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SAGE Brings Senior Housing to Bronx, Brooklyn
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As American as the Stonewall Rebellion
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In Brooklyn and the Bronx, SAGE Moves on Senior Housing With city, state partners, money in hand, group launches New York’s first affordable, LGBT-friendly developments
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
HELP USA CEO Tom Hameline, Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado, SAGE CEO Michael Adams, City Council Public Housing Chair Ritchie Torres, NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye, and Don Capoccia of BFC Partners at the June 30 press conference.
82-unit Crotona North Apartments in the Tremont section, a project that has a $38 million price tag. According to information from the two developers released at a June 30 press conference, eligibility for the Ingersoll development will be open to those 60 and older whose incomes are at 60 percent or less of the area median income — which works out to $43,500 for a couple and $38,100 for a single person — and eligibility at Crotona North will be pegged at 50 percent or less of AMI, or $36,250 for a couple and $31,750 for a single person. With these two projects underway, New York City will soon join other cities, including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Minneapolis, in creating affordable housing options for seniors distinguished by what is termed “cultural competency” in serving the LGBT community. While the housing will be open to all income-eligible seniors, the role of SAGE in developing the buildings, providing ongoing services, and marketing the units’ availability will likely result in a residential composition that is heavily LGBT, according to Michael Adams, SAGE’s CEO. The development of new housing specifically geared to serve LGBT seniors is only a small part of SAGE’s broader nationwide strategy of making all housing providers more responsive to the community’s aging population as well as providing needed services to older
people in the neighborhoods in which they already live. Still, at the June 30 press event, Adams emphasized, “For too long, our LGBT elder pioneers in New York City have lacked access to housing where they are welcomed for who they are. Ingersoll and Crotona are a critically important step toward righting that wrong.” And he acknowledged that the announcement of not one, but two new housing initiatives in the city at the same time had an element of serendipity about it. In May, NYCHA in tandem with New York City Housing and Preservation and the New York City Housing Development Corporation announced the selection of BFC Partners and SAGE for the Ingersoll project, which will be the largest LGBT -friendly senior
SAGE, continued on p.14
eventeen months after outlining a bold plan to remake the housing opportunities for queer seniors nationwide, SAGE or Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders announced it has the financing in place to put shovel to earth on two affordable housing developments — one in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and the other on Crotona Park North in the Bronx. The new developments — slated to begin construction over the next 12 months and to open within three years — will provide 227 units of affordable housing supplemented by supportive social services and social engagement opportunities, including on-site SAGE Centers. In Brooklyn, the 16-story, 145unit Ingersoll Senior Residences will be developed, at an estimated cost of just under $45 million, through a partnership between SAGE and BFC Partners, a developer of affordable and market-rate housing in New York for more than three decades. The development will be sited at the Ingersoll Houses, an existing New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) facility near Myrtle Avenue. In the Bronx, SAGE will team up with HELP USA, a nationwide leader in homelessness prevention and permanent supportive housing since 1986, on the seven-story,
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SAGE member Joyce Banks looks forward to the chance to find an affordable unit at the planned Crotona North Apartments in the Bronx.
housing initiative in the country when completed. Shola Olatoye, NYCHA’s chair and CEO, on hand for last week’s press conference, emphasized that the Ingersoll development was not only in keeping with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commitment to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing but was also part of her agency’s mission to encourage “healthy, welcoming, diverse communities.” She explained that the selection of SAGE and BFC came after a “nine-month visioning session” with current residents of NYCHA’s Ingersoll community. Crotona North, the Bronx development, has been in the works longer, mentioned as part of SAGE’s rollout of its nationwide housing strategy in February 2015. In addition to HELP USA, its development partnership also includes the city’s Housing Development Corporation and New York State Homes and Community Renewal. Adams singled out the commitment of $1.2 million for the project from Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and City Councilmember Ritchie Torres, the out gay chair of the Public Housing Committee. Torres saluted Olatoye’s agency, saying, “NYCHA is a pioneer in cultural competency in the reimagining of public housing” in New York and nationwide, and then said of the Crotona North
A rendering of the Crotona North Apartments development in the Tremont section of the Bronx.
July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Caught Short by Cuomo HIV Mandate, Absent Money De Blasio noncommittal on picking up 71 percent of cost of expanding HASA BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
make it more likely that HIV-positive people will adhere to their medication regimens. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the de Blasio administration had been negotiating what the state and the city would pay for the expansion of HASA services, with the city saying its approval was contingent on the state agreeing to a 50-50 split. Currently, the city pays 71 percent of the HASA costs and the state contributes 29 percent. The city even allocated its first contribution for HASA expansion in the budget for the current fiscal year, which began on July 1. HASA expansion could cost as much as $100 million a year. On June 24, Cuomo unilaterally announced that HASA would be required to enroll HIV-positive people in its ser vices. Cuomo said nothing about paying more for it. Among sup-
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hile a Cuomo administration order requiring New York City’s HIV/ AIDS Services Administration (HASA) to enroll people with HIV in its benefits program won praise from LGBT and AIDS groups, Mayor Bill de Blasio was surprised by the announcement and non-committal when asked if the city would support extending HASA services to HIV-positive people and not just those with an AIDS diagnosis. “Was I expecting the announcement, no,” de Blasio said at a July 1 press conference. “Are we looking at it very carefully to understand what it means for New York City, yes… Obviously, we’re concerned about anything that puts more of a funding burden on New York City.” HASA, a unit of the city’s Human
Resources Administration, cur rently supplies rental assistance, Medicaid, nutrition, transportation, and other services only to people with AIDS, an advanced stage of HIV infection. With growing numbers of HIV-positive people on anti-HIV drugs, fewer are progressing to that later stage. Since 2007, AIDS groups have sought to extend HASA services to people who are HIV-positive. Most recently, that expansion became part of the Plan to End AIDS, an ambitious effort to reduce new HIV infections in New York from the current roughly 3,000 a year to 750 annually by 2020. Among its components, the plan uses anti-HIV drugs in HIV-positive people to keep them healthy and unable to infect others. Advocates assert, with some science supporting their view, that stable housing, food, and other services
Mayor Bill de Blasio.
porters, the press release quoted Charles King, the chief executive at Housing Works, and Kelsey Louie, the chief executive at GMHC. Both are AIDS groups. King, who did not retur n a call seeking comment, created
HASA, continued on p.40
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In Orlando’s Wake, Outpouring on Pride Sunday Anger at anti-LGBT religious, political hate and at guns takes center stage
Joseph Santiago (at r., holding banner), 25, moved to Brooklyn from Orlando just five days before the massacre at Pulse nightclub.
BY ANDY HUMM
he Orlando massacre of June 12 could well have cast a pall over LGBT pride celebrations across the country, giving us pause about parading down the street when there are those out there who wish us harm. Instead, the community and our allies were defiant, coming out in palpably greater numbers than ever before. Some activists who had skipped the march in recent years returned, and it was peppered with more immediate meaning and a political bent that well might have waned after the big marriage victories in Albany in 2011 and at the US Supreme Court in ‘13 and ‘15.
The New York march down Fifth Avenue on Sunday, June 25, this reporter’s 43rd, stepped off at noon from Midtown and the last contingent did not disperse in the West Village until 8:30 p.m. — a glacial pace in need of reform. It is, however, an indication of just how many groups want to be in the march, including scores of corporate contingents that advertise their desire for the community’s patronage and have their LGBT employees demonstrate that they work in an accepting environment. “Pride in Flight” for LGBT people in the airline industry was, not surprisingly, a large contingent. But the Gay Officers Action League, which started out in 1982 with one out cop, Charlie Cochrane, accompanied by a few others in various modes
PRIDE, continued on p.20
of disguise, now had a thousand in their contingent and 300 uniformed officers, including Aiden Budd and Brooke Bukowski carrying a banner as the first out transgender officers in the NYPD. FIRE FLAG, the LGBT group for the Fire Department, has also grown significantly, augmented by many in the emergency medical services. The New York office of the FBI — the FBI! — marched for the first time with 50 in its contingent. Jessica Gonzalez, LGBT coordinator for the New York office, said, “We’re not the old bureau” — a reference to the not-so-distant past when the FBI’s main role viz-a-viz the community was conducting surveillance of LGBT
Out gay State Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell
Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray.
For the first time, the FBI had a contingent in the New York Pride March.
Grand marshal Subhi Nahas, a Syrian refugee who founded that nation’s first LGBT magazine.
July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Trans Day of Action With Old-Time Radical Feel With broad embrace of intersectional unity, activists push back against marginalizaiton BY ANDY HUMM
eing in Washington Square the afternoon of Friday, June 24 for the 12th annual Trans Day of Action was like being thrust into what an LGBT march looked like in 1969, the year of the Stonewall Rebellion: a crowd of 2,000 that was diverse, countercultural, fierce, and dedicated to a range of progressive issues — a sharp contrast to the weekend’s Heritage of Pride parade, where activist groups and messages mobilized by the Orlando massacre only sometimes challenged the event’s dominance by corporate contingents. At the kick-off rally, transgender activist Pebbles read from the manifesto for the action, saying, “It will be a magic day for social and economic justice” as we “recognize the importance of working alongside other movements — women, people with disabilities, the poor, the formerly incarcerated, and immigrants.” Pebbles decried how many transgender people have been displaced in New York City by gentrification: “Why are we expected to move from the beauty that we built?”
Alok Vaid-Menon of the Audre Lorde Project, whose TransJustice program was the principal organizer of the day, said, “Orlando showed it is LGBT people of color feeling the brunt of the violence,” but went on to say that “police are the biggest perpetrators of anti-LGBT violence. Police do not keep LGBT people safe. We are not interested in police protection here. We are calling for the demilitarization of police. We are on our own.” Indeed, while the NYPD has stepped up police presence steeply at LGBT events and venues in the wake of Orlando, the uniformed presence for this gathering and march was less evident. Vaid-Menon said that transgender people are “profiled by the police as sex workers — even on their way to and from the Pride Parade.” Jennicet Gutierrez, the transgender woman who heckled President Barack Obama at last year’s White House LGBT Pride reception over his administration’s treatment of transgender immigrants in detention, said she was feeling “a lot of pain,” citing the constant reports of the murders of trans women of color and the US Supreme Court’s refusal to unblock Obama’s
Olympia Perez, a co-coordinator of the Audre Lorde Project’s TransJustice program.
executive actions on immigration intended to allow four million immigrants to apply for legal status. Gutierrez is from the Los Angeles-based Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement and was in New York for a panel. She said she felt the need to be present for the action even though she was not a speaker.
TRANS DAY, continued on p.43
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Gays Against Guns march behind a banner created by Gilbert Baker, designer of the Rainbow Flag.
Gun Violence A Key Issue in This Year’s Pride March In Orlando’s wake, LGBT activists scramble to put pressure on Washington BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
he killings of 49 LGBT people in an Orlando, Florida nightclub were a pronounced presence in New York City’s Pride Parade as a newly formed group of nearly 1,000 marched down Fifth Avenue to chants of “Trans, straight, bi, gay, gagging on the NRA” and “Fuck the NRA.” “The energy was terrific, we’re just getting started,” said Cathy Marino-Thomas, who was among the organizers who wrangled the group, Gays Against Guns, down the avenue behind a banner bearing the group’s name. The banner was designed by Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow Flag. The group, the GAG in some of its chants, signs, and T-shirts, was formed by Kevin Hertzog and Brian Worth following the June 12 killings. The gunman struck on Latinx night at the club, and the dead and wounded were overwhelmingly Latinx and African-American. Hertzog and Worth organized the contingent in two town hall meetings held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. They were assisted by clothing designer Mari Gustafson, who held a silk screen party at an East Village bar the day before
Thomas Simmons, a member of Outright Libertarians, spoke out in favor of gun rights in Times Square on the afternoon of the Pride March.
A group of 49 people organized by performance artist Tigger-James Ferguson bore silent witness to those killed in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
the June 26 march and produced T-shirts reading “NRA: Prepare to be gagged,” “Gays Against Guns,” and “Your tolerance is killing us.” A second group immediately in back of the first part of the contingent marched behind a banner, also designed by Baker, that read “Republican Hate Kills.” The group chanted loudly as it marched, and the crowds on Fifth Avenue frequently joined the “Fuck the NRA” chant as GAG marched. At multiple points along the avenue, members staged die-ins and chanted “How many more have to die?” as they fell to the asphalt. Performance artist Tig-
ger-James Ferguson organized 49 people who were dressed entirely in white and veiled and car ried posters bearing the pictures, names, and ages of the 49 people killed. Those 49 people marched silently and did not participate in the chants and die-ins so they formed a sorrowful, almost ghostly presence that was powerful and respectful of those who died and contrasted with the political message of the first two groups. Several hundred groups marched in this year’s parade and hundreds of thousands lined the streets along the parade route. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive
Democratic nominee for president, marched as did Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. G AG was able t o e nt e r t he parade past the deadline for registering because Corey Johnson, the out gay city councilmember who represents Chelsea, invited them into his spot in the parade. Heritage of Pride, which produces the annual march and other events that co mme mo rat e t he 1969 Stonewall riots that mark the start of the modern LGBT rights movement, agreed to the change after some initial resistance.
GUN VIOLENCE, continued on p.43
July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | July 07 - 20, 2016
As American as the Stonewall Rebellion Obama makes the scene of 1969 uprising a national monument
Officials and activists at the Stonewall National Monument dedication included US Representative Carolyn Maloney, successful DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor, New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Representative Jerrold Nadler, City Councilmember Corey Johnson, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, State Senator Brad Hoylman, City Councilmember Ben Kallos, and Assemblymember Deborah Glick.
White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.
Congressmember Jerrold Nadler.
Transgender activist Octavia Lewis.
BY ANDY HUMM
hile not quite as deep as the Grand Canyon or as tall as the Statue of Liberty, the 7.7 acres in and around the Stonewall Inn, scene of the monumental 1969 multi-night rebellion in the streets that sparked the modern LGBT movement, were declared, like those iconic parks, an official national monument by President Barack Obama on June 24. Three days later, in the light of day on June 27, the area was dedicated as such by federal and local officials and LGBT activists, including a handful who participated in the rebellion. This recognition of an uprising by LGBT outcasts, who were officially criminal, sinful, mentally ill, and almost wholly closeted before that June 28, 1969 night, was an all-American inclusive affair steeped in patriotism. A soulful version of the national anthem was sung by actor Anthony Wayne. Edie Windsor, 88, who won federal recognition of samesex marriage in 2013 at the US Supreme Court, led a recitation
of the Pledge of Allegiance — leaving out the words “under God,” which is the way she grew up saying it before Congress inserted the deity in 1954 at the behest of the Knights of Columbus. Windsor and her partner and later wife Thea Spyer returned to New York from a vacation the second night of the rebellion and soon became activists themselves. The crowd heard from Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and out lesbian Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, West Side Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, who is credited with quarterbacking the designation locally, and Mayor Bill de Blasio. The Village’s out elected local officials — State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, and City Councilmember Corey Johnson also delivered remarks. The keynote speech was delivered by Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, who was an 18-year-old participant in the rebellion and is now a prominent artist, who painted a
vivid verbal picture of the Stonewall in 1969 — “a dingy non-descript building that was like a speakeasy, run by the Mafia.” When the police hit the bar with a routine raid that night, “we didn’t fight back because we loved the management of Stonewall,” he said, “but because we were humanized in there,” the one bar where slow dancing — “a full embrace” — was allowed. There was much praise for the administration and local government officials who worked with the near unanimous support of both the LGBT and Village communities to get the national monument designation in place, mainly through the city’s transfer to the federal government of little Christopher Park, across the street from the bar. Secretary Jewell said, “It takes a village to make a national park.” She also said, “We want our history to be known and to reflect who we are — the diversity of our people.” Acknowledging the atrocity in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub that
STONEWALL, continued on p.11
July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
STONEWALL, from p.10
GayCityNews.nyc | July 07 - 20, 2016
was fresh in everyone’s minds, transgender activist Octavia Lewis said, “We have not come far enough. I want this to be a place where I can bring my children and not be fearful.” “We want to tell the American LGBT story to the world,” said Gillibrand, who will continue to work with her congressional colleagues to make it “a national park, not just a monument,” though monuments designated by the president, like parks, are run by the National Park Service. Tribute was paid to the history of activism that led up to the rebellion by Obama advisor Jarrett, who cited Del Martin and Phyllis L yon of the early lesbian group Daughters of Bilitis, Harry Hay of the Mattachine Society, Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings who led a gay and lesbian demonstration each Fourth of July in Philadelphia from 1965 through 1969, Stephen Donaldson, the bisexual activist who formed the Student Homophile League at Columbia University in 1966, and the transgender patrons of San Francisco’s Compton’s Cafeteria who rioted over mistreatment, also in 1966. Jarrett also ticked off the achievements of the Obama administration on LGBT rights, from getting rid of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to its current efforts to protect transgender rights. Hoylman called Obama “our first gay president.” De Blasio said, “We are not going to sanitize our history, we are going to remember the struggle.” The Stonewall, after all, was a direct rebellion against oppression by the NYPD. Two mini acts of rebellion took place at the ceremony. Ken Kidd and Ann Northrop of Queer Nation unfurled a big Gilbert Baker rainbow banner reading “Equal in Every Way” behind the speaker’s platform, and none of the many government security or NYPD personnel on hand tried to remove them. Ve t e r a n g a y a c t i v i s t J i m Fouratt, a rebellion participant, walked out on the ceremony, writing in an email later that while he supported the monument des-
The monument is heralded on a banner hung onto the wall of the Stonewall Inn.
ignation of the streets where the rebellion unfolded, the Stonewall Inn itself “was a symbol of our oppression not our liberation.” He objected to the fact that no “reference was made to how the following three nights were organized in part by a small group of political gay men including myself, disillusioned members of the Mattachine youth component, and gay anti-war activists and lesbians kicked out of the Women’s Liberation Movement.” Fouratt also objected to the “erasure of the Gay Liberation Front birthed in the third night of the Stonewall Rebellion.” Indeed, the historical significance of Stonewall was that it led to immediate and ongoing militant organizing in the community. Historian David Carter, author of a book on Stonewall, said after the ceremony that there were around 30 gay groups at the time of the rebellion and 1,500 just two years later nationwide. Transgender activist Stefanie Rivera, 37, talked afterwards about the continued peril “of going out and not knowing whether you will make it back” and the challenge of finding employment. “This should have happened years ago,” said her friend, Elizabeth Rivera. Veteran gay activist Steve Ashkinazy, a founder of the Harvey Milk High School, said he went to the Stonewall at 16 “because they didn’t card us.” He said of the ceremony: “I am emotionally moved and thankful every time I see progress and change.”
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Federal Court Blocks Anti-LGBT Mississippi Law Judge finds state improperly established “special” religious rights, ignored its equal protection obligations BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
LANCE CHEUNG/ USDA
ust minutes before Mississippi’s antiLGBT H.B. 1523 was scheduled to go into effect on July 1, US District Judge Carlton W. Reeves filed a 60-page opinion explaining why he was granting a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs in two cases challenging the measure. According to Reeves, H.B. 1523 violates both the First Amendment’s Establishment of Religion Clause and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. His lengthy, scholarly opinion expands on points he made just days earlier when he granted a preliminary injunction in a separate lawsuit, blocking implementation of one provision of the law that allowed local officials responsible for issuing marriage licenses to “recuse” themselves from issuing licenses to same-sex couples based on their “sincere” religious beliefs. Unlike the earlier ruling, however, Reeves’ June 30 opinion treats H.B. 1523 as broadly unconstitutional on its face. Although Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, the lead defendant in all three lawsuits, announced that the state would immediately appeal to the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Reeves’ opinion seemed likely to withstand judicial review. Attorney General Jim Hood, Mississippi’s only Democratic statewide elected official and also a named defendant, suggested he might not be joining in such an appeal, voicing agreement with Reeves’ decision and suggesting that the legislature had “duped” the public by passing an unnecessary bill. Hood pointed out that the First Amendment already protected clergy from any adverse consequences of refusing to perform same-sex marriages and that the state’s previously-enacted Religious Freedom Restoration Act already provides substantial protection for the free exercise rights of Mississippians. Reeves found that, at its heart, H.B. 1523 spells out three “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” that the legislature had inappropriately given “special legal protection.” The beliefs in question are “(a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at birth.” Under the law, then, any person or entity holding such beliefs is free from any government penalty for acting on them by, for example, denying restroom access to a transgender person or refusing to provide goods or services to a same-sex couple for their wedding.
Republican Governor Phil Bryant pledged an immediate appeal of Judge Carlton W. Reeves’ injunction against implementing H.B. 1523.
State Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, signaled he is unlikely to join the state’s appeal, endorsing the judge’s reasoning and suggesting the legislature had “duped” the public.
The plaintiffs in these cases argue that by privileging people whose religious beliefs contradict the federal constitutional and statutory rights of LGBT people, the State of Mississippi has violated its obligation under the First Amendment to preserve strict neutrality concerning religion as well as its duty under the 14th Amendment to afford “equal protection of the law” to LGBT people. Reeves, who ruled in 2014 that Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, agreed with the plaintiffs in all their arguments. In granting a preliminary injunction, he did not have to reach an ultimate decision on the merits of their plaintiffs’ claims — he merely needed to show they were “likely” to prevail. His strongly-worded opinion, however, leaves no doubt about his view of the merits. “The Establishment Clause is violated because persons who hold contrary religious beliefs are unprotected — the State has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others,” Reeves wrote in his introduction. Then quoting from a 2000 Supreme Court ruling, he continued, “Showing such favor tells ‘nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.’ And the Equal Protection Clause is violated by H.B. 1523’s authorization of arbitrary discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender, and unmarried persons.” Much of Reeves’ opinion was devoted to rejecting the state’s arguments that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the lawsuits, that the defendants lacked liability to be sued, and that injunctive relief was unneces-
sary because nobody had been injured by the law. Reeves cut through these arguments with ease, citing the 1996 US Supreme Court precedent in Romer v. Evans, involving a ballot initiative preventing the State of Colorado from providing any protections against anti-gay discrimination. After state courts found that LGBT advocates could challenge that measure, it never went into effect because the Supreme Court found it violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Quoting from the Romer decision, Reeves wrote, “It is not within our constitutional tradition to enact laws of this sort.” In both his earlier ruling on the law’s clerk “recusal” provision and in his June 30 decision, Reeves alluded to Mississippi’s resistance to the Supreme Court’s racial integration rulings from the 1950s and 1960s and focused on how H.B. 1523 was specifically intended by the legislature as a response to the Supreme Court’s ruling last year in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. In considering H.B. 1523, Mississippi legislators made clear that its intention was to allow government officials and private businesses to discriminate against LGBT people without suffering any adverse consequences, just as the state had earlier sought to empower white citizens of Mississippi to preserve their segregated way of life. Reeves quoted comments by Governor Bryant criticizing Obergefell as having “usurped” the state’s “right to self-governance” and mandating the state to comply with “federal marriage standards — standards that are out of step with the
MISSISSIPPI, continued on p.40
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Equal Marriage Rights Means Two Moms Federal judge orders Indiana to cut the bull on birth certificates
BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
inding that Indiana was failing to comply with the Supreme Court’s mandate for marriage equality in refusing to list the same-sex spouses of birth mothers on their children’s birth certificates, US District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, in cases brought by several same-sex couples married before their children were born, ordered that both moms’ names be identified in such cases. Pratt found that the mandate to afford equal marriage rights to same-sex couples included a requirement that the “parental presumption” that is routinely applied to the husbands of women giving birth also be applied to their wives. Pratt’s decision spells out the usual procedure for Indiana issuing birth certificates, which begins with the birth mother and hospital staff submitting data to the county health department. If a mother is unmarried, only her name is listed on a birth certificate, unless a paternity affidavit has been completed, even if the mother knows the identity of the birth father. If a mother is married, a husband’s name will be listed, even if the child was conceived by sperm donation, unless the mother takes immediate steps to make clear her husband is not the biological father. Even though all of the plaintiff couples in this case were married lesbian spouses, Indiana refused to accept the non-birth mothers’ names
SAGE, from p.4
until Gloss’ death in 2013 from cancer, a disease she battled on and off for 16 years. Gloss was long engaged in SAGE’s activities — “she advocated,” Banks recalled, even while acknowledging, “I never showed up until she got ill.” Even then, Banks would drop in to check out the group’s offerings, but hesitated about diving in. That changed when Gloss died. “They saved me, I tell you,” Banks said of SAGE. She soon became a regular at SAGE’s Harlem Center and later its newer Bronx Center in the Fordham section. “Now I’m out and proud,” she said. Every week, Banks hears from the four children she and Gloss
ly inseminated is not consistent with the Indiana Birth Worksheet, Indiana law, or common sense,” the judge wrote. “The Indiana Birth Worksheet asks, ‘are you married to the father of your child,’ yet it does not define ‘father.’ This term can mean different things to different women. Common sense says that an artificially-inseminated woman married to a man who has joined in the decision for this method of conception, and who intends to treat the child as his own, would indicate that she is married to the father of her child. Why would she indicate otherwise?” Pratt pointed out that some other states had enacted specific statutory language to deal with the use of donor insemination by married couples and the issuance of appropriate birth certificates, but Indiana has failed to do so. She noted, however, that even in one such state, Wisconsin, litigation is pending because officials there have also been refusing to list samesex spouses on birth certificates. The process employed by Indiana, Pratt concluded, does not achieve its articulated purpose of creating a “true” record of biological parents and is administered in a way that clearly discriminated against same-sex couples. Rejecting the state’s argument that employing a parental presumption was not required under the US Supreme Court’s mandate last year that samesex couples enjoy equal marriage benefits, she pointed out, “the state created a benefit for mar-
INDIANA, continued on p.40
development, “I am more than monetarily engaged, I am deeply morally engaged as well.” In remarks lauding the efforts by SAGE and her government colleagues, Donna Corrado, commissioner of the city’s Department for the Aging, said, “I experienced discrimination in housing many years ago. Save an apartment for me.” The press conference drew others — SAGE members — also hopeful of finding future housing opportunities at Ingersoll or Crotona North. Joyce Banks is a 72-year -old retiree of the US Department of Veterans Affairs who has lived in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx since 1988. She shared her life with Janet Gloss for 32 years
for listing on birth certificates. The state’s position was that the database and the birth certificates generated from it are supposed to create a true record of the biological parentage of the child, and that because a same-sex spouse of a birth mother is not biologically related to the child, listing her would create a false record. In order to be listed, the same-sex spouse would have to adopt the child with the birth mother’s permission, involving expenses and delay, during which time the child would have only one legal parent. However, given that Indiana does record the husbands of women who give birth through artificial insemination, Pratt accepted the plaintiffs’ argument that Indiana’s policy “violates the Equal Protection Clause,” because it was sex discrimination, pure and simple. Since sex discrimination is subject to heightened judicial scrutiny, Indiana had the burden of justifying its policy by showing it advances an important state interest. Indiana presumes, without proof, that the husbands of birth mothers are the parents of their children, so the policy does not, in fact, advance the state’s asserted interest of creating a “true” record of the child’s biological parents. And Pratt was impatient with the state’s claim that the system was intended to get at the truth of the matter. “The State Defendant’s argument that the birth mother should acknowledge that she is not married to the father of her child when she has been artificially inseminated or else she is committing fraud when she has been artificial-
A rendering of the Ingersoll Senior Residences development in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
raised and is also in regular contact with a sister who lives in Boston, but at a weekly Saturday grief group at SAGE following her life partner’s death she learned
the vital role her LGBT family could play in her life. When the lottery for a spot in Crotona North begins taking applications, she plans to be on line. July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Bio-Revival’s “Burst Active” fruit pearls.
MORSELS: Getting Fancy
A summertime peek at what’s new and, in some cases, amazing BY DONNA MINKOWITZ
he words “fancy food” make my heart swell, for better or worse. In 1970, “fancy food” is what we called it when my father got a gift basket from his boss full of special jams, cheeses that weren’t Kraft Singles, and chocolates that were not from Hershey. That basket thrilled me. (The cheeses were still processed ones, but it was 1970 and for them not to have been, we would have had to be Italian-American or a different income level.) The words artisanal and upscale and that strange new term “noms” had not yet been applied to food, but I would get a feeling of world-shaking satisfaction whenever I’d go to the Jewish “appetizing” store on Avenue J, where there were preternaturally bright dried fruits and smoked fish that magically smelled delightful, not off-putting. Hence “fancy,” special. We seldom could buy anything there, but seeing it was enough. So it was with a sense of being in a childhood paradise that I found myself at the Summer Fancy Food Show last week, the national trade
show for the Specialty Food Association, the 64-year-old association of producers and purveyors who sell “high perceived value” food to the American market. In booths throughout the mammoth Jacob Javits Convention Center, there were literally thousands of entrepreneurs proffer ing samples of soft elite French cheeses, Wagyu beef from Japan, blood orange juice from Italy. Miles of pickles and goat ice cream and quince paste, an overwhelming largess of “special” crackers and snacks and cookies, so many proffered fancy chocolates I literally could not stand to see another one. (Really!) Eight-year-old me would have run naked through the convention center snatching up foods into my mouth, but 52-year -old me tried to go for the healthy stuff. That meant the meats and cheeses, dried fruit, smoked and cooked fish, and fermented pickles and sauerkraut. There are no fresh fruits or vegetables in the Fancy Food Show, and despite labels of “non-GMO,” “gluten-free,” “high-protein,” “superfood,” and “natural” slapped on everything,
there seemed to be many more processed foods than whole ones. Foodie culture has had such an enormous influence on our eating habits that Specialty Food Association delights often turn into what are ever -after considered plainold normal foods stocked in every supermarket: Chobani, Roland canned vegetables and sauces, Jelly Belly beans, and Season sardines are all members. So are the companies that make the seaweed snacks, kale chips, Barilla pasta, and coconut water you can now find all over New York. And you could (if you wanted to) sample all those now ho-hum products at the food fair. But like capitalism (and often, our appetites), the Fancy Food Show is focused on the new and different. Here are the five items from the show that made my toes curl: The food that excited me most was something called Bio-Revival “Burst Active,” which, embarrassingly, was… not exactly a whole food. Well, maybe. Sort of. I loved it. Bio-Revival, a company in Jupiter, Florida, uses molecular gastronomy to create bright, glorious “fruit caviar” pearls out of (variously) fruit juices, honey, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. My favorite were the blackcurrant-juice pearls, which looked like large rubies and burst under my tongue. They were delicious. I wanted to give them to my guests at parties: they were beautiful, gleaming spheres of juice encapsulated in a ultrathin, taste-free layer of seaweed. (The molecular gastronomy process is called “spherification.”) I wanted to hand a spoonful to my best friend. The strawberry-juice caviar was also superb. (Bio-Revival also makes these jewels out of pomegranate, orange, and apple juice, though I didn’t get to taste these flavors.) The honey, balsamic, and even the olive oil spheres tasted exquisite, and they were some of the most beautiful-looking foods I have ever eaten. I would have liked to put all but the olive oil caviar in my cereal, or on pancakes. (The company recommends the olive oil and balsamic ones for use in salads, where they will not soak or wilt the greens.) Pricing on Bio-Revival’s website is utterly confusing, but company vice president Eugene Richter
informs me that in contradistinction to the prices listed on the website, all products are now available for the promotional price of $12 for 113 grams, which I think is reasonable considering that these pearls can, as Bio-Revival’s brochure says, “surprise your family and party guests with innovation and fantasy.” They are all preservative- and GMO-free. “Pearls” can be ordered with or without sugar, although the tasty ones I tried all turned out to have come with. (I suggest calling or emailing Bio-Revival to order, rather than using the problematic website cart.) My second favorite product was something called CocoRau, subtitled “Raw Couture Collection.” Frankly, I am also faintly embarrassed by this choice. Not because it’s a line of raw chocolate truffles, but because a) they are tiny, oneounce candies that retail for $6 a piece, and b) their maker, Konstanze Zeller, is a makeup artist who says she created the candies for “models,” intended as “beautifying” agents for their skin, with “antiaging nutrients that are good for your whole being.” The four flavors of “Raw Power Bites” have names that come from yoga and Hindu philosophy, and they are all made with raw, organic ingredients like cacao paste, pistachios, coconut oil, and molasses. Except for the green matcha-flavored one, which has some honey, they are all vegan. The thing is — they are the most exciting chocolates I have eaten in years. I tried two, the “SAMADHI — orange bliss — desire” and the “TURIYA — espresso — energizing.” Samadhi is defined (according to Google Definitions, at least) as “the stage at which union with the divine is reached (before or at death).” Sounds like desire to me. It truly tasted like desire, too — the orange essence and Mexican chile powder combine with the raw cacao and almonds and hazelnut pieces to provide a truly sexy, genuinely beautiful bite. Zeller also says she designed the chocolates to look “attractive,” and they do — surprisingly, that makes a huge difference. Turiya, according to various websites which may or may not have any authority whatsoever, means “pure
FANCY, continued on p.17
July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
FANCY, from p.16
GayCityNews.nyc | July 07 - 20, 2016
consciousness,” “the serene and blessed state,” “the highest Brahmic consciousness.” I find it mildly hilarious (but not off-putting) that this is the yogic state Zeller decided to associate with espresso. But the chocolate, which I tried three times, is astounding. It did taste like it was giving me pure consciousness (in ways that just slurping espresso would not have). The almond flour and cacao and molasses (which is, in fact, loaded with great nutrients) actually did make the bite feel nourishing. Eating this caffeinated, healthy-tasting, delicious thing, I was willing to suspend disbelief and think for a minute that this bite might be anti-aging me. It’s too expensive for a regular treat, so buy it for someone you care about for the holidays. My third favorite (also not a health food): the T rois Petites Cochons’ new Terrine Des Trois Rois, a sort of meat spumoni made of alternating layers of Armagnac-marinated prunes, chicken, and duck foie gras. For some of you, this will be an ethical hor ror as well as a cholesterol- and fat-bomb. But for me, it was like eating a wonderfully basso-profundo jam that somehow blended aptly with the butchest chopped liver you could find. It retails for about $18.99 online for seven ounces (which is a lot even for foie gras, but more than you can eat at several sittings, and more than enough for a dinner party). Fourth favorite: a new Italian blue cheese covered in coffee — yes, coffee — and slices of coffee beans, from the Italian cheesemakers Luigi Guf fanti, called Erborinato Sancalone Caffè. This lovely, almost dessert-like cheese — the coffee tasted at some points like chocolate, but the blue cheese itself was not sweet — was exhibited by an American cheese distributor out of Armonk called World’s Best Cheeses, which had an enormous booth full of little-known cheeses that were nearly all wonderful. Fifth favorite: finally, a healthy one. Cleveland Kraut, a newish maker of great live, fermented sauerkrauts, has a fantastic new flavor out called Gnar Gnar. Most of the sauerkraut you’ll find at the
grocery is shelf-stable and made with vinegar; Cleveland Kraut’s kind, fermented and probiotic, is far superior both nutritionally and in taste. Gnar Gnar, made with jalapenos, sriracha, green peppers, garlic, and leeks as well as cabbage, tastes both spicy and extra-fermented; a funky sauerkraut that you would be proud to have represent you in the world. The straight-seeming young men who make it, whom I met at the show, say that queer fermentation revivalist Sandor Katz is their hero.
Cleveland's Kraut's Gnar Gnar.
Random other things I liked: Malai, a line of delicate ice creams in Indian flavors like rose and star anise, made in Brooklyn. Brewla, a popsicle made of cold brew, awesome and also from Brooklyn. A line of dried fruits called Fruit Bliss — also made in the bor ough of my birth — that are the most luscious, juicy, fresh-tasting dried apricots, prunes, and Turkish figs I have ever tasted, and all organic. (They get a steam bath at some point to keep the fruit “wet,” yet are not slimy like some other “wet” dried fruit.) Another line of organic dried fruit called Made in Nature that makes the fruit into something called “supersnacks” I would normally disdain, except that these are both healthy and addictive (their Figgy Pops, “energy balls” made of figs plus things like coconut, nuts, seeds, cherries, and chocolate, made me happy). An odd thing called Coffee Blocks, coffee made with grassfed butter, egg yolks, and coconut oil, is something I hope this culture adopts.
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PRIDE, from p.6
About 300 uniformed members of the NYPD marched with the Gay Officers Action League.
PRIDE, continued on p.21
Police Officers Aiden Budd and Brooke Bukowski, the NYPD’s first out transgender uniformed members.
tingent into the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but the anti-gay massacre did not move him to make peace with his brothers and sisters in Dignity/ New York, who silently witnessed outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral once again the morning of the march. How simple it would have been for him to step out and make a sign of solidarity in the wake of Orlando, but it was beyond him. Lewis Speaks-Tanner, president of Dignity USA, said that of the statements made by bishops nationwide about Orlando, “all but four of them made no mention of the LGBT community.” St. Francis Xavier in Chelsea, which expelled Dignity from its worship space in 1987 but has in recent years become known as an LGBT -friendly parish, marched with its banner face forward after having turned it around several years ago under pressure from the Archdiocese. Brendan Fay of Lavender & Green, which led the big LGBT contingent in the St. Patrick’s parade, said, “The hateful speech from the pulpits has to end. I’d like to see the pope and Church leaders apologize to the LGBT community for their theology that defines us as intrinsically disordered.”
and AIDS groups and sometimes infiltrating them. Orlando was seared into the hearts of many in the march — from the huge contingent from Gays Against Guns to an Oasis float that managed to combine disco music and pictures of the 49 martyrs. On the sidelines on Christopher Street was Joseph Santiago, 25, holding a banner with these pictures, too. He had just moved to Brooklyn from Orlando on June 7 and pointed to five of the murdered men he counted as personal friends. “I want people all over the world in GLBT communities to feel safe,” he said. There was anger about the easy availability of guns to kill us and about the hate behind the triggers. “We as Americans have to stop the hate,” out gay Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell said, “and hold leaders — political and religious — responsible for their hate.” What about all the government money that goes to anti-LGBT religious groups, whether in non-profit social service funding, reimbursement for parochial school security expenses, or below-market rents for weekend worship use of the public schools? “We should put a stop to that,” he said, a heavy lift in a city and state where many politicians rely on blocs of right-wing religious groups for their elections. Assemblymember Deborah Glick, the first out state legislator, originally elected in 1990, said, “We’ve seen that these organizations spew hate and hide behind ‘religious freedom.’ There needs to be a complete review of the ways in which resources are directed to the religious community over and above basic tax-exempt status.” She lamented Governor Andrew Cuomo’s push for tax credits for religious schools, though, as in the past, Assembly Democrats were able to block it. Former City Councilmember Margarita Lopez, an out lesbian, said, “Until all the religions — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist — all accept that we are children of God like everybody else, the gay fight is not over.” Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic archbishop of New York, may have allowed a gay Irish con-
Among the City Council contingent were (from l.) Jimmy Van Bramer, Ritchie Torres, Carlos Menchaca, and Corey Johnson.
July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
PRIDE, from p.20
GayCityNews.nyc | July 07 - 20, 2016
Out gay Hudson Valley Congressmember Sean Patrick Maloney, who has been attaching LGBT rights amendments to pending bills on the floor of Congress, said, “A majority of the House supports anti-discrimination legislation, but Republicans use the process to stop it. It would pass today if we could bring it to a vote.” Out gay Councilmember Danny Dromm said, “We must continue to push for LGBT history in our schools,” a still unrealized goal despite his push for it as chair of the Education Committee, the appointment of an LGBT liaison in
the schools, and the Department of Education’s first celebration of Pride Month this June. Juanita Ramos, “a black, Puerto Rican lesbian feminist socialist activist and academic,” whose first pride march was in 1978, said, “We’re not safe anywhere. We have to push our issues for those who can’t come out.” Veteran activist Tom Burrows said, “I’m pushing programs for LGBT incarcerated people. We have not been good to our people who are incarcerated. We have to welcome them back to the community” when they get out.
Later that Sunday on his plane home to Rome, Pope Francis said to reporters, “I believe that the Church not only should apologize to the person who is gay whom it has offended,” but to others. Yet he was not pressed on specifically what he has to apologize for nor did he apologize for the Church’s condemnation of homosexual love or the Vatican’s continued role in opposing LGBT rights in the civil sphere worldwide. Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, was at the first march commemorating the Stonewall in 1970 and has attended all but one in New York. He echoed the push for gun control, but also wants the federal LGBT rights bill passed, saying, “The Human Rights Campaign and Barney Frank set us back decades by replacing the comprehensive LGBT rights bill with ENDA,” a gay employment bill in which transgender people were jettisoned as a means of securing passage in the House — and only there — in 2007. Out gay Councilmember Corey Johnson said the challenge is “to mobilize the community for a ban on guns. We need the Democrats to win the House and Senate and keep the presidency or we’re fucked.” He added that until we end “homelessness for LGBT youth and HIV/ AIDS, the fight is not over.” Out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “Republicans are divided
this year and Democrats are strong. We will have a united front” if Democrats take back the State Senate where many LGBT and AIDS initiatives are now stalled. Senator Chuck Schumer, who stands to become majority leader if the Democrats take back the Senate this fall, said that the Equality Act, comprehensive legislation that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the classes protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, “is a high priority” for him. Though “Republicans don’t want to bring it up,” he said. “We are close!”
Internet sensation Todrick Hall, who hosted the evening.
Barbara Poma, the owner of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and the bar’s entertainment director, Neema Bahrami.
The conclusion of a reading of the names of those murdered in Orlando.
RALLYING IN PRIDE & SOLEMNITY PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO On a beautiful evening two nights before the June 26 Pride March, Heritage of Pride’s annual Rally, at Pier 26 in Tribeca, was a mix of vibrant entertainment and solemn remembrance of those lost in Orlando.
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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Seth J. Bookey, Anthony M.Brown, Kelly Jean Cogswell, Andres Duque, Michael Ehrhardt, Steve Erickson, Andy Humm, Eli Jacobson, David Kennerley, Gary M. Kramer, Arthur S. Leonard, Michael T. Luongo, Lawrence D. Mass, Winnie McCroy, Eileen McDermott, Mick Meenan, Tim Miller, Donna Minkowitz, Gregory Montreuil, Christopher Murray, David Noh, Sam Oglesby, Nathan Riley, David Shengold, Ed Sikov, Yoav Sivan, Gus Solomons Jr., Tim Teeman, Kathleen Warnock, Benjamin Weinthal, Dean P. Wrzeszcz
President Barack Obama with Prime Minister David Cameron, Samantha Cameron, and Michelle Obama at the White House.
BY KELLY COGSWELL
nother Fourth of July, and Independence Day in the US seems especially ironic this year since Britain, the country we won our independence from, just voted to sever ties with the European Union and is already regretting it. Those who voted to leave said they didn’t like EU taxation — even though they had representation! Neither did they like how EU immigrants could compete for jobs in Britain. They were shocked to discover that dumping their obligations would also mean losing access to the benefits, like the EU single market and trade deals (the source of many jobs), or even that agreement with the French to stop migrants from crossing the Channel at Calais. Leave supporters seemed particularly surprised to learn that the European banking industry that made London its capital and spent years fueling British growth no longer had any reason to be there post-Brexit. So out with the bath water go those massive companies and their employees who spent a gazillion pounds a day on goods and services, paying taxes, creating work. I’d sneer, except that both Trump and Sanders are happily pushing for the same isolationism and anti-globalization. This is partly to satisfy garden-variety xenophobia and racism, but also as an alternative reality solution for income inequality. If you believe them, there will be plenty of
good jobs at home once corporations are forced to keep them in the States. It might even have been true at one point, but at last week’s summit among the US, Mexico, and Canada, Obama reminded us that one of the biggest reasons for job loss wasn’t outsourcing, but automation. The US is actually manufacturing more steel than a decade ago, but there are simply less jobs for humans. Robots do everything from building cars to assembling computers. They even stock shelves and pack boxes, carry and fetch, count and send. Tech, of course, has affected middle-class jobs, too. Like bank tellers, though not bankers. Retail stores have given way to Amazon’s robots. Thanks to the Huffington Post, and other new media, journalists exist, but are expected to work for free. For the US to create industrial-economy jobs in the 21st century, you wouldn’t just have to roll back trade deals and alliances, you would have to smash the machines and turn back time. Anything short of that, would be Brexit redux. We’d maybe gain a few jobs here and there, but we’d lose far, far more that has been created by our global service economy. And we’d also lose manufacturing jobs, because the global shock waves would devastate developing markets. All we’d create are more poor people. The world these days is complicated and interdependent. Solutions to inequality and poverty have to be, too. Even improved means of communication can build invisible walls. These
walls don’t divide the one percent and the rest, but the great bulk of our population from a bottom tier that includes a disproportionate amount of people of color and LGBT people of all races. It’s not like the old days when the differences between the rich and middle-class and poor had a lot to do with the model of your car or the size of your TV. Even most poor people could afford a set, and no matter what size TV you had, or how many, they still broadcast the same shows. Even if they excluded you, and you were watching them from outside with your nose pressed up against the screen. Now, money doesn’t just buy better technology or more, but something entirely different. You can’t replicate the experience of owning a smart phone, for instance, by having a cheap cell, plus spending a few hours on a computer at the library. No, without a smartphone you’re in a different universe where even the sense of time is different. News doesn’t depend on daily newspapers but instantaneous pings from Facebook, Twitter, and newsfeeds. A question can be answered as soon as it is posed. A wrong turn in the real world can be corrected immediately by GPS and Google maps. Instead of waiting for a car service or a cab, you open up your Uber app and get a ride that is both quicker and cheaper. And of course, you can network perpetually and instantaneously without taking the time out for coffee or meals or cocktails, reinforcing and augmenting the privileges you already have. Which helps some people when they need to do a job search. Because employers look not only at the résumé you submitted online but at your entire network of friends and followers to see if you’ll fit in with the company culture. The drawback is you may find yourself on the employment version of Grindr. No fats, no fems, no… Maybe most troubling is how this technological divide leaves the poor on the wrong side of the tracks in the democratic process, which we are supposed to use to fix things. And even as politicians celebrate the apparent accessibility of social media and hold town meetings there, we discover that smart phones and Internet access are like entry fees. And not everyone can go. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press. July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
The Case for Agreeing to Disagree BY ED SIKOV
he magnificent Dan Savage recently tweeted a link to a seriously complicated essay about, well, many things, especially the intolerance of ambivalence in contemporary political and social discourse. Written by Brian D. Earp and published on the website Quillette.com, which bills itself as “a platform for free thought,” the essay is a model of well-reasoned, high-level argumentation. Earp is no intellectual slouch: he’s been a research associate with the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics and a consultant working with the Institute for Science and Ethics at Oxford’s Martin School and is currently a resident visiting scholar at the Hastings Center Bioethics Research Institute in Garrison, New York. Earp’s affiliation with Hastings provided some laughs for me, because during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, I regularly mocked the Hastings Center in my media column in the New York Native for reasons I no longer recall. I was fully prepared to dismiss the brilliant Earp solely on the basis of his affiliation with Hastings; in other words, I was ready to reject his entire essay exactly for the reasons he so skillfully demolishes in his essay. And, oh by the way, he’s dreamy. An online bio contains this concluding statement: “Brian is also a professional actor and singer.” I urge you to check out this brilliant and talented hottie on YouTube. See him play Fagin in a production of “Oliver!” Earp begins by quoting the historian of science and sex researcher Alice Dreger. “Once upon a time,” she writes, “we were allowed to feel ambivalent about people. We were allowed to say, ‘I like what they did here, but that bit over there doesn’t thrill me so much.’ Those days are gone. Today the rule is that if someone — a scientist, a writer, a broadcaster, a politician — does one thing we don’t like, they’re dead to us.” I admit that this opening salvo got my back up a little bit; I’m tired GayCityNews.nyc | July 07 - 20, 2016
of people complaining about political correctness (which is basically what Dreger is doing), especially when the complainer resorts to the passive voice as a way of avoiding specifics (“we were allowed”; allowed by whom? And more crucially, precisely who is no longer allowing it?) But Earp continues with a statement of his own, one I really couldn’t argue with: “I’m going to suggest that this development leads to another kind of loss: the loss of our ability to work together, or better, learn from each other, despite intense disagreement over certain issues. Whether it’s because our opponent hails from a different political party, or voted differently on a key referendum, or thinks about economics or gun control or immigration or social values — or whatever — in a way we struggle to comprehend, our collective habit of shouting at each other with fingers stuffed in our ears has reached a breaking point.” The more I read, the more I found myself wondering if Brian Earp was perhaps the Messiah; his extraordinary intellect and generosity of spirit, not to mention his clear desire to encourage warring parties within the community of sex and gender activists to find common ground made me feel more optimistic about our movement making genuine progress than I’ve felt in a long time. “Given the state of politics these days,” he goes on, “Dreger’s remarks could have been triggered by just about anything; but as it happens, she was reflecting on a controversial decision by the editors of Everyday Feminism, a popular online feminist magazine, to pull an essay of hers on sex education. The essay had earlier been published by Pacific Standard with the provocative title, “What If We Admitted to Children That Sex Is Primarily About Pleasure?” “The essay wasn’t the problem,” Earp continues. “In fact, the editors liked the essay: they had reached out to Dreger to ask her permission to republish it, which is how this whole episode began. Instead, the problem was some other, unrelated material that Dreger had pub-
lished elsewhere — a kind of ‘guilt by association’ with her own work [emphasis mine]. This is how the editors explained their decision (key bits in bold): ‘What happened was that we decided to pull the article from circulation shortly after it went up. When we asked permission [to republish it] we weren’t aware of some of the articles you’ve published on trans issues and after a reader brought it to our attention [we] looked into them.’” Earp then explains the controversy: “If you aren’t familiar with Dreger’s work, you are probably wondering what she’s written about trans issues that the editors found so troubling — troubling enough to retract an unrelated essay. And if you are familiar with Dreger’s work, you are probably wondering even more. This is because Dreger is widely regarded as being a supporter of trans rights, as well as rights for intersex people, for gender non-conformers generally, and for other marginalized groups, all of which seems broadly consistent with the aims of Everyday Feminism.” Please bear with me as I trace in broad strokes the essence of this complex argument: Earp writes, “The story goes like this. Dreger has written, in her recent book and elsewhere, about a condition called ‘autogynephilia.’ If you haven’t heard of this condition, you are not alone; but it turns out to be really important. What it refers to is the tendency of certain individuals who were male-assigned at birth to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of themselves as a female. Some of these individuals later transition into being women, which is why this is relevant.” “The problem is, some people, including some members of the trans community, strongly disagree with Dreger’s analysis of the scientific evidence on this condition. Just to be clear, Dreger does not do primary research in this area, but as a historian and sociologist of science and medicine, she has written at length about the work of those who do.” “Although her primary inter -
est has been to defend the right of these scientists to advance their views without being personally attacked — which has led to further attacks on Dreger herself — she also sometimes discusses the specifics of their theories. And while she doesn’t agree with everything they have to say, she sees their main conclusions as being pretty well supported.” Earp continues, “One of these conclusions has become a lightning rod. That is the notion that the sexual arousal aspect of autogynephilia is not somehow tangential to the desire to transition, but is often directly causally related. Specifically, the idea is that “nonhomosexual transsexuals experience erotic arousal at the idea of becoming a woman, and this arousal motivates them to become women. “Again, Dreger basically agrees with that idea (although she uses different terminology). Others, including the scientist and writer Julia Serano [who I have quoted admiringly in this column] (see juliaserano.com/av/Serano-CaseAgainstAutogynephilia.pdf) and the psychotherapist and physician Charles Moser (see tandfonline. com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00918369. 2010.486241) do not. “I’m not going to drag you into the details of the science. Both of the critiques I’ve linked to are open access, and they do a good job of showing some of the more dubious features of autogynephilia research (which I agree has serious problems). You can make up your own mind about the strength of the critiques. Instead, I want to give you a sense of the differing perspectives behind the disagreement between Dreger and her most ardent critics.” Earp then asks, “How does autogynephilia research fit into this? For one thing, it challenges the ‘gender essences’ narrative, which is a big part of why it’s so controversial. But it’s also controversial because, as some people see it, it is genuinely sloppy science.” By “the ‘gender essences’ narrative, Earp means the stories trans folks tell to explain their desire to transition, many of which start out like this: “I felt like I was a woman trapped in a man’s body.”
MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.30
PERSPECTIVE: Washington Stalemate
Playing Politics on Immigration Rights Hurts LGBT Lives BY GLENN MAGPANTAY
o say I am deeply disappointed would be an understatement. We at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) are aggrieved as a badly divided US Supreme Court issued a 4-4 decision in the case US v Texas on June 23. The decision upholds a lower court’s ruling to block President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and created a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program. Had this ruling gone in a more positive direction, it would have benefited more than a quarter million LGBT immigrants. Immigration laws and policies have a direct impact on the lives of LGBT people. This decision significantly diminishes our equality. NQAPIA submitted a brief in the case illustrating the impact of the immigration programs on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. In April 2015, NQAPIA, together with local groups, organized a Nation-
MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.29
In these narratives, the notions of both woman and man are essentially essential — they presuppose that there are gender essences into which they do not fit. Hence the desire to transition. Earp continues, “For example, Serano and Moser — the two critics I cited earlier — argue that the existing data on autogynephilic trans people just do not support the proposed model. According to their reading of the literature, although there is sometimes an erotic component to gender transition decisions, it is not usually a core part of the actual motivation. So the whole focus on sexual desire which characterizes Dreger’s account (and that of the scientists she defends), is in their view beside the point. In other words, from their perspective, it isn’t that trans people with autogynephilia are somehow denying their ‘true’ motivation for transitioning — in order to save face or to appease social conservatives —
al Week of Action on Immigrants’ Rights protesting the US v. Texas lawsuit in New Orleans and New York City. Could this decision have gone differently? While there is no way to know what would have happened had the court had its full compliment of nine justices participating, the congressional Republicans’ obstructionist refusal to fulfill their constitutional obligation to advise and consent on the president’s nominee to fill the empty seat on the Supreme Court goes to the heart of the matter. Anti-immigration advocates have held up reviewing President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court. They have kept in place a stalled judiciary. We do not know how nine justices would have ruled, but the reality is a 4-4 decision, one that keeps in place lower court rulings. In this case, the Texas decision remains intact. Playing politics with peoples lives is unacceptable. The president’s expanded DACA and DAPA immigration programs could have helped up to five million undocumented immigrants, including 400,000 Asians, to be free from deportation and gain work authorization. An estimated
it’s that the motivation really isn’t primarily sexual. “But so what if it is! says Dreger. This is typical of Dreger’s sex-positive attitude, and also reflective of her sex-positive politics, which I’ll expand on shortly. A developmental path shaped by sexual desire, she thinks, would be a ‘perfectly legitimate’ route for transitioning from assigned-male to female, and, in any event, her reading of the evidence suggests that it’s a real path, whether people find that politically convenient or not. “Moreover, she says, ‘regardless of how someone becomes a woman, if she identifies as such, we owe her the respect of recognizing her identity and addressing her appropriately.’” Earp then moves on to a brief digression about Germaine Greer, the feminist writer and theorist who turns out to be grossly anti-trans; she’s a problematic figure in the history of thinking about gender because she goes out of her way to deny that trans women are in fact women. For
267,000 undocumented immigrants are LGBT, of which a disproportionate share is Asian and Pacific Islander. Fortunately, the original DACA program remains unaffected, and more than 100,000 undocumented Asian Americans remain potentially eligible for this program, but have not yet applied. NQAPIA, a federation of LGBT Asian American, South Asian and Pacific Islanders with local organizations across the US, vows to educate more LGBT Asian Americans to apply for DACA and to provide legal assistance. More information about DACA can be found on our website at nqapia.org/wpp/dacadapa. Our message to Congress as LGBT Pride Month concludes is: Take politics out of the judicial system. Meet your constitutional commitment and give the presidential Supreme Court nominee a fair hearing as soon as possible. A court with only eight justices will continually throw decisions back on the states, essentially eviscerating the role of the Supreme Court. It is your duty to set this straight. Glenn Magpantay is executive director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA.org), a nationwide federation of LGBT Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations. NQAPIA seeks to build the organizational capacity of local LGBT AAPI groups, develop leadership, and expand collaborations to better challenge homophobia and racism.
instance, she once wrote the following vile statement: “On the day that ‘The Female Eunuch’ [Greer’s book] was issued in America, a person in flapping draperies rushed up to me and grabbed my hand. ‘Thank you so much for all you’ve done for us girls!’ I smirked and nodded and stepped backwards, trying to extricate my hand from the enormous, knuckly, hairy, be-ringed paw that clutched it… I should have said, ‘You’re a man. “The Female Eunuch” has done less than nothing for you. Piss off.’ The transvestite [sic] held me in a rapist’s grip.” I suspect that many of us would, upon learning that Greer was scheduled to speak at our college or university, attempt to shut the event down. Why should such a pig be granted a forum on any subject?, we might ask. But that’s precisely the problem, Earp writes: “So what does this mean in practical terms? For one thing, it means that even if you disagree with, say, Alice Dreger’s stance on autogynephilia, you still
Brian Earp may just be the Messiah!
might try to see if you — or your readers — could learn something from her work on sex education. Similarly, despite her harsh rhetoric and uncompromising beliefs about trans identity, you could try being open to the idea that Ger maine Greer — a pioneering figure in the fight against patriarchy — might have something important to say about women and power in the 20th century. “Publishing an essay on your website doesn’t mean that you endorse every other word the author has ever written. And letting someone speak at your university on subject X doesn’t mean that you
MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.31
July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: Healthcare Is a Right
Ending the HIV/ AIDS Epidemic in the Transgender Community BY DOUG WIRTH, DANIEL DROMM,
AND JIMMY VAN BRAMER
n recent years, there have been great strides in treating and preventing HIV and in reducing the number of new HIV infections in New York. Yet HIV is an ongoing crisis in the transgender community, and it often goes unacknowledged. According to the most recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 percent of transgender women are HIV-positive, and HIV prevalence among transgender women is nearly 50 times higher than among other adults. The epidemic is especially pervasive among transgender women of color — approximately 90 percent of transgender women in New York City diagnosed with HIV from 2007 to 2011 were black or Latina. What accounts for these huge disparities? One of the most critical factors that impacts transgender women of color is lack of stable employment, largely because of workplace discrimination. Without a secure job and access to stable housing, transgender women of color may turn to sex work as their only means of survival, dramatically increasing their risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and of being the victims of violence. Among transgender women of color, there is an alarming crisis of violence. The Human Rights Campaign reported that in 2015 there were more transgender violence-related fatalities in the US than in any other year; at least 21 transgender people died as a result of violence last year, and nearly all of them were transgender women of color. Many transgender women of color have experienced physical and verbal harassment, which contributes to depression, substance use, anxiety, and psychological trauma. It’s undeniable that unstable housing has a direct impact on health outcomes; it’s virtually impossible to stay in care consistently if you
MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.30
agree with their views on subject Y. “‘I like what they did here,’ you might say, ‘but that bit over there doesn’t thrill me so much.’ “Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that the sign of a first-rate intelligence ‘is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.’ I think there’s a lesson in that senGayCityNews.nyc | July 07 - 20, 2016
don’t have a safe, secure place to live. Unfair and discriminatory treatment by landlords and housing authorities has created a housing crisis among transgender individuals — one in five has experienced homelessness and more than one in 10 have been evicted due to their gender identity in the US. Leaving people without stable housing will lead to new HIV infections and many preventable AIDS deaths. When it comes to quality of health care, transgender individuals regularly encounter stigma, prejudice, and gaps in knowledge about transgender health. Data from the Human Rights Campaign shows that 19 percent of transgender women of color reported being refused treatment due to their gender identity, and 28 percent said they have been harassed in a doctor’s office. Transgender women who have ID that does not match their gender identity may be embarrassed to enter an environment that will not be sensitive to recognizing their gender identity. As a result, transgender individuals often end up avoiding care altogether. Those who are HIV-positive are less likely to consistently stay on antiretroviral medication that would lower their viral load and help them become virally suppressed, giving them a better chance to live longer, healthier lives and making it much less likely that they would transmit HIV to others. We have the knowledge and resources to treat and prevent HIV — but we need to turn our attention to the T in LBGT and address this crisis in the transgender community. It is essential to expand the availability of quality, culturally competent transgender health care, ensuring that providers have the training and sensitivity to address the specialized health care needs of transgender individuals and create a safe space for them to access treatment. Care coordination is particularly beneficial for transgender people, as it ensures that care is tailored to the needs of the individual, and it provides supportive services that help people
timent for this debate. Maybe we should say that the sign of a firstrate social justice campaigner is the ability to engage with, and even learn from, someone they really disagree with on some issue, and still retain the ability to pursue their righteous cause.” Earp concludes, “In fact, I think this first ability (engagement) can help improve the second ability (pursuing justice), directly. This is
stay in treatment and improve their health. Also essential is access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) — a treatment regimen that is over 90 percent effective in preventing HIV-negative people from becoming infected. The Blueprint to End the AIDS Epidemic in New York State by 2020 highlights the need to address health disparities and the disproportionate rate of HIV infection in the transgender community. More funding is needed for expanded access to HIV prevention and treatment, and trans-specific health programs in particular are often underfunded and overlooked. We must include the transgender community in the health care conversation to open the door to equitable health care and life-saving treatment. Several community-based organizations (CBOs) and health care providers in New York City are working to provide comprehensive support to the transgender community, including Apicha, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Community Healthcare Network, Housing Works, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center, and grantees of the Amida Care Fund at Stonewall Community Foundation such as Audre Lorde Project, the HEAT Program, and Translatina Network. Amida Care is committed to helping transgender members — who comprise seven percent of Amida Care’s total membership — access respectful, culturally competent care. Provider training in transgender health and HIV prevention methods such as PrEP are essential, as is access to housing options and workforce training. Quality health care is a right, not a privilege. It is time to acknowledge and break down the barriers that are preventing the transgender community from accessing the high-quality, culturally competent health care they deserve. We can and we must do a better job of reaching this underserved community and help them access the comprehensive care they need. Too many lives are at stake. Doug Wirth is president and CEO of Amida Care, Daniel Dromm is a member of the New York City Council representing the 25th District in Queens, and Jimmy Van Bramer is the Council majority leader, representing the 26th District in Queens.
because, when we take the time to acknowledge that there might be a valid insight at work in someone’s view — even if we ultimately reject that view for legitimate reasons — we often discover an element of nuance in our own position that we hadn’t picked up on before. This, in turn, can increase the chance that our position will better approximate the truth, as well as appeal to other people besides the ones who
already agree with us. “ Preaching to the choir never did do much to change the world. And isn’t breaking down conventional categories, in large part, what ‘young feminism,’ trans activism, and even trans identity, are all about?” Anyone interested in forming a Brian Earp cult should contact @edsikov on Twitter or Facebook.
Sisterhood Rhapsody Evoking a Japanese past, Hirokazu Kore-eda conjures a world of women
here are Americans who live in a world made entirely of Japanese culture: anime, manga, outrageous fashion. The frequency with which Japanese settings are used in cyberpunk science fiction suggests that many writers see the country as our future. Director Hirokazu Kore-eda is busy doing something else, exploring the style, if not the ethos, of the Japanese past. While filmmakers like Sion Sono and Takashi Miike make ultra-violent, cartoonish work, Kore-eda’s films harken back to the classic tradition of Yasujirō Ozu and Mikio Naruse. “Our Little Sister” pays overt homage to the narrative of Kon Ichikawa’s “The
Makioka Sisters” and the style of Ozu’s late films. Unfortunately, there’s also something complacent and overly cozy about it. “Our Little Sister” is based on Yoshida Akimi’s graphic novel “Umimachi Diary.” Three sisters in their 20s — Sachi (Haruka Ayase), Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa) and Chika (Kaho) — live together, estranged from their father. The film begins with their discovery of the existence of their half-sister Suzu (Suzu Hirose), a 15-yearold girl in a school uniform. They meet her as a consequence of their father’s funeral, which leads them from their home in the seaside town of Kamakura to the countryside. On impulse, they invite Suzu to live with them. While Sachi, Yoshino, and Chika often quarrel among
SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
BY STEVE ERICKSON
Haruka Ayase, Suzu Hirose, Kaho, and Masami Nagasawa in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Our Little Sister.”
themselves, Suzu gets along great with each of them. They don’t even mind when she almost passes out after dipping into homemade plum wine. The film follows the family over the course of a year. Despite his ties to the past, Koreeda isn’t exactly politically or even socially conservative. One of his earliest films was a documentary about one of the few men in Japan to come forward and be honest about his HIV diagnosis. One difference between his films and Ozu’s is that his reflect a world where the nuclear family has splintered. Ozu’s
most famous film, “Tokyo Story,” criticized youth for not taking care of their elderly parents, and many of his other films depicted tension between middle-aged parents and their sons and daughters, often around marriage. The world of Kore-eda’s films contains a lot more options, many of them negative. In one of his films, a mother simply abandons her children. “Our Little Sister” shows a group of 20-something women raising their teenage half-sister and
SISTERHOOD, continued on p.33
Iconic Photographer, Both Chatty and Cagey Laura Israel lets Robert Frank’s words and work speak for themselves
PHOTO BY LISA RINZLER/ GRASSHOPPER FILMS
Robert Frank in Laura Israel’s “Don't Blink — Robert Frank.”
BY GARY M. KRAMER
aura Israel’s jazzy, inspiring documentary “Don’t Blink — Robert Frank” is a nifty portrait of the iconic Swiss-born photographer. Through artfully assembled interviews, home movie footage, film clips, and dozens of sensational photographs, Israel captures Frank’s talent and his candor. Her film also raises intriguing questions about the nature and purpose of art.
“Don’t Blink — Robert Frank” is hardly a comprehensive documentary. It briefly addresses the artist’s Swiss parents, his arrival in America, and the highlights of his career in photography and film. Frank’s initial success was his landmark 1958 book “The Americans,” which featured an introduction by Jack Kerouac along with 83 images Frank took during a ninemonth, 10,000-mile trip through 30 states. For viewers unfamiliar with the esteemed photographer’s work, there are glorious, arresting pictures that are seen on contact sheets or as individual stills. As we see the hand of an African-American man, the inside of a Ford Motors factory, and a funeral, Frank explains how his trip made him “really like America,” despite some critical reactions to the book that suggested otherwise. Israel is lucky that her subject turns out to be as chatty as he is about his life and work, given Frank’s brusque statement about his dislike for giving interviews. He “pins people down with his camera,” we learn, and prefers that people not try to pin him down. In “Don’t Blink — Robert Frank,” Israel doesn’t walk into that trap; instead she lets him — and his work — speak to viewers. Frank
explains the influence Walker Evans had on him, and reflects on his experiences with the Beats, including Kerouac, Gregory Corso, and Allen Ginsberg. He also discusses his work for Harper’s Bazaar as well as his films. Frank waxes poetic in asserting that his pictures “talk about the character of the people” he photographs. He reveals just enough about his own character to explain some things about himself — as when he lectures about his art — but there is also a delicious air of mystery delivered with a still-heavy accent. He can be quite cagey. Frank describes how film can bring a person or an image “back alive,” whereas photos are “like a memory,” and Israel is judicious in selecting film clips to show that. Scenes from “Pull My Daisy,” his influential 1959 short film chronicling the Beats, features interesting anecdotes demonstrating how this literary movement managed to express “something new” in American culture. A few clips from Frank’s 1972 documentary “Cocksucker Blues,” a rollicking chronicle of the Rolling Stones’ tour for “Exile on Main
DON'T BLINK, continued on p.33
July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
SISTERHOOD, from p.32
taking over the maternal role without much fuss. They’re sisters, but they act like mothers. Nevertheless, something about “Our Little Sister” starts to grate. The references to traditional Japanese rituals, such as looking at cherry blossoms and harvesting plums for winemaking, become a bit much. While the cinematography is pretty, it shows off Mikiya Takimoto’s background in advertising whenever it stretches for genuine beauty. A scene in which Suzu and a boy ride through a tunnel of blooming cherry trees gets cloying. The film’s attention to the passing of the seasons recalls Naomi Kawase’s recent “Sweet Bean,” another largely failed attempt to evoke classic Japanese cinema. “Our Little Sister” passes the Bechdel test — to have at least two women discussing something other than a man — in its first five minutes. One way it differs from classic Japanese cinema is that it presents a near -matriarchal
OUR LITTLE SISTER Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda Sony Pictures Classics In Japanese with English subtitles Opens Jul. 8 Angelika Film Center 18 W. Houston St. at Mercer St. angelikafilmcenter.com/nyc Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at 63rd St. lincolnplazacinema.com
world. The sisters interact with men at work and they have boyfriends sometimes, but the relationships that truly matter are with women. While Ozu was gay, he was obsessed with the ins and outs of marriage. But to depict a changed Japan, Kore-eda borrows Ozu’s use of low camera angles showing people eating at a table and his blocking and framing of actors. “Our Little Sister” has one foot in 20th-century Japan, another in a new world that seems to be forming. It’s often engaging, but just as often awkward and misshapen.
DON'T BLINK, from p.32
Street,” are less instructive, just barely addressing the controversial nature of the film, which includes extended scenes of the band misbehaving, having orgies on airplanes, and wrecking hotel rooms. The documentary has rarely been screened in public and was never officially released. (It will be screened twice during the run of “Don’t Blink” at Film Forum, on July 20 and 21 at 9:50 p.m.) “Don’t Blink — Robert Frank” also focuses on the artist’s personal life. He married June Leaf, also an artist, and they lived in a remote house in Nova Scotia for a number of years. The home movie footage of Frank and Leaf in the snow is sweet and humanizes him, offering a contrast to the cold eye he brings to his photographic subjects, whom he describes as “marginal people who live on the edge.” Shots of a couple on Skid Row and of an African-American woman holding a white baby speak to the harsh realities of life in America, which Frank excels at depicting in his unblinking fashion. In touching on painful chapGayCityNews.nyc | July 07 - 20, 2016
DON’T BLINK — ROBERT FRANK Directed by Laura Israel Grasshopper Films Opens Jul. 13 Film Forum 209 W. Houston St. filmforum.org
ters in Frank’s life, Israel does so with care. As the artist recounts the death of his daughter, who lost her life at age 21 in a plane crash in Guatemala, and addresses the mental problems of his son Pablo, he speaks with poignancy about what life can present us with. Clips from his most personal film, “Life Dances On,” a short featuring his son and late daughter, add a layer of sadness to these moments. “Don’t Blink — Robert Frank” includes some of the artist’s later work, from photographs he made in Egypt to his cinéma vérité docu-
DON'T BLINK, continued on p.39
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Yazbek & McClure Broadway’s current best composer and one of its brightest stars in deep dives
BY DAVID NOH
hen I met my favorite living musical composer, David Yazbek, at the June 21 press preview at 54 Below for its upcoming shows, I threw a very unfamiliar name at him. “J. Akuhead Pupule,” I said. “Ever hear of him? Thought not. But you’re right: it does sound Hawaiian. He was actually Hal Lewis, a popular Jewish disc jockey in Honolulu my mom would have on the radio when she drove us to school. I hadn’t thought of him in ages, but you made me do so, because he used to play all the great crossover hits from the 1960s that had originated on Broadway.” From Petula Clark singing “You’d Better Love Me” from “High Spirits” to various pop artists’ versions of “What Kind of Fool Am I” (“Stop the Word I Want to Get Off”), “My Cup Runneth Over” (“I Do, I Do”), “The Impossible Dream” (“Man of La Mancha”), and “Sherry,” this was how I was introduced to — and came to yearn for — Broadway, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. All of them were melodic, lyrically canny, and instantly catchy, much like the songs Yazbek writes for theater, which, in these days — dominated by sullenly nattering Sondheim wannabes and treacly, bombastic power anthems about dreary self-realization — are musical manna from heaven. Two particularly lovely ballads of his, “Breeze Off the River” from “The Full Monty” and “Love Sneaks In” from “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” in a more enlightened era than now would definitely have been snapped up by, say, Sinatra, if he were alive, or Streisand and been big juicy hit records for either of them. “That’s interesting,” replied Yazbek, who will be performing at 54 Below July 29-30 (7 p.m., 254 W. 54th St.; 54below.com/events/david-yazbek). “I came up loving Frank Loesser. I love Sondheim, but to me ‘Guys and Dolls’ is the perfect musical, partially because the songs are perfect musical theater songs, and also many of them are perfect pop songs of the time. They’re also musically fascinating and the lyrics are brilliant, whereas Sondheim was clearly writing strictly for musical theater. I try to do both, but it has to do with my influences. “As far as people like Streisand and Sinatra singing my stuff, I wish that would happen. On every show I’ve ever written, someone, usually a producer, has said, ‘Oh, we gotta get fill-inthe-blank to sing it!’ On ‘The Full Monty,’ it was Whitney Houston, and for our recent London production of ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,’ someone said, ‘I know Adele!’ I’m sitting there, going, ‘Sure. Right.’”
I made Yazbek laugh when I called him the Great White Hope of the Broadway Musical and recalled when his “Women on the Verge” was one of its season’s most anticipated productions, with a cast that included Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sherie Rene Scott, and Laura Benanti, but somehow just did not jell or click. I wondered if, perhaps, had they changed its locale from Madrid to Manhattan, it might have worked better.
David Yazbek (r.), with David Noh.
“That was discussed briefly but one of the things against that was the Spanish element of it. I love that kind of music, and I’ve been a fan of Pedro Almodóvar [the movie’s auteur] since his first commercially available movie. I love filmmakers who have this verticality to what they do, meaning every shot, every line, it’s all deep and there’s a lot going on. He’s one of them, and I really just wanted to honor his world he’s made in all these movies. It’s almost like the Marvel [Comic] universe. I wanted to be a part of that — he and I have become good friends — and he likes the songs, so I feel like I succeeded. “We did it in London last year, and, while it has always been a really good show, we did it wrong on Broadway. It was too big or something, but in London it went over really well. I was so satisfied and maybe at some point I’d like to bring it here to like Brooklyn Academy of Music or Off Broadway. I don’t think it needs to come to Broadway, but I want to see it in New York with the right cast. “The original Broadway production was overproduced and we made several mistakes. We didn’t go out of town and, if we had, we probably would have all said, ‘Uh-oh, we better pull back on certain things.’ It was over-staged and there was some storytelling stuff we later trimmed up. We kept working on it during the run, which no one ever does, but two weeks in, we had something a lot better. In London, I replaced a couple of songs and now the story is really tight. You’re
following the main character really well, and now it’s just like ‘Ohmigod, this is a show!’ We’d still be running if we had done this here. “The lead was played by Tamsin Grieg, who appeared in a TV show called ‘Episode’. She’s not a musical theater person, not even a singer before she did this, but a brilliant actress, and now she’s a singer. The rest of the cast was bunch of some well-known and a lot of sort of discoveries in London.” Asked about diva in excelsis LuPone, Yazbek enthused, “I love Patti, the most professional actor I’ve worked with. She doesn’t accept anything but hard work, not perfection, because she’s not a perfectionist. Just be the best that you can do. She’s a real actor: I can talk to her as a composer about how she’s acting a song. And she’s listening and not just thinking, ‘I gotta have a big ending here.’ She’s thinking about the show. I love her and just had dinner with her at Jeffrey Lane’s house two weeks ago. I can’t say enough about her and would love to work with her again.” At the 54 Below preview, Yazbek performed a hauntingly beautiful song, reeking of nostalgia and seduction, about Omar Sharif and the scents and sounds of an Arabic childhood. It was from his new show, “The Band’s Visit,” based on the 2007 film about an Egyptian orchestra being stranded in Israel, set to open at the Atlantic Theater in the fall. I congratulated him on writing a musical song about something for a change, and he laughed, ‘You gotta — I like to write songs that are about something. My mother’s side of our family was matrilineallyy Jewish, and they were Christian on my father’s side.” I adore Arabic music, and so does Yazbek. “Our ears may not be used to it but if people would listen, they’d synch into it. Because of the show, half of our band are masters of Arabic music as well as Western stuff. We also have Javier Diaz, one of the great Afro-Cuban — as well as orchestral — percussionists [presently in the pit of ‘On Your Feet,’ joyously rousing ecstatic audiences], and now I find myself playing Eddie Palmieri stuff all the time. It’s interesting who you play with. There’s a big-time link between Arabic and Spanish music, especially flamenco, and in Andalusia and southern Spain.” Yazbek is currently considering doing concerts with this tasty group on Friday and Saturday nights after the show, when it opens. He seems to be having the time of his life whenever I’ve seen him concertize, but Yazbek explained it this way: “I think I love it. I don’t remember much because I will come offstage and then I will forget everything that happened.
IN THE NOH, continued on p.38
July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | July 07 - 20, 2016
Autos and an Auto-da-Fe Among San Francisco’s June wonders is opera BY DAVID SHENGOLD
CORY WEAVER/ SAN FRANCISCO OPERA
CORY WEAVER/ SAN FRANCISCO OPERA
t’s delightful to be in San Francisco in June, with Frameline’s massive LGBTQ film festival just the pinnacle of Bay Area cultural events for a diverse community. This year’s San Francisco Opera line-up offered appealing prospects in three of the greatest operas ever written: “Don Carlo,” “Jenufa,” and “Carmen” — the Verdi and Janácek works superbly cast and the Bizet billed as the first production by Catalan superstar director Calixto Bieito to be brought to the US. Seen June 17, “Carmen” proved enjoyable but no revelation. Carlo Montanaro conducted episodically, with some odd tempo choices. The staging — credited to Joan Anton Rechi — emerged as “based on” Bieito’s Catalan version. Judging from videos and still footage, it evoked a Broadway bus-andtruck reduction, though the trademark five classic Mercedes cars made their trademark appearance. Bieito/ Rechi made much amusing — and also macabre Tarentinoesque — use of them. From the program — if nothing else — we learned we were at Ceuta, one of Spain’s North African enclaves. It was a relief to be spared the usual tourist office Iberian “local color,” but little in the direction of per formers or chorus seemed either novel or insightful, save that Micaela — the miscast Erika Grimaldi, sounding like late-career Licia Albanese — came across tougher than the usual blonde ingénue. Far too much extra-musical noise prevailed, including deeply unmusical howls of forced laughter. It wasn’t a bad performance by any means, just unmemorable. Best of the leads was Brian Jagde, more at home in the final act’s rigors and trumpeted anger than in José’s initially needed lyricism — though he found airy head voice for the climaxes of the duet with Micaela and his Flower Song. This sturdy spinto tenor seems to be treading successfully on the James King career path, an admirable goal. Michael
Mariusz Kwiecien in San Francisco Opera’s production of Verdi’s “Don Carlo.”
William Burden in San Francisco Opera’s production of Leoš Janácek’s “Jenufa.”
Sumuel’s soft-grained bass-baritone with its appealing light tremolo was also miscast in Escamillo’s music — he had the bottom but not the top notes of the ever-betraying Toreador Song and succeeded only in the final duettino; nothing in his stage presence suggested “bullfighter.” Stage presence figured large in Ginger Costa-Jackson’s title anti-heroine, an impersonation boasting considerable virtues. Beyond looking hot, she showed good French and a thorough textual understanding. The voice itself is usefully vibrant and of sufficient range. What it lacks are the sheer quality and quantity of sound to be satisfying on a large international stage: she too often resorted to Sprechgesang. Costa-Jackson would be totally valid in a small house with a largely Opéra-Comique version, or in Peter Brook’s “La Tragédie de Carmen.” The small role casting showed the limits of the near-omnipresent practice of using company “Young Artists” in parts needing some seasoning. But Renée Rapier sang an excellent Mercédès; plus, having that sidekick have a little daughter observing Carmen and her friends’ misdeeds proved the most interesting thing about the staging.
dramatic action possible. This was a spectacular performance that operagoers anywhere in the world would have been lucky to hear. Major credit goes to conductor Jirí Belohlávek, stylish and authoritative on Janácek’s tricky dynamics and rhythms. The orchestra sounded world-class. So did Karita Mattila, even finer as Kostelnicka than she’d been as Jenufa in this staging. A staged role debut, Mattila’s visceral performance in largely radiant tone was a triumph. William Burden’s Laca scored one, too, masterfully helming a beautiful lyric sound through the music’s rigors via excellence in phrasing, articulation, and dynamic shading. His difficult character was built surely and subtly. Malin Bystroem acted an unusually feisty heroine with similar detail and appeal — probably the most convincing Jenufa visually I’ve ever seen — and sang prettily if with insufficient oomph in the middle to dominate ensembles. Scott Quinn aced the macho golden boy Steva, portrayed as a cringing physical coward when not swaggering. Unlike most Stevas, he vocalized attractively. Here again, young singers impersonated mature characters, but virtually everyone sang well — Laura Krumm (Maid), Matthew Stump (Foreman) and clarion-voiced Toni Marie Palmertree (Barena) fared very strongly. Reader, I went back to hear it again.
Olivier Tambosi’s “Jenufa” staging, which has played somewhat equivocally at the Met, worked much better in this space (June 19), with keener, more detailed
“Don Carlo” on June 21 also enjoyed international-level casting, save for Andrea Silvestrelli’s vibrato-with-a-voice-around-it Inquisitor, insecure at both range extremes and lacking gravitas. Outgoing music director Nicola Luisotti, once promising, gave a fitful, pace-challenged, and often overloud account of Verdi’s wonderful score, with too many brass flubs for comfort. Sometimes his reading snapped into focus, but the conductor’s reflex ovations were Chicago-style Bartoletti Syndrome: “He’s Italian and he’s ours, so it must be good.” Ian Robertson’s chorus held its own. Emilio Sagi’s staging was crammed with little realistic touches — Princess Eboli seemingly figuring in every palace intrigue — with wildly varying success. The unhappy regal pair took the highest honors. Ana María Martínez’s first Elisabetta showed how a first-rate lyric soprano can successfully approach this spinto role. Like Burden, Martínez maximizes her musical effect through expert phrasing. The second verse of her Romanza was barbarically cut, but her dead-on attacks, aerial piano singing, and emotional connectedness made her contributions to the Quartet and final duet unforgettable. René Pape’s bass showed considerable velvet sheen and elegant dynamic play; purely as singing and star presence, he impressed. One
SAN FRANCISCO, continued on p.39
July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Gender Bent and Broken
Women’s roles, identities, rights central to a new documentary play and a Shakespeare classic
STET Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex 312 W. 36th St. Through Jul. 10 only Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m. Fri-Sat at 8 p.m.; Sun. at 2 p.m. $51-$76; ovationtix.com Or 866-811-4111 Ninety mins., with no intermission
Jocelyn Kuritsky and Lexi Lapp in Kim Davies’ “Stet.”
BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
ape on campus is much in the news. From the cases at Vanderbilt and the University of Virginia to recent controversies over sentences handed down in rapes at Indiana University and Stanford, it’s a subject that’s fraught with tension. While court proceedings, reactions to them, and protests are widely covered, the emotional and human costs are often obscured. Digging into those issues is rightly the province of theater, and the new play “Stet,” based on a true story, delves into that with integrity, heart, and balance. Written by Kim Davies, the play concerns the efforts of a magazine writer to uncover the story behind an alleged campus rape and the lives affected by it. Putting the reporter, Erika, at the story’s center allows the play to explore not only those affected by the incident but also the role of the media in covering the story. Erika is eager to create a cover story for the magazine where she writes. She tells us early on that she is drawn to what can be empirically demonstrated, but is uncomfortable with unproven accusations and conclusions based on mere perceptions. As she digs deeper into the case, however, Erika faces a barrage of conflicting information and confusion that affects her emotionally. Getting to the unquestionable truth, it seems, is virtually impossible. Davies’ writing is reserved and understated, but its visceral impact on the audience is profound. Most heartbreaking is the lack of any resolution. Davies’ resistance to tying up all the loose ends leaves the audience unsettled, even provoked. GayCityNews.nyc | July 07 - 20, 2016
Tony Speciale, who is also credited with helping develop the piece, directs with a sure, spare hand that enhances its documentary feel. Jocelyn Kuritsky, who also worked on creating “Stet” with Davies and Speciale, is wonderfully staid as Erika, and Bruce McKenzie does a very good job as Phil, the magazine’s editor. Lexi Lapp is focused and compelling as one of the victims, Ashley. Jack Fellows is terrific as Connor, a frat guy who struggles against the society around him. Déa Julien is powerful as Christina, a campus activist. Her cadence and attitude are perfect, and as her story unfolds the performance acquires richness and resonance that are very moving. This is an important and timely play. It is powerful political theater that’s not heavy-handed, but leaves one aching for everyone involved — the women who are victimized and the culture that permits such things to happen.
How on earth can a director pull off “The Taming of the Shrew” in 2016 by making it be a comedy, rather than, say, theater of cruelty? The play about a woman forced into an arranged marriage and then having her spirit crushed to suit the pleasure of a man seems to celebrate male hegemony in sexual and marital relationships and the diminishment of women to chattel, mere commodities. “Shrew,” to be sure, remains one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, known in its original and as the musical “Kiss Me, Kate.” Part of the reason is that the play is so full of comedy, whether in Katherina’s over-the-top, violent courtship and — ultimately quashed — rebellion or in the secondary plot involving various suitors’ antics in seeking the hand of her seemingly
more docile and traditional sister Bianca. It can be easy to overlook the darker themes, revel in the comedy, and chalk up the apparent misogyny to the era from which it came. That perspective, however, misses half the fun — and social criticism — of the play. The story of Petruchio and Katherina is, as Shakespeare wrote it, a play within a play. The rarely performed introduction establishes the theme of role-playing as a human foible; the character Christopher Sly, a tinker convinced he is a lord through a trick played upon him, invites us from the outset to question the veracity of everything unfolding before us. Disguise and dissembling as both manipulation and emotional self-preservation are really the themes of “Shrew.” Enter director Phyllida Lloyd, who brilliantly answered my initial question in the recent Shakespeare in the Park that turned the play into gloriously effervescent agitprop. Lloyd did away with the introduction, but achieved its end by using an all-female cast. Her framing device was a beauty pageant, with a familiar Trumpian voiceover that set the stage for the women’s objectification and located the piece clearly in 2016. The audience had to constantly confront the illusion of women as men and thereby face their own assumptions about gender roles. It was, in a word, fascinating. The swaggering Petruchio, grieving over his father’s recent death and determined to secure his fortune through marriage, runs head on into Katherina, chafing at being forced into an arranged union and having her heart and independence treated as something to be sold. As with Beatrice and Benedick in “Much Ado About Nothing,” when the hard shell is shattered for both, the soft centers are revealed. The role-playing is not reserved for Kate and Petruchio. Once married, Bianca’s truer and harsher side was revealed, and it was she who was more the Shrew, one more twist in what the audience was led to believe was the “truth.” In casting all women, Lloyd played marvelously with the roles people assume to achieve
GENDER, continued on p.39
FEINSTEIN’S/ 54 BELOW
Rob McClure, who has just stepped into the role Brian d’Arcy James originated in “Something Rotten.”
IN THE NOH, from p.34
I’ll remember what other people played as in ‘that solo was awesome,’ or ‘you guys were locking together really well.’ Everything before and after on that night, I hate. I like rehearsing but I don’t like sound checking and arriving and talking, and afterwards talking to people. I like playing music and just going with that. I am a musician first, also a theater composer, but that’s almost like a day job.” Yazbek remembered writing his first song “when I was 10 to 11. I joined a band and my memory of those songs was that they were really catchy, but horrible.” “Catchy is good,” I responded. “I’ll never forget going to the men’s room during the original 1975 run of ‘Chicago,’ and damn, if every single guy in there wasn’t humming ‘All That Jazz.’ You have that most rare ability to write irresistible stuff one likes upon first hearing.” “Oh, that’s an enormous compliment, because that’s what I go for, and the other thing I try to do sometimes is reprises in the second act, with songs that have definite hit potential,” Yazbek said. “Rodgers and Hammerstein in ‘South Pacific’ did it like four times with ‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ and the second act is all reprises. Like, I need to put a swimming pool in my house, let’s reprise this one three times!” Yazbek’s first job after graduating from Brown was staff writer for “The David Letterman Show”: “I had always been writing words and music, a humor column, reviews. I was at ‘Letterman’ less than a year, didn’t like it, a weird experience, but I did learn a lot. I was hoping it was going to be like ‘Your Show of Shows’: Woody Allen and Mel Brooks going, ‘It’s boffo! We’re gonna do this!’ Instead, you’re a veal in a tiny office, generating content. It was exciting to see if you had a bit, a gag, or a skit airing on TV, but writing on staff was not for me. I needed to be the originator of the piece that I was doing, but I still wrote a lot of scripts for TV, children’s shows, but mostly to support my music.” Creating musicals is such a fragile, fraught task in a very rough business, and I wondered how Yazbek dealt with all the crazy-making
aspects of Broadway, besides his twice-daily 30 minutes of meditation. “It doesn’t drive me that crazy. I have to say when ‘The Full Monty’ opened, shortly before 9/ 11, the reviews were all great and it was kind of clear that it was going to do well. I got a lot of letters from really cool theater friends of mine, like Cy Coleman, and then got one little note card from one of my Zen teachers who’d seen all the publicity about me and this first show of mine. It read: ‘May your practice sustain you in these difficult times.’ I still have that card and I thought then, ‘This is good.’ That keeps your feet on the ground really well.” I wanted to hear about the great character actress Kathleen Freeman, who made a Broadway comeback in “The Full Monty.” “I’d seen her in so many movies — every Jerry Lewis movie — but I don’t think she’d ever done a musical before or sang in any movie. I love character actors like that and she and I would go on and on about not the formula but the lessons you learn about comedy and comic timing when you have been in the business as long as she. I think she was 83 when she was in our show and died when she was technically still a cast member. We killed her! “I don’t know what she had — not sure it was cancer — might have been anything. She ended up in the hospital and then she came back to the show, which she probably shouldn’t have, and then back to the hospital, and then died. We would talk about things like that laugh in the second act and she’d say, ‘Yeah, if he waited a little more and then turned, he’d get a much bigger laugh.’ And she was always right. She understood how to generate rolling laughter and how to land a joke within a song. She was great, and I’m so happy I got to work with her.” And then there was Elaine Stritch, who did Freeman’s role in the Paper Mill revival of the how: “My agent insisted we see it together, so we did. It was a good production but I guess Stritch didn’t want to learn the music because she spoke every song. I was watching this and thinking, ‘She only has one big song but she spoke it, and yet she does a nightclub act, so she could have learned the song.’ “I go backstage after to say hi to everyone and I see Stritch and, before I could say anything, she comes up and says, ‘I made a choice to speak it!’ And I was just like, ‘Fine,’ so that was that. I wasn’t angry. I didn’t care it. It was still a fun production.”
Also at the 54 preview was the always-winning Rob McClure, preparing for his debut there on July 1. The aim of his show, McClure told me, was to explore the roots of his eternal optimism in a tough show biz world, something he gets teased for a lot. “I’m the thread that ties up this eclectic collection of songs and takes you on my journey of growing up in New Jersey, looking across the George Washington Bridge, and dreaming of Broadway, and the musical influences that got me over here,” he explained.
“Smile,” a song for the film “Modern Times,” written by Charles Chaplin, whom McClure played on Broadway, was prominently featured in his warm and winning set, when I saw it on July 2. But the show I wanted to really hear about was “Honeymoon in Vegas,” which opened to excellent reviews, and, with its funny script and bright Jason Robert Brown songs, seemed a no-brainer audience pleaser, yet closed distressingly early. The definite highlight of McClure’s act was that show’s ebullient opening song, “I Love Betsy,” which prompted Stephen Sondheim to send him a note stating that he wanted to live in the world of that number forever. “We put together something really good and thought it would run for years. It opened at Paper Mill and could not have gotten better reviews. When we transferred to Broadway, we hoped we’d get the same glowing response, which we did. “What catches on? What creates the air that makes someone spend $150 for a ticket, you’ll never know. The more I work in this business, the more it becomes enigmatic to me what that thing is. But I will forever say that that was one of the smartest, funniest shows with one of the best scores of the last half-century. And what does or doesn’t catch fire beyond the walls of the theater — because you know inside the theater there was a party every night — and how that happens, you leave up to the producers and publicity team.” McClure has just gone into a show I found hardly as good as “Honeymoon,” the smart alecky, successful “Something Rotten,” although I’m sure he’ll bring his sparkling energy to the formulaic snark. “I just took over for Brian d’Arcy James, and it’s been a blast. I’m as big a fan of his as anyone, so I was terrified, but the people at the St. James Theatre, Brian himself, and our wonderful audiences have thrown open their arms to me. It’s thrilling, and there are two numbers — ‘Musical Theater’ and ‘Omelette’ — which bring down the house. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the kind of wall of sound that comes from the audience every night after those — thrilling! Josh Grisetti will replace John Cariani, which I think is a perfect fit for him, and Leslie Kritzer will replace Heidi Blickenstaff, which is also a great fit — all-stars taking over for all-stars. I’ve never worked with Josh before but everyone says we could be brothers so I’m really looking forward to it. He’s brilliant. “I’ll be in it through the New Year, and this week should be interesting when I’m performing at 54. I will be running back and forth from here to the theater to do this.” I couldn’t help noticing the very handsome wedding ring McClure was sporting on his third finger, left hand: “It’s titanium and brushed crib fiber carbon. I’ve been with actress Maggie Lakis for seven years in August. No plans for kids, but certainly one day. She’s the best [currently in “Avenue Q”] and originally from Philadelphia, where we now live. We commute together on the Amtrak train every day, only an hour and 20.” July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
SAN FRANCISCO, from p.36
missed, however, the philosophical depth and linguistic connection of Ferruccio Furlanetto (slotted to sing the final performance). Michael Fabiano made a much stronger figure of Carlo than is usual; the tenor’s middle voice was liquid and breathtaking, but worryingly he forced many top notes, to the detriment of line. Greatness alternated with unbridled Corelli-imitation in his vocalization. Fabiano seems to be following John Daszak’s (bad) example of insisting on appearing bald no matter what the period or role demands. Mariusz Kwiecien mercifully didn’t blast; if oversinging has somewhat grayed the timbre, he can still access bel canto elegance, including trills, when needed, and much of Posa’s
GENDER, from p.37
their ends and asked us to examine ourselves and consider how the whole idea of a play, as Hamlet says, is to “hold the mirror up to nature.” That reflection was amplified by an amazing cast and stellar performances. Janet McTeer was a swaggering rock star of a Petruchio, with the gait and cadence of an overly self-confident male that made Petruchio the dazzling centerpiece of Lloyd’s concept. Other standouts included the always-wonderful Donna Lynne Champlin as Hortensio, one of Bianca’s suitors, and Judy Gold as Gremio, another suitor. Lloyd gave Gold the opportunity to exercise her impressive comedic GayCityNews.nyc | July 07 - 20, 2016
mentary film “One Hour” (aka “C’est Vrai!” or “It’s Real”), an experiment Frank shot in Lower Manhattan for 60 continuous minutes on July 26, 1990. The snippets from “One Hour” will prompt viewers to want to see more. Israel’s film, shot mostly in a grainy black and white, with a few clips in color is a shrewd examination of Frank and his work. His pictures, both still and moving, clearly present what the artist wants to see and say, and they help answer the question, “What makes a picture good?”
WE’RE HEATING UP THE HARBOR
DON'T BLINK, from p.33
Robert Frank’s photo of himself and wife June Leaf, as seen in Laura Israel’s “Don't Blink — Robert Frank.”
But Frank himself says it best when he urges this about ways of seeing: “Be curious. Keep your eyes open. Don’t blink.”
music was handsomely and movingly presented. Kwiecien and Sagi had Posa anticipate a different object (himself) of Carlo’s confession of “guilty love” when they met: a touch I’ve always hoped to see. As Eboli, Nadia Krasteva’s fundamental instrument is in a lower league technically and timbrally but she more than pulled her weight in terms of vital characterization. Krasteva knows her business. Matthew Stump — looking decades too young — sang a trenchant Monk. Pene Pati showed a mettlesome tenor as Lerma, William Burden’s 1992 debut role locally. Whatever its lapses, this “Don Carlo” made for a second exciting night at SFO David Shengold (shengold@ yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues.
talents in a sly stand-up routine that was funny but also a not-sosubtle commentary on traditional male humor. The only exceptions to the gender dichotomy were the female characters. Cush Jumbo was delightful as Katherina — a gorgeous force to be reckoned with. That was fortunate casting, since Gayle Rankin as Bianca almost walked off with the production. She’s a comic spitfire who found every laugh in the role — and then some. Given the gauzy reverence for Shakespeare, it’s easy to forget that in his day he didn’t shy away from politics or social criticism. Lloyd’s insightful and enchanting production reminded us of that, while delivering a brilliant show.
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MISSISSIPPI, from p.12
wishes of many in the United States and that are certainly out of step with the majority of Mississippians.” In a footnote, Reeves observed, “The Governor’s remarks sounded familiar. In the mid-1950s, Governor J.P. Coleman said that Brown v. Board of Education ‘represents an unwarranted invasion of the rights and powers of the states.’” The judge also wrote, “In 1962, before a joint session of the Mississippi Legislature — and to a ‘hero’s reception’ — Governor Ross Barnett was lauded for invoking states’ rights during the battle to integrate the University of Mississippi.” Reeves specifically noted how the earlier period’s racial segregationists had invoked religious beliefs as a basis for failing to comply with the Supreme Court’s decisions.
INDIANA, from p.14
ried women based on their marriage to a man, which allows them to name their husband on their child’s birth certificate even when the husband is not the biological father. Because of Baskin [the Seventh Circuit’s 2014 marriage equality ruling] and Obergefell, this benefit — which is directly tied to marriage — must now be afforded to women married to women.” Since Indiana failed to demonstrate a rationale for its policy to satisfy the heightened House HOUSE Calls CALLS
Serving manhattan and the entire tri-State area
Challenging the state’s contention that the law aimed to “address the denigration and disfavor religious persons felt in the wake of Obergefell,” Reeves pointed out what was really going on. “The title, text, and history of H.B. 1523 indicate that the bill was the State’s attempt to put LGBT citizens back in their place after Obergefell,” he wrote. “The majority of Mississippians were granted special rights to not serve LGBT citizens, and were immunized from the consequences of their actions. LGBT Mississippians, in turn, were [quoting Romer v. Evans] ‘put in a solitary class with respect to transactions and relations in both the private and governmental spheres’ to symbolize their second-class status. As in Romer, Windsor [the 2013 case that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act], and Obergefell, this ‘status-based enactment’
deprived LGBT citizens of equal treatment and equal dignity under the law.” Given that Mississippi has no state law forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the state tried to claim H.B. 1523 did not have the effect of imposing any new harm, but Reeves pointed to municipal protections in the city of Jackson and policy protections at the University of Southern Mississippi, on which the new state law “would have a chilling effect.” Reeves concluded, “Religious freedom was one of the building blocks of this great nation, and after the nation was torn apart, the guarantee of equal protection under law was used to stitch it back together. But H.B. 1523 does not honor that tradition of religious freedom, nor does it respect the equal dignity of all of Mississippi’s citizens. It must be enjoined.”
scrutiny required in equal protection cases, it clearly fell short in meeting the strict scrutiny standards that apply in analyzing a due process claim under Obergefell. Last year’s Supreme Court marriage equality ruling identified both clauses of the 14th Amendment as a source of the right to marry. Pratt concluded, “Given Indiana’s long-articulated interest in doing what is in the best interest of the child and given that the Indiana Legislature has stated the purpose of Title 31 is to protect, promote, and preserve Indiana fam-
ilies, there is no conceivable important governmental interest that would justify the different treatment for female spouses of artificially-inseminated birth mothers from the male spouses of artificially-inseminated birth mothers. As other district courts have noted, the holding of Obergefell will inevitably require ‘sweeping change’ by extending to same-sex married couples all benefits afforded to opposite-sex married couples. Those benefits must logically and reasonably include the recognition sought by Plaintiffs in this action.”
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HASA, from p.5
the Plan to End AIDS along with Mark Harrington, chief executive at the Treatment Action Group, a health policy organization. The plan is endorsed by more than 60 AIDS, LGBT, and other groups across the state. In addition to becoming known for making bold promises that he does not keep, Cuomo is also known for bashing his fellow Democrats, and his attacks on de Blasio have been especially intense. The mayor and the governor have endorsed the Plan to End AIDS, but Cuomo has balked at funding it. Seemingly forced into agreeing to the expansion despite the cost, de Blasio was equivocal when asked if he would oppose Cuomo’s order. “I want to be very clinical here and say we’re still looking at it, we’re going to have something to say about it soon,” he said. “But I am flagging that we want to be smart and careful about the fact that we do not want to see a continued pattern of state costs forced onto the city.”
HASA For All, the city legislation that would expand HASA services, was first introduced in the City Council in 2007. It was opposed as too expensive by then Mayor Michael Bloomberg and then City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an out lesbian who represented Chelsea. The bill gained little traction until 2015 when it was reintroduced by Corey Johnson, the out gay city councilmember who now represents Chelsea. Johnson was also quoted in the June 24 Cuomo press release. “I think both the mayor and the governor have dedicated an enormous amount of resources the last couple of years and the mayor was a champion of expanding HASA benefits when he chaired the General Welfare Committee as a councilmember,” Johnson told Gay City News. “Even though he is rightly concerned about the cost burden for New York City, given his past commitment on the issue and the values he has demonstrated as mayor, I think that he will ultimately be supportive of this expansion even if it winds up costing the city more than expected.” July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Stay Safe when driving in wet weather Drivers must modify their driving habits when weather compromises their visibility and makes road conditions unsafe. Rain can fall any time of year, but tends to be most problematic in spring. According to the Federal Highway Administration, wet roadways, and rain in particular, are the main cause of weather-related vehicle crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that, between 2004 and 2013, rain caused 573,784 crashes. To drive safely in the rain and avoid accidents, drivers should follow certain precau-
tions. • Maintain windshield wipers. Inspect and, if necessary change windshield wipers regularly to ensure they are working optimally. Always test wipers before driving in rainy weather. • Turn on lights with wipers. Reduced visibility is a major contributor to wetweather accidents. Drivers’ views may be hampered by falling precipitation and glare from wet roadways. Cloudy conditions and fog also compromise visibility. When using windshield wipers, turn on your headlights as well. This makes your vehicle more
GayCityNews.nyc | July 07 - 20, 2016
visible to other motorists and improves your own ability to see the road and pedestrians. • Recognize changing road conditions. Roadways accumulate oil and engine fluids that can float in rainwater, creating slippery road surfaces. This is usually a problem during the first few hours of a rainstorm or in areas that receive little precipitation and then are subjected to downpours. These fluids make rain-soaked roads even more slippery. Slow down, leave more room between vehicles and try driving in the tracks left by vehicles ahead. • Reduce speed. The au-
tomotive group AAA says hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water, can occur with as little as 1⁄12 inch of water on the road. The group goes on to say that tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speeds to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. New tires can still lose some contact with the roadway, even at a speed as low as 35 mph. Therefore, reducing speed and avoiding hard braking and turning sharply can help keep the rubber of the tire meeting the road. • Rely on the defogger. Use the car’s windshield defroster/ defogger to improve visibility.
Turn it on early and keep it on until the rain has stopped and visibility has improved. • Recover from a skid. Skids can be frightening, but when skidding, resist any temptation to slam on the breaks. Instead, continue to look and drive in the direction you want to go and slowly ease up on the accelerator. • Skip the cruise control. It’s important to maintain control over the vehicle in rainy conditions, so avoid using cruise control. • Maintain tires. Proper inflation and tire tread levels can improve traction. AAA recommends checking tread depth by inserting a quarter upside down into the tire groove. If you can see above
Washington’s head, start shopping for new tires. Check tire pressure on all tires at least once a month. Get an accurate reading when tires are cold and adjust air pressure accordingly. • Avoid other distractions. Distracted driving can be hazardous during good road conditions and even more dangerous when visibility and other factors are compromised. Switch phones and other devices off so you can fully focus on the road and other drivers. Rainy weather can contribute to poor driving conditions. Drivers should make changes to speed and other factors to make wet weather driving as safe as possible.
July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Transgender activist Pebbles.
Jennifer Louise Lopez, director of Everything Transgender NYC.
Jennifer Louise Lopez, director of Everything Transgender NYC, highlighted the plight transgender people face even in this city just trying to use restrooms consistent with their gender identities, but added, “I feel good about being among a lot of trans people and allies. Every day is trans day of action for me.” New York City just passed Councilmember Daniel Dromm’s bill ordering all single-serve restrooms to be gender-neutral by the end of the year — a bill pushed by Comptroller Scott Stringer and conceived by transgender activist Bryan John Ellicott. And while that will make it safer and easier for all New Yorkers seeking relief, most restrooms serving more than one user are still a challenge for transgender people, even though the law allows everyone to use the facility consistent with their gender identity. Rosa of the spirited Rude Mechanical Orchestra that has provided a beat for this action for eight years expressed the hope that people “see what we’re doing here as part of intersectional movements for social justice around the world.” Randy Wicker, 78, an LGBT activist since 1958, said, “Trans people are at the center of the culture war and I am here to support them.” The march set off from the Washington Square arch through the streets of the West Village and past the Stonewall Inn with signs such as “Crush the Binary, Fuck the Cistem” and banners for everything from the Pride Center of Staten Island to the Ali Forney Center and Girls for Gender Equity.
Jennicet Gutierrez, who heckled President Barack Obama at last year’s White House LGBT reception over the issue of the treatment of transgender immigrants in detention.
TRANS DAY, from p.7
Anti-gun marchers stage a die-in.
GUN VIOLENCE, from p.8
The day, however, was not without dissent. Three libertarian groups and a chapter of the Pink Pistols, a pro-gun LGBT group, held a press conference late in the day and challenged the prevailing sentiment that was seen in the march. “I have a license to carry in the state of Massachusetts because as a gay man I know I am statistically more likely than almost any other demographic in the United States to be assaulted,” said Thomas Simmons, a Massachusetts resident who traveled to New York City. “I want the right to protect myself.” Simmons, a member of Outright Libertarians, was joined by Steve Scheetz, a member of People Against the Initiation of Violence and a Libertarian Party candidate for Congress from Pennsylvania. A member of Pink Pistols was supposed be on hand to speak but could not leave work and, similarly, a member of the group Muslims for Liberty who was supposed to speak was stuck in traffic. Simmons’ broader point was
that the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution, is to be interpreted broadly to maximize the freedoms that document affords to the people. Limits on those rights, he said, effectively eliminate them. He also argued that it was common for federal, state, and local governments to overreact to events such as the June 12 attack. “Every time there’s a crisis in this country, there’s an assault on the Bill of Rights,” he said. Scheetz said that self-defense was both legally and morally right and that if people in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando had been armed, the outcome on June 12 might have been different. “Pink Pistols, they’re people who believe in self-defense,” Scheetz said. “I believe in self-defense, every person has a right to self-defense. Whatever tool you use for self-defense is fine by me… If people were there and able to protect themselves, then people with guns, people who want to commit murder are not going to go to a place where they know people are armed.”
GayCityNews.nyc | July 07 - 20, 2016
The Audre Lorde Project's TransJustice program was the principal organizer of the June 24 event.
Behind a second banner, anti-gun activists fold into a die-in.
July 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc