City/ State Distrust Imperils Plan to End AIDS 07
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May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
City/ State Distrust, Underfunding Imperil Plan to End AIDS Albany’s limited budget commitment could hobble ambitious plan to curb epidemic
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
n late May of last year, AIDS activists asked Mayor Bill de Blasio to add $10 million to the city’s budget for the Plan to End AIDS to match Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $10 million contribution to that plan in the state budget. The city’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) checked if Cuomo had actually kicked in $10 million. In late June, Frank Walsh, the state’s chief budget examiner, confirmed that the $10 million was in the budget for the state fiscal year that began that April 1. But OMB records from the first half of 2015 obtained by Gay City News using the state Freedom of Information Law suggest that OMB staffers did not believe him. The agency contacted Sean O’Keefe, a senior staffer on the State Assembly’s Ways & Means Committee. He wrote in an email to OMB that $5 million resulted from a “budget agreement” on funding the state’s health insurance exchange and the other “$5 million ($2.5 million for two years)” was in the budget. OMB concluded that only $5 million was new money. “Governor’s office has claimed it funded $10M in this year’s enacted budget for Ending the AIDS epidemic,” an OMB staffer wrote to her colleagues in a June 24 email. Only half of the $10 million was “an explicit $5M appropriation,” GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
the staffer wrote. Of the remaining amount, $2.5 million was an increase in the budget for the AIDS Institute, a unit of the state health department, while the other $2.5 million was in the state’s Medicaid contracting budget. “Neither of these two amounts have been explicitly identified in the budget as for the purpose of the governor’s initiative to end the AIDS epidemic,” the staffer wrote. “Further, it is safe to say that the latter appropriation for contractual services is not new funding.” Ultimately, the city spent $8.5 million on the plan in its current fiscal year, which began on July 1, with the City Council contributing $6.6 million and the de Blasio administration contributing $1.9 million. AIDS activists had originally sought more than $100 million from the Cuomo administration in the plan’s first year. Had they won that, they presumably would have sought a match from the de Blasio administration. They ended up with less than $20 million from all sources for an ambitious plan that aims to reduce new HIV infections from the current roughly 3,000 a year in the state to 750 annually by 2020. In part, the plan has fallen victim to a governor who is known for making bold promises, as he did when he endorsed it in 2014, and not following through. And Cuomo, a Democrat, is also busily attacking de Blasio, also a
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Governor Andrew Cuomo joined by AIDS activists, including Charles King, president of Housing works, last spring in accepting a task force's formal blueprint for ending the AIDS epidemic in New York State.
Mayor Bill de Blasio at a May 10 press conference.
Democrat, as he has attacked other leading Democrats in the state. The distrust between the city and the state, at least in the OMB records, is palpable. The mayor said this has not affected how they work together. “First of all, other mayors and governors disagree, that’s not new,” he said at a May 10 press conference. “Even when we disagree, we all keep working on the things we can work on and our staffs keep working.” In the current state fiscal year, which began last month, AIDS groups say Cuomo included only $10 million for the AIDS Institute in the budget, though some activists said that amount includes dollars that went unspent from the prior fiscal year’s commitment. A State Senate analysis of the budget said Cuomo proposed $10 to $15 million. Activists wanted $70 million. In an April letter to Cuomo, over 65 groups expressed “disappointment with the major shortfall in funding” in the budget. The Cuomo administration now cites the $2.5 billion in mandated Medicaid dollars it spends annually on care for people with HIV to defend against charges that it is not doing enough. In the city’s next fiscal year, the de Blasio administration is proposing to add $23 million to HIV prevention and healthcare efforts. It will spend also $26 million at the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) in preparation for expanding housing,
nutrition, and other services to people who are HIV-positive. HASA currently only serves people with an AIDS diagnosis, which has become increasingly rare as more people with HIV take antiHIV drugs. AIDS groups want to enact HASA For All, city legislation that would let financially eligible HIV-positive people use HASA services. The city supports the legislation, but only if the state pays a portion of the cost. The plan for ending AIDS uses anti-HIV drugs in HIV-negative people to keep them uninfected and it treats HIV-positive people so they are no longer infectious. Some science supports the assertion that stable housing, reliable nutrition, and other services help people with HIV stay on their medication. Just as groups told Cuomo in April that “Failure to make the necessary investments now will make it impossible to reach our joint 2020 goals,” de Blasio said that getting to 750 HIV infections annually by 2020 could not be done without state support. “Of course we cannot achieve the same goals without the state,” he said. “The city will do everything we can on our own, but if we’re really about the work of ending the epidemic that requires the State of New York to be an energetic participant and to keep its financial commitments.” The Cuomo administration declined comment for this story.
Conviction Nixed, But No Wrongful Imprisonment Suit for Poz Man
Iowa Supreme Court says original guilty plea bars Nick Rhoades’ damages claim BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
n an unfortunate turnabout, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled on April 15 that Nick Rhoades, whose guilty-plea conviction to one count of criminal transmission of HIV was reversed by that court two years ago, could not bring an action for damages against the state under its Wrongful Imprisonment Statute. That law, the high court argued, does not allow claims by those who pled guilty. The Iowa court declined to follow rulings in some other states interpreting similar statutes that have allowed such lawsuits when a guilty plea was vacated on appeal. Rhoades met a man identified in court proceedings as A.P. — but widely reported elsewhere as Adam Plendl — through a social networking website. After exchanging messages, Plendl invited Rhoades to his home and they had unprotected oral sex but anal sex with a condom. Plendl believed Rhoades to be HIV-negative based on his online profile, but they did not discuss the issue before having sex. When Plendl subsequently learned that Rhoades was HIV-positive, he contacted law enforcement and Rhoades was charged with criminal transmission of HIV under an Iowa statute subsequently repealed in part due to the publicity surrounding this case. A new law was enacted that better reflects the current science on HIV transmission. Rhoades pled guilty to the charge and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, lifetime parole, and a requirement to register as a sex offender. No evidence was presented that Plendl was infected with HIV, and the statute at that time did not require evidence of actual transmission, merely exposure that could cause transmission. Rhoades filed a motion to reconsider the sentence, stressing the lack of transmission, and the district court suspended the prison sentence and placed him on five years’ probation. In an application for post-conviction relief, Rhoades claimed his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by letting him plead guilty when there was, in his view, no factual basis for the charge. Rhoades argued that because his viral load was virtually undetectable at the time he had sex with Plendl, the chance that he would transmit the virus, even through unprotected anal sex — which was not alleged — was slight, and certainly not sufficient to meet the standard of guilt under the statute, which required “the intentional exposure of the body of one
person to a bodily fluid of another person in a manner that could result in the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus.” This was described in the statute as “intimate contact.” At the time of his guilty plea, the trial judge asked Rhoades if he had engaged in “intimate contact” with Plendl, without any explanation by the judge or Rhoades’ trial counsel of the meaning of that term. Rhoades could well have believed he had violated the statute without having engaged in anal sex.
Nick Rhoades addresses the Presidential Council on HIV/ AIDS in 2012.
Although the trial and intermediate appellate courts rejected his motion, the Iowa Supreme Court in 2014 reversed because, as Justice Brent R. Appel writes in the current decision, “We concluded that the district court had used technical terms from the statute but that such conclusory terms were insufficient to establish that the defendant acknowledged facts consistent with the completion of the crime. We further noted the minutes of testimony and the pre-sentence investigation report did not provide a factual basis for the element of intimate contact.” The Supreme Court had also concluded that “in light of advances in medicine” the record contained “insufficient evidence to show that Rhoades exchanged bodily fluids with A.P. or intentionally exposed A.P. to the disease.” By vacating the guilty plea, the court was not concluding that Rhoades was innocent, but rather that a new trial was needed to determine his guilt, either through a properly informed guilty plea or a trial. The state chose not to pursue another trial but instead dropped the charges. Rhoades is now asserting a claim under Iowa law for “wrongful imprisonment.” That provision provides relief if two tests are met: “the individual did not plead guilty to the pub-
lic offense charged, or to any lesser included offense, but was convicted by the court or by a jury of an offense classified as an aggravated misdemeanor or felony,” and the claimant proves “by a clear and convincing preponderance of the evidence that the claimant is actually innocent.” The legislature, in this way, was preventing damage claims by somebody who was convicted but then got off on a technicality. The Supreme Court pointed out that Rhoades would have to prove his innocence under the law that has since been repealed in order to win relief. The focus of the case, however, was on the interpretation of the guilty plea language. Rhoades argued, with support from cases outside of Iowa, that a guilty plea vacated or nullified as the result of an appellate ruling should not stand in the way of a “wrongful imprisonment” claim. The Iowa court did not accept this argument. First, it pointed out, the statutory language was clear and did not include any statement, as was found in other states’ laws, softening the guilty plea bar in certain circumstances. Appel noted that the legislature has specifically provided, in another statute, an out for those who have pled guilty but are later exonerated by DNA evidence, showing that if it “intended to provide relief to those who plead guilty, it knows how to do it.” The court also observed that in a case resolved by a guilty plea, the lack of a trial record means there is no contemporaneous basis on which to determine whether the claimant can prove actual innocence. Even as the court acknowledged the case against Rhoades seeking compensation lacked airtight logic, it retreated to a narrow view of its role in statutory interpretation. “Although there are substantial arguments that a guilty plea should not disqualify a claimant from seeking compensation for wrongful imprisonment in all instances,” Appel wrote, “we conclude … that the legislature made a different judgment in 1997” when it enacted the statute. “Our job is to do the best we can in interpreting the meaning of legislation. We do not expand the scope of legislation based upon policy preferences.” The resulting conclusion, Appel wrote, is a “narrow but not impractical or absurd result. Rhoades is represented in this appeal by attorney Dan Johnston of Des Moines. Since the case revolves entirely around an inter pretation of an Iowa statute, there appears no basis to seek further review from the US Supreme Court. May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
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GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
Resistance on Bathrooms, Marriage Sparks Flood of Litigation
Federal cases emerge over restricting transgender facilities access, same-sex couples getting marriage licenses BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
ay has br ought a flood of litigation over LGBT rights in the federal courts. With the month not even at its mid-point, half a dozen lawsuits have been filed in US district courts related to either the transgender bathroom issue or continuing state-level resistance to marriage equality. First out of the box was a lawsuit filed in federal court in Chicago on May 4 by two right-wing litigation groups — the Thomas More Society and the Alliance Defending Freedom — challenging the US Department of Education’s agreement with Township School District 21, in the Chicago suburb of Palatine, that settled a lawsuit about transgender restroom access. Under the settlement agreement, the school district will allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. The case stirred considerable local controversy, and the litigation groups were able to recruit five students and their parents, banding together as “Students and Parents for Privacy,” to mount a challenge. They argue that the students have a fundamental constitutional right of “bodily privacy” that is violated when transgender students show up in the restroom, that the settlement violates the parents’ fundamental right to direct the education and upbringing of their children by exposing the children to trans youth in their midst, and, perhaps most importantly, that the Education Department’s position that gender identity discrimination violates Title IX of the Education Amendments Act — a federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools that receive federal money — is a misinterpretation of that statute that was not validly adopted. This last argument, unfortunately, rests on a plausible reading of the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal statute that specifies procedures that federal agencies must follow when they
adopt new regulations. While the Education Department has not adopted a regulation on the subject, the plaintiffs make a strong argument that its enforcement of its interpretation is tantamount to a regulation. The plaintiffs argue that the Department is therefore not free to take such a position without going through the Administrative Procedure Act formalities. The plaintiffs note that the position the government is now taking was consistently rejected for the first several decades after Title IX was enacted in the early 1970s.
— were ambiguous as to how to treat transgender people, justifying the Department in adopting a position consistent with its view of the law’s purpose in providing equal educational opportunity. In the Chicago lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that the statute and regulations are not ambiguous, but this rests on their assertion that the Congress that passed Title IX more than four decades ago could not have intended any meaning for the term “sex” other than “biological sex” as deter mined at birth.
Lynch’s statement, which quickly went viral on the Internet, promised transgender people that the federal government recognized them and was standing behind them.
If the courts agree, the Department would have to go through a time-consuming process that could str etch out over many months in order to adopt a valid regulation, and then the regulation would be subject to challenge in the federal appeals courts, which could tie it up in litigation for years. On the other hand, many of the plaintiffs’ arguments have already been rejected by the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, when it ruled on April 19 that a district court in Virginia should have deferred to the Education Department’s interpretation of Title IX in a case brought by a transgender boy seeking appropriate restroom access in his Virginia high school. That ruling turned on the court’s agreement with the Education Department that existing statutory provisions and regulations — which allow schools to maintain separate restrooms for males and females
The Fourth Circuit, by contrast, found that the term “sex,” without any explanatory statutory definition, could have a variety of meanings depending on the context, and is therefore inherently ambiguous. Chicago is in the Seventh Circuit, so the Fourth Circuit’s ruling is not binding on the lawsuit filed there. More than 30 years ago, the Seventh Circuit ruled in a case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that discrimination because of gender identity did not violate the 1964 law’s sex discrimination provision and so the federal court in Chicago may find itself constrained, if not directly bound, by that precedent under a different but parallel statute — even though 30 years of developments in the courts have arguably rendered it obsolete. Federal courts have generally held that the term “sex” in Title VII and Title IX should be given the same meaning, and that cases construing one of those statutes can be consulted when construing the other.
Dueling Suits in North Carolina On May 9, five days after the Chicago case was filed, there was a flurry of new litigation in the US District Courts of North Carolina, focused on the bathroom provisions of H.B. 2, introduced into the legislature, approved by both houses, and signed by Governor Pat McCrory all in one day, March 23. The law wiped out local government bans on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, quashed the right of North Carolinians to sue for any kind of discrimination in state courts, and prohibited localities from adopting their own rules on government contracting and minimum wages. Most controversially, it provided that in all public facilities with restrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, and the like, multi-occupancy facilities must be segregated by biological sex as defined on a person’s birth certificate. The state’s attorney general, Democrat Roy Cooper, who will face McCrory in the governor’s reelection bid in November, denounced the measure as discriminatory and said his office would not defend it. Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit in the Middle District of North Carolina on March 28, challenging portions of H.B. 2 under the 14th Amendment and Title IX. One of the transgender plaintiffs in the case has since also filed charges of discrimination under Title VII with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which last year ruled that Title VII requires employers to allow transgender employees to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Within a few weeks of Lambda and the ACLU moving forward, the Fourth Circuit’s April 19 ruling in the Virginia Title IX case placed the legality of the bathroom provisions in doubt. The controversy surrounding H.B. 2, especially the bathroom provision and the preemption of local anti-discrimination ordinances, caused adverse reactions that echoed throughout the country as
CIVIL RIGHTS, continued on p.16
May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
ATTORNEY GENERAL “STANDS WITH” TRANS AMERICANS The following are excerpts from Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s May 9 public statement regarding the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the State of North Carolina. Her full remarks can be viewed at https://goo.gl/WBpbwl.
GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
The North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2 in special session on March 23 of this year. The bill sought to strike down an anti-discrimination provision in a recently-passed Charlotte, North Carolina, ordinance, as well as to require transgender people in public agencies to use the bathrooms consistent with their sex as noted at birth, rather than the bathrooms that fit their gender identity. The bill was signed into law that same day. In so doing, the legislature and the governor placed North Carolina in direct opposition to federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity. More to the point, they created state-sponsored discrimination against transgender individuals, who simply seek to engage in the most private of functions in a place of safety and security – a right taken for granted by most of us. Last week, our Civil Rights Division notified state officials that House Bill 2 violates federal civil rights laws. We asked that they certify by the end of the day today that they would not comply with or implement House Bill 2’s restriction on restroom access… This morning, the State of North Carolina and its governor chose to respond by suing the Department of Justice. As a result of their decisions, we are now moving forward. Today, we are filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the State of North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, and the University of North Carolina. We are seeking a court order declaring House Bill 2’s restroom restriction impermissibly discriminatory, as well as a statewide bar on its enforcement… I want to note that we retain the option of curtailing federal funding to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina as this case proceeds. This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them — indeed, to protect all of us. And it’s about the founding ideals that have led this country – haltingly but inexorably — in the direction of fairness, inclusion, and equality for all Americans. This is not the first time that we have seen discriminatory responses to historic moments of progress for our nation. We saw it in the Jim Crow laws that followed the Emancipation Proclamation. We saw it in fierce and widespread resistance to Brown v. Board of Education. And we saw it in the proliferation of state bans on same-sex unions intended to stifle any hope that gay and lesbian Americans might one day be afforded the right to marry. That right, of course, is now recognized as a guarantee embedded in our Constitution, and in the wake of that historic triumph, we have seen bill after bill in state after state taking aim at the LGBT community. Some of these responses reflect a recognizably human fear of the unknown, and a discomfort with the uncertainty of change. But this is not a
Attorney General Loretta Lynch announcing the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the State of North Carolina.
time to act out of fear. This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion, and open-mindedness. What we must not do — what we must never do — is turn on our neighbors, our family members, our fellow Americans, for something they cannot control, and deny what makes them human. This is why none of us can stand by when a state enters the business of legislating identity and insists that a person pretend to be something they are not, or invents a problem that doesn’t exist as a pretext for discrimination and harassment. Let me speak now to the people of the great state, the beautiful state, my state of North Carolina. You’ve been told that this law protects vulnerable populations from harm — but that just is not the case. Instead, what this law does is inflict further indignity on a population that has already suffered far more than its fair share. This law provides no benefit to society — all it does is harm innocent Americans. Instead of turning away from our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, let us instead learn from our history and avoid repeating the mistakes of our past. Let us reflect on the obvious but often neglected lesson that state-sanctioned discrimination never looks good in hindsight. It was not so very long ago that states, including North Carolina, had signs above restrooms, water fountains, and on public accommodations keeping people out based upon a distinction without a difference. We have moved beyond those dark days, but not without pain and suffering and an ongoing fight to keep moving forward. Let us write a different story this time. Let us not act out of fear and misunderstanding, but out of the values of inclusion, diversity, and regard for all that make our country great. Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself. Some of you have lived freely for decades. Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead. But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward. Please know that history is on your side. This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time. It may not be easy — but we’ll get there together.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who will make a recommendation to President Barack Obama on establishing a national park. ANDY HUMM
George Segal’s statues of “Gay Liberation” in Christopher Park.
BY ANDY HUMM
T DONNA ACETO
Jonathan Jarvis, the National Park Service director.
Longtime activist Randy Wicker.
he momentum for declaring the area outside the Stonewall Inn a national monument overseen by the National Park Service seems headed for an inevitable conclusion, with all the political, LGBT rights movement, and community forces aligned in its favor at a May 9 public hearing at PS 41 in Greenwich Village. The hearing was chaired by US Representative Jerry Nadler, a West Side Democrat widely credited with coordinating support for the designation. Nadler was joined by US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Jonathan Jarvis, the National Park Service (NPS) director. The Inn, site of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion that sparked the modern LGBT rights movement, would be the first national park designated because of its significance to gay history if — as expected — Jewell recommends that President Barack Obama use his powers under the Antiquities Act to declare it a monument by the 47th anniversary of the uprising in late June. A national monument designation for Christopher Park would serve as the anchor for a larger national park area incorporating sur rounding streets. Nadler opened the proceedings by saying he was “confident” the president would act given that the other route to a national park — congressional legislation sponsored by him and New York’s two US senators, Democrats Chuck
Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand — is unlikely to pass with Republicans in charge of both houses. The small triangular Christopher Park across the street from the bar has been transferred to the federal government as the result of a City Council resolution sponsored by Chelsea Democrat Corey Johnson, support from the de Blasio administration, and legislation quietly and unanimously passed in Albany through the leadership of Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Senator Brad Hoylman, both Democrats who represent the area, and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo last month. These three out gay and lesbian officials, along with City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, spoke at a press conference Nadler held just prior to the hearing to announce the final push for the monument’s designation. James, who noted she is the first African-American woman elected citywide, said, “The Stonewall Inn represents to the LGBT community what Selma represents for the civil rights movement and Seneca Falls represents for the women’s movement,” echoing Obama’s own linking of these three historic places in his Second Inaugural Address in 2013. Jewell, in opening remarks at the hearing, said she was in eighth grade when the Rebellion happened and “oblivious to the struggles” of LGBT people, along with most Americans at the time. She noted that in 1969 “two people of the same sex could be arrested for dancing together” or for May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Michael E. Levine was in the Stonewall the night of the police raid, he said at the hearing. DONNA ACETO
Congressmember Jerry Nadler, who coordinated support for designating a Stonewall national monument at Christopher Park.
STONEWALL, continued on p.15
Josephine Fantasia Perez spoke up about the needs of the transgender community.
GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
Veteran gay activist Jim Fouratt, however, called the bar itself “a symbol of our oppression” and insisted that “what happened in the streets” is what needs to be commemorated. The Gay Liberation Front, he noted, was formed as a direct result of the Rebellion, making Stonewall distinct from earlier uprisings of LGBT people in spurring ongoing militant organizing that created a permanent political movement. While the hearing was contentious at times as witnesses debated who was there, what it meant, and what else should be memorialized, they were unanimous in support of making the area a national park. Michael E. Levine, 73, said he was in the Stonewall the night of the raid and that it marked a seismic shift in how gay people felt about themselves. “From that date in ’69, I have been out to everyone I know,” he said. Gil Horowitz, who said he participated in the Rebellion’s second night, testified that the bulk of those who rebelled were “homeless youth who hung out in Christopher Park — thrown out because they were gay.” Randy Wicker, a gay activist since 1958, said, “There is no such thing as gay rights, there is just human rights.” He urged those creating the monument to fully incorporate the role played by people of color at Stonewall and in the movement that followed.
“wearing clothes of the other gender, so I’m inappropriately dressed” by that standard, given her pants and suit-jacket ensemble. While Christopher Park — which already includes George Segal’s statues titled “Gay Liberation” of a male couple and a female couple, both painted solid white — will anchor Stonewall National Park, its appearance is not likely to change much other than in terms of signage (though the Stonewall Veterans’ Association, a group run by Williamson Henderson, who has long made widely disputed claims, for which no police or court records exist, of having been arrested during the uprising, was pushing an elaborate redesign at the Nadler hearing). Friends of Christopher Park, a volunteer group, will continue its unpaid efforts at maintaining the park, and the city will continue to contribute to upkeep. During the hearing, Community Board 2 chair Tobi Bergman praised the proposal as “preserving the character of the neighborhood” while celebrating it as “a source of influence on the world.” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, credited the private and influential National Parks Conservation Association’s push for this park over several years with helping to advance the idea. He noted that the park will not include the actual site of the Stonewall Inn, already protected with federal, state, and city historic landmark designations, but urged that it be included.
Activists Mariah Lopez and Jim Fouratt confer during the hearing.
75 Years for Poz Man’s Unprotected Sex With Gay Teen Upheld
Mississippi appeals court concludes trial judge’s lengthy diatribe does not prove bias BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
n April 19, the Court of Appeals of Mississippi affirmed a 75-year prison sentence for Timothy Allen McCoy, who was convicted of four counts of sexual battery and one count of exposing another to HIV. McCoy did not argue on appeal that he did not engage in the conduct charged against him, but he claimed that the trial judge was biased, resulting in an excessive sentence, and that the evidence did not support his conviction. Judge Jim Greenlee wrote for the unanimous appeals court panel of nine judges. According to McCoy, the teenage boy, who is identified in the court’s opinion as “G.G.,” contacted him on a social-networking website for gay men. They chatted back and forth online before deciding to meet in person. McCoy was 41 at the time and the boy said in his trial testimony that he was then 15. G.G. gave McCoy the address of his father’s house near Decatur and arranged for McCoy to pick him up at 2 a.m. G.G. “sneaked out” and got into McCoy’s car. McCoy drove them to a secluded spot where they had sex. According to G.G., McCoy said nothing about being HIV-positive, said he was 34 years old, and did not use condoms. They had oral and anal sex and were together less than an hour before McCoy drove G.G. back to his father’s house. G.G. testified that this encounter occurred in mid-April 2012, but he could not remember the exact date. McCoy testified that it took place in late July, which was shortly after G.G.’s 16th birthday. He also testified that he told G.G. that he was HIV-positive, that G.G. had consented to having sex with a condom, and that when they met G.G. told McCoy he was 18. G.G.’s mother testified that she became concerned about G.G.’s behavior and began looking at his phone and phone records on Mother’s Day in May 2012. According to Greenlee’s opinion, she turned the
“naked pictures of men and sexually explicit text messages” over to police, who issued a warrant for McCoy’s arrest in September, after he was identified from the phone records. He agreed to give a voluntary statement without speaking to an attorney, probably because he believed he had done nothing wrong. This is almost always a mistake. Police testified that McCoy admitted to the details of the encounter and that he was HIV-positive and had not used condoms. The court’s opinion says nothing about whether G.G. became infected with HIV as a result of this incident or about McCoy’s viral load or treatment history. It also does not indicate whether there was any testimony about how HIV is and is not transmitted. The jury convicted McCoy on all counts. Judge Marcus D. Gordon sentenced him to a total of 75 years on the battery counts and 10 years on the HIV exposure count, to run “concurrently.” Given McCoy’s age, this is virtually a life sentence, but he was also required to register as a sex offender and pay a $10,000 fine. McCoy argued that Gordon expressed a personal prejudice against his sexual orientation resulting in an unduly harsh sentence and asked that the court re-assign the case to a new judge for re-sentencing. The court of appeals included extensive quotations from the transcript of the sentencing hearing that were offered by McCoy as evidence of prejudice. According to the trial transcript quoted in the appeals court’s opinion, Gordon said, “Well, Timothy Allen McCoy, I consider myself a normal person, and I don’t understand fully what you have — you yourself have testified that you are homosexual, that you are attracted to someone for physical activities. I want you to tell me why is it that you as a 41-year-old man was [sic] attracted to a 15-year-old boy for sexual activity?” McCoy replied, “At the time, sir, I did not know that he was 15.” “How old did you think he was?”
asked Gordon. “He said he was 18,” responded McCoy. “All right. That is still a minor child in my opinion,” said Gordon, despite the fact that the age of consent in Mississippi is 16. “Yes, sir, I understand,” said McCoy. “Why is it that you was [sic] attracted to him?” “I can’t answer that, sir,” replied McCoy. The judge later said, “You know that that type of activity was wrong, did you not? That a 41-year-old man should not have sex with a person, a male person, who is either 15 or 18? You knew it was wrong to have sex with an 18-year-old person or a 15-year-old person, did you not?” “Yes, sir.” “Why did you do it?” “I don’t know at the time, sir. Actually, Your Honor, I had a — I guess — a drug problem at the time. I was on Lortab.” “That’s an excuse, not a justification,” said Gordon. If Gordon was suggesting that it would be illegal for McCoy to have sex with an 18-year-old boy, as McCoy claimed G.G. had represented himself to be, the judge would be in error. At the same time, courts have consistently ruled that because age of consent laws are intended to protect minors from sexual exploitation by adults, a minor’s misrepresentation of their age is irrelevant to the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Following this exchange, Gordon engaged in a rambling diatribe, telling McCoy, “In reviewing your activities, I refer again to the sentencing statute, and my thoughts regarding sentences are controlled by the fact that you have some education, including some education in college, and that you as an adult man, 41 years old, with your background, knowing what’s involved with you having sex with a minor person, that you joined with that young fellow, not knowing him, and taking him in your car and driving a short distance to a dirt road with a strange person
and having anal sex and fellatio at a time when you had HIV, knowing what you were doing, knowing that this was a minor child, soliciting him to a wrongful act, an act that shocks the conscience of people of this country, that you would do that to a minor child, causing that child possibly to live a life such as you. He will have this life for the remainder of his life. Perhaps, he will become a person as you because he has had now we know, I know, a sexual experience which, if you want to call it sexual… He has that life. Perhaps, he will not have a job, and perhaps he will be ridiculed and not likely he’ll be accepted in the general society as you are not accepted in generally accepted… He will live a life in secretion.” In opposing McCoy’s appeal of the sentence, the state argued that the judge’s comments were not “sufficient to overcome the presumption that he was unbiased and impartial.” The court of appeals agreed. Greenlee wrote that McCoy’s contention that the judge was biased was based on “mere speculation.” He pointed out that the judge explicitly relied on “multiple aggravating factors,” including G.G.’s actual age, McCoy’s “admission” to the police that he was HIV-positive and had not used condoms, the secretive nature of the 2 a.m. meeting, and the “secluded spot on a dirt road” where the encounter took place. It seems, as well, that McCoy had a police record, including four misdemeanor charges or convictions in Georgia between 1990 and 2001, one involving “enticing a minor.” Greenlee also pointed to the consistent practice of Mississippi appellate courts in upholding sentences trial courts impose as long as they fall within the limits prescribed by the sentencing statute. On four sexual battery counts, the appeals court noted, McCoy was exposed to a potential sentence of up to 130 years, so 75 was well under the statutory maximum and
MISSISSIPPI, continued on p.15
May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
MISSISSIPPI, from p.14
the court concluded that bias had not been shown. The appeals court refused to address McCoy’s argument that his trial lawyer had not provided effective representation, since he was appealing his sentence and not his conviction. McCoy faulted his attorney for not getting the case dismissed based on he grounds that G.G. had turned 16 by the time the two had sex, but the appeals court noted that the attorney had in fact made that argument in asking for a directed verdict of not guilty. The appeals court, taking note of extensive disagreement among McCoy, G.G., and the youth’s mother about when the sex took place, found that a jury could have resolved the conflict in favor of the prosecution. The jury could also resolve conflicting testimony about whether McCoy told G.G. he was HIV-positive and whether condoms were used, the appeals court found.
STONEWALL, from p.13
Scott Caplan, of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, said the story of Stonewall must also include the account of “oppression by the NYPD.” It was a police raid, after all, that sparked Stonewall’s patrons to fight back. Transgender activist Josephine Fantasia Perez, who described herself as a daughter of Sylvia Rivera and niece of Marsha P. Johnson, two early transgender street activists of the Stonewall Era, made an impassioned plea about the life and death burdens that continue to weigh on transgender people. “Give them a safe place,” Perez said. “Too many of us are homeless. There are too few jobs and job training programs. Educate parents so that they don’t throw their transgender kids out into the street.” She and other transgender witnesses, such as Mariah Lopez, argued that the Hudson River pier in the West Village, home over the years to many transgender homeless people, should also be part of a national park. NPS Director Jarvis told the audience at the hearing’s conclusion, “I heard unanimous support. My job is to recommend to Secretary Jewell and her job is to recommend to GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
Finally, responding to McCoy’s contention that his sentence was disproportionate to the seriousness of the crime, the court quoted a US Supreme Court decision to the effect that sentences “that do not exceed the maximum punishment allowed by statute will not be considered grossly disproportionate and will not be disturbed on appeal.” McCoy was represented on appeal by attor neys from the Office of the State Public Defender, George T. Holmes and Justin Taylor Cook, and participated actively in his own defense. He could attempt to appeal this ruling further to the State Supreme Court, which is not a notably gay-friendly bench. It appears that McCoy may spend the rest of his life in prison for a brief fling with a boy who said he was 18 when they met, during which HIV was not transmitted. McCoy is not claiming that he is innocent, just that the sentence is excessive in light of how things turned out.
President Obama that the Stonewall should join the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon” as a national park, not just in recognition of the history of the Rebellion and the role the streets outside the Stonewall played in moments of both trauma and celebration for the community, but to highlight the “continued struggle” for LGBT rights. Interior Secretary Jewell, who listened attentively but did not speak during the testimony, told Gay City News afterward that she heard “community support for telling an important civil rights story,” something she earlier said the 100-year-old National Park Service, as “America’s storyteller,” excels at. Historian David Carter, author of “Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution,” widely considered a definitive account, sounded a cautionary note about storytelling — the importance of the Park Service settling on the facts of what happened and who was there in June 1969 before assuming the mantle of authority. “Insist on the same level of evidence and the careful examination of evidence for this event that we expect for any other important event in our nation’s history,” Carter urged.
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CIVIL RIGHTS, from p.10
governors and mayors prohibited official travel to North Carolina, some major employers announced reconsideration of plans to locate facilities there, and conventions and major musical performers canceled activities in the state. But McCrory and Republican state legislative leaders have rejected calls to rescind the statute. The Justice Department weighed in early in May, when the Civil Rights Division sent a letter to McCrory, who had been vigorously defending the law in national media, informing him that the federal government considered the bathroom provision in violation of federal sex discrimination laws and demanding a response by May 9. McCrory’s response was to file a lawsuit on May 9, seeking a declaration from the federal district court in the Eastern District of North Carolina that the bathroom provisions do not violate federal civil rights laws. US Attorney General Loretta Lynch then held a press conference at which she unveiled a new lawsuit
by the federal government against North Carolina, filed in the Middle District of North Carolina, seeking a declaration that the bathroom provision violates federal law. Lynch’s statement, which quickly went viral on the Internet, promised transgender people that the federal government recognized them and was standing behind them, thus putting the full weight of the Justice Department on the line in backing the Education Department and the EEOC in their interpretations of “sex discrimination” under their respective statutes. Given Cooper’s refusal to defend H.B. 2, McCrory retained a private lawyer, Karl S. Bowers, Jr., of Columbia, South Carolina, who filed the complaint co-signed by the governor’s general counsel, Robert C. Stephens, and local North Carolina attorneys from the Raleigh firm of Millberg Gordon Stewart PLLC. Presumably they will also be conducting the defense in the Justice Department’s case. Their argument, consistent with McCrory’s public statements, was that the state was not discriminating against transgender people,
New Marriage Litigation in Mississippi
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Meanwhile, there were also new litigation developments in Mississippi, challenging House Bill 1523, the so-called “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” passed in response to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell marriage equality decision from last June. Subsequent to Obergefell, state legislators quickly went to work undermining it by devising H.B. 1523, which essentially gives government officials, businesses, and religious believers permission to discriminate against same-sex couples, provided that the discriminators have a sincere religious belief that marriage should only involve one man and one woman. The measure is scheduled to go into effect on July 1. The lawsuit filed by the ACLU on May 9 in the federal court in Jackson, Mississippi, charges that H.B. 1523 violates the 14th Amendment “by subjecting the lawful marriag-
es of same-sex couples to different terms and conditions than those accorded to different-sex couples.” In effect, Mississippi has set up a “separate but equal” framework, which “imposes a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all married same-sex couples in Mississippi.” The lawsuit names as defendant the Mississippi state registrar of Vital Records, Judy Moulder. Among its many discriminatory provisions, H.B. 1523 provides that government employees “who wish to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples” will be required to notify Moulder, who must maintain a list of officials denying same-sex couples services routinely provided to different-sex couples. Those officials are responsible for making arrangements to insure that samesex couples receive the services to which they are entitled from someone else, but the statute establishes no mechanism to ensure compliance with this provision. The ACLU lawsuit seeks a declaration from the court that H.B. 1523 is unconstitutional “on its face” and an injunction against it going into effect. It was immediately followed by more court action, as New York attorney Roberta Kaplan, who represents the plaintiffs in the Mississippi marriage equality case that preceded Obergefell, filed a motion in federal district court on May 10, asking Judge Carlton Reeves to reopen the case so they can name Judy Moulder as an additional defendant and to modify his November 2014 marriage equality injunction to require the state to come up with procedures ensuing that same-sex couples seeking to marry encounter no delays due to state officials recusing themselves on religious grounds. Indeed, Kaplan argues, anyone recusing themselves from serving same-sex couples should be disqualified from serving different-sex couples as well, since otherwise they would be failing in their obligations to provide non-discriminatory service. Kaplan’s motion also asks that the list of officials recusing themselves be posted on the Registrar of Vital Records website so that couples need not subject themselves to the indignity of being turned away when seeking a marriage license. May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
I was only 16 years old when I discovered that I was born with HIV. My mother passed away from the disease, but until getting tested at a community health fair, I had no idea, that I too, was living with HIV. Within a few months of my diagnosis, I got on treatment to control my viral load. Since then, Iâ€™ve stayed on treatment and in good health. Getting tested saved my life and Iâ€™ve used my experience to help youth learn about HIV prevention, testing and fighting stigma. Today, I enjoy friends, family and living life to the fullest. Christopher 1, HIV 0.
May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
“HIV, life’s a game, and with treatment, I’m winning it day by day.” Christopher - Washington, DC Living with HIV since 1987.
Get in care. Stay in care. Live well.
GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
Marriage Equality USA executive director Brian Silva.
Cathy and Sheila Marino-Thomas and Ron Zacchi, who have been leaders on the MEUSA scene for most of the past two decades.
MARRIAGE EQUALITY USA CELEBRATES 20 YEARS WITH A “THANK YOU”
Robert Talmas (l.) and his husband Joseph Vitale (second from r.), who were among the plaintiffs in the Ohio marriage case that was victorious last June at the Supreme Court, and Robert Voorheis (second from l.) and his husband Michael Sabatino, long-time MEUSA activists who were among the plaintiffs in New York’s marriage equality lawsuit.
State Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan (l.) with Jo-Ann Shain and her wife Mary Jo Kennedy, two of the marriage plaintiffs for whom Ling-Cohan ruled in 2005.
PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO Having achieved its mission last June at the United States Supreme Court, Marriage Equality USA is in the process of carrying out a formal “sunsetting.” But the group is not exiting the stage without a series of thank-you celebrations around the country to recognize the contributions of volunteers, advocates, and plaintiffs who — over the past 20 years — made the progress achieved by the movement possible. At an April 26 gathering at the LGBT Community Center, executive director Brian Silva was joined by longstanding leaders of the group, including Cathy Marino-Thomas and Ron Zacchi, in recalling two decades of activism, the earliest years of which were guided by pioneering voices who often worked largely without the support of the community’s largest advocacy groups MEUSA is currently compiling an archive of documentary evidence and photographs chronicling the history of a movement that many observers agree changed America more profoundly and faster than most social justice movements in US history have managed. One local artifact that New Yorkers will prize is an original copy of New York Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan’s 2005 ruling that recognized a right to marry under the State Constitution. Her decision was appealed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer — and reversed by the State Court of Appeals in July 2006. Though it would be five more years until New York embraced marriage equality, Ling-Cohan’s reasoning was cited in successful cases nationwide in the years that followed. — Additional reporting by Paul Schindler.
An original copy of Justice Ling-Cohan’s February 2005 decision.
May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
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Gay writer and erstwhile blogger Andrew Sullivan, in a roughly 7,000-word cover story in New York magazine, offers an analysis of the Trump phenomenon he perhaps believes is suitably apocalyptic for his return to long-form journalism. And its title, “Our Democracy Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny,” is smartly calculated to engender visceral appeal among thinking people alarmed at the prospect of electing as president a thuggish, Know Nothing, xenophobic, and race-baiting plutocrat who has succeeded to date by spouting half-formed, largely incoherent policy positions. Readers, however, could be forgiven for quickly growing suspicious of a political treatise sub-headed on the magazine’s inside “Democracies end when they are too democratic.” Sullivan’s essay is written in his customary manner of stylish but self-conscious erudition. We read about his first encounter with a Socratic dialogue on democracy in Plato’s “Republic,” and learn that the lessons he drew from that square with what James Madison warned us against in “The Federalist Papers.” Sullivan also dips into moral philosopher Eric Hoffer’s thinking about mass political movements from 65 years ago and novelist Sinclair Lewis’ imagining of an American fascist leader from 80 years ago. Sullivan is unsparing in his takedown of Trump’s qualifications and his alarm about the prospect he could win. The GOP nominee’s policy thinking is based in “make-believe” — whether about a wall solving the nation’s immigration problems or a global trade war retiring our national debt. Trump’s make-believe must be buttressed by an appeal to “hatred,” and he has “championed violence” like no other top tier presidential candidate in modern times. Like any tyrant, Sullivan writes, Trump “is utterly lacking in self-control,” something Plato actually warned us about.
Unwilling to ascribe Trump’s popularity to sheer voter stupidity, Sullivan is attentive to real economic hardship borne by his white working class voters. In a global economy, too many American workers draw only short straws; with the nation’s unemployment rate halved since the depths of the 2008 crash, little of the productivity gains have profited hourly workers. All this comes, Sullivan rightly notes, at a time when authority — whether political, media, religious, or educational — faces unprecedented challenges to its legitimacy. Sullivan’s analysis falters, however, in the unbridgeable gap between his sympathy for working class Americans’ economic plight and his prescription for what ails American political culture — the need to acknowledge that “elites still matter in a democracy.” And Sullivan veers into another ditch — one he often finds himself in — by settling scores with ideological opponents and so diverting himself from his primary purpose. In talking about the personal isolation experienced by many white working class Americans, Sullivan mourns the loss of the union hall as an avenue for socialization. That’s something Bernie Sanders would probably second, but the Vermont senator would never have eulogized the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for her success in beating back the unions and freeing Britain from the grip of a culture “hostile to anyone with initiative, self-esteem, and the ability to make money.” From Sullivan’s telling, the real problems facing Trump’s working class voters are not employment prospects or job skills but rather sneering from the left. “Much of the newly energized left has come to see the white working class not as allies but primarily as bigots, misogynists, racists, and homophobes, thereby condemning those often at the near-bottom rung of the economy to the bottom rung of the culture as well,” Sullivan writes. “These working-class communities, already alienated, hear — how can they not? — the glib and easy dismissals of ‘white straight men’ as the
ultimate source of all our woes. They smell the condescension and the broad generalizations about them — all of which would be repellent if directed at racial minorities.” There’s even a moment where I wondered if the entire point of this exercise was to allow Sullivan — having made common cause in recent years with LGBT activists in the push for marriage equality — the chance finally for a permanent divorce. “The Black Lives Matter left stoked the fires still further,” he writes, “so did the gay left, for whom the word magnanimity seems unknown, even in the wake of stunning successes.” In what for him is a formulaic critique of left thinking, he writes that the mocking of working class morals and religion — by what he perversely terms a “rainbow-flag polity” — “is just one aspect of what Trump has masterfully signaled as ‘political correctness’ run amok, or what might be better described as the newly rigid progressive passion for racial and sexual equality of outcome, rather than the liberal aspiration to mere equality of opportunity.” It’s hardly surprising, then, that Sullivan feels free to impose a wholly inappropriate equivalency between Trump and Bernie Sanders, whom he dubs “the demagogue of the left.” The authority of elites, in Sullivan’s account, has been in full retreat since the new century began. We are only lucky, he writes, that Barack Obama was an elitist wolf in populist sheep drag. We will not be so lucky, he says, if we are unable to restore the influence of elites in our political system. And we must start with those Republican elites now desperate to resist Trump. “This is not the moment to remind them that they partly brought this on themselves,” he writes, in considerable understatement. “This is a moment to offer solidarity.” Fortifying the walls of elitism is not the answer. Institutions in America do face a credibility crisis, but making them stronger is not about returning to a culture of deference unmoored to legitimacy, but rather about making those institutions accountable to the people they should serve in any democracy. One need not vote for Bernie Sanders to recognize that the American economy has failed too many of its people. Finding workable solutions to that problem should be the business of politics. And that’s a much more difficult conversation to have. May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
The Pissoirs of Crackpot Alley BY ED SIKOV
oilets, toilets, toilets! If it weren’t for the farcical but terrifying triumph of the billionaire buffoon Spy magazine used to call “the short-fingered vulgarian,” the news would be dominated by bathroom chatter. That coverage of Donald Trump — news, analyses, endorsements, denunciations — has managed to render secondary America’s creepy fixation on who goes where demonstrates the inexplicable power “the developer from Queens” (another of Spy’s endlessly repeated tags) has managed to accrue over the past 11 months since he declared his candidacy in the hideous rose-marbled lobby of Trump Tower. But despite Trump’s everyday dominance of the news cycle, toilet talk is still trending. Take Kerry Hubartt’s piece in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. We know we’re in for it as early as the second paragraph: “Because some people don’t agree with the gender given them on their birth certificate, the question of whether they use a men’s or women’s restroom has the nation in a tizzy.” Don’t agree with…? It would be funny if it wasn’t so idiotically — and willfully — misguided. Is being transgender really so difficult to understand? Is having a heart so difficult to achieve? Hubartt has his knickers in a twist over the retail giant Target’s new trans-inclusive policy, which “welcome[s] transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender.” “In response,” Hubartt reports, “more than a million people have joined a boycott sponsored by the American Family Association. ‘Nearly everyone has a mother, wife, daughter, or friend who is put in jeopardy by this policy,’ AFA president Tim Wildmon said. ‘Predators and voyeurs would take advantage of the policy to prey on those who are vulnerable.’ The National Organization for Marriage is among others joining the protest against Target, saying the retail giant that has made billions of dollars selling merchandise to American families has in recent years ‘taken on an anti-family agenda, working in lockstep with extremist LGBT organizations to push the gay ideology.’” Face facts, Tim and NOM: Straight male predators and voyeurs have been lurking around public bathrooms since they invented bathrooms. Sinister cavemen probably followed innocent cavewomen into the woods. Trans folks are not the problem. WND.com’s Bob Unruh takes it a few steps further, writing that “in North Carolina, lawmakers adopted a law in March requiring people to use gender-designated public facilities that correspond to the gender listed on their driver’s GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
license. The aim was to protect women and children from being confronted by a naked man.” Um, Bob? It’s their birth certificates, not their driver’s licenses. Where do they dig these people up? Apparently from under the same outhouse from which Breitbart.com fantasists emerge. You can usually count on Breitbart to distort beyond recognition any story about LGBT issues. In a piece about Oregon’s new trans-friendly guidelines for schools, the not-very-Breitbart’s Susan Berry spews, “The new rules state that the student — regardless of age — should decide his or her gender, regardless of science. ‘The person best situated to determine a student’s gender identity is the individual student,’ the department states. State officials may choose to hide school support for a child’s choice of ‘gender identity’ [quotation marks sic], the document suggests. ‘Transgender students may not want their parents to know about their transgender identity,’ but school districts ‘should balance the goal of supporting the student with the requirement that parents be kept informed about their children,’ the document said.”
Retailer Target’s 21st century restroom policy is sparking outrage on the crazy right.
Let’s repeat that last part: “the requirement that parents be kept informed about their children.” Nobody can “choose to hide school support.” Period. But what else can we expect from Berry, who spat out a piece last year titled “Who Will Be the Next Victim of the Big Gay Hate Machine,” in which she opined that “unconditional love, respect, and dignity are out the door. The militant LGBT lobby now wants blood — your lifeblood. If you aren’t willing to stand up in the public square and declare your undying support for same-sex marriage — you’ll be trashed.”
She should have stuck with her initial metaphor and ended the sentence with “you’ll be sucked dry by a homosexual vampire.” I hadn’t realized that the whole bloodletting-in–the-public-square scene was going on, but I’ve added it to my homosexual agenda, which I keep on iCal. (It’s so convenient! I think up some new nefarious plot to destroy straight people’s lives, I jot it down on my iPhone, and in a flash it syncs to my desktop. The marvels of modern technology!) These ritual sacrifices are not likely to take place in New York City, so I suppose I’ll have to head out to the heartland to witness hapless bigots get their lifeblood drained by bands of crazed gay people. It must happen a lot out there. Not to be left out of a crank conversation, the radio blabbermouth Tammy Bruce writes in the Washington Times, “Never did I think the gay civil rights movement would devolve into irrelevant arguments about bathrooms, but here we are. The newest controversy involving Target stores highlights how leftists aren’t concerned at all about bathrooms, but about using gay rights as a cudgel with which to punish those who do not pay allegiance or conform to the liberal agenda. This is where Target’s announcement about ‘inclusive’ bathrooms and fitting rooms comes in. For some reason, Target felt compelled to announce to the world that everyone in its stores should feel comfortable using whichever bathroom and fitting room that ‘corresponds with their gender identity.’” The kicker? Tammy Bruce is an out lesbian. “When I was on the left,” she casually tosses out, “we marveled at how conservatives never really defended themselves or companies when threatened with boycotts or other marketplace harassment. We knew if they began to do so, the power of the left would be diminished if not wiped out.” We? Really? I don’t recall ever marveling at this particular phenomenon, probably because it never occurred. Anita Bryant defended herself. The owners of Chick-fil-A defended themselves. So did the owners of Cracker Barrel, who refused to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy for a full decade after an internal memo surfaced that explicitly told managers to fire gay employees. Who on the far right haven’t defended themselves? Her use of the expression “marketplace harassment” to describe consumer choice is too silly to pursue. To set the record gay, Tammy Bruce actually has a point: “We” in the LGBT world aren’t especially interested in bathrooms. It’s equality we care about. Men should not be forced to use women’s rooms, and that includes trans men. Women should not be forced to use men’s rooms, and that includes trans women. No, the bathroom scare-a-thon is purely a right-wing thing. As far as bathrooms per se are concerned, most of us really don’t give a shit. Follow @EdSikov on Twitter and Facebook.
Fantasy Encounters with Dessert
The Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring Street and its skylight covered seating area.
Putting Dominique Ansel’s fare beyond the Cronut to the test BY DONNA MINKOWITZ
antasy plays an enormous role in eating. But in the realm of pastry it is off the charts. At Cronut creator Dominique Ansel’s two bakeries in Manhattan, I saw a pastry made of sesame and cherry imitating a Japanese paper crane. I saw another confection made to look and taste like a giant blackberry. I saw orange-pink grapefruit arranged to appear (it was clear to me, at least) as an excited vulva, spreading itself atop a lemon-thyme tart. And all of this effort went toward more that mere looks, for the taste and textures of each of Ansel’s extravagant, superb objects was as rich and complex as a novel. Let me get one thing out of the way — this is not going to be a review of the Cronut. In a way, I wish it were, for the croissant-doughnut with fillings like blueberry lemon verbena and gianduja blood orange looks divine on Instagram, but I do not get up at six in the morning to purchase anything. Still, in an oblique way you could say this is a review of the Cronut, for the legend of the Cronut utterly shapes the experience of dining at its producer’s bakeries, even at the West Village location that has never sold them. My best time at Dominique Ansel (in either location) was my first visit, to the Soho store on Spring Street. There were two traveling-model types cutesily taking pictures of each other next to famous chocolate desserts, but there were only two of them, and the shop is large once you get past the narrowish front. In the back there is a large, lovely seating area whose ceiling is one vast skylight, so the room is filled with sun. There is lemon water available for guests, and the space looks out onto an outdoor garden that also has abundant tables and chairs.
Sitting in the sunny back room, I ate the giant blackberry. It turned out to be a dark purple globe of blackberry geleé encircling a mousse made of milk chocolate and rosemary. The mousse in turn enclosed a core of housemade blackberry jam, and mousse and jam stood together atop a little chocolate dacquoise cake. The milk chocolate, the rosemary, and various blackberry formations startlingly combined to taste like blackberry in the mouth. Or, I should say, to taste more like blackberry than an actual blackberry would. The globe tasted like what Wallace Stevens might have called The Blackberry at the End of the Mind, with the heft and darkness (here from chocolate) that you always find yourself wanting in blackberry to complement and reconcile its high, acid notes. Eating it, as I drank down good strong coffee and sat in the warm sunlight, going back for more and more lemon water, I thought, “This would be a great place for a date!” People could eat luscious pastries together and relax in the sun. And it would all be affordable, as dates go. Even at $6.50 a pop for most desserts and $3.50 for a large coffee, it would still be cheaper than going out to dinner. My fantasy came crashing down on my next visit to Spring Street. At least 20 people in identical yellow T-shirts milled around in the narrowest part of the store, in front of the counters — American tourists in two different large groups, led by leaders with whistles and clipboards. I am overwhelmed in a sea of butter-yellow people who don’t know where to stand. I am trying to figure out how to place my order, but it’s confusing. Finally a counterperson summons me for my turn, frowning: “Oh, you’re not with the group.” “No.” “I thought you were. You could have ordered much sooner if I’d known.” Not even taking the time to be embarrassed, I order a grapefruit thyme panna cotta (not the vulva tart, a different dessert made with grapefruit and thyme).
I settle down with it at one of the nice tables in the front. (The tourists have overrun the back, but the front of the bakery is relatively wide, with two comfortable tables by a window, before it constricts to the tiny floor-through area with counters.) I will pretend I’m on a date — all I have to do is imagine that someone is with me and the swarming tourists are gone. I ordered the grapefruit panna cotta because it’s the most voluptuous thing in the display case — different shades of red, pink, and golden grapefruit segments curling merrily on top of a dish of white creamy stuff. They are poached in honey and colored like jewels, their red juice exploding in my mouth as it hits the panna cotta, cream cooked with gelatin and sugar. The panna cotta tastes preternaturally fresh, rich and sweet and airy, even floaty. The fruit is so vivid and bright that the dish tastes light despite the richness of the cream. I want my wedding cake to taste like this. All I can think of is sex, eating it. The red fruit is curled like shrimp. It sticks in and out of its custard. Also, I think of religious ecstasy. “The land of milk and honey” was my favorite Bible line in yeshiva. But as I got older, I loved, “May I find your breasts like clusters of grapes on the vine. Syrup and milk are under your tongue.” Inside the panna cotta are tiny bits of excellent candied fruit. And in the center of the bowl is what looks like a gleaming golden gumdrop, which turns out to be “local bamboo honey geleé.” This gumdrop functions as the big, yankable clitoris of this dessert, or, you could say, the cherry on top. Grounding the dish is a tiny olive oil cake, which provides a nice bass note. My religious experience with the red fruits and their cream was quite real, but now I’m noticing that my normally cast-iron stomach is starting to hurt from how rich the thing was. “Food!” I think. “I’ll put real food in there to settle me down.” I order a “roasted pork club” — Dominique Ansel Bakery and Dominique Ansel Kitchen both have extensive food selections — but the sandwich ($12) is too dry despite some nice pieces of pork, and counter staff do not alert me that the sandwich will take 30 minutes because they are waiting on a huge order from a group of 20 tourists. I decide that Dominique Ansel Kitchen, the chef’s outpost on Seventh Avenue and Charles Street, must have been invented so that New Yorkers could enjoy the paradise of his pastries without tourist intervention. (Sincere disclaimer: I have nothing against tourists. I don’t think they’re unfashionable or uncool or ugly. I just wish they would all spread out and go to different places, not converge on the same ones.) The West Village shop is a little prettier, with dark woods on the inside and lovely lavender and white picnic tables in an outdoor seating area in front, with extraordinary (and copious) lav-
FANTASY, continued on p.32
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PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad
Vampires, Activists, and the Return of “The Gilda Stories” BY KELLY COGSWELL
gave her a different perspective, but that she was born in the 1880s. “Imagine. It was a whole different world. She was trying to make sense of how we got from one place to another.” Feminism also taught her that you just don’t get everything at once. You have to “chip away at liberation.” Especially if you’re a black woman. In the late 20th century, we see Gilda surprised by her own persistent anger about “the disappointment that she’d seen on the faces of black women over the years.” Not just due to white racism, but to black men with a vision of liberation that rarely included the freedom of women or LGBT people or Puerto Ricans. Gomez confessed that in an earlier draft, all the embattled vampires climbed into space ships and left, leaving the humans to deal with their own messes. But when her editor asked her to think about what it would mean in moral terms if Bird had to give up her land a second time, Gomez decided they had to stay and fight. If there is redemp-
IRENE YOUNG/ CITY LIGHTS PUBLISHERS
GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
IRENE YOUNG/ CITY LIGHTS PUBLISHERS
hen “The Gilda Stories” came out in 1991, vampires weren’t such a big thing, and black, lesbian ones were unheard of. But that didn’t matter to Jewelle Gomez, who at first was just writing for revenge. Cat-call her, harass her on the street and she would rip your throat out — in a story. Gradually, though, these scenes deepened into a novel that not only changed the demographics of vampire stories, but endured as a lesbian classic, an escaped-slave narrative, and an important work of Afro-Futurism that continues to influence young writers, especially young writers of color. The story is launched when a young unnamed slave runs away, killing a slave hunter who finds her. Still covered with blood, she crosses paths with Gilda, a white woman and brothel owner who takes her in. After the girl gets older, Gilda and her companion, a Native American called Bird, reveal that they are vampires, and she willingly enters the life. When the first Gilda dies, this young woman adopts her name, and becomes the second Gilda. It could have been a series of satisfying adventure stories, with Gilda romping around with delectable mortals, perhaps in a leather bustier, while she slays bigots and rapists. In fact, deaths are kept to a minimum. Older vampires teach young Gilda to take blood without killing, and share something in return: hope, knowledge, health. This is a code of honor that Gomez said she learned as a feminist. “The more power you have, the more responsibility,” she told me in a recent conversation. What intrigued me most about “The Gilda Stories,” though, was how the novel used the convention of immortality to grapple with time and the nature of social change. After all, vampires don’t just suck
blood, they live forever. This part of the mythology allowed Gomez to imagine the life of a black queer woman through almost two centuries from a small Missouri town in the 1920s to Boston’s South End in the ‘50s, and the Off Broadway theater of 1971 New York framed by black liberation and the Attica Prison Riots. In a brief jump to the ‘80s, we find her with a circle of black lesbian friends. The book was written at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the US, and the final chapters leave us in 2050 where a similar disease is ravaging the world and only the rich can survive, by either fleeing in space ships or hunting vampires and compelling them to share their immortality. The ending surprised me. Narratives involving social issues almost always finish on a positive note, as if equality were inevitable, part of some upward arc, and we activists can invoke it with our own chants. “What do we want?” “Justice!” “When do we want it?” “Now!” Gomez, though, emphasizes cycles. In fact, in an echo of Virginia Woolf’s suicide, the first Gilda chooses to take the True Death just before the Civil War because she can’t stand to see more war and destruction. The second Gilda is repeatedly cautioned by Sorel, one of the oldest vampires, to step back from the mortal world. Just like queers, vampires create their own communities and families. Keeping her distance is especially hard for Gilda, maybe because she has a vested interest. Gilda may be tough to kill, but she remains black and queer and female, at risk every time she enters the public space whether it’s a dusty road in the 19th century or a deserted street in the 20th. When I asked Gomez about this emphasis on cyclical time, she said she’d probably been influenced by her great-grandmother. Not just that she was a Native American, which
tion here, it is that she doesn’t have to do it alone, but with her chosen family. A 25th anniversary edition of “The Gilda Stories” was released in April by City Lights Publishers ($11.87 at citylights.com). Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.
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FANTASY, from p.24
ender and white flowers in urns. More importantly, they do not sell the Cronut! I’m excited. The savory food items on the menu sound so good that I’m determined to try one despite my experience with the overly bread-laden and tough-pigskin-infested pork club. There’s a dish called the Eggclipse, which consists of “squid ink brioche, mashed potatoes, mushroom béchamel, and two confit egg yolks” ($8.25). I have to have it. According to its website, the Kitchen’s focus is pastries and food cooked “à la minute,” which means right then at the very moment that you order it. “For Chef Dominique and our team, eating things at the wrong moment is just as bad as over- or under-salting your food.” I sit at one of the beautiful white-and-lavender tables in front, although to do so I must squeeze awkwardly past some young women at the next picnic table, because one table has been slapped down right behind the other, with no room to move between them. The young ladies are extremely annoyed when I apologetically go behind their bench. T ourists? I don’t think so; instead, they seem to be wealthy but insecure newcomers, boasting about which famous restaurants they’re going to go to and where their “fiancés” are taking them for the weekend. Finally the Egg-clipse comes. My server’s at a loss for how to get the dish to me, pausing for a minute, paralyzed by the restaurant’s configuration. Finally, shrugging, he heroically squeezes his narrow butt past a flower urn, breaking one of my egg yolks in the process. Digging in, I find the eggs are also cold. Has the dish really been cooked à la minute? The squid ink brioche, presenting as a very black, very thick slice of bread, surprises by being the best part. Note to Chef Dominique: please remove all but a little of the weird mountain of mashed potatoes on the open-faced sandwich, add more cheese, and serve the eggs hot. I was going to say this experience taught me that one shouldn’t order the real food in bakeries, but then I remembered the delicious ham, goat, and chicken tortas at the
Don Paco Lopez Panaderia in Sunset Park, recently profiled in the Times, and the nice sandwiches at Colson Patisserie in Park Slope, conveniently across from the Ninth Street YMCA. I grab two chocolate chunk cookies to go (Karen’s favorite, $3.50 each). The cookie is buttery and yielding and complex, but the chocolate is not nearly chocolatey or intense enough. Final visit: I return to Spring Street to bring two pastries home. Grumpy staf f try to force me to take a pavlova with whitish, unripe-looking blackberries and a pastry bird missing its head. “You’re not allowed to pick the one you want.” I rebel, bringing home a salted caramel eclair for Karen, delightfully 8 1/2 inches long and melty and exquisite ($6). Bliss. BLISS. Bliss. How can I describe the taste? Perhaps it is like the nipples of your very favorite person. For me, I get the “Sesame Cherry Origami ‘Crane,’” the VERY thing that first grabbed my attention in Dominique Ansel’s display case. “Toasted white sesame mousse, black sesame dacquoise with a cherry sake geleé center,” the menu says of it ($6.50). With tiny white chocolate “wings,” it really does look like a paper crane. But it tastes… not great. The black cherry center is okay. The white sesame mousse is a little too creamy, and okay. Can’t find the black sesame dacquoise, it must be a small part of this. The different textures and tastes don’t hold together, and I can’t make sense of them as a cohesive dish. Then my stomach starts to hurt. Dominique Ansel Bakery, 189 Spring St., btwn. Thompson & Sullivan Sts., 212-219-2773, dominiqueansel.com. Mon. to Sat., 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-7 p.m. A wheelchair may be able to get in the door, but good luck getting to the ordering counter or finding space to station it inside. The restroom is narrow. Dominique Ansel Kitchen, 137 Seventh Ave. S., btwn. Charles & W. 10th Sts. (not far from the LGBT Community Center), 212-242-5111, dominiqueansel.com. Mon-Sun., 9 a.m.-9 p.m. The restaurant is wheelchair accessible and the restroom can fit a wheelchair, but there are no handrails. May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
GALLERY The Queer Enlightenment in Art
FRI.MAY.13 COMEDY Move Over Trump — Bunny Takes On PC “We’ve become so politically correct that they just made Dick Van Dyke change his name to Penis Von Lesbian,” says Lady Bunny, in something of a preview of her latest show, “Trans-Jester.” While claiming to avoid politics in the show — “because one train wreck on stage per night is enough” — in fact the trash-mouthed drag queen takes more than a few swipes at what’s happening in the way we talk about gender and are expected to talk about gender. Hackles will be raised, but as Gay City News’ Michael Shirey writes in this issue, “Herein lies real point of the show. With ‘Trans-Jester,’ Bunny hopes to convince the audience to concern itself not so much with gender as with positive role models. Ya know, the role models who untuck a dildo from their dress midway through their act. Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher St. near Waverly Pl. Mon.-Wed., 7 p.m. through May 25 & Jun. 6-29. Tickets are $19.99 at trans-jester.bpt.me (up until 5 p.m. on day of show).
“The 1970s: The Blossoming of a Queer Enlightenment” explores the vibrant and liberating decade between the 1969 Stonewall Riots until 1980, just before we heard the first rumblings the AIDS crisis emerging, changing the nature of sexual relationships to the present day. This exhibition features over 115 works from the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art’s extensive collection of more than 24,000 objects including photographs, drawings, and paintings made during this era.. Works have also been borrowed from the Lesbian Herstory Archives and the New York Public Library, and it will include the entire “X Portfolio” by Robert Mapplethorpe (1978), recently purchased by the museum, as well as works by Paul Cadmus, Joan E. Biren (JEB), Jimmy DeSana, Marion Pinto, Amos Badertscher, Harvey Milk, Saul Bolasni, Francesco Scavullo, Diana Davies, Rink Foto, Tee Corinne, Neel Bate, and Peter Hujar. It was this iconic body of work, made during the 1970s, that set the stage for the culture wars of the 1980s. 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. Through Jun. 26: Tue.-Wed., Fri.-Sun., noon-6 p.m.; Thu., noon-8 p.m. For more information, visit LeslieLohman.org.
Teaching Nino Cais to Dance Fridman Gallery presents “Teach Me How to Dance,” the first US solo exhibition by the Brazilian artist Nino Cais. Employing collage, Cais deals with the tensions between civilization and nature, machismo and vulnerability, outward appearances and intimate narratives that break through the surface. Composed of approximately 30 book interventions, five installations, and one video, the artist underscores how primitive instincts are smothered by the weight of social rituals. Handkerchiefs and horseshoes precariously balance on opposite ends of riding whips, each element owing its fragile stability to the others. In the video, the artist, dressed as a jockey, simulates a galloping sound by hitting his own body, a victim of his own self-image. The gallery is located at 287 Spring St. at Hudson St. Through Jun. 11: Tue.-Sat., noon-6 p.m. For more information, visit fridmangallery.com.
West Coast of Africa, is screened at the 23rd New York African Film Festival. Produced by the National Black Programming Consortium, the film, focused on the days leading up to Carnival celebrations in Mindelo, São Vicente’s largest city, reveals a community where trans inclusion is the norm. Maysles Cinema, 343 Malcolm X Blvd, btwn. 127th & 128th Sts. May 15, 8 p.m. Filmmaker Serena and film subject Andrade participate in a Q&A following the screening. Tickets are $11.35 at africanfilmny. org. Preview at vimeo.com/130406667.
THEATER Edward Gorey Captured on Stage “Life Jacket’s Gorey: The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey” centers on the enigmatic and endearing artist at different stages of his life, spanning 50 years from young adulthood to shortly before his death. Eccentric, satirical, and fabulous, Gorey (19252000) enraptured readers with darkly subversive and delightful pen-and-ink drawings and cryptic children’s stories about adult subjects — death, love, joy, strangeness, and loss. Gorey authored over 100 works including “The Gashlycrumb Tinies,” “The Doubtful Guest,” And “The Unstrung Harp” — all of which are creatively embedded in an introspective study that fuses fact and fiction using lush projections and inventive storytelling. Playwright and director Travis Russ explains, “The more we delved into Gorey’s work and his interviews, the more intrigued we became about the real man hidden behind the literary myth. We’ve created an intimate production that provides an up-close-and-personal look at one of America’s most original artists.” Meet the cast at vimeo.com/159581232. HERE, 145 Sixth Ave., one block below Spring St., with entrance on Dominick St. May 15, 19-21, 7 p.m.; May 20 & 22, 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 at LifeJacketTheatre.org, here.org, or 212-352-3101.
BOOKS Latest from Sarah Schulman, Kaitlyn Greenidge
PERFORMANCE Pretty Broken Punks
SUN.MAY.15 FILM An African Transgender Woman’s Story DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Martin Belk reads and performs from “Pretty Broken Punks,” his memoir of life in New York from 1998 through 2004, which he took to the London stage. During bohemia’s last stand, at first you hide out with the Danceteria crowd at Pyramid and Boy Bar while slugging your way through the great AIDS die-off. In time, you find yourself a producer of “Squeezebox!,” running an Internet startup, managing the first New York City web concert starring Deborah Harry, doing culture war battle against the city’s most hated mayor, and then reaching 9/11, which brings in its wake… relentless gentrification. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. May 14, 7 p.m. Suggested donation of $5 benefits BGSQD. RSVP to bgsqd.com.
Marc Serena and Pablo García Pérez De Lara’s “Tchindas,” a documentary that tells the story of Tchinda Andrade, who has lived openly as a transgender woman and been deeply respected on São Vicente, a small Cape Verdean island off the
Kaitlyn Greenidge’s first novel, “We Love You, Charlie Freeman,” was just published by Algonquin. Sarah Schulman’s latest novel, “The Cosmopolitans,” is a new release from Feminist Press. This evening, the two writers share their new novels and talk about the meaning of life, art, and whatever the audience wants to discuss. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. May 15, 5 p.m. Suggested donation of $5 benefits BGSQD. More information at bgsqd.com.
14 DAYS, continued on p.48
May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Ellie, Age 57 Her partner, Karen Florida
GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
Kevin Guthrie and Agyness Deyn in Terence Davies’ “Sunset Song.”
Director Terence Davies.
Earning Those Emotions Terence Davies explains how he mined characters’ interior lives in adapting Lewis Grassic Gibbon novel BY GARY M. KRAMER
ay filmmaker Terence Davies’ latest film, “Sunset Song,” is a handsomely mounted period epic. Based on the novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, the film is a coming of age tale set in rural Scotland in the early 1900s. Chris (Agyness Deyn), a schoolgirl, lives a hardscrabble life. Her father, John (Peter Mullan), is stern, mistreating his wife and six kids. Chris finds some measure of happiness over the years when she meets and falls in love with the handsome Ewan (Kevin Guthrie). But the war intrudes, and Ewan must enlist. As Chris faces additional challenges, she also finds strength, and that makes for a powerful, uplifting drama. On the phone from London, Davies talked about why he chose to film Gibbon’s novel, which is not well known in the US, explaining that he saw a 1971 version of “Sunset Song” on BBC television. “I’d never heard of it, but I wanted to read it,” he said. “It’s difficult to read, but the story was wonderful. I never thought I’d get a chance to make it. It took 18 years to get to the screen.” The film opens when Chris is 14 and covers seven years of her life as she becomes more mature and more self-reliant, a theme Davies
has addressed in many of his films, such as “The Long Day Closes” and “The Neon Bible.” The filmmaker did not grow up on a farm, but said that he identified with Chris because of other aspects of his upbringing. “My father was very violent,” Davies said. “My family had such an awful time with my father. I was happy once he actually died. Such extremes will always be in me. I’m ecstatically happy and very low. Those swings are part of me — and what I write and how I shape it. Out of the blue you can hear someone has cancer, and it influences your whole day in an instant. Or you can discover a wonderful new poem.” He continued, “I was, as a child, aware of intense happiness. The moment of ecstasy became the most important thing at that particular time. I went to the movies a lot. Those images stayed with me and helped create that moment of ecstasy. I can recall what I saw, where I saw it, the route I took, and where I sat. I thought everyone responded that way.” Davies further explained that like movies, music was an essential force in informing his life and work. His 1988 film “Distant Voices, Still Lives” shows the power of music and how it touches people’s lives. There are ballads sung throughout “Sunset Song” with
strong emotional meaning for the characters. “Music is so powerful,” Davies effused. “You respond viscerally to it. I think cinema at its best can be like music, should be like music. You go from wonderfully romantic to not so wonderfully romantic. You go on an emotional journey. You listen and respond to it.” Digressing for a moment to describe the Great American Songbook as “poetry for ordinary people,” Davies praised queer composers Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim, calling the latter, “the last great exponent of that wonderful tradition. It ends when Sondheim dies.” Citing Hoagy Carmichael’s “I Get Along Without You Very Well” as a prime example, he said that songs “tell you a lot about humanity, the way people talk about love and loss…. The songs were telling people about bad things in the most accessible way.” While memory and music are core parts of Davies’ approach to creating emotional resonance in “Sunset Song,” he also focused on establishing what he calls the “internal subtextual meaning” of scenes. The drama unfolds episodically, with sometimes days, months, or even years passing between scenes. In depicting seven years in 135 minutes, the filmmaker explained, he aimed to capture “the essence” of the book without
being “absolutely slavish. It’s trying to find what is the story, not what people do, but what is psychologically going on.” The characters in “Sunset Song” are complex, and their lives are difficult. Summing up Chris, Davies said she is charming, witty, and has enormous strength. Despite her many hardships, she is no “long suffering” heroine, he said, mindful of how feminists might be unhappy with what could seem like a stereotypical female character. “My mother was gentle, but she was enormously tough without ever being hard,” he said. Davies said that growing up in the 1950s, he was sensitive to cues in Douglas Sirk films like “Magnificent Obsession” and “All that Heaven Allows” that featured women front and center. “The main characters in those films influenced me emotionally,” Davies said. “There were rigid ways of behaving. That was true as much for men as it was women,” and he pointed to the experience of Ewan, a conscientious objector who feels compelled to join the military to avoid being conscripted, as an example of how people’s lives were constrained. “Sunset Song” might sound melodramatic, but it’s to Davies’ credit as a filmmaker that he never leans toward sentimentality. On that point, he observed, “I don’t like sentimentality. I find it embarrassing. It’s seductive. But as James Joyce calls it, it is ‘unearned emotion.’ It has to be true and felt. The scene where Chris holds Ewan’s clothes is not in the book, but it is deeply felt. The love she has is so deep. It’s easy to be sentimental. In most modern drama, people cry all the time. I am very strict about that. I think it’s cheap.”
SUNSET SONG Directed by Terence Davies Magnolia Pictures Opens May 13 Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St. filmforum.org Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at W. 62nd St. lincolnplazacinema.com
May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Becoming Carlos Danger When a friendly documentary about a health care advocate chronicles his self-implosion
SHOWTIME/ SUNDANCE SELECTS
2013 mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, a former congressmember.
BY STEVE ERICKSON
he curse of Anthony Weiner’s life is that it can be so easily reduced to a tabloid headline about sexting. Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s documentary “Weiner” tries to mount a defense of the politician, but it too succumbs to the inevitability of making his online sex life the most interesting thing about him. Co-director Kriegman used to work for Weiner, and one can tell. The film’s “fly on the wall” — to use Weiner’s words — treatment is obviously biased in his favor. Nevertheless, Weiner comes across as a fundamentally angry, unlikable person, although he does have a sense of humor. The credits sequence makes a case for him putting this anger to good use as a progressive firebrand in Congress, showing cable news pundits praising his righteous tirades. “Weiner” begins with him as a rising congressmember. Then, his sexting forces his resignation. Two
WEINER Directed by Josh Kriegman & Elyse Steinberg Showtime/ Sundance Selects Opens May 20 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifcenter.com Lincoln Plaza 1886 Broadway at W. 62nd St. lincolnplazacinema.com
GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
years later, he decided to run for mayor of New York. Weiner was doing fairly well in the polls when a new set of revelations about his sexting came out. His supporters deserted him, and the media humiliated him all over again. Kriegman and Steinberg captured all this as it happened in the middle of Weiner’s campaign. For much of the time, “Weiner” is as much about Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin, who works for Hillary Clinton, as Weiner himself. Like Hillary, she chose to stand by her man in the face of sexual betrayal. The product of this stance was a lot of ignorant conjecture about the workings of the Weiner-Abedin marriage. “Weiner” tries to add nuance to this picture by showing the couple at home. However, its attempts to counter the tabloid portrait of their marriage go too far in the other direction, such as playing a sound bite of some newsman saying “what he’s doing to Huma is spousal abuse” over images of benign domestic life. All the same, one gets the impression that the camera-shy Abedin grew increasingly sick of the campaign and the media attention drawn by her husband. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that the press abused her, if anyone deserves that level of blame. In the film, Weiner gets asked twice whether he’s an addict. He never answers the question. While he didn’t physically cheat on Abedin with another woman, his online
WEINER, continued on p.42
Next To Moral A misfit boy spins lies and catapults from ultimate outsider to ultra-popular BY DAVID KENNERLEY
DEAR EVAN HANSEN
Second Stage Theatre 305 W. 43rd St. Through May 29 Tue.-Thu., Sun. at 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $80; 2ST.com Two hrs., 25 mins., with intermission
cried my makeup off!” one young woman squealed as she joined her blubbering friends after seeing “Dear Evan Hansen,” the heart-piercing, soul-stirring new musical about a socially awkward, depressive high school boy desperate to fit in. Not that you can blame them, for the work is cut from the same cloth as “Next To Normal” and “Fun Home,” which draw their power from intimate, harrowing character-driven narratives at once acutely specific and universal in their appeal. It’s no surprise the director is none other than Michael Greif, who helmed “Next To Normal,” and the choreographer is “Fun Home”’s Danny Mefford. This bittersweet comic tuner, featuring a richly textured pop score by the gifted duo of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, may be courtesy of the Off Broadway Second Stage The-
Mike Faist and Ben Platt in “Dear Evan Hansen” at Second Stage Theatre through May 29.
atre but it’s got Broadway-bound written all over it. The show even had an out-of-town tryout of sorts at Washington DC’s Arena Stage, which got rave reviews. Your enjoyment, however, will depend on how easily you’re will-
ing to buy the intricate, iffy premise (Steven Levenson wrote the book). Evan Hansen, whose fragile emotional state is reflected by his broken arm (he says he fell from a tree), types an ardent letter to himself as part of a self-help exercise,
which gets into the hands of the even more disturbed class freak, Connor Murphy. “I wish that I was part of something,” the letter says. “I wish that anything I said mattered to anyone.” When Connor commits suicide and is found carrying the letter that opens with “Dear Evan Hansen,” his parents assume Evan and their son were secretly best buds.
MORAL, continued on p.39
Crazy for You Two emotional roller coasters — one contemporary, one classic BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
CRAZY, continued on p.39
he best satire has truth at its core. If you want to plumb the source of today’s narcissistically isolated and social media-obsessed culture, where attention is a kind of currency and FOMO (fear of missing out) has recurring emotional costs, look no further than “American Psycho.” Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel has been transformed into a dazzling, trenchant, and darkly delicious musical with a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik. The essential question asked by Patrick Bateman is “do I exist and how do I know?” Subsumed in a culture of appearances and consumption, Patrick makes a lot of money in investment banking, but he is essentially a cog in a wheel, creating nothing and contributing less. His frustration and rage drive him into a murder spree as if that offers the only way he can know he is alive. Never having read the novel or seen the movie, this material was completely new to
me, though anyone who was around when the book first came out certainly was aware of the controversy it caused. What’s so captivating about the musical is that it both per fectly encapsulates the novel’s era and comments on contemporary issues. The Walkman has given way to iPhone buds and being seen in the right restaurant has become a count of Instagram followers and likes, but today’s hyper-connected world offers the same alienation — in fact, to a far greater degree — that Patrick suffered from a quarter century ago. It is both shocking and exhilarating to see him take matters into his own hands with rope, knife, and chainsaw. Sheik’s score is inspired with a wonderful sense of the music of the period, integrating songs such as “Hip to Be Square” and “Don’t You Want Me,” which acquires a fairly sinister aspect in this context. Es Devlin’s set design is appropriately ice cold, and Katrina Lindsay’s costumes pay homage to the period while also working as a cohesive whole.
Benjamin Walker in Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Duncan Sheik’s stage adaptation of Bret Ellis Easton’s 1991 novel “American Psycho.”
May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
MORAL, from p.38
Hoping to help the Murphys heal, Evan fabricates a story about their against-all-odds bond, proving that their drug-addled brute of a son was capable of relating to others after all. What’s more, Evan relishes the attention from Connor’s grieving family that he cannot get from his overburdened mother, who is working full time and taking night classes, and absentee father, who walked out on them years ago. After delivering a touching speech about Connor rescuing him from his loneliness when no one else would, the story explodes on social media and Evan becomes an unwitting hero. Plus, he gets to spend time with Connor’s pretty sister Zoe, his secret crush. But how long can he keep up the charade? The exquisite cast is led by a marvelously twitchy Ben Platt (“Book of Mormon” and the “Pitch Perfect” movies), who lends an endearing charm to the dweeby, ego-starved Evan, torn between grabbing a chance for happiness and telling the truth. His sweet, sonorous vocals make it easy to forgive Evan for being an opportunist and a liar. Rachel Bay Jones, as Evan’s mother, beautifully articulates the turmoil of a doting mother losing patience with her needy son. As Zoe, Laura Dreyfus strikes a firm balance between sullen and sympathetic. Mike Faist, dressed in
CRAZY, from p.38
Justin Townsend’s lighting has a chill that reflects Patrick’s internal struggle, and L ynne Page’s choreography is evocative, precise, and powerful. Then, of course, there is Benjamin Walker as Patrick. He meets the extreme physical challenges of the role with an increasingly intense level of desperation and panic. The tone of the piece shifts gears in the second act, from Grand Guignol to an internal journey for Patrick, but Walker takes us with him, evoking empathy and compassion for his bloodshed and allowing our darker fantasies to unwind. The supporting cast is equally impressive, notably the men who surround Patrick, including Theo GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
black, makes the most of the minimal, one-note role of the delinquent Connor. The most amusing character is the caustic Jared Kleinman (played to smar my per fection by Will Roland), a frenemy who agrees to help Evan concoct false, backdated emails to prove Ethan and Connor’s friendship. He gets the edgiest punch lines, suggesting that Evan broke his arm jerking off and that the two outsiders were gay lovers. He even sings about Connor in rehab hearing stories about “sucking dick for meth.” The drama is supercharged by the bold, razor-sharp production design. Witness the head-spinning images (by Peter Nigrini) of kinetic Instagram and Facebook posts and pix projected onto a stark set (by David Korins, of “Hamilton” fame), punctuated by the occasional glimpse of an inviting azure sky. In the second act, the plot twists become harder to swallow, and the sentiments border on maudlin. If “Dear Evan Hansen” is about seeking meaningful human connection in an increasingly cynical, multi-tasking world, it’s also a commentary on the fickle, sometimes fraudulent and dangerous nature of online social media. Is the oft-repeated message “No one deserves to be forgotten” a touching tribute or an empty platitude? Judging from the cheers and tears from audience members both young and old, it really doesn’t matter.
Stockman as Patrick’s superficial colleague, Tim Price, and Drew Moerlein as his nemesis, Paul Owen. The show recalls another bloody musical about a man lost in his world, “Sweeney Todd.” In both, murder is revenge upon a world that marginalizes and cares nothing for the individual, and its cathartic dramatic power is inescapable. Revenge typically may indeed, as the saying goes, be a dish best served cold, but in the case of “American Psycho,” it’s just plain hot.
For a contemporary audience accustomed to 90-minute plays, quasi-cinematic scene structure, and stories of narrow scope, the nearly four hours of Eugene
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CRAZY, continued on p.51
Latina chops triumph, Lortel inspires, Broadway rules
BY DAVID NOH
protean, largely unknown talent just hit town. I am talking about Carla Bordonada, who, before a packed, cheering May 8 house, won the Rising Star vocal competition at Hell’s Kitchen’s Rise Bar. Following eight weeks of preliminaries and facing two other finalists, she triumphed, after bringing down the house with three selections: the punishing tessitura of Celine Dion’s “I Surrender,” ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All” (both of them judges’ choices), and the song that I knew she would win with, her “11 o’clock number” category choice, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” Yes, we’ve heard them all way too many times, but such is Bordonada’s fresh approach, total commitment, flawless musicality, and soaring voice, with melismas to out-Mariah Mariah, they really were like the first time you’d ever heard them. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, the sumptuously gorgeous Bor donada moved here last winter, freezing her adorable, unprepared tuchas off. “I’m a no-GPS-needed Puerto Rican,” she laughed. “I think the first time I tried to sing was in front of the TV while watching professional singers do their thing. I must have been about three or four years old. I used to watch my father play Spanish guitar and sing at home as a hobby all the time. After seeing artists on TV, I guess my brain made the connection of ‘Hey! That’s what Dad does, and you can also do it wearing fancy clothes!’ “But it wasn’t until I was six that I sang in front of a group of people. I was in school singing to myself in the middle of class and my teacher got a little upset that I wasn’t paying attention, so she made me get up and ‘sing for the whole class to hear.’ I think she thought I’d refuse, but I just went for it, and I quickly felt that was my place. Capital P Place.
“Throughout elementary school and high school, I sang a lot for school special occasions. I also did a lot of musical theater. In college, while I majored in Modern Languages [French], I got my first gig as a professional singer working with a local live covers band. We performed for many US companies in hotels all around the island. “A couple of years later, I decided to move to Miami, where I shortly met Rick Leonard, an insanely talented pianist, singer, and musical director, who had also just moved into Miami — from New York. I started singing in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale gay piano bar scene, doing pop and Broadway show tunes by audience request. Within less of a year of our partnership, we were working for Atlantis Events, performing onboard their cruise ships.” And that’s where I come into her story: on my first fabulous gay cruise, from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires, I found myself returning night after night to the decided-
CAROL KASSIE THEATRICAL MARKETING & PUBLIC RELATIONS
Carla Bordonada, winner of the Rising Star vocal competition at Rise Bar in Hell’s Kitchen.
too: “I have a loving and loyal fanbase. Besides my duo act with Rick, I had the opportunity to do my one-woman cabaret show under David Sexton’s direction, as well as working in professional musical theater productions, guided by amazing Florida talent like Patrick Fitzwater, Matthew Korinko, and Emmanuel Schvartzman. But I felt like this year was the Year of New Yawk! So I moved in February, I am working on building my acting career, and who knows? Maybe I’ll land my dream role of Elphaba this year!”
“I’m a no-GPS-needed Puerto Rican,” she laughed.
ly non-cheesy — for once — piano bar, because of Leonard’s wonderful playing and Bordonada belting out an amazing range of music (her “Besame Mucho” obsessed me). “The gay cruises! Actually, it’s the only way to cruise, as far as I’m concerned. The audiences are amazing and so loyal! The entertainment overall is top drawer, so even on nights when I wasn’t working, I had the best time watching true pros like Alec Mapa, Miss Richfield 1981, Lindsey Alley, Nate Buccieri, Brian Nash… The experience also expanded my following to other states other than Florida, which I am very grateful for. I’ve made great friends along the way.” Bordonada’s a big fan of Miami,
The Lucille Lortel Awards were held May 1 at NYU’s Skirball Center, and the event was its usual homey, warm affair, honoring Off Broadway achievements in the name of a great woman of the theater, who helped countless theatricals, from creating the award itself to unquestioningly signing checks to keep troubled shows afloat. My favorite memory of her is at the Theater Hall of Fame Awards, the year Lauren Bacall was honored. I had just witnessed a hapless fan try to approach Bacall, only to be icily rebuffed. “Were we talking to you?,” came the husky snarl, only adding to the legend of exactly why she was dubbed “The Beast of Broadway” by her “Woman of the
Year” cast. So, I could not help but find it sort of hilarious that, in the middle of her acceptance speech, the ladies room door directly behind her opened, and out hobbled an ancient but still very game and totally unabashed Lortel. The look those two tough old Jewish dames gave each other could have instantly annihilated lesser mortals. For me, the highlight of this year’s awards was the uncannily tireless James Houghton’s magnificent acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award. To hear about his utter, fantastically selfless commitment to theater — which includes his overseeing the Juilliard drama department and opening his wondrous and welcoming Signature Theater Center, where all tickets are $25 (bravo!) — was beyond inspirational.
The line in front of Film Forum stretched practically to Seventh Avenue on April 25, for the appearance of former apple-cheeked movie star-turned-nun Dolores Hart. Now the Reverend Mother of the Abbey of Regina Laudis Benedictine monastery in Connecticut, which she joined in 1963, turning her back on Hollywood, she was an absolute, funny, intelligent, and — yes — inspirational delight, wearing a very traditional habit, truly sensible black sneakers and a jaunty beret over her wimple. She’s a salty sister, too, her conversation peppered with unexpected terms like “bitch” (as in she didn’t want to be one to Montgomery Clift, after they had shot 50 takes of a simple moment in “Lonelyhearts” during his troubled, post-accident period) and “kick him in the ass!” Hart had books to sell, her memoir “The Ear of the Heart,” and the Oscar -nominated documentary about her, “God is the Greater Elvis” — she co-starred with the King twice — was shown. Her monastery looks like a marvelously serene, lost-in-time environ, but it was both instructive and amus-
IN THE NOH, continued on p.49
May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender
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GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
Post-Punk Architecture Britain’s ‘70s class system — and more — collapse in a single residential tower
he late, great British writer J. G. Ballard combined radical and conservative streaks, although he moved farther to the left with age. His 1975 novel “HighRise,” now adapted into a film by director Ben Wheatley, imagines the dregs of ‘60s hedonism mixing with the rigidity of the English class system to bring the residents of a new apartment tower to their knees. Ballard’s vision has a parallel in David Cronenberg’s first mainstream film, “Shivers.” Made around the same time, “Shivers” imagines a sexually transmitted parasite having a similarly pleasurably destructive effect on an apartment building. Maybe it was inevitable that Cronenberg would eventually adapt Ballard, as he did with 1996’s “Crash.” As Anthology Film Archives’ tribute to Ballard and his influence on cinema shows, relatively few filmmakers have filmed his novels directly — strangely, one of them is Steven Spielberg — but many have lifted from his imagery of abandoned cities and crashed cars. Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) moves into a new apartment, in a building designed by Mr. Royal (Jeremy Irons). (His name is probably intended to refer to anti-psychiatrist R.D. Laing, whose theories about the subversive potential of schizophrenia were fashionable in the ‘60s.) He meets some of his neighbors, including documentarian Richard Wilder (Luke Evans) and single mother Charlotte (Sienna Miller). While the building seems luxurious at first, with nightly parties that grow increasingly debauched, it’s subject to constant bickering between neighbors, power outages, and shortages at the in-house supermarket. The structure of the building duplicates the class castes of the UK, with Mr. Royal living in the penthouse and the poorest people dwelling near the ground. One of Laing’s students commits suicide by falling from the 39th floor, and no one comes to investigate. Wilder decides to
WEINER, from p.37
flirtations seem incredibly foolish and insensitive, to put it mildly, and the film never addresses the question of whether all the recipients of his penis photos wanted them. But although it would be easy to label Weiner a sex addict, he seems to have a deeper desire to run into the spotlight no matter what the con-
make a documentary about the building and its architect, just as it really starts to succumb to chaos. In 1975, Ballard’s “High-Rise” critiqued the failures of Britain’s attempt at democratic socialism to cage the brutalities of human nature. Wheatley’s “High-Rise” seems to be set around the time the book was published. Men are decked out with unflattering mustaches and sideburns, two cover versions of ABBA’s “S.O.S.” are heard (one by a string quartet, the other by Portishead), and TV sets and cars look old-fashioned. There are also no people of color, a choice that made me wonder if Wheatley felt the film would be accused of racism if they acted as badly as the white people who populate it. London has become too gentrified for the grungy feel Wheatley aimed at, so the film was actually shot in still-crumbling Belfast. “High-Rise” combines glee and outrage. Its second half is one long slide into oblivion, but the film, which includes a voice-over that draws heavily on Ballard’s novel, hints that a new order may be coming into being. Ballard claimed that his novel about car-crash fetishists, “Crash,” was intended as a cautionary tale about the dangers of technology, but I doubt he could have written 200 pages about sex and collisions while feeling nothing but complete disgust. Ballard, Cronenberg, and Wheatley are all essentially pessimists, but their work contains a trace of hope. In “High-Rise,” the overthrow of the class system leads not to Scandinavian-style social democracy but to rape and dog-eating. Still, it seems like a necessary step. Wheatley films his tower as if it were a beautiful woman. Helicopter shots caress it from the outside. Seen on the inside, it’s a far less attractive building, but the inhabitants find no reason to leave. Laing, who seems more rational than most of them, winds up in a fugue state, covered in blue paint and wandering the halls in search of new patients. Endless sex takes place in the apartments; after a while, one stops wondering
sequences might be. Running for mayor with skeletons in his closet is almost as foolish as the original sexting. In his personality, idealism mixes with narcissism. But his genuine desire to discuss political issues with New Yorkers gets sabotaged by the media by the time his campaign is halfway over. “Weiner” doesn’t give one much sense of what the candidate stood
BY STEVE ERICKSON
Tom Hiddleston in Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s 1975 novel “High-Rise.”
HIGH-RISE Directed by Ben Wheatley Magnet Films Opens May 13 Landmark Sunshine 143 E. Houston St. Btwn. First & Second Aves. landmarktheatres.com Film Society of Lincoln Center 144 W. 65th St. filmlinc.org who’s cheating on whom or if it’s consensual. The building itself seems to act like a drug. Wheatley and screenwriter Amy Jump, who edited the film together, rely on disorienting match-cuts and funhouse-mirror images of Laing in the elevator. There’s lots of nudity, both male and female, but Hiddleston is the film’s prime sex object. Ballard was a big influence on British postpunk; songs like the Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” and Joy Division’s “Atrocity Exhibition” pay explicit homage to his work. In one sense, Wheatley’s “High-Rise” is the ultimate post-punk film, culminating with a speech by Margaret Thatcher and the Fall’s “Industrial Estate.” Here’s the 1970s’ future, which became our present, it seems to say: a void into which Thatcher stepped. But it’s unimaginative to see contemporary England as the only place Ballard dreamed up. The sequels to “High-Rise” took place in the Superdome in New Orleans after Katrina and in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was overthrown. Like “Crash,” which predicted the way the Internet would entangle technology and sex, “High-Rise” isn’t science fiction.
for as a politician, although he repeatedly mentions that he’s in favor of single-payer health care and making New York “a city for the middle class.” His politics seem more coherent when he was a congressmember than as a mayoral candidate. It’s possible that the filmmakers are trying to make a point about the way Weiner’s scandals overshadowed the substance
of his political views, but their film overlooks them as well. I suppose it’s impossible to make a documentary on this mayoral race without focusing on Weiner’s controversies — no one made a film about Christine Quinn’s run, as far as I know. Like it or not, they’re the hook for “Weiner.” It’s an entertaining film, but one that partakes of the media circus it tries to criticize. May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
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GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
ter casting for Verdi’s Posa in two seasons, with which Domingo’s vocal and dramatic resources have nothing whatsoever in common. Tenor Noah Baetge sounded healthy in the Captain’s brief but exposed duties. Past the cramped Prologue, Michael Scott’s set remains highly pictorial if historically inaccurate.
Met, Juilliard, OONY offerings
Mary Birnbaum directed a fascinating “Eugene Onegin” at Juilliard two years ago.
Miles Mykkanen, Liv Redpath, and Theo Hoffman in Mary Birnbaum’s production of Mozart’s “Die Zauberfloete” at Juilliard.
BY DAVID SHENGOLD
ames Levine got hero’s welcomes before, after, and during April 13’s Met “Simon Boccanegra.” That has become standard for the music director as he is — well, “eased out” is not how one would put it. When I can, I now avoid Levine’s first nights. By a few shows in, thanks to long experience with Verdi, the house’s fine music staff, and the orchestra Levine has done so much to build, one could enjoy a pretty solid performance — though the opera’s heart, the Council Chamber scene, was not what it was under Levine in 1984 or 1995 or even 2010. Of the baritone assumptions that super-veteran tenor Plácido Domingo has undertaken, Simon Boccanegra has proved the most congenial. That doesn’t mean that it’s fully successful, especially now when the artist simply can’t sustain long lines and tends to jump the beat to avoid running out of gas altogether. But the part fits his patriarchal stature and clearly evokes a more detailed emotional response in him than have such folly-driven enterprises as Carlo in “Ernani,” and though he sounds like a tenor at all times, the tone can still emerge handsomely most of the time. Time hasn’t stood still for Ferruccio Furlanetto’s bass either, but after a slowish start he
warmed up his instrument and delivered a fullout, nuanced performance of genuine dramatic stature. The evening’s best singing came flowing out of Joseph Calleja, badly wigged here but a superb Gabriele Adorno in every way, his tenor a throwback in quality and technique to at least some kind of Golden Age. Lianna Haroutounian, whose debut in “Don Carlo” a year ago proved highly commendable and promising, did not quite fill out the larger scale Amelia’s music needs, and barely marked the important trills. Still, she’s an idiomatic, capable full lyric soprano when the Met sorely lacks many such. Plus, Haroutounian sings with vigor and point, not the bland, homogenized sound too frequently favored today. But, please: this singer is not a Norma! San Francisco Opera has been successfully deploying strong baritone Brian Mulligan for some time; finally the Met seems to have taken notice that he’s a Verdi baritone in formation. He was the perfect casting for Paolo, a part which has nurtured future stars like Leonard Warren and Sherrill Milnes along their way to taking on Boccanegra. Mulligan sounded almost too elegant for the frustrated roisterer, but it was nice to hear some genuine quality baritonal sound in the mix during Domingo’s somewhat “let’s pretend” evening. Mulligan — or Stephen Powell or Juan Jesús Rodriguez — would all be bet-
Some ideas and images in her “Die Zauberfloete” (April 19) proved fascinating, but for me the whole did not coalesce into a coherent reading or an experience conveying much sense of a journey of maturation — or of magic of any sort. The entire challenge and trials of Tamino and Pamina were manipulated from the opera’s start; the Queen’s forces and the Temple brotherhood seemed totally in cahoots. An almost Ponnelle-ish level of silent unscripted characters onstage prevailed. Question: why do virtually all directors bring the animals responding to Tamino’s flute on two beats too soon, killing the wonder? A first-rate musician and actor, Miles Mykkanen (Tamino) showed a somewhat dry but beautifully deployed tenor. Pleasingly, Christine Taylor Price was much feistier physically and vocally than the usual Pamina; she stood her ground against male oppression. Her soprano may eventually suit Wagner and Strauss; if so, this was a good exercise. Irrepressibly livewire Theo Hoffman sounded sensational as Papageno: I’m going to miss hearing him when he departs for the Los Angeles Young Artists program. Liv Redpath looked gorgeous as the Queen of the Night and sang quite well in a very light voice: three out of five high Fs were hit. Redpath, also SoCal-bound, has the ingredients for a career in today’s environment, but I don’t think the Queen will linger long in her repertory. Önay Köse, a good bass, didn’t have quite the interpretive or vocal depths for Sarastro, who here seemed to be a kind of charismatic cult leader. All references to Monostatos’ essential otherness vanished, as did his troubling and usually tiresome sub-slaves. Alexander McKissick sang his music with considerable grace and played him as a Mean Ex-Boyfriend — or perhaps the excluded Jud Fry of the community, a Monostatos certainly as handsome as the Tamino. That made the romantic dynamics interesting. Excellent work in smaller roles came from Avery Amereau (Third Lady), Kara Sainz (Papagena), Fan Jia (First Priest), and Matthew Swensen (Second Priest). David Stern led the Juilliard Orchestra, bedeviled only rarely with opening night blips, with welcome dispatch.
Dispatch was not the order of the day at OONY’s “Parisina d’Este” (May 4), one more entry in the city’s nearly all-Donizetti diet. As always, one appreciated Eve Quel-
OPERA, continued on p.46
May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
That’s No Lady Bunny’s new Stonewall show is a tour de farce
Lady Bunny at the historic Stonewall Inn. (Or is it the historic Lady Bunny at the Stonewall Inn?)
LADY BUNNY “TRANS-JESTER” Stonewall Inn 53 Christopher St. near Waverly Pl. Mon.-Wed., 7 p.m. Through May 25 & Jun. 6-29 $22; trans-jester.bpt.me
OPERA, from p.44
er letting us hear an obscure, worthy score (she led Monserrat Caballé and Louis Quilico in it in 1974!), but the evening, though wildly applauded, struck me as rather lackluster. Donizetti always has some touches of formal interest. Here, that meant two splendid proto-Verdian quartets, plus the balancing of act-opening movements for chorus and soloist (all male in Act One, all female in Act Two). Beyond that, the score felt competent and formulaic rather than inspired.
One might say the same of the musical performance, though all four leads offered something of quality. Angela Meade compelled admiration for her preparation, and the instrument has its beautiful places. One wishes for more individuality and specificity. In his New York debut, Aaron Blake, showed dramatic intelligence and a sense of style, with an interesting high–placed tenor perhaps more suited to Rossini than the elegiac music of Ugo. In the mean guy role of Parisina’s husband, Yunpeng Wang’s well-focused baritone supplied some fine sounds without showing complete
technical mastery or much expression in the tone itself. Young bass Sava Vemic — much ballyhooed online for his height and looks — has a fantastic instrument, but it has far too much tonal bite to hew a bel canto line; like Meade and Blake, he too frequently shaded flat. Everyone held to Queler’s antiquated house style of reckless interpolations and holding final notes until the orchestra stopped. David Shengold (email@example.com) writes about opera for many venues. May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Safety not juSt driverS’ reSPonSibility Safety should be a top priority for everyone sharing the road, including cyclists, drivers and pedestrians. The following are a few tips each of those groups of travelers can employ to ensure the roads stay safe for everyone.
• Bicyclists must follow the same traffic rules as automobile drivers. Stop for red lights and stop signs, signal lane changes or turns, and
GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
drive on the correct side of the road. • Watch out for parked cars. Oftentimes, drivers exit their vehicles and do not check for oncoming traffic or cyclists. You can be hit by a swinging car door. • Make yourself as noticeable as possible. This could include using a light or horn on the bike to signal your presence to drivers. • Always wear a helmet and other applicable safety equipment.
• Maintain your bike so that it is safe to ride. • Do not carry others on your bike (such as a friend or a child) if it is not designed to do so. Riding on the handlebars or behind the cyclist can be dangerous. • Avoid the use of ear buds or headphones while cycling. You want all of your senses to be available to avoid accidents. • Cycle out of the way of drivers’ blind spots so you’ll be more visible.
• Do not ride your bike on the sidewalk where you could injure pedestrians.
• Always use sidewalks and crosswalks when available. If no sidewalk is present, be sure to walk against the direction of traffic. • Use traffic signals as your guide. However, make sure all traffic has stopped before crossing the road or stepping off of the sidewalk. • Keep control of pets when
walking on a leash, so you’re not pulled out into traffic. • Use caution at bus stops. Many injuries occur from pedestrians running to catch a bus or stepping out into traffic after exiting a bus. Remember, there will be another bus behind the one you’re chasing and safety is more important. • Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing if walking at night. • Do not cross highways or interstates on foot.
Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. May 19, 7-9:30 p.m. A Q&A follows a reading. Suggested donation of $5 benefits BGSQD. More information at bgsqd.com.
14 DAYS, from p.34
MON.MAY.16 BENEFIT On the Visual Vanguard Visual AIDS, which utilizes art to provoke dialogue about HIV, support HIVpositive artists, and preserve a legacy because AIDS is not over, hosts its Vava Voom Spring Gala and Awards Ceremony. The recipients of its 11th annual awards include writer, artist, and teacher Gregg Bordowitz, Glenn Ligon, the subject of a mid-career retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2011, and Jessica Whitbread, a queer woman living with HIV who explores her own sexuality and curiosity, often in public places, in hopes of making it easier for others to do the same. The evening includes cocktails, dinner, and performances by Martha Wash (Two Tons O’ Fun, the Weather Girls) and Ana Matronic (Scissor Sisters), and the duet of AndrewAndrew host and DJ. Prince George Ballroom, 15 E. 27th St. May 16, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tickets are $350 at visualaids.org.
THU.MAY.19 BOOKS Queerspawn Out on Their Own
FRI.MAY.20 COMMUNITY Sex and the Microprocessor “Queer Circuits in Archival Times: Experimentation and Critique of Networked Data” is a two-day gathering that explores the social and sexual organization and networking of the LGBT community in the digital age, when the most robust forms of online interaction are structured with an eye to selling advertising rather than achieving optimal and equitable social relations. Among the event’s many presenters are performance artist and media theorist Sandy Stone, graphic novel author and cartoonist Alison Bechdel, Amy Herzog, the coordinator of the Film Studies Program at the CUNY Graduate Center, and Jason Baumann, coordinator of LGBT Collections at the New York Public Library. May 20, 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. at the Martin E. Segal Theatre, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave. at 34th St. May 21, 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. in the Celeste Auditorium, New York Public Library, Fifth Ave. at Fifth Ave. All events are free, but register at goo.gl/ IYCZO3. For complete information about the conference, visit queercircuits.com.
26 Wooster St. btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. May 15-Aug. 12. Opening reception is May 24, 6-8 p.m.
Honoring Respect in the Classroom
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students. At its annual Respect Awards, the group will honor Colorado teacher Amber Schweitzer as the Educator of the Year, the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) at New York City’s Academy for Young Writers, television producer Ilene Chaiken (“The L Word”), and journalist George Stephanopoulos and his wife, actress Alexandra Wentworth. Cipriani 42nd Street, 110 E. 42nd St. May 23, 6 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. dinner & awards. Tickets are $1,200 at glsen.org.
A Pride Prom! Queens City Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Speaker Melissa MarkViverito,, and the Hispanic Federation host a Pride Prom, an evening for all that will include drag performances, prizes, good eats, and more. Special guests include Councilmember Daniel Dromm and host Lady Quesadilla. Queens Museum (free shuttle from the 7 train 111th St. Station). May 24, 6 p.m., with program beginning at 7. The evening is free, but register at eventbrite.com/e/prideprom-2016tickets-24808716539. The Pride Prom is co-sponsored by Make the Road New York, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, and the Hetrick-Martin Institute.
TUE.MAY.24 GALLERY Dignity from Life’s Experiences Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture join together with the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art for an exhibition, “Legend in My Living Room,” featuring specially commissioned photographic portraits by Magnum Foundation Fellow Jasper Briggs of LGBTQ older adults in their home environments. The portraits of six subjects (ages 53-84), displayed in the Museum’s window vitrines, will reflect personal stories of struggle, triumph, and perseverance. The exhibition is co-curated by Steven G. Fullwood, the associate curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division at the Schomburg Center and Peter “Souleo” Wright, program coordinator at SAGE Center Harlem. “Too often the experiences of black LGBTQ individuals are erased out of history,” Fullwood said. “With this project we aim to create greater visibility for this community by empowering them to take control of their narrative and public representation.”
THU.MAY.26 BOOKS A New HIV Narrative Published in April by Indolent Books, Joseph Osmundson’s chapbook “Capsid: A Love Song” is a hybrid essay that uses personal narrative and lyrical science writing to confront contemporary realities of living with HIV regardless of HIV status. After 30 years, HIV has fundamentally shifted how we understand bodies and health, sex and sexuality, activism and art. With pre- and post-diagnosis anti-retroviral therapy continuing to change the shape of HIV infections, we badly need new HIV narratives that confront and explain our contemporary interactions with the virus. Osmundson is joined by Jennie Gruber and Darnell L. Moore in readings dealing with bodies and health and sex and joy. Indolent Books founder Michael Broder introduces the chapbook. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. May 26, 7-9 p.m. A Q&A follows a reading. Suggested donation of $5 benefits BGSQD. More information at bgsqd.com.
FILM From “Boys in the Sand” to Bel Ami Kyle Renick served as executive director of WPA Theatre (Workshop of the Players Art Foundation) for 25 years, producing more than 100 Off Broadway plays and musicals, including such long-running successes as “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Steel Magnolias.” Tonight, Renick offers a lecture on the history of gay porn from 1971 to 2016 with film excerpts. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. May 20, 7-9 p.m. A Q & A f o l l o w s a reading. Suggested donation of $5 benefits BGSQD. More information at bgsqd.com.
Despite growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area as the daughter of four lesbians, Ke l l e n K a i s e r envisioned her life working out, fairytale–like, with a Prince Charming. Her possible prince arrived, but not without complications. Home on leave from the Israeli army, the man Kaiser picks doesn’t seem like a sure bet. Starting with some casual sex gone awry, they face a number of obstacles, not the least of which are war in the Middle East, longdistance romance, and differing views on sexuality and their approaching adulthood. But they find themselves most challenged by a more mundane concern: the upkeep of a relationship between two people. Kaiser’s “Queerspawn in Love” is a story about identity, family, and figuring out, through loving someone else and failing, how to love yourself. Bureau of General
May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
IN THE NOH, from p.40
The Broadway season wrapped, and I can happily say it was damn good! Lyricist Sheldon Harnick proved himself the absolute King of the Great White Way, with terrific revivals of his imperishable “She Loves Me” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” starring, respectively, Laura Benanti and Danny Burstein, giving performances that approached the legendary — Burstein especially. Jessica Lange and Gabriel Byrne almost managed to efface the definitive movie memories of Katharine Hepburn and Ralph Richardson in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” as a most memorable pair of Tyrones. And I finally succumbed to the talent of director Ivo van Hove, after wanting to murder him for what he did to “The Little Foxes” and “A View from the Bridge,” with his ferociously searing, emotionally devastating “The Crucible.” Sophie Okonedo is perhaps the most miraculously human actress I have ever seen. Ben Wishaw — an actor I’d once dismissed, especially after his Old Vic “Hamlet,” as being too fey for weighty roles — after this and the film, “Suffragette,” has miraculously transformed himself into tower of masculine strength, with gravitas-laden heroic proportions. And Tavi Gevinson, whom I considered a precocious annoyance, for her blog-created stardom (grrr, I’m an old curmudgeon from the print wars), completely redeems herself after her inadequate turn in “This is Our Youth.” She literally throws herself into the role of the one Salem lass who dares to go against her fellow little bitch witch accusers and, during an intense interrogation scene, the finest, most exquisite silver thread of drool descended from her quivering lips, a histrionic fillip that transcendently reeked not of self-indulgence, but of total emotional truth. GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
ing to see nuns enjoying a lunch of tacos as well as Godiva chocolates and the Hollywood Reporter in Reverend Mother’s office. And moving, indeed, was her lifelong relationship with the fiancé she jilted to join the order, Donald John Robinson, who remained deeply in love with her, visiting her once a year until his death in 2011.
Josh Segarra and Ana Villafañe in Ale “On Your Feet.
My personal favorite show, however, was “On Your Feet,” which, although commercially successful, scandalously received only a single Tony nomination (for Sergio Trujillo’s sizzling choreography). I saw it twice and have never seen audiences leave a show so thoroughly elated as by the dazzle — both emotional and artistic — of this superb recounting of the life and career of Gloria Estefan and her producer husband, Emilio. While Ana Vilafañe beautifully proved herself a triple threat killer as Gloria, and Andrea Burns as her tempestuous mother soloed in the single most powerfully glamorous number of the year, Josh Segarra was the star of the show for me, providing the real, success-attaining guts of the story, and doing it with a nigh-unbearable, husky, handsome, dead sexiness. I would gladly pay full price just to watch him joyously dancing to the Miami Sound Machine’s infectious rhythms, with an irresistible macho funkiness and dripping a purely Latin elan, in a way to make you wish every man in your life moved that way. The way its savvy, heartwarming book was ignored, not only by the Tonys but also by the Drama Desk Awards (which deemed no musical book even worthy this year of being nominated, and so eliminated the category), almost smacked of a totally unseeing, inevitably “unconscious” racism. The moment when Emilio faces down a bigoted record producer, who refuses to see any Latin crossover appeal in the US, with the line, “This is the face of an American,” won cheers in the theater every night. What the fuck more do you need?
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May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
CRAZY, from p.39
GayCityNews.nyc | May 12 - 28, 2016
O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Jour ney Into Night” can be daunting and demanding. Though the writing is often gorgeous and grimly lyrical, not much action takes place; stylistically, it’s as distant as Shaw or Shakespeare. Like Shaw, the characters are often used as polemical tools rather than being fully developed, and like Shakespeare, the complexity of the language and the literary references reflect the sensibilities of another time. The play is a revered and “important” classic to be sure, but it also runs the risk of being a museum piece rather than vibrant and immediate theater. Jonathan Kent’s new production at the Roundabout for all its moments of breathtaking theatricality remains emotionally aloof, impressing the audience but never quite fully engaging it. We watch the Tyrone family fall apart over one long day as morphine addiction claims the mother, Mary, and wreaks collateral damage on the lives of her onetime matinee idol husband, James, and her two adult sons, Jamie and Edmund, both of whom are still dependent on the family for their livelihood. Jamie is a failing actor, and Edmund is in the first stages of tuberculosis. The three men are alcoholics as well, and the cyclical family dynamics of denial, blame, suppressed rage, explosions, and apologies play out repeatedly. The hope that Mary, just back from a sanitarium, can stay free of morphine is quickly dashed, laying bare the depressed and hopeless state in which the entire family lives. They live in a constant fog, a persistent image in the play, set on the Connecticut coast in 1912. Given the challenges of mounting this play, casting is essential to a successful production. Jessica Lange is stunning as Mary. Her portrayal is one of remarkable detail and nuance, as she grasps for the past that she thought was happy even as she is swept out to sea on waves of morphine. Gabriel Byrne is also excellent as the patriarch James Tyrone who, though a Broadway star for decades, is still tormented by his past lived in poverty and the fear of ending up in the poorhouse. For James, fear and bombast are two sides of the same coin, and Byrne beautifully embodies a man trapped between the two. Less successful are Michael Shannon as Jamie and John Gallagher, Jr. as Edmund. Shannon, who incidentally looks like he came from a differ ent family altogether, seems petulant and artificial for most of the play. His
Jessica Lange in Jonathan Kent’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night.”
AMERICAN PSYCHO Schoenfeld Theatre 236 W. 45th St. Sun.-Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $67-$147; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 45 mins., with intermission
LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT
Roundabout at the American Airlines Theatre 227 W. 42nd St. Through Jun. 26 Tue., Thu.-Sat at 7 p.m. Sat. at 1 p.m.; Wed., Sun. at 2 p.m. $67-$147; roundabouttheatre.org Or 212-719-1300 Three hrs., 45 mins., with intermission
climactic scene is very well done, but it doesn’t evolve from what has gone before; it feels like a set piece injected into the proceedings. Gallagher seems to be in a different play. His contemporary acting style is inconsistent with the other members of the company, and he begins at such a high pitch, there’s really nowhere to go, which makes the play seem even longer than it is. At one point, Edmund says, “Christ, you have to make allowances for this damned family or go nuts.” That’s true of most families, but audiences shouldn’t have to feel that way in the theater.
May 12 - 28, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc