New NYS, NYC Regs Don’t Spare ESPA Trans Fire 08
“Pearl Fishers” A Met Triumph 24
Page 21 © GAY CITY NEWS 2016 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
FREE | VOLUME FIFTEEN, ISSUE ONE | JANUARY 07 - 20, 2016
New Genvoya is now available
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Onepill pill contains One contains elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, and tenofovir (TAF). and tenofoviralafenamide alafenamide (TAF). Ask your healthcare provider Ask your healthcare provider if GENVOYA is right for you.
if GENVOYA is right for you. To learn more visit GENVOYA.com To learn more visit
Please see Brief Summary of Patient Information with important warnings on the following pages.
GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
12/3/15 11:35 AM
Brief Summary of Patient Information about GENVOYA GENVOYA (jen-VOY-uh) (elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide) tablets Important: Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about medicines that should not be taken with GENVOYA. There may be new information about GENVOYA. This information is only a summary and does not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider about your medical condition or treatment.
What is the most important information I should know about GENVOYA? GENVOYA can cause serious side effects, including: • Build-up of lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis). Lactic acidosis may happen in some people who take GENVOYA. Lactic acidosis is a serious medical emergency that can lead to death. Lactic acidosis can be hard to identify early, because the symptoms could seem like symptoms of other health problems. Call your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the following symptoms, which could be signs of lactic acidosis: • • • • • • •
feel very weak or tired have unusual (not normal) muscle pain have trouble breathing have stomach pain with nausea or vomiting feel cold, especially in your arms and legs feel dizzy or lightheaded have a fast or irregular heartbeat
• Severe liver problems. Severe liver problems may happen in people who take GENVOYA. In some cases, these liver problems can lead to death. Your liver may become large and you may develop fat in your liver. Call your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the following symptoms of liver problems: • your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow (jaundice) • dark “tea-colored” urine • light-colored bowel movements (stools) • loss of appetite for several days or longer • nausea • stomach pain • You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or severe liver problems if you are female, very overweight (obese), or have been taking GENVOYA for a long time. • Worsening of Hepatitis B infection. GENVOYA is not for use to treat chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV). If you have HBV infection and take GENVOYA, your HBV may get worse (flare-up) if you stop taking GENVOYA. A “flare-up” is when your HBV infection suddenly returns in a worse way than before. • Do not run out of GENVOYA. Refill your prescription or talk to your healthcare provider before your GENVOYA is all gone. • Do not stop taking GENVOYA without first talking to your healthcare provider. • If you stop taking GENVOYA, your healthcare provider will need to check your health often and do blood tests regularly for several months to check your HBV infection. Tell your healthcare provider about any new or unusual symptoms you may have after you stop taking GENVOYA.
What is GENVOYA? GENVOYA is a prescription medicine that is used without other HIV-1 medicines to treat HIV-1 in people 12 years of age and older: • who have not received HIV-1 medicines in the past or • to replace their current HIV-1 medicines in people who have been on the same HIV-1 medicines for at least 6 months, have an amount of HIV-1 in their blood (“viral load”) that is less than 50 copies/mL, and have never failed past HIV-1 treatment HIV-1 is the virus that causes AIDS. GENVOYA contains the prescription medicines elvitegravir (VITEKTA®), cobicistat (TYBOST®), emtricitabine (EMTRIVA®) and tenofovir alafenamide. It is not known if GENVOYA is safe and effective in children under 12 years of age. When used to treat HIV-1 infection, GENVOYA may: • Reduce the amount of HIV-1 in your blood. This is called “viral load”. • Increase the number of CD4+ (T) cells in your blood that help fight off other infections. Reducing the amount of HIV-1 and increasing the CD4+ (T) cells in your blood may help improve your immune system. This may reduce your risk of death or getting infections that can happen when your immune system is weak (opportunistic infections). GENVOYA does not cure HIV-1 infection or AIDS. You must stay on continuous HIV-1 therapy to control HIV-1 infection and decrease HIV-related illnesses. Avoid doing things that can spread HIV-1 infection to others: • Do not share or re-use needles or other injection equipment. • Do not share personal items that can have blood or body fluids on them, like toothbrushes and razor blades. • Do not have any kind of sex without protection. Always practice safer sex by using a latex or polyurethane condom to lower the chance of sexual contact with semen, vaginal secretions, or blood. Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions about how to prevent passing HIV-1 to other people.
Who should not take GENVOYA? Do not take GENVOYA if you also take a medicine that contains: • alfuzosin hydrochloride (Uroxatral®) • carbamazepine (Carbatrol®, Epitol®, Equetro®, Tegretol®, Tegretol-XR®, Teril®) • cisapride (Propulsid®, Propulsid Quicksolv®) • ergot-containing medicines, including: dihydroergotamine mesylate (D.H.E. 45®, Migranal®), ergotamine tartrate (Cafergot®, Migergot®, Ergostat®, Medihaler Ergotamine®, Wigraine®, Wigrettes®), and methylergonovine maleate (Ergotrate®, Methergine®) • lovastatin (Advicor®, Altoprev®, Mevacor®) • midazolam, when taken by mouth • phenobarbital (Luminal®) • phenytoin (Dilantin®, Phenytek®) • pimozide (Orap®) • rifampin (Rifadin®, Rifamate®, Rifater®, Rimactane®) • sildenafil (Revatio®), when used for treating lung problems • simvastatin (Simcor®, Vytorin®, Zocor®) • triazolam (Halcion®) • the herb St. John’s wort or a product that contains St. John’s wort
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking GENVOYA? Before taking GENVOYA, tell your healthcare provider if you: • have liver problems including hepatitis B infection • have kidney or bone problems • have any other medical conditions • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if GENVOYA can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while taking GENVOYA. Pregnancy registry: there is a pregnancy registry for women who take HIV-1 medicines during pregnancy. The purpose of this registry is to collect information about the health of you and your baby. Talk with your healthcare provider about how you can take part in this registry. • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you take GENVOYA. – You should not breastfeed if you have HIV-1 because of the risk of passing HIV-1 to your baby. – At least one of the medicines in GENVOYA can pass to your baby in your breast milk. It is not known if the other medicines in GENVOYA can pass into your breast milk. – Talk with your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Other medicines may affect how GENVOYA works. Some medicines may interact with GENVOYA. Keep a list of your medicines and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine. • You can ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for a list of medicines that interact with GENVOYA. • Do not start a new medicine without telling your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can tell you if it is safe to take GENVOYA with other medicines.
How should I take GENVOYA?
• Take GENVOYA exactly as your healthcare provider tells • • • • • • •
you to take it. GENVOYA is taken by itself (not with other HIV-1 medicines) to treat HIV-1 infection. GENVOYA is usually taken 1 time each day. Take GENVOYA with food. If you need to take a medicine for indigestion (antacid) that contains aluminum and magnesium hydroxide or calcium carbonate during treatment with GENVOYA, take it at least 2 hours before or after you take GENVOYA. Do not change your dose or stop taking GENVOYA without first talking with your healthcare provider. Stay under a healthcare provider’s care when taking GENVOYA. Do not miss a dose of GENVOYA. If you take too much GENVOYA, call your healthcare provider or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away. When your GENVOYA supply starts to run low, get more from your healthcare provider or pharmacy. This is very important because the amount of virus in your blood may increase if the medicine is stopped for even a short time. The virus may develop resistance to GENVOYA and become harder to treat.
What are the possible side effects of GENVOYA? GENVOYA may cause serious side effects, including: • See “What is the most important information I should know about GENVOYA?” • Changes in body fat can happen in people who take HIV-1 medicine. These changes may include increased amount of fat in the upper back and neck (“buffalo hump”), breast, and around the middle of your body (trunk). Loss of fat from the legs, arms and face may also happen. The exact cause and long-term health effects of these conditions are not known. • Changes in your immune system (Immune Reconstitution Syndrome) can happen when you start taking HIV-1 medicines. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections that have been hidden in your body for a long time. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you start having any new symptoms after starting your HIV-1 medicine. • New or worse kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood and urine tests to check your kidneys before you start and while you are taking GENVOYA. Your healthcare provider may tell you to stop taking GENVOYA if you develop new or worse kidney problems. • Bone problems can happen in some people who take GENVOYA. Bone problems may include bone pain, softening or thinning (which may lead to fractures). Your healthcare provider may need to do tests to check your bones. The most common side effect of GENVOYA is nausea. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. • These are not all the possible side effects of GENVOYA. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist. • Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
General information about the safe and effective use of GENVOYA. Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in a Patient Information leaflet. Do not use GENVOYA for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not give GENVOYA to other people, even if they have the same symptoms you have. It may harm them. This Brief Summary summarizes the most important information about GENVOYA. If you would like more information, talk with your healthcare provider. You can ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for information about GENVOYA that is written for health professionals. For more information, call 1-800-445-3235 or go to www.GENVOYA.com. Keep GENVOYA and all medicines out of reach of children. Issued: November 2015
EMTRIVA, GENVOYA, the GENVOYA Logo, GILEAD, the GILEAD Logo, GSI, TYBOST, and VITEKTA are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. All other marks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners. © 2015 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. GENC0001 11/15
GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
12/3/15 11:35 AM
Robert Woodworth retires after 32 years in key stewardship role at LGBT Community Center
COURTESY: LGBT COMMUNITY CENTER
Robert Woodworth (second from right), flanked by Edie Windsor, the successful 2013 DOMA plaintiff, Richard D. Burns, the founding executive director of the LGBT Community Center, and Glennda Testone, the Center’s current leader, at a holiday party honoring him.
BY CHRISTOPHER MURRAY
ost every morning throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, he walked into the very epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in the heart of Greenwich Village. He was the head gardener of the many bulletin boards where a Help Wanted notice for a poodle stylist might jockey for position with a call for submissions to a new queer anthology or the business card of a lesbian comic. Over 32 years, Robert Woodworth had a front row seat,
WITHIN THESE WALLS Around 1990, Robert Woodworth crafted an early Code of Conduct for what was then called then called the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center: Within these walls, we expect to be treated with consideration and kindness. We expect our persons, our property, and our opinions to be respected. We expect to be free from violence and the threat of violence. We expect our disagreements to be resolved with sensitivity and good will. In return, we are expected to be considerate and kind. To respect the persons, property, and opinions of others. To behave nonviolently. To display sensitivity and good will in resolving disagreements. Within these walls, we hold ourselves to a higher standard of conduct and social interaction. We strive to make of this place a haven free of the ills and abuses we find outside it.
but was also a principal actor in the saga that is New York’s LGBT Community Center –– alongside people from Keith Haring, Larry Kramer, and Richard Burns through to Edie Windsor, Laverne Cox, and Glennda Testone. He oversaw two major building renovations, and over five mayoral administrations he was the pater familias of the dizzying array of groups that have called the Center home. He was the first employee, a consultant hired in 1983 as negotiations were finalized to buy the old Food and Maritime Trades High School on West 13th Street from the city for $1.5 million in order to found what would initially be called the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center. Woodworth had half a dozen different titles and a dizzying array of responsibilities, but somehow never lost his courteous, upbeat manner and his passion for the work of community-building. “Let’s just not delude ourselves that it was easy,” he noted wryly when meeting with Gay City News on one of his final days at the end of December before commencing his retirement. Having turned 70 in November, Woodworth, with his white hair, a trim white mustache, and black framed glasses, decided that after more than three decades the time had come to step aside. Although there have been many longtime staff members, dedicated volunteers, and people who’ve come to the Center almost every day for years, even decades, no one can rival Woodworth’s sheer length of service at what has become an institution central to the LGBT community in New York and nationally. He’s been involved in the most intimate
fashion in the details that created the Center as a model worldwide, impacting the lives of untold numbers of people. Of the Center he said, “The impact is completely unmeasurable. It can’t ultimately be written down or quantified, but is emotional, found in terms of how someone feels about what has happened for them here.” Woodworth speaks with a depth of intelligence and experience that can only be called wisdom about the connection between individual lives and bricks and mortar. “Infrastructure matters,” he said. “It’s the little things that happen every day that matter. Greeting someone at the door or getting the goddamn paperwork done.” When asked to point to a symbol of the Center’s importance, he said bluntly, “There are condoms at the front desk.” Then after reflection, “There are people who come here because they have nowhere else to go, and it’s okay for them to be here and they know it and we know it.” Woodworth is originally from Farmington, Connecticut, went to Amherst College, and served in the US Army as a first lieutenant. “After being commissioned out of Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, I was a training officer in Kentucky,” he recalled. “Then I received special training in Vietnamese language and culture and was assigned to a mobile advisory team in the Mekong Delta.” Woodworth finished his service in 1971 and eventually made his way to New York, hoping to secure a spot in the art world, but would ultimately use his creative and organizational skills in the service of a community undergoing massive challenges and changes. And his life, both personal and professional, would intersect with history. After Larry Kramer, at a speaking engagement at the Center, called for an organized response from the gay community to the AIDS epidemic, it was Woodworth who dedicated the meeting space in honor of the founding of ACT UP, which still meets at the Center. The New York Times, which only began to use the word “gay” in 1987 and routinely changed the word “lover” to “longtime companion” in obituaries, altered that policy in 1996 after advocacy from the Center in the wake of the death of Woodworth’s lover, Noli Villanueva. Robert was a passionate advocate for an AIDS Memorial in Greenwich Village, telling Next Magazine in 2012, “We have to put something in the physical environment that will remind people of it. It’s time to do that.” A video clip of him discussing the issue can be found on the website of the group that succeeded in winning space
WOODWORTH, continued on p.20
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Conversations that matter... What does it mean to be transgender?
ONE BODY: Towards Full Trans Inclusion in Faith Communities A Trans Awareness Panel Join us in a panel discussion with Michael Roberson & Paisley Currah
Thurs. Jan. 14th, 7pm
What does it means to be transgender? What are the challenges faced by the transgender community? What can we (as a faith community) do to continue working toward full inclusion and acceptance? Q&A with audience follows presentations.
son Michael Rober
Fired anti-gay Atlanta fire chief strikes back
School can't censor pro-gay T-shirt
ing en K S ev
15 14 DAYS
Join us! Jan. 14th @7pm
e Perez Jazmin Tyra A .
At: The Church of St. Luke in the Fields
487 Hudson Street, West Village (Corner of Hudson and Grove) 212.924.0562 | www.stlukeinthefileds.org
Songs of the heart
Itâ€™s winter... get out there
GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
Go to our website to register for the event! When you register you are automatically eligible for a drawing (at the event) for the Broadway musical Kinky Boots.
Despite New State, City Regs, Transgender Leaders Go After ESPA Letter from 30 advocates, organization faults “mission accomplished” tone of Pride Agenda bow-out BY PAUL SCHINDLER
COURTESY: JULI GREY-OWENS
ven as New York State adopts new regulations interpreting the Human Rights Law to provide transgender nondiscrimination protections and the city issues a new, stronger guidance on its municipal transgender rights ordinance, 30 activists and advocacy groups from the trans community are taking aim at the Empire State Pride Agenda over its recent announcement that it is winding down major operations “on the heels” of having secured its “top remaining policy priority — protecting transgender New Yorkers from discrimination in housing, employment, credit, education, and public accommodations.” The victory ESPA was pointing to in its surprise December 12 announcement that it was shutting down was a directive from Governor Andrew Cuomo, unveiled at the group’s annual October Fall Dinner in Manhattan, that the State Division of Human Rights would interpret provisions in the Human Rights Law barring discrimination based on sex and on disability to provide protections based on gender identity and expression, as well. The governor’s action came after nearly 13 years of unsuccessful effort to enact a comprehensive Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act through the Legislature in Albany. In a January 5 press release from Juli Grey-Owens, a former ESPA board member who is executive director of the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition (LITAC), she said the letter –– addressed to Pride Agenda executive director Nathan Schaefer –– “criticized Pride Agenda’s failure to fulfill their announced commitment to passage of legislation (known as GENDA) that would have added protections based on transgender status and gender identity to New York Human Rights Law. Specifically, advocates criticize the Pride Agenda for their statement of ‘mission accomplished’ in their press release because of its harmful message that transgender Human and Civil Rights are covered under New York Law.” Other signers of the letter included Kiara St. James, executive director of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group, Staten Island activist Bryan J. Ellicott, Reverend Moonhawk River Stone, another former Pride Agenda board member from Schenectady, Pauline Park, chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy, Mel Wymore, an Upper West Side community board member who ran for the City Council in 2013, and the AIDS services group Housing Works. Referring to Cuomo’s action, which took effect after a 45-day public comment period in
Juli Grey-Owens, the leader of the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition and a former Pride Agenda board member, is emerging as a key figure in the post-ESPA efforts to mobilize the trans community politically.
“We would sincerely appreciate a public correction of the impression created by Pride Agenda's press release that transgender equality has been achieved.”
late 2015, the Grey-Owens release noted that transgender activists “appreciate the regulations and the protections they will offer,” but argued, “the proposed regulations lack important elements, including the need to openly proclaim that transgender individuals are human beings deserving of equality in Human and Civil Rights; the need for a clear standard of enforcement for businesses and landlords; and the need for a standardized interpretation of case law.” Of all New York statutes, Grey-Owens noted, only the state’s safe schools Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) specifically defines the transgender community as a protected class. Though the Cuomo regulations provide nondiscrimination protections comparable to what would be offered in GENDA, they do not apply to criminal law sentencing enhancements provided under the state hate crime statute regarding other protected classes. In a direct challenge to Schaefer and the ESPA board, the advocates’ letter stated, “We
would sincerely appreciate a public correction of the impression created by Pride Agenda's press release that transgender equality has been achieved. Transgender equality has not been achieved and transgender advocates will continue to pursue protections under the NYS Human Rights Law. Public acknowledgment from Pride Agenda that New York State needs to pass GENDA would represent a meaningful step to empower the transgender movement, adding to a legacy of securing rights for all.” In comments to Gay City News several weeks ago, Grey-Owens said that shortly after Cuomo made his remarks at the Fall Dinner, ESPA stopped working with her group and others in a coalition that had been pushing for GENDA in Albany. Shortly thereafter, the remainder of the coalition sent the governor a letter urging him to make the legislation a priority during the 2016 session of the State Senate and Assembly. In the weeks between the dinner and the December 12 announcement by ESPA, its messaging on GENDA was unclear, though the group suggested it was merely trying to avoid undercutting the significance of the governor’s action by focusing too much attention on legislation that could –– in any event –– not be reintroduced for several months until the Senate and Assembly reconvened. According to Grey-Owens, her group, LITAC, recently received $15,000 to host five transgender community forums at which the launch of a new statewide group focused on trans-specific concerns would be discussed. On social media, other transgender activists have also called for such a group. Grey-Owens said she welcomes a new broader, LGBT-inclusive group, as well, but said, “I think it’s very important for a trans-driven group to be apart of the discussion. It’s obvious.” Non-transgender LGBT advocates and allies faced a messaging challenge similar to what ESPA seemed to be going through in the immediate wake of Cuomo’s announcement of the new state regulations, with nobody wanting to be in the position of suggesting the governor’s action did not carry the full weight of law. When Long Island’s John Flanagan, the Republican leader of the State Senate –– which has blocked GENDA’s consideration for years since the Assembly first passed it in 2007 –– faulted the governor for bypassing the Legislature in his action, Democratic Senator Daniel Squadron, GENDA’s lead sponsor, and his out gay colleague Brad Hoylman were quick to respond, as were the Pride Agenda and Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
ESPA, continued on p.20
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
US Efforts to Fund Russian LGBT Groups Costly, Limited in Impact
All Out, Ally Athlete push with American Apparel yielded modest results; Arcus drive showed high overhead BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
An American Apparel store on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea.
After Gay City News found that Athlete Ally and All Out were listed as creditors in the American Apparel bankruptcy filing, the newspaper contacted both organizations asking if they were owed any money by American Apparel –– both said they were not –– and how much money the Principle 6 campaign raised and how much was given to the fund. They gave varying and, to a degree, conflicting answers. “The funds were dispersed to All Out and used to cover the costs associated with the Principle 6 campaign and to make direct contributions to the Russia Freedom Fund (via our partner Athlete Ally),” Andre Banks, the former executive director at All Out, wrote in an email. “In addition, All Out ran several other fundraisers that year giving an additional $50,000+ directly to Russian LGBT orgs providing advocacy support and direct services to affected members of the community.” Hudson Taylor, the executive director at Athlete Ally, wrote, “I think we were able to contribute about $30k split between the Russia LGBT Sports Federation, Russia Freedom Fund, and another Russian organization that All Out worked directly with.” The fund and the response by US-based LGBT and rights groups to the Russian government attacks on LGBT Russians and organizations were hastily organized in the fall of 2013 with the coalition operating with a great sense of urgency as it looked like circumstances
GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
GAY CITY NEWS
iven the recent bankruptcy announcement by American Apparel, two gay groups have responded to questions regarding the outcome of efforts between them and the clothing retailer to raise money for LGBT groups in Russia that were silenced when that country enacted a law banning pro-LGBT advocacy in 2013. In December 2013, Athlete Ally and All Out announced that they were partnering with American Apparel to design and sell the Principle 6 clothing line, saying, “The majority of the proceeds from the sale of clothing will go to support the Principle 6 campaign and directly to lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) advocacy groups in Russia fighting discrimination and anti-gay laws,” the three organizations said in a joint press release. The 2014 Winter Olympics were held in Sochi, Russia, and Principle 6 was a reference to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) charter. That principle in the charter says, “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination.” At the time, the charter did not include sexual orientation as a protected class, and the campaign was intended to be a challenge to the IOC to enforce its own values. The IOC incorporated sexual orientation protections into its charter in December 2014. All Out and Athlete Ally, which promoted the Principle 6 clothing line as late as December 2014, were among a coalition of groups that promised to raise funds for Russian LGBT groups. Coalition members agreed that funds would be funneled through the Russia Freedom Fund that is administered by the Arcus Foundation, which funds LGBT causes, though some organizations said they funded some Russian groups separately as well. According to the 2014 Form 990 that Arcus filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Athlete Ally donated $5,000 to the fund in 2014. All Out is not mentioned in the form.
Out Athlete’s Hudson Taylor.
for LGBT Russians were growing increasingly dangerous. Additionally, the Olympics, which took place in February 2014, were seen as an opportunity to get the world to focus on the human rights violations against LGBT Russians. Between August of 2013 and July of 2014, the fund raised $347, 504, but spent “just over $390,000” on “consultant and professional services” that were “directly or indirectly related to efforts to raise money” for the fund, according to a report that Arcus commissioned on the fund’s first year of operation. Roughly $200,000 came from individual donors and $140,000 was contributed by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT rights group. HRC noted that it spent substantial resources to raise that cash in what the report called a “t-shirt fundraising campaign.” The Form 990, which included the full 2014 results, reported that the fund distributed $364,100 for “legal empowerment of underserved
communities in Russia” and, in the filing, Arcus committed to spend $296,527 on that cause in 2015. While all the funds raised were distributed, it cost Arcus just under $1.2 million to raise and hand out that cash. (In a subsequent public disclosure, Arcus reported that, as of November 20, 2015, the Russia Freedom Fund had awarded 38 grants totaling $1,278,215, though no updated figure on the cost of raising and distributing that money was available.) Generally, a low percentage of every dollar raised should cover the cost of fundraising. “Twelve to 18 percent is an average, an average operation,” said Linda C. Hartley, the president of Hartley Consulting, which aids non-profits in fundraising. “There are lots of exceptions…That’s why the Better Business Bureau has to up to 35 or 40 percent.” The Arcus report noted that some aspects of the work were disappointing. While “celebrity engagement,” which was expensive, brought visibility to the issue, the “return on investment –– at least in the short term –– was viewed by most as meager,” the report said. “It was hard for those inter viewed to articulate concrete outcomes that resulted from celebrity engagement work beyond general expressions of solidarity,” the report said. “Some interviewees expressed general skepticism with the theory that celebrities can drive people to take action (i.e., donating to a cause or otherwise being active in a campaign).” Gaining support from Olympic athletes and sponsors was also seen as only moderately successful. “A number of interviewees also noted that even if the ultimate response at Sochi among athletes, corporate sponsors, etc., was less strong than some people had hoped for, the mobilization, awareness raising and social media campaigns supported through Arcus and its partners’ efforts contributed to more international scrutiny and attention to the Russian government’s repressive practices than might otherwise have been the case,” the report said.
Fired Anti-Gay Atlanta Fire Chief Strikes Back in Lawsuit
Federal court must decide how free a major appointee is to stray, as a private citizen, from city’s policies BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
BILL KOPLITZ/ FEMA
CITY OF ATLANTA
elvin J. Cochran, who was discharged as chief of the Atlanta Fir e and Rescue Department (AFRD) after he self-published a book voicing negative views, based on his religious beliefs, about homosexuality and same-sex marriage, has struck back at the city and Mayor Kasim Reed with a lawsuit claiming a violation of his constitutional rights. US District Judge Leigh Martin May, on December 16, dismissed some of Cochran’s claims, but allowed others to go forward. Cochran became the Atlanta fire chief in 2008, left for 10 months in 2009 to serve as administrator of the US Fire Administration in Washington, but returned to the Atlanta post until he was suspended and then discharged on January 6 of last year. Cochran, self-described as a devout evangelical Christian and an active member of Atlanta’s Elizabeth Baptist Church, wrote “Who Told You That You Were Naked?: Overcoming the Stronghold of Condemnation,” which grew out of a men’s Bible study group at his church. Intending to provide a guide to men to help them “fulfill God’s purpose for their lives,” Cochran wrote that any sexual activity outside of a traditional heterosexual marriage should be avoided and specifically asserted that homosexual activity and same-sex marriage are immoral and inconsistent with God’s plan. Cochran had consulted the city’s Ethics Officer about whether a public official could write a “non-work-related, faith-based book,” and was told he could do that “so long as the subject matter of the book was not the city government or fire department.” He did not, however, obtain a written ruling on that point. He later received the Ethics Officer’s approval for identifying himself in the book as Atlanta’s fire chief. Cochran put the book up for sale on Amazon.com, and distributed free copies to individuals, including Mayor Reed, some members of
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (left) and his former fire chief, Kelvin J. Cochran, are at odds over Cochran’s 2015 firing.
the City Council, and various Fire Department employees whom he considered to be Christians (some of whom had requested copies). A Fire Department employee who saw the book and objected to its statements about sexual morality contacted City Councilmember Alex Wan to complain, which led Wan to initiate discussions among “upper management” of the city. After those discussions were brought to the mayor, Cochran, on November 24, 2014, received a letter informing him he was suspended without pay for 30 days while the city determined what to do. Among other things, the city cited an ordinance prohibiting city officials from engaging in outside employment for pay without written permission from the Ethics Office. At the same time, Reed went public in disagreeing with Cochran’s views, stating, “I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community.” Councilmember Wan released a statement saying, “I respect each individual’s right to have their own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, but when you’re a city employee, and those thoughts, beliefs, and opinions are different from the city’s, you have to check them at the door.” After extensive media attention, Cochran was informed of his discharge in the first week of 2015. Atlanta enacted local legisla-
tion banning sexual orientation discrimination many years ago, and has long provided benefits for same-sex partners of city employees. At the time this controversy arose late in 2014, a federal district court had ruled against the constitutionality of Georgia’s ban on same-sex marriage, but the matter was still pending on appeal in the courts. Atlanta government leaders had openly supported the marriage equality litigation, and Cochran’s views expressed in the book were out of synch with that perspective. In his federal complaint, however, Cochran claimed he was never accused of discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation as fire chief. Cochran’s lawsuit poses a classic and recurring policy question: to what extent can a state or local government require public officials to refrain from publicizing their views on controversial public issues when those views conflict with official policies articulated by politically-accountable officials? The US Supreme Court has issued a series of important decisions since first addressing this issue in 1968 in Pickering v. Board of Education. That case involved a public high school teacher discharged after publishing a letter in a local newspaper critical of the local board of education’s budget proposals. The high court, in Pickering, held that public employees are protected by First Amendment
free speech rights when expressing views on matters of public concern when they are speaking in their capacity as private citizens. Such protection, however, is not absolute: the court must conduct a balancing test weighing the employee’s free speech rights against the employer’s legitimate concer ns about being able to carry out governmental functions. Speech that results in disruption of those functions may lose its constitutional protection. Subsequent rulings have clarified that when a public employee is speaking in an official capacity, he is speaking for the government and can be disciplined or discharged when his speech contradicts government policy. Cochran filed a nine-count complaint against the city and Mayor Reed, raising various claims under the First and 14th Amendments. Dismissing some of those claims –– and finding that Reed enjoyed qualified immunity from personal liability –– Judge May concluded that his complaint alleged facts sufficient to maintain several of his First Amendment claims as well as one of his 14th Amendment Due Process claims. Cochran’s complaint asserts he was fired in retaliation for constitutionally protected speech. May determined that Cochran’s speech satisfied the requirement that it be on a matter of public concern and that he was speaking as a private citizen (even though his book identifies him as the city’s fire chief), making his claim subject to the Supreme Court’s Pickering balancing test. The city argued that the fire department has a “need to secure discipline, mutual respect, trust, and particular efficiency among the ranks due to its status as a quasi-military entity different from other public employers.” Consequently, Cochran’s “interest in publishing and distributing a book ‘containing moral judgment about certain groups of people that caused at least one AFRD member enough concern to com-
ATLANTA, continued on p.11
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
ATLANTA, from p.10
plain to a City Councilmember,’” the city asserted, according to May’s opinion, does not outweigh the city’s interests in securing discipline and efficiency. May noted that in considering a motion to dismiss, she must evaluate the complaint based solely on the plaintiff’s allegations, which in this case asserted that the book did not threaten the city’s ability to administer public services and was not likely to do so. Cochran claimed it would not interfere with the fire department’s internal operations and that he had never told any employee that complying with his teachings or even reading his book “was in any way relevant to their status or advancement” within the department. Consequently, as a matter of law, May could not find at this stage in the case that the city’s interests outweigh Cochran’s free speech rights. “However,” she wrote, “the factual development of this case may warrant a different conclusion.” Cochran’s suit also alleges violation of his religious liberty rights, claiming he was terminated because he expressed his religiously-based viewpoint. The city’s response was that he failed to allege that his religion compelled him to publish his views while serving as fire chief without obtaining prior written approval or compelled him to distribute the book to city employees. May ruled that Cochran need not have made such allegations in order to state a valid religious liberty claim, and she similarly found that Cochran adequately alleged facts to support another claim, that the city’s action violated his First Amendment right to freedom of association “by terminating him for expressing religious beliefs in association with his church.” Turning to Cochran’s Equal Protection Claim under the 14th Amendment, May found that Cochran had failed to allege sufficient facts there. Most significantly, he had not identified somebody similarly situated who had articulated the opposite point of view without incurring adverse action from the city. Cochran had pointed to Mayor Reed, who publicly voiced opposition to his views, but GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
the judge pointed out that Reed, as the elected chief executive of the city, was not similarly situated to Cochran, an appointed department head. “As the Mayor,” May wrote, “Reed is Plaintiff’s superior... As the City’s ultimate decision-maker, Reed could not be similarly situated to Plaintiff, who is subject to Reed’s decision-making power.” It appears that Cochran is the only appointed city department head who had published a work of this kind. May also dismissed Cochran’s claim that the city’s policy about outside work by city officials cited in support of his discharge was unduly vague. And, she found that the public comments by Reed about the controversy were not sufficiently personally “stigmatizing” of Cochran to sustain a “liberty interest” claim under the Due Process Clause.
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As a matter of law, May could not find at this stage in the case that the city’s interests outweigh Cochran’s free speech rights.
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Cochran can, however, pursue the claim that because he has a “property interest” in his job he was deprived of it in the absence of fair procedures because his firing was unilaterally decided on by the mayor. Ultimately, the question confronting May is whether the Atlanta city administration is required to keep in office an appointed department head who has published views that are out of synch with the city’s policies. If Cochran were a rank and file employee, he might well win some of his claims. But as a department head with supervisory authority over a major public safety agency, he will confront significant difficulty in arguing that the elected officials responsible to the voters are constitutionally required to keep him in office, as May intimated in emphasizing that her ruling on his first free speech claim may be reversed by “the factual development of this case.”
Bronx Lawsuit Lingers as Salvation Army Works to Improve Image Lesbian couple’s charges against evangelical charitable group complicate its effort to move beyond anti-LGBT past BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
lawsuit brought by a lesbian couple that charges the Salvation Army with discrimination based on sexual orientation could derail efforts by the agency to convince LGBT Americans that it does not discriminate against LGBT employees and clients. Tamara Lobban, who worked for a women’s shelter that was run by the Salvation Army in the Bronx from 2008 until she was fired in late 2013, and Capriece Bobbitt, who began working at the shelter in 2010 and was still employed there as of December 2015, met on the job and began a relationship in early 2011. In a highly-detailed, 30-page complaint that was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court in early 2014, the couple charged they were subjected to three years of harassment, anti-lesbian slurs, repeated payroll problems that reduced their pay, and retaliation when they com-
plained to supervisors about what they were enduring. The Salvation Army responded with an equally detailed, 28-page answer that laid out what it charged were repeated warnings for lateness, violations of the organization’s dress code, conduct, operating, and anti-gossip policies, and the half dozen trainings it conducted over two years with shelter staff on its “sensitivity/harassment/respect in the workplace” and gossip policies. Those trainings appear to have come in response to the couple’s complaints. Most of the agency’s warnings were directed at Lobban. Lawyers for the couple did not respond to a request for comment. In a written statement, Major James Betts, the general secretary for the Salvation Army Greater New York Division, said, “By policy, I can’t comment on specific personnel issues, but I can say without hesitation that any and all decisions the Salvation Army makes with regard to employment are based solely on an individual’s job
performance and ability to meet the requirements of the job. The Salvation Army remains steadfast in our commitment to serve all without discrimination and with hiring practices that are open to all.” In 2012, the Salvation Army embarked on a public relations offensive to counter the view that it has an anti-LGBT history. Gay City News found stories about a gay Salvation Army employee, the agency serving Thanksgiving dinner at the LGBTQ Resource Center of North County in Oceanside, California, and exchanges with a blogger that suggest the Salvation Army monitors its coverage and responds when it is accused of being anti-LGBT. The highest profile story was an interview with the Advocate, the national LGBT magazine, with Lieutenant Colonel Ron Busroe, the Salvation Army’s national spokesperson, which was published two days before Christmas 2015. He told the Advocate that the agency has been “hammered in social media by misinformation,
old stories, people misspeaking including internally.” Every year at Christmas, LGBT activists take to social media and the streets to tell people to not put money in the Salvation Army’s red kettles because the agency is antiLGBT, and 2015 was no exception to that practice. The problem for the Salvation Army is that it does have a long anti-LGBT history. This latest lawsuit could torpedo the Salvation Army if only because most LGBT people are inclined to think the worst about the agency. “I think that’s really going to set their public relations campaign back,” said Bil Browning, a journalist and a leading challenger to the Salvation Army, who was not commenting on the merits of the lawsuit. “The Salvation Army has repeatedly tried to discredit all claims that they discriminate against LGBT people.” The Salvation Army has improved, and there is some evidence of that in the 2014 lawsuit.
SALVATION, continued on p.13
Lambda’s Broad Birth Certificate Push in Wisconsin Hits Speed Bump
Federal judge finds faults in effort to establish “parental presumption” for all lesbian couples having children BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
ambda Legal’s federal lawsuit seeking to compel Wisconsin officials to issue appropriate birth certificates for children of married same-sex couples hit a speed bump on December 16 when US District Judge Barbara B. Crabb denied its motion for class certification and summary judgment. Lambda sued on behalf of plaintiffs Chelsea Torres and Jessamy Torres and their minor child, A.T. The child was born through donor insemination performed in compliance with Wisconsin law and the women were legally married before A.T. was born, but state officials refused to issue a birth certificate listing both women as mothers of A.T., asserting that the non-birth mother would have to go through an adoption proceeding to get her name on an amended birth certificate. Under Wisconsin statutes a birth certificate lists the woman who gave birth to the child and
her legal husband, even if the child was conceived through donor insemination, so long as the procedure was carried out consistent with state law, supervised by a licensed physician, and approved of in writing by the husband. If the husband does not give written consent or the insemination is not carried out in compliance with Wisconsin law, he is not listed on the birth certificate. Chelsea and Jessamy Torres complied with the statute, having a doctor supervise the insemination procedure, the non-birth spouse giving written consent, and the sperm donor waiving all claim to parental rights. The motion seeking class certification proposed a class consisting of “all same-sex couples who legally married in Wisconsin or in another jurisdiction, at least one member of whom gave birth to a child or children in Wisconsin on or after June 6, 2014, and who request birth certificates for such children listing both spouses as parents, regardless of whether they have already
received birth certificates listing only one spouse as a parent; and all children born to such couples on or after June 6, 2014.” That date is when Judge Crabb declared Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Lambda’s effort to certify a class would extend the parental presumption typically afforded husbands to lesbian spouses, as well. (The provision that “at least one member” of the couple “gave birth to a child” would by definition exclude gay male couples from this class.) So far, the legal group is unwilling to grab a victory just for the plaintiff couple who are in court. Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades opposed the proposed class by arguing that the Torres couple and their child could not properly represent the interests of all proposed class members, since the class as described would take in people who conceived
LAMBDA, continued on p.13
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
GAY CITY NEWS
The Salvation Army Manhattan headquarters on West 14th Street.
SALVATION, from p.12
The Salvation Army was sued by a New York City gay man in 2005 who charged he was fired because he was gay. The agency’s first response was to claim that as a religious organization, it was exempt from the city’s anti-discrimination law. After it lost that argument in court, the case was settled in 2006 for undisclosed terms. The Salvation Army has not asserted that exemption in the Lobban-Bobbitt case. “They have taken stuff down from their website about ex-gay ministries,” Browning said. “The biggest
LAMBDA, from p.12
their children in different ways and so present different issues regarding entitlement to placing a parent’s name on a birth certificate. Rhoades pointed out that women can become pregnant in at least three ways relevant to the issues before the court, including donor insemination that does not comply with the statute and having sex with a man to whom she presumably was not married. Claims made by families who fell into those two categories would present different issues than the 14th Amendment due process and equal protection arguments Lambda made on behalf of the Torres family, the health secretary asserted. Judge Crabb agreed with Rhoades that “subclasses” would be needed and new plaintiffs would have to be joined to represent them in order to give the court jurisdiction to deal with the birth certificate issues that would be raised GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
one is they have literally changed their church doctrine. They now say homosexuality is not a sin.” The Salvation Army identifies itself as a church, and, as with many churches, it is contending with how to address a modern understanding of homosexuality and transgender matters. “The Salvation Army is like any modern church,” Browning said. “They are struggling with homosexuality. As they’ve caught up with modern times, they are having to go through internal changes and internal changes are never easy. But they are working it out in our favor.”
under those circumstances. In the Torres case before Crabb, while the state is essentially conceding that after the US Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling it doesn’t have a good defense to the claims of married same-sex couples who complied with the donor insemination statute, it could oppose the claims of those who didn’t comply with the statute or in cases where a woman conceived through sex with a man. Crabb agreed with Lambda that the claims regarding birth certificates would be appropriate for class treatment, but not as broad a class as described in its motion. In light of her decision that the proposed class could not be certified, the judge held that it would be premature to grant Lambda’s motion for summary judgment. She pointed out that the state has conceded that the first subclass of same-sex couples who followed the require-
LAMBDA, continued on p.35
CALIFORNIA SECOND DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL
Gay Teacher Prevails in Morality Discharge Dispute LA district fails to show park sting victim “unfit to teach,” appeals court rules BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
alifornia’s Second District Court of Appeal upheld a lower court judge’s determination that the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Commission on Professional Competence erred when it found a gay elementary school teacher who had been arrested in a park sting was “unfit to teach” and authorized termination of his employment. Both the appeals court and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin before that relied heavily on a landmark 1969 California Supreme Court decision, Morrison v. State Board of Education that –– rejecting long-standing precedents –– held that gay people were not necessarily morally unfit to be public school teachers and could not be discharged without a showing of adverse effect on the school and/ or its students. The plaintiff had been a teacher with the Los Angeles school system for 24 years at the time of his discharge, and was by all accounts an exceptionally talented and dedicated teacher. He was arrested in Elysian Park in September 2010 by undercover police officers who claimed he exposed his penis to one of them and nodded at the officer as a signal to follow him. Accounts differed as to whether he was masturbating and whether the location where he was standing was visible from the nearby Park Row Drive. The teacher later testified he had been out jogging and found an isolated place to urinate, which is why his penis was out, when he noticed an attractive man staring at him and thought that contact was desired. He was arrested and charged with publicly engaging in lewd conduct, a charge later supplemented by one of disturbing the peace. Under the state’s Education Code, he was placed on compulsory unpaid leave and his teaching credentials were suspended. The teacher pleaded no contest to the disturbing the peace charge
and was placed on two years’ probation. The lewd conduct charge was dismissed, and his teaching credentials were reinstated. The guilty plea was later expunged after a probationary period ended without incident. Administrators at the Pacific Boulevard School recommended in December 2010 that he be assigned to teach the fourthgrade gifted class, but the school district continued to assign him non-teaching duties, and a district official, after an informal meeting with the teacher, recommended that he be dismissed.
officer’s testimony credible and, looking to the 1969 “Morrison” decision factors, concluded that, despite no evidence of an actual adverse effect on students, the district’s witnesses had “established that he could not function as an effective role model for students”; “there was evidence that parents would be adversely affected, and it was clear District administrators were as well”; and that in light of the “poor judgment” he displayed, he “could not be trusted in a classroom to exercise the judgment necessary under his responsibility to properly interact with his young students.”
The police officer, in the judge’s view, “exhibited bias or prejudice against [the teacher] because of his sexual orientation,” demonstrated by the officer asking him whether he had AIDS.”
The district, in February 2012, notified the teacher of its intention to seek his dismissal, and he was suspended without pay. Charges of immoral conduct, unprofessional conduct, and evident unfitness for service were then filed with the district’s Commission on Professional Competence. Despite the fact that a Committee on Credentials recommended no adverse action, the Commission went ahead with a hearing in January 2013 at which the teacher and the arresting officers testified about what had happened during 2010 incident, and several administrators and teachers also testified, emphasizing their fear that his “poor judgment” could affect his ability to be a role model for students and that parents, when learning of the incident, might demand that their children be withdrawn from his classes. The Commission found the police
Noting that the teacher continued to deny having done anything wrong, the Commission faulted him because he “did not take responsibility” for his conduct. The Commission granted the district’s request that the teacher be discharged. In reviewing the teacher’s subsequent petition to the Los Angeles County Superior Court seeking to have his termination set aside, Judge Lavin found that the police officer’s credibility was questionable and his “recollection of what transpired highly suspect” several years after the incident. The police officer, in the judge’s view, “exhibited bias or prejudice against [the teacher] because of his sexual orientation,” demonstrated by the officer asking him whether he had AIDS and making exaggerated statements in the arrest report that
Court of Appeal Judge Dennis Perluss.
“reflect outdated stereotypes and a strong moral disapproval of homosexuality.” According Justice Dennis Perluss’ opinion for the Court of Appeal, “Following in part from these credibility determinations, the court found, although the weight of the evidence established [the teacher] had exposed his penis to [the officer] and touched it for about 20 seconds, it did not support the Commission’s findings [the teacher] had masturbated or that his conduct was visible from Park Row Drive, 200 feet away and obscured by bushes, shrubs, and trees.” As to the “Morrison” factors, Lavin said the evidence did not support a finding that the teacher’s act of exposing himself “to an undercover police officer who he thought was sexually interested in him adversely affected other teachers and students at Pacific Boulevard Elementary,” observing that those findings were based entirely on the personal opinions of the lay witnesses for the district, which “called no medical, psychological, or psychiatric experts to testify as to whether a man who had had a single, isolated, and limited encounter with one person would be likely to repeat such conduct in the future. The District also offered no evidence that a man of his background was any more likely than the average adult male to engage in any untoward conduct with a student, teacher, or [District] employee.” Even if the teacher’s conduct “was suf ficiently notorious at Pacific Boulevard School to justify a transfer or reassignment notwithstanding ‘at most,… a handful of teachers’” at the school had even “limited knowledge” of the
CALIFORNIA, continued on p.35
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Tennessee School Can’t Censor Pro-Gay T-Shirt High school student wins preliminary injunction in federal court BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
S District Judge Kevin H. Sharp presented an early Christmas present to Rebecca “Becca” Young, a student at Richland High School in Giles County, Tennessee, awarding her a preliminary injunction December 22 against school authorities who had forbidden her from wearing a T -shirt with the slogan “Some People are Gay. Get Over It!” Young showed up for the first day of school on August 5 of last year wearing the shirt, which, according to her complaint, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, did not cause any disruptions.
Rebecca Young, with a friend, in the T-shirt that shook up school officials in Giles County, Tennessee.
“No student or faculty member expressed to or otherwise interacted with Young in a manner manifesting any hostility, disapproval, or offense to the message on her shirt,” Young’s complaint states. At the end of what was a short first day, while all the students were in the cafeteria, principal Micah Landers summoned Young to the front of the room, which was “full of students,” and told her she could not wear either that T-shirt or “any other shirt referencing LGBT rights” to school. When Young’s mother telephoned Landers later that day to ask about his order, he “confirmed that he had forbidden Rebecca from wearing the shirt or any other apparel which bore phrases, symbols, slogans, or other indicia of or in support of the LGBT community.” That, Landers GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
asserted, would protect her from “harassment and bullying.” Young’s mother then called Phillip Wright, the Giles County director for schools, who, offering a somewhat different explanation, said “pro-LGBT messages are sexual in nature and, therefore, prohibited by the dress code.” Several weeks later, however, Young’s mother received a letter from the school district reverting to Lander’s original rationale in explaining that the restriction was justified because Young “would have been bullied or harassed by students due to the nature of the shirt’s writing and the environment of the school.” The letter cited the district’s official dress code policies, which state: “Attire considered disruptive or risky to health or school/ personal safety is not appropriate.” Students “attired in a manner which is likely to cause disruption or interference with the operation of the school” are subject to “appropriate punishment,” according to the guidelines. Young filed suit in November, represented by Mark J. Downton of Nashville and Thomas H. Castelli, from the ACLU Nashville office, suing the school board as well as Landers and Wright in their individual and official capacities. The defendants’ response so far has been to ignore the lawsuit, Judge Sharp writing that as of December 22, “Defendants have not responded to Plaintiff’s Motion or even entered an appearance in the case.” Sharp found it virtually an open-and-shut case for issuing a preliminary injunction against the defendants. “Plaintiff brings suit to stop her school from censoring her expression of her views on a topic of undeniable political importance,” he wrote. “The legal ground covering such issues is so well-trod that the Court finds itself surprised at the need to journey down this path.” Sharp found ample precedent to conclude that “Plaintiff will likely succeed on the merits of her claims,” the first test of whether a court should issue a preliminary injunction.
T-SHIRT, continued on p.35
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BY ED SIKOV
hank you, Jesse Singal of New York Magazine, for writing “Why Arthur C. Brooks Is Wrong About ‘Victimhood Culture,’” a persuasive rebuttal to Brooks’ obnoxious op-ed in the New York Times. “Victimhood culture” has now been identified as a widening phenomenon by mainstream sociologists,” Brooks bleated. “In all cases, [the victims] treat people less as individuals and more as aggrieved masses.” Oh I get it: they’re Commies. Singal had none of it. “There’s a great deal of caterwauling at the moment about how everyone — particularly students, and particularly minority students — is just too damn sensitive,” he writes. “Society is devolving into a game of offense one-upmanship, people argue, and it’s gumming up the works of what had been a more vibrant and honest discourse.” Singal then proceeds to dismantle Brooks’ assertions one by one. The “mainstream sociologists” Brooks trumpets number precisely two, their output on the subject a single journal article. “And presidential candidates on both the left and the right routinely motivate supporters by declaring that they are under attack by immigrants or wealthy people,” Brooks announces, to which Singal replies, “You could drop this into any column about American politics published at any point in the last 150 years or so and it would fit. It has no bearing on anything.” Attacking college students, especially minority college students, is all the rage. The wingnuts had a field day –– field month is more like it –– over the brouhaha at Yale after a lecturer wrote an email supporting the right to wear offensive Halloween costumes. A lot of students expressed outrage. Their critics derided them as oversensitive brats. I related to the story –– from the professor’s side. I’d written a similar post on Facebook. Halloween is all about upsetting people, I airily opined. So what’s wrong with wearing an offensive costume? Some FB friends agreed with me. My post got lots of “likes.” One responder, however –– a former student who is now a good friend well beyond FB –– wrote, “Is upsetting sensibilities necessarily the same as being
offensive? I say no, and think conflating the two is willful blindness that is more towards jerky than intelligent boundary pushing.” I found his point hard to argue with, offered a lame reply, went on my merry way, and faced no consequences at all because nobody gives a rat’s ass about what I post on Facebook. The Yale lecturer’s message, however, was easily reproduced and widely disseminated. And bitterly attacked. She ended up resigning from Yale. Those who had forums to air their outrage gave rats’ asses galore. The New York Daily News went so far as to headline a story “Mob Rule at Yale.” Mob? Let’s not mince words; the paper might as well have called the protestors “uppity Negroes.”
“Safe spaces.” “Microaggressions.” “Trigger warnings.” These terms quickly exploded in the media, mostly to derision. “Safe spaces.” “Microaggressions.” “Trigger warnings.” These terms quickly exploded in the media, mostly to derision. The final straw was a protest at Oberlin College over what some students condemned as the campus food service’s “appropriation” of other cultures’ cuisines –– specifically, a sloppy rendering of a Vietnamese sandwich called bánh mì and a ptooey version of the always questionable Chinese General Tso’s chicken. By claiming that bad food was also cultural appropriation, the students were tossing around sociological concepts they’d learned in class along with their unfinished dinners, and for a lot of people, that was too much to stomach. VanityFair.com, Slate, and other media outlets joined the predictable New York Post in ridiculing them. Even two of the smartest gay commentators out there climbed aboard the backlash express. On Facebook, Peter Staley, the longtime AIDS activist and Oberlin alum, deemed the protesters’ reaction “hypersensitivity overdrive,” and the equally brilliant Josh Barro –– also on Facebook ––
declared that “what colleges desperately need is some administrators and faculty who feel permitted to tell students to stop whining.” Telling students to stop whining is like telling them to stop jerking off. Unlike (most) wanking, though, whining is a communal activity and is thus the most popular sport on campuses around the country. I practically lettered in it. The real point is that students have the right to be wrong. Sure, I find the idea of “trigger warnings” –– little tags that colleges now stick on syllabuses, books, films, plays, anything that might “trigger” a bad reaction from a student –– to be totally antithetical to learning. If I were still teaching Sex and Gender on Film, the class I taught at my alma mater, Haverford, from 1995 to 2004, I’d have to stick a mess of boldface trigger warnings all over the syllabus to cover my incessant attempts to –– as my friend put it on FB –– upset students’ sensibilities in every lecture. As for culinary appropriation, it’s critical –– to me, anyway –– not to conflate bad food with cultural appropriation. Most college dining services can’t get beef stew right. Is it any surprise that the bánh mì was awful? What all the outraged commentators disregard, though, is that one of the aims of a college education –– particularly a liberal arts education – is to encourage students to speak their minds and stand up for themselves, even (or especially) when what they say and do irritates the grown ups. No, more than that –– when what they say and do strikes older folks as silly, overblown, or just plain wrong. College students are trying on new ways of thinking. And we all learn by trial and error. Especially error. I was enraged when a number of women in my class walked out of a required screening of Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days” because of its especially disturbing rape sequence. To me, they had no choice but to watch the whole film; it was an assignment, just like dirty Chaucer in English Lit and some incomprehensible problem in Organic Chemistry. But to them, they had no choice but to walk out. We discussed it, both sides aired our positions, and (I think) we all learned from the experience, though I still feel the need to point out the irony of women walking out of the only film on the syllabus that was
MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.17
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad
BY KELLY COGSWELL
’m not that into “Star Wars,” but I’ll watch any YouTube clip of Carrie Fisher doing a promo interview with her French bulldog Gary and spouting some inappropriately true thing with the hint of a smile spreading across her hard, broad, beautiful face. She’s an aging woman who has no fucks left to give. A quirkier, even more deadpan Lauren Bacall, if you remember her. I wish she was a dyke. We’re starting to see a few, but they’re mostly young. In that age category, we’ve got Lily Tomlin, and, um, well, Lily Tomlin, who recently played what she is in the acclaimed movie, “Grandma,” an older lesbian apparently based on Downtown dyke poet Eileen Myles, who suddenly finds herself there in the mainstream at age 65. Myles has also inspired a character on the Amazon series “Transparent,” which is kind of weird, as if this extraordinary writer can only get her props if she serves as her own doppelgänger. She and her double both participated in a firestorm via “Transparent,” in an episode featuring a women’s music festival based on the Michfest, which ended this year largely because it was attacked as transphobic.
Some lesbians hated the “Idlewild” episode outright as a pure display of “contempt for dyke culture.” Others declared that it got some things right, but there were elements of caricature and a completely unnecessary Nazi reference. There weren’t many lesbians (that I saw) who embraced it entirely. I haven’t seen it, or even been to Michfest, so I can’t judge. But after spending the last couple of years watching dykes respond to everything from TV’s “The L Word” to the new Todd Haynes movie “Carol,” which I haven’t seen either, I’ve started to think more deeply about what it’s like for us dykes to begin to see ourselves represented. Both by outsiders, but also by others in our community. Like a lot of us, I’ve spent a lifetime working for, or at least longing for, lesbian visibility. Not just in the streets or in politics, but on big and small screens, in books and paintings, anywhere that might allow us to claim a little space in our own cultures. Now that we’re finally starting to appear, I’m anxious, squeamish even. Either because the representations have nothing at all to do with me, or because they come pretty close but get important things wrong, or maybe because they get too many things right and I
MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.16
directed by a woman. (Why was the rape scene particularly upsetting? Because Bigelow filmed it from the victim’s point of view.) In the end, I decided that the fight wasn’t worth it. I switched out “Strange Days” for another film the following year. I think it was “Videodrome.” Which they hated even more. Student protesters have seemed like spoiled brats before. That hoary charge was leveled against students who protested the war in Vietnam, often scorned as cowardly draft dodgers. What distinguishes today’s protesters from Vietnam War demonstrators is that the loudest ones are minority students who aren’t just shutting up and taking whatever their colleges hand them with the expectation that they’ll be oh so grateful. We should applaud them for sticking their necks out and resist the urge to chop their heads off. LGBT, African-American, Asian-American, Latino, and other outnumbered and/or outGayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
want to protect my peeps from prying eyes and tidy things up for general consumption. One of the problems is that ther e’s almost no context to understand lesbian culture, or style, or even bodies. For most of American history, lesbians have barely appeared even as stereotypes. When we finally turned up it was in pulp novels and movies as (white) serial-killing bombshells with equally porny bombshell girlfriends, or as librarians too miserably dowdy to get men, or women either. Our invisibility is a legacy not just of homophobia and misogyny, but actual laws that made our existence illegal. Until relatively recently, no one was allowed to write knowingly –– or approvingly –– about queers. Born into heterosexual families, we grew up without an oral tradition, only later discovering who we were or what legacies we had to draw on. Even grown up, we dykes could barely see ourselves, because we faced the additional obstacle of being female. Until recently, unescorted women had little access to public spaces. Even now, we run risks that men don’t. Gay men at least could find each other in cruising spots, public toilets, and eventually bathhouses. When I gradually came out in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, I still only had fragments of a history. Poems by Audre Lorde or Adrienne Rich.
powered students demand “safe spaces” for a reason: they feel genuine if subtle hostility emanating from privileged students and, less obviously but even more painfully, the institutions themselves, even if it’s just a roll of the eyes during a discussion of race or gender or the common assumption at elite colleges that students from crummy, poor public high schools should naturally be able to compete immediately and on an even plane with the highly advantaged prep school graduates who have suddenly become their peers. Parents pay Phillips Exeter almost $47,000 a year to provide precisely those advantages. To turn around and deny the privilege and its painful effect on the underprivileged is inane. These –– by the way –– are microaggressions: displays of inherited power that are small in performance but vast in effect. Safe spaces are necessary. I explicitly told my students that my office was a safe space for LGBTers –– a place in which they could say anything without fear, and as a result I lost
A few lines from Sappho. Experimental texts by Gertrude Stein, and a postcard photo of her with Alice that I carried around for years and taped up next to my mattress. Gradually I learned about things like potlucks and women’s music festivals. Women’s colleges. Sports clubs. Bars! And of course I found lesbian activists who had carved out niches in the many social justice movements that excluded them until they started busting out for themselves in street activism, but also whole utopian movements reconsidering economy, language, culture, absolutely everything that shapes a society. But these were dismissed as hilarious failures because “lesbian” was attached to the word “separatist.” For a while, I wanted to reclaim all this in a kind of natural history museum that might feature rotting Birkenstocks and flannel, because even stereotypes seemed better than nothing at all. But now, what I’d really like to see is a huge film project that takes on the history of lesbians, in the widest interpretation of that word, with the sweeping ambition of “Roots.” It’s not like we lack resources. The Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn is right there waiting for you. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.
count of the number of students who came in, came out, and told me I was the first adult they’d let in on their secret. It took courage for those students to walk in and open up to a prof about their sexuality. If I hadn’t explicitly carved out the space in which they knew they could speak freely, they probably wouldn’t have confided in me. And their college experience would have been a little less meaningful and a lot more impersonal. It’s easy to mock an undergraduate for arguing that the dining hall’s bánh mì is an offensive cultural appropriation by the world’s only superpower against Southeast Asia. It’s a lot harder to answer the question of why he’s so angry, let alone to face the issue of why his complaint generated such a tsunami of fierce contempt among those whose voices wield far greater authority than his. Before he spoke up, that is. Maybe his detractors just don’t like the competition. Follow @edsikov on Twitter and Facebook.
Jiz Lee’s anthology “Coming Out Like a Porn Star,” which includes more than 500 stories on the subject of “coming out” –– or NOT! –– about working in the adult industry. Milcah Halili Orbacedo is a writer and performer, obsessed with their memoir, “Sisterhood,” and meditations on their intimate writer and pornographer friends. Jesse Jackman, who will be accompanied by his husband Dirk Caber, is a writer, senior software engineer, and logorrheic dork savant who moonlights as a porn star — although he prefers the term “erotic illusionist.” Lorelei Lee has been an adult film performer since 2000 and a director since 2009, whose writing has appeared in Salon, Wired, Denver Quarterly, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Stoya is an adult performer, writer, and master of avoiding pants., whose writing has been published by the Guardian and the New York Times. Bluestockings, 172 Allen St., btwn. Stanton & Rivington Sts. Jan. 9, 7-8 p.m. Information at bluestockings.com.
That’s Lorna With Two L’s
The Songs of Melba Moore
The daughter of legendary entertainer Judy Garland and producer Sid Luft, Lorna Luft, made her performing debut singing on “The Judy Garland Show,” and has since starred on TV, in film, and on stage, including a Broadway run of “Promises, Promises.” “Life With Judy Garland,” the miniseries adaptation of her memoir, “Me and My Shadows,” which she co-produced, won multiple Emmys, and she’s appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the London Palladium, and L’Olympia in Paris. Luft performs selections from the All-American Songbook at Feinstein’s/ 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Jan. 8, 7 & 9:30 p.m. The cover charge is $45-$90 at 54below.com, with a $5 premium at the door, and there’s a $25 food & drink minimum.
Grammy nominee and Tony Award-winner Melba Moore, who got her start in “Hair” and went on to win Broadway’s highest honor in “Purlie,” says she has never forgotten her first love –– music. Tonight, she will perform hits from her stage career as well as her studio releases –– including “Love’s Comin’ At Ya,” “Living For Your Love,” and “Read My Lips.” Feinstein’s/ 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Jan. 9, 9:30 p.m. The cover charge is $40-$85 at 54below.com, with a $5 premium at the door, and there’s a $25 food & drink minimum.
BOOKS Coming Out Like a Porn Star Contributors with a range of identities, orientations, and bodies read their essays from porn industry veteran
In the Memory & Spirit of Lena Horne Lena Horne, a legendary singer and great beauty, was also a pioneering African-American performer who broke the color barrier by insisting that her contracts keep her from being cast in servile roles and by joining the Civil Rights Movement as a visible, leading, and inspiring figure. Tonight, Broadway icons Audra McDonald, Barbara Cook, and Billy Porter are joined by younger stars inspired by Horne –– including Emmy Raver-Lampman (“Hamilton”), Lindsay Mendez (“Wicked”), Rebecca Naomi Jones (“American Idiot”), Telly Leung (“Glee,” “Godspell”), and Justin Guarini (“American Idol”), as well as choirs from VOICE Charter School and the Newark Boys Chorus
MON.JAN.11, continued on p.33
IT’S WINTER… GET OUT THERE! SAT.JAN.9
RUNNING: Neither Rain nor Snow…
COMMUNITY: Catskill’s Pride Winter Gathering
Indomitable in mind, body and spirit, members of the Front Runners of New York, one of the city’s oldest LGBT sports clubs, gather every Saturday, regardless of weather, for two hours of a Central Park fun run. Those wishing to drop off a bag, stretch, or change clothes prior to the run meet in the basement of Rutgers Church, 236 W. 73rd St. by 9:45 a.m. Otherwise, meet up at the 72nd St. Transverse and the park’s West Dr., just across the road from the Daniel Webster Statue, at 10 a.m. The club returns to the church for breakfast after the run. Every Sat., 10 a.m.-noon. For complete details on the fun runs and other Front Runners events, visit, frny.org/calendar.
Up in the Catskills to enjoy the winter hiking and skiing? Join Catskills Pride for its annual Winter Gathering. Free admission and food & drinks for purchase, while you meet up with friends and make new ones. Dancing Cat Distillery & Saloon, 2037 Rte. 17B in Bethel (yep, home to the legendary 1969 Woodstock Festival at Max Yasgur’s farm). For more information, contact email@example.com. For information about the Dancing Cat, visit dancingcatsaloon.com.
HOME DESIGN: 16th Annual Mohawk Valley Antiquefest
Utica and the Mohawk Valley were long home to makers of fine home furnishings, including classic lamps and other lighting fixtures. The historic Stanley Theatre in Utica plays host to the 16th annual Mohawk Valley Antiquefest featuring a riot of vintage furnishings. 261 Genesee St. at Hopper St. Jan. 23, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Jan. 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free. More information at thestanley.org.
DOWNHILL: Ski Bum Saturdays & Sundays
DOWNHILL: Skiing in the Finger Lakes
Ski Bums, the world’s largest LGBT skiers and snowboarders club, holds weekend day trips to prime upstate skiing venues in the Catskills. The excursions, which welcome skiers of all abilities, include a private charter bus trip leaving from 34th St. & Eighth Ave. This winter’s schedule includes: Jan. 17 to Windham Mountain; Feb. 6 to Hunter Mountain; Feb. 13 to Belleayre Mountain; and Mar. 12 back to Windham. The total cost is $125; reserve your spot at skibums.wufoo.com/forms/nyc-daytrips-2016.
In a weekend still in the planning stages, the Center of the Finger Lakes and the Rochester, Toronto, and Ottawa Gay Ski clubs are collaborating on “Super Ball,” an LGBTQ Ski & Snowboarding Weekend at Bristol Mountain, near Canandaigua in the Finger Lakes region. Feb. 5-7. All ski abilities are welcome, snowboarding and cross-country skiing are available, and the Finger Lakes has a deservedly strong reputation for fine cuisine. Check in at facebook.com/events/1535157336763900 to see when you can book a reservation.
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
So much to see. So much to do. So much to call our own. Holiday Valley Resort, Chautauqua-Allegheny
Gore Mountain, The Adirondacks
Depuy Canal House, Hudson Valley
Saranac Lake Winter Carnival
The I LOVE NEW YORK Bus at Belleayre Mountain, The Catskills
Munson-William-Proctor Arts Institute, Central NY
Ellicottville Window Shopping
Corning Museum of Glass, Finger Lakes
LGBT travelers love New York State, where the cool temperatures only heat up the fun and excitement. Where else within a few hours ride from home can you ski the greatest vertical drop in the Northeast, get pampered at a world class spa, sample the harvest at an award-winning winery, explore the history of the womenâ€™s rights movement and get outlet bargains on top designer brands? There are even day and overnight ski trips from Manhattan aboard the I Love New York Bus, with equipment rental and lessons available. With natural beauty, amazing arts, delicious cuisine and special LGBT events, youâ€™ll love New York State because there is so much more to love.
Plan your New York State winter getaway at iloveny.com/lgbt and request a free NYS LGBT Travel Guide and bumper sticker. GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
ESPA, from p.8
KEVIN P. COUGHLIN/ OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
And Squadron and Hoylman, joined by their Manhattan Democratic colleague Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, the lead GENDA sponsor in his chamber, went on record in great detail lauding the Division of Human Rights’ new regulations in late December in written statements submitted toward the end of the public comment period. Still, all three Democrats have said over and over again that GENDA is still needed –– with Hoylman and Squadron both expressing concerns about ESPA being missing in action on the issue going forward. Just as the kerfuffle over ESPA leaving the scene was reaching full boil, the New York City Commission on Human Rights stepped into the debate over transgender equality by announcing several significant updates to its guidance on the city’s 2002 transgender civil rights ordinance. The Commission first issued a guidance on the ordinance in 2005, and the new version is more definitive about the obligations employers, landlords, and business owners have under the ordinance. Where the first guidance stated that employees should allow their workers to dress in accordance with their gender identity, the new policy bars employers from imposing different grooming standards based on gen-
der or sex. The 2005 guidelines pointed to factors that might suggest discriminatory conduct regarding access to single-sex facilities such as bathrooms, while the new policy spells out exactly what is required of institutions that have such facilities. (Among the biggest offenders in that regard, however, have been two public entities –– the Metropolitan Transportation Author ity and the Port of Authority At the Pride Agenda’s Fall Dinner, Governor Cuomo accepting an ESPA award from of New York and New Jersey, Cynthia Germanotta of the Born This Way Foundation, with the Pride Agenda’s executive director Nathan Schaefer (l.), and Melissa Sklarz and Norman C. Simon, the which both at points in the past, group’s board co-chairs. though none in the last sever al years, challenged New York City’s jurisdiction over facilities they maintain.) Employers, landlords, and can be up to $125,000, unless violations are public accommodations are forbidden from found to be “willful, wanton, or malicious,” in intentionally refusing to use an individu- which case penalties can be twice that level. The new city guidance was announced al’s preferred name, pronoun, or title. And workplace health benefit programs must, with considerable fanfare on December 21, the new guidance makes clear, provide gen- with laudatory comments from Mayor Bill de der-affirming care –– beyond existing federal Blasio, Hoylman, Squadron, and Gottfried, and state requirements for offering medical- five of the six out LGBT members of the City ly necessary transition-related care –– and Council, and the National Center for Transemployers are obligated to offer reasonable gender Equality, the New York Civil Liber accommodations for workers undergoing ties Union, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the LGBT Community Center, and the New York gender transition. Civil penalties under the city ordinance City Anti-Violence Project.
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for a memorial in a newly created park where Seventh Avenue South meets Greenwich Avenue and West 12th Street (nycaidsmemorial. org/2012/robert-woodworth). The phrase that comes to mind to encompass all Woodworth’s efforts at the Center is “making space.” Both literal space –– for the more than 300 groups that meet at the Center 365 days a year and hold more than 12,000 meetings annually –– but also symbolically, in welcoming and affirming new and changing ways in which the community and its members see and define themselves. “Robert’s dedication to our community –– and the Center in particular –– is unmatched,” noted Center executive director Glennda Testone.” Perhaps it would surprise people to know that Robert talks as much about the future as he does the past. His hopes for a Center filled with art, culture, and activism are top of mind for today’s Center leadership.” As for himself, post-retirement, Woodworth said he plans to “devote more time to art-making and con-
3024 QUENTIN ROAD • BROOKLYN NY
WOODWORTH, from p.6
Robert Woodworth (left) with Noli Villanueva, who died in 1996, at New York’s Pride Parade in 1989.
tinue volunteering with the Rainbow Book Fair and Community Board Number 2.” He told Gay City New he’s been experimenting with pen and ink wash drawings, recently having completed dozens. Unlike so many artists paralyzed by a rigid focus on the final product, Woodworth has given himself permission to be in process, to enjoy the work of growing and developing his own style –– in something of a more personal parallel to the creative process in his life’s work on behalf of the LGBT community. “You can take the man out of the Center,” he said, “but you can’t take the Center out of the man.” January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
BY GARY M. KRAMER
GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
IFP SCREEN FORWARD
riter/ director Stephen Cone’s modest, incisive gem “Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party” takes place entirely during the title character’s (Cole Doman, in a sly, winning performance) 17th birthday party. The film has 20 teenagers and adults coming together to celebrate at Henry’s home and pool. Over the course of the day, secrets and lies, both large and small, are revealed, contributing to mounting dramatic tension. In a recent Skype interview, Cone, who helmed the equally fine 2011 film “The Wise Kids,” explained that “Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party” reflects the world he grew up in. “When I was 17,” he said, “I was leading Bible Studies on Tuesday mornings at my South Carolina high school, while simultaneously coming into my own queer identity with a safe set of friends,” friends to whom “Henry Gamble” is dedicated. “It’s a testament to my parents that I didn’t feel conflicted,” Cone continued. “One would think that growing up in a Southern Baptist conservative evangelical church, that there would be a crisis of sexuality, but my crisis was more about faith than sexual identity, as I explored in ‘The Wise Kids.’” With “Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party,” the filmmaker said his intention is “not political or religious,” but to show the characters as “having rich personalities, with flaws and desires and passions.” Cone does this exceptionally well. The film unfolds organically, with characters being entirely defined by just snippets of dialogue, or even an unspoken moment between them. A tender scene in a swimming pool has Henry looking with desire at his straight best friend Gabe (Joe Keery), while Logan (Daniel Kyri), a gay teenager, is looking at Henry with the same shy desire. The film is full of such subtle, telling moments. Cone presents the 20 characters and multiple storylines with
remarkable dexterity, stylishly employing slow motion, whip pan shots, underwater sequences, and characters addressing the camera directly to visually cue viewers and engage their emotions. He gets uniformly strong performances from his entire ensemble cast. Cone explained that he did no rehearsals. “I’m a cinephile with a theater background,” he said. “I teach acting. I don’t do hands-on work as a director. What I try to do is relay specific terms of what I want, and then I’m very trusting.” Doman, in playing Henry, said Cone created a comfortable environment for him on set — especially since his first scene on screen involves Henry and Gabe talking about penis size and relating sexual fantasies, before jerking off in bed together. “I was, of course, nervous,” Doman said via Skype about the audacious opening scene. “I think it really sets up Henry in a certain light — that he is a smart kid and knows what he wants. He is used to getting it from his parents and friends. People feel comfortable with Henry. They trust him and confide in him.” Doman explained while Henry may be aware of Logan’s attraction to him, he is crushed on Gabe in part because Gabe is straight and so “safer” — because he won’t reciprocate Henry’s affection. “Henry is not ready to be in the world of gay men,” Doman said. “With Gabe, he won’t have to deal with it.” Henry grapples with his unspoken desires in the pool, especially underwater, where he can silently observe the objects of his affection. Doman, who has been a competitive swimmer, embraced being in the water for the film, despite shooting during “a cold summer.” He thought of the pool scenes where Henry could stare at Gabe or Logan as “a private space, for him to think, like a bathtub or shower. But in a pool, where there are lots of bodies, Henry is being forced to see things that he wasn’t seeing before. These other bodies are in his space — and they are
Joe Keery and Cole Doman in Stephen Cone’s “Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party.”
Stephen Cone’s film captures a preacher’s son’s self-acceptance shirtless.” Doman, who is gay, did not have the same issues Henry does about his sexual identity. He grew up in a liberal Irish-Catholic family, and recalled, “I never had a coming out experience. It was not ‘Are you gay?’ but ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ Being gay wasn’t a topic of concern or shame for me. I had trouble, but I went through what Henry does when I was 12 or 13, not when I was growing into adulthood. It is perhaps a smoother transition for Henry because he’s done going through puberty.” Where he does relate to his on-screen character is in Henry’s curiosity, and, Doman said, “That he finds solace in music. Henry loves the storytelling of music; it’s a world outside of his own. His secular friends have introduced him to [non-Christian] music. Music was a really good way in for me to find Henry and feel close to him.” Cone echoed the importance of music for Henry and the film, stating that he spent two months listening to and picking the songs, including two tracks by his Brooklyn-based sister, Frances Cone. “I thought about how much pop music meant to me when I was even younger than Henry,” the filmmaker said. “Where do you
experience true ecstasy? And true spiritual revival? It happens in the presence of a pop song. It was an alternative church.” “Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party” addresses issues of faith and sexuality — Henry is, after all, the son of a preacher — but Cone’s film always feels graceful, never preachy or heavy-handed. Doman summed it up best when he observed that the film is about characters “Choosing love and happiness,” he said. “It’s handled in stride and with a lot of hope. It’s not a betrayal of their faith. It’s an acceptance of how they are and who they shouldn’t be afraid to be.”
HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY Directed by Stephen Cone IFP Screen Forward Jan. 8, 11 & 14 at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 9-10 at 4 p.m. Jan. 12 at 9 p.m.; Jan. 13 at 5 p.m. IFP’s Made in New York Media Center 30 John St., btwn. Pearl & Jay St. DUMBO Tickets at goo.gl/ocQPQ5 Venue: nymediacenter.com
Dark and Darker on the London Stage British theaters true to Shakespeare’s doomed boy prince saying, “a sad tale’s best for winter”
Simon Russell Beale in the “Mr. Foote’s Other Leg” at the Haymarket.
BY ANDY HUMM
Theatre after 12 phenomenal years under Nick Hytner (who is forming his own company at 59). The theater complex itself has a new look –– hatched under Hytner –– that is more open to the Embankment along the Thames and more casual. The iconic programs, always worth the £4, have a new look, and that’s part of what theater is all about –– taking another look at life that we experience mostly as habit. Most successful in opening our eyes to a new way of seeing is the National’s wonderfully theatrical adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyr e” at the L yttelton (nationaltheatre.org.uk/venue/ lyttelton-theatr e) devised by director Sally Cookson with the company of actors at the Bristol Old Vic. It is not 100 percent true to the 400-page1847 novel, but creates an engrossing play of a little over three hours on a bare stage fitted with inauspicious, unadorned platforms, ladders, and stairs. (The actors do wear period costumes.) Madeline Worrall embodies Jane in her endless challenges from
Wallace Shawn’s new “Evening at the Talk House,” in which he is also featured and that Ian Rickson directs at the National’s Dorfman (nationaltheatre.org. uk/shows/evening-at-the-talkhouse), is another matter. What starts hopefully as the reunion of a theater troupe at the London club to which they used to repair nightly descends into surreal nastiness
Wallace Shawn in his new “Evening at the Talk House,” at the National’s Dorfman Theatre.
and revelations of murderous violence –– the kind to which we are all contributing with our taxes these days but not nearly so directly as here. “Talk House” (through March 30) is reminiscent of the social gatherings in a Buñuel film like “Exterminating Angel” and could do with more of his subtlety. The playwright’s voice is distinctive and purposely repellant from the opening monologue (Josh Hamilton as Robert, the playwright), where we are all reminded that in the theater we are all just “animals staring at other animals.” If relentless holiday cheer has been disturbing to you, this heaping cup of rancidness –– which does have its moments –– could be the cure.
“Husbands and Sons,” a compendium of D.H. Lawrence plays adapted by Ben Power and directed by the great Marianne Elliot, also at the Dorfman (nationaltheatre.org. uk/shows/husbands-sons, through February 10), traffics in a different kind of darkness –– the soot that covers the miners he grew up amidst and the shadows that are cast over their lives above ground. There is no relief from the stress in this northern English town, though some seek it in the bottom of a bottle. The stage is set with the interiors of three households and if all happy households are the
LONDON, continued on p.23
The Rufus Norris Era is now well underway at the National
infancy to adulthood in a moving performance notable for its endurance, nuance, and numerous surprises. Most of the rest of the actors engagingly play multiple roles across lines of sex, race, age, and specie, notably Felix Hayes as a formidable Rochester and Melanie Marshall, who provides haunting choral accompaniment and plays only Bertha Mason, a mysterious resident of the Rochester manse. The scenes are enhanced by onstage musicians playing music both period and modern. Sounds as if it could have been a mess, but this “Jane Eyre” has tremendous theatrical and emotional coherence and resonance. “Jane Eyre” (through January 10) is in cinemas worldwide as part of the NT Live series in late January including Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at 95th Street) and the IFC Center (323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street) in New York. Go to ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/ productions/51859-jane-eyre.
he doomed boy prince Mamillius (Rudi Goodman) in “The Winter’s Tale” tells Paulina (Judi Dench), a noblewoman in the Sicilian court, “A sad tale’s best for winter.” Most of the productions I saw at Yuletide in London took that to heart and sometimes to extremes, though this “Tale” (through January 16), fr om the new Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company (branaghtheatre.com) making a home at the Garrick with six productions through November, at least offers a moving, redemptive climax. Branagh directs and plays the insanely jealous Leontes himself — letting Paulina tell him the hell off in Dench’s juicy turn. While set in what seems to be the early 20th century, this is as pure and true a telling of the tragic tale as one could want. The pastoral scenes after the interval are buoyant and sexy, especially the ardent love of prince Florizel (Tom Bateman) for the seemingly peasant Perdita (Jessie Buckley), and blessed with comic relief. But Shakespeare –– and Branagh –– keep us on edge, happiness always threatened with being undone by the demands of the highborn Bohemian King Polixenes (Hadley Fraser) or the intrigues of the low rogue Autolycus (John Dagleish) just as Leontes brought darkness to his kingdom with his jealousy. Pulling off “The Winter’s Tale” is a high-wire act, and Branagh and company succeed in an auspicious start to their season. Let’s hope it makes it to American shores, but
even if it doesn't, it can be seen in cinemas across the US, including Manhattan's IFC Center on January 17 and 18 (323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street; the-winterstale.branaghtheatrelive.com).
Anne-Marie Duff in “Husbands and Sons,” Ben Power’s adaptation of a compendium of D.H. Lawrence plays at the National’s Dorfman Theatre.
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Songs of the Heart
Don’t miss the magnificent revival of “The Color Purple” BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
LONDON, from p.22
same, these unhappy ones are each miserable in their own way. It sounds off-putting, but not when performed by this fine ensemble led by Anne-Marie Duff in a loveless marriage. It put me in mind of the terrible human price of extracting energy –– from coal to oil to natural gas –– on our withering planet. GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
THE COLOR PURPLE Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre 242 W. 45th St. Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 7:30 p.m. $75-$145; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200
Eventually freeing herself from Mister, Celie, with Shug’s encouragement, sets up her own successful business. In time, Mister sees the error of his ways and, seeking redemption, helps reunite Nettie and Celie, finding that the power of love can heal even him. The music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, can at times be clunky, but when it soars it is affecting and sumptuous. As sung by the cast, any imperfections are instantly overlooked as this is one of the most accomplished cast of singers to be seen in a while. The voices are spectacular individually, and under the musical direction of Jason Michael Webb, the choral work is some of the best you’re going to hear anywhere. As for the actors, Danielle Brooks as the brassy and strong-willed Sofia, who marries Mister’s son, gives a rich and fully developed performance. Sofia is nearly defeated when she is beaten and thrown in jail, but she overcomes the hardship. Brooks’ performance is both broad and detailed, getting every laugh while touching your heart. Jennifer Hudson is magnificent as Shug. She sings and moves beautifully, and her two songs nearly stop the show. For all her star power, Hudson also deserves credit for integrating seamlessly into the ensemble when needed, though I can’t wait for the cast recording to hear her sing “Too Beautiful for Words” again and again. One of the most lyrical songs in the show, it’s a perfect showcase for Hudson’s voice and emotive power.
You probably don’t know the “Oscar Wilde of the 18th Century,” Samuel Foote, a saucy, cross-dressing, one legged acting star who advanced the Haymarket Theatre (trh.co.uk) to royal status in 1766 through the favor of George III at a time when theater was always being censored or shut down for irreverence. Foote tested the limits –– pay-
t its heart, “The Color Purple” is about the sustaining and healing power of love. So powerful is that message in the glorious new revival on Broadway that at the end of the performance I saw, the strangers next to us and in front of us introduced themselves and engaged us in conversation about the experience we had just shared. That is no common New York experience, but the “Color Purple” is no common revival. Stripped down to its essence by director John Doyle, this production achieves a level of emotional depth and raw immediacy that eluded the original production. The 2005 production was freighted with an overblown production that obscured the characters and the story. Doyle, in contrast, relies on the power of his actors and the story to draw in the audience and create theatrical magic. On a set that is reminiscent of the one he used for his revival of “Sweeney Todd” — essentially a wooden scoop that goes from the apron of the stage into the flies — the staging is consistently clear, fluid, and at times breathtaking in its simplicity. Marsha Norman’s book, based on the Alice Walker novel and the subsequent movie, tells the story of two sisters in 1909 rural Georgia — Celie, who is pregnant for the second time by her stepfather who disposes of the baby and threatens to kill her if she talks about it, and Nettie, who dreams of being a schoolteacher. When a man known only as Mister comes for a wife, he wants to marry Nettie, but her stepfather says she is too young and gets him to take the less attractive Celie, with a cow thrown in to sweeten the deal. Nettie later comes to live with Celie, but runs away after Mister tries to attack her. Bereft, Celie resigns herself to a life of hard labor. Insult adds to injury when Mister’s old flame, Shug Avery, a beautiful singer, arrives and takes up with him again. But an erotic relationship begins between Celie and Shug, who defends Celie and gives her letters from Nettie that Mister has hidden.
Jennifer Hudson (sitting) and Cynthia Erivo in the Broadway revival of “The Color Purple,” directed by John Doyle.
The night, however, belongs to Cynthia Erivo as Celie, who does stop the show dead in the second act with her performance of “I’m Here,” an 11 o’clock number to end all 11 o’clock numbers. Erivo originated the role of Celie in the Menier Chocolate Factory production in London that this production is based on. She has a thrilling voice — making the hair on the back your neck stand up in the most amazing way — and brings a sensitivity and complexity to Celie that will touch your heart and keep you on the edge of your seat. Like the overall production, Erivo is very economical, but in that economy finds a theatricality that is revelatory. Isaiah Johnson is superb as Mister, managing his transition from bad guy to loving grandpa believable and touching. That this revival is so splendid is an unexpected pleasure. It’s a testament to Doyle’s vision to be sure, but even more it’s a beacon of how simple, straightforward, and honest storytelling can create dynamic, moving, and unforgettable theater. Don’t miss this show.
ing dearly –– and Ian Kelly has brought his 2012 biography of him to the stage (the “new” Haymarket built in 1820), taking the role of the king for himself. Simon Russell Beale has been a great Hamlet and Lear, and here is the perfect Mr. Foote, surrounded by an estimable company of historic characters and actors who portray them: legendary actors
David Garrick (Joseph Millson) and Peg Woffington (Dervla Kir wan), as well as Benjamin Franklin (Colin Stinton). Foote’s Jamaican dresser, Frank Barber (Micah Balfour), and earthy stage manager Mrs. Garner (Jenny Galloway), also contribute mightily to this witty and intelligent production
LONDON, continued on p.30
A Long Submerged Operatic Jewel Rises Again Bizet’s “Pearl Fishers” a Met triumph on New Year’s Eve
KEN HOWARD/ METROPOLITAN OPERA
Mariusz Kwiecien and Diana Damrau in the Penny Woolcock production of Georges Bizet’s “Les Pêcheurs de Perles” at the Metropolitan Opera.
BY ELI JACOBSON
eorges Bizet’s “Carmen” is the “C” in the operatic “ABC” triad of most popular works. While “Carmen” has totaled more than 1,000 performances at the Metropolitan Opera, this season’s New Year’s Eve premiere of Bizet’s “Les Pêcheurs de Perles” marked only its fifth Met performance and the first since the 1916-17 season.
Bizet’s youthful exercise in exotica has been performed in New York in two productions by the New York City Opera and in concert by the Opera Orchestra of New York. It’s also been performed in regional houses. Still, while most listeners have heard the tenor-baritone duet “Au fond du temple saint” many times in concert and on recordings, the opera itself is unfamiliar. Bizet wrote the opera in 1863 when he was only 25 on a commission from the Théâtre Lyrique, which was sponsoring new operas by young composers. The melodic inspiration, evocative orchestration, and dramatic touches of Bizet’s score foreshadow his greater achievement a decade later with “Carmen.” Young, untried composers generally don’t have the benefit of good librettos, and “The Pearl Fishers” has a contrived, overfamiliar plot concerning a romantic triangle of two fishermen in love with a Hindu priestess vowed to chastity. The story seems to run out of steam in Act III, with a tacked-on happy ending. The setting in ancient Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) played into the craze then for Orientalia. The story seems to take place in a kind of mythical exotic “Operaland” of palm trees, ruined temples, and starry skies. Penny Woolcock’s production originated at the English National Opera in 2010, garnering poor reviews. It underwent revisions in a 2014 revival and was unveiled at the Met on the last day of 2015. Woolcock evidently got third-time lucky –– cheers overwhelmed a few scattered boos when
the production team took their curtain call. The setting is updated to the latter part of the 20th century in a seaside shantytown somewhere on the Indian coast. Kevin Pollard’s costumes for Leïla and Nourabad are colorfully traditional, while those for Nadir, Zurga, and the chorus are more modern. The beauty and potential destructive power of the ocean are omnipresent; almost every scene is dominated by water suggested by rolling cloth or video projections (by 59 Productions). During the prelude, deep sea divers swim the watery depths searching for the titular pearls. Jen Schriever’s lighting is atmospheric, evoking light reflected on water. The sets by Dick Bird are temporary dock-like structures of recycled wood and corrugated metal. A pervasive sense of rural poverty, social isolation, the dominance of religion, and vulnerability to the forces of nature creates an environment where the story has human reality. The loss of picture book romanticism is a gain in dramatic verisimilitude. The first scene did have me worried –– choristers milling around reading newspapers and smoking while Zurga and his minions are canvassing for political office. However as the plot progresses, it focuses more on the intimate human drama of the three main protagonists. The updating became irrelevant and Woolcock’s intelligent personal direction fully exploited the strengths of a talented trio of star singers.
MET, continued on p.26
Holiday Hollers Classical vocals around Manhattan BY DAVID SHENGOLD
MARTY SOHL/ METROPOLITAN OPERA
teven Blier –– the energizing genius behind New York Festival of Song — pulled off a fascinating “Schubert/ Beatles” evening December 8 at Merkin Hall. With typical generosity, Blier credited the inspiration to publicist extraordinaire Aleba Gartner and Juilliard’s wildly talented Wunderkind baritone, Theo Hoffman. What binds Shubert and the Beatles? Boundless melodic inspiration, an underlying melancholy, ever only a modulation away, and short but astoundingly productive creative spans. Not all the juxtapositions worked, but some came off superbly. Blier places “yearning” as Schubert’s overall compelling
principle; maybe this reads more poignantly to those gay mini-generations who relate to much of Schubert’s homosocial circle having been decimated by an STD. Paul Appleby contributed much lovely singing, joining the expressive Sari Gruber in the ravishing “Licht und Liebe,” taking a moving lead on “Yesterday,” and joining baritone Andrew Garland for a same-sex “If I Fell.” Gruber’s successes included a gender-altered “Norwegian Wood,” suggesting a real psycho, and pairing with Garland on one of the great Lennon–McCartney collaborations, “She’s Leaving Home.” Hoffman’s vocalism and musicality astound –– his “Du bist die Ruh,” self-accompanied on guitar, topped a night of much fine singing. With more experience will come
Lawrence Brownlee and Joyce DiDonato in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Rossini’s “La donna del lago.”
less need to demonstrate good fellowship onstage (red flag: singing with hands in pockets). Garland, formerly a master of artful posing, has edited out much of that, thus becoming a more satisfying performer: his deadpan embodying the “Taxman” was stellar. He’s not the heavyweight voice needed for “An Schwager Kronos,” however. Michael Barrett accompanied the
Lieder; Blier played for the Beatles tunes –– sometimes accompanied by Hoffman on guitar and genre-bending violinist Charles Yang, an astonishing talent, though for me his take on “Blackbird” destroyed the song’s compelling simplicity. NYFOS, as often, stimulated much thought.
HOLIDAY, continued on p.27
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Stanislas Merhar and Clotilde Courau in Philippe Garrel’s “In the Shadow of Women.”
Self-Righteous Infidelity Philippe Garrel explores male, female perspectives on adultery BY STEVE ERICKSON
n an interview last year, director Serge Bozon divided filmmakers into two categories: those who draw everything from their imagination and those who essentially fictionalize their own lives. He placed Philippe Garrel and the late Jean Eustache in the latter category. Garrel’s latest film, “In the Shadow Of Women,” is a radically austere melodrama of adultery. I don’t know enough about the filmmaker’s personal life to have any idea whether it’s autobiographical, but in the past Garrel has based his work on his involvement with radical politics, his struggles with heroin addiction, and his relationship with singer Nico, whom he has acknowledged as the love of his life. Garrel is also a child of the French New Wave; he began working at age 16 in the mid ‘60s, although his first decade or so of
films were non-narrative. While he finally seems to have found steady, if marginal, American distribution, his early work merits an Eclipse/ Criterion box, particularly the beautiful “The Inner Scar,” in which he and Nico traveled the world to find stunning locations for 360-degreee pans. Pierre (Stanislas Merhar) and Manon (Clotilde Courau) are a married couple who work together on documentaries directed by Pierre. She takes on the less glamorous task of editing the films, although she accompanies him to interviews. (In an early scene, Pierre talks to an elderly World War II resistance fighter.) Pierre takes a young woman, Elisabeth (Lena Paugam), as his lover, quite casually. He treats both her and Manon shabbily. Unbeknownst to him, Manon is also having an affair, which Elisabeth discovers by peeping through a café window. When she reports that back to Pierre, he reacts with
MET, from p.24
As Nadir, Matthew Polenzani sang his dreamy arias and duets with elegant musicality and a bewitching command of French vocal style and tone production. The hypnotic romance “Je crois entendre encore” ended with an endlessly floated high C in mixed head voice –– a style of singing that has seemed to survive only on century-old Pathé 78 shellac recordings rather than on modern opera stages. As Leïla, Diana Damrau sounded vocally restored –– her silvery, brilliant soprano precise-
outrage but remains quiet about his own infidelities. Like most of Garrel’s films, “In the Shadow Of Women” is in black and white. The 35mm cinematography is high-contrast. It’s rare for movies to be shot on actual celluloid these days, and perhaps as a consequence, Garrel shot each scene in only one take. The film’s look evokes the roughhewn photography of early French New Wave films, although “In the Shadow Of Women” is slightly slicker. When Manon and Pierre argue for the first time, the room is lit so that Pierre is sunk in deep darkness and she is sitting in bright light. The one French New Wave film to which “In the Shadow Of Women” seems overtly indebted is François Truffaut’s “The Soft Skin,” another drama of adultery. The Truffaut-inspired feel is enhanced by a voice-over supplied by Garrel’s son Louis. The whole plot of “In the Shadow Of Women” rests on a Parisian culture of outdoor cafes, as well as a kind of bohemia that may only exist in art these days –– or, at least, in cities whose rents are cheaper than Paris or New York. In the opening scene, the landlord barges in on Manon to demand the rent and tell her that the couple has 48 hours to pay up or move out. But this subplot has nothing to do with the main narrative of the film and is never followed up on. Nevertheless, the film returns repeatedly to the couple’s precarious economic status. Manon’s mother tells her that she should have gotten a degree in Oriental Studies so she could have worked as an interpreter, and, late in the film, we see that she’s gone back to school to study that subject. “In the Shadow Of Women” was written by a team of four screenwriters. Two of them are male, two
ly navigated the florid music but gained color and depth in the dramatic duets of the second and third acts. In fact, Leïla’s third act confrontation duet with Zurga, “Je frémis, je chancelle,” emerged as a vocal and dramatic highlight of the evening. Damrau’s sung French is excellent and she is a committed, positive performer. Mariusz Kwiecien’s naturally handsome voice and presence should be a good fit for Zurga. But Kwiecien still attempts to puff up his lyric baritone by clamping a dark cover on his tone while pushing for volume. Luckily the role isn’t exces-
female. This group includes the legendary Jean-Claude Carriere (who worked with Luis Buñuel) and the should-be-legendary Arlette Langmann (who wrote “A Nos Amours,” directed by Maurice Pialat and perhaps the best female coming-of-age film ever made.) The film does justice to both male and female perspectives on adultery, although the fact that it features a male voiceover gives Pierre’s P.O.V. a slight edge. It captures Pierre’s rank hypocrisy quite well; while it’s true that both partners cheat, Manon gives up her affair as soon as Pierre discovers it and calls her on it. Pierre treats her with an anger to which his behavior leaves him no right. It takes her much longer to learn about his infidelity, a period during which he continues to sleep with Elisabeth. The film never plays like a male fantasy of middle-aged attractiveness in which 50-year -old men have teenage girls falling for them; Merhar is reasonably young and still handsome enough that it’s understandable for a 21-year-old to sleep with him. In the end, “In the Shadow Of Women” is a film about betrayal, and its final scenes suggest how that betrayal has consequences in the political realm beyond one marriage.
IN THE SHADOW OF WOMEN Directed by Philippe Garrel Distrib Films In French with English subtitles Opens Jan. 15 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com Film Society of Lincoln Center 70 Lincoln Center Plaza filmlinc.org
sively heavy or high-lying. When Kwiecien lightened up, his singing improved. Native Frenchman Nicolas Testé, who is married to the prima donna, imbued the priest Nourabad with a mellow soft-grained bass-baritone and a handsome brooding presence. Gianandrea Noseda conducts with driving rhythmic force, dramatic propulsion, and vibrant color. Noseda’s musical interpretation and Woolcock’s production revealed the muscular strength in Bizet’s opera as well as its fragile decorative charm. January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
HOLIDAY, from p.24
Manhattan School of Music has been investigating well-received American operas little revived after initial runs. December 9 brought Conrad Susa’s 1994 “The Dangerous Liaisons.” Set to a subtly wrought and strong libretto by Philip Littell, the piece premiered at San Francisco Opera with a stellar cast including Frederica von Stade, Richard Stilwell, the then-emerging Renée Fleming, Judith Forst, and Johanna Meier. All were accomplished in florid work, which leaves it traces on musical lines full of melisma. Tonal and best wrought in ensembles, Susa’s music sometimes functions basically as underpinnings to Littell’s smartly rendered “opening out” of an epistolary novel. One major quibble: the double frame-death scene of Tourvel and Valmont is in principle well devised; in practice it just goes on too long, approaching Werther’s interminable expiring in length. Dona Vaughn’s fluid, well-inflected production in Erhard Rom’s flexible set helped avoid stasis in the letter-writing scenes. The young cast moved well in (sometimes approximate) period costume and looked at home in convincing wigs — something not to be taken for granted. Most also delivered the text clearly, especially the leading partners in conniving: the splendidly capable Anna Dugan (Merteuil), gifted at word painting, and Timothy Murray, more boy-next-door than ladykiller as Valmont but a good lyric baritone. The high, almost veristic extremes of Tourvel–– an early “victim” part for Fleming’s gallery, reflecting her stellar top –– tested Abigail Shapiro, as it surely would any conservatory student; she coped reasonably withal.
Noragh Devlin and Brittany Nickell made the matriarchs Rosamunde and Volanges vocally and dramatically substantial. Janet Todd and Oliver Sewell brought increasing conviction to the tough roles of the schemers’ young seducees. Most striking vocally among the others was baritone Michael Gracco (Bertrand). Attending to singers’ audibility, George Manahan led with assurance a student orchestra that betrayed both high capacity and some opening night less-than-perfect ensemble. MSM sensibly employed Randol Bass’ reduced orchestration of an intriguing work that certainly warrants occasional revival.
On December 11, the Met’s “La donna del lago” –– new in February — returned, perhaps a season too early to pull in many patrons. It’s certainly not the best serious opera Rossini wrote (“Guillaume Tell” is apparently on the Met’s docket, as “Maometto II” and “Mosé in Egitto” should be) — but it has a few delightful numbers and a stellar final scene, in which Joyce DiDonato brought down the house. The Walter Scott-based work allowed us to hear three great Rossinian singers, DiDonato, Lawrence Brownlee, and John Osborn. Elena, the titular Lady of the Lake (a body of water nowhere in evidence onstage) suits DiDonato extremely well; her personal radiance makes the needlessly gloomy production work. Ever the exacting bel cantist, she honors Rossini’s cadenzas as written. Brownlee –– his disguised King James V a much more ardent, less self-delighted fellow than Juan Diego Flórez presented –– sang phenomenally, especially in his Act Two scena. (Both Brownlee and Flórez command this
MANTA SPA FOCUSING ON MAN TO MAN MASSAGE O F F E R I NG TA B L E S H O W E R S & BODY SCRU BS
part utterly; to me the American’s timbre ingratiates more.) Osborn’s undulcet but exciting, stylistically honed tenor — ideal for macho pig Rodrigo — was in much better form this run. Daniela Barcellona, still unfortunately styled and costumed, also sang better, with more volume in the middle if a glassy, sometimes approximate top. Owen Gradus, unworthy of his assignment (Douglas) in February, remained so; the Met has good basses but somehow we often don’t hear them. Michele Mariotti knows his business; his conducting certainly brought out more color and drama than Kevin Knight’s dull, subpar sets and the capable Paul Curran’s surprisingly numbing direction of crowds.
Musica Sacra’s annual “Messiah” at Carnegie took place December 22 under music director Kent Tritle. Even just having heard a starry Philadelphia Orchestra performance, this was something special. Tritle’s relatively small (32-member) chorus sang with superb clarity, dynamics, and balance; he captures the choruses’
architecture like few conductors today. The orchestra also shone, especially concertmaster Jorge Ávila, cellist Arthur J. Fiacco, and trumpeter Scott McIntosh. Kathryn Lewek impresses me more each time I hear her; her liquid soprano carried beautifully and she sang with feeling if sometimes with rather operatic cadenzas. Someone cast this remarkable voice as Constanze, please! Countertenors rock, but most of the weighty alto solos here suit mezzos far better. Christopher Ainslie showed his musicality in rather insistent decoration, but his timbre showed beauty only at its softest; neither projection nor breath length seemed sufficient. Mingjie Lei’s sweet tenor coped well with the varied tenor assignments; words and line were always clear, breath control notable. Bass Matt Boehler sounded extremely impressive in the agility-testing solos, and he really sang off the text. He, Lewek, and the chorus won special cheers. David Shengold (shengold@ yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues.
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IN THE Aggie Awards for the Year Just Ended
Trans characters played by trans actors, a Colette heroine on top, vampires at the door
BY DAVID NOH
s we welcome 2016 and bid farewell to the tumult that was 2015 –– which for me and, I’m guessing, a lot of you out there comprised both the best and the worst of times –– it’s time for a cultural review of what’s just concluded with our annual Agnes Moorehead Awards (the “Aggies”). One of that great actress’ Oscar-nominated roles was for “Mrs. Parkington,” a lavish 1944 Greer Garson vehicle, in which Aggie essayed a courtesan who could have stepped out of the pages of Colette, except that, being Aggie, she had to make her “Baroness Aspasia Conti” more vairy Franch than French. Less is more, of course, but Moorehead always subscribed to “more is more,” and weren’t we lucky for that… usually?
of the year. Its failure in a season that gave all of its laurels to the inferior, overpraised, pretentious, and arid “An American in Paris” truly makes me fear for the future of anything with real elegance or sophistication on Broadway.
Ten Best Live Performances of 2015 (in no particular order):
“Lazarus”: The most artistically arresting of “jukebox musicals,” this David Bowie-scored adaptation of his cult film, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” finally made me succumb to the visionary direction of Ivo van Hove, whom I actively loathed for what he did to “A View from the Bridge” and “The Little Foxes.” His busy, baroque shtick worked perfectly here, and, added to a terrific, committed cast and all that superlatively arranged and performed real music, made this undoubtedly the hippest show of 2015. Michael C. Hall was jaw-droppingly good, hauntingly Bowie-esque, and very moving, even if you weren’t sure what the fuck what was going on. Fourteen-year-old Sophia Anne Caruso was the year’s big discovery, both physically and vocally a literal angel.
“Cloud 9”: This Atlantic Theater revival of Caryl Churchill’s brilliant, prescient, and eternally relevant 1979 play did it more than full justice, with a cast that delivered as good ensemble work as the best of what one sees in London, the highest acting praise I can give.
“Hamilton”: What more can be said, except gigantic credit should be given to Andy Blankenbuehler’s soulful choreography, which added untold richness to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feast of words and surprising melody. And, oh yeah, Miranda’s a genius, all right.
“On Your Feet!”: Not the hugest fan of Gloria Estefan’s music, I was nonetheless completely blown away by the sheer exuberance and savvy stylishness of Jerry Mitchell’s direction and Sergio Trujillo‘s uber-sexy choreography in this total party of a show. Not one, but three stars were born here: Ana Villafañe, a killer gorgeous triple threat as Gloria; ravishing vet Andrea Burns, as her feisty mother, whose solo number, set in 1950s Cuba, was the most vibrantly glamorous musical moment of the year; and, especially, Josh Segarra, as Emilio Estefan, who redefined “matinee idol” with his electrifying charisma and warmth.
“Gigi”: I rarely see any show twice, let alone three times, but this criminally dismissed musical was a huge improvement over the pretty but shallow 1958 Minnelli film, investing Colette’s story with a new emotional depth and true romance. Stuffy purists decried the gender reassignment of songs, especially the baselessly notorious “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” which worked beautifully and resonantly in the masterful hands of the perfectly cast Victoria Clark and Dee Hoty. Corey Cott’s spectacular rendition of the lilting title song was, for me, the single most exciting number
Josh Segarra and Ana Villafañe in Alexander Dinelaris’ “On Your Feet,” directed by Jerry Mitchell and with choreography by Sergio Trujillo.
“Let the Right One In”: The horror genre may be the most difficult to actually pull off in live theater, but the National Theater of Scotland’s translation of Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish bloodsucker film, written by Jack Thorne, worked on every level, including scar-
ing the bejesus out of me. More importantly, through the absolutely searing performances of Rebecca Benson and Cristian Ortega and John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett’s uncannily original staging, it also managed to be one of the most compelling and poignant –– if obviously doomed –– romances I’ve ever seen in any medium. “The New Morality”: The estimable Mint Theater said farewell to its 43rd Street location triumphantly with one of its best, a wonderfully droll and sharply observant 1911 comedy of manners, written by the gifted, obscure American playwright Harold Chapin, a true feminist by nature who perished at 29 in World War I. Deftly directed by company director Jonathan Bank, it boasted an ingenious houseboat-on-the-Thames set and sparkling overall performances, especially by patrician Brenda Meaney in the lead as well as an irresistibly waggish Ned Noyes. “Icebound”: Sequestered on East Fourth Street is the Metropolitan Playhouse, which, like the Mint, specializes in treasures from the past and not enough people know about. I never miss a show there, and “Icebound,” written by Owen Davis in 1923, won the Pulitzer Prize, thoroughly deserved it, and was given an excellent revival. My mother passed away this year and the play’s theme of a dour New England family gathered around their dying matriarch, avidly waiting on the will, spoke loudly and clearly to me, after a near-century. “Hand to God”: You don’t really expect to see anything edgy on Broadway, so Robert Askins’ unbridled, ferociously funny contemplation on sex, religion, and puppets was beyond welcome. Steven Boyer achieved true greatness in a how-the-hell-does-he-do-that way, best male performance of the season (or any other), and it was just great to see a talented, dues-paying actress like Geneva Carr get a real moment in the sun, Tony nom and all. “Into the Woods”: Despite a really thrilling original cast assemblage of this Sondheim show held at BAM this year, which was like a true musical queen orgy, and that big old film version, this has never been a favorite show of mine, too message-y and aware of its own cleverness. However, Fiasco Theater’s minimal take on it worked like a charm and won me over as no other production –– and I’ve seen them all –– ever has. Less was truly more here.
IN THE NOH, continued on p.32
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
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GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
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LONDON, from p.23
that can be a little hard to follow as it is frantically wound up in the first act, but is painfully clear in the second in charting Foote’s demise. Like Wilde, he faced a sodomy charge and wouldn’t skip town. It is all a reminder of how much our forebears had to suffer for the freedoms entertainers enjoy today. What’s so good about “Mr. Foote’s Other Leg” is Kelly’s daring to portray historic figures famous for their brilliance and actually coming up with sharp things for them to say and do. “You told me once that the opposite of comedy,” George III says to Foote, “is Germany.”
of a young male stranger, Mooney (Johnny Flynn), who is “creepy” or “menacing,” depending on who you listen to, and who triggers a murder mystery that ends in classic McDonagh mayhem. A caution to Americans: prepare your ear for thick northern English accents for full enjoyment –– maybe by catching up on “Coronation Street.”
At the Royal Court royalcourttheatre.co.uk), “Linda” (through January 9) by Penelope Skinner is a cautionary tale of a 55-year old hard-charging executive brought low that was to have starred English-Canadian Kim Cattrall, but she took ill. South African-English
music and lyrics and overblown computer graphics, and costumes that fail to distract from these shortcomings. Young audiences are more sophisticated than this show gives them credit for and few will decide to take time away from their online world to make time for live theater if this is what is offered to them. A rare miss from director Rufus Norris, writer Moira Buffini, and pop composer Damon Albarn, the creators.
Take the District Line to West Brompton, walk east past the Brompton Cemetery, and hang a right on Finborough Road to the Finborough Theatre (finboroughtheatre.co.uk), where long-bur ied plays are resuscitated, most
with a lot less of the poetry that O’Neill did earlier and better.
COMING UP AND ALSO RUNNING: At the National (nationaltheatre.org.uk): “As You Like It” through March 5; “Waste” by Harley Granville-Barker through February 10; August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (January 26-May 18); Lorraine Hansberry’s “Les Blancs” from March 20; Suhayla El-Bushra’s “The Suicide” (an adaptation of Nikolai Erdman’s 1928 original) from April 6. At the Finborough (finboroughtheatre.co.uk): In-Sook Chappell’s “P’Yongyang” through January 30. From the Branagh Company (branaghtheatre.com) at
Noma Dumezweni in Penelope Skinner’s “Linda,” at the Royal Court.
Lois Chimimba, Paul Hilton, and Enyi Okoronkwo in Damon Albarn, Moira Buffini, and Rufus Norris’ “Wonder.Land,” at the Olivier.
In “Hangmen” (at Wyndham’s,
recently Robert Bolt’s “Flowering Cherry” (now closed) about the thwarted Cherry family, its first revival in more than half a century. “Kitchen Sink Drama” was the order of the day in 1957, and Bolt scored his first West End production with this one (starring Ralph Richardson). In the tiny pub theater, the first row puts you five feet from a literal kitchen sink. Bolt went on from this depiction of mundane family squabbles to write the high falutin’ “A Man for All Seasons” and epic screenplays for “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago.” “Cherry” had an able cast, but it was hard to make us feel much for the deluded, drunk father (Liam McKenna) –– though more sympathy was generated for his long-suffering wife, Isobel (Catherine Kanter). Sour plays like this –– including John Osborne’s “Look Back in Anger” –– got theater down to the way people really lived, but
delfontmackintosh.co.uk/Tickets/Hangmen/Hangmen.asp, through March 5), playwright Martin McDonagh (in “Pilowman” and “Cripple of Inishmaan”) is back doing what he does best –– taking a bad situation and making it breathtakingly and hilariously worse. When Britain got rid of the death penalty in 1965, it was a good day for everyone but the hangmen. McDonagh shines a brief light on the last of big executioners, Harry (ferociously good David Morrissey) and Arthur (even scarier Simon Rouse), whose day jobs were as pub proprietors in different towns. This imagining of their transitions to civilian life without the power to kill for the state shows the banality of Harry’s existence, surrounded by dim patrons and family and shrouded in a pompous silence about his grim past work –– broken by an indiscreet interview with the local newspaper and the visit
Noma Dumezweni took over and carries this tragicomedy heroically. It starts off as what seems like a “crappy soap” (Linda’s phrase for product she brilliantly managed to repackage for her cosmetics firm). But stay with it as plot twists and emotions pile up to a harrowing conclusion, aided by a fine supporting cast playing Linda’s colleagues and family members under Michael Longhurst’s direction. Dumezweni will be playing the adult Hermione in the new Harry Potter play at the Palace Theatre June 7, 2016 through May 27, 2017.
A show about the bullying of a girl (game Lois Chimimba as Aly) and a gay boy, Luke (standout Enyi Okoronkwo), on the vast Olivier stage of the National is one I so wanted to love. But “Wonder.Land” (nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/ wonder.land, through April 30), a modern musical take on “Alice in Wonderland,” is afflicted with dull
the Garrick: Adrian Lester in “Red Velvet” (January 23-February 27). “The Painkiller” with Branagh and Rob Brydon (March 5-April 30); “Romeo and Juliet” with Derek Jacobi (May 12-August 16); and Branagh in “The Entertainer” (August 20-November 12). At the Royal Court (royalcourttheatre. com): Caryl Churchill’s new “Escaped Alone” (January 21-March 12). At the Old Vic (oldvictheatre.com): Ralph Fiennes in Ibsen’s “Master Builder” (January 23-March 19); Timothy Spall in Pinter’s “Caretaker” (Mar. 26-May 14). For complete listings, go to londontheatre.co.uk.
EXTRA: Check out the “Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past” exhibit at the Tate Britain (tate.org.uk), a sweeping look into a Britain that once ruled two-fifths of the planet, providing insight and context for the impossible mess the world is in today. January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Pier-Gabriel Lajoie and Walter Borden in Bruce LaBruce’s “Gerontophilia.”
“Clouds of Sils Maria,” directed by Olivier Assayas. “The Second Mother,” by Anna Muylaert. “Boy Meets Girl,” directed by Eric Schaeffer.
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IN THE NOH, from p.28
“Gerontophilia,” directed by Bruce LaBruce.
I am just now reading a Christmas gift of a book I somehow missed, that came out in 2014, “Nothing Like a Dame,” by Eddie Shapiro (Oxford). It’s a marvelous collection of in-depth interviews with Broadway leading ladies, from Elaine and Angela to Sutton and Audra, and highly recommended. Here’s an excerpt from Donna Murphy, who describes Sondheim approaching her offstage one night as she is working in “Passion”: “‘Are you having a good time?,’ and I said, ‘Oh, God, Steve it’s so meaningful, and it’s so –– the challenges each night just give me a chance to find things I never expected.’ And he said, ‘Are you having a good time? Because you have to. You really must find the joy in this. Because what’s happening right now, you and this part, it happens maybe once for certain actors, Maybe it never happens. You’ve got to enjoy it. You have to allow yourself to enjoy it.’” I wish this same kind of joy to all of you in 2016. Contact David Noh at Inthenoh@ aol.com, follow him on Twitter @ in_the_noh, and check out his blog at nohway.wordpress.com.
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
24-year-old spinsters, and titans of Southern industry, fans of Williams, American drama, or even just pretty horsies will find something here to enjoy (preview the show at https://youtu. be/oIQcSfagJTw). Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, 307 W. 26th St. Jan. 18, Feb. 1 & 15, Mar. 7 & 21, 8 p.m. Admission is only $5 at ucbtheatre.com or at the door.
MON.JAN.11, from p.18
School. Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, btwn. 94th and 95 Sts. Jan. 11, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $100-$500 at symphonyspace.org, with proceeds benefiting Schools That Can (schoolsthatcan.org), a nonprofit group that works to unite leaders to expand quality urban education and close the opportunity and skills gap.
Strong Women’s Voices BEACONTHEATRE.COM
Georgia,” is often thought of in connection with her back-up Pips, but tonight she appears with the R&B legends out of Ohio, the O’Jays. Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway at 74th St. Jan. 16, 8 p.m. Tickets are $69-$149 at beacontheatre.com.
CATEGORY A Midnight Train We’ll Never Forget
GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
The Dyke Knitting Circle, where women gather to knit, drink some tea, and learn or improve on a craft, is open to all levels of queer experience and all levels of knitting proﬁciency. Bring yarn and needles. Bluestockings, 172 Allen St., btwn. Stanton & Rivington Sts. Jan. 17, 4-5:30 p.m. & every third Sunday of the month. More information at bluestockings.com.
“Drunken! Careening! Writers!” host Kathleen Warnock welcomes “Three Strong Women”: Mariah MacCarthy, a playwright, producer, curator, storyteller, burlesque dabbler, and rapper whose work has been presented at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Rattlestick, Primary Stages, Culture Project, New Dramatists, La MaMa, HERE, Dixon Place, The Brick, Atlantic Stage 2, and Fringe NYC; Honor Molloy, author of the autobiographical novel “Smarty Girl –– Dublin Savage” whose “Crackskull Row” premieres Off-Broadway in the fall of 2016; and Dael Orlandersmith, a poet, playwright, and performer
FRI.JAN.22 COMEDY Tickets Are Going Fast! The New York Comedy Festival presents two-time Emmy-winner Sarah Silverman, whose versatile repertoire includes film and television, stand-up, viral online videos, and a New York Times best-seller. Brooklyn Academy of Music, Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Pl. Jan. 22, 8 p.m. Tickets are $44.50-$59.50 at bam.org.
A Horse, Not a Unicorn
According to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, “What The Horse Saw” is the funniest play Tennessee Williams never wrote. The company’s sketch team One Idiot (featuring David Ebert) began the project as a standard show, but it soon blossomed into a hilarious homage to Mississippi’s most famous playwright. Leaning heavily on Tennessee’s tropes with a heavy dose of NSFW comedy, the show is equal parts witty and vulgar. Between the sexually repressed men, scheming matriarchs, beautiful
Gladys Knight, the Empress of Soul best known for the classic “Midnight Train to
Needles & Dykes
The Bureau of General Services — Queer Division and Daniel Cooney Fine Art are joining forces to present a solo exhibition by New York City artist Benjamin Fredrickson at BGSQD, coinciding with Fredrickson’s collaborative exhibition with Juan Betancurth at Daniel Cooney in Chelsea. The solo show, titled “Salon,” features previously unseen Polaroid photographs and new images made with paper negatives. Fredrickson’s early work documents his sexual life and his community of gay men, while his new work, though less explicit, unexpectedly offers deep intimacy and beauty among his subjects. BGSQD at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St. Jan. 20-Mar. 20, with opening reception Jan. 21, 6-9:30 p.m. More information at bgsqd.com. The Frederickson- Betancurth collaborative exhibition takes place at Daniel Cooney, 508-526 W. 26th St. From Jan. 14: Wed.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
COURTESY: KATHLEEN WARNOCK
The Bi Book Club, which meets on the second Thursday of each month, gathers to discuss L.A. Witt’s “Static,” the story of Alex, who after two years with Damon, dreads the inevitable moment when Damon learns the truth: that Alex is a shifter, part of a small percentage of the population able to switch genders at will. Bureau of General Services –– Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St. Jan. 14, 6:30-8 p.m. A $5 donation is suggested, and the book is available at BGSQD, via firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Women Take the Lead: From Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Eleanor Roosevelt, Suffrage to Human Rights” is an exhibition of important treasures dating back to the early days of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, some of them unseen for more than a century. Featuring some 75 rare posters, broadsides, pamphlets, books, and manuscripts, the show features items used in the early 20th century to promote voting rights for women, which were finally won in 1920. Most of the pieces in the exhibit are on loan from the privately held Dobkin Family Collection of Feminist History, built over 25 years by New York philanthropist Barbara Dobkin to chronicle women’s experiences and achievements in both the political and domestic realms. The show will features material about Eleanor Roosevelt, who, once women won the right to vote, joined the League of Women Voters and other political and labor groups, and immersed herself in Democratic politics. The exhibit takes place in the home Roosevelt and the future president shared prior to their move to Washington and where FDR began his recovery from polio in 1921. Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, 47-49 E. 65th St. Jan. 14- Apr. 2; Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free. More information at roosevelthouse.hunter. cuny.edu.
Benjamin Fredrickson in a Solo Show
From Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Eleanor Roosevelt
whose most recent solo play, “Forever,” was performed at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, Long Wharf, and New York Theater Workshop, and whose new play, “Lady in Denmark,” about Billie Holiday’s first tour of Europe, will debut at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. KGB Bar, 85 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Jan. 21, 7 p.m. Admission is free.
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
LAMBDA, from p.13
ments of the donor insemination statute should be entitled to get both names on the birth certificate without the non-birth mother going through an adoption –– and had offered to amend the birth certificates in such cases –– but the plaintiffs declined the offer in order to maintain Lambda’s class action. Crabb also found that Lambda’s request for a declaration that various Wisconsin statutes unconstitutionally discriminate against same-sex married couples seemed overbroad in light of the issues the Torres family was bringing before the court. Lambda was attacking not only the birth certificate statute and the donor insemination statute, but also the paternal presumption statute –– under which “a man is presumed to be the
CALIFORNIA, from p.14
2010 incident, the court noted, the teacher’s “multi-subject teaching credential” would “permit him to teach at more than 400 other schools” within the LA district. “Moral disapproval, by itself, of his actions is not a sufficient reason to deem him a threat to students, teachers, or administrators,” Lavin wrote. The Court of Appeal affirmed Lavin’s ruling, rejecting the district’s appeal, finding that once the Superior Court’s independent review of the record established that the “factual basis for the Dis-
trict’s penalty decision was properly set aside,” it followed that the decision to fire him was “necessarily an abuse of discretion.” Substantial evidence, Perluss wrote for the appeals panel, supported the conclusion that “only a handful of administrators and teachers had limited knowledge of the basis for [the teacher’s] arrest and thus his conduct had not ‘gained sufficient notoriety so as to impair his on-campus relationships.’ There was no evidence other teachers or student would ever learn of [his] conduct, occurring several years earlier and for which his conviction of disturbing
T-SHIRT, from p.15
The Supreme Court set down the basic analysis of First Amendment free speech claims by students in Tinker v. Des Moines, a 1969 case where it held that public school students enjoy free speech rights regarding matters of public concern, bound only by the school district’s legitimate interest in maintaining order and preventing disruption. “Schools need not tolerate student speech deemed inconsistent with the educational mission even if similar speech might be protected outside the school setting,” Sharp wrote, and then quoting from the Tinker ruling, added, “Yet neither may schools punish ‘silent, passive expressions of opinion, unaccompanied by any disorder or disturbance’ attributable to such expression, and ‘undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.’” In the Tinker case, the Supreme Court upheld the right of high school students to wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. Under Tinker, a school that wants to suppress student political speech must show that the “forbidden GayCityNews.nyc | January 07 - 20, 2016
natural father of a child” who is born to his wife –– for failing to address the legal status of the nonbirth parent in a same-sex married couple. Crabb commented, “Plaintiffs do not explain how that presumption relates to birth certificates, which is the only issue plaintiffs raise in this case.” She pointed out that the paternal presumption statute “seems to involve issues that arise later,” such as obligations for child support or inheritance rights. The Torres family, she wrote, makes no allegations “showing how they are being injured by [the paternal presumption statute], which raises the question whether they have standing to challenge that statute… If plaintiffs plan to continue to seek a ruling regarding the constitutionality of [the paternal presumption statute], they will have to show that one or more plaintiffs meet all the requirements for standing.”
The judge gave Lambda until February 1to file a new class certification motion. The legal group will have to either narrow its proposed class to same-sex married couples who complied with the donor insemination statute or recruit additional plaintiffs and seek certification of other subclasses. To challenge the paternal presumption statute, Lambda will need to recruit plaintiffs who can show some sort of concrete harm due to the failure of that statute to take on a gender-neutral parental presumption approach that would apply to same-sex couples. Counsel for plaintiffs include Camilla Taylor, Christopher Clark, and Kyle Palazzolo from Lambda’s Chicago office, and local counsel Clearesia Lovell-Lepak and Tamara Beth Packard, both of Madison.
the peace had been expunged.” Perluss added, “The District witnesses’ testimony about what parents might do if they were to learn of the conduct was entirely speculative and of limited value.” Given the court’s emphasis on the improbability of students and colleagues learning of the teacher’s behavior and that knowledge impairing his on-campus relationships, Gay City News is not using the teacher’s name in this story. While noting distinctions between the 1969 Morrison ruling, which involved private consensual behavior, and this case, which involved an arrest in a public park,
conduct would ‘materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school.’” Sharp found that student speech on LGBT rights “is speech on a purely political topic, which falls clearly within the ambit of the First Amendment’s protection.” Since the defendants filed no opposition papers, the court relied solely on Young’s uncontested allegations in her complaint and papers in support of her motion. “Based on the evidence now before the Court,” wrote Sharp, the ban on Young’s T -shirt and similar apparel was not necessary to avoid “material and substantial interference with schoolwork or discipline.” Noting that Young’s shirt caused no disruption, the judge continued, “The only disruption came at the hands of Defendants themselves, when Principal Landers addressed Plaintiff in the cafeteria. Apart from this indelicate approach to a sensitive topic, Plaintiff’s shirt does not even seem to have been a blip on others’ radar.” Landers and Wright justified their ban, Sharp found, on nothing “other than conclusory state-
Perluss wrote that “the fact that [the teacher] had been charged with lewd conduct or pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace is not in and of itself a sufficient basis for a determination that he was unfit to teach. Rather, it is simply a consideration. In sum, the superior court in the instant matter understood the law, evaluated the credibility of the witnesses, and considered the facts in concluding the District had failed to carry its burden of demonstrating [the teacher] was unfit to teach.” The teacher was represented by attorneys Lawrence B. Trygstad and Richard J. Schwab of Trygstad, Schwab & Trygstad.
ments to support their unfounded theory that speech on LGBT rights will disrupt the school environment,” which falls far short of the Tinker standard of justification. Briefly addressing the other factors used to consider a motion for preliminary injunctive relief, Sharp found that abridging Young’s free speech rights caused her irreparable harm, which was “actual and ongoing,” and that granting the injunction would cause no harm to others and would be in the public interest. “Granting an injunction will vindicate the First Amendment rights of other students who are also currently subject to Defendants’ censorship,” he wrote. Sharp enjoined the school district from “restraining, prohibiting, or suppressing the Plaintiff or any other student… from expressing his or her support for the respect, equal treatment, and acceptance of LGBT people.” He also barred officials from retaliating against Young for bringing the lawsuit or against any other students for expressing their support for gay rights. Sharp, who is chief judge in the Middle District of Tennessee, was appointed to the court in 2010 by President Barack Obama.
January 07 - 20, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc