nightclub in the early morning hours of June 12 as well as the varieties of hatred that contributed to that tragedy and the perilous state of our national conversation about all of this, I would like to believe in Faulkner’s optimism. I would like to believe that not only will love endure, but that it will prevail. But it’s not as simple as all that. There is no inevitability of love prevailing, or for that matter of man prevailing. And a careful reading of Faulkner makes clear that he saw no such inevitability, either. Instead, love is and must be the main project of our lives. Love is a victory — one born equally out of action and out of spiritual centeredness. If love is to prevail, we have to make a decision that it is to be so and we must live our lives, practice our politics, and govern our nation in ways that allow for the necessary moral fitness to make that a reality. Omar Mateen’s life and actions will likely always remain an enigma, even to those privy to the very best intelligence about what led him to his awful crime. It’s undeniable, however, that he was schooled in a climate and culture seeped in both homophobic hatred of the freedoms increasingly enjoyed by the LGBT community and a twisting of Islamist

teachings that demonizes the secular path of Western society. What both factors have in common is the misuse of religious tenets and teachings to dehumanize the “other” — potentially anyone who is different than us in beliefs, race or ethnicity, gender or gender expression, or ways of loving. It is not possible to kill in the way Mateen did unless the victims can be understood as less than human. That dehumanization has been the object of every wartime propaganda campaign in history, and it is the reason why hate crimes are so often marked by levels of violent overkill not often seen even by the most hardened law enforcement personnel.

The LGBT rights movement has seen astonishing success in America, particularly over the past dozen years or so. Still, hatred persists — we see it not only in the persistence of antiLGBT violent crime, particularly targeting transgender women, many of them women of color, but also in the vicious rhetoric used by so-called “respectable” public officials. On the morning news of the Orlando massacre surfaced, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick tweeted, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” This from the man who led the charge last year on repealing Houston’s LGBT human rights ordinance by casting transgender women essentially as sick men whose real motivation was to worm their way into women’s bathrooms and locker rooms. Reaping what you sow, indeed. How to change this state of affairs? Donald Trump would have us believe he is the LGBT community’s best

friend. Stepping up immediately to revive his demand that Muslim entry into the US be halted, he told a crowd in Greensboro, North Carolina, “We want to live in a country where gay and lesbian Americans and all Americans are safe from radical Islam, which, by the way, wants to murder and has murdered gays.” But as Reverend Chloe Breyer, executive director of the Interfaith Center of New York, told a vigil outside Judson Memorial Church on the evening of the killings, “Islamophobia is not the answer to homophobia.” Demonizing Muslims will advance no important goal. Relations between the LGBT community and Islamic Americans will not improve. The lives of LGBT Muslims will be made no easier. And the goal that every sane person has — building understanding and cooperation between Western nations and their domestic Muslim communities and the Islamic world generally — will only be set back. It’s time to build bridges, not walls. And that’s not just a handy political sound bite. It's an urgent moral imperative. On the night Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in April 1968, New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy, speaking to a largely poor, African-American audience in Indianapolis, quoted the ancient Greek tragedian and poet Aeschylus: Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God. Kennedy then said, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black." And, now too, whether they be Latino or Muslim, gay or straight, transgender or cisgender. This is the lesson of this year’s Pride Season. June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad

When Religion Bolsters Violence was eating fennel salad a couple weeks ago in this Italian dyke’s house when she asked if I knew why fags there were called “finocchio,” or fennel. And in between bites she explained that in the old days when the Catholic Church burned inherently heretical fags at the stake, they’d throw fennel on the fire so heterosexual nostrils wouldn’t be offended by the stench. The story made me queasy, but I finished eating anyway, even had a second helping imagining each crunch as a kind of sacrament. Like when I finally went back to the Comptoir Voltaire where a guy blew himself up in November and lifted my glass of pastis to all the Paris dead, men and women killed together for their secular, wine-drinking, music-loving, gender-consorting apostasy. I also thought of the so-called Islamic State that beheads queers, or tosses us out of window, or off balconies, or any other high place they find because there are sacred texts calling for sinners to be cast down from mountains or be stoned. ISIS regularly features our murders in its video feeds and encourages its supporters to kill us, or

maybe some Jews, or school teachers who dare educate the young using nonreligious texts. The list is far longer than that, but you get the idea. It seems to be working. There was that shooting in San Bernardino. Then all those dead Latino queers in Orlando. There have been several “incidents” here in France. The most recent was just the day after Orlando, when Larossi Abballa killed a cop and his wife, stabbing them to death in their own home in response to the latest, pre-Ramadan call by ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani to target civilians in Europe and the US. No need for big, shady networks. It’s the kind of do-it-yourself terrorism we saw at the height of the anti-gay Culture Wars in the US when our murderers were egged on by the Christian Right and queers dropped like flies. Pat Robertson in particular harangued us as sinners, degenerates, and child molesters, even enemies of the nation, and as a result the public at large cheered our deaths from AIDS. Some took more immediate measures. In 1992 alone, a student at Auburn leaned out his dormitory window with a gun and picked off members of the lesbian and gay organization. In Virginia, a gang of children — one

KELLY COGSWELL

I

BY KELLY COGSWELL

The glasses have been refilled at the Comptoir Voltaire in Paris.

was eight years old ! — shot a gay bartender. An off-duty cop and his pal attacked some dykes in Massachusetts. A month later, a lesbian couple was shot by their neighbor. Trans hero Marsha P. Johnson was killed and dumped in the Hudson. Brian Mock and Hattie Mae Cohens, a white queer and a black lesbian, were burned alive when some neo-Nazi wannabes threw a Molotov cocktail through their rooming house window in Oregon. And these were just the attacks that were known. Queers fought back, made progress, but Christians worldwide are still in the queer-hating business, even if plenty of Muslims are chal-

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DYKE ABROAD, continued on p.78

PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

Flash from the Right: Homophobia Can Be Lethal BY ED SIKOV

S

o f a r, t h e O r l a n d o massacre has avoided the fate the detestable “news cycle” — the 24-hour period in which anything of public value is ground up into media sausage that will have spoiled by the next day — might have forced upon it. On the heroic end of the spectrum, Frank Bruni of the New York Times got to the heart of the matter with lightning speed and characteristic intelligence. In an op-ed piece written only hours after news of the slaughter broke, Bruni wrote: “This was no more an attack just on LGBT people than the bloodshed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris was an attack solely on satirists. Both GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

were attacks on freedom itself. Both took aim at societies that, at their best, integrate and celebrate diverse points of view, diverse systems of belief, diverse ways to love. And to speak of either massacre more narrowly than that is to miss the greater message, the more pervasive danger, and the truest stakes.” And: “The Islamic State and its ilk are brutal to gay people, whom they treat in unthinkable ways. They throw gay people from rooftops. The footage is posted online. It’s bloodcurdling, but it’s not unique. In countries throughout the world, to be gay is to be in mortal danger. To embrace love is to court death.” If only all jour nalists were as eloquent. Or as honest. Eric Bradner, writing on CNN.com,

began his piece with an outright lie: “The rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando Sunday drew universal condemnation from both parties but exposed deep divisions over how to respond, with President Barack Obama urging new gun laws and Republicans largely silent on the issue.” No, that isn’t what happened at all. In a widely quoted fart — excuse me, tweet — issued a mere three hours after the unspeakable violence ended, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a Republican, put his Christian compassion front and center by quoting the New Testament: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Patrick just couldn’t wait to smear the victims, insult their

memory, and inflict as much pain as possible on their survivors. That’s scarcely evidence of “universal condemnation.” It’s pure cruelty, heartlessness, and unvarnished idiocy. Of course, everybody knows that the massacre was all the Democrats’ fault. From an unsigned rant in the Australian: “He pledged allegiance to Islamic State, and had a history of association with militant Islamism before slaughtering scores of people at a gay nightclub. Yet American Democrats have refused to acknowledge militant Islamism as the cause of the deadliest jihadist attack on US soil since 9/ 11. Our sympathy is extended to those killed and wounded in the Orlando attack, as well as their families and friends enduring unimaginable grief in the face of unconscionable hatred. To defeat such hatred, however, we must state the plain truth that President Obama would not; the

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PERSPECTIVE: Pride Reflections

Pleasures That Cannot Be Bought BY DONNA MINKOWITZ

O

ne of the main things our movement is about is pleasure. The right to pleasure — the goodness and innocence of all pleasure that hurts no one — is what we, more than anyone else in our time (and perhaps any time), assert and defend. In honor of Pride, this is a column full of pleasures that cannot be bought, as we ourselves cannot be bought and sold. Screw the corporatization of Pride, here is a list of stark raving pleasures you don’t have to go into debt for, not make rent for, or even post about so that some advertiser will reward you. The play of air on your bare legs in shorts. Lips like roses, soft and with that rose-texture and even the smell of roses, overwhelming

you with kisses. An entire mouth, open and trusting, on your nipples, exploring them around and around and through. (You might protest that you could buy this experience, but you cannot buy the specific pleasure of having this done to you by someone who is doing it for free, for no other reason than because they really, really want to.) You, going swimming in the ocean and letting the waves jump you. Someone’s vagina like a volcano in your fingers. Taking over the street for a demonstration with a group like the Dyke March or Black Lives Matter or the Drag March, instead of submitting yourself into the tightly confined police pens of Heritage of Pride. Believe me, if you’ve never taken over the street with a bunch of people, it gives a feeling of exhilaration and camaraderie and sweetness that no one can

ever take away from you. (This only applies if the organizers have taken steps to keep you safe, as all the above groups do.) When I was younger this was one of the few things that ever made me feel like I was part of a “community.” Now, my humanist congregation in Brooklyn does it for me, too, along with many other pockets of liberation and beauty in this city. But you’ll find your own spaces where you will be welcomed as you are, for free. People of color spaces, trans spaces, women’s spaces, radical spaces, libraries. Faerie groves and artists’ spaces and caring circles. Though you’ll like some of the spaces better than others, there will be at least one flowering oasis in the desert waiting for you — a spiritual or political or healing site where people will listen to you and expect you to listen to them, too, even when you disagree. Make an omelette in your own house, with your own toast — not free, but cheap and very easy: Fry some onions and mushrooms. Put scrambled egg mixture in. Invite others over for brunch or eat your

omelette wonderfully alone, naked and relaxing and listening to free old bossa nova music online, while admiring your naked belly in the mirror and discovering how scrambled egg feels on your stomach. Get Nalo Hopkinson’s “Falling in Love with Hominids” out of the library and read her astonishing story-version of “The Tempest,” narrated by the Caribbeans Ariel and Caliban and their mother. Read in bed. Read lying on the couch, if you have one. If you don’t have a bed, read propped against a wall. Read Gerard Manley Hopkins from the library or online, a 19th century Jesuit priest who wasn’t out but wrote the most gorgeous poems I have ever read, about the beautiful bodies of men and the sexiness of God. Find a man somewhere outside with a beautiful naked chest and feast your eyes on him. Read Hopkins’ lovely S/ M love poem to Jesus, “The Windhover: To Christ Our Lord.” (Somewhat surprisingly, Hopkins writes Jesus as a top: “Brute beauty… O my chevalier!”)

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PERSPECTIVE: Snide Lines

Hillary And My Vaginal Vote: Best Identity Politics Ever! BY SUSIE DAY

Dear Hillary Rodham Clinton, I am voting for you to be our first woman president because Sisterhood is Powerful, and who doesn’t love power? For a woman to be accepted as “one of the boys,” she has to be twice as good at the things boys like. War, for instance. That’s you, Sister! As senator, you masterfully voted for the war in Iraq, and have for years expertly supported just about every US military inter vention — without losing an ounce of your femininity. As secretary of state, you deftly orchestrated the bombing of Libya. And when Muammar Gaddafi died, sodomized with a bayonet blade, you wittily quipped on TV news: “We came, we saw, he died.” You even got the State Department to approve $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments gave big bucks to the Clinton Foundation. Take THAT, sexism! So I wrote a little jingle that maybe your campaign can use:

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“VOTE FOR CLINTON, DON’T BE A CHUMP/ SHE’LL STAR T WORLD WAR III BUT SHE’S SANER THAN TRUMP!” — Airtight political logic, Ms. C,

Dear Ms. Rodham Clinton, I forgot to thank you for advocating gun control. And for showing sympathy for those who’ve lost loved ones to mass shootings in US cities. It’s about time Americans realized that guns are BAD, because civilians shot dead on US soil are innocent human beings. Unlike those loser anonymous foreigners shot dead in other places. Looking ahead to Iran: let’s bomb ‘em back to the Matriarchal Age! — Follow your dream,

Dear Hillary Clinton, Everybody’s talking about how Bernie Sanders has “pushed Hillary to the left.” Like, how you were once FOR the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Keystone XL Pipeline, and then Bernie pushed you to turn AGAINST them?

That makes me mad. “Pushing” a woman is never OK. So today, I called Bernie’s campaign headquarters and screamed into the phone: “Bernie! Stop your straight, white, socialist male violence against Hillary Clinton! Get counseling already! And for god’s sake: CONCEDE.” There is so much sexism in the world, Ms. Clinton. That’s why it was good that you staged the 2009 coup in Honduras, ousting that other pushy socialist, Manuel Zelaya. It’s not your fault that Zelaya was democratically elected, or that Honduras was plunged into violence, with at least 174 LGBT people and 100 environmental activists being murdered since 2010. I am sorry, however, that Berta Cáceres, who was the best hope of environmentalists and indigenous rights activists, was assassinated last March. But Berta was probably asking for it. She actually told news reporters that Hillary Clinton legitimized the Honduran coup. Right over the airwaves, Berta said, “The same Hillary Clinton, in her book ‘Hard Choices,’ practically said what was going to happen in Honduras…. We warned this would be very dangerous. The elections took place under intense militarism, and enormous fraud.” That was just catty. Ten to one, Berta was jealous of your book contract.

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SNIDE LINES, continued on p.78

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


ONEDiocese ONEMission

The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island wishes you a

www.etf1928.org

Happy Pride 2015!

Wishing you

Happy Pride 2016

Episcopalians who value diversity and inclusiveness value the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. This liturgy speaks to us all in words that are beautiful, ancient, and true.

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HAPPY PRIDE NEW YORK CITY!

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www.mindny.org GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

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DYKE ABROAD, from p.73

lenging their monopoly. A few hours after we were massacred in Orlando by an Islamist zealot, Catholic leaders in the Dominican Republic joined forces with Evangelicals to participate in a previously scheduled march against the “Gay Agenda.” The Vatican fights tooth and nail against marriage equality, sneers at trans youth, continues to demonize us as sinners and degenerates, hideous to God. Plenty of American preachers and politicians responded to the attack saying that we deserved it. The repulsive Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick tweeted, “A man reaps what he sows.” Unsurprisingly, about 500 LGBTQ people have been killed all over the Americas in 2016 so far according to the website Al Momento. So why consider Omar Mateen crazy when he was just pursing hate and fear to its logical end? If we are abominations to God, why not rid the earth of us? After all, God cleansed the earth with the flood. Destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire because of people just like us, some say

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MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.73

mass murder of homosexuals in Orlando was an act of Islamist terrorism.” Oh, really? In point of fact, the president first labeled the slaughter “an act of terrorism” before calling it “an act of hate.” What he did not do is employ the word Islamist. The president never uses that word because it tar nishes the entire Muslim world when in fact the terrorists are

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restricted to a relatively small number of lunatics. It’s rather like the word Zionists — too loaded to be of much use. Raw Story and other news outlets reflected the shock and disgust Donald T rump provoked with his notorious tweet, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!” In an interview with the presumptuous Republican

SNIDE LINES, from p.74

I know you don’t need me, Ms. Clinton. You already have lots of sexy, brilliant, right-on feminist supporters helping you. But I wonder if Gloria Steinem, Lena Dunham, Oprah, and Eileen Myles know about things like this. — Sisterly group hug, P.S. I’m glad you took out that coup stuff in your book’s paperback edition. Don’t worry about the media linking you to Berta’s assassination. If anybody asks me, I’ll tell them Bernie did it.

Madam Presumptive President, I woke up this morning and thought, “Is Hillary happy today? I wonder who she’s having for breakfast.” I worry about you, Hillary. All alone, you’ve been soldiering on through years of abusive charges that you used your private email server for official, classified communication. It must have been hard to reassure the American people time and again that you complied with all government rules — only to confront vicious

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the Bible tells them. Most of the people screaming outside Planned Parenthoods are perfectly sane, perfectly sure that the care providers are bound for hell and leading others there. That’s the beauty of religion. It can give such certainty and power. We have God on our side after all. We search the sacred texts to uncover our heart’s desire, and if there is love inside of us that’s what we find. If there’s hate and fear and a desire for vengeance, we can find that, too. Even Jesus lost his cool, overturning tables in the temple and chasing out the loan sharks and tchotchke vendors. He himself was crucified, which is an encouragement to sacrifice yourself with as much blood and drama as possible for whatever you believe in. Yes, what would Jesus do? We queers, in this religion-loving America, have to face that religion is intertwined with past violence and will be a part of it in the future, too. It intoxicates, like alcohol. Cynical politicians wrap themselves in its authority, use it to justify their own homophobia and misogyny. It guides the hands that pick up the guns we surely have

to get rid of. But if there’s not a gun, there’s a knife, there’s a cliff. Or a rock or a bomb. And even one death is too much. Equal rights aren’t enough either. We have to go after the root, which is pure hatred and an addiction to violence. That means, in part, supporting queer and progressive Muslims and listening to ex-Muslims, too, as they battle for the soul of Islam. Ditto for progressive Christians and Jews, other religious people, former believers, atheists, and anybody else grappling with hate. But we also have to turn a skeptical eye on the enterprise of religion itself and vigorously defend the separation between the Church (which regularly tries to strip us of our civil rights) and the State (which is supposed to defend them). Because as long as religion exists, we’ll never be safe. Fundamentalists and extremists will always emerge, and the hatred of queers — and of women — is right there in the text. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.

pr esidential nominee, NBC’s Savannah Guthrie had none of it: “To a lot of people, that struck them as unseemly — that at this moment that 49 people lay dead, you were focused on yourself and giving yourself congratulations.” Trump attempted to defend his egomania by saying that Guthrie’s claim (as Raw Story put it) was “‘completely false’ because the tweet went on to say that he would rather have ‘toughness & vigilance’ than ‘congrats.’

‘But you did stop and say, “Oh, I acknowledge and collect your thanks,” Guthrie observed. ‘And then you later say in this statement, “I predicted this.” Literally everyone predicts that there will be another terrorist attack.’” Thank you, Savannah Guthrie. To top it off, it turns out that there were only four congratulatory tweets. Not 4,000. Not 400. Not 40. But four.

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“findings” by the State Department inspector general (a man) that you never asked the government’s permission in the first place. Please send me your pantsuit size. I’d like to make you a stylish ensemble you can wear to your next congressional hearing. — Hillary SHALL be vindicated!

When you think of it, nearly everything has been feminized: zip-up-the-front pants, the U.S. military, prison, poverty… Like, I just read that 3,000,000 kids now live in U.S. households with incomes of less than $2 a day per person. Talk about self-reliance! — Sisters are doin’ it for themselves,

Dearest Hillary,

Darling Bra Burner,

Today, thanks to the magic of the Inter net, I came across a campaign video you made about being a feminist! About how feminism is humanism — sporting an unattributed quotation by Rosa Parks to prove it! Let’s play it now, so we can be equals: youtu.be/b-dwobZGirc. I should have seen how the lot of US women quietly improved, thanks to you and your presidential hubby’s devising the 1994 crime bill that led to the world’s highest incarceration rate. And consider the countless American mothers — in and out of prison — whose children have grown up much more self-reliant, without all those patriarchal education and lunch programs foisted on them by the welfare system you demolished.

Was sort of blue last night, so just to perk up my spirits, I held a little raffle at the local Quaker meetinghouse. I called this raffle, “Win a Night on the Town with Hillary Rodham Clinton”! Guess what, Hillary? I WON! I have never seen such hatred emanating from so-called pacifists. But I don’t care. Have you ever been so happy that you were afraid? Afraid of losing it all? I hope you like Thai food! — Susie Day is the author of “Snidelines: Talking Trash to Power,” published by Abingdon Square Publishing. June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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PLEASURE, from p.74

As though you were in preschool, make art with crayons and cutouts and macaroni and finger paint, even if you don’t think you’re good at all. Make your lover an artwork with finger paint. Make music with children’s instruments. Drums, maracas, tambourine, chimes, bells, plastic recorder! Make a wild rumpus. Dance around. Remember the writer Kurt Vonnegut saying, “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” Invite all your friends over to read aloud to one another work by yourselves and others. Put the flowers right up against your nose and smush them onto your face at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Saturday before noon or all day Tuesday, the free times. Do the same thing at the crazy-good flower garden at Fort Tryon Park, which is right near the entrance and always free. Jump in the surf at Coney Island instead of going to the amusement park. Go to Forest Park in Queens and

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MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.78

The reliably crank WND.com, meanwhile, of fered the failed Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson as an expert commentator. The fact that this particular authority believes that being gay is a choice is an irony entirely lost on WND.com. Here’s Joe Kovacs, the (retching sound) writer of the piece — and I don’t need to spell out what it’s a piece of: “‘This incident took place at a gay bar,’ Carson stressed to Fox News.” Stressed? This word choice is flabbergastingly stupid. Is there a single sentient person who doesn’t know that Pulse is a gay nightclub and that this was an assault on gay people? He continues, quoting Carson: “Many people on the left need to understand… they hate gay people…. These people need to be looking at that for their own survival… to be so ideologically driven that they can’t see that is problematic.” No, you dimwitted jerk. We know how hated we are. Believe me, we know. It scarcely takes a nutty neurosurgeon to inform us, especially since the nutty neurosur geon is himself part of the problem. GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

breathe in the greeny, foresty air. Take a bath with salt in the water while listening to your favorite loud, fast music. Go on the Staten Island Ferry, the best place to bring a date in Gotham. Speak a foreign language to native speakers, even if you’re terrible at it. Take in: the man with the ices cart who smiles at you, the woman who lets you take a seat on the train, the person with the beautiful orange scarf, the calf muscles of the dude in the red shorts, the shoulder muscles of the butch in the navy tank top, the lipstick and the skirt of the glorious woman in the market, the last praise you received, your memory of what your parent cooked for you that you liked, trans woman Roz Kaveney’s “What If What’s Imagined Were All True,” a book of magical poems from A Midsummer Night’s Press, the recognition that you could make something with your own hands that would taste delicious, even if it was only peanut butter and jelly on whatever bread you could find. Happy Pride.

Not knowing when to quit, Kovacs plunges on with another asinine observation: “James Kallstrom, the former FBI assistant director, agreed with Carson on the threat to homosexuals, saying, ‘They ought to be petrified. They’re the first people they want to kill or throw off a roof.’” Where is all this sudden concer n for LGBT people coming from? As Frank Bruni noted in his op-ed piece, we haven’t exactly ignored ISIS’ habit of hurling gay men off rooftops. If there has been any downplaying or outright denying of these murdered gay men by way of total silence, it has come from the people like Car son and Kallstrom, who somehow thinks he needs to inform us of our own persecution because we aren’t able to figure it out without his help. If it’s any consolation to Kallstrom, I am petrified – not only of ISIS but of him as well. The idea that we need to be informed of the degree to which crackpot religious zealots hate us is nauseating beyond all measure. Saying that they should be ashamed of themselves is like saying that the world should be peaceful. A fat lot of good it does.

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PHOTO ESSAY BY MICHAEL SHIREY With the LGBT community increasingly mainstreamed in American life, many remain determined to celebrate what makes queer life so unique. That includes the kinky things some do behind closed bedroom doors — or on the streets of Chelsea, for that matter. The 19th annual Folsom Street East festival, the East Coast’s largest outdoor fetish and kink gathering, was

held Sunday, June 19, where more than 40 vendors lined up on 27th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. The beneficiaries of this year’s festival were the New York City Anti-Violence Project, an organization dedicated to ending violence against the LGBT community, and Visual AIDS, a contemporary arts organizations that works to raise AIDS awareness and promote HIV prevention while preserving the work of artists with HIV.

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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FEMINISM, from p.64

violence is expressed by slurs, subtlety, laws, or the permission granted to enact the gun-related violence of so-called “crazies,” terrorists, or the NRA. How do we know this? Simply by dint of our society’s perpetuation of violence against women and children, minorities, immigrants, the poor, people with disabilities, anyone who isn’t a man who acts like a fucking man. Two: Making feminism our central philosophy against violence generally and, specifically, the unfettered access to guns designed for the most efficient killing of humans possible is the way to win. Why? Because it will create both an ideological and practical center of density and power both to direct and focus our love and our anger. Like Shakespeare’s amazing, but also sexist and war-loving St. Crispin’s Day speech in “Henry V,” the right rhetoric inspires and energizes. So, as a queer community, as we celebrate our Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride this year, let’s join our president and name ourselves as feminists, and declare feminism as the rallying cry against the massacre at the Pulse nightclub, against trans-, bi- and homophobia, and GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

against violence enshrined and perpetuated against women, minorities, and anyone who in fragility, difference, or need has felt the marginalization and wrath of the powerful against them. I’ll gather the nerve now to rewrite Shakespeare and the ending of the St. Crispin’s Day speech — and to heck with the verse and meter: This story shall the good women teach their daughters; And Gay Pride Day shall ne’er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered — We few, we happy few, we band of sisters and allies; For she to-day that protects her and others’ blood with me Shall be my sister; be she ne’er so beautiful, This day shall make even more gentle her condition; And men in American now a-bed Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us women, children, and allies  upon this Gay Pride Day.

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81


FILM

Taking Risks, Following Dreams With his latest experimental video, Todd Verow stays true to his outsider vision

COURTESY: TODD VEROW

Matt Sizemore in Todd Verow’s “Available Light.”

BANGORFILMS.COM

Filmmaker Todd Verow.

BY GARY M. KRAMER

T

odd Verow’s latest erotic, experimental video, “Available Light” is now available on DVD and through Vimeo, along with “Age of Consent,” his affectionate documentary about the London leather club the Hoist. In both films Verow presents a penetrating investigation of sex, fetishism, and gay subcultures. “Available Light” is a non-narrative feature that showcases more than a dozen lonely, often horny guys in Berlin, Paris, and New York. The

82

men are seen showering, fucking, or trying to find a connection in their lives. Verow focuses on his characters’ faces and often-naked bodies to create the film’s emotion. Exploring the quotidian existence of these characters, Verow captures both the peace they have found in their lives and the discomfort each experiences. In contrast, “Age of Consent” is an exuberantly naughty documentary that takes viewers on a virtual tour of a longtime London nightspot — slings and strippers, and all — affording them opportunities for fantasy, voyeurism, and escapism. Verow chatted about his latest films with Gay City News.

TV: I’m interested in behavior and capturing those real moments with people. That’s why when I’m working with actors and non-actors, I wear them out to the point that they stop thinking about what they are doing and just do it. As a filmmaker and viewer, you feel like you almost shouldn’t be watching these scenes, like when Steve (Mike Dreyden) is alone online. I used the moments of him just sitting there, bored and horny — and chatting online because he’s bored. I wore him down. When a person’s guard is down, it exposes something about their character. And it gets you thinking about your own behavior and life.

GARY M. KRAMER: What inspires you to come up with the vignettes in “Available Light”? TODD VEROW: The idea of the film came to me with the title and shooting just with available light. Then I was thinking about light — daytime, nighttime, sunrise — which got me thinking about loneliness and how you are aware of the light. I wanted to create different vignettes — not to be connected, but to let the viewer make connections themselves, based on their own experiences.

GMK: You could almost apply that concept to shooting a doc. TV: A documentary is different because you don’t know what you are going to get. I am a purist, because I don’t like to manipulate things. I like to go with what’s happening and let the person I’m filming take it where they are going. In fiction, I want them to go to a place and get there. My goal is the same, however: to get to a realness that is there. In documentary, it’s to get them comfortable to talk about themselves. In fiction, it’s to get them comfortable where they can be someone else.

GMK: The film is a like a series of short films. How did you create the shorts and connect them together so they have the emotional pull and power? TV: I thought of each vignette as a portrait for a different character. I explained to each actor who the character was and what they were doing. None of it was very scripted — a few lines, really. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. I shot this over a few years. As I traveled to different places and met different people, I worked with actors I knew and new people I met. I shot it as each opportunity presented itself. Then, when I felt I had enough, I had to edit it and figure out how it all fit together. It was more an emotional editing. GMK: The guys in “Available Light” — and to some extent “Age of Consent” — are heavily inked, often pierced, and very sexy. Can you talk about what you looked for in the men you film? TV: I was looking for people that have some experience — not a world-weariness, but who are not naïve; they are not hopeful, but not jaded. They are still searching but have been through a lot, and it’s harder for them to accept things on face value or be optimistic. They are realistic, not idealistic. GMK: You emphasize faces and bodies. In “Available Light” you have guys taking showers, eating ice cream, or masturbating. Can you talk about using the camera as a microscope to record these men alone in private moments?

GMK: Since this is the Pride issue, can you talk about feelings of pride you have in your work? TV: I make my films on my own terms. I use my own money. I shoot and edit them. I distribute them on my own for the most part. Being completely independent is something I’m proud of. I am able to work autonomously without thinking about how it will be distributed or having to make back investors’ money. That LGBT or non-straight people can do what they love without compromise — that’s something to be proud of and what we gay people strive for. GMK: Is that what makes you explore underground queer subcultures? TV: When I was a kid, I felt like an outsider — and that didn’t bother me. I felt special in a way because I was an outsider. The idea that gays need to fit in baffles me. I don’t understand that need to fit in. What interests me are people who create their own world and morality and fetishes and what leads them to want to have those fetishes or pursue those goals, relationships, or ideas. I’m interested in individuals who don’t conform or fit in — the outsiders, the underground people willing to take risks to pursue their dreams and sex and love. Check out bangorfilms.com for access to Todd Verow’s film work. June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERFORMANCE

Making Diversity Happen A generation of hope and change at BAX, the Brooklyn Arts Exchange

JD URBAN

Tanisha Christie’s residency will focus on the development of the “Bathtub” project, a new work featuring intimate audience participation.

JD URBAN

BY BRIAN MCCORMICK

B

rooklyn Arts Exchange, familiarly known as BAX, was started 25 years ago by director Marya Warshaw with a dream that there could be a haven in Brooklyn for all artists at every stage of their development. From its humble beginnings on Douglass Street, BAX has grown into a two-story arts center on Fifth Avenue in Park GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

Slope where students starting at age three can learn from some of the most accomplished working theater and dance artists in New York, while all around them groundbreaking works are under development. BAX may not share in the glory of world premieres, but its diaspora of artists is renowned. It has become a leading incubator for professional dance, theater, and performance artists to develop their work — and was recognized in Febru-

ary with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. That funding will be used to support inclusive programming initiatives like the Submerge series, which celebrates the artistic voices of queer and trans people of color. Diversity doesn’t just happen. “At the forefront of the BAX mission is the discussion about the things that impact the daily lives of people and artists, starting with inclusiveness — whether about gender, race, or age,” Warshaw told Gay City News. This is part of the reason that artists Katy Pyle, director of Ballez, Paloma McGregor, director of Dancing While Black, Dan Fishback, director of the Helix Queer Performance Network, and so many others have found a home and a place to develop their work at BAX. “I don’t think it’s accidental,” said Warshaw. “I’m a lesbian.” In a way, BAX has become a de facto home for LGBTQ artists and artists of color through the Helix performance series, which is specific to queer artists, and the artist-in-residence program. Faye Driscoll developed her award-winning autobiographical piece “837 Venice Boulevard” here. Aurin Squire “discovered” his queer voice developing “The Gospel According to F#ggots” in the last residencey cycle. Dan Fishback started his two-year BAX residency in 2010, and as he told Gay City News, “I basically never left.” He explained, “The work I first made there had to do with the legacy of early AIDS and the generation gap between older and younger queer folks. Marya engaged so rigorously in that work, and when I stayed at BAX after my residency to teach queer performance workshops based on community history, it was all emerging from that dialogue with her. Those conversations eventually developed into the founding of the Helix Queer Performance Network — our collaboration with La MaMa and the Hemispheric Institute.” Fishback added, “In working with Marya, I'm consistently challenged to be authentic, to grapple with reality, to get beyond bullshit, and to honor basic core values of artistic expression, justice, and equity. Through her leadership, BAX is a place where those values come first, even when standard arts administration logic would encourage a less humanistic way of thinking. And this is why people feel so comfortable at BAX, and why the Artist in Residence program has become such a sought-after prize — because BAX has rightfully developed a reputation as a place where artists are treated holistically as full human beings, not just content-generators or walking careers.”

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BAX, continued on p.101

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THEATER

The Big Chill A reunion of misfits gathering for a funeral goes from sad to worse

CAROL ROSEGG

Shannon DeVido, David Harrell, and Jamie Petrone in Samuel D. Hunter’s “The Healing,” at Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row through July 16.

BY DAVID KENNERLEY

N

e w Yo r k ’ s s u m m e r theater scene usually boasts lighter, feel-good fare, especially during Pride Month, when it throws on a rainbow-hued feather boa and kicks up its heels. Out gay playwright Samuel D. Hunter (“The Whale,” “A Bright New Boise”) is oblivious to this tradition. And that’s fine by me. His latest work, “The Healing,” presented by Theater Breaking Through Barriers, is an exquisitely poignant, largely joyless affair.

Under the acutely sensitive direction of Stella Powell-Jones, an air of mordant desperation hangs heavy over a group of friends reuniting to bury one of their own. Their sorrow feels all too real, intensified by protracted, awkward silences. The action is set in the dead of winter at the dour, cramped southeastern Idaho abode of Zoe, who passed away under woeful circumstances that become painfully clear as the play progresses. The living room, designed with obsessive, hoarder -esque detail by Jason Simms, is cluttered with cutesy figurines and gewgaws —

clowns, frogs, Mickey Mouse, and the like — most of them ordered from the Home Shopping Network. “Sometimes I just get lonely, and… I just like knowing that even when I’m gone they’ll still be around,” Zoe says, in one of several flashbacks offering clues to her plight. The friends have traveled from afar to attend the funeral. Since Zoe had no close family, it’s up to them to pack up the house and dispose of its contents. Hardly anyone else came to the funeral. And yet, this is no ordinary social circle. Some 25 years ago, the gang bonded at a nearby Christian sleep-away summer camp geared toward kids with disabilities. Accordingly, several roles are played by actors with disabilities, which adds a fascinating dimension to the work, alternately uneasy and inspiring. Not that the word “disability” is appropriate for this highly

accomplished ensemble. Shannon DeVido is outstanding as Sharon, the whip-smart, successful executive who happens to be wheelchair-bound. Sharon, now an atheist, is livid that poor Zoe, a devout Christian Scientist who relied on prayers instead of pills to cure her frequent bouts of illness, learned her faith from the head counselor at the camp. Sharon bitterly recalls the counselor telling the young campers, “If we prayed har d enough, Jesus would heal our broken little bodies.” Pamela Sabaugh portrays Zoe with a light touch. To be sure, Zoe is despondent and obsessed with earning God’s love, but Sabaugh refuses to play her as a crazed zealot, and when Zoe has a crisis of faith, it feels completely believable. “I’m asking for God and I’m not getting anything,” she says. “I’m

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CHILL, continued on p.85

GALLERY

An Outsider Sees All “Ingo Swann: A Remote View” chronicles prolific visionary’s rich, outrageous output BY SCOTT STIFFLER

A

prolific visionary held in high regard by peers from the realms of art, psychic phenomena, gay erotica, and Cold War counterprogramming, Ingo Swann (1933-2013) blazed a multiplicity of paths remarkable not simply because they are the achievements of a man ahead of his time, but also because he did not regard his abilities as exceptional gifts. We are all capable of tapping the cosmic consciousness, Swann insisted, if properly motivated to learn how. For Swann, that spark of desire was ignited in a Lower East Side apartment, when a recently acquired pet chinchilla became evasive before each night’s return trip to its cage. If this furry little creature could sense the plan well in

84

advance of the action, then why, Swann wondered, did that same ability elude him? By the early 1970s, the self-taught artist had secured his legacy as a founding father of “remote viewing” — a phrase he coined to describe the practice of being given coordinates distant from one’s physical body, then describing the location in seven stages of progressively greater detail. Honed while at the Stanford Research Institute, Swann’s abilities led to his employment at various clandestine agencies, where he became a valued member of the US government’s remote viewing program. Spurred by Soviet efforts to militarize extrasensory perception, the Star Gate project (original name, “Gondola Wish”) ran from 1977 to 1995. In later years, Swann would express regret for his time as a “psychic spy.” But by all

accounts, he never disavowed his firmly held belief that a penis — extracted from the pages of a men’s skin magazine — can never be too big when recruited for use as the focal point of a multi-layered collage. Colorful and compelling and epic as all of this might seem, it merely scratches the surface of tidbits, testimonials, insights, and aesthetic observations shared with a curious and receptive audience at a June 19 panel discussion held in conjunction with the exhibit “Ingo Swann: A Remote View.” The well-informed panelists were every bit as eclectic and probing as the scope of their subject’s output during his 80 years on this particular plane of existence. To panelist Elly Flippen, Swann was a “cigar-chomping enigma.” Despite having lived with her uncle for a number of years over three separate periods, Flippen couldn’t say for sure if Swann had sustained romantic relationships, or explain with certainty why his decades of artistic output stopped a full 13 years before his death — but she did speak of him with great fondness. A glint in her eye recalled the mischievous humor present in Swann’s most sexually charged visual compositions, such as the ’90s-era collage

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SWANN, continued on p.85

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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CHILL, from p.84

worried that God is not in my life anymore.” David Harrell is affecting as Donald, a gay man who could really use a boyfriend. He proves that the absence of a forearm in no way impedes his progress wrapping up figurines in newspaper. The only couple is Bonnie (Jamie Petrone, who uses a wheelchair) and Greg (John McGinty, who is deaf), who did not know Zoe or attend the camp. This is their first trip together and their new relationship is sorely tested. Rounding out the bunch is Laura (Mary Theresa Archbold), a gloomy associate professor of Baltic studies at the University of Montana. This supremely sad visit uncovers wounds that have been festering for years and draws out a number of fraught themes sur rounding loss, mortality, and the power of faith, friendship, and shared memories. Each character is in need of healing in some way. They casually self-medicate using antidepressants, Ativan, Xanax, and, in Zoe’s case, shopping and God (sometimes she has difficulty separating the two).

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SWANN, from p.84

“The Demonstration Showing How It’s Done: Social Comment Series,” in which a bearded leatherman straddles his male partner, while a phalanx of straightlaced ballroom debutantes witness the act of anal penetration from their background vantage point. Asked to what extent Swann lived as an out gay man, Flippen recalled, “Well, he dressed as a nun and went to Studio 54” — a jarring, but not necessarily contradictory, detail, when one brings that knowledge to a viewing of “Madre Doloroso.” Evocative on many levels, the 1986 painting conveys Swann’s adoration of the Virgin Mary (arms folded, she looks downward in a state of compassionate contemplation), his merging of the sacred and the cosmic (a cross-shaped constellation), and his concern for the fate of man (an atomic mushroom cloud, just beneath the Virgin’s torso). GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

THE HEALING Theater Breaking Through Barriers Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row 410 W. 42nd St. Through Jul. 16 Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m. Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 3 p.m. $55; telecharge.com 90 mins., with no intermission

Not surprisingly, the subtext of “The Healing” is that people with disabilities are as capable as anyone — skilled at packing up a house, holding down jobs, and loving relationships. My only quibble is that the climactic scene, where the group comes face-to-face with a longtime nemesis, is not as powerful or satisfying as it could be. Throughout the entire play, a television blares the Home Shopping channel, with a disembodied, otherworldly voice repeatedly offering the promise of a better life in three easy payments of $19.99 plus shipping. Nobody bothers to change the channel, claiming it’s because they can’t find the remote. When it’s finally found, they leave the strangely comforting channel on anyway.

INGO SWANN: A REMOTE VIEW La MaMa La Galleria 47 Great Jones St. Btwn. Bowery & Lafayette St. Through Jul. 3 Wed.-Sun., 1-7 p.m. Free admission Information at lamama.org/lagalleria

That painting, which graces the cover of Swann’s 1996 book, “Great Apparitions of Mary: An Examination of Twenty-Two Supranormal Appearances,” almost didn’t make it into the current exhibit. Panelist Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, founder and director of Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), told the story of attempting to secure the painting. “Swann was particularly fond of the work, which he reluctantly sold,” Hoffberger noted. When the

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SWANN, continued on p.102

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www.cityandcountry.org GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

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THEATER

Your Pride Shows If you want to see live theater and you haven’t planned ahead, here’s what you need to know BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE

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MATTHEW MURPHY

elcome to Gay City News’ sixth annual round-up of what’s on, what you should see, and how you can get in if you hope to make a trip to the theater part of your Pride celebration — but you haven’t planned ahead. The good news is that for last-minute theatergoers, there are more ways than ever to find discounts, order from your phone, or take your chances without taking take time away from your other celebrations. Of course, the question I’m asked most often is whether or not I can help you get tickets to “Hamilton?” I can’t. But if you have $1,800 for the last row of the balcony or slightly over $6,100 for the third row of the orchestra, you can get tickets during Pride. The show is genius and it more than deserves all the awards it’s received, but only you can decide if tickets on the secondary market are worth it. However, remember: “Hamilton” does have a lottery. Enter every day at lottery.broadwaydirect. com/show/hamilton/. You’ve got about a 1 in 10,000 chance to be able to purchase seats in the front row for $10, but it takes just a moment to enter and you could win. I personally know two people who’ve hit it. For shows besides “Hamilton,” if you really just want to wing it, lotteries are definitely the way to go. The Today Tix app lists most of them, and they let you know by email if you win. You’ll have an hour to claim your seats. You don’t know where the seats will be, but if you win you’ll save a lot of money. Today Tix also sells discounted seats. Buy on the app and you’re generally directed to meet the concierge out front for your tickets.

Danielle Brooks and Kyle Scatliffe in “The Color Purple.”

Many shows also offer rush tickets. You’ll usually have to be on line when the box office opens, and not all performances offer these seats. They vary in price, so before you head out check individual show’s websites for specific information. For individual theater policies, see broadwayforbrokepeople.com The TKTS booth at 47th and Broadway seems almost quaint these days, but it generally has higher discounts (up to 50 per cent), and the helpful staff will give you recommendations on seats. It opens at 10 a.m. for matinees (11 on Sundays) and 3 p.m. for evening shows (2 on Tuesdays). There’s a separate line exclusively for plays, which is usually a lot shorter. It’s worth it to download the TKTS app, which will let you see what’s up when the booth is open and what’s been up in the past week to give you a sense of what may be available in the days ahead. There are also TKTS booths at the South Street Seaport and at

MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn, and shows and discounts can vary by location and day. Signing up for TheaterMania also gives you access to offers that you purchase with codes through Telecharge or Ticketmaster. Two orchestra seats for “The Color Purple” at $89 each were directly adjacent to two regularly priced seats at $140 each. You can also use the TheaterMania app to get discounts at the box office. We also found that TheaterMania consistently had the better discounts and gave you the ability to pick an exact seat. Additional fees vary depending on where you buy, and they can add as much as $25 per ticket. Broadway.com had the highest fees we found, so if you have time, shop around. Speaking of paying full price or more, most shows now offer premium seating. This varies by show and can range from an incremental $20-$30 over the cost of a standard orchestra seat to multiples of

two to three times. The nice thing about buying tickets online is that most of the sites show discounted, full price, and resale tickets on one screen so you can make a choice based on your budget. If you really want to go old school, try walking up to the box office. I’ve often had good luck on the day of a show. If you’re willing to take singles and pay full price, you may get great seats — even house seats not used at the last minute. The advantage of going to the box office, even if you aren’t trying for last minute tickets, is that you do save a lot on additional fees. (Incidentally, in the six years we’ve been doing this round up, this is the first time we’ve found tickets to “Wicked” at all prices at such short notice. And, the current cast features the wonderful Michelle Lee. So, if you haven’t seen it...) The foregoing is really about Broadway shows, and there’s plen-

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June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


JOAN MARCUS

Pride

has a whole new meaning

Jessie Mueller in “Waitress.”

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PRIDE PLAYS, from p.88

ty of great stuff happening Off Broadway as well. If you have never had the experience of Shakespeare in the Park, that’s worth a day of lounging in Central Park to get free tickets and my favorite New York summer activity. Currently on is the all-female “The Taming of the Shrew” (through June 26) with Janet McTeer as Petruchio and Cush Jumbo as Kate. Go to PublicTheater.org for full information on getting the free seats or sign up for the lottery on the Today Tix app. Here are some of my personal recommendations, and we looked at shows that opened in the season that just ended and performances from June 22 through June 30, but bear in mind that availability can change daily. For shows open a year or more, availability was generally very good at all price levels and discounts.

THE COLOR PURPLE Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre 242 W. 45th St. Cynthia Erivo walked away with the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical as Miss Celie. It’s a breathtaking, historic, and unforgettable performance. She’s in great company, though. Danielle Brooks is magnificent as Sofia, and Heather Headley makes a triumphant return to Broadway as Shug Avery in a powerhouse performance. Director John Doyle’s Tony-winning, pared down revival focuses on the characters and features one of the best ensembles going. Not to be missed. Availability: Good. Tickets are available at all price points, from $59 in the rear mezzanine to $195 for premium orchestra. GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

♥ Feel the love at ♥ THE HUMANS Helen Hayes Theatre 240 W. 44th St. The Tony and Drama Desk-winner for Best Play is a masterpiece. The acting won an ensemble award from the Drama Desk and Tonys for Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell. Playwright Stephen Karam’s story of a family in crisis on Thanksgiving is both timeless in its themes and very contemporary. Availability: Decent. Good availability for premium seats at all performances for $250. Some side orchestra at $50, others at $145, sometimes right next to each other, and some in the mezzanine for $145.

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WAITRESS Brooks Atkinson Theatre 256 W. 47th St. The amazing Jessie Mueller brings her big heart and bigger voice to the role of Jenna as she tries to find herself in love — and lose herself in her pie-making. The country-infused score by Sara Bareilles is infectious and supporting performances by Keala Settle, Kimiko Glenn, and Drew Gehling are outstanding. Availability: Currently one of the best-selling shows on Broadway, there are premium and resale seats available. Full-price tickets are mostly side mezzanine, and the best deals are on partial-view tickets at $109.

SHE LOVES ME Roundabout at Studio 54 254 W. 54th St. This charming, intimate musical from 1963 has been given a jewel

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PRIDE PLAYS, continued on p.96

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FILM

Gay Iraqi Couple’s Struggle Highlighted at UN US ambassador keynotes premiere of documentary chronicling love torn asunder BY MICHAEL LUONGO

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MICHAEL LUONGO MICHAEL LUONGO

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Nayyef Hrebid and Btoo Allami, the subjects of “Out of Iraq.”

MICHAEL LUONGO

t was an event mixing glamo u r, trag ed y , a n d p o we r — that last word literally. Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, was keynote speaker at a UN event focused on Iraqi LGBT issues, held amidst the ongoing refugee crisis caused by ISIS terror. Glamour came in the person of moderator Omar Sharif, Jr., grandson of the famous Egyptian actor, who introduced a panel of experts on LGBT refugee issues along with the producers and stars of the documentary “Out of Iraq,” which had its New York premiere that evening. The film, produced by World of Wonder and airing on Logo, the LGBT cable channel, tells the story of a gay Iraqi couple whose love for each other spanned 13 years and three continents before they were safely reunited in Seattle. Btoo Allami was an Iraqi soldier who met Nayyef Hrebid, a translator for Americans working with the Iraqi Army, in 2003, soon after the American invasion of the country. The two Iraqis were on the panel, along with Chris McKim who co-directed the film with Oscar-winner Eva Orner. Other panelists included Michael Failla, a Seattle entrepreneur who helped unite the Iraqi couple, Christine Matthews, deputy director of the UNHCR, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Sean Eldridge, a 2014 upstate Democratic congressional candidate who is a board member at OutRight International, which has aided LGBT Iraqi refugees. The documentary follows the couple from the beginning of their relationship in Ramadi, Iraq, which Nayyef describes in the film as “the most dangerous area in the world.” Despite the perils around them, from war and from the risk they would be found out by others in both the Iraqi and US armies, the two fell in love and now describe romantic nights within military encampments when they managed to steal away from others. In her introduction to the film and panel, Ambassador Power said,

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nation, keynoting the New York premiere of “Out of Iraq.”

Omar Sharif, Jr., and Michael Failla, a Seattle entrepreneur who helped Btoo Allami finally be reunited with lover Nayyef Hrebid.

“Nayyef and Btoo’s story is as important and illustrative as it is inspiring. It captures in the most human terms the existential threat that LGBTI persons face in many, many countries around the world. And it demonstrates why LGBTI rights and the plight of refugees are among the most pressing human rights issues of our time. In the process, this film and these individuals demand us to act to find some way, something in our own power to help.” Sharif, who has spoken out on LGBT issues in the Middle East, including on Egypt, told Gay City News he became more aware of the plight of Iraqi gays through the film, calling it “moving and at once terrifying at the same time.”

In 2009, Nayyef was able to escape Iraq on a SIV, or Special Immigrant Visa — available to those who worked for or on behalf of the US government in Iraq — having to leave Btoo and his biological family behind. He settled in Seattle. What they hoped would be a short separation stretches into years. It is here that the movie intensifies, showing the Skype videos and other ways in which the two continued their relationship over the Internet and through phone calls. Btoo eventually escapes to Lebanon, a relatively safe haven for persecuted LGBT Middle Easterners and a way station to refuge in the West. As

Nayyef flourishes in his new home, Btoo begins to break down, his calls to Nayyef often fueled by alcoholic despair. In the selfie-driven age of love among millennials, the film relies on an extraor dinary amount of material provided by Btoo and Nayyef chronicling their relationship. One of the film’s shortcomings is that it does not provide context on the American role in unleashing terror for LGBT Iraqis by invading and destabilizing the country. In fact, the film opens with images of Saddam Hussein and a discussion of laws under his rule against LGBT Iraqis. However, most LGBT Iraqis I interviewed for Gay City News during two visits to the country, in 2007 and 2009, said that gays were significantly safer under Saddam than under the American occupation. Still, despite sidestepping the US role in giving space to the Iraqi and ISIS militias that persecute LGBTs and millions of others, “Out of Iraq” will help Americans understand what LGBT Iraqis must endure at home and what they encounter as refugees seeking safety under precarious conditions in other Middle Eastern countries. The costs and difficulties of being a refugee are underscored by the nearly three years Btoo had to live in Beirut, illegally working to support himself and always under fear of deportation back to Iraq. Btoo’s situation became particularly critical when a UNHCR worker botched an interview with him, accusing him of being a witness to torture at Abu Ghraib prison and therefore a war criminal after misinterpreting his explanation that he learned of the sadistic sexual torture there on TV news. There was no recording of the interview to go back to in order to correct the UNHCR error. After ISIS and the Mahdi Army — the militia run by Muqtada al-Sadr behind many of the killings of gay Iraqis — only the UNHCR comes out as badly in the film. Failla, the

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June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


IN THE

That Voice NOH

Kathleen Turner brings her unforgettable delivery to the dance world

BY DAVID NOH

S

tretching the boundaries of her already full and rich career, Kathleen Turner will enter the world of Terpsichore with her participation in a program from Rioult Dance NY. I caught this exciting company’s Edith Piaf homage last spring and was dazzled by its vibrant mélange of choreographic styles, storytelling, and sound, and snatched the chance to speak with artistic director Pascal Rioult, and his very special guest star, a broad in the best sense of the word — down to earth, fun, and possessed of the most merrily twinkling blue eyes I have ever seen. Turner explained, “Years ago, a very dear friend, Terry Rieser, who’s on the board of the Rioult company, took me to see them and I was very, very impressed by them. So I’ve come back on my own and with Terry. And this one, Pascal, writes me in early spring that he’s doing a piece about women in war, which is very, very attractive to me to begin with, and he wants a narrator. And I said, as I always do, ‘I need to read it, because I don’t do anything blind.’ So he sent me the script and it was good, and then I came to see the dances. Perhaps I’m prejudiced but the ones playing Helen and Cassandra are just amazing. I’m knocked out by them. I was an athlete, but never a dancer. So then I was sunk.” Rioult added, “It’s a triptych. Three pieces in one evening called ‘Women on the Edge: the Unsung Heroines of the Trojan War.’ It’s based on Euripides, who always made sure that women had a central, important role, which was not common back in his day. But he obviously had a sense that women were more important than men and gave them always a role behind the scenes, at the edge of the action, which always fascinated me. “The first piece is about Helen of Troy — ‘On Distant Shores’ — which is more a fantasy than really a tragedy. And then I did Iphigenia, the daughter who was sacrificed, another woman being used, and Helen was the pretext to this terrible war and men pillaging, which by the way, is the first war of the East against the West. It’s very current in a sense. “And Cassandra is the third one, the one who knows what is going to happen and tries to tell the Trojans not to bring the horse into the city because this is the end of everything. But they don’t believe her because she’s cursed, with no one ever believing what she prophesizes. To me, she represents the voice of reason, so it was fascinating to me, as it became — For God’s sake, can’t we learn from the past?” Rioult then talked about his delight in workGayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

ing with Turner, saying, “I have to say how much of an honor it is for me to work with Kathleen. I didn’t think she would say yes.” “You knew I was a softie,” she interjected. “Terry told you I’d do it.” Rioult continued, “It’s such a privilege to have her, the professionalism, which we also have as dancers. Her dramatic timing is wonderful, and on top of that she’s dedicating this to powerful women and women who’ve suffered. I think it’s just perfect.”

Kathleen Turner will narrate a program about unsung heroines of the Trojan War with Rioult Dance NY.

Turner observed, “There was an article today about how Orlando won’t generate any new protections or laws because of the political power of the NRA and the Republican Party’s fear of offending them. And, sad to say, I imagine it’s true. Women really do need to run this country.” When I mentioned that Turner has always been something of a political activist, she responded, “I have, indeed. It is now 27 or 28 years that I’ve been chairman of the board of advocates for Planned Parenthood. And for 31 years, I have been on the board of People for the American Way and our mission is the protection of the First Amendment and watchdog on the religious right, so you can imagine how busy we are now. Extraordinary. “The other group I do the most work with is City Meals on Wheels. I’m on the board and all of this takes up most of my time. I cannot take on

another cause, because I believe that you cannot use my name unless I’m there. I will not just be a figurehead, and as the years go by that takes on a great deal of value because people know if thy see my name, they know I will be there.” I thanked Turner for her searing, funny, and perceptive performance of Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” saying that after the Mike Nichols film of it, in which Elizabeth Taylor was out of her depth, and even a one-night live performance by its original star, Uta Hagen (who played her like a truck driver), the play finally made sense to me. Of Taylor, Turner said, “Sometimes, I think I’ve spent half of my career fixing her performances. You know, with “Cat [on a Hot Tin Roof]” and ‘Virginia Woolf,’ for heaven’s sake, not to mention how awful her voice was. [Laughs.] “To get that part, I went to Edward Albee and said quite bluntly that I didn’t think the comedy had ever been realized, and I still think that. I mean, Albee hated the film altogether, but he didn’t have the power to control it then. He said, ‘Really?’ and he let me do a reading for him. I asked Bill Irwin and David Harbour to do it with me. And at the end of the first act, he came over and said, ‘I’ve never heard anything like this since Uta Hagen.’ I get very cocky when I’m nervous, and I said, ‘Yes, and you’ve only heard one act!’ Idiot that I am, but, never mind.” I asked her if she’d ever met Tennessee Williams, who wrote “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” “Years ago, when I moved to New York, I was interning at some event at which he was appearing,” Turner recalled. “They said, ‘You have to assist him and keep him sober.’ Yeah, right. What he decided he wanted to do was not enter the stage from the wings, but to come up from the orchestra. I said, ‘I don’t think they’ll let us do that,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ Right, so we’re coming up from the orchestra and he bumps his head badly, and he’s reeling around. And I couldn’t possibly handle this guy — I’m a little thing. Well, I was never little, but, anyway, I certainly couldn’t handle his weight. We finally got him offstage and I thought, ‘Well, that’s it, never again.’ So I cannot say I knew him. I just had to try and handle him one night.” Turner’s mention of Taylor’s voice reminded me of an early interview in which she, with her trademark sexy-husky trademark tones, railed against American women’s voices — shrill and Valley girl-ish. “Oh, yeah. One of the things I do with People for the American Way is our young elected officials program. We have training seminars in

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IN THE NOH, from p.91

which we teach them how to network, fund raise, and maintain, this kind of practical stuff, which I relate to most. I go and spend a few hours with young women, talking about their voices, their body posture, all that sort of thing. I met with some 30 women a couple weeks ago in Chicago, and I said, ‘First off, anyone who says “like” more than once is in deep shit. And if you say, “Um,” I will kick you.’ So there was all this, and I said, ‘Oh, yes, inflection.’ “But we had a great time and I’ve gotten so much feedback that it was practical advice that was really usable to them, so now they can review their speeches and presentations again, with those things in mind. I had a ball doing it.” “You’re changing the sound of the world, one woman at a time,” I said, and Turner replied, “Damn right. I used to have a game with Lauren Bacall. When we first met, God knows how many years ago, we were at a restaurant. I went up to her and said, ‘Good evening, Miss Bacall, I’m Kathleen Turner.’ She said, ‘Oh, yes. You’re the new me.’ And I said, ‘Oh no, no. I would never say that. No one can be you.’ “So thereafter, every time we met, we had this little game where I said, ‘Good evening, Miss Bacall.’ ‘Good evening, Miss Turner.’ And I’d say [going lower], ‘How are you this evening?’ ‘Very well, thank you. And how are you?’ How low can you go — that was great fun. I liked her a lot. “I’m turning 62 this weekend. Well, we’re still here and working. My rheumatoid arthritis is always there, but it’s under control. There’s no cure, but I have remission and I work out at least four times a week to try and keep mobile. Unfortunately, this spring I got a herniated disc. I already have arthritis of the spine and that really knocked me out for a while. I was like, ‘Really? I have to go through this now? But I am doing extremely well: I do two days a week of pilates with these amazing trainers. I think pilates

RIOULT DANCE NY Joyce Theater 175 Eighth Ave. at 19th St. “Women on the Edge… Unsung Heroines of the Trojan War” Jun. 23 & 25, at 8 p.m. Jun. 26, at 7:30 p.m. (Kathleen Turner narrates Jun. 23 & 25) “Dream Suite, Polymorphous,” “Duets,” “Bolero” Jun. 24 at 8 p.m.; Jun. 25-26 at 2 p.m. $41-$56; joyce.org 212-212-0800

gave me back my movement. They told me 20 years ago I’d be in a wheelchair and I said, ‘You’re fired.’ “Two days a week, I also work on crossfit training, very mildly. I need weights — and cardio, which I do on my own. If I don’t keep the muscles very strong, then the joints are threatened again. These are the facts of life for me.” Coming up for Turner: “I’m going down to do ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ in Washington, DC, at Arena Stages, which is a brilliant space. I love it and did two productions there, one of which was ‘Mother Courage,’ which is ‘Lear’ squared, which tells me I can do ‘King Lear’ next.” All of those plays have a whole lot of lines in them, and I wonder ed if r emembering them is ever a problem, having known Patricia Neal who, after a certain age, refused to do anything unless a script was in front of her. “Fuss and bother! You get better. You’re more trained. The brain doesn’t break down, like the body does, at least not yet.”

Wishing every single person in our magnificently varied tribe a memorable, joyous, and safe Pride. They may bully and attack, even kill us, but we are not going any-fuckingwhere. We are a simple fact of life. Accept it, haters. Contact David Noh at Inthenoh@aol.com, follow him on Twitter @in_the_noh, and check out his blog at nohway.wordpress.com.

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OPERA

Puccini on the L Train Freed from the opera house, Italian composer is all over the city BY ELI JACOBSON

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JANETTE PELLEGRINO

he New York Opera Fest (nyoperafest.com) has been sponsoring opera presentations all over the city in May and June made possible, in part, by public funds from the city Department of Cultural Affairs, the City Council, and state Council on the Arts. Chelsea Opera is one of the members of the New York Opera Alliance that were invited to present special performances. The company’s double bill of “Suor Angelica” and “Puccini — the Man and his Music” (a concert of his chamber works) was presented at Christ & St. Stephen’s Church, a few blocks north of the Metropolitan Opera, on June 16 and 17. Critics who favor the intellect over raw emotion have been hating on Puccini for more than 100 years now. In particular, “Suor Angelica” has been accused of melodramatic bathos, manipulative sentimentality, and phony religiosity. At the 1918 world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera, “Angelica” was considered the least successful section of Puccini’s “Trittico” (“Triptych”) and was quickly dropped from the repertoire. The strength of Chelsea Opera’s “Suor Angelica” is its intimacy — this is at heart a small personal story and the crucial scenes involve either Sister Angelica alone or in confrontation with her unforgiving aunt, La Zia Principessa. The production was presented tastefully and simply in the altar and nave of the small church with almost no set except for a few trellises and flowers to suggest the garden of the convent. Megan Nelson’s Suor Angelica was an emotionally reserved and dignified young nun, not a hysterical verismo drama queen. This self-possession undercut the suppressed anxiety and desperation the character feels when told she has a visitor after seven years of being deprived of any news of her family and illegitimate child. But the desolation Angelica experiences when told the child had died years before of a fever played as quiet truth rather than melodrama projected to the back row of a huge auditorium. Nelson’s rangy soprano handled the high and low passages with authority, and when she had to let her voice out the tonal quality improved without a trace of harshness. Softer dynamics showed less finely tuned control. Leonarda Priore as La Zia Principessa was terrifying in her cold anger, abetted by a dark mezzo exuding innate authority. Little dramatic touches like casually removing her gloves while delivering the news that Angelica’s son had died created a chilling portrait despite a lack of old

Leonarda Priore and Megan Nelson in the Chelsea Opera production of Puccini’s “Suor Angelica.”

age makeup; some gray hair and a hat or veil would have completed Priore’s look. The supporting ensemble nuns had mostly attractive voices (though dicey Italian diction afflicted the younger ones). Standouts included Juli Borst as the Mistress of Novices and Joanie Brittingham as a bright-voiced, unaffected Suor Genovieffa. Carol Wilson’s production made good use of the space and showed intelligence when it kept things simple. In the final death scene, Wilson had all the nuns onstage veiled as fantasy witnesses to Angelica’s suicide rather than singing offstage. Sister Genovieffa enacted the vision of the Virgin Mary cradling the dying Angelica. A young boy entered down the front aisle when Angelica, in her final throes, is reunited with her son’s spirit. Most current productions have Angelica mime these visions with a change of lighting (Renata Scotto performed this business superbly). Less would have been more and it didn’t fit in with the spare simplicity of the earlier scenes. Benjamin Grow led a well-integrated ensemble of about 15 players in a chamber reduction that improved clarity with no loss of harmonic detail. A quartet of these musicians was expressive in two Puccini chamber works — the first movement of the “String Quartet in D Major” and “Cristantemi” (which was later recycled in Act III of “Manon Lescaut”). The “Salve Regina” for soprano (a cool voiced Samantha Kantak)

and organ (played by the skilled Daniel Ficarri) evoked the “Intermezzo” and “Easter Hymn” in Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana.”

LoftOpera is the trendiest thing to hit the New York opera scene in decades. The company performs in event spaces ranging from glass factories to circus aerialist schools in the East Williamsburg/ Bushwick areas of Brooklyn. The singers are young, the audience is young, the tickets are cheap, and you can buy handcrafted local beer and wine on the premises. It is a like a hip loft party with an opera as the center stage musical entertainment. Earlier this spring, LoftOpera presented Puccini’s “Tosca” in what was formerly Li’s Bus Repair Corp. on Randolph Street. Staged in a walled-in area of the cavernous industrial space, Raymond Zilberberg’s updated production was modern, spare, and edgy, making a virtue of necessity. The modern hip clothing by Sean Kelly, the graphic violence, and the off-kilter feeling of menace suggested the influence of Quentin Tarantino. Puccini’s librettists Giacosa and Illica improved on the source play by Sardou, a grandiose historical melodrama, by focusing the action on the three protagonists. The drama becomes an agon between the forces of good and evil in a series of one-on-one encounters.

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June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


The untold true story of the Witches of Oz

GERSHWIN THEATRE ♦ WickedtheMusical.com

GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

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JOAN MARCUS

Gavin Creel and Jane Krakowski in “She Loves Me.”

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SCHOOL OF ROCK Winter Garden Theatre 1634 Broadway at W. 51 St. This show is so much fun. In a different year, Alex Brightman might have walked off with the Tony for his megawatt performance as Dewey Finn. Surrounded by a gang of talented kids and with an infectious score by no less than Andrew Lloyd Webber, this show is pure fun. Availability: Good. Lots of side orchestra ranging from $109-$150 and some front and side mezzanine at a $150, only a few rear mezzanine at $99. No discounts are available during this period.

THE CRUCIBLE

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box-like revival with splendid performances by Laura Benanti, Jane Krakowski, and Zachary Levi. If you’re feeling a bit of old-fashioned romance, this is the perfect date musical. Availability: Decent. Lots of rear mezzanine at $52 and rear orchestra at $157. Today Tix runs a lottery, and this has been up regularly at the TKTS booth.

Walter Kerr Theatre 219 W. 48th St. This one is controversial. I adored Ivo van Hove’s contemporary setting and the performances of Ben Whishaw, Sophie Okonedo, and Saoirse Ronan. It’s a chilling interpretation that clearly indicts the witch-hunt mentality of many in today’s political world. Poetic and heartfelt, it gave new poignancy to this play. Some Miller purists were not so impressed. Availability: Good. Lots of side

JAN VERSWEYVELD

I Get It At Home... Do You?

PRIDE PLAYS, from p.89

Ben Whishaw in “The Crucible.’

orchestra and mezzanine at $149. The balcony has seats at $42, but you’ll be very high up, and the lack of legroom can be demanding with the nearly three-hour running time.

ON YOUR FEET Marquis Theatre 1535 Broadway at W. 45th St. Yes, it’s a jukebox musical about Gloria and Emilio Estefan. It’s also high-energy, filled with wonderful singing and dancing that will leave you smiling. It’s surprisingly heartfelt, completely entertaining, and great for a festive night out. Plus, performances by Ana Villafañe as Gloria and Josh Segarra as Emilio are terrific. Choreographer Sergio Trujillo gets the show on its feet with Latin-inspired dance that’s spectacular. Availability: Good. Many seats in all price ranges from $55 for the rear mezzanine to $159 for center orchestra and $199 for premium seats. If you’re on an aisle in the orchestra, you may literally be on your feet as the cast dances by.

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PRIDE PLAYS, continued on p.97

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


FREE INSTANT ACCESS TO NEW YORK AND THE NATION'S TOP GAY & LESBIAN REALTORS

JIM COX

Sean Hayes in “Act of God.”

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PRIDE PLAYS, from p.96

AN ACT OF GOD

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Broadway Theatre 1681 Broadway at W. 53rd St. I’m somewhat in the minority on this one, perhaps because I’ve seen so many productions over the years. Danny Burstein as Tevye was too small and naturalistic for my taste, but many of my colleagues and friends have adored this production. And Burstein did take the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical. I’m always happy to see Jessica Hecht, here as Golde, in anything. Bartlett Sher’s production looks and sounds very good. If you’ve never seen “Fiddler,” you might enjoy this one. Availability: Good. Lots of seats in all sections at all performances, though orchestra is mostly on the sides. Theatermania deals give you $97 in the orchestra, and there are plenty of $35 seats in the rear mezzanine at all performances. The Broadway is a barn, and you’ll be pretty far from the stage, but then you’ll see a musical theater classic for the price of a couple of drinks.

JIM COX

Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St. Sean Hayes plays the omnipotent one in a reprise of the show that Jim Parsons did last year. I was surprised to find I enjoyed the show even more with Hayes in the God role. He’s appealing and hilarious, with impeccable timing. The show itself is not exactly a divine comedy, but Hayes’ charisma more than compensates. Availability: Good. Full price orchestra seats are $149, but Theatermania discounts are at $99, often for comparable seats. Surprisingly the only discounts in the mezzanine were at the rear for $59, while other mezzanine seats are $149. That’s especially funny because Hayes steals a line from Dame Edna and addresses the “poor people” in the mezzanine.

Brian Stokes Mitchell and the cast of “Shuffle Along.”

SHUFFLE ALONG Music Box Theatre 239 W. 45th St. I was very mixed on this show as a piece of theater, but I’m never mixed when it comes to seeing performances from Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, or Billy Porter. If the story drags a bit, these star turns more than make up for it. They say there’s no late seating, and they really mean it. Many people stood at the back for Act One at the perfor mance I saw. Good. Availability: Limited. Side and rear orchestra at a discounted price of $109. Some center orchestra at $169, and very spotty mezzanine at $109 for the front and $59 for the rear. A list like this can never be comprehensive. I haven’t mentioned long runs like “Kinky Boots” or “Phantom” that have big tourist appeal and are occasionally on TKTS. “The Book of Mormon” has availability, but mostly at premium prices of $250 or more. If you haven’t seen them, “Something Rotten,” “The King and I,” “Fun Home,” and “Jersey Boys” are still going strong with discounts available at most performances. Whatever you choose, we hope it adds to your celebration and makes this Pride even more memorable.

Council Member Ben Kallos stands with Pride in support of New York City’s vibrant LGBT community. Follow us: @Kallos

Like us: facebook.com/Kallos

Visit us: kallosforcouncil.com

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TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT CALL 212-757-3688 GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

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FILM

Contradictions Wrapped Into Right and Wrong Director Hong Sang-soo finally has a shot at an American breakthrough BY STEVE ERICKSON

RIGHT NOW, WRONG THEN

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GRASSHOPPER FILM

udging from his 17-film oeuvre (made in only 20 years), here’s a list of things South Korean director Hong Sang-soo likes: filmmakers such as himself, young women who are attracted to them, zoom lenses, soju (an indigenous Korean wine, equivalent to sake), complicated narrative structures. Hong has built a personal vocabulary and aesthetic as distinctive as any director who’s emerged in the time in which he’s been working. Unfortunately, Americans have had a hard time keeping up with him, unless they attend film festivals avidly. I keep expecting his latest film to be his American breakthrough, but many of them haven’t even received distribution here. The films that have opened always closed in a week or two. Hong’s work recalls French New Wave directors like Eric Rohmer and Alain Resnais, but its narrative playfulness is accessible, even if it demands an active spectator. I can even see connections between his films and “Groundhog Day.” But Hong would probably be need to be American — or at least cast an American star like Julianne Moore, instead of French actress Isabelle Huppert, who has appeared in two of his films — to find an audience here. Thankfully, the plucky new distributor Grasshopper Film is trying its luck with “Right Now, Wrong Then.” Filmmaker Ham (Jung Jaeyoung), who’s often just referred to as “Director,” has arrived at the Suwon Film Festival a day early. Killing time at an outdoors hall, he meets a young female painter, Hee-

Kim Min-hee and Jung Jae-young in Hong Sang-soo’s “Right Now, Wrong Then.”

jung (Kim Min-hee). She professes to admire his work, although conversation reveals that she hasn’t actually seen any of it. The two head to her workshop, where she puts the finishing touches on a colorful painting. Then they go out for sushi and soju, eventually having a lengthy drunken talk. It’s clear that they’re attracted to each other, but he’s married. The next day, he appears in front of a small audience at the festival and gives a rambling answer when asked to give a concise summary of what film means to him. Then, around the hour mark, Hong’s film begins again, replaying the same situations with somewhat different dialogue and behavior. A few films into his career, Hong seemed to discover the zoom lens and he hasn’t looked back since. While it was popular in the ‘60s, and filmmakers like Robert Altman and Roberto Rossellini made eloquent use of it, it quickly became a tiresome device; one French critic complained about the “boom of zoom.” In Hong’s hands, the zoom lens enables him to vary the long takes he

SCAPEGOATING, from p.51

folks. Queer oppression in this country is not a Muslim conspiracy, it’s an American one. Nor would bombing ISIS or closing borders end homophobia within Muslim communities, inside or outside the United States. Queer liberation, like gender liberation, has to come through grassroots consciousness-raising and intra-community work. The media cast a spot-

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favors. He uses it 32 times in “Right Now, Wrong Then.” Sometimes it reinforces his characters’ essential isolation by suddenly focusing the camera on one of them. At other times, it allows him to reframe the image without moving the camera. The possibilities of the zoom lens seem endless in Hong’s hands. The first part of “Right Now, Wrong Then” is actually called “Right Then, Wrong Now” onscreen, causing me to wonder if I’d gotten the title wrong. The differences between the two halves are sometimes minimal, sometimes major. For instance, Heejung uses orange paint in the first half and green paint in the second half. More importantly, she and Ham have a friendly discussion about painting in the first half and an unpleasant argument in the second half. Sometimes, Heejung contradicts herself in the same ways. She complains about having no friends and then takes Ham to a party thrown by one of them. The film’s centerpiece — the extremely long take where Ham and Heejung drink soju and eat sushi — comes across dif-

light on queer American Muslims over the past week, and we have repeatedly rejected narratives that paint Islam as uniquely homophobic. These monolithic portraits of Islam actually hurt our own efforts for inclusion within our families, our mosques, and our Islamic centers. Further, they erase our experiences of intersecting oppression and exclusion on the basis of gender, class, race, and religion. The broader LGBTQIA community should follow suit by refusing to allow those who

Directed by Hong Sang-soo Grasshopper Film In Korean with English subtitles Opens Jun. 24 Film Society of Lincoln Center Francesca Beale Theater 144 W. 65th St. filmlinc.com Metrograph 7 Ludlow St., btwn. Hester & Canal Sts. metrograph.com

ferently in the two parts. Ham and Heejung seem to have fun getting drunk at first; later on, she drinks much less — this comes after she says she’s given up drinking and smoking — and his drunken antics have an ugly, desperate edge. This air of desperation only continues at the party Heejung takes him to. Hong must know that his films often play like male fantasies; after all, he titled one of them “Woman Is the Future of Man.” Ham has a magnetic ability to attract women, but he also seems to be a pathetic drunk. This duality isn’t rare for a Hong protagonist. The same kind of scenario, playing out in a Woody Allen film, would wind up with Heejung becoming Ham’s girlfriend. Hong is too self-aware to play the fantasy through to its obvious conclusion. He clearly identifies intimately with characters like Ham, but he creates universes to separate himself from them. Quantum physics meets the French New Wave in “Right Now, Wrong Then,” and the results don’t feel like anything I’ve seen before outside the Hong filmography.

have long benefitted from our marginalization to suddenly profit from our deaths. Eman Abdelhadi works with the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (muslimalliance.org), which aims to support, empower, and connect LGBTQ Muslims, challenge root causes of oppression, including misogyny and xenophobia, and to increase the acceptance of gender and sexual diversity within Muslim communities. June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

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THE LGBT PRIDE RALLY

The first Pride Rally occurred about a month after the June 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, when 500 people gathered for a Gay Power demonstration in Washington Square Park, followed by a candlelight vigil in Sheridan Square. This year’s event, at Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 (cross West St. at N. Moore St. in Tribeca), Jun. 24, 7-10 p.m., is hosted by YouTube celebrity Todrick Hall, whose viral videos have included “Beauty and the Beat,” “Target Flash Mob,” “Mean Gurlz,” and “Cinderonce.”Bob the Drag, this year’s winner on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” performs. More information at nycpride.org

DRAG MARCH

The New York City Church Ladies for Choice and the Radical Faeries host the annual NYC Drag March. Gather at Tompkins Square Park, Ave. A. at E. Eighth St. entrance, Jun. 24, 7 p.m. At 8 p.m., the march toward the Stonewall Inn across town begins. MICHAEL LUONGO

TRANS DAY OF ACTION

TransJustice, a program of the Audre Lorde Project, holds the 12th annual Trans Day of Action, celebrating a legacy of resilience, resistance, and community power. Washington Square Park, Jun. 24, 3-6 p.m. More information at alp.org.

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THE DYKE MARCH

The New York City Dyke March is a protest march, not a parade – a demonstration of our First Amendment right to protest — and takes place without permits or sponsors. The organizers and participants recognize that we must organize among ourselves to fight for our rights, safety, and visibility. Thousands of dykes take the streets each year in celebration of our beautiful and diverse dyke lives, to highlight the presence of dykes within our community, and in protest of the discrimination, harassment, and violence we face in schools, on the job, and in our communities. Participants gather in Bryant Park, Sixth Ave. & 42nd St. btwn. 4 & 5

p.m. on Jun. 25. March steps off from 42nd St. & Fifth Ave. at 5 p.m. Proceeds south to Washington Sq. Complete information at dykemarchnyc.org.

PRIDEFEST

LGBT Pride’s street festival takes place Jun. 26, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., on Hudson St., btwn. Abingdon Sq. & W. 14th St. More information at nycpride.org.

THE MARCH

The annual LGBT Pride March, first held in 1970 to commemorate the previous year’s Stonewall Rebellion that launched the modern gay rights movement, kicks off from 36th St. & Fifth Ave. at noon on Jun. 26, and heads south toward at an endpoint in the West Village on Christopher St. The march, which often runs to six or seven hours, is one of the biggest and most colorful parades in New York. This year’s grand marshals are 15-year-old Jazz Jennings, the co-founder of the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation, Subhi Nahas, a Syrian refugee who founded that nation’s first LGBT magazine, Mawaleh, and Cecilia Chung, an internationally known HIV activist who is a founding producer of the San Francisco Trans March. For complete information visit nycpride.org.

THE PARTIES

Heritage of Pride hosts a variety of parties throughout Pride Weekend, including the grand finale Dance on the Pier on Sunday evening at Pier 26 in Tribeca. For complete details on all the parties and to purchase tickets, visit nycpride.org.

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


All Japanese, all female, and All That Jazz. FRAN KIRMSER

Marya Warshaw, founding director of BAX, and Paloma McGregor, director of “Dancing While Black.”

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BAX, from p.83

The Artist in Residence program does not exclusively support LGBT artists, “but the representation of queer artists and queer artists of color is a thoughtful and intentional indication of our objectives,” Warshaw explained. “At least half at any given time are — and also specifically involved deeply with work that reflects on that.” The current roster of Artists in Residence include Ni’Ja Whitson, who is in her second year working on a what Warshaw calls “a striking meditation that reflects on Marlon Riggs’ ‘Tongues Untied’ that examines black queer identity past and present and also ideas of gender fluidity.” Another artist entering her second year residency is writer, thinker, and maker Marissa Perel. “The work she’s been doing this year reflected on disability and AIDS on the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act,” Warshaw said, “and she will continue to work in the coming year.” Among the first time artists in residence this cycle is theater artist Tanisha Christie, whose artistic team for her “Bathtub” project includes the amazing Deb O, JD Urban, Liz Lerman, and Daniel Alexander Jones, among others. Christie may be better known as a media artist, particularly for the film “Walk With Me,” co-created with Ellie Walton. But she has continually asked the question “Where’s the body in this form?” in her own works. Her perfor mance-based film “Flag Body” was a meditation on patriotism and blackness in the wake of 9/11. The “Bathtub” project will be a live performance, and brings the body up close and into personal space. Official Airline of Lincoln Center

GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

“I saw a video of Michael Brown’s mother reacting to the verdict [in the trial of police office Darren Wilson] and was saddened, angered, and horrified by the comments of the trolls underneath,” Christie told Gay City News. “Bad things are happening to brown, black, LGBTQ bodies. We’re in trouble in this society, and that was pre-Trump.” In response to what she saw on media, on social media, she started taking baths and sobbing. “Being black, being a woman — we are under assault,” she affirmed. “I want to take a bath with people, literally and figuratively, and blend in some of those social media conversations. I want them to have to deal with my black, middle-aged nakedness. It started out as a piece about me, but it’s evolved; it’s meant to be a collective kind of experience.” The residency will provide Christie with the resources to embark on “a series of explorations” that will be presented in six separate showings over the course of the year. These are the kinds of works that are made possible in the brave and progressive community space that is BAX — where gender-neutral bathrooms were established more than 10 years ago. “We need to raise a generation of people who are unafraid to question, to think, and to create boldly… citizens of the world who aren’t afraid to ask tough questions about race, class, gender, identity, justice, and the status quo,” Warshaw asserted. “And we need them to do so with understanding, with complexity, with openness, and with love. That is what drives us all at BAX.”

July 20–24 David H. Koch Theater Tickets from $35 Performed in Japanese with English supertitles

LincolnCenterFestival.org Festival Box Office, David Geffen Hall, Broadway at 65th Street | 212.721.6500

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For complete infor mation on classes, events, artist services, and other programs, go to bax.org. Official Coffee of Lincoln Center

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Celebrate Summer at Lincoln Center

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BUSBY, from p.34

me at the Pride Institute in Minneapolis. While I was there, Princess Diana was killed in Paris. We all sat transfixed in front of the TV at the clinic. I fell for one of my roommates, a handsome guy named Gene, who had a deformed foot. My other roommate, Richard, a Native American from a tribe in northern Minnesota, had been busted for selling drugs on his reservation. He told me how the men of his tribe harvested wild rice in marshes. They paddled their canoes alongside the stalks of wild rice, bent them over the edge of the boat, then knocked the grains loose with a cedar stick. When the canoes were full, the men rowed back to shore to dump the wild rice into piles near a blazing fire. They danced on the piles to dislodge any remaining grains from their husks. I wondered, as Richard told me this, if the music

they danced to was indigenous to the tribe, or if they grooved on gangster rap blasting from a boom box placed in a canoe turned on its side near the fire. Whichever it was, they boogied on grass. Within a few weeks after my return to New York, I relapsed and was sent to another rehab, located in the old Billy Rose mansion on 93rd Street, between Madison and Park. Billy Rose was a famous Broadway producer in the ’50s. He was famous for fancy parties attended by celebrities in the very ballroom in which we recovering addicts were now wandering in a daze waiting for the dinner bell. As usual, I got crushes on several men in the group. There was something about the emotional intensity of group therapy, centering on drugs and sex, that always turned me on. I made a few friends playing Mozart sonatas on the rickety little upright piano in the lounge. One fervent Evangelical Christian

LA MAMA LA GALLERIA/ LOAN FROM LESLIE-LOHMAN MUSEUM OF GAY AND LESBIAN ART/ GIFT OF THE INGO SWANN ESTATE

Ingo Swann’s “The Demonstration Showing How It’s Done: Social Comment Series” (collage, 9.438 x 18 in.).

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SWANN, from p.85

buyer passed away (followed by her husband a short time later), “nobody knew where that painting was.” With the search at a standstill, Hoffberger placed a copy of “Great Apparitions of Mary” under her pillow. The next day, the new owner contacted AVAM, expressing his willingness to sell. The asking price was beyond their reach — but Hoffberger kept the work, and Ingo, on her mind. Unbeknownst to her, the owner independently contacted Harrison Tenzer, curator of “A Remote View,” and moderator of the panel. Ultimately, the piece found its way back to Swann’s family, who will gift it to AVAM — where it will join five other paintings by Swann, as well a huge

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triptych that appears in the museum’s three-story central stairwell. Hoffberger does not regard this narrative as meaningless serendipity, nor does she view Swann’s art as “just a flight of imagination.” Citing frequent invocation of auras, spirit animals, gender fluidity, and swirling galaxies in his work, Hoffberger asserted that Swann’s organization of subject matter and technical mastery of any given expressive medium are the work of a man who is “tapping into something more” than wishful thinking and whimsy. Also marveling at the scope of Swann’s self-taught accomplishments was fellow panelist Hunter O’Hanian. As director of Soho’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, O’Hanian described a

asked me to play “Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling,” a hymn sung at the end of a gospel service to inspire lost souls to get saved. I knew the song well from my days touring with the evangelist Angel Martinez. It’s a slow, seductive love song with touching harmonies. But I couldn’t go down that path again. After a zealous speech, the Evangelical Christian slipped away to the laundry room where he stole an iron and sold it on the street for drug money — or so he said when he returned the next day. My older sister Juana Mae called me from Dallas and told me in tears that she couldn’t believe I was in such a place. She said she’d pray for me and would send me money once I was back at the Chelsea Hotel. After my 28 days were up at the rehab and I was back home, a Walgreens money order came in the mail with a note from Juana Mae that said, “Jesus loves you and so do we.”

Stanley Bard, the manager of the Chelsea, moved me from the fourroom apartment I’d shared with Sam to a studio down the hall. The transfer came with an admonition, and a promise: “Pay your rent on time and behave yourself, and you can stay here the rest of your life.” The room was small and dingy, but it had an energy that infused my music, and everything else I did, especially sex, with a sense of adventure. My taste for danger was receding, and something good, though inexplicable, was taking its place.

common occurrence: leading museum tours, where Photoshop-savvy millennials marvel at the discipline and resourcefulness of Swann’s collage work. This was an era, O’Hanian noted, when “cut and paste” meant the use of an X-Acto knife and rubber cement (whose strong fumes, Flippen recalled, left the uncle and niece feeling “really happy” as they toiled in his dark, congested basement studio — where, one surmises, good air circulation was not among the amenities). O’Hanian asked the audience to rise from their seats and join him to discuss six 8x10 collages, on loan from Leslie-Lohman’s permanent collection (which boasts 200 of those works, along with 16 paintings by Swann). The gallery’s rear alcove was a fitting location; tucked away from the large works of cosmic themes and import, an air conditioner situated mere feet away served to cool down the hot and bothered. “He was 36 in 1969, the year of Stonewall,” O’Hanian noted, taking those assembled through the gay imagery that Swann had access to when building collages (eight layers deep in some cases) around naked men cut from the pages of gay skin mags like Honcho and Drummer. This technique necessitated other visual elements, such as the back-

ground environment, to be taken from art, historical, or decorative publications of the time; chosen not only for the mood they conveyed, but in a manner that complemented how Swann’s dirty magazine denizens were lit — as with “Awaiting Reincarnation and the Ecstasy of Re-Embodiment,” in which a disproportionately small farmer in overalls looks upon a naked young man, who sports a welcoming grin and a throbbing erection. “Who is he making these for?” O’Hanian wondered. It was one of many unanswered questions that, for all of their scholarship and insider knowledge, the panel was at a loss to fully explain. This seemed a fitting testimony; not so much to Swann’s enigmatic nature, as to what Flippen described as a “compartmentalized” existence in his latter decades, when artists, celebrities, clairvoyants, Manhattan socialites, and students from his remote viewing days were drawn to the building he owned on Bowery and East Fourth Street — the same space where, years before, a chinchilla who preferred not to be caged set his owner on a journey of sexual and spiritual freedom. “From an early age,” Flippen said of her uncle’s extrasensory instincts, “he was taught to suppress it, that it’s evil; like being gay.

Gerald Busby, a protégé of Virgil Thomson, is best known for his film score for Robert Altman’s “3 Women” and his dance score for Paul Taylor’s “Runes.” With Craig Lucas, he is currently writing an opera based on “3 Women.” Busby’s life as a longtime resident of the Chelsea Hotel is the topic of “The Man on the Fifth Floor,” a documentary film currently in production.

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


ADVERTORIAL

Drowsy Driving can be as Dangerous as Driving impaireD The public is well educated about the dangers of driving while impaired by medication, alcohol or illegal drugs. But drivers may not be aware that driving while tired can be just as dangerous. Driving when tired can be a fatal mistake. Just as alcohol or drugs can slow down reaction time, impair judgment and increase the risk of accident, so, too, can being tired behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is reportedly what caused the fatal crash in June 2014 between a limousine and a Walmart truck that ended the life of comic

James McNair and seriously injured fellow comedian Tracy Morgan. The driver, Kevin Roper, was going 20 miles over the speed limit and was almost at his drive time limit, according to preliminary reports by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 100,000 car crashes in the United States each year occur as the result of an overly tired driver. Various studies demonstrate that drivers who have remained awake for 18 hours prior to driving

GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

mimic the driving performance of intoxicated motorists. In fact, drowsy driving can be confused with driving with a high blood alcohol content. Sleepiness can arise relatively quickly, and according to Thomas Balkin, PhD, director of the behavioral biology program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and a leading expert on sleep and fatigue, it’s difficult for drivers to assess just how sleepy they are. “Sleepiness affects the part of the brain responsible for judgment and self-awareness,”

he says. “When you’ve reached the stage where you are fighting sleep, the effect of any method of reviving yourself can be very short-lived.” Furthermore, people do not have to be in a deep sleep to actually be asleep behind the wheel. Micro-sleeps occur when certain brain cells temporarily shut down for a few seconds. A person is not completely asleep but in a sort of fog as if they are asleep. When sleepiness sets in, the best course of action is to pull off the road. Opening the window, turning on the radio

or blasting cold air is, at best, only a temporary solution. If driving with passengers and feelings of sleepiness appear, hand the keys over to a passenger and have them take over driving, if possible. Otherwise, a short nap and a cup of coffee can be used in combination to increase alertness. It’s also a good idea to avoid beginning a long road trip in mid-afternoon around the hours of two or three o’clock. While alertness generally dips in the evening hours, due to the circadian rhythm, alertness also dips in the late after-

noon, prompting drowsiness. A 2010 study by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety found that as many drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel in the afternoon hours as reported falling asleep late at night. Driving in a warm, quiet car also may spur drowsiness, as would driving after a heavy meal. Driving tired is just as dangerous as other impaired driving. Slow reaction times and unawareness of surroundings can contribute to accidents that are otherwise avoidable..

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The LGBT Community’s Own New York State Senator Brad Hoylman JEREMY DANIEL/ COURTESY: THE BROADWAY LEAGUE

Representing Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, Chelsea, Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen, the Upper West Side, Midtown, East Midtown, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, Columbus Circle, and Times Square. 322 Eighth Avenue, Suite 1700 New York, NY 10001 (212) 633-8052 www.hoylman.nysenate.gov

Heather Headley and the cast of “The Color Purple.”

THE WHOLE BROADWAY SEASON & HOME FOR DINNER JEREMY DANIEL/ COURTESY: THE BROADWAY LEAGUE

The cast of “Fun Home.”

We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community in Orlando and beyond. Riverdale Country School 1 Spaulding Ln, Bronx, NY 10471 5250 Fieldston Rd, Bronx, NY 10471

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Have you ever fantasized about seeing all the shows on Broadway, knowing full well you don’t have the time, never mind the money to realize that dream? Well, I was lucky enough to come close — all in one afternoon. On June 3, I saw “Stars in the Alley,” the absolutely free show that takes place every year in the heart of Times Square showcasing the best of Broadway’s fare in an intimate setting tucked away in Shubert Alley, located west of Seventh Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets. Celebrating the end of the Broadway season, “Stars in the Alley” is part of the buildup of festivities that culminate in the annual

Capture yours in style with JEREMY DANIEL/ COURTESY: THE BROADWAY LEAGUE

The future of photo booths For rent and for sale

It’s a memory. 104

Tony Awards. With star appearances and highlights from more than 30 shows from the current season, the show had a live 12-piece orchestra and also included numbers from long-running favorites such as “Chicago” and “Phantom of the Opera.” “Stars in the Alley” is sponsored by the Broadway League, the industry’s national trade association. You’re now on plenty of advance notice for next year’s show. With a 12:30 p.m. “curtain,” showing up by 11 a.m. gets you a shot at prime standing room or maybe even a seat in the sponsor-reserved area. Or at least that was my experience: smile at security and good things happen. — Sam Oglesby

www.fobo.co info@fobo.co 718.852.7399 Made in Brooklyn

Lads from “Fiddler on the Roof.”

June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


c

OUT OF IRAQ, from p.90

GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

MICHAEL LUONGO

entrepreneur who intervened in the case and helped bring Btoo into the US, was critical of the UNHCR both throughout the documentary and in the panel discussion. Failla, who has a decades-long history of helping war refugees, starting with Cambodians, told Gay City News that the film is “here to educate people about LGBT persecution and murder and what is going on with people in different countries, and hopefully it will reach as many people as possible.” To the UN delegates in attendance, he said, “Please help support the LGBT communities in your countries so they are not killed and discriminated against. UNHCR, please help. Speed up the process and digitally record the interviews so there is no misunderstanding.” The UNHCR’s Matthews explained that the documentary has already caused her organization to change the way it handles LGBT and other refugees. “We need to do better for refugees, all refugees, including LGBT refugees,” she said.

Having said that, Matthews emphasized the overall refugee context, explaining that 22 million refugees need assistance from UNHCR, with 10 percent of those considered in acute risk, including LGBT refugees. Yet fewer than one percent of all refugees — about 100,000 — can be settled into third country safe havens every year. Nayyef said he never expected his life to be made into a movie and shown at the United Nations. “Ours is just a small story, one story, but we hope it will lead to change in the Middle East,” he told Gay City News. Nayyef said he hopes audiences who see the film remember that for gay Iraqis, “it is not just ISIS or militias against them, it is the government, their own families because they are ashamed of them. They are the old generation. Our voice is for the new generation to see this change.” Having helped bring over other Iraqi LGBT refugees, Nayyef said he believes few Americans understand the struggles those from his country continue to have even once they are in the US and other Western coun-

Michael Failla gives Btoo Allami a goodbye hug in Times Square, as Nayyef Hrebid looks on.

tries. He said he hoped Americans wishing to sponsor refugees understand “it’s not just that it should be money. The help could be for those LGBTs from the Middle East coming here because they are in shock. It is a new culture here. A new language. A lot of them do not speak the language. So put them in school, finish their paperwork. Just find them a job. Just help them with everything

you could, because it is a big shock to them, culture shock. That is the problem I find for a lot of who come here. So we need to help them to stand up on their feet, so they could continue living here.” To learn more about “Out of Iraq” and view a trailer, visit logotv.com/ video-clips/0zm76j/logo-documentary-films--out-of-iraq.

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Eleni Calenos in Loft Opera's production of Puccini's "Tosca."

tO ADVERtISE IN GAy CIty NEwS CAll 718-260-2555 GayCityNews.nyc | June 23 - July 06, 2016

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PUCCINI, from p.94

Sartre’s “No Exit” also comes to mind as the three leads engage in existential combat — hell really is other people in “Tosca.” Puccini’s music heightens these characters, turning melodrama into Romantic tragedy. At LoftOpera, you are on the same level as the singers and share the same space — being only eight or 10 feet away from the singers made the audience feel complicit in the drama. Contrast this with the productions presented at the Met where the singers are miles away in a cavernous historical set. In Act II at LoftOpera, when Cavaradossi is dragged off and Tosca and Scarpia are left alone to decide his fate, there was a pause and their eyes locked for several seconds. In that moment the audience knew “it’s on” — a confrontation was going to occur that was either sexual or violent (or in this case both). Whatever happened we couldn’t watch it from a detached spectator position. The singers were not the most polished vocalists but were a committed bunch, and you took their flaws along with their undeniable strengths. Eleni Calenos, a scrappily determined rather than glamorous Tosca, has a dark lyric soprano with a deep viola timbre in the middle register. The

top under pressure can harden. She was musical and quite direct in both acting and phrasing. Calenos stripped down to a small black slip in Act II in preparation for Scarpia’s seduction/ murder. Scarpia, played as a banana republic military chief cum drug kingpin by firm voiced baritone Kevin Wetzel, was a youthful and definitely sexual antagonist. Most promising was tenor James Chamberlain as Mario Cavaradossi, the object of their conflict. Chamberlain has a huge, ripe spinto tenor with a ringing top and dark-toned middle register that filled the space. A former baritone, Chamberlain has voice everywhere but the transitions from middle to high or loud to soft are less than smooth. This is a major voice in need of major polishing, and the burly bearded tenor is a slightly clumsy actor. All the supporting singers sported fine voices — Joseph Beutel as a mellifluous Angelotti and Stefanos Koroneos, who played the Sacristan as a fussy, uptight functionary, not the usual clichéd buffo clown. Dean Buck led a large ensemble of nearly 40 musicians situated behind the audience to the right. His broad reading of the score revealed admirable control despite some ensemble problems due to the odd acoustics and configuration of the space.

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June 23 - July 06, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc

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PRIDE ISSUE June 23, 2016

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