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Dallas BBQ Assault Conviction 09

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POLITICS

Meeting Activists, Clinton Broadly Embraces AIDS Agenda Pledges pressure on foreign governments getting aid, “just like we need to hold Alabama accountable”

FACEBOOK.COM

Hillary Clinton with AIDS activist Peter Staley, campaign staff Mya Harris, John Podesta, her campaign chair, and C. Virginia Fields, the president of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

H

illary Clinton made a number of promises to advance the fight against HIV and offered critiques of some of the current responses in that fight during a May 12 meeting with leading AIDS groups. “I won’t make promises that I can’t keep,” Clinton told roughly 20 representatives from AIDS and LGBT groups near the start of the hour-long meeting at her campaign’s Brooklyn headquarters. “I will do everything I can to achieve an AIDS-free generation. We will work with you to lay out a path to do this.” The quotes are from notes made by Charles King, the chief executive of Housing Works, an AIDS group. The notes were shared with Gay City News on the condition that the paper not identify the person who provided them. The notes both quote and paraphrase people who spoke in the meeting. Activists sought and won Clinton’s support for a national plan to end AIDS that will treat HIV-positive people so they are no longer infectious and use some of those same drugs in HIV-negative peo-

4

ple to keep them uninfected. The plan also increases housing and other services for HIV-positive people. Activists have set a target “getting below 12,000 new infections in 2025,” according to the notes. In 2014, just over 44,000 people were first diagnosed with HIV in the US. Dr. Melanie Thompson, the founder and principal investigator at the AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta, asked Clinton to commit to “increasing both the HIV/ AIDS research budget, and that of NIH overall, by 10-15 percent per year for the next eight years.” “We are going to work to see how far we can go,” Clinton said of funding for the federal National Institutes of Health. “We need to expand Medicaid coverage. Otherwise we will be hard pressed to achieve these goals. We will go through and prioritize your ask. I am all on board for increasing NIH funds.” Activists were particularly concerned with new HIV infections in the South. The view is that the higher rates of new HIV infections there are due, in part, to a lack of affordable healthcare. The 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, offered incentives to states to expand eligibility for Medicaid, the govern-

ment health insurance plan for low income people, but some states, many but not all in the South, have declined. King wrote that Clinton “calls out” those states that did not expand Medicaid funding saying it was a “national shame.” Those states are “recalcitrant and obstructionist,” King quoted Clinton saying. “We must incentivize and force states to expand Medicaid,” Clinton said. “I am defending the Affordable Care Act because I believe it would be a grave error to start over. But I am also proposing ways to improve it.” The former secretary of state and US senator from New York would also go after drug prices, which can significantly increase the cost of care. She would “stop predatory pricing,” in particular when a company buys a drug it did not develop and increases the price. “We are going to tackle that,” she said. “We are also going to get control on the price paid by Medicare and Medicaid. We are going to expand their negotiating power.” Activists also asked for a $2 billion increase in funding the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which is currently funded at $6.8 billion. That federal legislation addresses AIDS around

the globe and claims to have supplied 9.5 million people with anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, among a number of achievements. “I am a staunch supporter of PEPFAR.” Clinton said. “We tripled the number of people on ARVs in four years. This was partly due to my husband’s contracts reducing the cost of drugs.” The Clinton Foundation, which was founded by former President Bill Clinton, funds anti-HIV programs around the globe. But Secretary Clinton cautioned that some governments that received PEPFAR cash simply substituted that cash for money they had been spending on healthcare and diverted those dollars to other needs, such as building roads. “We need to get as much resources as we can, use those resources effectively, and hold governments’ feet to the fire,” King quoted Clinton saying. “We need to hold the governments accountable just like we need to hold Alabama accountable.” Noting the President Barack Obama was “equally sympathetic” to the activists’ demands, Clinton said that the Republican-controlled Congress has been and remains an obstacle to increasing PEPFAR funding. “We will set out a plan, but we will need help to overcome efforts by Republicans to cut back on AIDS funding,” she said. “We will continue to support the Global Fund. We will set ambitious goals.” Clinton closed the meeting by thanking the activists and said that John Podesta, the chair of her presidential campaign, would follow up to “build a realistic, achievable, and bold plan,” the notes said. “I want to thank all of you,” Clinton said. “If it were not for your voices [over the years] we would be facing even more challenging terrain. We have to move forward on all fronts.” The AIDS groups have also requested a meeting with Democrat Bernie Sanders, the US senator from Vermont, and Donald Trump, the reality TV celebrity who has effectively won the Republican nomination for president. May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


POLITICS

Lesbian Political Action Committee All In For Hillary Founded in 2012, group’s wins include out candidates in Salt Lake City, Massachusetts, Wisconsin BY PAUL SCHINDLER

T

TEAMLPAC.COM

GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

TEAMLPAC.COM

he Lesbian Political Action Committee has picked some big winners since its inception in 2012. LPAC endorsed President Barack Obama’s reelection right out of the box, and was part of several other victories that year that were less sure bets — Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin’s election as the first out lesbian member of the US Senate, as well as wins for Elizabeth Warren in the Massachusetts Senate race and for marriage equality in Maine and Washington State. The following year, the group worked on the successful marriage fight in Illinois and helped reelect out lesbian Mayor Anise Parker in Houston. In 2014, LPAC endorsee Maura Healey of Massachusetts became the first out lesbian state attorney general in America, and last year the group supported Jackie Biskupski’s successful bid to become Salt Lake City’s first out LGBT mayor. In 2016, however, the group is going full throttle in what arguably is the most historically consequential effort it has faced — the election of the nation’s first woman president. LPAC’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and US senator from New York, came early — in April of last year, several weeks before Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders even joined the race officially. In announcing the endorsement, the group characterized Clinton as “an unyielding advocate for LGBTQ women.” Beth Shipp, the group’s executive director, this month told Gay City News that LPAC places a high value on having “a woman in the White House, especially this woman.” Clinton’s experience — as first lady, US senator, and secretary of state — she said, is “unmatched,” particularly on issues of health care access, women’s rights, and a woman’s right to choose. “We believe that Hillary is very progressive and has proved her bona fides time and time again,” Shipp explained. The Democratic presidential primary contest, of course, became a whole lot more competitive than LPAC or anyone else could have predicted 13 months ago, and Shipp did not shrink from praising Sanders for making a positive contribution to the race. She did so, however, in a way that emphasized that he need not emerge successful out of the Philadelphia convention in July — which he almost certainly won’t — to be satisfied with the outcome. “Bernie gets credit for getting her to appear to move to the left,” Shipp said. “Remember that Bernie didn’t originally get into race to win but to raise issues and move issues. And he has moved

Beth Shipp, who formerly was political director at NARAL ProChoice America, is executive director of LPAC.

Laura Ricketts, an attorney and part of owner of the Chicago Cubs, is LPAC’s board chair.

income inequality into the presidential race.” Even as she conceded that Sanders has generally outflanked her candidate among young voters, Shipp pointed to many young women who have rallied to Clinton’s side in key contests. “A certain segment of sexist language from Bernie bros is hurting him,” she said. “Some young women have had to take on mansplaining that’s gone on.” And Shipp, pointing to LPAC’s board, pushed back on the notion that Sanders’ challenge to Clinton represents a fundamental confrontation between progressives and Democrats less moored to such principles. Board member Urvashi Vaid, a former executive director of the LGBTQ Task Force and the head of its Policy Institute and co-founder of its Creating Change Conference, has also done social justice work at the Arcus Foundation and the Ford Foundation and prison reform work with the American Civil Liberties Union, and has served on the boards of both the LGBT-focused Gill Foundation and Planned Parenthood. Dawn Laguens is an executive vice president with Planned Parenthood, Karen Dixon is on Lambda Legal’s board as well as the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Leadership Council, and Diane Felicio is a top official at Community Catalyst, a consumer advocacy group focused on building a nationwide health justice movement. Shipp herself went to LPAC from the post of political director at NARAL Pro-Choice America. “The women at LPAC were always at the front lines,” she said, and then alluding to the perspective the group can add to Clinton’s fall race against Donald Trump, added, “But we weren’t listened to.” Explaining that the group’s “job is to remind our community and allies where Trump has been misogynistic,” Shipp said, “If you’re a

strong women, a strong LGBT person, a strong person of color, you’re going to be called names, because this is a white male patriarchal society.” Lesbians, she argued, and women generally have a perspective that is needed in politics today. “Part of the reason LPAC exists,” Shipp said, “is because of males who are not sensitive to women. And we were tired of walking into rooms with older white men deciding everything.” Pointing to LPAC’s board chair — an attorney active with Lambda Legal, Emily’s List, and the Democratic National Committee as well as a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs — she noted, “Laura Ricketts has said, ‘I don’t like politics, but I had to get in the game.’” With a father who is a significant funder of conservative Republican causes and a brother who won the Nebraska governorship with the support of Sarah Palin, Ricketts undoubtedly learned well the need to speak up for herself. According to Shipp, LPAC hopes to have a budget of about $1.2 million for this election year and has endorsed a roster of other candidates including Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, who is trying to return to the US Senate in a challenge to Republican Ron Johnson, Democratic Representative Tammy Duckworth, who is challenging GOP Senator Mark Kirk in Illinois, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland who is taking on incumbent Republican Senator Rob Portman, and Congressmember Patrick Murphy, who is in a tight race with his Democratic House colleague Alan Grayson for their party’s nomination for the seat being vacated by Senator Marco Rubio. On the House side, the group is backing two out lesbian Democrats seeking to oust Republican incumbents — Angie Craig in Minnesota and Denise Juneau in Montana.

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LPAC, continued on p.10

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8

May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


CRIME

Guilty Verdict on Four of Five Dallas BBQ Assault Charges

Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin acquitted only on allegation he stomped on one victim’s head BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

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fter deliberating for roughly two days, a Manhattan jury convicted Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin on four of five felony charges resulting from a 2015 fight he had with two gay men in a Chelsea restaurant. “There was no justification for this brutal attack,” Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, said in a May 25 statement. “Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin struck both victims in a public restaurant with a heavy wooden chair, knocking one of them unconscious. I commend the victims for their courage and my office’s prosecutors for ensuring this defendant is held accountable for this horrific attack.” The jurors, who appeared to be at loggerheads at points in their deliberations, found the 42-yearold guilty of two counts of attempted assault in the first degree for the fight with Jonathan Snipes, 33, and Ethan York-Adams, 26, and two counts of second-degree assault. El-Amin was acquitted on a fifth count that charged him with second-degree assault for allegedly stomping on Snipes’ head.

When he is sentenced on June 14, El-Amin could get up to 15 years in prison. Jurors began deliberating on May 23 and very quickly sent a note to Arlene Goldberg, the judge in the case, saying they could not reach a verdict. On the morning of May 25, jurors asked what would happen if they reached a verdict on only four of the five counts. They were then allowed to announce their verdicts on the four and instructed to continue deliberating on the outstanding charge of first-degree attempted assault on Snipes. They returned a guilty verdict on that charge later in the day. The case has been fraught from the start. The fight broke out on May 5, 2015 at the Dallas BBQ at Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street in Chelsea. The day after the fight, Snipes contacted the press claiming that he and York-Adams, his boyfriend at the time, had been the victims of a hate crime perpetrated by two men. One video showed El-Amin hitting York-Adams with a wooden chair as he and Snipes stood with their backs to El-Amin. The incident received some press attention and one protest was organized outside the

Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin bringing a chair down on Ethan York-Adams’ head at the Dallas BBQ in video captured by a restaurant patron.

restaurant that included City Councilmember Corey Johnson and State Senator Brad Hoylman. Both are openly gay and both represent Chelsea. More complete video of the incident, which went public a few months after the story broke, showed that it was Snipes who started the

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GUILTY, continued on p.22

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CRIME

Cops Seek Three in Park Slope Attack on Trans Woman Mid-day hate crime that sent victim to hospital with nose, eye socket fractures condemned BY RUTH BROWN

P

NYPD DCPI

olice are searching for three men suspected of bashing a transgender woman in the late morning on May 13 in Park Slope. The 32-year-old victim was on Seventh Avenue at Eighth Street at around 11:10 am when three men passed by the woman yelling bigoted slurs, according the NYPD. The men then attacked, punching her repeatedly in the face, fracturing her nose and eye socket, and pulling her hair, before running off, police said. The victim walked to nearby Methodist Hospital, where she was treated for her nose and eye injuries. The suspects are black, one of whom was wearing a gray Nike shirt with red sleeves, the second wearing a dark colored jacket with a royal blue Adidas T -shirt, and

The three suspects sought in a May 13 attack on a transgender woman in Brooklyn.

the third bald and wearing a blue jean jacket and glasses. One of the attackers was said to have a tattoo under one eye. A number of local elected officials condemned the violence and said it was a wake-up call about the prejudice transgender people still face in New York — even in a

generally open-minded place like Park Slope. “We will not take lightly any act of violence that threatens the inclusive community we’ve all built together,” said out gay City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca in a joint statement with his Brooklyn colleague Brad Lander and local

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LPAC, from p.7

Earlier this spring, LPAC backed US Representative Donna Edwards, who lost her bid to run as the Democratic candidate to succeed retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski in a primary against her House colleague Christopher Van Hollen. LPAC, Shipp insisted, is nonpartisan, but finding a Republican who merits the group’s support has been another matter so far. Endorsements are made based not only on a candidate’s LGBT rights record but also on their commitment to women’s equality, including reproductive choice, and social justice. Candidates opposed to abortion cannot win LPAC’s support, but the group has not made the death penalty a litmus test. Given its relatively modest budget amidst the big-dollar PAC world, the group generally plays in races where a candidate has a shot at victory and LPAC’s money and influence on the ground can contribute to that outcome. Given campaign contribution limits, much of LPAC’s influence comes from what it classifies as

LGBT groups, including the Lambda Independent Democrats, the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, and Brooklyn Pride. “At a time when transgender individuals face systematic statewide persecution in other parts of the country, horrifying events like this attack stand as reminders of the many intolerances and injustices facing the transgender community right here in New York.” Noting that 11 fatal attacks on transgender people have been documented in the US so far this year, the group added, “We must stand up against this kind of hatred and accept everyone for who they are.” Police ask anyone with infor mation about the suspects or the crime to call 800-577–8477, submit tips at nypdcrimestoppers. com, or text 274637 followed by TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

“education, awareness, and community” spending. In 2015, expenditures on that category were more than 10 times its direct candidate contributions, though that was in an election off-year, the Salt Lake City mayoral race probably its highest visibility push. Its direct candidate giving will be up significantly in 2016, but education and community-building efforts remain important. That focus will bring LPAC to New York next month. In a benefit dubbed “Levity and Justice for All,” the group will host an evening of comedians and celebrities, including Kate Clinton, Rosie O'Donnell, Billie Jean King, Lea DeLaria, Judy Gold, and Marga Gomez, at Town Hall on June 16 (tickets are $60$250 at teamlpac.com/levity). The event, Shipp explained, “is larger scale organizing than we did last year,” but the goal is not only to raise funds but also to “build community.” LPAC, she said, hopes to have an impact on LGBT awareness of what’s at stake in 2016. The group expects to see a lot of women turn out, but is optimistic that Town Hall will draw a good number of “our lesbros, as well.” May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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HEALTH

WE’RE ABOUT TO

Advocates Call for AIDS Supportive Units in $2B Housing Plan

HEAT UP THE HARBOR

Cuomo negotiating spending details with legislative leaders ahead of June adjournment

CRUISES

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

P

roponents of New York’s Plan to End AIDS are pressing Albany to include millions for supportive housing for people with AIDS in a memorandum of understanding that will detail how $2 billion in spending for housing proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo will be spent. “We’re optimistic that there will be money in there for the housing initiatives,” said Ginny Shubert, principal at Shubert Botein Policy Associates, a consulting firm. “That’s definitely what we’re hoping for.” In his January 13 proposed budget for the state fiscal year that began on April 1, Cuomo called for spending $20 billion over the next five years to combat homelessness. There was a $2 billion down payment on that proposal in the budget. The Cuomo administration, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan are negotiating the memo that will define how that money is spent. “We are continuing to discuss the MOU and there is no agreement yet, but the component to end AIDS is strongly supported by the Assembly Majority,” a spokesperson for Heastie wrote in an email. Flanagan’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The current legislative session ends in midJune. The Plan to End AIDS aims to reduce new HIV infections in New York from the current roughly 3,000 a year to 750 annually by 2020. The plan uses anti-HIV drugs in HIV-negative people to keep them uninfected and it treats HIV-positive people with similar drugs so they are no longer infectious. In addition to using anti-HIV drugs, plan proponents argue, with the backing of some science, that providing HIV-positive people with stable housing, nutrition, transporGayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

tation, and other services makes it far more likely that they will adhere to their medications and have an undetectable amount of HIV in their bodies, a status that effectively means they cannot infect others. Out of the $2 billion under discussion between the governor and legislative leaders, advocates are asking for $50 million from the state. Of that amount, $33 million would be spent on expanding housing and services for people with HIV in New York City and $17 million would pay for such housing and services upstate. Over 90 percent of the new HIV infections in New York are in the New York City. “It’s in the budget,” Shubert said. “There’s going to be a memorandum of understanding about how to allocate it. That will be done by the end of the session. The good thing is we got them to talk.” The city’s HIV/ AIDS Services Administration (HASA) currently serves only people with an AIDS diagnosis, an advanced stage of HIV infection. For nearly a decade, advocates have sought to expand the services HASA offers to anyone who is financially eligible and HIV-positive. With more people with HIV taking powerful anti-HIV drugs, AIDS diagnoses are increasingly rare though they still occur. This has meant that some people who are HIV-positive who need HASA services cannot get them. Last year, the de Blasio administration endorsed city legislation, which Shubert helped write, that would allow financially eligible HIV-positive people to access HASA services, but that support was contingent on the state paying part of the cost. “We continue to hope the state will be a partner with the city in providing support for supportive and affordable housing for New Yorkers,” Karen Hinton, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press secretary, wrote in an email to Gay City News.

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MARRIAGE

Retroactivity of Supreme Court Marriage Ruling Weighed, Ducked New Jersey, Alabama cases lead to different outcomes, but critical question remains unresolved BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

I

n two recent cases involving the rights of the surviving partners of deceased gay men, courts have confronted the question of whether marriage rights for same-sex couples, recognized last June by the US Supreme Court, should be read back into the past. In a case out of Alabama, the surviving partner received the spousal benefit he sought — the proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit — though the court did not rule directly on the retroactivity claim. In the other, the survivor was unsuccessful because his partner died seven months after same-sex marriage became available in their state, New Jersey, but just days before they were scheduled to marry. First, the hard-luck timing story from New Jersey: Rucksapol Jiwungkul and Maurice R. Connolly, Jr., began a relationship in 1983 that continued until Connolly’s death on June 2, 2014. Although the couple registered as domestic partners on July 10, 2004, the date that right went into effective in New Jersey, they decided against entering into a civil union three years later when the state created what was purported to be a status conferring all the rights and benefits of marriage. Jiwungkul and Connolly were very public about their decision not to do so. Shortly after the Legislature — under order from the State Supreme Court to grant same-sex couples either civil marriage or civil union rights — opted for civil unions, Connolly was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer describing himself as “furious.” A civil union, he said, “was not equivalent to marriage.” When the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the US Supreme Court in June 2013 and the federal government began recognizing legal same-sex marriages, the issue of whether civil unions were in fact equivalent to marriage once again came alive in New Jersey. After the State Supreme Court in October of that year refused to stay a trial court’s marriage equality ruling, Governor Chris Christie threw in the towel and same-sex marriages began. Jiwungkul and Connolly began planning for a June wedding, and applied for a marriage license on May 27, 2014, stating their ceremony would take place on June 8. Tragically, Connolly died suddenly and unexpectedly on June 2, leaving Jiwungkul as his surviving domestic partner and executor and principal beneficiary of his estate. Connolly’s bequests to Jiwungkul were not subject to the New Jersey transfer inheritance tax under the terms of the old Domestic Partnership Law. But Connolly’s estate was required to pay New Jersey estate tax of $101,041.00. Jiwungkul filed the appropriate estate tax return

18

but then filed an amended return claiming the spousal deduction and requesting a refund of the entire amount. The New Jersey Department of Taxation rejected his refund claim, pointing out that the Domestic Partnership Law did not provide domestic partners with the marital deduction for estate tax purposes. Had the men registered for a state civil union, the marital deduction would have been available, as it would have been had they married promptly in October 2013. Jiwungkul filed suit in the New Jersey Tax Court, claiming that as a result of developing judicial decisions, he should be treated as a surviving spouse. That court’s presiding judge, Patrick DeAlmeida, denied his claim. DeAlmeida pointed out that the men could have entered into a civil union as of February 2007, but made a conscious choice not to do so, and could also have married as early as October 2013. “There is longstanding policy in this State,” he wrote, “of not according statutory rights to couples who have not fulfilled the statutory requirements for a government-sanctioned relationship.” DeAlmeida rejected the argument that because the right to marry has the status of a constitutional right, the Domestic Partnership Law of 2004 should be retroactively interpreted to provide the spousal deduction for estates of same-sex partners registered under it. The couple delayed marrying, and, the judge wrote, “They must, however, accept the legal consequences, including the ramifications of the tax laws, of their decisions… Plaintiff and decedent suffered from a tragic turn of events, the tax consequences of which could have been avoided.” Jiwungkul, as executor of Connolly’s estate, is represented by Robyne D. LaGrotta of Parsippany, who could appeal the Tax Court ruling to the State Superior Court’s Appellate Division. The Alabama case turned out more favorably for the surviving partner. Paul Hard and David Fancher, Alabama residents, married in Massachusetts in 2011, at a time that their home state did not recognize their marriage. Shortly after they returned home, Fancher died when the car he was driving collided with a United Parcel Service tractor trailer. The Alabama death certificate stated he was “never married,” and Hard was not listed as his surviving spouse. The court appointed an administrator for Fancher’s estate, who filed a wrongful death lawsuit against United Parcel. Under Alabama law, estates have to distribute the proceeds from wrongful death actions to a decedent’s legal heirs. If a person is survived by a spouse but no children, but there is at least one surviving parent, the surviving spouse receives the first $100,000 plus one half of the balance,

the other half going to surviving parents. If there is no surviving spouse but there are surviving parents, the proceeds go to them. Fancher was survived by his mother, Pat Fancher. While the wrongful death case was pending, Hard filed a lawsuit against Alabama officials and the administrator of Fancher’s estate seeking a declaration that Alabama’s refusal to recognize his marriage to Fancher violated the constitution, an injunction requiring the state to issue a new death certificate taking account of the marriage, and an injunction ordering the estate to distribute to him the spousal share of any proceeds from the wrongful death suit. Pat Fancher filed a motion to intervene in the case, arguing she was entitled to the full proceeds of any wrongful death action because Alabama did not recognize the marriage so there was no “surviving spouse” as far as the state was concerned. Chief US District Judge William Keith Watkins granted her motion, while the estate’s administrator agreed to set aside the spousal share of any amount that would be recovered if the lawsuit were resolved. A settlement was reached with United Parcel several months later, and the estate administrator paid Pat Fancher the portion of the proceeds that she would be entitled to receive even if the marriage were recognized, putting the rest, about half a million dollars, in a trust account pending resolution of Hard’s case. In January 2015, when US District Judge Callie Granade ruled that Alabama’s same-sex ban was unconstitutional and refused to stay her decision, the Alabama State Registrar of Vital Statistics issued a new death certificate recognizing the Hard-Fancher marriage. Watkins, the judge hearing Hard’s suit, then directed the estate’s administrator to pay over the balance of the trust money to the court’s registry and stayed the case, pending the Supreme Court’s expected decision on the marriage equality issue nationwide. When the Supreme Court ruled, Hard moved to lift the stay and disburse the remaining money to him, while the state attorney general moved for dismissal since Hard now had the substitute death certificate he sought. The court granted Hard’s motion to release the funds to him and dismissed the case last July 15. Pat Fancher quickly filed a motion to set aside the dismissal order and block payment to Hard, arguing that unless the Supreme Court’s ruling applied retroactively, the amended death certificate was invalid. The district court denied the motion and ordered the clerk court to distribute the money. Pat Fancher appealed.

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MARRIAGE, continued on p.22

May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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From the stage at the conclusion of the AIDS Walk, the dollar total of funds raised is on display.

30K YIELDS $4.5MM FOR AIDS

GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie with Tony-winner Bebe Neuwirth, now appearing on CBS’ “Madam Secretary,” and her TV co-star Erich Bergen.

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO In its 31st annual AIDS Walk, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the world’s first HIV services organization, drew a crowd of more than 30,000 to Central Park for a 10-kilometer hike to raise money to fight the epidemic.

At the conclusion of the event, the group estimated it had raised more than $4.5 million, which supports GMHC and more than 40 other community-based organizations serving those living with HIV and AIDS throughout the metropolitan area.

LaChanz, a star of “If/ Then” and “The Color Purple,” sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

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Jay Armstrong Johnson, a star of ABC’s “Quantico,” sings “If We Only Have Love.”

According to GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie, the annual event has raised a total of more than $145 million through its three-decade life. GMHC provides prevention outreach, services, care, and advocacy for more than 9,000 clients annually, and a current focus

of its efforts is encouraging HIV-negative people who believe they may be at risk for transmission to consider PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, which when taken as prescribed is highly effective at preventing infection.

Rosie Perez, of “The View,” addresses the AIDS Walk Crowd.

May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

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fight and only one man fought with Snipes. None of the charges against El-Amin was charged as a hate crime. When he testified, Snipes said he heard someone say the word “faggot” and he believed that person was El-Amin so he hit him with his purse. The incident, which lasted about one minute, had three discrete parts and, at the start of the trial, prosecutor Leah Saxtein said that El-Amin was not charged with any crime in the first part, when he pounced on Snipes after being struck. In the videos that were played in court, Snipes appears to

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CUOMO, from p.13

Cuomo first endorsed the Plan to End AIDS in 2014. He then organized a 63-member task force, which included every leading AIDS group in the state, to write the plan. He accepted the plan at a very large public ceremony in 2015. Since then, he has consistently underfunded the plan in the state budget. At first, AIDS groups were publicly polite. “Basically, we’re trying to strike a fine balance between vigorous and relentless pressure with even handed patience,” Mikola De Roo, a spokesperson at Housing Works, an AIDS services group, wrote in a March 2015 email that was among documents obtained by Gay City News in a Freedom of Information request made to the city’s Office of Management and Budget. “There will be plenty of opportunities in coming weeks and months to turn the heat up more and hit the Governor harder and for the harder

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SPONSORED BY

GUILTY, from p.9

MARRIAGE, from p.18

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals pointedly refrained from deciding whether last June’s marriage equality ruling applies retroactively. Instead, it focused on Fancher’s failure to argue that the case was not moot, the only valid ground to challenge the trial court’s decision to dismiss it. Since Hard had obtained the relief he sought, there was no “live controversy” before the district court. In response to Fancher’s challenge to the district court’s order that the remaining money be paid

strike El-Amin in two of the parts. The third part, where El-Amin used the wooden chair, was always the greatest threat to him because both Snipes and York-Adams are turned away from him. El-Amin’s attorney argued his client was acting in self-defense throughout the incident. Both Snipes and York-Adams testified that they were drunk and both men received medical attention from an EMT following the incident. They both refused a trip to an emergency room, saying they did not have insurance and could not afford the trip. This suggested they did not believe their injuries were serious.

punch to be far more effective than it would be right now.” Charles King, the chief executive at Housing Works, is credited with devising the plan, along with Mark Harrington, the head of the Treatment Action Group, an advocacy organization. King co-chaired the task force and has been the plan’s leading champion. Protests about the state dragging its feet have grown increasingly loud since last year, culminating in a dayslong occupation in March of an office near Cuomo’s in Albany during the run up to the start of the state fiscal year. The protest was organized by VOCAL-NY, an AIDS group. In mid-May, Cuomo introduced legislation that would enact other provisions of the Plan to End AIDS, such as expanding HIV testing and allowing pharmacies to distribute anti-HIV drugs that keep a person with a recent exposure to the virus from becoming infected without a prescription.

out to Hard, the appeals court found, “Once the State of Alabama recognized Hard as the surviving spouse and the district court dismissed the case as moot, the court committed no abuse of discretion by disbursing the funds accordingly.” Hard is represented by Montgomery attorneys David Dinielli, Scott Daniel McCoy, and Samuel Eugene Wolfe. Pat Fancher is represented by Matthew Thomas Kidd, also of Montgomery. The 11th Circuit opinion was issued unsigned by a panel consisting of Judges Adalberto Jordan, Julie Carnes, and Jill Pryor.  May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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Pride Wangled From My Audiences

I

BY GERALD BUSBY

came out while a junior at Yale in 1959, when a gay witch hunt brought me faceto-face with the campus police. The practice back then was to “catch” one of us expressing himself orally in a public restroom and then coerce him to reveal his cohorts. Shades of the House Un-American Activities Committee. I was named by one of those captured transgressors, brought to campus police headquarters, and told if I’d say what I did was wrong and name someone else, I wouldn’t be “fired,” Yale’s term for being expelled. I chose with considerable trepidation to say I was, and always had been, homosexual — but to my shame, I named another student I’d been intimate with. I remember calling the police interviewer’s attention to other behavior in the men’s room I thought was far worse than men diddling each other — men sitting on toilets meticulously chiseling glory holes with pocket knives through the marble partitions that separated the stalls. Some holes were decorated peripherally with rococo flourishes of colored felt tip pens. I worked part-time for the university’s maintenance department — Operating Services it was called — that, without comment except for those of us who were gay, treated this vandalism as routine. They replaced the marble partitions just as they reupholstered leather chairs that were worn thin or had cigarette burns. My case was referred for final judgment to the master of Branford College where I lived. We called him Old Iron Jaw. “One bad apple spoils the barrel” was his argument, but then he acknowledged, “Times are changing. If you’ll agree that you’re abnormal and see a psychiatrist, we’ll let you off.” I agreed, traumatized but grateful to avoid further humiliation. Years later Old Iron Jaw’s son contacted me for a tribute to his recently deceased father. I was sur-

COURTESY: GERALD BUSBY

FREE

PERSPECTIVE: A Yale Remembrance

Gerald Busby at Yale, 1960.

prised to hear myself saying his father had supported my coming out at Yale by not firing me. It was true, though inadvertent. I also told him that most of my gay friends at Yale had judged me harshly for admitting I was gay and not playing the game by the accepted rule — you could do almost anything you wanted and look any way you liked if you never called it by its real name. My straight professors and one gay piano instructor in the music school supported me. Most sympathetic was Nathaniel Lawrence, my philosophy of religion teacher. He’d been a protégé of Alfred North Whitehead at Harvard. Whitehead and Bertrand Russell were the authors of “Principia Mathematica,” an epic tome on the foundations of mathematics. Professor Lawrence was compassionate and understanding. Just two weeks before I had told him about bringing a hustler to my college room. When the hustler turned violent I called the campus police, but I didn’t press charges when he was taken into custody. He was only 19, it was his first offense, and I didn’t want him to have a criminal record. I’m sure I was thinking of myself in his position. The next two years of psychotherapy with Dr. Arstein were totally about admitting the error of my

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YALE, continued on p.25

May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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YALE, from p.24

ways and changing my habits to align with acceptable behavior. I kept thinking, “This is Yale and it’s a misdemeanor to be gay.” In East Texas back then, it was a felony. Homosexuality was officially a neurosis in the world of medical definitions, and I remember Dr. Arnstein saying to me, “Does it really make you happy to make love to another man?” This was the nicest way he could say what he really meant: “Do really like to suck cock knowing that it’s abnormal?” “Yes,” I answered. “It can make me very happy.” I really didn’t think that I was making love with other men, though I sometimes had desperate crushes on them. My virtuoso piano performances at Yale distracted me from such compelling urges, very much as they had when I was a teenager and played eight services a week in the First Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas. I wasn’t proud of my sexual identity, but I was proud of the ways I could create to connect with other men secretly, sometimes seducing them through my musical talent. This was my modus operandi at 16, when I toured the South one summer with a Mexican Southern Baptist evangelist named Angel Martinez. I was the gospel piano player, and I ran the length of the keyboard with scales, arpeggios, and octaves that glorified the Lord. Angel himself was handsome and charming. He could quote from memory lengthy passages from the Bible while members of the congregation, mostly poor white people, marveled “how smart that Mexican is.” He was married to a woman who looked like Jayne Mansfield. Angel never came on to me, but the young doctor I was staying with in Sylacauga, Alabama, kissed me passionately one night in bed. His name was Henry, and he tasted like tobacco. The Angel Martinez Gospel Team was hired for a two-week “Crusade for Christ” in a football stadium. Besides saving souls, we had to raise money to keep going. My career at Yale as a pianist thrived. I accompanied the University Glee Club conducted by Fenno Heath, and I was featured in its programs playing Bartok’s “Suite Opus 14” or Chopin’s “Scherzo GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

in C-sharp minor.” I also liked to sneak into practice rooms in the basement of Woolsey Hall and blast sustained sounds from the Holtkamp pipe organ. I wasn’t supposed to be there since I was a piano major. One morning the curator of organs, Mr. Thompson-Allen, stuck his head in the door and asked, “Is that Messiaen you’re playing?” “No,” I answered, “I’m just improvising.” With no expression on his face he responded, “In that case you’ll have to leave.” I realize now that my identity as a gay man at Yale was really determined by others, my audiences, as it were, for sexual and musical performances. I remember no pride other than knowing for sure I existed if I had sex with another man. It didn’t matter how difficult or humiliating it might be, very much as an abused woman knows who she is because her lover beats her — abuse as a mode of existence. My gay life consisted of the challenge and tyranny of constantly pursuing pleasure. I was proud of my conquests at the piano and with other men. Nothing resembling gay pride had dawned on me. When I graduated from Yale in 1960, I came to New York and got a job typing in an advertising agency like the one in “Mad Men.” The CEO was the most erudite gay man I ever met. He was German, elegant, and conspicuously successful marketing a diet drink called Metrecal. He owned the building that housed his agency on 51st Street between Madison and Park. He had Picasso ceramics on his desk; Paul Klee drawings and Matisse paintings hung on the walls in his office. He hired handsome young men as account executives, and I occasionally lunched with them at Reidy’s or the Yale Club. I was proud not necessarily to be gay, but to be included in this group of mostly straight men. I had just begun my journey as a homosexual in New York with a degree in music and philosophy from Yale. I could type faster than anyone else in the typing pool. Gerald Busby, a longtime resident of the Chelsea Hotel and protégé of Virgil Thomson, is best known for his film score for Robert Altman’s “3 Women” and his dance score for Paul Taylor’s “Runes.” With Craig Lucas, Busby is currently writing an opera based on “3 Women.”

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SAT.MAY.28 GALLERY The Queer Enlightenment in Art

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.

TUE.MAY.31 DANCE Emerging from the Crowd “Salon, Solos, Etc” is a presentation at Douglas Dunn Studio of fluctuating arrays of solos, duets, and trios drawn from Dunn’s 45 years of organizing bodies aesthetically to be viewed. Each evening will be different, with some bits repeated here and there and the dancers released from being one of many in the supportive context of a whole dance. Dancers include Dunn, Grazia Della-Terza, Jules Bakshi, Alexandra Berger, Janet Charleston, Emily Pope, Paul Singh, Jin Ju Song-Begin, Jake Szczypek, Tim Ward, and Christopher Williams. 541 Broadway at Spring St. May 31, Jun. 1-5, 7 & 9 p.m. Suggested donation is $15, and no reservations are needed. Drinks and snacks available.

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.” 26 Wooster St. btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. Through Aug. 12.

THU.JUN.2 PERFORMANCE Anybody Here Seen My Old Friend Whitney? Part concert and part biographical drama, “Michael. Amy. Whitney. Karen. Kurt.” offers an insider’s look at the lives of Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Karen Carpenter, and Kurt Cobain, with a cast that includes Samantha Aneson (Karen), Jenni Lark (Amy), Jesse Tyler Moore (Kurt), Jasmine Thomas (Whitney), and Jason Dwayne Wells (Michael). The Duplex, 61 Christopher St. at Seventh Ave. S., Sheridan Sq. Jun. 2, 9 & 16, Jul. 1, 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 at duplex.com, $25 at the door, and there’s a twodrink minimum.

Di and Viv and Rose Last seen on the West End, Amelia Bullmore’s new play “Di and Viv and Rose” is the story of three young women, away from home for the first time and

READING

GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

MAX SILVER

Playwright and arts administrator Azure D. Osborne-

ACTIVISM Honoring Angela Davis

Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art presents its Sackler Center First Award to Angela Davis, a feminist scholar social justice activist and professor emerita at the University of California Santa Cruz. Davis came to international prominence in 1969 when, as a member of the Communist Party USA, she was removed from her teaching position in UCLA’s Philosophy Department and later prosecuted on federal charges on which she was acquitted. The author of nine books, Davis is a founding member of Critical Resistance, an organization dedicated to the dismantling of the US prison industrial complex. Davis will appear in conversation with Gloria Steinem and New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks. Brooklyn Museum, Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium, 200 Eastern Parkway near Grand Army Plaza, third fl. Jun. 2, 6-9 p.m. Tickets begin at $50 at brooklynmuseum.org.

THEATER

WED.JUN.1 To Be Queer, Gifted & Black

hailing from three distant corners of England, who form a complicated friendship during their first year at university. Their life in a shared flat feels boundless and bountiful — as intense as it is beautiful. When time catapults the trio forward, apart, and then back into each other’s laps and hearts, we witness how their futures depend on a mutual preservation of their shared past. Leta Tremblay directs Olivia Levine, Raven Pierson, and Leslie Erin Roth. Studio Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 W. 42nd St. Jun. 2, 8, 9, 15 & 16, 7 p.m.; Jun. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18, 8 p.m.; Jun. 4, 11 & 18, 2 p.m.; Jun. 5, 12 & 19, 3 p.m. Tickets are $27.25 at telecharge.com.

BROOKLYNMUSEUM.ORG

“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 the show includes 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.

Lee and queer feminist author and poet Ashley Young present an evening of works-in-progress highlighting the experiences of queer black characters in fiction and non-fiction narratives. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. Jun. 1, 7-9 p.m. Suggested donation of $10 benefits BGSQD.

FRI.JUN.3 READING Fourth Annual Bisexual Book Awards Sheela Lambert, director of the Bi Writers Association, hosts the group’s annual Bisexual Book Awards, which will include readings by finalists in a number of genres, including Kate Evans reading from her memoir “Call It Wonder: An Odyssey of Love, Sex, Spirit, and Travel,” Emily Bingham reading from her “Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham,” B.R. Sanders reading the fantasy fiction novel “Ariah,” Francis Gideon reading from his romance “A Winter in Rome,” Megan Mulry reading from her romance “Bound with Honor,” Michelle Moore and Reesa Herberth reading from their mystery “Peripheral People,” Heidi Belleau and Sam Schooler reading from their erotic novel “Dead Ringer,” Erica Yang reading from her young adult novel “Bad Idea,” Redfern Jon Barrett reading from his “Giddy Death of the Gays & Strange Demise

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FRI.JUN.3, continued on p.33

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FRI.JUN.3, from p.27

Witnessing Kitty Genovese

NIGHTLIFE Queering Shakespeare & Your Beer “So You Think You Can Drag” winner Juicy L i u h o s t s N e w Yo r k S h a k e s p e a r e Exchange’s raucous spin-off of its popular “ShakesBEER Pub Crawl,” the re-dubbed “ShakesQUEER Pub Crawl.” Blasting out of the Shakespeare canon with classic scenes performed not just in drag but genderflipped (or otherwise intriguingly queered up) will be Matt Shingledecker (“Wicked” “Spring Awakening”), Vince Gatton (Drama Desk nominee for “Candy and Dorothy”), Amy Jo Jackson, Justin R. G. Holcomb, Quincy Ellis, Kim Krane, Eleanor Handley, Nathaniel P. Claridad, and Elizabeth Neptune. Check in for the crawl is at Boxers HK, 742 Ninth Ave., btwn. 50th & 51st Sts. on Jun. 4, 3:30 p.m., with the crawl running from 4-7. Tickets are $90 at shakespeareexchange.org, and proceeds benefit Immigration Equality and the New York Shakespeare Exchange.

READING Let’s Be Dads Jeffrey Roach, author of “PopDaddy: Boy Meets Boy Meets Baby,” will be joined by his husband Ken Manford and their son Jackson as he reads from his new GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

PERFORMANCE A Riot of Choral Music ChoralFest USA is a marathon concert event created to present performances of choral works written by American and nonAmerican composers, both past and present. This year’s “Celebration of the Diversity of Choral Music in America” includes performances by groups from across New York State — including the University at Buffalo Choir, Manhattan’s C4: The Choral Composer-Conductor Collective, La Guardia High School Women’s Chorus of Queens, eVoco Voice Collective from Garden City, the Lavender Light Black and People of All Colors Lesbian and Gay Gospel Choir of New York City, and Rosenbaum’s Canticum Novum Singers. Composer Peter Schickele is the event’s special guest, and the concert concludes with an audience sing-along of Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia.” In the spirit of Symphony Space’s “Wall to Wall” events, audience members may come and go as they please, subject to seating availability, throughout the day. Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, 2537 Broadway at 95th St. Jun. 4, 3-10 p.m. Admission is free, but for a reserved seat at $40, visit symphonyspace.org.

SUN.JUN.5 COMMUNITY Pride Begins in Queens First held in 1993, t h e Q u e e n s Pride Parade & Festival kicks off with the parade down 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights, beginning at noon, Jun. 5 at 89th St. and proceeding to 75th St., the site of the afternoon festival. This year’s grand marshals are Jessica Stern, the executive director of Outright Action International, City Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland,

SYMPHONYSPACE.ORG

SAT.JUN.4

memoir. Roach and Manford’s lives take a sudden and unexpected turn when their best friend announces she’s pregnant. Ken wants a baby, too. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming, and intensely personal story of two gay men in their 30s who decide to pursue an international adoption from Guatemala. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. Jun. 4, 7-9 p.m. Suggested donation of $5 benefits BGSQD.

MICHAEL SHIREY

Fifty years ago, the name Kitty Genovese became synonymous with urban apathy after news that she was stabbed to death on a Queens street while 38 witnesses in nearby apartments did nothing. “For more than half an hour,” the New York Times report began, “38 respectable, law-abiding citizens... watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks... Not one person called the police.” Forty years later, her brother Bill, who was 16 at the time of his lesbian sister’s death in Kew Gardens, decided to find the truth buried beneath the story. In the process, he uncovered a lie that transformed his life, condemned a city, and defined an era. James Solomon’s film opens Jun. 3 at the IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. Showtimes at ifccenter.com.

KALLE WESTERLING

FILM

BGSQD

of Straights,” and Lambert reading from “Bisexuality in Education,” edited by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli. Elizabeth Beier presents her comic book art in “Bisexual Trials & Errors.” Michael David Gordon & “Honeybird” Monique Mizrahi perform live music. Westbeth Artists Housing and Center for the Arts, 55 Bethune St., near Washington St. Jun. 3, book signings at 6:30 p.m., program from 7-10:30 p.m. An afterparty follows at Malaparte Restaurant, 753 Washington St. at Bethune St. Tickets to the ceremony are $15 at fuscialadybug@netzero. com or at the door. The afterparty, with food and a full bar, is on a cash basis.

and the AIDS Center of Queens County. From 1:30 p.m. to 6, the festival, with several stages, takes place at 75th St. at 37th Rd. For complete details, visit queenspride.org. Pride Unites Us/ El Orgullo Nos Une!

MON.JUN.6 READING Adam Haslett, Tony Kushner & Ben Whishaw Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Adam Haslett (“You Are Not a

Stranger Here”) joins Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”) to discuss Haslett’s new novel “Imagine Me Gone,” an elegant, harrowing, and epic story of one family overshadowed by a father’s depression, trying to love and care for one another across the span of 40 years. Seamlessly weaving humor and turmoil, “Imagine Me Gone” provokes readers to think about how they see the most important people in their own lives. Actor Ben Whishaw (“The Crucible,” “Skyfall”) reads from the novel. Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, Jun. 6, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, $15 for those 30 and under at symphonyspace.org.

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PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

Oh, Lighten Up Already!

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FOUNDING MEMBER

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FOUNDING MEMBER

INFINITI

Seth J. Bookey, Anthony M.Brown, Kelly Jean Cogswell, Andres Duque, Michael Ehrhardt, Steve Erickson, Andy Humm, Eli Jacobson, David Kennerley, Gary M. Kramer, Arthur S. Leonard, Michael T. Luongo, Lawrence D. Mass, Winnie McCroy, Eileen McDermott, Mick Meenan, Tim Miller, Donna Minkowitz, Gregory Montreuil, Christopher Murray, David Noh, Sam Oglesby, Nathan Riley, David Shengold, Yoav Sivan, Gus Solomons Jr., Tim Teeman, Kathleen Warnock, Benjamin Weinthal, Dean P. Wrzeszcz

A son comes clean with his father in a new Infiniti ad.

BY ED SIKOV

T

here’s a new Infiniti ad — um — out. From LGBTQ Nation: “A young man sheepishly talks to his visibly displeased father. ‘Look, this isn’t easy for me, either,’ the young man says, with knitted brow. ‘I’m sorry if you don’t like it, but it just feels right.’ ‘We didn’t raise you this way,’ his father snaps. ‘You must have known I was a little different,’ the son pleads. ‘Not this different,’ responds his father, voice heavy with displeasure. It’s a familiar tableaux [sic] — but it’s not what you think. We first learned of this new commercial through Joe My God, whose readership seems to think the ad ‘trivializes’ the coming out experience. Do you agree? Or do you think it’s all in good fun? (Or do you think it’s really just sort of lame?)” Whoa! Not so fast! If you’re going to quote a commercial, then quote it accurately (and spell tableau correctly). The father says, “This isn’t how we raised you,” not “We didn’t raise you this way.” After Dad says, “Not this different,” the son says with a trace of a smile, “You never wanted to try it?” The father is horrified. “Enough!” he says, raising his hand in a stop gesture. The son doesn’t “plead.” No, he’s confident and secure. And are those the only choices we’re given in terms of our responses? It’s more than “in good

fun.” It’s the most gay-friendly ad I’ve ever seen. Turning to Joe My God itself, we find, “JMG reader John feels that the commercial trivializes or mocks coming out.” My, my, aren’t we sensitive? A major car company, Infiniti (not “Infinity” as LGBTQ Nation misspells it) uses coming out as a metaphor for bucking family tradition and striking out on one’s own, and we’re complaining about it? That’s absurd! This is exactly the kind of advertising we should promote — thoughtful, wry, and effective. In fact, maybe the metaphor works the other way around; maybe the trope is the car and handsome guy’s coming out is the real subject of the ad. Its powerful engine vrooming as the car hurtles forward, the Infiniti then becomes the metaphor for breaking traditional family constructs by coming out. Hey, why not? Why do we always have to see the worst in everything? It’s morbid.

Congressional (in)action can be dreadfully difficult to describe without putting one’s readers to sleep or confusing them to the point of nausea. The endless maneuvering, the votes on whether or not to vote on a provision that requires a separate vote — it’s mind numbing. Case in point: “During debate on a military spending bill, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) offered an amendment to nullify a provi-

sion in a separate bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, that the House passed late Wednesday,” writes Jennifer Bendery of Huffpost Politics. “The provision opens the door to government contractors citing religious liberty as grounds for firing or harassing employees who are LGBT. Democrats, and some Republicans, unsuccessfully tried to keep the language out of the NDAA bill. So Maloney, who is openly gay, put up his amendment Thursday to try again on a different bill. As the votes came in, it became clear Maloney had the support to pass his amendment. The clock ran out and the tally was 217-206. Some lawmakers cheered.” I don’t blame Bendery, but what the hell actually happened here? Maloney responded to one bill by proposing an amendment to a second bill, and it — the amendment, not the second bill — passed. That’s when the cheering began. But wait — it ain’t over: “But the vote isn’t official until the gavel comes down, and the Republican lawmaker in the speaker’s chair held the vote open for several more minutes — a sign that GOP leaders were working on flipping some of their members from yes to no. That’s when the booing began. Lawmakers began chanting, ‘Shame! Shame! Shame!’ and ‘regular order!’ — meaning the gavel should come down since the clock ran out. In the meantime, the vote tally began to shift. A handful of Republicans slowly changed their votes from yes to no. By the end, the vote was 212-213 and the gavel came down to loud boos.” So the amendment passed, but then it didn’t. A few Republicans changed their votes after the clock ran out, but the clock didn’t matter. What mattered is that the gavel hadn’t clacked the proceedings to a close. By the time it did, the amendment hadn’t passed. We turn to the Hill for further explication. One of the vote changers “denied in a statement that he had been pressured by GOP leaders to change his vote. He maintained that he supports the language in the defense authorization that offers religious exemptions. ‘I am outraged that political opponents or members of the press would claim or insinuate that I cast a vote due to pressure or party politics. No one controls my

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MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.37

May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: Snide Lines

Misty Rojo’s Fight Against Prison BY SUSIE DAY

JUSTICE NOW

T

he United States, with only five percent of the world’s population, currently incarcerates some 2.3 million people, or more than 20 percent of the world’s prisoners. You’ve no doubt read statistics like these all too often. But from time to time, it’s good to remember that each of those people behind bars is, in fact, a human being. This small account is about a California woman named Misty Rojo, whom I interviewed a few months ago. At 14, Misty Rojo was one more kid on the street, battling drug addiction. Nine years later, she was behind bars, facing a life sentence for attempted murder. It wasn’t that she hadn’t wanted to make her life work. While still in her teens, Misty tried a variety of jobs. She got married, had four sons, then contracted HIV from her husband, who began battering her. So she took the kids and went to women’s shelters. “I kind of reached a point where I was breaking down,” said Misty, “and probably the drugs were not helping. I guess I kicked

into survival mode in a very crazy way. There was somebody that lived near me that I knew was a drug dealer. I don’t know if he was really abusing his wife or not, but I thought he was. And so I felt that justified going in and robbing him and shooting him. It was connected to my abuse, but it wasn’t against my abuser.” The hardest thing, when Misty entered the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) at 23, was to “wrap my mind around not having my children.” But the life inside didn’t surprise her. Many, probably most of the women there had also been abused. But lots of people have survived lots of different traumas, says Misty. “You just don’t get into people’s business that way if they don’t want to discuss it.” During her first three months inside, she remembers, seven women died due to various medical conditions, many of which could have been treated if corrections officers had paid attention. “People were just dropping dead,” she said. “The prison didn’t really explain much, they just told you to go lock yourself in your room until they removed the body.” Basically, her life behind bars confirmed

Misty Rojo speaking on behalf of Justice Now at a criminal justice conference.

Misty’s sense that the world thought she was nothing. Inside, people also discovered that Misty was HIV-positive. “When it first came out, it was horrible,” she recalled. “My cellmates were like, ‘If your hair is left out, it’ll infect us.’ And, ‘How could you have children and not worry about killing them?’ It really tortured me.” Then one day she met some members of a group called Justice Now, who rocked her world on a routine visit to CCWF. Justice Now, a California prisoner -support organization,

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SNIDE LINES, continued on p.36

PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad

From Paris to Peru: Women Daring the Streets BY KELLY COGSWELL

I

was sitting on the Paris metro last week when some guy of about 30 plopped himself down next to the teenage girl across from me and began to ask, “Where are you going? What stop are you getting off at?,” as he touched her shoulder and touched her arm. She didn’t look at him, but kept answering. She’d been trained to be polite after all. When she glanced over I told her, “You don’t have to respond.” And the guy turned from the girl to me and asked, “Are you her mother? Is she your mother?” And the girl and I looked at each other and said, “Yes,” in unison. He pawed her one last time and left at the next stop. I hope his dick falls off, though another GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

creep will appear. The girl told me that she is harassed all the time on the metro. That’s what women exist for. Our opened mouths are only allowed to laugh at your jokes. In advertisements our lips are permanently parted so you can imagine your cock in there. Yeah, every woman is dying for it. Except for senile old ladies like me who might act irrationally, forget what we’re doing, and bite it off. Afterwards, I had this insane desire to laugh. Like mother like daughter, I let men do the same things to me at her age, worse even, wanting to please. I had no stock response that would deflect attention without making a scene that might humiliate or enrage them, and then whatever happened would be all my fault. Even if nothing did, I’d still be that humorless, screaming harri-

dan that even other women hate, afraid I’ll make them look bad. About the same time, a large group of female ex-ministers of both the right and left denounced pervasive sexual harassment within the French political class. They seemed less angry than relieved to finally speak up. I remember how happy I was the first time I was on the street with a bunch of dykes and, transformed from object into actor, finally began to express myself on this bigger stage, claim space with my body if nothing else. Lately, though, I think street activism is only radical for women. There’s nothing new about seeing men there. My mother never even ate in a restaurant at a table for one, never went alone to the movies, or even saw a woman preacher in the pulpit. Decades later,

the idea of a woman in the White House still seems ridiculous. The woman owner of a big-time French soccer club is told to go back in the kitchen. In November, ISIS terrorists blamed women for forcing them to pick up automatic rifles, strap on suicide vests, and attack Paris bars and cafés. Because what could be more of an affront to God than seeing women relaxing in public, polluting nearby men? Not long ago, we went back to the nearby Comptoir Voltaire, which had finally reopened after the attacks. I ordered a glass of cold white wine. The woman next to us drank coffee and turned her face to the sun. We spoke French, and English, and Arabic, all genders together. We thumbed our noses at God. Or just men, maybe. Last week, three Femen interrupted an appearance by the Muslim Brotherhood’s golden heir, Tariq Ramadan, who likes to tell credulous Westerners about his peaceful version of “political Isla-

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DYKE ABROAD, continued on p.36

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works with women and transgender people for social justice and a world without prisons — ideas Misty had never heard before. “What changed me,” said Misty, “was Justice Now giving me a lens to see how the layers of oppression work. To fight back and not just be a victim.” At first, Misty explained, she got involved mostly to “piss off the prison.” Then she actually got to like taking classes on topics like substance abuse and the impact of crimes on victims. She learned to help people inside write appeals to the administration. And she learned about HIV from a peer-education group of HIV-positive people who helped her confront the shame and stigma she had been carrying around. When the State of California predictably threatened to close down the Justice Now programs, Misty helped restructure the curriculum into something the state could accept. So began Justice Now’s Law Project, a teaching and advocacy program based on partnership with people inside who produce learning material that can work in any prison. Misty also became a member of Justice Now’s board.

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SNIDE LINES, from p.35

DYKE ABROAD, from p.35

mism” and his love for democracy, but has a side game encouraging young men (and women) to build a world in which women are legislated into our place. The French, Algerian, and Moroccan Femen not only bared their breasts to expose painted slogans, they also tried to cover up Ramadan’s face with the black abaya that allowed them to piously sit in the first row before storming the stage. Ramadan didn’t like it at all. A double discourse works just as well for the pope, who seems positively gay-friendly and progressive when he visits the US but in Italy mobilizes his forces against LGBT activists, so effectively watering down a recent civil union bill my queer Italian friends didn’t bother to celebrate when it passed. Worldwide, the Catholic Church works against access to contraceptives and abortion, torturing poor women with enforced

Between 2006 and 2010, California sterilized about 150 women prisoners, deemed by prison authorities to be likely to return to prison after release.

The Law Project concentrates on health, family support, and compassionate release. Its educational texts, such as a comprehensive chapter on reproductive health, are collectively written by people both inside and outside prison. Just now, said Misty, they’re working on a chapter about eugenics, explaining to women how the State of Califor nia has historically used sterilization — for instance, how, between 2006 and 2010, California ster-

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SNIDE LINES, continued on p.37

pregnancies and even jail if they dare interrupt a pregnancy. Recently in El Salvador, a women sentenced to 40 years in prison for a presumed abortion — she said it was a miscarriage — was released after five years in jail. In Peru, another Catholic country, women also went topless last week, to protest new penalties for abortion and denounce the candidacy of Keiko Fujimori, whose father is the former president. Alberto Fujimori is in jail for corruption and a couple of small massacres. Between 1996 and 2000, he was also responsible for the sterilization of as many as 300,000 poor indigenous women, the majority against their will. The cops last week tear-gassed the protesters, of course, these dozen terrifying women. That image for me says it all. Enor mous armed men. A cloud of tear gas erasing vulnerable women with a few words scrawled across their bare chests. May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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SNIDE LINES, from p.36

GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.34

vote,’ [he] said in a statement, adding that ‘I abhor discrimination in any form and at any place.’” Except when it comes to gay people. And that whole “pressure or party politics” thing? Nothing to see here, folks — move along. The Hill’s Cristina Marcos continues: “Maloney was able to offer the amendment because the spending bill was brought to the floor under a procedure that allows lawmakers to offer unlimited numbers of amendments without any advance notice. Because the amendment was offered right before the vote series began, some Republicans said they weren’t even briefed on the issue.” Marcos elaborated on the Republicans not being prepared. “‘We didn’t know what was happening until we were walking to the floor,’ another GOP lawmaker said of the LGBT measure,” she wrote. “‘From my personal experience, my staff and I had no idea that amendment would be run. I wasn’t briefed on that amendment.’” Interestingly, Republicans weren’t caught off guard on all amendment efforts. “By contrast, GOP leaders were prepared for another Democratic amendment that restricted the display of the Confederate flag in national cemeteries,” Marcos wrote. “That measure, offered by Rep. Jared Huffman

SEANMALONEY.COM

ilized about 150 women prisoners, deemed by prison authorities to be likely to return to prison after release. There is also information on hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS, advice on how to navigate various prison systems, and advocacy for compassionate release. “We’re one of the few organizations,” said Misty, “that helps people who are dying come home from prison.” Misty Rojo was released in 2009 — but she still wants to abolish prisons. She’s now the communications and campaign director for Justice Now, and last year received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She calls this her “bullshit degree,” but admits it helps her to do social justice work. “I’m proud of what I do,” Misty said. “I like that I get up and fight. That somebody inside is a little safer because we wrote a bill or made a phone call or provided them with a resource so they could navigate the system.” Second to her major goal of no more prisons, Misty thinks about someday “being a name in a dusty textbook that talks about people who did this work a hundred years from now — when societies figured out that policing and prisons are horrible, tortuous systems.”

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Upstate Democratic US Representative Sean Patrick Maloney.

(D-Calif.), was unveiled shortly after midnight early on Thursday morning and passed later that morning.” So the GOP lawmakers were prepared to vote on an amendment that bans the Civil War losers’ flag from national cemeteries — “Not Even the Dead Can Have Confederate Flags” the extreme right-wing Daily Caller moaned — but a good share of Republicans were unwilling to stand with that cause. Still, the GOP continues to whittle away LGBT civil rights in the name of “religious liberty” — a measure that allows you to discriminate as long as you’re a bona fide bigot. Makes perfect sense.

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NIGHT OF A THOUSAND JUDYS Merkin Concert Hall Kaufman Music Center 129 W. 67th St. Jun. 6, 8 p.m. $45-$100; kaufmanmusiccenter.org

MICHAEL SHIREY

Justin Sayre, seen here overseeing "The Meeting*," presides over “Night of a Thousand Judys” at Merkin Concert Hall on June 6.

Justin Sayre:

A Thousand Judys & A Million Laughs BY DAVID NOH

W

ith one of our community’s most beloved events, “Night of a Thousand Judys,” coming up on June 6 at Merkin Concert Hall, I snatched the chance to speak with its flamboyantly witty and fun impresario, Justin Sayre. Already a near New York legend for “The Meeting*,” his regular convening of all things and folk gay, out, fabulous, and proud, Sayre flashed an impressively manicured hand with the most amazing purple nail polish. He told me, “The Judys have become exactly what we wanted it to be, a special benefit occasion at the end of my season of ‘The Meeting*’ to give back and raise a lot of money for the Ali Forney Center and I’m really excited when we

38

get into… it’s always such fun. Judy is an endless inspiration, and the cool thing about it is that it was never about imitations, but what does this artist mean to you and how are you going to interpret her music? “This year we have Vivian Reed, Carol Lipnick, Alice Ripley, Lillias White, Barrett Foa, Gay Marshall, and others. Nathan Lee Graham is coming back, and I always write a sketch parody of a movie — and this year it’s ‘Summer Stock,’ which I love. Every number in it is great. You know, everybody always wants to sing ‘The Man That Got Away’ or ‘Come Rain or Shine,’ but we try to temper that with something more obscure, and two years ago Nancy Anderson brought in ‘Friendly Star,’ from that film, so smart, and sang it beautifully. “Every year we give an award for volunteers

at the Center, who did amazing work, and in a weird way, although it is a Judy show, the focus is still on why we’re here, this sense of community, and people really rally, saying, ‘Of course, I’ll be there for this.’” Two years ago, Sayre became bicoastal, moving to Los Angeles to write for the show “2 Broke Girls.” Its creator, Michael Patrick King, had seen a videotape of him doing “The Meeting*” in Los Angeles, got his number from Bridget Everett, and made him the job offer. “I’d never even thought about writing for television, but after our meeting, he said, ‘I think this is a great fit.’ I said, ‘Sure, if you think so. It’s your funeral.’ He wanted me to start on June 15, but that was the night of the Judys, and I said, ‘I can’t start that day.’ ‘Okay so we’ll start on the 17th.’ I finished the Judys, got on a red eye out, and landed in LA the next morning at 8 a.m. I had one day to get all my notes together and started working right away.” Even with a hectic traveling schedule, the TV show still allows for Sayre to do “The Meeting*,” with him flying here on Friday night and returning to LA Monday morning. “It’s exhausting, but at the same time thrilling to get to do this and be bicoastal,” he said. “I was at the Anohni concert last night at the Armory, and people were saying, ‘You’re kind of like living the dream!’ I guess I am and what I’ve learned about LA is that they are looking for new voices with a new take on things. People are like, ‘Okay, sell me on this,’ and I’ve never had any reactions where my ideas are too weird. Whether diversity is really happening, with all this serious talk about it, I went into a meeting at Warner Brothers, saying, ‘I don’t want to write a show about a lot of white people.’ And they were like, ‘Thanks! Great, tell me what that looks like.’” Sayre, who is also writing a film script, is one of eight writers for “2 Broke Girls,” and says friends who watch it can tell which jokes are his. The cast includes Garrett Morris — who regales with tales of being an original “Saturday Night Live” cast member and the heavy partying that went on in the ‘70s — as well as Jennifer Coolidge, who’s become a good friend. Although writers are usually stuck in one room all day and don’t have much interaction with actors apart from a 20-minute runthrough of the script before changes are made, Sayre knew Coolidge from the LA story-telling

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SAYRE, continued on p.55

May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


NIGHTLIFE

Drag Queens With Cosplay in Their Closets Worlds collide at Miss Nerd New York on June 4

FWEE CARTER/ FWEE PHOTOGRAPY

Avant Garbage, the reigning Miss Nerd New York.

BY CHARLES BATTERSBY

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GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

at mainstream geek conventions, through “Crossplay.” “Cosplay,” explained Gianaca, “is dressing as your favorite geek icon. Crossplay allows you to cross gender lines to do so. At more and more conventions, I’m seeing people dress as their favorite characters regardless of the gender. Drag intersecting geek culture is a way to enjoy your favorite fandoms while opening minds a bit.” The Miss Nerd New York pageant is open even to geeks who might be new to drag. Anyone can apply to be in the pageant, as long as they perform in the drag aesthetic. The pageant organizers are accepting entries up to June 3, or until their roster of contestants is filled. Interested nerdy queens can inquire at missnerdny@gmail.com. Hopeful competitors should be warned: When asked what she’ll do after crowning her successor, Avant Garbage said, “Push her down the stairs and take back my title!” Miss Nerd New York 2016 will be held at Rockbar NYC, 185 Christopher St. at Weehawken St., on Jun. 4, from 4 p.m.–9 p.m. Admission is $10, and attendees must be at least 21. Charity raffles — not one of the contestants! — will benefit the Association for Adults with Developmental Disabilities. Visit facebook.com/missnerdny and geeksout.org.

FWEE CARTER/ FWEE PHOTOGRAPY

rag culture and geek culture are seemingly worlds apart — but with comic conventions selling out to capacity and RuPaul an anchor presence on Logo, both now can claim a place in the realm of mainstream awareness, if not outright acceptance. The two specialized interests intersect on June 4 at Miss Nerd New York — a pageant of poindexters where a lady’s Pokémon collection is just as important as the evening gown competition. I spoke with the event organizers and participants to learn how the reigning queen of the nerds won her crown and what’s in store for audiences at this year’s pageant. “A queer nerd may have come out as gay or trans or bi and still be shamed within that community for being fascinated with super heroes or enjoying role-playing games,” said pageant director Shane Cherry. “There are people who would rather go to a bar to play ‘Super Smash

Bros.’ or ‘Mario Kart’ than go dancing. Nobody should have to come out of the closet as gay and stay in the closet about being a nerd! That’s what the pageant stands for.” Avant Garbage, winner of last year’s inaugural pageant, sees a clear connection between the outsider status of queens and geeks, at least in her own case. “I grew up a very lonely nerd, without many friends, and played make-believe with my action figures and dolls and created fantasy worlds to escape,” she recalled. “I read comic books and play video games to leave reality and have fun. Being a drag queen is my ability to escape our current reality and create those same nerdy fantasy worlds again. Ms. Garbage continued, “Drag queens and nerds are socially awkward outcasts who just want to be liked,” though she acknowledged that a common origin story of struggle doesn’t necessarily translate into political solidarity or romantic compatibility. “Drag queens are becoming more acceptable and main-

stream, but most of the gay community still doesn’t want to date or be in a relationship with a drag queen.” As the incumbent pageant winner, Ms. Garbage will be performing at this year’s event. “It’s incredible to witness how mainstream both drag and the nerd community are becoming,” she said. “‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ is making drag a household topic, and comic book-themed media is dominating films and television to the point where you’re in the minority if you’re not seeing the newest Marvel film.” Ms. Garbage believes that drag is on the way to becoming acceptable enough to not be shamed within the gay dating scene, and that nerds might be influencing that change. Cherry said he wants Miss Nerd New York to focus on more than just beauty and glamour by encouraging a degree of creativity and polish not seen in other drag pageants. When asked how the contestants will prove their nerd cred, he declared, “We won’t be asking them trivia questions or anything like that! But I think nerdy sensibilities will come out naturally. The question and answer portion is always nerdy, and the other areas of competition encourage nerdy themes and creativity.” These nerdy themes blossomed in last year’s pageant with contestants wearing costumes that referenced “Pokémon,” “Sailor Moon,” and “Carmen Sandiego.” Ms. Garbage decided to forgo the traditional drag performance of lip-synching last year. Instead, she challenged the judges to a game of “Super Smash Bros.” during the talent portion of the contest — and beat them all. She credited these gaming skills for her pageant win, along with her swimwear category entry as “Slave Leia,” inspired by the skimpy metal bikini worn by Carrie Fisher in “Return of the Jedi.” The pageant is sponsored by Geeks Out!, an organization that works to maintain a queer presence at geek events like comic book conventions. Steve Gianaca, a member of the group’s board of directors, points out that drag and geek cultures are frequently combined

Goldie Hawn-Solo, a contestant last year, is returning for this year’s pageant.

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FILM

Lovers and Other Strangers Lorenzo Vigas explores fathers, sons, power, and affection in Venezuela BY GARY M. KRAMER

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GARY M. KRAMER: You are a straight man, Lorenzo. Can you discuss why you would make such a queer film? LORENZO VIGAS: I don’t like seeing films made for someone specific. Good films are for everyone. Even though an older man and a younger man are attracted to one another, what attracts them is that they both have deep emotional needs. I come from this macho place that is South America, where you have to be alpha macho to be respected. In Venezuela we have the malandro — a criminal who gets respect. But Elder, the malandro, soon sees that Armando, who is gay, is way more macho than he is. Power is very important in the film. I always thought it was a love story.

STRAND RELEASING

n Venezuelan writer/ director Lorenzo Vigas’ superb drama “From Afar,” which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Armando (Alfredo Castro) is a 50-year-old who pays young men to bare their bodies for his masturbatory pleasure. A damaged man — he does not like to be touched — Armando gets more than he bargained for when he meets Elder (Luis Silva), a teenager who beats and robs him. However, Armando becomes intrigued by the young man and pursues him. Elder, it turns out, finds a kind of father figure and protector in Armando. Vigas adroitly chronicles the relationship that develops between this odd couple. With the camera acting as a voyeur, Vigas uses focus, silence, and probing close-ups as Armando and Elder silently exchange glances that convey deep meaning and

emotion. The film slow-burns to an intense climax. Vigas spoke with Gay City News about making “From Afar.”

Luis Silva and Alfredo Castro in Lorenzo Vigas’ “From Afar.”

GMK: You are very conscious about focus and framing, what is seen and shown. Can you talk about your visual approach to the film and story? LV: I’m the son of a very important painter in South America. I have all

that visual aesthetics in me, and I’m very much into it. When I thought of how to shoot the film, I was driven by the psychology of Armando. I thought of using extreme out-of-

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The Female Gaze Athina Rachel Tsangari’s critique of masculinity set among six Greek men on a yacht BY STEVE ERICKSON

T

STRANDRELEASING.COM

Athina Rachel Tsangari’s “Chevalier” follows six men adrift on a yacht in the Aegean Sea.

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he fact that women direct a tiny percentage of American narrative films has become a much-debated subject over the past few years, with the American Civil Liberties Union even trying to get the federal government to investigate it as a matter of job discrimination. Most people would assume that a national cinema with 51 percent of the films directed by women would offer more well-rounded portraits of female characters. But there’s another benefit to a greater percentage of female directors: a more critical take on masculinity. Films like Elaine May’s “Mikey and Nicky,” Claire Denis’ “Beau Travail,” and Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” have cast a female gaze on the bromance and military machismo. These films don’t present “strong women,” but they’re feminist by default, showing the toxic nature of contemporary masculinity. Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari’s

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focus to show him in the streets of Caracas physically, but not emotionally. I wanted him to be a ghost in the city — a separation between him and the rest of the people. The framing is important too. The film plays with things you don’t see or hear, and that’s a way to engage the audience. It fills the gaps with your imagination. It was important for me to leave things out of frame in specific moments so you can imagine it. Ambiguity is important in the film. GMK: Armando is a son who hates his father, but acts fatherly to Elder. Elder hates his father and acts like a son to Armando, then becomes his lover. Can you talk about these father/ son relationships? LV: I’ve been working on a trilogy about the absent father in Latin America. The first is “Elephants Never Forget,” my short, which is on YouTube. This is the second film. In Venezuela, the father is never home. So father figures in Latin America are leaders who are expected to replace the father who was not home when

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“Chevalier” does something similar, using an all-male cast and a setting in which the only female voices are heard on cell phones or in music. The action takes a while to get underway. Its cast of six men, adrift on a yacht off Greece, play verbal games aimlessly before settling on a wide-ranging contest whose prize is the titular ring. The oldest is the Doctor (Yorgos Kendros), who owns the ring. Dimitris (Makis Papadimitriou) delivers a lip-synch performance of Minnie Ripperton’s “Loving You,” while another man waves sparklers near him in the background. Dimitris’ older brother Yannis (Yorgos Pirpassopoulos), Christos (Sakis Rouvas), Josef Nikolau (Vangelis Mourikis), and Yorgos (Panos Koronis) are also present. The men’s gamesmanship extends to almost every area of life. They score points off each other as they pass the time on their trip; indeed, the film’s press kit mostly consists of a lengthy set of rules for the game, most of GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

FROM AFAR Directed by Lorenzo Vigas Strand Releasing In Spanish with English subtitles Opens Jun. 8 Film Forum 209 W. Houston St. filmforum.org

you were a kid. That’s why people are blind to Chavez. I have no idea why I have this obsession. My relationship with my father was the opposite. He was always home and close to me. But I felt a pressure being the son of someone very important. He never lacked emotion. Sometimes you connect with the archetype. GMK: How and when Elder displays his body to Armando is important. Can you talk about Elder’s body representing desire, longing, protection, and truth? LV: No one has taken care of Elder or given him protection, so his body is the only way he can show gratitude. Showing his body is a way

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which never come up in “Chevalier” itself. Tsangari’s last film, the excellent “Attenberg,” explored the coming-of-age of a young Greek woman. It may say something about the sexism of the film industry that it took her five years to follow it up; on the other h a n d, t h e aw ful sta te of the Greek economy may have more to do with the gap between “Attenberg” and “Chevalier.” The characters in “Chevalier” seem insulated from that state, with the possible exception of the cook. At least for a week, they live a luxurious, if tense, existence. Exercise, nutritious food, and blood sugar and cholesterol tests are indulgences used for one-upmanship, rather than necessities for health. The cinematography of “Chevalier” is deliberately drab. The colors of the boat are a contrast between brown wood panels and milky whites. There are mirrors everywhere, which may be a joke about the men’s inability to really see their own absurdity. We only

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THEATER

A Grossly Indecent Betrayal Rupert Everett triumphs as caustic wisecracker, sexual deviant Oscar Wilde BY DAVID KENNERLEY

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or years, Rupert Ever ett has rankled the LGBT community by blaming being openly gay for poisoning his acting career. Of course, saying things like “I can’t think of anything worse than being brought up by two gay dads” a few years ago hasn’t exactly won him many queer fans, either. “Self-loathing” was one of the kinder epithets hurled in his direction. Perhaps it’s time to put all that behind us. Everett, who launched his career in the early 1980s with the queer-themed play and subsequent film “Another Country,” is now tackling the grueling role of

Oscar Wilde in “The Judas Kiss” at BAM’s Harvey Theater. In this tale of morality, indignity, betrayal, and the love that dare not speak its name, Everett is no less than astonishing. Virtually unrecognizable from the debonair types he played in films like “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “An Ideal Husband” (adapted from a Wilde play), the 56-year old British actor imbues Wilde with a heady mix of panache and pathos. In some respects, the notorious Irish dramatist is an alter ego of Everett, who identifies with the maligned, misunderstood artist and sexual outlaw. His passion borders on obsession — besides gravitating to works written by Wilde (he also

appeared in “The Importance of Being Earnest”), he’s been a driving force behind this production, which originated at the Hampstead Theatre and moved to the West End and Toronto. Everett is even developing a film about Wilde’s final days called “The Happy Prince,” borrowed from a children’s story of the same title written by Wilde. His passion is palpable on the stage. If only “The Judas Kiss,” written in 1998 by David Hare (“Skylight”), was as impressive as Everett’s commitment. The fascinating yet patchy piece shines a light on two lesser-known yet pivotal chapters in Wilde’s tragic life. The first act, set in 1895 in a sumptuous Lon-

don hotel room, tries to answer the question: Why didn’t Wilde, charged with “acts of gross indecency” with young men, flee the country and avoid a painful, humiliating public trial while he had the chance? Wilde’s dearest friend and erstwhile lover, Robert Ross (Cal MacAninch), begs him to escape while Wilde’s young paramour Bosie (Charlie Rowe, who delivers a forceful performance), also known as Lord Alfred Douglas, pleads with him to stay and fight for his right to love as he pleases. Bosie’s reviled father, the Marquess of Queensberry, is leading the charge. A growing

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Race Man, Funny Man Joe Morton Is Dick Gregory in “Turn Me Loose”

MONIQUE CARBONI

Joe Morton as Dick Gregory in “Turn Me Loose.”

BY ANDY HUMM

N

igger!” That’s what I shouted at Dick Gregory at his insistence. And he replied, “Thank you, white man in the mustache. You just made me 50 bucks.” To see how such an audacious “joke” works, you have to go see Joe Morton’s epic and bitingly funny portrayal, in Gretchen Law’s “Turn Me Loose,” of the groundbreaking ‘60s comedian and race man Gregory who is still with us at 83 — and still making us laugh and think and trying to get us to eat right. Gregory fearlessly found a way a way to get America to see its racism and still be deeply entertained at a time when (Lenny Bruce notwithstanding) mother-in-law jokes were still in vogue. He played venues from the Playboy Club to college campuses. I heard him at the University of Virginia in ’72 when he was on a hunger strike over the

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Vietnam War — another life-and-death cause he was able to mine for humor. Morton, himself a 40-year star of stage (“Hair,” “Raisin”) and screen (“Brother from Another Planet,” TV’s “Scandal”), takes us, in 90 minutes, on Gregory’s journey from poor St. Louis childhood to college track star to the Army to a career in comedy launched in Chicago in the late 1950s. He quickly embraced an equally intense commitment to the Civil Rights Movement, working closely with Medgar Evers in 1963 in Mississippi immediately before his assassination in his own driveway. Morton’s rendering of these harrowing moments in Gregory’s life and the life of the movement are spine-tingling, especially how the death of his son in 1963 saved his own life. In an almost entirely one-man show save for ancillary roles played by John Carlin, Morton weaves comedy routines with commentaries on his career and race work — as well as analysis of what ailed America and still does. As we all cope with these unbelievably unsettling times, I can’t think of a better show to put it all in perspective. (The name Trump is not spoken, but hovers nevertheless.) “We didn’t die during the Civil Rights Movement so that we could elect a black president,” he says. “We died to save the least among us.” The most riveting scene has Gregory in his dressing room getting a call from NBC’s “Tonight” show in the early 1960s — every comedian’s dream. The struggle that he goes through with

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the show’s booker, host Jack Paar, and himself as he tries to balance his ambition with his need for self-respect is unforgettable. “I can make a white man laugh about anything I want him to!” he says to his mirror as he debates with himself. “I can make him beg me to make him feel bad. Just with a joke.” Dick Gregory himself is still at it — and has been known to make comments on gay issues that are less than politically correct. This show does not get into that. But in its laser focus on race, it confronts us with who we are as Americans — a culture that still imbues the n-word with a terrible sting. That is something “Turn Me Loose” — and Dick Gregory — are still trying to defuse. May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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Andréa Burns Embraces the Cuban Mother Within The Dramatist Guild luncheon and a Margaret Sullavan feast at MoMA

IN THE

NOH BY DAVID NOH

With her ravishing, face-splitting smile, Andréa Burns’ beauty reminds me of the gor geous polyglot women I grew up with in Hawaii. As Gloria Estefan’s mother in the delicious “On Your Feet,” she skillfully plays a difficult, disapproving character who

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MATTHEW MURPHY

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he always cozy and enjoyable Dramatist Guild luncheon at the Marriott on May 12 rightly honored a radiant Audra McDonald who is currently giving a triple threat performance in “Shuffle Along” that — even pregnant, while tapping away — is by any standard great. The fact that she has won six deserved Tonys means that awards count for something, but the snub of her this year, nomination-wise — as if she’s had enough already — means that they can be meaningless, too. Theater stars were in the usual abundance at the Marriott — and wonderfully accessible. I saw Jennifer Simard, who I’ve been beating the drum for since first seeing her genius comic performance in “Disaster,” and I call her the “People’s Princess Tony Nominee.” She learned of her nomination “in Cold Springs, where I was with my husband. We were down by the water, sitting in a gazebo, and we were hugging and kissing and telling one another how much we loved each other. Our show closed Sunday, but that doesn’t take way the joy we had doing it. “What am I doing now? I’m taking my husband to many fancy dinners to thank him for all the sacrifices he made for me. Of course, things will pop up, but I’m just enjoying the ride.”

Andréa Burns in “On Your Feet.”

has one moment of glory, recreating her Havana nightclub act just before Castro took over. As staged by a brilliant Jerry Mitchell and choreographer Sergio Trujillo, it’s the most the most exciting number on Broadway, sizzlingly glamorous and emotionally devastating. Of her part in “On Your Feet,” Burns told me, “Yes, she is like a Bette Davis kind of role, as you say, absolutely, a great character. I think the mother-daughter — in a first generation, stateside — situation is huge. I’ve had the experience of being on the daughter’s side of that, but it’s actually quite beautiful to stand in my mother’s shoes, who had the experience of coming to another country and trying to instill the values of the place that she came from, what’s important to my culture, while still trying to remain relevant. “I’m very moved by the story of Gloria Fejardo — what an incredible lady, 86 years old today and still quite strong and powerful. Gloria Estefan’s daughter, Emily, is quite a fantastic musician and she wrote the song in the hospital scene, the only original song in the show. This daughter was born after her mother’s bus accident when they told her she couldn’t have kids again. So she’s a miracle baby who just graduated from

Berklee College of Music. She makes these rap videos with her grandmother improvising raps in Spanish. She’s a whole other musical, a star in her own right.” I had been unfamiliar with Bur ns’ song in the show, “Mi Tierra,” and she explained, “It’s a huge anthem in Latin America. It was on Gloria Estefan’s first Spanish album and speaks about leaving your homeland, but no matter where you go it always has a pull on you that can’t let you go. You feel that undertow. “I love that you didn’t know the song and felt so connected, not being a Spanish speaker. For Latin people who know it already, it’s a very emotional song. In the show she first sings it to be entertaining [in the nightclub], but the lyrics are very real to her and it goes to a more powerfully dramatic and emotional place. Jerry and Sergio did fabulous work on this, but I also have to give a lot of credit to Maria Torres, the associate choreographer. She’s a salsa champion and really helped me get into that body of a Latin floorshow performer. She was my mentor all the way.” Like me, Burns has never been to Cuba and is dying to go now: “I am from Miami originally, so although my mom is Venezuelan, I always say I have a Cuban heart, having grown up with all the cul-

ture, music, and food. I’m one of the few Venezuelans on Broadway.” Married, with a 12-year-old son, Burns took the high road when I decried the idiotic Tony nominators who snubbed her show save one nomination for Trujillo’s choreography. “It’s a very packed season with lots of excellent performances and only five spots. What are you going to do?,” she said. There seemed to me to be a certain whiff of racism in the snub, as well. Although it doesn’t bludgeon you — albeit brilliantly — as “Hamilton” does, it is just as much about race, with the Estefans in the early days constantly struggling with stereotyped limitations put upon them by the music business. But, with Latin issues, as well as with Asians, I feel the mostly white judges of all these end-of-season award organizations are pretty blind to any color issue, save black — plus the added factor of maybe not being all that into Estefan’s music. Burns praised her book writer, Alexander Dinelaris: “That was very upsetting. Alex is an Oscar winner, a terrific writer who breathed so much grounding depth into our show made from a catalogue of pre-existing music. He’s the one who connected them all together. And, yes, the audience cheers every single night when Josh Segarra [as Emilio Estefan] says, ‘This is the face of an American.’ “But I feel very loved. There was so much outreach the day the nominations came out. So many people I love in our community said, ‘What happened? This is unexpected! I was really rooting for you!’ In a way, that was really worthwhile. It’s easy to call people on the day of good news but it’s really nice to know when there’s not good news how many people go to bat for you. Ben Brantley just wrote this thing in the Times about who should have been nominated and very kindly singled myself out, and the show in a lot

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MoMA is presenting a wonderful series: “Universal Pictures: Restorations and Rediscoveries, 1928-1937” (11 W. 53rd St., through Jun. 15; moma.org/ calendar/film/1642). Primarily known historically as the house of horror in the 1930s, it boasted a formidable leading lady in its ranks, my favorite movie actress, Margaret Sullavan. Like my other favorite, Vivien Leigh, her radiant talent was limited to far too few films, but, for a few years, she dazzled critics and audiences with her wistful yet forthrightly intelligent presence, imperfect (weak chin, too long upper lip) but compelling beauty, and that voice — a thrillingly husky marvel that could creep into the very depths of your soul. “The Good Fairy” (Jun. 4, 5 p.m.) is the best of her Universal lot, and why shouldn’t it be, brilliantly adapted by Preston Sturges from a Ferenc Molnár charmer of a play that had starred Helen Hayes — who greatly admired Sullavan — on Broadway, and elegantly directed by William Wyler, who fought with her on set and then married her (briefly, after GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

COURTESY: DAVID NOH

of categories. I was so delighted to see that and it made me feel the community has not moved on without us and we’re still — even in this Tony season — very present.” I wanted to know if two other Latin diva powerhouses, Chita Rivera and Rita Moreno, had seen the show. “Rita has been a couple of times. She came to see ‘In the Heights’ and said, “You remind me of a young me!’ Which was fabulous. She came to our first preview in Chicago as she’s very close to the Estefans, and also a couple of times to our later previews. “I finally said, ‘Look, Rita, I need your notes because I’m basically playing you.’ ‘No! No, mija [sweetheart]! No notes! Fabulous! You were fabulous.’ Meanwhile I would have taken six pages from her, but to me that means the world to have that kind of affirmation. I’m not sure if Chita has come, but I’m dying for her to see it.” Andrea Burns is in “On Your Feet” through October 5. Do not miss her.

Jennifer Simard with David Noh at the May 12 Dramatist Guild luncheon.

her divorce from Henry Fonda). In Sullavan’s entrancingly innocent, gamine per for mance, you see the roots of practically the entire career of Audrey Hepburn. “Little Man, What Now” is directed by that master of down-trodden romance among the sweet losers of the world, Frank Borzage, and takes place in a just pre-Nazi Germany. It features Sullavan as an adorable young wife of struggling Douglass Montgomery, one of the more fey — if talented — Hollywood juveniles. No one could make pover ty as picturesque or so damned appealing as she — and Borzage — in something like this. “Only Yesterday” (May 30, 4 p.m.; Jun. 12, 2:30 p.m.), an intelligent and sensitive John Stahl-directed weepie, was Sullavan’s 1933 screen debut, in which the plaudits she received universally took some of the thunder away from her contemporary and great lifelong rival, Katharine Hepburn, another jeans-wear ing, non-confor mist of a seriously committed actress. (Hepburn once admitted to purposely snatching roles she wasn’t interested in, like “The Little Minister,” just so another actress couldn’t do them, and I swear she must have meant Sullavan.) In her 1936 Paramount film, “The Moon’s Our Home,” Sullavan even did a comically bitchy Hepburn takeoff in the role of a temperamental movie queen. Their combative paths kept crossing, with the two of them sharing stage mentors (and perhaps lovers) in the diabolical genius Jed Harris, who loathed Hepburn but loved Sullavan. The prominent Hollywood agent Leland Hayward

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THEATER

Stops and Starts A tone-deaf solo show and a musical that hits the wrong tone

JULIETA CERVANTES

JOAN MARCUS

Jesse Tyler Ferguson in the one-man show “Fully Committed.”

BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE

T

he revival of “Fully Committed,” now on Broadway, is being pitched in a very disturbing TV commercial, where the show’s star — and sole cast member — highly paid TV actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson shares how onerous it is to appear on Broadway. He notes the time commitment demanded as well as the reduced pay. Perhaps Ferguson forgot that he got his start in New York theater. Perhaps the intention was ironic. No. The commercial is actually mean-spirited and demeaning to the hundreds of Broadway actors who work their hearts out eight times a week and the thousands more who would give anything for a chance to work. Having seen the show, one can’t help but think that if the sacrifice is indeed so great, Ferguson might have saved himself — and us — the suffering. Over the course of about 85 minutes, Ferguson plays 40 different roles. The main one is Sam, the reservation manager at a swanky, impossible-to-book restaurant in Manhattan. Sam is kind of mild mannered and put upon, an actor doing this as his day job. He has to deal with patrons who will go to almost any lengths to get reservations, the enfant terrible celebrity chef who runs the place, various staff members, frenemy actors, and

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his recently widowed father who hopes Sam will get home for his first Christmas without his mother. Ferguson has a warm demeanor and a charming stage presence but he is largely out of his depth in the piece. This kind of manic, solo piece requires absolute precision in the characterizations to work, and lacking that Ferguson resorts to stereotypical voices and mugging. So, by the time the shrewish and entitled Carolann Rosenstein-Fishburn calls for the fifth or sixth time, or the chef goes on about his helicopter to the Hamptons or getting a table for the inventor of “molecular gastronomy,” the characters have worn out their welcome. They become tedious and predictable, no matter how valiantly Ferguson tries to bring them to life. They’re onenote characters in a two-dimensional piece, and, really, one wishes they would just go away. Not all the fault for this falls on Ferguson’s shoulders. The play debuted in 1999. It was a different time. In 2016, the trials of the one-percent (a term that didn’t exist 17 years ago) are simply not funny. Add to that the sad moral lesson that Sam must engage in the same distressing, mean, and manipulative tactics others use on him to accomplish what he wants. Sam is ultimately as corrupt as the people he hopes we’ll join him in deriding, and it’s hard to find him anything but pathetic. There are so many repellant

Audra McDonald in “Shuffle Along… Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed."

characters on the loose these days from politics to reality TV that one doesn’t need to drop a C-note (or more) to encounter more of them, vying for a table in a restaurant no less. You may think it’s worth it, but I have — wait for it — reservations.

By rights, “Shuffle Along” should be an extraordinary musical. Look at all it’s got going for it: Audra McDonald sounding as wonderful as ever. Brian Stokes Mitchell with his gorgeous baritone as a classic, elegant leading man. Billy Porter, marrying comedy and presence as only he can, terrific performances by Brandon Victor Dixon and Joshua Henry, and the dependable comedy of Brooks Ashmanskas. With heart-pounding choreography by Savion Glover, a new book by George C. Wolfe, sets by Santo Loquasto, and gorgeous costumes by Ann Roth, this production features more Broadway royalty than any show currently running. There are moments that will take your breath away and songs that will move you to tears. Yet for all this intermittent virtuosity, the book never comes together in a strong narrative arc and the characters are not sufficiently developed to touch hearts. The clue to why this has happened is in the show’s subtitle: “… Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed.” Essentially, the show is a docu-

mentary with songs. It’s a backstage musical that focuses primarily on the mechanics of getting the show together rather than a human story. The story is fascinating as theater history, but to work as theater relatable characters are essential. Instead they are distant, the show’s structure undermining their humanity. In short, “Shuffle Along” looks hot but at its center is cool. The story traces the development and staging of “Shuffle Along” as the comedy team of Flournoy Miller (Mitchell) and Aubrey Lyles (Porter) teamed up with the songwriting team of Noble Sissle (Henry) and Eubie Blake (Dixon). With their star Lottie Gee (McDonald), they broke through racial barriers, staged the first love scene between black people on stage, and legitimized African-American theater, taking it out of minstrelsy. It became a huge hit. The latter part of Wolfe’s show traces the dissolution of the partnerships and, in a long finale, what happens to each of the major players and how they died. Missing from the piece is more of the original show. The few songs — as well as the production number “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” probably the biggest hit still known from it — give a glimpse into what all the work and struggle was for. The current enterprise needs more of that both as context for the history and to make “Shuffle Along” more than just a stock show biz tale. It’s great to appreciate the important history here, but we also want to feel the impact of an American original that really did change show business forever.

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May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

47


OPERA

Loves Lost and Won, 18th Century Style A Met rare Mozart revival, Les Arts Florissants brings Campra to BAM

JACK VARTOOGIAN/ BAM

William Christie and Les Arts Florissants brought André Campra’s “Les Fêtes Vénitiennes” to BAM last month.

BY ELI JACOBSON

I

n recent months opera companies (large and small) and touring ensembles have been exploring the vicissitudes of love won and love lost as viewed through an often cynical 18th century Enlightenment sensibility warmed by the kindling fires of nascent Romanticism. The Metropolitan Opera presented a rare revival of Mozart’s “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” with James Levine leading a group of fresh new singers. In Mozart’s 1782 singspiel, the Turkish pasha gives the Europeans a lesson in enlightened values and humanity. Levine conducted his last staged opera as the Met’s music director before assuming emeritus status next season. Perhaps it was the youth of his soloists combined with the weight of responsibility taken off of his shoulders, but on May 3 Levine conducted like a rejuvenated man. His left arm no longer

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flapped about but adroitly cued the ensemble. Tempos bounced with animation and then turned slow and somber on a dime, as Mozart dictates. The cast, serious and studious in intent, were not individually the most polished Mozart stylists but worked effectively as an ensemble under the maestro’s lead. Tashkent-born Albina Shagimuratova did not shy from the rigorous coloratura demands of Konstanze, but her tone turned metallic with a glassy pitch-obscuring glare in exposed high music — which constitutes the majority of the vocal writing. “Ach ich liebte” suffered from barely indicated trills, while “Martern aller Arten” had good attack on high register scale work but a weak-toned lower register. In more central-lying lyrical music such as the duet with Belmonte, Shagimuratova’s tone lost the over-bright edge, gaining purity and elegance. Paul Appleby as her rescuer Bel-

monte displayed firm musicianship and accurately sung German diction, but his lyric tenor lacked float and fluency — the runs in “Ich baue ganz” were labored. German basso profundo Hans-Peter König as the sinister harem keeper Osmin reveled in his low notes and droll deadpan menace. His Wagnerian bass also lacked Mozartean bel canto fluency approximating the coloratura demands. König made up for it in vocal and theatrical presence, delightfully playing off his enormous height and girth against the tiny sparkplug Blondchen of Kathleen Kim. She daintily scaled the high E’s in Blondchen’s aria yet her tone was buttery and sweet lower down. She won over the audience and her Pedrillo, tenor debutant Brenton Ryan. As slim and agile as a ballet dancer, Ryan expertly balanced singing, speaking, and comic stage pratfalls with natural flair. Actor Matthias von Stegmann was an effete, sexually unthreat-

ening Pasha Selim. This anodyne quality and lack of darker undertones typifies the tired 1979 John Dexter/ Jocelyn Herbert production, which looked like a flimsy, vaguely camp children’s pop-up book. Stephen Pickover’s revival direction gave the singers a lot of business but very little meaningful interaction. The 18th century, like today, was a time when Arabic cultures were invading Europe, inspiring revulsion, fear, and fascination in Western eyes. A fresher look is needed for today’s audience.

In April, William Christie and Les Arts Florissants returned to the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the opéra-ballet “Les Fêtes Vénitiennes” by André Campra. LAF co-presented the piece with the Opéra-Comique in a production staged by Robert Carsen. The choreography by Ed Wubbe featured

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LOST & WON, continued on p.52

May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


R B E N BA KE TE M S Y S D N U HONE Y SO ORES H W N O T H OX SK Y N I K C A J AL A IN

GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

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NIGHTLIFE

She Don’t Need To Show Off

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that Elder discovers things he has never felt before, as well. This is the first time Elder falls in love in his life — that’s why he shows his body. In Venezuela, we are very physical. If you have a sexy body, you show it in Venezuela.

Bob the Drag Queen takes the crown as RuPaul’s newest Drag Superstar BY MICHAEL SHIREY

T

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MASCULINITY, from p.41

see bright colors in the seaside scenes that punctuate the games. Even there, our eye is trained on the men rather than nature, particularly when they go swimming nude. Unlike most filmmakers, Tsangari is not afraid of full-frontal male nudity. Her characters are heterosexual, but there’s plenty of homoeroticism on display, including a man who arouses himself to a full erection and wanders the yacht asking, “Does anyone want me to fuck you?” I might have been more

50

GMK: Can you address the issue of shame and sexuality, especially in regard to Latino male culture and society? LV: In Venezuela, a common way of denigrating a friend is calling him “puta” [“whore”]. I guess that’s why I like the fact that in the film the gay man takes control of the situation. It’s a study about that pain in Latin America.

LOGOTV.COM

he winner of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ America’s next drag superstar is —” Wait a minute, I’ma get there. And don’t go acting like you don’t already know who won. I first saw Bob the Drag Queen (not to be mistaken with Bob the Builder) a few years ago, when a friend of a friend dragged our gaggle to Barracuda in Chelsea for what was promised to be “the funniest show we’d ever seen.” Let me tell you, Bob did not disappoint, performing on stage for nearly two hours with an act that included original stand-up interspersed with a series of colorful takes on songs old and new. “This sounds crazy — I’ve never been crazy about doing numbers,” Bob told Gay City News in an interview in April. “I’ve always been more personally in favor of doing my stand-up — just talking and chatting and having fun with that and creating my own stuff.” After that night at Barracuda, it seemed that every bar I went to featured Bob, who prior to “Drag Race” per for med six nights a week at all of New York’s popular gay bars and was a winner of several of the city’s nightlife awards — including Gay City’s Best Drag Performer in 2014. So it came as no surprise she was among the 12 contestants on the eighth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Watching the competition, it was even less surprising how quickly Bob became a instant fan favorite, working her way to the top three finalists alongside Chicago’s Kim Chi and Los Angeles’ Naomi Smalls. Some of Bob’s many highlights from the season included her impersonations: her Cookie character from the “RuCo’s Empire” challenge and her one-two punch of both Carol Channing and Uzo Aduba’s “Orange is the New Black” character for the “Snatch Game” challenge left audiences in tears.

FROM AFAR, from p.41

Bob the Drag Queen, in character as Cookie for the "RuCo's Empire" challenge.

When the time came to take home the crown, there could only be one winner and RuPaul chose Bob the Drag Queen, saying that “her charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent are GIGANTIC.” I keep writing about Bob the Drag Queen because she keeps getting better. And if this season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is any indication, she will only keep on getting better. And better. I cannot wait to see what she does next. To see America’s next drag superstar, visit bobthedragqueen.com. As her theme song suggests, she “snatching all the gigs in the neighborhood” — and the country. And the world.

impressed by “Chevalier” if I hadn’t seen it a few weeks after Pierre Perrault’s 1982 master piece “The Shimmering Beast.” Perrault’s film is a documentary about a nine-man expedition of Quebecois urbanites into the wilderness to shoot moose, and it plays like a non-fiction cross between “Deliverance” and John Cassavetes’ “Husbands.” Few filmmakers have made male bonding seem so unappealing, especially when combined with binge drinking and the presence of guns. It’s amazing that Perrault and his subjects got

through the film without anyone getting shot. “Chevalier” is clearly critical of masculinity, but it never establishes the sense of danger that per meates “The Shimmering Beast.” Even when needles and knives are brought out, one feels that the characters are basically safe. Their egos are in more danger than their bodies. Tsangari is a little too willing to come down on the side of making the spectator laugh rather than disturbing him or her. “The Shimmering Beast” is a great film; “Chevalier” is merely a very good one.

GMK: There has been much in the news about the economic problems in Venezuela. How has this real life situation influenced your characters and your film? LV: There is a lack of communication between the government and the people. There is no communication between the classes. It has been cut off. Armando cannot communicate, so his character works as a metaphor. He cannot communicate, whereas Elder, who is loud, is the opposite. I’m sure the film will be controversial in Venezuela. People will reject the film because they don’t want to be confronted in such a direct way. We are used to soap operas and people like to see films that are soap operas, so this will be the opposite. But I hope the film makes people talk. If it can start dialogues in a country where dialogues have been shut off, that would be great.

CHEVALIER Directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari Strand Releasing In Greek with English subtitles Opens May 27 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com Film Society of Lincoln Center Francesca Beale Theater 144 W. 65th St. filmlinc.com

May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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51


THE JUDAS KISS Brooklyn Academy of Music Harvey Theater 651 Fulton St. Btwn. Rockwell & Ashland Pls. Through Jun. 12 Tue.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $30-$35; bam.org Two hrs., 30 mins., with intermission

RICHARD TERMINE

Charlie Rowe and Rupert Everett in David Hare’s “The Judas Kiss,” directed by Neil Armfield, at BAM’s Harvey Theater through June 12.

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WILDE, from p.42

lynch mob of reporters swarms in the hallway. The second act finds a dissipated Wilde, after three ignominious trials and two years in jail, exiled in Naples, sharing a shabby, rat-infested villa with the fickle-hearted Bosie, who soon betrays him. Wilde is broken and penniless; his wife (yes, he was married with two sons) and friends have all but abandoned him. He would die destitute soon thereafter. Under the direction of Neil Armfield, the play tends toward talky

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and static — Wilde remains planted in his chair much of the second act — and leaves yawning gaps in Wilde’s biography that only die-hard buffs can adequately fill in. What’s more, it’s not clear what Wilde sees in the spoiled, petulant Bosie, or why, after the horrific scandal, they would bother to reunite at all. Thankfully, there’s plenty of Wilde’s trademark poetic wit to perk up the proceedings, and Everett delivers it deftly. When Bosie say he looks well, Wilde retorts, “Do not mock me. My appearance is that of a senior pederastic Anglican bishop

LOST & WON, from p.48

members of his Scapino Ballet Rotterdam. “Les Fêtes Vénitiennes” was one of the most popular pieces in the 18th century Paris repertory — after its 1710 premiere it totaled more than 300 performances in multiple revivals over the next 50 years. Christie has educated New York music lovers on many aspects of the French baroque — the tragédie lyrique of Lully and Charpentier in particular — but this was his first excursion into the opéra-ballet genre. Commercially popular and less courtly in tone, the opéra-ballet anticipated the modern revue — short entrées or comic vignettes on themes of disguise and seduction feature short vocal solos and ensembles and large-scale dance sequences. There is an emphasis on spectacle with special effects and scene changes. The three vignettes depict amorous intrigues taking place during the Venice carnival where Reason in the prologue gives way to Folly. First entrée: at a costume ball Prince Alamir disguises himself as his valet to test the love of the innocent Iphise, who proves she loves him for himself not his rank. In the second scene a pair of jealous rival beauties stalk the two-tim-

52

who has been locked all night in a distillery. Flatter me by all means, I adore it, but not for my appearance.” In response to Bosie’s plea to speak openly about love between men, “the highest form of love,” Wilde shuts him down. “We have come to Naples to suffer and be silent. Ours is an ethic of silence. Preferably on a substantial private income. Which is, I admit, at this moment, proving the elusive part of the plan.” To spice things up a bit, “The Judas Kiss” is populated by luscious naked bodies. The play opens with a graphic sex act, not

ing Léandre and catch him serenading a third woman — who rejects him as do his two former conquests. In the last vignette, the pretty opera singer impersonating Flora is pursued by three suitors. She is delighted when the one she loves takes the place of a singer impersonating the wind god Boreas in the opera and abducts her for real. In the final scene, the carnival ends and normalcy is restored — or so we hope! Campra composed light, hummable ditties similar to popular songs for the leads, with comic duets and trios that prefigure operetta. The dance numbers are raucous and up-tempo, with an emphasis on percussion. As is typical of Les Arts Florissants, the musical elements were historically informed and period practice whereas the physical production was updated, inventive, and sophisticated. The shifting walls designed by Radu Boruzescu took us instantly from the moonlit streets and canals of night time Venice to glittering gold-painted palace interiors. Petra Reinhardt’s costumes, like the choreography and production, were an insouciant mix of period style with hip contemporary touches. In the prologue, Carsen has the dancers and chorus impersonating modern tourists in Ven-

between two men but between a nubile hotel maid (Jessie Hills) and a footman (Elliot Balchin). The aim, besides showing that humans all have basic animalistic urges, is to offer a counterpoint to the two nude men who open the second act, lying in an embrace after a night of drinking and buggery. One is the beautiful Bosie and the other is a random hunk of rough trade, a Neapolitan fisherman named Galileo (Tom Colley in his swarthy, impossibly chiseled, full-frontal glory). This prompts us to wonder, why is one sex act socially sanctioned and the other considered a crime against nature and God, punishable by imprisonment? Even more curious, why is it acceptable to blatantly depict a sex act between a man and a woman onstage, but any sexual encounter between two men is left to mere implication?

ice (complete with iPhone cameras and backpacks) who are drawn by the giant puppet figure of Folly into the magical world of the 18th century. Carsen integrates the singing chorus and dancers who move in and out of the action as one. Ed Wubbe’s choreography is more vernacular than classical — there is cross-dressing, brief nudity, twerking, and butt-slapping, with an emphasis on decadent fun. The majority of the youthful singers were graduates of Christie’s vocal ensemble Jar din des Voix, a baroque training program. Of them, only the lovely Rachel Redmond in three roles (including Flora) emerged as a distinctive, major vocal presence. The familiar veteran haute-contre tenor Cyril Auvity stood out for his experienced command of French baroque style. Campra’s score for “Les Fêtes Vénitiennes” is not musically on the level of his tragédie en musique “Idomenée” — it is aiming at a less rarified clientele. (The libretto of “Idomenée” was adapted for Mozart’s “Idomeneo,” to be revived at the Met next year under Levine). But the presentation by Les Arts Florissants at BAM transported us into an unfamiliar dream-like baroque landscape much like those modern day tourists in the prologue of Carsen’s production. May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

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May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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SAYRE, from p.38

show “Un-Cabaret,” where they both have performed. “It’s funny because she does all these voices, but when you talk to her, she’s like, ‘Hey man, that was a great set!’ She’s like a dude [laughs] while I’m like a little flibbertigibbet. Sometimes, we just write sounds for her, because she’s so funny she can just do a sound and it’s better than anything we could have written. Live performance she’s afraid of, saying, ‘I’m not a stand-up,’ but she’s so captivating and interesting, she always kills.” Sayre lives in the Los Feliz near Hollywood and Silver Lake and, although he got a license upon arrival, does not drive. “My road rage is so terrible that it’s a better thing that I don’t,” he said. “Friends have been in the car with me, and they’re like, ‘Holy shit! You need to calm down!’ It’s crazy because I’m not like that in real life, but I flip out. “I wish there was something fabulous to tell you about my love life, but I don’t do well out there. It’s different. I moved to New York when I was 17 and came up with all these weird, freaky people. Last night at the concert there was this guy with a beard and head shaved in the middle and back, with like payos on the side, but blown out. He was adorable, and I was like, ‘Look at you!,’ but in LA people wouldn’t know what to do with him. I wore a brooch to work one day and people were like, ‘Whoa! What are you doing?,’ and I was like, ‘Well, this is a house that will not stand!’ “There was this other kid last night, who put in a hoop earring during the show. ‘That’s like catnip to me — a little fem touch, and whatever you need. I’ll sign a mortgage for you!’ And that’s a little harder to find in LA. Everybody wants to be very straight. There are certainly other different pockets and I love those people, but everybody wants to be on ‘CSI’ or something.”

MOMA.ORG

Margaret Sullavan in “The Good Fairy,” which screens at MoMA on June 4.

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IN THE NOH, from p.45

actually dated both of them simultaneously, with Sullavan eventually winning out when he married her, something that came as a complete shock to Hepburn when she heard about it on the radio. S u l l a v a n ’ s d a u g h t e r, Brooke Hayward, wrote the memoir “Haywire,” which is GayCityNews.nyc | May 26 - June 08, 2016

the enlightening and har rowing best account of her, as well as one of the best books about Hollywood. I’d advise pilgrimages to MoMA to experience the utter, ineffable magic of a woman who was both Louise Brooks’ and Stephen Sondheim’s favorite actress. “She always seemed to be dying,” Sondheim once observed, which she did in 1960, a suicide.

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20 N.Y.C. LOCATIONS LICENSED BY N.Y.C. DEPT. OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS • UNION SQUARE-Lic#934189/934185 • UPPER EAST SIDE-Lic#1022314/1022315 • BAY PLAZA-Lic#1007888/1007892 • FORDHAM RD-Lic#1127414/1127412 • ATLANTIC AVE-Lic#987568/987569 • CHELSEA-Lic#1180079/1179908 • UPPER WEST SIDE-Lic#1180082/1179904 • BAY RIDGE-Lic#900095/900094 • BENSONHURST-Lic#899797/899889 • FLATBUSH AVE-Lic#899795/899881 • KINGS HWY-Lic#899791/899884 • RALPH AVE-Lic#900096/899888 • ASTORIA L.I. CITY-Lic#899793/899882 • BAYSIDE-Lic#899792/899883 • FOREST HILLS-Lic#899790/899885 • OZONE PARK-Lic#899796/899886 • REGO PARK-Lic#899789/899880 • WOODSIDE-Lic#1127420/1127419 • COLLEGE POINT-Lic#1314731/11317281 • STATEN ISLAND-Lic#1253639/1253311

1. ALL SPECIAL FINANCING OFFERS: SUBJECT TO CREDIT APPROVAL. MINIMUM MONTHLY PAYMENTS REQUIRED. SEE STORE FOR DETAILS. 6 MONTHS SPECIAL FINANCING ON ALL OTHER PURCHASES MADE WITH YOUR P.C. RICHARD & SON CREDIT CARD THROUGH 12/31/16. 1. 1 YEAR SPECIAL FINANCING ON PURCHASES OF ALL WEBER GAS GRILLS $499 OR MORE. † Discounts deducted from P.C. Richard & Son New Low Price offers, cannot be combined with any other P.C. Richard & Son promotion. Percent discounts, shall not apply to and exclude: Computers, Monitors, Printers, Tablets, eReaders, Prepaid Cards, Video Game Consoles, Apple, Designer Appliances, select Polk, Klipsch, Weber Grills, Bose, Samsung TV’s, Sony TV’s, GE Cafe & GE profile Appliances, prior sales, dealers, clearances, special sale items, P.C. Richard & Son Gift Cards, or competitive ads. We reserve the right to limit quantities. ††If within 30 days of your purchase from P.C. Richard & Son you should see a lower advertised price from any “Brick and Mortar” or “Authorized Online” retailer, we will gladly mail you a check for 100% of the difference. Only retailers that are designated by the manufacturer as authorized shall be considered to qualify within thispolicy. Our Low Price Guarantee applies to all brand new merchandise with the exact model number. Excludes: going out of business sales, one-of-a-kinds, limited quantities, discontinued items, installations, delivery, rebates, extended service, financing, free giveaways and bundle offers (See Store For Details). Effective 10/12. Intel, Intel logo, Intel Inside, Intel Inside logo, Intel Centrino, Intel Centrino logo, Celeron, Intel Xeon, Intel SpeedStep, Itanium, and Pentium are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Not responsible for photographic or typographical errors. © 2016 P.C. RICHARD & SON

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May 26 - June 08, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc

Gay City News  

May 26, 2016

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