St. Patrick’s Day Marches into New Era 04-05, 14-15, 21
Grand Prospects, Great Impact 16
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GayCityNews.nyc | March 17 - 30, 2016
Victory in 25-Year Push to Open Up St. Pat’s Parade at Hand Lavender and Green Alliance first Irish LGBT group to join Fifth Avenue March 17 event BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
GAY CITY NEWS
he organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade that takes Fifth Avenue every year will admit an Irish LGBT group for the first time since the exclusion of LGBT people from that parade launched protests and a boycott by elected officials 25 years ago. “The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade board of directors says to all céad míle fáilte, a 100,000 welcomes,” said Frank McGreal, a board member, using a Gaelic phrase. The welcome came at a March 3 event held at the Irish Consulate on Park Avenue that was emceed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Barbara Jones, the consul general to New York. The invitation to march that was extended to the Lavender and Green Alliance was announced in February, but what appeared to be a negotiation on the mechanics of the group’s participation was only recently finalized. All LGBT groups that wish to participate will march behind the Lavender and Green Alliance banner and the group will step onto Fifth Avenue at 3:10 p.m. from West 48th Street. The March 3 announcement was a teary affair at times, as elected officials and activists who have battled to get into the parade recalled ear-
Speaking at the Irish Consulate on Park Avenue, Mayor Bill de Blasio is joined by Barbara Jones, the consul general to New York (to mayor’s right in picture) and Brendan Fay, far right.
lier struggles and savored obtaining the goal that they sought for so long. “Go raibh míle maith agat,” said Brendan Fay, who represented the Alliance, in Gaelic. “That means a thousand thanks to you… As the Irish LGBT community, we extend a very special thank you to Dr. John Leahy, the St. Patrick’s Parade board and committee, thank you Frank McGreal for your words. We thank you for your hospitable decision, which reflects the feelings and sentiments of so many Irish and Irish Americans. Your
historic gesture of welcome, like a miracle of hospitality, undoes the anguish and pain of exclusion and discrimination. ” In 1991, Mayor David Dinkins invited the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization to march with him, though without its banner after the group was banned by parade organizers. The mayor’s move infuriated John Cardinal O’Connor, then the head of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and a leading anti-LGBT voice. The crowd vilified Dinkins and the marchers, leading one mayoral aide that year to call the march “two miles of hate.” Dinkins compared it to the treatment given to civil rights marchers in Southern cities in the 1960s. LGBT groups were banned that year, and the annual protests over the ban have meant that every parade since then has been marked by controversy. Many elected officials, including de Blasio, chose to boycott the parade. On March 3, de Blasio said he would march this year. OUT@NBCUniversal, an LGBT employee group at NBCUniversal, a Comcast unit, applied to march in 2014, but was denied. The group marched in 2015, and that was uneventful. Activists who had long called for opening up the parade, however, noted that
VICTORY, continued on p.15
Open to LGBT Marchers, But Parade Remains Tightly Regulated Affair
Lavender and Green “meeting every night” to organize Fifth Avenue contingent, rather than a protest BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
t took 25 years for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Irish to be invited to march behind their own banner in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade that takes Fifth Avenue every March 17, and it is taking more work to organize that contingent. “Basically, it’s like meetings every night,” said Brendan Fay, who is among the organizers of the Lavender and Green Alliance, the LGBT group that recently negotiated its participation with the committee that produces the parade. “There’s a lot happening.” In 1990, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization (ILGO) applied to march in the parade the following March 17 and was waitlisted, though parade organizers eventually
barred the group because it was an LGBT organization. The group, that year, instead marched without a banner alongside then-Mayor David Dinkins. The crowd that lined Fifth Avenue in 1991 was angry and hostile toward the mayor and ILGO. The ban put in place that year meant there were annual protests from the LGBT community, and many elected officials stopped marching. Last year, parade organizers admitted OUT@NBCUniversal, an LGBT employee group at NBCUniversal, a Comcast unit. The local NBC affiliate broadcasts the parade. There was a protest last year because the demand has always been that an Irish LGBT group be allowed to march with its own banner. Following an extended negotiation between parade organizers
and the Alliance with the de Blasio administration and the Irish government’s consulate in New York participating, the Alliance was invited to join the parade. But this isn’t just any parade. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade has a dress code –– “business/ casual” though “dark colored dress jeans” and “comfortable walking shoes” are permitted. “St. Patrick’s Day kitsch,” including “large hats, Mardi Gras beads, make-up” are barred as are “flags, signs, displays, stickers, statements, or T -shirts with commercial or political slogans.” Contingents generally join the parade close to their appointed time –– the Alliance will step onto Fifth Avenue from West 48th Street at 3:10 p.m., more than four hours after its 11 a.m. start. And everyone who will march behind the Alli-
ance banner must register with the group before the parade. “I think people will be disappointed by how ordinary we are,” Fay said. Organizers of the Alliance contingent have reached out to former ILGO members, Irish Queers, the group that organized recent protests, many of the political figures and activists who supported the protests in the past, other “veterans of this movement,” and even Dinkins, who is recovering from a hospital stay and cannot attend. The family of gay and AIDS activist Robert R ygor, who died in 1994, may attend. Rygor first protested the exclusion of LGBT people from the parade when he stepped onto Fifth Avenue with a
PARADE, continued on p.15
March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
St. Pat’s For All Parade Steps Off Into a New Era This year, Queens’ lessons in inclusiveness rub off on Manhattan BY KATHLEEN WARNOCK
End of Quarter
ach year, the festivities surrounding the annual St. Pat’s For All parade in Queens seem to expand a bit more. The parade steps off the first Sunday in March, and after wending its way from Sunnyside to Woodside and Jackson Heights its participants fan out to Irish music festival events spread around local bars that keep the fun going well into the evening. The 17th annual parade, on March 6, was preceded one day befor e by a sports exchange between the Gaelic Athletic Association and First Nations stickball players from Oklahoma as well as the annual fundraising concert on Friday, hosted by writer/ performer Honor Molloy. The concert featured a variety of acts from Irish and hip-hop dancing to a Chicka-
saw victory song, with music curated by Brian Fleming. And on Thursday, March 3, the cultural landscape that made the Queens parade both necessary and possible was permanently altered when Mayor Bill De Blasio announced he would be marching with the Irish LGBT Lavender and Green Alliance in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on March 17. St. Pat’s for All was founded by Brendan Fay and Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy as an inclusive parade during 1999 and launched the following March, after years of protests and arrests of Irish LGBT people and allies who weren’t welcome in the Fifth Avenue parade. Now that the Lavender and Green Alliance has been officially invited to march down Fifth Avenue, Fay found himself bombarded with questions about whether
For the 17th year, the St. Pat’s For All Parade traveled from Sunnyside to Woodside and Jackson Heights.
the Queens parade will continue. Spoiler alert: it will. “Clearly, the reason for the parade is no longer an issue,” said Fay. “But St. Pat’s for All has taken on a life of its own. It continues to be the most diverse and inclusive celebration of Irish culture in the city.” The parade’s motto, “Cherishing all the children of the nation equal-
ly,” was taken from the proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916, which itself is now the subject of renewed attention. This marks the centennial of the proclamation and the Easter Rising, the pivotal event that created the modern Irish state. This year’s St. Pat’s For All was also the first since Ireland passed a mar-
ST. PAT'S, continued on p.14
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Second-Degree Murder Verdict for Elliot Morales in Mark Carson Slaying Defendant who acted as own attorney convicted on 2013 West Village killing as a hate crime BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
ollowing just a day of deliberation, a Manhattan jury found Elliot Morales guilty of second-degree murder as a hate crime, weapons possession, and menacing in the 2013 shooting of Mark Carson, a 32-year-old gay man. “Motivated by irrational rage, the defendant targeted and executed a defenseless young man based on his sexual orientation after taunting and insulting the victim and his companion,” Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, said in a March 9 statement. “Elliot Morales’s hateful and destructive rampage may not have stopped there, if not for the intervention of a brave NYPD officer.” Jurors began deliberating at midday on March 8 and finished at roughly the same time on March 9. Generally, a rapid verdict is indicative of a jury that had no doubts, reasonable or otherwise, of a defendant’s guilt. The testimony at trial was that Morales, 36, encountered Carson and his friend, Danny Robinson, on Sixth Avenue near West Eighth Street. As the men argued, with Morales using anti-gay slurs, they moved north and then on to Eighth Street where Morales first displayed a gun and then fired a single shot, striking
Carson in the head and killing him. Morales fled east on Eighth Street and was caught by Henry Huot, a uniformed police officer, moments after the shooting. When he was captured, Morales made statements that police recorded in which he admitted killing Carson. Morales chose to represent himself, going through seven attorneys. When he testified, he said that he believed that Carson was armed and about to shoot him. He said that he was intoxicated after a day of drinking. When he cross-examined Robinson, 32 and the only witness who saw Morales shoot Carson, he elicited testimony that Carson and Robinson had also been drinking. He got other witnesses to testify to a few facts that might have raised some doubts though this jury clearly did not see that. While this testimony was sufficient to get A. Kirke Bartley, the judge in the case, to instruct jurors to consider a justification defense, or self-defense, and whether being intoxicated meant that Morales did not have the legally required mental state to be guilty of the criminal charges, it was not sufficient to get jurors to find for Morales. Morales also made repeated errors that bolstered the prosecution’s case, including calling his friend, Joseph Matos, as a defense witness.
Elliot Morales, who acted as his own attorney, was convicted of second-degree murder as a hate crime in the 2013 slaying of Mark Carson in the West Village.
Matos was with Morales for roughly 10 hours before Carson was shot and he was on Eighth Street when the shooting occurred. Matos aided the prosecution case far more than he helped Morales. In a lengthy and effective cross-examination by Shannon Lucey, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, Morales denied nearly every fact that every other witness testified to and forced jurors to choose between his version of the event and the version offered by the prosecution. The choice was obvious. Morales will be sentenced on April 11.
Only Straight Students Protected from Homophobic Harassment! US judge finds federal Title IX applies only to those mistaken for gay BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
US district judge has ruled that the estate of a public school student who committed suicide after allegedly suffering severe harassment from fellow students can amend its complaint to add a federal Title IX cause of action for sex discrimination by an educational institution, based on the homophobic nature of slurs aimed at the dead young man. The kicker, however, is that the plaintiff can make the amendment only because it does not allege that the deceased student was in fact gay! The March 14 ruling from Judge
Glenn T. Suddaby of the Northern District of New York came on pretrial motions in Estate of D.B. v. Thousand Islands Central School District. Suddaby’s opinion lacks any coherent narration of the facts, only mentioning individual allegations in passing while analyzing the motions before the court. The case apparently concerns a male public school student who was subjected to bullying and harassment by fellow students and got no protection from school officials. He committed suicide at home. The original complaint alleged violations of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment, the federal Rehabilitation Act, Americans
with Disabilities Act, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as well as the New York State Education Law and Dignity for All Students Act. Suddaby’s opinion does not identify the nature of D.B.’s alleged disability. The plaintiff’s amended complaint sought to add sex discrimination claims under federal and state law, most significantly Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, which the US Department of Education has construed to protect gay students from bullying and harassment. Suddaby’s opinion is particularly interesting for the way in which he analyzed the motion to add a federal Title IX sex discrimination
claim. Suddaby found that because precedent from the Second Cir cuit Court of Appeals –– which has jurisdiction over US district courts in New York State –– rejects the idea that sexual orientation discrimination is actionable as sex discrimination under federal law, a student who is harassed with homophobic slurs would have an action under Title IX if the student alleged that the harassment was due to his incorrectly perceived sexual orientation –– but not his actual homosexual orientation. The judge’s discussion of the Title IX claim has a certain
HARASSMENT, continued on p.13
March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | March 17 - 30, 2016
US Judge Says Marriage Equality Not the Law in Puerto Rico Juan M. Pérez-Giménez had dismissed Lambda lawsuit in 2014 BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
n an astonishing depar ture from established precedents, US District Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez of the Puerto Rico District Court, who had dismissed a marriage equality lawsuit in October 2014, has issued a new decision asserting that the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling last June 26 that the Constitution’s 14th Amendment protects the right of same-sex couples to marry does not necessarily apply to Puer to Rico. Pérez-Giménez ’s ruling was announced on March 8. Lambda Legal represents the plaintiffs in the marriage equality case, Vidal v. Garcia-Padilla, that Pérez-Giménez dismissed 17 months ago. When Lambda appealed his ruling to the First
US District Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez of the Puerto Rico District Court.
Circuit Court of Appeals, that court held up ruling until after the Supreme Court decided Obergefell. On July 8 of last year, the First Circuit vacated Pérez-Giménez ’s decision and sent the case back to the district court “for further consideration in light of Obergefell v.
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Hodges.” In its brief order, the First Circuit also stated that it “agrees with the parties’ joint position that the ban [on same-sex marriage] is unconstitutional.” A week later, the parties filed a joint motion asking for a declaration that Puerto Rico’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional as well as an injunction ordering the commonwealth government not to enforce it. Pérez-Giménez , in his latest ruling, explained that in Obergefell the Supreme Court invoked the 14th Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses to hold that the same-sex marriage bans in the four states within the Sixth Circuit –– Ohio, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky –– were unconstitutional because they deprived same-sex couples of a fundamental right to marry. He also noted that some lower federal courts have asserted that Obergefell v. Hodges was technically ruling on the state constitutions and laws of those four states and thus had not automatically mooted cases pending in the Fifth, Eighth, and 11th Circuit Courts of Appeals involving marriage bans elsewhere. Those circuit courts, however, quickly issued rulings applying Obergefell as a precedent to the marriage equality cases within their jurisdictions. More significantly, PérezGiménez claimed that because Puerto Rico is neither a “state” nor an “incorporated territory,” but rather an “unincorporated territory” with extensive self-government rights under a federal statute making it a “commonwealth,” there is some question whether the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling is a binding precedent there. The 14th Amendment, he pointed out, provides expressly that “no state” may deprive a person of due process or equal protection, and since Puerto Rico is not a state the 14th Amendment’s applicability is not clear. He cited a variety of older Supreme Court decisions making the general point that the US Con-
stitution do not necessarily apply to Puerto Rico in all circumstances. What he neglected to cite, however, was a case pointed out by Joshua Block, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who spoke with Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed. com shortly after Pérez-Giménez issued his ruling: a 1976 Supreme Court decision in Examining Board of Engineers v. Flores de Otero, in which the high court stated, in an opinion by Justice Harry Blackmun, “The Court’s decisions respecting the rights of the inhabitants of Puerto Rico have been neither unambiguous nor exactly uniform. The nature of this country’s relationship to Puerto Rico was vigorously debated within the Court as well as within the Congress. It is clear now, however, that the protections accorded either by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment or the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Four teenth Amendment apply to residents of Puerto Rico.” In that case, the Supreme Court was considering the constitutionality of a local Puerto Rico statute imposing a citizenship requirement before somebody could be licensed to practice as a civil engineer. The high court held that the requirement violated equal protection, based on precedents that imposed “strict scrutiny” on federal or state laws that discriminate based on alien status. The government must have a compelling justification before it can deny a right or benefit to somebody because they are not a US citizen, the Supreme Court found. It appears, then, that PérezGiménez ’s insistence that the Supreme Court’s holding concerning the rights of same-sex couples under the 14th Amendment does not apply in Puerto Rico is contrary to a Supreme Court precedent. Ignoring that, Pérez-Giménez found that “the right to samesex marriage in Puerto Rico r equir es: (a) further judicial expression by the US Supreme
PUERTO RICO, continued on p.12
March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
SCOTUS to Alabama: Recognize Georgia Lesbian Co-Parent Adoption “Full faith and credit” constitutional requirement cited in reversal of State Supreme Court ruling BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
there. The birth mother specifically consented to allow her partner to adopt the children with the understanding that this would not affect her own parental status. Although Georgia’s adoption statutes do not specifically authorize such an adoption, the trial judge — as have others in Atlanta trial courts — found he could approve the adoption without cutting off the birth mother’s parental status. Then the couple moved back to Alabama. A few years later the women separated, and the birth mother cut off her former partner’s contact with the children. The partner filed suit in an Alabama court, seeking confirmation of the Georgia adoption and “some measure of custody or visitation rights.” The Alabama court recognized the adoption and awarded temporary visitation while the case was pending. The birth mother appealed,
ALABAMA SUPREME COURT
he US Supreme Court unanimously reversed a decision by the Alabama Supreme Court and ordered that Alabama courts accord “full faith and credit” to a lesbian co-parent adoption approved by a Georgia trial court. The March 7 decision in V.L. v. E.L. was reached without any oral argument before the high court, and the opinion was issued “per curiam” –– unsigned, on behalf of the court, without any dissent from its conservative members. It came just days after the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed a pending case brought by a local probate judge seeking to block implementation of last June’s Supreme Court marriage equality decision. The Alabama Supreme Court’s decision in E.L. v. V.L., issued last September 18, was a shock-
ing departure from how courts normally deal with recognition of out-of-state adoptions. The US Constitution provides that states will accord “full faith and credit” to “the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings” from other states. Since adoptions are judicial proceedings, the Supreme Court has always taken the view that the courts of one state must honor the court rulings of other states, with a narrow exception for situations where the courts of the other state did not have authority –– or “jurisdiction” –– to issue the ruling. In this case, a lesbian couple living in Alabama decided to have children together and wanted to protect the relationship between the children and their birth mother’s partner. Since “second-parent” adoptions were not available in Alabama, they temporarily relocated to Atlanta and obtained an order from the Superior Court
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.
arguing that the court should not have recognized the Georgia adoption, claiming the Georgia trial court did not have jurisdiction to approve a “second-parent” adoption. The Alabama court of appeals
ALABAMA, continued on p.12
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GayCityNews.nyc | March 17 - 30, 2016
Manhattan Federal Court Dismisses Anti-Gay Job Claim Trial judge reluctantly finds Title VII currently offers no relief
BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
n 2000, the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over the federal trial courts in New York, rejected the argument that sexual orientation discrimination claims could be dealt with as sex discrimination claims under federal law. It was open, however, to the possibility that a gay litigant who had suffered discrimination for failing to conform with the employer’s stereotypical views of appropriate gender behavior could pursue such a claim. On March 9, Matthew Christiansen, a gay plaintiff, informed the Second Circuit that he will appeal a Manhattan trial court’s dismissal of his federal sexual orientation discrimination claim, joining the trial judge in urging the appeals court to reconsider its 2000 decision. Since 2000, the law af fecting LGBT rights has drastically changed. The Supreme Court has thrown out sodomy laws and recognized same-sex couples’ right to marry, Congress has enacted an LGBT -inclusive hate crimes law and ended the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Through all this change, however, the principal federal anti-discrimination law, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, has never been amended to extend explicit protection against discrimination to LGBT people. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing Title VII, the 1964 law’s employment provisions, now interprets the federal ban on sex discrimination to extend to gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination, but US courts are not bound by that interpretation and trial judges have come to different conclusions. No federal appeals court has ruled on the question since the EEOC issued its decision last summer, but cases are pending. On March 9, US District Judge Katherine Polk Failla, ruling on the employer’s motion to dismiss
the case, found that Christiansen’s attempt to squeeze the case into the sex stereotype theory was unsuccessful. She concluded she was bound by the Second Circuit precedent to reject a sexual orientation discrimination claim under Title VII. Reviewing the facts alleged by Matthew Christiansen against DDB Worldwide Communications, where he worked, and Omnicom Group, DDB’s parent company, the judge found that all but one of the incidents he described in his complaint related to sexual orientation. Indeed, Christiansen’s allegations clearly state that his supervisor, Joe Cianciotto, was “openly resentful and hostile toward Plaintiff because of his sexual orientation.” Failla focused on the difficulty of distinguishing between sexual orientation and sex stereotyping claims, and warned against using passing stereotypical references by a supervisor to “shoehorn” a sexual orientation claim into Title VII protection. “The lesson imparted by the body of Title VII litigation concerning sexual orientation discrimination and sexual stereotyping seems to be that no coherent line can be drawn between these two sorts of claims,” she wrote. “Yet the prevailing law in this Circuit –– and, indeed, every Circuit to consider the question –– is that such a line must be drawn.” The district court, the judge wrote, “must consider whether the Plaintiff has pleaded a claim based on sexual stereotyping, separate and apart from the stereotyping inherent in his claim for discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Court finds that he has not.” Christiansen’s complaint alleges that Cianciotto told a coworker that Christiansen was “effeminate and gay so he must have AIDS,” but this was not enough for Failla. “This is the sole mention of Plaintiff as effeminate or otherwise non-conforming to traditional gender norms,” she wrote. “It alone
EMPLOYMENT, continued on p.19
March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
“Desire,” “Seduction” Get Perry Brass Booted from Facebook Titles of longtime activist, author’s books snare him in social media platform’s arbitrary policing
fter first banning one of his books, Facebook has now banned a leading gay author and a longtime activist from the social media site. “They gave me no warning and I have received nothing from them to explain what they have done,” Perry Brass told Gay City News. Brass’ book, “The Manly Art of Seduction,” was banned four years ago, with the company telling him that the word “seduction” was not allowed on Facebook. A search on that word on Facebook produces many pages for books, nightclubs, magazine articles, and other content that use “seduction” in their names or titles. “I was told that because ‘The Manly Art of Seduction’ uses the word seduction, it cannot be advertised on Facebook,” Brass said. “I really think they felt that as a gay book, they were just not going to allow it.” Last month, he traveled to Cuba
GayCityNews.nyc | March 17 - 30, 2016
for 10 days where he was unable to access his account though he received the usual notices via email when Facebook friends posted content. He returned to New York City on February 19 and logged on roughly five or six days later. He noticed pornography on his page. “I did notice that suddenly there was also porn on my page,” Brass said. “Some of this was frontal nudity… I’ve never posted anything like that on Facebook.” He was banned from the site entirely after that. As anyone who has ever sought an explanation from Facebook concerning its policies on bans or selling ads can attest, the company is terrible at telling users what is and what is not barred. Brass, who has written 19 books, is a former member of the Gay Liberation Front, an early LGBT rights group, a founder in 1972 of the Gay Men’s Health Project, now the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, and a founding coordinator of the Rainbow Book Fair, which will
take place on April 9 at John Jay College in Manhattan. Two pages that advertise other books by Brass –– “King of Angels” and “The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love” –– remain active on the site though Brass was barred from buying an ad for the second book because, he was told, it used the word “desire” in its title. In an email to Brass from Facebook concerning “The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love,” the company wrote, “Ads are not allowed to promote the sale or use of adult products or services, including toys, videos, publications, live shows or sexual enhancement products.” “Desire, you cannot use the word desire,” Brass told Gay City News. “They did block me because of the word desire.” A search on Facebook using “desire” returns results for books, music, magazine articles, and other content that use the word “desire.” Facebook did not respond to an email asking about Brass’ ban. He
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
Authors Perry Brass (right) and Brad Gooch at last year’s Lambda Literary Awards.
has concluded that the company is banning gay content. “I would frankly like not to believe that, but there’s just too much evidence to the contrary,” Brass said. Facebook can ban Brass or anyone else with little reason or for no reason at all, though the company undoubtedly wants to maximize the number of people using the site. “The First Amendment applies to the government,” said Erica T. Dubno, a partner at Fahringer & Dubno, a First Amendment Law firm in New York City. “The government can’t restrict speech, Facebook is not the government… It’s whatever the market will bear. The bottom line is, unfortunately, they have a little more leeway and they can be more selective in the types of speech they allow on their site.”
PUERTO RICO, from p.8
Court; or (b) the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico; (c) incorporation through legislation enacted by Congress, in the exercise of the powers conferred by the Territorial Clause; or (d) by virtue of any act or statute adopted by the Puerto Rico Legislature that
amends or repeals” the samesex marriage ban. Pérez-Giménez , however, in a footnote, observed that Gover nor Alejandro García Padilla had signed an executive order “just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell” directing Puerto Rico government officials to comply with that ruling. In a
ALABAMA, from p.9
rejected that argument, but the Alabama Supreme Court accepted it, in a strange decision that drew a sharply-worded dissent. The plaintiff filed an emergency petition with the US Supreme Court seeking to preserve her temporary visitation rights while urging reversal of the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision. On December 14, the US Supreme Court placed a stay on the Alabama Supreme Court’s order, thus allowing continued visitation. The Supreme Court’s March 7 action is called a summary reversal, because the court issued a ruling on the merits of the appeal based on the petition for review filed by the plaintiff and whatever response the defendant filed, without calling for full briefing and oral arguments. The speed with which the court acted, as much as the short opinion it issued, signaled clearly how wrong the Alabama Supreme Court ruling was. The US Supreme Court has never ruled directly on whether states are constitutionally required to allow same-sex partners to adopt in these situations, and this case did not call on the high court to make such a ruling. Rather, the court made clear that state courts are not entitled to second-guess how the courts of other states interpret their adoption statutes. The Alabama Supreme Court had adopted an approach that would have gutted the requirement of full faith and credit, by asserting that if it disagreed with how a trial court in another state interpreted its adoption statute it could find that the trial court did not have authority to render the decision and so was not owed full faith and credit. The US Supreme Court rejected this theory out of hand. “Where a judgment indicates on its face that it was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction, such jurisdiction ‘is to be presumed unless disproved,’” wrote the high court, quoting one of its earlier full faith and credit decisions. “There is nothing here to rebut that presumption.” The opinion noted that neither the Georgia Supreme Court “nor any Georgia appellate court” had construed the state’s adoption statute to limit the authority of its trial courts to approve adoptions “only if each existing parent or guardian has surrendered his or her parental rights.” The adoption judgment issued in Georgia “appears on its face to have been issued by a
March 9 statement, García Padilla said he believed that the Supreme Court and the First Circuit had made clear that same-sex couples in Puerto Rico have the right to marry and that his government’s policy would not change. Had there been any doubt that the Obergefell ruling applies to Puerto Rico, the First Circuit
court with jurisdiction, and there is no established Georgia law to the contrary,” concluded the US Supreme Court. “It follows that the Alabama Supreme Court erred in refusing to grant that judgment full faith and credit.” This ruling came just days after the Alabama Supreme Court reluctantly threw in the towel and issued an order dismissing a pending action brought by a county clerk seeking to prolong defiance of the US Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges. A year ago, months before Obergefell was announced on June 26, a federal trial judge in Alabama ruled that the state’s ban on marriage equality was unconstitutional and ordered a local probate judge to issue marriage licenses. The resulting controversy led to an Alabama Supreme Court decision in a case filed by some probate judges, known as In re King, rejecting the argument that the state’s ban was unconstitutional and directing probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, with the exception of the probate judge who had been directly ordered to issue such licenses by the federal court. After the Obergefell decision was issued, the Alabama Supreme Court asked the parties in that case to submit arguments about the effect of Obergefell on its prior decision and on the obligations of the state’s probate judges regarding marriage licenses. As time dragged on with no ruling by the Alabama court, more and more probate judges began to issue licenses. In response, on January 6, Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an “administrative order” directing them not to issue the licenses until the Alabama Supreme Court ruled. On March 4, the Alabama court dismissed the case in a one-sentence order, which was accompanied by “concurring opinions” totaling 169 pages by several of the judges, most prominently Chief Justice Moore. All of the justices agreed that the Obergefell opinion is now the governing law, but Moore’s “special concurrence,” running almost 100 pages, is a fervent denunciation of that decision, echoing the views of the dissenting US Supreme Court justices. The foundation of his argument is that “marriage” is an institution ordained by God and that it is beyond the scope of judicial power to “redefine” it. Some of his colleagues, unwilling to go that far, wrote or joined separate concurrences that make more tradi-
would have expressed that doubt as part of its consideration of the appeal from Pérez-Giménez ’s prior ruling in the case, when instead it expressly stated its agreement with the joint position from the par ties that the Puerto Rico ban was unconstitutional. Lambda Legal is appealing this ruling to the First Circuit.
tional legal doctrinal arguments. None of the Alabama justices was willing to defend the Obergefell decision on the merits, but Justice Greg Shaw, a dissenter from last year’s Alabama high court ruling, took pains to disassociate himself from criticisms of Obergefell on the ground that the Alabama Supreme Court has nothing to say about the issue once the US Supreme Court has decided a constitutional question. Shaw wrote, “The debate over the legal and moral propriety of same-sex government marriage will certainly continue; but that debate has necessarily shifted to the court of public opinion. The issue, for all practical purposes, is now a political one. The genius of our Founding Fathers is reflected in our constitutional form of government, which dictates that whether Obergefell stands the test of time or ultimately finds itself cast upon the trash heap of history depends upon the people of the United States, who serve as the ultimate repository of political power and whose collective voices can be heard through their elected representatives at both the federal and state levels. If there is to be a showdown with respect to this issue, it could never have been led by this Court. Such a showdown must pit the judicial will of the highest court in the land against the greater political will of the people of this country.” Shaw derided as “silly” Chief Justice Moore’s continuing argument that the Obergefell decision was binding only on the four states of the Sixth Circuit, whose decision the Supreme Court had reversed, and Moore’s assertion that the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling from last year upholding the state’s marriage ban is still in effect. As far as Shaw is concerned, the probate judges are bound to comply with the order of the US District Court issued last year –– even before Obergefell was decided –– which the trial judge had expanded to a class order running against all the probate judges in the state. The Alabama high court’s dismissal of the case leaves the probate judges without any cover for continued defiance of the federal court order, so marriage licenses should be available for same-sex couples in every county. Continued obstruction could subject probate judges to contempt orders and a fate akin to that suffered by Kentucky’s Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who spent some time stewing in jail until she was willing to let subordinates in her office issue marriage licenses March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
by accepted the argument that explicitly homophobic slurs could support a “gender stereotyping” claim of sex discrimination under Title IX, provided that the plaintiff was not gay. “The Second Circuit recognizes a fine line between gender stereotyping and bootstrapping protection for sexual orientation,” he wrote. “Because a Title IX sex discrimination claim is treated in much the same way as a Title VII sex discrimination claim, T itle VII jurisprudence ther efor e applies. Under the ‘gender stereotyping’ theory of liability under Title VII, individuals who fail or refuse to comply with socially accepted gender roles are members of a protected class. However, courts in the Second Circuit do not recognize sexual orientation as a protected classification under T itle VII or Title IX. The critical fact under the circumstances is the actual sexual orientation of the harassed person. If the harassment consists of homophobic slurs directed at a homosexual, then a gender-stereotyping claim
HARASSMENT, from p.6
“Through the Looking Glass” quality to it. For example, the judge rejects the allegation that calling a boy a “pussy” could be seen as a sexually-related slur. The complaint alleges: “[Another student] called the Decedent a ‘pussy,’ and told him, ‘You’re a pussy and you need the shit kicked out of you.’ These are the types of anti-gay and gender-related slurs Decedent was consistently subjected to.’” Suddaby begs to differ. “As shocking as this slur may be,” he wrote, “the Court is not persuaded that it is related to gender under the circumstances. Rather, as Defendants point out, the slur ‘pussy’ is more likely to mean ‘coward’ than anything gender related. Even if the other student did intend the slur to relate to gender, Plaintiff has not made a proper showing of that fact. Rather, most of Plaintiff’s reference to ‘gender -related slurs’ are nothing more than conclusory statements.” On the other hand, Sudda-
by that individual is improper bootstrapping. If, on the other hand, the harassment consists of homophobic slurs directed at a heterosexual, then a gender -stereotyping claim by that individual is possible.” In this case, the plaintiff is not alleging that D.B. was gay. To the contrary, wrote Suddaby, “D.B.’s own alleged statements refer to accusations that he was homosexual as ‘stupid gay rumours [sic].’ Moreover, the Amended Complaint alleges that the bullying was based on D.B.’s ‘actual or perceived sexual orientation’ and his ‘perceived and/or presumed sexual orientation.’ Under the circumstances, the Amended Complaint alleges facts plausibly suggesting a gender -stereotyping claim to survive a [dismissal] motion; and the amendment to include this claim is not futile.” Suddaby’s opinion reflects the retrograde state of the law within the federal Second Circuit as a result of a 2000 Court of Appeals decision, Simonton v. Runyon, which rejected a Title VII sex discrimination brought by a gay
plaintiff subjected to sexually-oriented workplace harassment. Attempts are underway to get the Circuit to reconsider this precedent in the context of ongoing litigation asserting sexual orientation discrimination claims under federal sex discrimination statutes (see related employment discrimination lawsuit story on page 10), in line with a ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in July 2015 that sexual orientation discrimination is “necessarily” sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. EEOC rulings are not binding on the courts, however, and the persuasiveness of this particular EEOC ruling is somewhat compromised by the fact that it represents a reversal of almost half a century of agency precedent. The Estate of D.B. is represented by Michael D. Meth of Chester, New York. Charles C. Spagnoli and Frank W. Miller of East Syracuse represent the school district. Suddaby was appointed to the district court by President George W. Bush during the last year of his second term.
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ST. PAT'S, from p.5
riage equality referendum, a victory that reflected the changing nature of Irish culture as well as the way it is perceived internationally. “The 2016 St. Pat’s for All Parade is one of the most important gatherings ever,” said Barbara Jones, the Irish consul general who helped broker the Fifth Avenue invitation. “It’s always been about cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and on the centennial of the proclamation, we’re celebrating that.” Award-winning Irish writer Colum McCann, along with Loretta Brennan Glucksman, an Irish-American philanthropist, activist, and co-chair of NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House, served as this year’s grand marshals. For Glucksman, the parade “represents the basic decency and goodness of people who feel excluded but don’t lash out, and their sheer good will draws people over to their point of view.” McCann said, “It’s the culmination of the past, finally coming to the present. This day is many years too late. It’s a show of great graces, nobody got angry, but they used the parade in a democratic way. The people who did the work for the community are extraordinary. They are saints.” The unofficial godfather of the parade, actor, writer, and activist Malachy McCourt begged to disagree a bit. “I’d rather it be a celebration of Irish for All,” he said. “I am not a fan of Patrick, who was not even Irish. He doesn’t represent the Irish spirit of freedom and joy,
and he ruined a perfectly good pagan civilization.” Sunnyside was in fact sunny as an assortment of politicians and other dignitaries stepped to the microphone. Fay welcomed Aidan John and Ace Greenwood from the Choctaw-Chickasaw Cultural Center in Oklahoma, reminding the crowd that the Choctaws had sent food to the Irish during the Great Famine. Fay also remembered the names of the parade supporters who had passed away, including Sandy Boyer, Robert Rygor, Lou Rispoli, Rory Staunton, City Council President Paul O’Dwyer, Barbara Ann Mohr, and Father Mychal Judge. The grand marshals spoke as did Consul General Jones and then elected officials –– including some who long protested the exclusionary policies of the Fifth Avenue parade such as Queens City Councilembers Daniel Dromm and Jimmy van Bramer. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, addressing the crowd, introduced Bronx Councilmember James Vacca, who recently came out as gay. Congressmember Joe Crowley spoke movingly of Sir Roger Casement, who was executed for his role in the Easter Rising and outed as a gay man during his trial. The St. Patrick’s Day Foundation’s Christopher Hyland, representing the Fifth Avenue parade, declared it “a great day for the Irish, marching on the right side of history.” Daniel Nigro, commissioner of the New York Fire Department, said he was proud to be there, explaining, “I always remember Father Judge” –– the gay fire chaplain who died at the Twin Towers
St. Pat’s For All founder Brendan Fay with his husband, Dr. Tom Moulton.
Grand marshal Colum McCann.
Grand marshal Loretta Brennan Glucksman.
on 9/11 –– and then introducing Ann Kansfield, the openly lesbian FDNY chaplain. Mayor De Blasio, who marched in the first St. Pat’s For All Parade as an aide to then-First Lady and US Senate candidate Hillary Clinton, adjusted the microphone a bit higher, then thanked the crowd for coming out on “an amazing day, a joyous, special celebration for a parade that has been an example and a beacon of hope.” The mayor spoke of the “many mothers and fathers” of the agreement between Lavender and Green and the Fifth Avenue parade organizers –– including Fay, Dromm, Jones, members of the Fifth Avenue parade’s committee, and others who broke the deadlock that had blocked LGBT participation for 25 years. After a performance by the students of the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance, the musicians piled onto a truck, and the time for the parade to begin arrived. The FDNY Emerald Society Pipes & Drums Band led off, with skirling pipes and a thunderous beat. As the parade headed up Skillman Avenue, the crowd –– many of them dressed in green, some wearing Irish accessories from green wigs to shamrock sunglasses –– cheered and called out. Some watched from their front stoops, others brought lawn chairs out to the sidewalk. Many arrived with their dogs, also dressed in costume. The crowd is close enough to the parade that one watcher could catcall de Blasio (“You’re a bum!”), while another ran out into the street with a baby to take a picture with the mayor. As usual, a few protesters stood
along the route with homophobic signs. And as she does every year, one elderly woman held up a sign reading “A Blasphemous Lesbian & Homosexual Parade.” Girl Scout troops from of Sunnyside, Woodside, and Long Island City were the next to pass by, followed by Dromm’s office and then the Irish Language Speakers of New York and the mayor’s office. A squad from the NYPD’s Gay Officers Action League included an honor guard of their members, many in full dress uniform. The Stonewall Democrats of New York City and Brooklyn’s Lambda Independent Democrats marched just a bit ahead of groups from Stringer and Van Bramer’s offices. The Lavender and Green Alliance marched behind the banner they’ll use on Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick’s Day, and Manhattan’s Irish Arts Center, which hosted the Friday pre-parade concert, brought a large contingent, led by Aidan Connolly and Pauline Turley. Dublin’s Ray Hegarty led a group with a banner commemorating the Women of 1916, a project he is heading in Ireland for the Centennial, followed by the Woodside/ Sunnyside Runners, many of whom were actually running. The Irish-American Writers & Artists held their banner high, followed by the Irish-American Democratic Club and Circle of Voices, a group of Womyn of African Descent and Womyn of Color who create cultural programming. The band assembled by musical director Brian Fleming, consisting of Dave Barckow, Vonnie Quinn,
ST. PAT'S, continued on p.15
March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
ST. PAT'S, from p.14
VICTORY, from p.4
the NBC group represented the event’s media sponsor and not the Irish-American community. The focus at the March 3 press conference was pressing the point that the conflict is over, though McGreal would not say if an LGBT group will be permitted to participate in future parades. “This March 17, we will all march together,” de Blasio said. “It’s something we can now put behind us because unity has been achieved.” Missing from the press event was anyone representing the Archdiocese, which has the ability to at least make the Alliance’s participation controversial. Timothy Dolan, the current cardinal, has adopted a conciliatory tone toward the LGBT community though that tone has not translated into changes in policy. “I also have to say I had a wonderful phone call with Cardinal Dolan, who was in his home state of Missouri,” de Blasio said. “We talked about what this moment meant. I told him from the bottom of my heart how appreciative I had been for the tone he set in the city, for the welcome and openness that he has created to say to everyone ‘We can find a way forward.’” Emmaia Gelman, a member of Irish Queers, which has been leading the protests and the boycott of the parade in recent years, including last year when OUT@NBCUniversal marched, told Gay City News that she would be marching this year. “The demand to end the exclusion from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has always been for Irish lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender marchers to participate in the parade behind their own banner,” she said. “We’re really pleased that’s going to happen. It’s been a long 25 years… It’s really a great thing that it’s over.” GayCityNews.nyc | March 17 - 30, 2016
Jerry Arias and his sons Jaylon and Nick, and Donna Bungo, played traditional Irish and pop tunes from the back of a truck, slowly rolling down the avenue, followed by the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance. A horse-drawn carriage bearing the sign “Irish Heritage: American Icon” followed, signifying the large number of Irish-American New Yorkers who don’t support the removal of the carriages from Central Park. The Centro Español de Queens brought its own pipe and drum band, and were clad in traditional costumes, featuring peaked velvet hats and kilts. Parade favorite Rapid Rabbit was next to pass by, followed by another longtime participant, a stilt-walking group. The popular anarchist marching band the Rude Mechanical Orchestra –– many of their instruments highlighted with green banners and lights –– drew cheers, as did the Sunnyside Urban Dog
Society (SUDS) made up of dozens of dogs and their owners, most –– dogs as well as owners –– wearing Irish-themed costumes. Marching Cobras, a drumline from the Bronx who will also march on Fifth Avenue on March 17, along with their Sapphire Dance Line got the crowd clapping along to their rhythmic beats. As the parade drew to a close, the Mother Jones Brigade marched by, holding banners of heroes from Nelson Mandela to their namesake, the late 19th/ early 20th century Irish-American labor organizer. The grew group thicker as the parade went up Skillman Avenue, reaching peak numbers at 52nd Street. A tricky left turn at Woodside Avenue, followed by a right onto Roosevelt Avenue signaled the end of the route under the 7 train tracks, across from St. Sebastian School and beneath one of the flight paths from LaGuardia Airport. The Irish bars closest to the parade’s end soon filled with revelers, from Saints & Sinners to Don-
A bagpipe player from El Centro Español de Queens.
Mayor Bill de Blasio wearing the green.
ovan’s, as marchers quenched their thirst and taste for pub fare. Many prepared to move along to the Irish Music Festival, which was hosted by several more Irish bars –– and this being Queens, a Mexican restaurant, as well –– until “late.” “What a journey we’ve been on,” said Brendan Fay, speaking of both the day and his 25-year effort to bring inclusiveness to the Fifth Avenue St. Patrick’s parade. “Look
how far we’ve come. We’ve created a movement of inclusion.” He then made a point to credit others –– including Andy Humm, Ann Northrop, and Jesús Lebron –– as activists who’d been by his side on the long, strange trip, which started on the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue, continued in the back of police vans, took the 7 train to Queens, and now returns to walk down Fifth Avenue, a generation later, victorious.
PARADE, from p.4
banner on March 17, 1978. “They need to register,” Fay said. “There were many conversations about this. We started with internal lists.” (People wishing to participate can register at lavenderandgreenalliance. org/#!paraderegistration/mhd3q.) As of March 10, 170 people had registered, with participants coming from Boston, Washington, DC, and even some from Ireland. When people register, they are invited to submit comments and some have recalled participating in earlier protests. “Some people note that they were arrested many years ago and they are looking forward to being on the avenue,” Fay said. He noted that there has been some grumbling about where the Alliance contingent was placed in the parade and its late step-off time. “For some people, the timing, the placement of Lavender & Green Alliance, some people were hoping there would be appreciation of the history and we would be marching earlier in the parade,” Fay said. “But for me, it’s an historic breakthrough.” One moment that could be particularly fraught is when the contingent passes St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth
Avenue. The tradition is that the cardinal, currently Archbishop Timothy Dolan, stands on the steps and greets marchers as they pass by, with some marchers stepping over to the cardinal for the greeting. The cardinal is typically not on the steps later in the day, though other bishops and priests will likely be there. “We are simply going to walk past the cathedral,” Fay said. “We’re not expecting anything special at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for us… If there is an occasion for a greeting, of course we will.” At the March 3 press conference held to announce the deal, Christopher Hyland, who serves on the board of the foundation that raises funds for the parade, said that at a recent event, Dolan, who heads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, greeted Fay saying, “Any friend of Christopher Hyland’s is a friend of mine.” The organizers are proceeding carefully, talking with the parade organizers, and fielding media calls from around the globe as they prepare to mark an end to 25 years of exclusion, always with an eye on ensuring there is another invitation to join the parade next year. “There’s something very profound and moving about not preparing for a protest, but preparing to be included in the parade,” Fay said.
GRAND PROSPECTS ON AN EVENING HONORING COMMUNITY IMPACT BY DONNA MINKOWITZ
everal hundred people in clingy dresses, tattoos, and/ or activist shirtsleeves turned out March 3 for Gay City News’ first-ever Impact Awards, an event to honor extraordinary activists in the LGBTQ community. Attendees, queer and straight, descended on Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall, which just may be the queerest event venue in the city with its yuuuge crystal chandeliers, gold leaf to die for, sweeping marble staircases, and oil paintings with swooning maidens. “Everyone who enters the extravagant lobby and spectacular spaces feels t a l l e r, m o r e i m p o r t a n t , grander,” says the Grand Prospect Hall’s website, and that certainly seemed to be true for the gorgeous activists who came to honor family and friends and also to raise money for the Point Foundation, which grants scholarship money to LGBTQ graduate and undergraduate students. Sharp-dressed Fred Ginyard, an honoree for his work as organizing director of FIERCE, the radical organization led by and for queer youth of color, was joined by several genera-
FIERCE director of organizing Fred Ginyard.
Glenn Magpantay, executive director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance.
tions of his family who all told me how proud they were to travel from Philadelphia to honor him, i n c l u d i n g s i s t e r, m o m , aunt, and cousins, one of whom was a scene-stealing little girl in white lace. Milling around the wedding-like white-and-gilt reception room before the awards ceremony, State Assemblymember Deborah Glick introduced me to Therese Rodriguez, CEO of the Apicha Community Health Center, which Glick told me serves “a citywide population that gets mar ginalized” in healthcare in their own neighborhoods –– primarily Asian and Pacific Islander people who are LGBTQ or have HIV/AIDS. Rodriguez, an elegant woman with gray hair who has helmed Apicha’s Health Center since 1997, later joined a large table honor-
ing Glenn Magpantay, who received an award for his work as executive director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, and in his acceptance speech called on the queer community “to fight for immigration rights” for undocumented people, a key element of NQAPIA’s work. Novelist Roberta Degnore told me she and a friend were “two lecherous ladies trolling the room for girls” at the r eception, wher e they’d come to honor their friend Maxine Wolfe of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, ACT UP, and the Reproductive Rights National Network. By the coat check downstairs, a tall, stunning, and gracious African-American woman in a black dress and heels turned out to be Deborah Brennan of the
Brooklyn Community Pride Center, an awardee accompanied by her studly wife, Lisa Davis, in an evening suit. In her acceptance speech, Brennan talked about “stalking the mayor of New York City down in Puerto Rico and harassing the Brooklyn borough president” in order to get the center off the ground. It provides special services for youth, elders, bisexuals, and trans and gender nonconforming people, with a strong emphasis on racial and gender parity and an ongoing writers’ group. At the ceremony, honoree after honoree identified the same pressing needs for our community: “ending LGBTQ youth homelessness” (Angie Gonzalez, one of the two Point Foundation scholars honored,
IMPACT, continued on p.17
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IMPACT from p.16
Paul Schindler and former Senator Tom Duane.
sion that shows lack of vision,” he said, “and lack of understanding of the continued challenges our community faces. We have to make sure none of us are left behind in the fight for equality and justice.” Anne McGuire and Marie Honan, longtime activists in the fight for a queer-inclusive St. Patrick’s Parade who came to honor Maxine Wolfe, told me they actually weren’t leaping for joy at the fact that openly LGBT people would be allowed to march under their own banners for the first time in this year’s parade. “It feels like penance,” McGuire said. “It’s 25 years too late.” Many trans folks were among the awardees at the Grand Prospect, including cute Emmett Findley from God’s Love
IMPACT, continued on p.43
Deborah Brennan, chair of the Brooklyn Pride Community Center.
the summer, because darker skin is ugly.”) Duane, who added, “Sure, queer lives matter. Black lives matter, too,” was looking good with partly silver hair. After he was seated, he told me how happy he was to get a chance to support Bernie Sanders for president. “I never thought I would see the day when he could run,” he said. “I would occasionally mention capitalism on the State Senate floor, and people would look at me like I was crazy.” In a private interview in the back of the hall, Dick Dadey, honored for his work with the Citizens Union but previously a longtime executive director with the Empire State Pride Agenda, criticized the latter group’s decision to disband in the wake of the passage of marriage equality. “It’s an unfortunate deci-
along with Tommy Craven); “economic justice, and justice for communities of color and for the trans community that is still fighting so hard for justice and dignity” (awardee Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union); fighting violence (retired state senator and continuing activist T om Duane, who said, “We are still being murdered, par ticularly trans women of color”); fighting for the rights of “undocumented queer people” (Angie Gonzalez, again, who strikingly told the crowd that when she came out as bisexual she had to defend against the idea that all bisexuals are “greedy or promiscuous,” and also had to deal with a friend who told her “not to get any darker in
Point Foundation Scholars Angie Gonzalez and Tommy Craven.
Bianey Garcia, who heads up the LGBTQ Justice Project of Make the Road New York.
Robert Voorheis, Edie Windsor, honoree Cathy Marino-Thomas, honoree Joseph Vitale, and Michael Sabatino.
Honoree Carrie Davis, the chief programs and policy officer at the LGBT Community Center, speaks to Matthew McMorrow, for the past several years the government affairs director at the Pride Agenda.
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PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
Getting Stoned and Eating Pancakes BY ED SIKOV
aureen Dowd’s recent column “The Sultan and the Salad” made me want to puke, but that’s not news. Her common cynicism, her busted moral compass… I usually skip her column rather than read it and wind up feeling vaguely embarrassed. Casting herself in the role of the seen-it-all skeptic, Mo asks us to read her as an independent voice unafraid to speak truth to power. In practice, though, she schmoozes to power. She’s a consummate Washington insider and a mainstay at the Times. How much more institutional can a journalist be? What does she stand for? What is her point? Nothing, herself excepted. Readers can intuit Paul Krugman’s overarching worldview, his sense of what is moral and what is not. The same is true for most other heavy-hitting Times columnists –– Nicholas Kristof, Charles Blow, Frank Bruni, David Brooks (choking as I type this), and even the Times’s token reactionary, Ross Douthat (who pronounces his name Dowthut, which rhymes vaguely with Mouth-shut, and not –– much to my disappointment ––Doubtthat). All of these writers have a personal stake in what they write about. Dowd, on the other hand, offers no consistent point of view, only her own observations on random topics, few of which are ever especially notable. Dowd thinks she’s a great wit, but she isn’t funny, especially when compared to her Times colleague Gail Collins, an op-ed comedy genius. Dowd frames herself as a sassy 21st-century Hildy Johnson –– Rosalind Russell in “His Girl Friday” –– who has graduated from ace reporter to stately but sharp-edged opinion columnist. Only her edges aren’t sharp. She’s just snide. In “The Sultan and the Salad,” Mo colors herself as the ironic observer of a crowd of Hollywood mucky-mucks hanging out at the Beverly Hills Hotel. She explains: “In 2014, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jay Leno, Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres, and others called for a boycott of the hotel after its owner, the sultan of Brunei, implemented Shariah law in his small oily kingdom in the South China Sea, making homosexuality and adultery punishable by stoning.” She goes on: “‘Kind of funny for an ideology that rewards death with the promise of sex with 72 partners,’ dryly notes my friend Max Mutchnick of ‘Will & Grace’ fame. There were demonstrations with signs like ‘It’s Not Sheik to Hate.’ Oscar parties, ‘Star Wars’-themed bar mitzvahs, and lavish ‘Colin Cowie presents’ weddings were all canceled.” “Star Wars”-themed bar mitzvahs! Hollywood
Jews are always ripe for ridicule. Few things are more timeless than a bar mitzvah joke. And “Colin Cowie presents” weddings! The goyim of greater Tinseltown are as ostentatious as those tasteless Jews. This is all easy cynicism. But what’s with “my friend Max Mutchnick of ‘Will & Grace’ fame?” Excuse me, but who is Max Mutchnick? He wasn’t Will; that was Eric McCormack. He wasn’t Jack; that was Sean Hayes. Could he have been Karen? Oh, right –– he was the series’ co-creator and co-writer. The word fame means something different to the A-Listers than it does to those of us stuck in Lower Slobovia. More to the point, Dowd actually has the crust to ridicule people who boycotted a business owned by a notorious despot whose idea of justice involves mobs armed with rocks surrounding gay Bruneians and bashing their brains out. Deciding not to contribute to the obscene wealth of a tyrant who enforces a barbaric travesty of justice that ends with rocks raining down on the heads and bodies of gay people, killing them in the ugliest way possible... This doesn’t strike me as something to be mocked. What’s next? A wry column about coat-hanger abortions? Ah, but you see there’s hypocrisy to be exposed here, and Mo thinks she’s the gal to do it: “As Vanity Fair reported, some luminaries never stopped coming and some held ‘Gay Ins.’ Others ordered takeout and had their secretaries pick it up. Hotel devotees sneaking back for the beloved $35 McCarthy salad were chastised. The boycott, they were told, was bigger than a salad.” Ho ho, how droll. A boycott bigger than a salad. ROTFLMAO. Dowd sure makes those silly, politically aware, gay and actively gay-friendly Tinseltown types look like do-gooding putzes. For reasons that anyone with a moral sense isn’t able to comprehend, she revels in the boycott’s apparent failure. Notice that she employs the passive voice for the last two sentences. “Were chastised.” “Were told.” Like a sophomore writing a C-level college paper, Dowd eliminates the pesky problem of identifying these killjoys by name. Absolving herself from what-a-drag specificity, she’s free to deride people without having to answer for it. What a chickenshit. The next paragraph begins, “In Los Angeles for the Oscars, I….” Wheeeee! Back to the obnoxious “my friend Max Mutchnick” mode, except this time everybody gets the reference. “In Los Angeles for the Oscars, I…!” “In Los Angeles for the Oscars, I…!” Who among us has been able to utter that gilded statement? “In Los Angeles for the Oscars, I…” proves Mo’s street cred, the street in this case being the interminable red carpet.
Once she gets going, the passive voice disappears, and name dropping rushes wildly forth without hindrance: “Katzenberg told me that the boycott was still on. And Max admitted that he was a little apprehensive. As we settled into our green leather booth, he warned, ‘No one should expect a Dolly Levi-Returning-to-Harmonia-Gardens moment.’ Yet he was surprised and pleased to see that, after an 18-month hiatus, the place seemed exactly as he had left it. Leonardo DiCaprio had been spotted at the pool and gays were returning. Zac Posen, whose gowns are Oscar red carpet staples, was at a nearby booth. ‘Suzanne Pleshette taught me what to order: a McCarthy salad, dressing on the side, and well-done fries,’ Max recalled, as the waiter warmly welcomed him. The menu cover had a picture of Warren Beatty –– who held court as a young bachelor in the hotel’s bungalows and shot part of his forthcoming Howard Hughes movie there, and who longs for the boycott to be over.” Cue the fabulous “Drop that Name” number from Comden and Green’s “Bells Are Ringing”: “Brigitte Bardot and Jean Cocteau, Marilyn Monroe and Vincent Minnelli/ Fred Astaire, René Clair, Jose Ferrer, the former Grace Kelly/ L ynne Fontanne and Danny Mann and Deb-o-rah Kerr/ Irving Berlin… and Rin Tin Tin?” The difference is, the song is satire. The underpunctuated “Leonardo DiCaprio had been spotted at the pool and gays were returning” borders on camp. Memo to Times copy editors: this being a compound sentence, there should be a comma between “pool” and “and gays.” This missing comma renders whatever point the writer is struggling to make even more inane, suggesting as it does that “gays were returning” specifically in order to gawk at Leo in a swimsuit. And let’s all take our moral cues from Warren Beatty. Mo then offers a lengthy quote from Max about why the boycott is a dumb idea: “In sitcom terms, the Beverly Hills Hotel was kind of my ‘Central Perk’ [the coffee joint in ‘Friends’]. Much of my career unfolded at the Polo Lounge. I was signed by my agent and lawyer in that room. David Geffen told me what I had to do to save my career… I loved the ‘supporting characters’ who parked my car, worked the lunch counter, got me a good table at dinner, and greeted me like an old friend.” If you’ve managed to read such self-centered tripe without barfing, go ahead and take a Pepto-Bismol break. Then brace yourself. Mutchnick is about to make a moral pronouncement: “I was proud to stand with my community and boycott an institution that represented repression and exclusion.” (Gee, I thought the issue went considerably beyond “repression and exclusion” to include crowds
MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.29
March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
EMPLOYMENT, from p.10
cannot serve to transform a claim for discrimination that Plaintiff plainly interpreted –– and the facts support –– as stemming from sexual orientation animus into one for sexual stereotyping. While Plaintiff provides virtually no support in his [complaint] for an allegation of discrimination based on sexual stereotyping, he provides multiple illustrations of Cianciotto’s animus toward gay individuals. The [complaint] notes, for instance, the fact that ‘most of the pictures Cianciotto drew were of men fornicating, and they always involved a gay employee’; that he repeatedly expressed a belief that gay men were reckless and disease-prone; and that he commented at a meeting that he did not want an advertisement to be ‘too gay.’” Failla conceded that she might be able to “latch onto the single use of the word ‘effeminate’ and the depiction of Plaintiff’s head on a woman’s body, strip these facts of the context provided by the rest of the [complaint], and conjure up a claim for ‘sexual stereotyping.’ But while the ends might be commendable, the means would be intellectually dishonest; the Court would obliterate the line the Second Circuit has drawn, rightly or wrongly, between sexual orientation and sex-based claims. In light of the EEOC’s recent decision on Title VII’s scope, and the demonstrated impracticability of considering sexual orientation discrimination as categorically different from sexual stereotyping, one might reasonably ask –– and, lest there by any doubt, this Court is asking –– whether that line should be erased. Until it is, however, dis-
crimination based on sexual orientation will not support a claim under Title VII.” Reading Christiansen’s factual allegations, it’s amazing that a supervisor behaving the way Cianciotto is alleged to have acted would be tolerated by a socially conscious employer in New York, much less a large advertising agency. As far as society has advanced over the past few decades in treating gay people with simple human dignity, employment discrimination complaints filed by LGBT plaintiffs suggest there is still a long way to go. It’s fair to infer from Failla’s discussion of the evidence that if she felt Title VII could be construed to cover sexual orientation discrimination, she would not have granted the motion to dismiss. Having dismissed all the federal statutory claims that Christiansen made, the judge declined to extend jurisdiction over his state law claims, so he should be able to pursue his case further in state court, where the statutes do expressly forbid sexual orientation discrimination. Christiansen’s reaction to the March 9 dismissal, however, was immediate, his attorney filing a notice of appeal with the Second Circuit the same day. Just over a week earlier, the EEOC had advanced its campaign to win the federal courts’ acceptance of its Title VII interpretation by filing its first affirmative sexual orientation discrimination claims against employers elsewhere in the country. The EEOC had previously intervened as a co-plaintiff in several other pending cases. Christiansen is represented by Susan Chana Lask, a New York City trial lawyer.
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BY PAUL SCHINDLER The weird thing is this: She was there. In May 1992, Bill Clinton appeared before more than 600 gay, lesbian, and AIDS activists at Los Angeles’ Palace nightclub. Veteran gay journalist Bob Roehr characterized it as the first time a major presidential candidate publicly addressed an LGBT audience. In the Los Angeles Times, Ron Brownstein reported that Clinton pledged a “Manhattan Project” to cure AIDS, an end to the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian service members, and nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation. That LA appearance, which longtime activist David Mixner, a Clinton friend dating back decades, helped organize, was key to Mixner’s success that year in raising what he said was more than $3 million in gay money for the Arkansas governor’s campaign. The Palace fundraiser, however, did not arise in a vacuum. Seven months earlier, Clinton made a more intimate visit to Dr. Scott Hitt’s home in the Hollywood Hills, where he met wealthy friends of the gay physician associated with Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality, or ANGLE. Multiple press reports, including a recent retrospective by veteran LA lesbian journalist Karen Ocamb, indicate that Governor Clinton was joined that evening by Hillary. ANGLE had already met with Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas, considered a top tier presidential rival of Clinton’s, and many of its members, Mixner recalled, were leaning toward him. “I would say to almost a person, they were for Clinton when he left,” Mixner told the Washington Post in early 1993. It didn’t hurt that California Republican Governor Pete Wilson’s recent veto of a gay rights bill offered Clinton the chance to argue it was a measure he would have signed. But Ocamb said the most salient factor in Clinton winning over the group was his agreement to a “stipulation” that he “speak about AIDS at a major public venue.” Clinton delivered on that ask the following May at the Palace. Between those two events in California, Clinton had a very different inter-
action with a gay man, this time in New York. In March 1992, at a fundraiser at Midtown’s Laura Belle nightclub, Clinton was confronted by Bob Rafsky, a member of ACT UP who would die from AIDS-related causes less than a year later. According to a New York Times transcript, Rafsky told Clinton, “This is the center of the AIDS epidemic, what are you going to do? Are you going to start a war on AIDS? Are you going to just go on and ignore it? Are you going to declare war on AIDS? Are you going to put somebody in charge?” After a bit of back and forth, Rafsky added, “Bill, we’re not dying of AIDS as much as we are from 11 years of government neglect.” Clinton was clearly shaken by the exchange, at one point saying, “Let me tell you something. If I were dying of ambition, I wouldn’t have stood up here and put up with all this crap I’ve put up with for the last six months.” According to an account from Dr. Hitt –– who would go on to become the first chair of Clinton’s Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/ AIDS –– reported by journalist Roehr, as Clinton got ready to go on stage at the Palace in LA two months later, he was told that half of the audience was HIV-positive and would likely be dead within a few years. “The candidate's eyes went wide,” Roehr wrote. Clinton would tell the crowd, “I have a vision and you’re part of it” –– words that carried incredible political force with the LGBT community of that time. Hillary Clinton was by her husband’s side every step of the way during the 1992 campaign. She knew full well that “President and Mrs. Reagan –– in particular Mrs. Reagan” had not “started a national conversation when before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it” because Hillary heard that first-hand from activists in real time. Bill Clinton, in that searing New York moment, had been told gay men were dying “from 11 years of government neglect.” She knew ANGLE’s willingness to endorse her husband and help raise funds was predicated on his willingness to end the neglect, to end the silence. The Reagans’ record on AIDS, tragically, was not how Hillary Clinton
described it last week. Ronald Reagan did not utter the word publicly until September 1985, more than four years into the epidemic. As Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner has noted, early that year, Reagan tried to cut the federal AIDS budget by $10 million, to $86 million, even though more than 5,500 Americans were already dead. The president first addressed AIDS in a major speech in 1987, at the time his vice president was calling for mandatory HIV testing. Geidner, last year, reported that Nancy Reagan turned down Hollywood pal Rock Hudson’s 1985 request that the White House intervene to help him get into a French military hospital where he believed he might find help. Just over two months later, Hudson was dead. Hillary Clinton quickly apologized for her Reagan comments –– and hours later did again. In her second, longer statement, she acknowledged the hurt her comments caused and that it was activists, standing up to the silence of officialdom –– first and foremost, Ronald Reagan –– who got the nation talking about AIDS. Clinton also showed an astute understanding of where the epidemic stands today –– that poverty and marginalization continue to be tied to HIV transmission and lack of treatment; that HIV criminalization gets in the way of prevention and treatment; and that PrEP offers a way to dramatically alter the epidemic’s course. The takeaway here is not Hillary Clinton’s fluency in the history of AIDS or whether she will embrace the right answers to the ongoing epidemic. The real issue is how top of mind AIDS is for her. Her blunder about Nancy Reagan is mystifying mostly because she knows better. But handed really inept talking points last week as she arrived at the Reagan funeral, Clinton was insufficiently focused to realize how wrong-headed they were. Our job is to keep her and the administration she may well head come January focused. Beating AIDS is not about the right words or the even the right policies, it’s about follow-through consistently pursued. That’s why –– so many years down the road –– we all need to remain AIDS activists. March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: The Meaning of Irish
This Year We March BY EMMAIA GELMAN
his Thursday, Irish Queers will break with 25 years of protest against the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade and march up Fifth Avenue in the actual parade. Believe that we are overjoyed that we don’t have to protest anymore. As per the rules of the parade, we’ll be in “business casual attire” and will be stripped of any message besides “we’re Irish, homosexual, and finally in this @#$%^ parade.” All the old signs exposing the parade organizers’ vile homophobic excuses, the religious right’s controlling hand in the parade, the NYPD’s support for anti-gay exclusion –– those are all purged now, in return for the privilege of marching alongside them. Instead, there will be so many gays in full-on respectability drag that it’ll look like a Mattachine Society march, which is appropriate enough for a parade that has clung so tightly to the past.
Still, as long as it’s sunny, we can enjoy the walk. Plenty of queers have asked why we fought so long to get into a parade that 1) clearly doesn’t want us; 2) is without a doubt the dullest parade in the city; and 3) is packed full of cops and army dudes, not in a sexy uniform kind of way. Here’s why it mattered enough to push on for 25 years: When the St. Patrick’s Day Parade protests started at the height of AIDS organizing, the parade immediately became a stage displaying the lethal violence done to queers by homophobia. The fact that the conflict was situated in the Irish American community –– which in New York City means people with deep links in machine politics and political money, the NYPD, and the Catholic archdiocese –– exposed how community-level homophobia translated to iron-fisted homophobia that tainted the whole city. Fighting the parade has in large part been a fight against the homophobia of
the city administration, the NYPD, the Church. (For the same reason, we’ve always challenged the racism around the parade –– especially its enforced adulation of the NYPD as a largely white brotherhood, and of the US military, at the heights of their brutality.) The St. Patrick’s Day Parade protests also started at a time when Irish communities were seriously breaking with the past. Many immigrant/ ethnic communities seeking “respectability” in the US try to paper over diversity. But in the Irish community, religious and business conservative leaders (including the parade organizers) haven’t just tried to paper over the changes –– they’ve demonized everyone who didn’t toe their line about what “Irishness” means. They’ve hit back against the fierce Irish women’s movement for abortion and other rights, the Irish LGBTQ movement, critiques of the Catholic Church, and challenges to British colonial rule in Ireland. Using the iconic parade as a public expression of “legitimate” Irish culture and politics, the parade organizers and the Church tried to discredit those changes as the work of a few outliers.
They failed, obviously. Fighting back at the parade has helped clear space for those changes to move forward in Ireland as well as in New York Irish communities. Depending on the hour of the day, the angle of the sun, and whether there’s a new episode of “Gotham,” we feel either incredibly proud of our work or angry at how long it has taken to win. We’re either convinced we won something big for New Yorkers who are Irish and/ or queer, or convinced that nothing has really changed except that gay rights are now so mainstream that even the conservative parade committee can stomach them. It’s bittersweet. Winning was always going to be complicated. But we know for sure why we fought. And when we march in that parade on Thursday, it will be in tribute to Irish and queer commitments to justice and to the many communities where we’re at home. Emmaia Gelman is a member of Irish Queers, which has annually kept a spotlight on the exclusion of Irish LGBT participants from the March 17 St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue.
PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad
Queers in Alphabet City BY KELLY COGSWELL
hat a mess. Already in March somebody suggested that trans people take their T and exit from the LGBT movement. And I eavesdropped on an all too typical election year conversation in which a young gay man long mentored by a dyke called her something along the lines of idiot cunt, indicating just how much the G’s despise the L’s, and not just when they vote for Clinton. The invisibility of B’s continues, though these days duck and cover seems a sensible life hack. Queers of color, on the other hand, are less invisible than they were, thanks to some extent to their roles in #BlackLivesMatter. This, however, translates less into actual power in the queer community than new attacks from the right, as well as from the white left, which dismisses them as not authentically black, Latino, Asian… should they happen to support a white woman whose husband signed a crime law eventually used to send a huge swath of black men to jail. No matter that many in the African-AmeriGayCityNews.nyc | March 17 - 30, 2016
can community –– as well as the Congressional Black Caucus –– applauded the law. At the time. Because they were sinfully short on hindsight. The kind of stupidity that divides the L’s, G’s, B’s, and T’s is nothing new, but it certainly seems louder, faster, and more insistent. If in the old days, a lie could travel half way around the world while the truth was putting on its shoes, now, thanks to social media, it can circumnavigate the globe four or five million times, replicating itself in carefully witty memes, while the truth is still opening the closet and figuring out which pair of kicks to grab. Ironic, considering I used to think that the Internet was the best antidote to lies. During the George W. Bush administrations, I spent my time reading the latest nonsense his press office produced about everything from global warming to WMD, then writing articles in response proving why they were wrong using actual facts and offering as much context as I could manage. When it came to policy, I’d even try to think of alternatives. Of course, the news cycle was longer then. Not as long as when we all waited for the early edition of the daily newspaper to come out, but
you’d have a couple hours, maybe even a couple days between travesties that gave you time to assess the quality of information. See how ideas and information and trends fit together. Sure, there’s an upside to the new speed of media. When Hillary Clinton said something idiotic at Nancy Reagan’s funeral, praising her as a “low-key AIDS” advocate, the Internet immediately blew up. And just a few hours later she issued not just an apology but a full-fledged position paper on HIV/ AIDS, highlighting the decades of mostly queer activism that have tried to stop it. But even this speed troubles me. It somehow redefines our sense of what is right or true. We judge truthfulness by how meme-ish the tidbit becomes in the echo chamber of our followers and friends. When newsfeeds are refreshed every minute or two, and things appear by the second on social media, delays are lies. Context and scale are meaningless. Most importantly, we have no time to consider the future. Or even the different layers of the past, because we are so busy keeping up with the now. Living in Internet time, our sense of the possible has been warped into a form of magical thinking. More and more we see cycles of impossible promises on the part of politicians
DYKE ABROAD, continued on p.38
Farm to Sandwich
BY DONNA MINKOWITZ
GayCityNews.nyc | March 17 - 30, 2016
got debauched with a piece of scrambled egg today. I didn’t expect to, but it was there, in between some ricotta and focaccia at Saltie. Some oozed out on my face ultra-creamily, and I didn’t feel disgusted, I felt exalted. I thought of my friend the poet Michael Broder’s wonderful essay in The Rumpus about being a “sub bottom pig slut cumdump” and how it makes him create poetry. I don’t remember having ever enjoyed having egg on my face before, but that egg scrambled and touched with ricotta by the cooks at Saltie is so good (even cold) it can get you beyond the disturbing chicken-ovum-on-cheek sensation. Saltie in Williamsburg, helmed by two stellar women chefs, is a great place to get debauched by a sandwich. The place is beautiful, cheap (for food of this quality), and impeccably sourced with small-farm vegetables, fruits, dairy, eggs, and meat to a degree you’d be hard-pressed to find at any other sandwich shop in the city. The combination of the ingredients and the chefs’ brilliance means the amount of pleasure here is so much greater, the amplitude so much more intense, that even places like Num Pang, Coffeed, and No. 7 Sub pale by comparison. One sandwich is called the Balmy, with this unlikely list of ingredients: “chicken liver pâté, ham, jalapeños, mayo, pickled veg, sesame seeds” ($12). On my first outing with the sandwich, the chicken liver could only barely be tasted on its own, but was like some sublime jam cementing the ham and pickled vegetables together, aided by the sesame seeds that joined in providing umami and fat (and nuttiness) in perfect counterpoint to the pickliness of spiced, vinegared carrots, mint, parsley, celery, and purple, beet-dyed onions. It’s the finest sandwich I can remember, and the only food I think I could honestly compare to a symphony. Some downsides: Saltie is a tiny storefront where you have to order at the counter, and it has those high backless stools I almost always hate in a restaurant. They usually mean the place is trying to cram diners in and get them to leave as soon as possible from discomfort (really). But at Saltie, whether because the stools are somehow more comfortable than usual (with maplewood tops over white metal), or because the café is so upbeat and bright-looking, or because I was seduced by the food (most likely), I didn’t believe the chefs ever wanted us to leave. A large front window lets in lots of sun, and the place is painted with a cheerful blue wave motif throughout the joint on a white background. The name “Saltie” is meant to evoke sailors and the sea, as well as, the chef-own-
Saltie is a tiny storefront where it seems the chefs never want you to leave.
Tiny blue Williamsburg daytime eatery is something to rhapsodize about ers have variously claimed, their own personalities, their love of the flavor, and a dangerous saltwater crocodile. The little room, which includes eight stools, two counters, and a nice, long, indoor bench, is only open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Yet it’s a fabulous date spot for breakfast, brunch, or lunch if, as in my relationship, it’s considered erotic in yours to squirt pimentón aïoli at each other from your plates, or watch each other moan from food. Every day, there are many baked goods on offer, all more intense, interesting, and wellmade than you’ll get elsewhere. Something called a “Sophisticated Lady Cake,” a notsmall, individual round cake with chocolate ganache frosting, was a little top of a dessert, with what tasted like a jolt of espresso in the sticky, edgy, all-encompassing frosting, and molasses and spices in the cake ($3). A “Chocolate Nudge” was a salty, fudgy, complex drop cookie with pistachios and bittersweet chocolate chips inside, not at all enormous yet satisfying enough for two ($2.50). Coffee was always excellent and very fresh, though once it had a chicory flavor I missed on the occasions it was absent. I like a loaf cake that tastes like real food, i.e. like it would sustain me for a long
walk in the mountains. Saltie’s buttery zucchini bread with pistachios and chocolate ($4) fit the bill and more, like Middle Earth elves’ lembas, which make the eater feel brave and merry as well as strong enough for the journey. The only sandwich not named after something having to do with the sea, the Little Chef ($12), was also the only vague disappointment. Made of mortadella, pecorino, and green olive (on focaccia like nearly all the sandwiches), it was tasty and rib-sticking, but not exciting. But the Clean Slate, a near-vegan sandwich of astonishingly garlicky, housemade hummus, bulgur wheat, pickled carrots, red cabbage, onions, scallions, and more, with yogurt sauce on naan, had to be the oomphiest hummus sandwich in the city ($11). The strong garlic flavor plus the crunch and snap of the bulgur and vegetables recalled salami, but better. Every day, there is a salad special (recently, shaved cauliflower with radishes, kohlrabi, almonds, pickled golden raisins, and shallot vinaigrette, $10; instead of cauliflower, the star is sometimes shaved romaine or celery root). There is also a daily special of focaccia pizza, a soup (heritage pork posole the other day, $10), and something called an “egg bowl” –– in recent months, the egg bowl has been okonomiyaki, the Japanese bar-food pancake, here made of sweet potatoes and served with smoked whitefish, cabbage, “miso mayo,” pickled radish, sliced radish, and hard-boiled egg ($12). I can’t tell you how much I regret that I didn’t have time to try these on deadline. The two chefs are Caroline Fidanza, who has been working at farm to table restaurants her entire career, from Savoy to Diner and Marlow & Sons, and out lesbian Rebecca Collerton, also from Diner, who has recently been wowing diners at the evening incarnation of Saltie, a British-Indian farm to table restaurant called Mr. Curry. In a phone interview, Fidanza said, “I wanted to make the restaurant affordable for people. These days, if you go out to a regular restaurant three times a week, you’re going to be poor.” Collerton, reached by email, said, “I wouldn’t know how to describe lesbian food, but Saltie sometimes rolls out a lesbian breakfast cake chock full of prunes and bran, just knocking on the head all those tired stereotypes!” Saltie, 378 Metropolitan Avenue at Havemeyer Street, Williamsburg (saltieny.com, 718-3874777), is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Mr. Curry is open Thursday through Saturday evenings, 6:30 pm to 10:30 p.m.) The restaurant is wheelchair accessible, but there is no restroom. There are Fresh Naps (individualized napkins with hand sanitizer on them) at the counter, which I always appreciate. Cash only; there is an ATM onsite.
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MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.18
hurling rocks at gay people until they die. I must have misunderstood.) “But now the foundation of my political correctness is starting to show cracks. I grappled with my inner voice: ‘Maybe fluffy pancakes and warm maple syrup are more important than gay rights.’ But in truth, something deeper was gnawing at me: If I’m going to shun this hotel, does that mean that anything I don’t actively boycott, I tacitly endorse? I loved the television show ‘Glee.’ Should I not have watched because it aired on Fox, a company that gives Roger Ailes the parking space closest to the front door?” No, you stupid sonuvabitch –– that’s not what it means. To compare watching “Glee” to supporting the barbaric murder of gay people is revolting beyond description. Wondering whether “fluffy pancakes and warm maple syrup are more important than gay rights” demonstrates a stomach-turning level of smug self-satisfaction. I know, I know –– it’s supposed to be humorous. The trouble is, it isn’t. And that touching bit about how much-of-a-Mutchnick loves his servants? It isn’t touching. It’s repulsive. Mutchnick has a plantation mentality so nakedly expressed as to be nearly unbelievable. In fact, I only believe it because of its sheer excess –– the sickeningly over-the-top selfishness is paradoxically what makes it real. Only
someone lacking even a rudimentary soul could be so unselfconsciously venal. Mo lets Max write the rest of her column for her, and it’s every bit as vile as what has come before: “What about Nike soccer balls which were sewn by the little hands of 12-year-old children in Pakistan? Can I no longer wear my Nike dry-fit Lycra-lined running shorts that lift and separate in a way that can only be described as gay magic?” Ha ha. “Last night I got cash from the Bank of America ATM. Qatar put a billion dollar stake in BofA. Just Google ‘Bad Things in Qatar.’ It never stops. Should I remove Mariah Carey’s hit ‘Emotions’ from my iTunes playlist because she once performed for a vicious Angolan dictator to collect a million dollars? Of course not. I shouldn’t listen to ‘Emotions’ because it’s a ridiculous song with moronic lyrics.” Oh boy I can’t stop laughing, my stomach hurts, it’s just too funny. But wait! Something serious this way comes: “Does this boycott make sense? I did not want to go against my core values.” What “core values?” The motherfucker doesn’t evince any. “Or worse, offend a Higher Power. (Elton John.)” Haw. And then this: “But it hit me like a rock being
thrown at my face by the village baker in Brunei that, after two years, the only thing that changed at the Beverly Hills Hotel was that the hard-working staff, those least responsible for the offending action, were getting hurt the most. While a hotel representative says the employees are being compensated for lost wages, I’m dubious. We don’t know for how much or for how long.” Lovely of you to care so much about the little people, Max. Hey, here’s an idea: Why not start a fund to make up your good friends’ lost income? Let’s see –– if everyone who boycotted the vicious little sultan’s overpriced hotel donated the tips they would have given the valet guys and the servers… Oh but that would require some effort. That and a heart. Worst of all, you wouldn’t get your fucking fluffy pancakes. Many thanks, Mo, for making the whole gay community look as heartless and self-absorbed as your rich, Emmy-winning faggot friend. And it’s absurd to have to point this out, Max, but to say that an idea hit you like a rock thrown at your face only proves that you have never had a rock thrown at your face. I know it must come as a shock to you, darling, but gay people in Brunei don’t have the luxury of using stoning as a metaphor. Follow @edsikov on Twitter and Facebook.
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Don’t Rock the Boat, Baby When a floating casino full of kooks hits rough waters, will there be a morning after? DISASTER! Nederlander Theatre 208 W. 41st St. Through Jul. 3 Wed., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Thu. at 7 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 2:30 p.m. $65-$135 disastermusical.com Two hrs., five mins., with intermission JEREMY DANIEL PHOTOGRAPHY
Catherine Ricafort, Roger Bart, Baylee Littrell, Seth Rudetsky, Rachel York, Kevin Chamberlin, and Olivia Phillip in Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick’s “Disaster!”
BY DAVID KENNERLEY
isaster!,” a goofy spoof of cheesy 1970s disaster films, is chock full of singing and dancing, but the Playbill doesn’t bother to list musi-
cal numbers. That’s because this jukebox musical, by Seth Rudetsky –– the unofficial mayor of Broadway –– and Jack Plotnick, has a serious case of ADHD. No sooner do you recognize one pop hit when it
abruptly jumps to something else. There are scant traditional, fully formed musical numbers. I counted snippets from at least 35 period pop songs, which served as tuneful punch lines. And that’s just one of the many pleasures of this big-hearted, campy comedy. Not only is the timing unexpected, but so are the song choices and contexts. Sure, there are obvious favorites like Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” But I relished forgotten gems like “Do You Wanna Make Love” and
“Torn Between Two Lovers,” sung by a nun to a slot machine, no less. And I wonder if Sony/ ATV Music Publishing had any clue what would be transpiring onstage when it gave permission to use Lionel Richie’s “Three Times a Lady” (hint: it involves dismembered body parts). When a floating casino full of kooks hits rough waters, will there be a morning after? The creaky book follows the venerable disaster-movie formula — remember “Earthquake,” “Towering Inferno,” and “The Poseidon Adventure?” Here, the setting is a giant, floating casino moored in the Hudson River. It’s grand opening night, and the guests are a motley bunch with more than their share of personal baggage. We meet a wacky elderly couple from “the last stop on the R train,” Shirley (Faith Prince, channeling Shelley Winters) and Maury
DISASTER, continued on p.31
At the Crossroads CAROL ROSEGG
Critical life choices power three new shows
Bobby Steggert and Ted Köch in Anna Ziegler’s “Boy.”
BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
hat is the power of gender identity in our lives? That’s a provocative question given the fight for transgender rights, current debates about “gender fluidity,” and the fevered push for so-called religious freedom laws
nationwide. These questions are at the center of Anna Ziegler’s new play “Boy,” now getting its world premiere at the Keen Company. The plot, based on a true story, concerns what happens when a tragic accident during a circumcision of one of two infant twin boys results in destruction of his penis. The time is the 1960s, and the psy-
chiatrist working with the child’s parents recommends that the child be raised as a girl. The doctor does not reveal the full motives behind his recommendation given his efforts at the time to carry out groundbreaking work on gender identity, but his concern for the child’s well-being and ability to function within society is genuine.
The central conflict of the play centers on how, as a girl, the boy never feels comfortable in his skin. When the truth is discovered, there follows inevitable emotional fallout from having lived outwardly with an imposed identity at odds with what the child inherently under-
CROSSROADS, continued on p.31
March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
DISASTER, from p.30
(Kevin Chamberlin); a nosy New York Times reporter (Kerry Butler, who starred in a similar parody musical, “Xanadu”); and her lovelorn ex-fiancé (Adam Pascal). Also on board are that singing nun, a long-in-the-tooth lounge singer (Lacretta Nicole), and her bratty preteen twins, among others. These pleasure seekers are in for the time of their lives. That’s not to say it will be a particularly pleasant time. A pesky “disaster expert” (Rudetsky) predicts that an earthquake is imminent and urges everyone to evacuate, but he’s met with fierce pushback from the scumbag casino owner (Roger Bart). When disaster finally strikes, mayhem follows. Who will live to see the dawn of a new day? The second act is fraught with riotous shark and piranha attacks, rescue attempts, thorny romantic entanglements, and carnage. The ship’s hunky security officer (Casey Garvin, who also serves as dance captain) meets an especially gruesome — and hilarious — end. None of this would float were it not for a skilled, committed cast, under the direction of Plotnick. While the calculated histrionics of veterans like Bart and Prince were deliciously on point, my favorite was Jennifer Simard’s nuanced portrayal of Sister Mary, who has a devil of a time reconciling her love
CROSSROADS, from p.30
stands about himself. In the debate over “nature versus nurture,” playwright Ziegler comes down decidedly on the side of nature and is almost clinical in arguing that genitals alone do not determine gender. Making her case, however, poses critical challenges for this often problematic play. Ziegler struggles with the largely expository first part of the play, and the result is a clumsy collection of short scenes that include a letter, therapy sessions, and conversations that deliver information without revealing character. It feels mechanical and distant without a consistent voice. Only when the boy discovers the truth and begins to redefine himself as Adam, a name he chooses, does the play acquire any emoGayCityNews.nyc | March 17 - 30, 2016
of Jesus and her devotion to slot machines. Her well-timed, deadpan comic delivery was a welcome counterpoint to the chaotic swirl around her. Another standout is Baylee Littrell, son of Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell, who brings a creepy charm to twins Ben and Lisa. Aided by a blonde wig, he slips between characters with aplomb, belting out some impressive solos, like “Ben,” Lisa’s tear-stained ode to her possibly deceased brother. And if you aren’t aware that “Ben” is a Michael Jackson song about a killer rat then you will not fully appreciate this show. Apparently, this is Littrell’s first professional acting gig ever. Adding an extra dose of whimsy are the garish ‘70s costumes, designed by none other than William Ivey Long. There are those who will argue that this “Disaster!,” which originated as a concert in 2011, moved to Off Off Broadway, then Off Broadway before it reached the Nederlander Theatre, doesn’t have enough substance to fill a Broadway stage. The inventive sets, by Tobin Ost, are as crude and flimsy as the plot, and the special effects are low tech in the extreme (makeshift dummies stand in for corpses, for example). Much of the staging is rough around the edges. I would counter that the scrappy lack of polish is a large part of the show’s appeal. What it lacks in heft it makes up for in heart.
tional heft. Of course, we need the background information to understand Adam’s conflict and how he moves toward being an integrated, if damaged, male, but too many critical moments are reported rather than dramatized, blunting their impact. To be fair, Ziegler has set herself a tremendous challenge having an adult man play the character at all stages of his life, though that approach makes sense since the play is implicitly structured as a memory. Still, that choice comes at the expense of being able to feel Adam’s conflict until very late in the play. The cast is consistently strong. Heidi Armbruster does a good job as Adam’s mother. Ted Köch is
CROSSROADS, continued on p.38
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Talking the Talk
How can a gay teen keep faith down on the farm? Ursula Parker and Logan Miller in Matt Sobel’s debut feature “Take Me to the River.”
BY GARY M. KRAMER
ake Me to the River” is writer/ director Matt Sobel’s auspicious debut feature about California teen Ryder’s (Logan Miller) awkward family reunion in Nebraska. Ryder wants to announce he is gay to his extended family, but his parents Cindy (Robin Weigert) and Don (Richard Schiff) express their misgivings. They think it’s best that Ryder not out himself to their conservative farm relatives. Ryder meanwhile gets himself into other trouble when an unseen incident with his cousin Molly (Ursula Parker) escalates family tensions, particularly with his uncle, Keith (Josh Hamilton). Sobel, who is not gay, ratchets up the tension as his film becomes wonder fully discomfiting. The filmmaker spoke with Gay City
News about making “Take Me to the River.” GARY M. KRAMER: “Take Me to the River” is not autobiographical. How did you come to tell this story? MATT SOBEL: I have been going to a version of that family reunion for the past 20 some years. That farmhouse is where my mother grew up and my grandmother lived until recently. It was an environment and setting I was familiar with. None of the drama was real nor were the characters based on real people, but it was triggered by a nightmare I had — being at these reunions and being accused of something inappropriate. I remember very strongly these feelings of anxiety and being unable to exonerate myself. I wanted to experiment with writing a film not so much as a metaphor of the human condition, but to capture that feeling.
GMK: Can you talk about how you created R yder’s char acter? MS: R yder is a 17-year -old who is still searching for the person he wants to be and learning how he fits into the adult world. He’s more interested in speaking about his sexuality than living it. It was more of him on the precipice of him not knowing near ly as much as he thought about himself and the world, rather than asserting his identity on the family. We set it up in a clichéd opening that would hopefully get the audience to telegraph a different film than they are in store for. He is begrudgingly agreeing not to come out, but every point he gets the opportunity to and he backs away from it. Those situations articulate how insecure he is under the veneer of his loudmouth liberal attitude.
GMK: How did you work on creating the film’s visual style? You move effortlessly from intimate scenes to intense ones and often create an ambiguous dreamscape. MS: It’s almost surreal, but a more accurate word is “uncanny.” I tried to put that in the writing, but I couldn’t see if it worked until we cut it together. The goal was to create a very strong and increasingly stronger dissonance between the way the film looked and the way it felt. Uncanny is familiar, but strange at the same time. This makes us uncomfortable because we’re not sure how to respond to it. It starts naturalistic and as we get more insidious and darker, it becomes more like a children’s coloring book: the color gets more primary, subtly so. By the time we get to the river, which is bucolic and
RIVER, continued on p.33
Bubble Boys & Girls Pre-recession office workers are ethically compromised and mostly alone BY STEVE ERICKSON
n the early 1990s, Manhattan’s Chinatown had three movie theaters showing Hong Kong films. Now they’re all gone, and there’s not even a DVD store left in the neighborhood. It’s fitting that Hong Kong director Johnnie To’s “Office” is getting a weeklong run in the 3D version in which it was originally meant to be seen –– the 2D version played briefly at the AMC Empire 25 last fall –– in the Metrograph, a new theater at the border of the Lower East Side and Chinatown. The film seems to have found a cult audience in the US; while some of To’s gangster films have played to small but enthusiastic American crowds, his non-genre work has largely been ignored here until now. Based on a stage musical written by Sylvia Chang, who adapt-
ed her own play, acts in the film, and co-produced it, it takes a radical approach to turning theater into cinema. Imagine a cross between Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” and Jacques Tati’s “Playtime.” “Office” begins before the 2008 fall of Lehman Brothers. Trading company Jones & Sunn awaits its IPO. Lee Xiang (Wang Ziyi) –– “Lee for Ang Lee, Xiang for dream” –– has just begun his probationary period with the company, which seems full of secrets. He starts working with Kat (Lang Yueting), who acts mysteriously. CEO Winnie Chang (Chang) is sleeping with its chairman, Ho Chung-ping (Chow Yun-fat), whose wife is comatose. Executive David Wang (Eason Chan) plays fast and loose with the company’s accounting. The venal businessman has become an archetypal character for our times –– and one
to argue about. “American Psycho” scumbag Patrick Bateman might be its epitome. No other version has gone as far as him; insider trading isn’t the moral equivalent of murder. Most of the controversy over Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” centered over whether it glamorized its anti-hero, fraudster Jordan Belfort. Even the aspirational reality TV world of CNBC’s “Shark Tank” offers a real-life villain in Canadian businessman Kevin O’Leary. David is the equivalent in “Office,” but it’s a mark of this film’s humanism that he’s treated far more kindly by Chang and To than any of the people, real or fictional, that I’ve just named. The opening of “Office” shows people scrambling to get onto the subway, an experience most New Yorkers can relate to. Time hangs
OFFICE, continued on p.33
March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
RIVER, from p.32
pastoral and pleasant looking, the tone is ambiguous and dark. GMK: How did you create the awkward pauses and silences in the film? MS: In the editing I realized how much more they needed to be sculpted than I anticipated. I thought it would be pause-heavy and awkward. But if you keep that rhythm consistently, people would tire of it. You feel them because we cut out the air in the moment. The lunch table scene [with Ryder and his uncle’s family] moves quickly, and my editor took the last beat off the sentences. That made the silence in Molly’s room afterwards feel more awkward. When Ryder sings at the table, we originally had an awkward conversation about the song. But instead, we had the family change the topic of conversation, which is more awkward. You never get how the family feels about the song. He pours his heart out, and no one comments on it. GMK: Can you talk about the symbols in the film –– the gun, the sunglasses, and the shorts? MS: I find it funny when an arti-
TAKE ME TO THE RIVER Directed by Matt Sobel Film Movement Opens Mar. 18 Landmark Sunshine Theater 143 E. Houston St. Btwn. Second & First Aves. landmarktheatres.com
cle of clothing is wholly symbolic for the audience but the characters never realize they are wearing a metaphor. When we edged toward that, we wanted Ryder to realize his shorts are symbolic. His wearing the shorts over to his uncle’s house, after being made fun of for wearing them, keeps it from being heavy-handed. Writing the story, I felt that it was kind of like a fable. The sparseness of the location –– and that we don’t go back to any one of the places again –– makes it picaresque and episodic. These objects — the gun, the glasses, the shorts — help me reach that tone. The river is in the title, and it is mentioned in the film but we don’t see it until the end. It was a ring of fire he has to walk through before he finished his journey.
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heavy over this world; a huge clock decked out with Roman numerals is visible in many scenes. Most of the characters don’t seem to have a home life. Men are almost never seen wearing casual clothes. While the songs of “Office” make an impression, something got lost along the way from Cantonese lyrics to English subtitles. The vocabulary and syntax are occasionally tortured. For a musical, the tunes are definitely the weakest element of “Office.” The set –– created by connected plastic pipes, some of them neon or fluorescent lights –– is the film’s biggest star. There are no walls in this film. Elevators and spiral staircases allow people to climb the corporate ladder, but one elevator is set aside for the exclusive use of CEOs, which brought to mind the “executive washroom” jokes in Frank Tashlin’s “Will
Eason Chan in Johnnie To’s “Office.”
Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” The 3D is used subtly, as a way of immersing the audience in the world of “Office.” To never sends arrows flying off the screen. “Office” isn’t a radical critique of capitalism, but it gets its digs in nevertheless. To has often used the crime film as a way of approaching the economic ups and downs of Hong Kong, as in “Election,” its
OFFICE, continued on p.38
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IN THE A Positively Defining Mensch
Ed Asner discusses his prostate –– and just about everything else
Ed Asner in his one-man show “A Man and His Prostate.”
BY DAVID NOH
d Asner recently drew a sell-out crowd to the Metropolitan Room for his new one-man show, “A Man and His Prostate.” You heard right. I went in, expecting it to be a joke title that would maybe address his recent medical travails lightly, while taking us on a tour of his incredibly prolific career as the all-time male Emmy-winning champ (with seven to his name). Wrong! The show was, indeed, mostly about his prostate (complete with medical diagrams) and his arduous correctional operation, the marvel of which was just how very entertaining it was. Asner truly defines mensch in every sense of the word and it was a bracingly candid, sometimes very touching display of TMI, addressing, as it did, the inevitable aging process and mortality that we all must face. His adoring, cross-generational fans in the house laughed ’til they wept, and, heartened by this
New York reaction, the 86-year-old deliciously feisty trouper is taking it on the road. I arranged to interview him at the Paramount Hotel. I did not have his room number and had to ask three different employees who were not only inept but had never heard of him, before I espied him, sitting with his daughter in the lobby. “Maid service hasn’t fucking arrived yet,” he greeted me, “ so we’re sure not going to my room.” Everywhere we went was freezing on that blustery winter afternoon, so he said, “Fuck it. We’ll go up.” And, in one of this boutique hotel’s miniscule rooms, he sat on the bed, offering me the one chair, and gave me deeply human, incredibly rich, and, typically for this resolute, ultimate Hollywood liberal, politically on-point conversation –– yes, he likes Bernie, but is realistic about his chances and abilities –– for more than two hours. “My show runs an hour and a quarter and so far the reaction has
been great,” he began. “I’m not a computer person at all, don’t even know how to call up programs but so far we have about six online reviews, and they’re all good. I guess there will be some people who will feel alienated because this show is me, not Lou Grant or the grandfather from ‘Up.’ But, you know I was always working to transition from ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ and ‘Lou Grant,’ pushing the plot du jour, so I got things like ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ and ‘Roots,’ which really helped.” Asner was surprised when I told him of people’s ignorance as to his identity. “Really? Well, tempus fugit! And you say one was Russian? That sonuvabitch should have known because that’s where my parents were from.” Asner hails from Kansas City, “which was a big receiving place for Jews, amazingly enough, with a very effective welfare society which helped my family when they first came. They were what I call Midwestern Orthodox, because they
certainly didn’t compare to the Hasids in New York. Our house was kosher and my father didn’t smoke on Shabbos, but when it came time to go to the synagogue –– he was a very hard working man, but distance was not his forte –– it was too goddam far, so he drove.” Asner was the youngest of four kids, a late baby, and his sister just died last year at age 94. “My father had a junk business, scrap iron, rags, paper. He bought everything, and God, what fun for a kid! He’d go to police auctions and would get barrels of jimmied pistols, which wouldn’t fire, of course, but they were good for kids.” As for religion: “I don’t think about God at all. All I have to do is think of the Book of Job. Why should there be a God? I’m an ethnic Jew, and I identify with them and am proud of it.” I asked if Asner ever encountered discrimination as a Jew in Kansas City. “I did, some, but I would say to you that a little discrimination is very good for character building. I’m sure you’ve found out, too, that to be different from the herd is not pleasant for a kid, but it makes you a lot smarter than your peers. “I was blacklisted from joining a fraternity in high school and when I asked my friend, ‘Is it because I’m Jewish?,’ he said, ‘Yeah.’ Had I been winning enough, they would have accepted me whether I was Jewish or not, but I wasn’t. I was delighted, however, and, like a stupid person, I gave my religion the ignominy of my blacklisting, which meant that I as an individual was totally free and unblemished. Bullshit. My whole childhood had been Hitler and anti-Semitism, with that common phrase, ‘Stop jewing me down.’” Asner’s parents were uneducated people and not initially supportive of his acting aspirations. “But to their credit, they didn’t lay guilt on me for my choice. My
IN THE NOH, continued on p.35
March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
IN THE NOH, from p.34
dad was dead by the time I started getting TV leads, but I’d tell my mom about it, and her one answer that endeared her to me forever, was, “Vell, ve vas wrong and I’m glad.’ “When I moved to Chicago and was acting there, I waited for the right play to invite them to see me. Finally, I played the old rabbi in ‘The Dybbuk.’ They came up from Kansas City and my mom had cooked up some chickens to bring with them so Dad would have something to eat. At the show, they sat next to two young girls and my mother made sure to tell them, ‘That’s our son.’ She was very pleased but my dad didn’t say anything. I found out when he went back home and they were asked about me, he said, ‘He was so good! He was so old! I wanted to get up on the stage and help him!’ This was 1953, and he died four years later.” Asner moved to New York in the 1950s and his first break was in the legendary Theater De Lys production of ‘The Threepenny Opera,’ with Lotte Lenya and Bea Arthur. Rather than being wonderful, its long run was a nightmare for him. He said that it was the only job he ever had where he could not escape his feelings of insecurity. It began when, after almost three years, company manager Joe Lieberman came to him and said, ‘We got Jane Connell to be Mrs. Peachum, but you just don’t seem to be cutting it.’ “I had an understudy and every time I looked at him, I could see him honing that razor waiting for a chance to slice my throat. I automatically went on the defensive and I couldn’t for some reason check if this warning was just coming from him or was passed on from the producers. They never fired me, but I wanted to get out so badly.” Asner got to the point where he would get in his own way, “fantasizing during performances that I would black out and forget my lines. When I finally left, it was to go serve as a replacement for a smaller venue Off Broadway, for a smaller paycheck, and I wasn’t going to get any reviews. But I was free, and had been a slave all that time in my first big, ‘wonderful’ GayCityNews.nyc | March 17 - 30, 2016
break in the theater.” As for his fabled co-stars, Lenya “looked like the tramp that she was, very appealing in her withdrawn, very seductive manner. But she was nice to everybody, especially nice to my understudy. And how could she not be electrifying on stage, coming with that whole history behind her? And then she was Kurt Weill’s wife. I never saw him at all. “Bea Arthur was wonder ful, smart, a big fucking tank. You ask if we could have ever foreseen back then that we would become TV household names, I would have to say no, but I never doubted that I’d get somewhere. I don’t know –– I had the actor’s all confidence and it never left me.” Asked who was the most difficult person he ever worked with, Asner answered, “That’s very hard for me to say: they either fired me or I fired them. The best example I can give you is Jay Sandrich. When I was cast as Lou Grant in ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show,’ it was decided to make a promotional scene to show to the advertisers –– the hiring scene with me and Mary –– and Sandrich, accomplished in comedy, was picked to direct us. I was new to comedy and he’d stick in all this direction and I thought, ‘Oh, fuck you, you little prick. I’ll take this now, but when the show is bought up, I’ll get rid of him tout de suite!’ “But I didn’t do that, for seven years of shows. Around the second year, this veteran cameraman, Bill Klein, was hired to replace our former one, who was retiring. He watched us rehearse and Jay and I got into our usual jawing match, ‘Who the fuck are you?’ When the scene was over, Bill called Jay aside and said, ‘You gotta be kidding me! If he gets pissed off, he’ll knock you on your ass!’ “Jay said, ‘Five will get you 10 we will have lunch together.’ He took the bet; we had lunch. As long as you can jaw and not swing, you’re all right. “Betty White was a great trouper and I love her dearly. Mary? I haven’t been in touch with her for a couple of years. As far as I know, she’s not okay [diabetes]. When she goes to California, she doesn’t call me, and when I’m in New York,
IN THE NOH, continued on p.37
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Victorian Delights MARTY SOHL/ METROPOLITAN OPERA
Brahms and Donizetti at Lincoln Center Eleonora Buratto and Javier Camarena in Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale.”
BY DAVID SHENGOLD
heard a terrific performance at the New York Philharmonic.” How often these days do we hear or think that sentence? It does happen, and it happened March 8, largely thanks to the always welcome guest conductor Christoph von Dohnányi, now 85 and in full command. The piece at hand was Johannes Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem,” a project of that composer in his early 30s, colored by the deaths of his mother and of mentor Robert Schumann. Von Dohnányi prepared the players in depth to execute the dynamic shifts he asked of them; attacks were precise and smooth. New York Choral Artists, prepared by Joseph Flummerfelt, likewise performed in sterling fashion throughout, tapering their sound in immediate response to the maestro’s commands. The only passing blemish on the performance was a bit of brass flatting in the –– to my tastes, rather windy –– final section, “Selig sind die Toten”. As opposed to the Verdi or Mozart equivalents, this “Requiem” –– set to Brahms’ own choice of sacred texts, not the standard liturgy –– is mainly a choral work, with only three solos. Even those solos have choral interventions! Camilla Tilling has been singing in New York since her striking debut as Corinna in City Opera’s “Il viaggio a Reims” in 1999. Given that, the purity of her tone and ability to sustain long phrases is remarkable. The timbre, shining in the middle, turned a little whiter up top; but she served the music well. So did Matthias Goerne, who had also taken the two baritone solos the last time the Phil offered this work, in 2007. The thoughtful German singer offers a more expansive if somewhat grainier sound than he did some years back, but the basis of its deployment is always legato phrasing, and he can certainly encompass the assignment’s full range with ease. What Goerne is thinking when he looks at the roof, turns
sideways, or holds his hands out as if embracing a life preserver while on the concert platform is anybody’s guess, but that is hardly new. It’s always a pleasure to hear him.
The current Met season is awash in Donizetti, with a record five of his works in the mix along with two Rossinis. Nothing wrong there save that this season offers no American or Slavic works, no Britten, no Handel nor Gluck; plus just one Wagner, one Strauss, and one French opera. From March 9’s performance it remained clear that “Don Pasquale” is unquestionably a masterpiece of comic opera –– though its inherent elegance is fought and belittled by the broad, trivial Otto Schenk production, the last louche blast of the Volpe Era at the Met. Ambrogio Maestri loomed large in the title role, singing robustly save for one or two exposed low notes. He was quite apt and funny, though his constant efforts to upstage colleagues evoked a bad old buffo tradition. Native diction helps; the quick patter of “Cheti. cheti” is not his strongest suit. In her second performance at the Met, Eleonora Buratto proved well worth encountering. The Mantua-born soprano is the first Italian Norina the company has deployed since the great Adriana Maliponte in 1975. Like Maliponte, Buratto is essentially a lyric soprano with a considerable middle voice and some florid ability rather than the tweety-bird type of coloratura most often featured in the role (Roberta Peters and Reri Grist furnish two outstanding examples). Virtually nothing was interpolated. Buratto’s repertory — like Maliponte’s –– includes such non-coloratura parts as Mimi, Liu, Amelia Boccanegra, Alice Ford, and Countess Almaviva, and it would be good to hear her clear, somewhat dark-timbred instrument here in the Puccini assignments. The others might work too, though for the other three I’d need more evidence than we had in “Don Pasquale”
of a more than desultory trill. Moving with grace, especially when in veils, she made the character less of a brazen harlot than the production intended Anna Netrebko to enact when it was new. Still, Burrato, like the other artists, was saddled with reproducing as much of Schenk’s unfunny, often unmusical “business” — twirling and vamping and pillow fights –– as revival director J. Knighten Smit could muster. When seeing such painfully unfunny “gags” enacted, one has to wonder: Does anyone in the company’s artistic administration ever attend the legitimate theater? The same thought occurs when –– during “Don Pasquale,” as during so many new Met productions including the recent “Manon Lescaut” — the action and dramatic momentum are killed dead by endless scene changes. Maurizio Benini’s jerky, unpredictable tempos did not help the singers or the score. Arguably, Mariusz Kwiecien’s Malatesta back in 2006 stole the show; after a pitch-challenged, coloratura-challenged first act, Levente Molnár improved and made a game try at mimicking Kwiecien’s hip demeanor but —though not an affront, like Massimo Cavalletti in “Manon Lescaut” –– didn’t seem quite worth the importing. Since when does North America need to import lyric baritones, of all things? Some very enjoyable singing indeed came from Javier Camarena, the Ernesto, with his beautiful, even tone, natural phrasing, and ringing top. The Met/ New York Times synergistic information machine has associated the rising Mexican tenor with encores, so much of the crowd tried to obtain one after his huge D flat crowning his excellent solo scene. He’s affable onstage rather than a defined stage presence, but Camarena’s popularity seems deserved and likely to last. David Shengold (email@example.com) writes about opera for many venues. March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
IN THE NOH, from p.35
I’m too busy to call her. But I still love the show and enjoy it whenever I happen to watch it.” Researching his career was exhausting –– the man has made seemingly at least three or four movies or shows a year for decades. His favorites are “‘Rich Man, Poor Man,’ a big achievement for me, my cumulative years of Lou Grant, ‘Family Man,’ which I made in Canada with Anne Jackson and Meredith Baxter, ‘Heads’ with Jennifer Tilly and Jon Cryer. ‘Up’ I’m very proud of, and ‘Elf.’ I had a delightful time making that.” One of the most surprising and entertaining things about Asner, and his new show is the unbridled honesty and frankness about his love of sex, giving the lie to ignorant ageists who think that it all stops after, say, age 50. “I have a beautiful lady friend of several years who, unfortunately, has pneumonia and couldn’t come here with me. I still love my first wife. She was tremendously supportive for 20-something years and we get together every week, usually with the whole family. “But little things have crept in without my watching that kind of rankle me. ‘Where did you get that opinion, that attitude?’ And I want to swat her. People change on their own and she certainly has. Those times I get tired of the rat race of chasing women or having women chase me, I think about getting back together with my wife because you’re very safe when you’re married, you know about them. “But then I think, ‘Well, she does this and thinks that.’ I betrayed her and let it be known to her, and
I had to be sure to close the door behind me as I left, but she’s a good broad.” Asner then fixed me with his intent gaze and said, “So you’re gay, right? You guys have a lot of sex?” Instead of replying “Is the pope Catholic?,” I described my open relationship, which began when my partner and I fell in love while both otherwise involved. I said, “We were two korvas [whores] from the beginning, so I thought, ‘Let’s not bullshit each other here. We’re two men. In New York City. Temptation everywhere.’ So yeah, I have sex just about every day, and like you, I love it. I once gave someone a seven hour bj.” Asner’s eyes widened. “Really? And how do you know that word ‘korva,’ anyway?” “Oh God, I’ve lived in New York for decades. I love and know more Yiddish than Korean! I just wish my parents had spoken more of it around the house, instead of only when they wanted not to be understood by me.” “Well, it’s not too late. You could take language classes.” “Well, I’m just so busy.” And then, Lou Grant leaned in, and gave me the greatest quote of my journalistic career: “Suck less cock.” Not much could follow that, so we wrapped it up. As we shook hands goodbye, his trademark crustiness dropped entirely, and he said, ‘Well, you’re a very warm and winning fellow. And if I ever decide to switch, I’m giving you a call.’” Contact David Noh at Inthenoh@ aol.com, follow him on Twitter @ in_the_noh, and check out his blog at nohway.wordpress.com.
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DYKE ABROAD, from p.21
and a backlash of rage when it turns out that the mayor or governor or president has to pass a law before they can give out free ponies. And to become a law, a bill has to get past committees and congresses and courts. And if it does eventually appear on the executive’s desk, we are shocked to
discover that the pony has become a hamster, funded by cuts in afterschool programs. Which is why the process gets called sausage-making and often makes us sick. And why a quickie revolution can seem so attractive. Especially if you don’t know most revolutions are unimaginable disasters. There are lots of victims. Usually the first people to support them.
OFFICE, from p.33
sequel “Triad Election,” and “Life Without Principle.” In the final third of “Office,” the recession’s effects are felt on Jones & Sunn, and that leads to unethical behavior on the part of several characters. In the end, their secrets are revealed. It’s a credit to Eason Chan’s performance that David seems more pathetic than sleazy. The songs also help, opening a window onto
CROSSROADS, from p.31
Once again, the Mint Theater Company has found a forgotten theatrical gem and given it a vibrant and fully entertaining production. In this case, the obscure object of delight is Hazel Ellis’ play “Women Without Men.” It concerns trauma, tempers, and treachery unfolding in the teacher’s lounge of a girls’ school in Ireland in 1937. The title suggests that the presence of men would have prevented the pettiness and infighting we see among the teachers, but at the same time we come to understand that in 1930s Ireland unmarried
the characters’ emotions. Early on, they set the stage for the hectic life at Jones & Sunn, but by the halfway mark, they allow the characters to express a vulnerability for which open dialogue doesn’t have room. The saddest thing about corporate culture, as shown in “Office,” may be the way it forces most of this film’s characters to speak from behind a mask. No one in the film is gay, but they’re in the closet nevertheless.
women were second-class citizens who needed to fight for their simple survival. The play raises an interesting moral question: are kindness and forgiveness based on character or situation? The central conflict of the play is between Miss Connor, a longtime teacher, and new arrival Miss Wade. When Connor’s life work, a manuscript exploring “beautiful acts” through the ages,” is destroyed, she seeks to blame Wade for the crime. Exonerated, Wade doesn’t exact revenge… because she’s leaving to get married. This well-structured play has idiosyncratic characters and paints a vivid picture of life in a socially constrained society. Under the direction of Jenn Thompson, the world of the school is rich and believable. The 11-member company is consistently excellent. Standouts include Kellie Overbey and Emily Walton as Miss Connor and Miss Wade, respectively, Mary Bacon as Miss Strong, who gives a lovely performance as a woman resigned to her lot yet struggling to keep her bitterness in check, and Dee Pelletier as the put-upon French teacher. “Women Without Men” beautifully captured the myriad small eruptions that occur in an insular world where egos and perceived slights make up a big portion of daily life.
Sky Pony’s “The Wildness” now at Ars Nova is an imaginative immer-
seen. And many of us are using against each other what Audre Lorde called the “master’s tools,” reinforcing homophobia. Racism. Misogyny. These deep-rooted and timeless hates. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.
OFFICE Directed by Johnnie To China Lion In Cantonese with English subtitles Opens Mar. 25 The Metrograph 7 Ludlow St. at Canal St. metrograph.com
excellent as Adam’s father, and the scene where Adam confronts him is a glimpse of what this play might have been. Paul Niebanck is very good in the limited part of the doctor. Rebecca Rittenhouse negotiates the challenges of Jenny, Adam’s girlfriend, with nuance. As Adam, Bobby Steggert once again demonstrates his amazing talent. He gives a subtle and deeply felt performance that fully encompasses the almost incomprehensible range of emotions Adam experiences as a girl and a boy. It would have helped the play to have the other characters as fully developed and employed less as documentary tools. Had Ziegler accomplished that, “Boy” would have lent richer insights into this critical and timely issue.
Shit. I’m not saying what I need to. Maybe because I can’t hear myself think. Everybody seems to be screaming. There’s no time or space to think about the future lurking there just a little ways past this continuous present. Nevertheless, we are building one out of mud and howls, mostly. The smuggest fury I’ve ever
Keen Company at the Clurman Theatre 410 W. 42nd St. Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $62.50; telecharge. com Or 212-239-6200 One hr., 40 mins., no intermission
Kellie Overbey and Emily Walton in Hazel Ellis’ “Women Without Men.”
WOMEN WITHOUT MEN
sive multi-media musical that is definitely out there in terms of production, but at its core is a simple story about children trying to make sense of the world. Told as a Jungian fairytale, the show has echoes of classic epics in which going into the unknown reveals knowledge that might have been better left obscure. What makes “The Wildness” so riveting is that it’s largely told from a child’s perspective, giving it a powerful innocence that is consistently compelling. The story is punctuated by moments when the cast engage in “overshares” that underscore how the elemental fears of childhood carry through to affect our entire lives. The songs by Kyle Jarrow and the text by Jarrow and Laura Worsham are rock-inspired magic. Worsham plays Lauren as well as her fairytale alter-ego Zira, and her voice is simply spectacular. The rest of the cast, all of whom seem to be having a wonderful time, are equally good as well. Sam Bun-
The Mint Theater Company New York City Center 131 W. 55th St. Tue.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m. Sat., Sun. at 2:30 p.m. $27.50-$65.00; nycitycenter.org Or 212-581-1212 Two hrs., 10 mins, with intermission
SKY PONY’S THE WILDNESS Ars Nova 511 W. 54th St. Mon.-Thu., Sat. at 8 p.m. Fri. at 7 & 10 p.m. $46-$66; ovationtix.com Or 866-811-4111 Ninety mins., no intermission
trock directs with an outstanding balance between playfulness and emotional truth, and the entire experience, with the audience seated on hassocks around a runway, is breathtakingly original, exuberant, and heartfelt. March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
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GayCityNews.nyc | March 17 - 30, 2016
March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
IMPERIAL COURT AT 30 Photo Essay by Donna Aceto In an opulent gala at the Marriott Marquis on March 12, the Imperial Court of New York celebrated 30 years of raising funds for New York City’s LGBT and HIV/ AIDS-affected communities. This year’s event benefitted the group’s LGBTQ Youth Scholarship Fund. Honorees at the event included activists and philanthropists Marsha Shapiro and Louise Walpin for their work on behalf of marriage equality and theatrical design agent Mickey Rolfe for his former work as board chair at Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Pictured here are (clockwise from top) Jane Clementi, co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, with Marsha Shapiro and Louise Walpin; Mickey Rolfe with Andrew MacPhail, Osvaldo Perdomo, and Kelsey Louie of Gay Men’s Health Crisis; Empress 29 Madison Mansfield and Emperor 24 Opi N. Yated; activist Melissa Sklarz; Grand Duchess Caroline; Kelly King singing the National Anthem; and journalist Michael Musto.
GayCityNews.nyc | March 17 - 30, 2016
Did You Know? An individual retirement account, or IRA, is a type of account men and women who meet certain eligibility requirements can open to save money for their retirement. Unlike a 401(k), a type of retirement account that is provided by an employer, an IRA must be opened by an individual. Another difference between a 401(k) and an IRA is that men and women can withdraw money from their IRAs before they reach retirement age to pay medi-
cal expenses without incurring the penalties that apply when 401(k) account holders prematurely withdraw money from these accounts. One similarity between 401(k) accounts and traditional IRAs concerns taxation. Account holders of both types of accounts do not pay taxes on their contributions to those accounts until they begin to withdraw money in retirement (prematurely withdrawing money from a 401(k) will incur taxes and fees). But men and women who open a Roth IRA pay their taxes up front, mean-
ing they won’t be paying taxes down the road when they withdraw money in retirement. Each type of IRA comes with its own set of rules and restrictions, including contribution limits and eligibility requirements based on earned income. In addition, men and women with a traditional IRA must begin to withdraw their money by the time they reach age 70.5, while those with a Roth IRA can leave their money in their accounts as long as they please.
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IMPACT from p.17
Emmett Findley, communications manager at God’s Love We Deliver.
Hunter O’Hanian, director of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.
Alphonso David, counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, addressed the Impact Awards dinner.
Todd Evans, CEO of Rivendell Media.
Brendan Fay, activist, filmmaker, and founder of the St. Pat’s For All Parade in Queens.
Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International.
Rob Smith and his fiancé Misha Safranov.
GayCityNews.nyc | March 17 - 30, 2016
Gay City News publisher Jennifer Goodstein (second row, on left) and editor-in-chief Paul Schindler (second row, on right) with (most of) the honorees at the newspaper’s 2016 Impact Awards.
We Deliver (who has a spot on BuzzFeed’s recent list of “26 T rans Guys Who Are Way Too Hot To Handle”), longtime trans a n d D e m o c r a t i c P a r t y a c t i vist Melissa Sklarz of the Pride Agenda, Bianey Garcia of the LGBTQ Justice Project of Make the Road New York, who spoke in Spanish about working for immigration justice and justice for trans Latinas, and Car rie Davis, who oversees human services programming and policy and education services at the LGBT Community Center. The most stunning group in the ballroom had to be the crew from the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. At one point I looked across the ballroom at their table, which boasted the most extravagant head and facial hair and clothing of the event, and wondered aloud, “Who ARE those people?” I should have known they were from New York’s own queer/ trans visual art palace. The most plangent hair belonged to executive director (and honoree) Hunter O’Hanian, whose long, stylized yet curly beard and hair are among the most extraordinary gay men’s coiffures in New York. Board member (and Stonewall Chorale artistic director) Cynthia Powell wore blonde hair in an elaborate up-do over dark roots, and a kilt and sporran. (“My fiancée’s Irish,” she said. “It’s warm for wintertime.”) That beautiful bear Jerry Kajpust (deputy director) was part of the table, as was my old Village Voice buddy Jeff Weinstein, a Leslie-Lohman board member who, back in the ‘80s, pushed for and secured the first domestic partner benefits in the country as the chief negotiator for the Village Voice staff union. But the most striking person in attendance had to be André St. Clair, a Jamaican-American trans artist and actor who is also on the museum’s board. St. Clair, with big, powerful hair that pointed up in one direction yet down in another and still managed to be elegant, had so much appealing energy that I wanted to look at her art immediately and listen to her activist projects.
Jennifer Brown, founder of Jennifer Brown Consulting.
March 17 - 30, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc