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VOLUME 08, ISSUE 24 | JUNE 23 - 29, 2016
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June 23 - 29, 2016
SAY THE NAMES Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A. AracenaMontero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Antonio Davon Brown, 29
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
Angel L. CandelarioPadro, 28
Juan ChevezMartinez, 25
Luis Daniel Conde, 39
Connell James Conell, 21
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
Simon Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Leroy Valetin Fernandez, 25
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Paul Terrell Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
Javier Gorge-Reyes, 40
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Brenda Lee Marques McCool, 49
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Kimberly Morris, 37
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25
Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez, 27
Xavier E. Serrano Rosado, 35
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Edward Sotomayor, Jr., 34
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Franky J. DeJesus Velazquez, 50
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
PRESENTE June 23 - 29, 2016
After Orlando: Memories of My Time at Pulse, and a Call to Action
BY CHRISTOPHER STULTS, MS, LMHC I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Orlando. After being forced to move there during my freshman year of high school in 1998, I couldn’t wait to get the hell out. Coming from South Florida, with dreams of moving to New York City, Orlando felt too small and homogeneous to me. And yet, if home is where your family is, and if home is where you came of age, then Orlando is home to me. Thus, the recent massacre
at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub hit very close to home. Prior to being turned into gay club, Pulse was a music venue and restaurant called Dante’s. I had a rock band in high school and we played Dante’s several times before it changed ownership. I sang John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” with one of my best friends on the stage that would later be used by drag queens and go-go boys. When Pulse opened for business in July of 2004, I was beginning the process of coming out. It was a chic, modern nightclub that attracted a diverse crowd. It was divided into four spaces: a dance floor, a lounge, an outdoor patio, and a bar with a stage. One night, a friend and I were getting ready to go “Downtown” — a vague term that belied our true destination. My little sister, who usually had plans on a Saturday night, was absolutely insistent that she should come with us. She nagged me as we got ready and eventually wore me down. I told her, “You can come along, but there’s something you need to know: I’m gay. We’re going to a
Pride at St. Luke’s
gay bar called Pulse. And if you’re okay is what Pulse was, and is, for so many with that, you’re welcome to come with people — and now, it is also the scene us.” She was momentarily stunned, but of America’s deadliest mass shooting. she quickly shook it off, gave me a big Hours after the attack, Angie, the hug, and put on her favorite outfit. That same friend who I shared Pulse’s stage night, my little sister, my friend and with so many years ago came to visit I danced our faces off. We laughed, me in New York City, where I now drank, and bonded in a way that we live. When she arrived at Penn Station, hadn’t before. we hugged each other and shared our On another occasion, I went to Pulse reactions of shock, grief, and anger. with a new boyfriend (now my partShe worriedly called home to Orlando ner of nearly 10 years) and my friend to try to reach her friends, not knowing Chris, a rising football coach. Like if they had gone out the night before. most of the straight guys I know from Later that day, craving some sense of Orlando, Chris had never been to a normalcy, we did what my partner and gay bar before. Having recently come I often do on Sunday afternoons: tried out to him, he was enthusiastic to go to our luck at Drag Bingo at Pieces in the Pulse with me, in order to show his supWest Village. Nearby, people and news port and acceptance. With a go-go boy crews began gathering in front of the dancing on the bar above us, we were Stonewall Inn. Like them, I was sad, surprised to see that our bartender was angry, and afraid in a way I haven’t felt a friend from high school. We laughed since 9/11. at the circumstances surrounding our Following the weekend’s horrific reunion and enjoyed catching up. events, I returned to work at NYU’s Vibrant people drinking and dancCenter for Health, Identity, Behavior, ing with family, and reuniting with and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS), a friends; sharing laughter and feelings T:4.313” of acceptance, validation, and love; this ORLANDO continued on p. 16
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REMEMBER AND HONOR |with music Fri. June 24, 7:30 pm The Cheah Chan Duo will present "Pride and Prejudice” songs by LGBT composers, poets, and allies celebrating Pride and honoring the memory of Matthew Shephard. In the wake of the recent tragedy in Orlando, the recital is being dedicated to victims of hate crimes. Phillip Cheah and pianist Trudy Chan with soprano Kathleen Conroy Cantrell . Tickets available at the door or online at prideprejudice.brownpapertickets.com.
MARCH WITH US | Sunday, June 26 (Meeting time and place TBD) St. Luke’s will be marching with the Diocese of New York and many Episcopal churches, led by the LGBT Concerns Committee. Meeting place and time for Sunday will be posted on St. Luke’s Facebook, Twitter and website on Friday June 24.
WORSHIP WITH US | Sunday, June 26 at 7:00 pm
Our festive PRIDE Evensong features our guest preacher The Rev. Steven Paulikas, Rector of All Saints, Park Slope, Brooklyn and our own Choir of Saint Luke in the Fields. This event is open to the public. All are welcome!
The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields | 212.924.0562 | www.stlukeinthefields.org
June 23 - 29, 2016
Want an easy way to pay your bill, check your payment history and send your meter reading to Con Edison? Download our free My conEdison app at conEd.com/App. .com
A Cop Who Really Was New York’s Finest
The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
Members of the late Sergeant Charlie Cochrane’s family with (at r.) City Councilmember Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and (at rear, in uniform) Detective Brian Downey, president of the Gay Officers Action League.
BY ANDY HUMM A stone’s throw from the Stonewall Inn, where cops battled LGBT rebels in 1969, the corner of Sixth Ave. and Waverly Pl. was named for the first police officer with the guts to come out publicly, the late Sergeant Charlie Cochrane, co-founder of the Gay Officers Action League, or GOAL. It was a surreal scene in the bright sunshine on the morning of June 17 as police brass, police union bigs, GOAL members, veteran gay activists, and Cochrane’s family gathered for the ceremonial unveiling of “Sgt. Charles Cochrane Way” outside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, in whose basement GOAL was founded in 1982. That launch came only a year and a half after the parish’s pastor conducted the funeral for church organist Vernon Koenig –– killed in the anti-gay West St. Massacre outside the Ramrod bar on November 18, 1980 –– without acknowledging Koenig’s male partner or the anti-gay attack that killed him. Times change –– even if the Catholic Church and the NYPD still have a lot of progress to make before all LGBT people, particularly transgender women, feel safe with them. The NYPD’s Chief of Department Jimmy O’Neill praised Cochrane, who died of cancer in 2008 at age 64, as a cop with a reputation for being able to “see in the dark. He had the integrity, foresight, and courage to look ahead. He came out as a gay cop when they feared losing their jobs and being harmed.” .com
Detective Brian Downey, the new president of GOAL, said, “Today is the celebration of a great man who exhibited great courage.” Cochrane’s sister, Mary Ann Sundresh, said he “could not stand by” and allow human rights abuses “of himself or of the people in the community” whom he served. Dr. Patrick Suraci, an NYPD psychologist and GOAL co-founder, recalled that in 1978, after Mayor Ed Koch banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in city jobs by executive order, “PBA [Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association] head Sam DeMilia said that homosexuals cannot do the job of a police officer.” In a New York Times op-ed, DeMilia wrote, “The overt homosexual is distinguished by his speech, mannerisms, conduct, and dress. These have generally been received negatively by the public. There is no reason to believe that public attitudes toward these features that distinguish homosexuals will change once he puts on a police officer’s uniform.” Current PBA head Pat Lynch was on hand for the ceremony as was the head of the sergeants’ union, Ed Mullins. Suraci also said that Cochrane received a phone threat warning that GOAL’s first meeting would be bombed. Cochrane dutifully informed all those intending to come, “and all 11 of us still showed up.” City Councilmember Corey Johnson, who is gay, was born the year after
PRIDE Find out how the Chamber supports LGBT owned business and professionals through its Business Accelerator Program, professional networking, member benefits, business advocacy, and other programs. For more information, visit us at:
www.manhattancc.org/committee_guide/ join_lgbt_committee.aspx Photo by Michael Luongo
212 473 7875 manhattancc.org/lgbt
COP continued on p. 8 June 23 - 29, 2016
El-Amin Could Face 15 Years in Dallas BBQ Assault
Isaam Sharef via YouTube.com
A screen grab from video that circulated immediately after the Dallas BBQ incident last May showing Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin bringing a chair down over Ethan York-Adams’ head.
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE The prosecution could ask that Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for his part in a fight in a Chelsea restaurant, while the defense is asking that he be sentenced to three-anda-half years in prison. “He’s looking at five-to-fifteen if the judge deems him a predicate felon,” said Percy Gayanilo, 42-yearold El-Amin’s attorney, following a June 14 hearing
in Manhattan Supreme Court. El-Amin was eating with friends at Dallas BBQ (W. 23rd St. & Eighth Ave.) on May 5, 2015 when he was attacked by Jonathan Snipes, 33. Snipes and his then-boyfriend, Ethan York-Adams, 26, were drunk and had been fighting with each other in the restaurant. Snipes thought that someone had called him a “faggot,” though he could not say who, and he struck El-Amin with his purse, which held his keys, a sunglasses case, a cellphone charger, and his résumé. El-Amin and Snipes fought as the older and far larger El-Amin pushed Snipes to the floor. They were separated and then fought again. El-Amin then struck York-Adams with a chair as the two younger men stood with their backs to him. That final moment in the fight always presented El-Amin with the greatest risk of a guilty verdict. Snipes and York-Adams refused medical attention the night of the assault, saying they lacked insurance to pay for an emergency room visit. Facing five felony charges for assault and attempted assault, a jury convicted El-Amin on four of the five on May 25. The June 14 hearing came after the prosecution served notice that El-Amin is a predicate felon, citing a 2008 felony conviction in Michigan. The defense filed a motion opposing the designation, saying the Michigan statute is overly broad. The prosecution will respond by June 28. If Arlene Goldberg, the judge in the case, agrees with the prosecution, El-Amin faces a minimum of
five years in prison and up to 15 years, with five years of post-release supervision. If she decides he is not a predicate felon, the minimum is three-and-ahalf years, with two-and-a-half years of post-release supervision. Twenty-four friends, family members, and allies packed Goldberg’s small courtroom on June 14 to show support for El-Amin. There was outrage over the fight immediately following the incident because Snipes told the media that he had been attacked in an anti-gay hate crime. None of the charges against El-Amin were filed as a hate crime. Since then, there has been far more sympathy for El-Amin, with some seeing race as playing a role in the prosecution. El-Amin is African-American and Snipes and YorkAdams are white. Dr. H. Sharif “Herukhuti” Williams, a professor of interdisciplinary studies at Goddard College, compared the El-Amin case to the one brought against Brock Turner, a white Stanford student, who was convicted this year of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, and sentenced to just six months in jail. “Mr. El-Amin is facing a decade or more in prison,” Williams told our sister publication, Gay City News. “The young man who raped the woman in California is getting six months… We exist in a society in which jail is too harsh for certain people, but not others. If jail is too harsh for certain people, it’s too harsh for all people.”
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June 23 - 29, 2016
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COP continued from p. 5
Cochrane’s famous coming out. Reviewing Cochrane’s achievements more than 30 years ago, Johnson said, “It didn’t come easy.” Just five days after the Orlando atrocity, the dedication was not publicized, apparently for fear of having to secure a large crowd in its wake — though police are providing unprecedented beefed up security outside LGBT venues citywide and are preparing to do so at the June 26 Pride March. In fact, David Rothenberg, the veteran gay activist and founder of the Fortune Society, which works to provide support to ex-prisoners, guided Cochrane into his public role, but was not informed of the street corner dedication. He later shared memories of Cochrane, saying, “He was a sweet and wonderful man.” Rothenberg and Cochrane befriended each other in a Village gay bar when someone burst into the establishment in an agitated state and Cochrane instinctively drew his gun. “You’re a cop!” Rothenberg said. Eventually, Cochrane confided, “I can’t stand the lies anymore.” Rothenberg, who choreographed his own coming out on TV’s “David Susskind Show” in the early 1970s, urged Cochrane to make his coming out “a celebratory thing.” He gathered a bunch activists, including this reporter, to help prepare Cochrane for his 1981 testimony before the City Council for the long-blocked gay rights bill, at which time he announced publicly he was gay. Right before Cochrane spoke, a PBA official testified against the bill, saying that there were no gay cops. The chair then called “Sergeant Charles Cochrane” to objections from some gay people in the chamber, who assumed this constituted testimony from two opponents in a row. Cochrane, then 38, began, “I am very proud of being a New York policeman” to applause from opponents and rumblings from gay people unaware of what was to follow. After a pregnant pause, Cochrane declared, “And I am equally proud to be gay.” The pro-gay side erupted in wild cheers that shook the Council chamber to its 1811 foundations. Except for the bill’s final passage in 1986, there was never a more dramatic moment in the long history of that fight. “We gays are loathed by some, pitied by others, and misunderstood by most,” Cochrane said. “We are not
cruel, wicked, cursed, sick, or possessed by demons. Why must others be so concerned with my sexual activity and choice of consenting partner?” He told the Daily News that while he had “some anxiety” about testifying, “it was something I had to do.” Cochrane explained that he was out to several hundred people in the department and that Koch’s police commissioner, Robert MaGuire, had given him permission to testify. Rothenberg said TV news crews went to Cochrane’s precinct after the hearing to get reactions from police there. “They said, ‘He’s Charlie. He’s a good guy. That’s his business,’” Rothenberg recalled. Two years later, police raided Blue’s — a W. 43rd St. bar mostly frequented by transgender women of color and the object of constant complaints from people who worked at the New York Times across the street. Police smashed up the bar and beat patrons, and the LGBT community responded with a massive protest. “I was a marshal for it,” Rothenberg said, “and we saw 50 cops with batons led by Charlie. I said to him, ‘We’re not going to have a problem, are we?’ He said, ‘You keep your troops in line and I’ll keep my troops in line.’” Edgar Rodriguez, a retired officer and a past president of GOAL, said Cochrane addressed his class of rookies at the academy in 1982. “He entered in full uniform with the police academy integrity control officer who is in charge of discipline, and in military fashion we all shot up to our feet at attention,” Rodriguez recalled. “After he ordered for us to be at ease, he said he was starting a fraternal organization very much like the Emerald Society and the Guardians but for lesbian and gay police officers and asked if anyone was interested in joining. All I could then hear and feel was my heart pounding. I thought, ‘This can’t be real. It has to be a way to find out who is gay and fire them.’” Rodriguez remained silent and did not join then, but did eventually connect with Cochrane and another GOAL co-founder, the late Sam Ciccone, and started his coming out process in 1986. Pete Gavigan, 76, who worked as a plainclothes transit officer, said Cochrane “was my best friend. I was at the first meeting of GOAL in ’82 and I was with him the day he died. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body. You couldn’t tell Charlie what to do. He didn’t take no for an answer.” .com
Drowsy Driving can be as Dangerous as Driving impaireD The public is well educated about the dangers of driving while impaired by medication, alcohol or illegal drugs. But drivers may not be aware that driving while tired can be just as dangerous. Driving when tired can be a fatal mistake. Just as alcohol or drugs can slow down reaction time, impair judgment and increase the risk of accident, so, too, can being tired behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is reportedly what caused the fatal crash in June 2014 between a limousine and a Walmart truck that ended the life of comic
James McNair and seriously injured fellow comedian Tracy Morgan. The driver, Kevin Roper, was going 20 miles over the speed limit and was almost at his drive time limit, according to preliminary reports by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 100,000 car crashes in the United States each year occur as the result of an overly tired driver. Various studies demonstrate that drivers who have remained awake for 18 hours prior to driving
mimic the driving performance of intoxicated motorists. In fact, drowsy driving can be confused with driving with a high blood alcohol content. Sleepiness can arise relatively quickly, and according to Thomas Balkin, PhD, director of the behavioral biology program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and a leading expert on sleep and fatigue, it’s difficult for drivers to assess just how sleepy they are. “Sleepiness affects the part of the brain responsible for judgment and self-awareness,”
he says. “When you’ve reached the stage where you are fighting sleep, the effect of any method of reviving yourself can be very short-lived.” Furthermore, people do not have to be in a deep sleep to actually be asleep behind the wheel. Micro-sleeps occur when certain brain cells temporarily shut down for a few seconds. A person is not completely asleep but in a sort of fog as if they are asleep. When sleepiness sets in, the best course of action is to pull off the road. Opening the window, turning on the radio
or blasting cold air is, at best, only a temporary solution. If driving with passengers and feelings of sleepiness appear, hand the keys over to a passenger and have them take over driving, if possible. Otherwise, a short nap and a cup of coffee can be used in combination to increase alertness. It’s also a good idea to avoid beginning a long road trip in mid-afternoon around the hours of two or three o’clock. While alertness generally dips in the evening hours, due to the circadian rhythm, alertness also dips in the late after-
noon, prompting drowsiness. A 2010 study by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety found that as many drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel in the afternoon hours as reported falling asleep late at night. Driving in a warm, quiet car also may spur drowsiness, as would driving after a heavy meal. Driving tired is just as dangerous as other impaired driving. Slow reaction times and unawareness of surroundings can contribute to accidents that are otherwise avoidable..
June 23 - 29, 2016
A Taste For Danger, Transformed BY GERALD BUSBY Growing up in Tyler, Texas, I never missed a service at the First Baptist Church. I especially liked Sunday School, which began at 9am, with kids my age gathering to sing gospel songs from a small spiral-bound hymnal called “Youth Sings,” immediately followed by prayers of face-wrenching sincerity in Jesus’ name. I was usually the pianist and was often reminded by the person leading the singing not to get “too fancy,” but just play the chords as written. Connie, a girl in the class, told me that when my playing got too “show-offy,” she lost her place and couldn’t sing. We broke up into small groups for Bible study, boys and girls in separate rooms. I found myself in the group with a hot thug named Tommy Rudd, who bullied me at school. My Sunday School teacher, Mr. Blake, was in his 20s, married, and wore two-toned white and tan wing-tipped shoes. He was a teller at the People’s National Bank, and I had a major crush on him. I even wrote him an anonymous note asking him to meet me behind the Dairy Queen one Thursday night after choir practice. I sat for hours in my car, parked a short distance away. I was frightened and sexually stimulated to think that he might actually show up. At church, Mr. Blake made me afraid when he talked about the wrath of God and the certainty of punishment for sinners. Years later, I recalled those fears as I sat in the AIDS ward at St. Vincent’s Hospital next to the bed of my dying partner, Sam Byers. My life with Sam lasted 16 wonderful years, beginning in 1977 when we met at the Gold Coast, a gay bar in downtown Chicago. I was acting in a film called “A Wedding,” directed by Robert Altman. Shooting took place in an Episcopal church in Oak Park and at a crumbling mansion on Lake Michigan just south of the US Naval Training Base near Waukegan. On the set Monday through Saturday, I was Rev. David Ruteledge, a Southern Baptist preacher; and at the Gold Coast on Saturday nights, Gerald Busby, a horny gay man on the prowl. I was attracted to Dennis Christopher, another actor in the cast — but when I tried to initiate a friendship, he softly said, “I don’t think we’re supposed to like each other,” referring to our characters in the
June 23 - 29, 2016
Courtesy Gerald Busby
Gerald Busby in room 510 of the Chelsea Hotel, in 1993, as his lover Sam lay dying in the next room (both were diagnosed HIV-positive in 1985).
film. This was my first time acting in a movie, and I didn’t get what “staying in character” meant until Dennis spoke these words to me. Sam, on the other hand, fell for me as much as I fell for him, and being in his arms made me feel like I was finally home. He was 25 — 15 years my junior, and that pushed a big button for his father, just eight years older than I. Sam’s parents eyed me with suspicion and distrust. On their first night in New York, Sam and I stayed with friends and gave our apartment at the Chelsea Hotel to his mom and dad. We forgot to hide our sex toys, which were kept in the top drawer of the table next to our bed. They, of course, snooped, and were shocked and offended to see a pink 10-inch dildo. They knew then for certain that I was an evil influence on their son. As they righteously harangued Sam and me, I thought of how different my parents had been when they discovered a copy of “One,” a gay publication in the ’50s, under my bed. Mother
told me it was dangerous to put paper under my bed because it might catch fire — “What if somebody dropped a match, and you know that mice and roaches are attracted to paper.” I never heard either of my parents use the word “sex,” nor did I ever hear them call each other by their first names. They were always “Daddy” and “Mother,” even to each other. They were born in the last decade of the 19th century in Lueders, Texas, way out west. My mother’s nine sisters were tough, loud harridans, and all of them lived into their 90s. I liked best Aunt Zada, my lesbian cousin Ruth’s mother, and Aunt Meta, the one nearest my mother’s age. Meta was just four-and-ahalf feet tall; her husband, Frank, was almost seven feet tall and wore overalls. As a 10-year-old gay boy, I loved to watch Aunt Meta and Uncle Frank doing routine things around their house. It seemed so primitive yet so intensely alive. Aunt Meta would say to Uncle Frank, “Get me a catfish,” and
he would grab a large metal hook from his tool shed and wade into the shallow part of the nearby Brazos River to a large rock in the middle of the stream. Uncle Frank knew the catfish fed there. He’d stand perfectly still for several minutes, then, like snow falling, let bits of crackers fall from his huge hand into the water. The catfish immediately swarmed around the slowly sinking crumbs, and Uncle Frank would suddenly plunge the steel hook through the body of a 20-pounder. With the fish still on the hook, he would carry it back to the house and nail it by its bottom lip to a wooden post just outside the back door. Aunt Meta would be waiting with a ladder she’d lean against the post once the fish was in place. Wearing an apron over her dress, she would climb the ladder with a butcher knife and a pair of pliers, slit the skin strategically, fasten the pliers to the skin, and jump off the ladder ripping the skin from the fish. Then she would cut it into smaller pieces, bread them, and deep-fry them in hot shortening, in a black iron pot over a wood-burning fire. As we ate, Uncle Frank would say, “This is a good mess of fish.” Sam’s mother and sister came to see him shortly before he died. A consoling male nurse ushered them to Sam’s bedside in the middle of the quarantined ward where I was already sitting. After a few polite words, the nurse deftly made his way between the rows of beds toward another patient. I thought of Walt Whitman in a field hospital attending hundreds of young casualties of the Civil War, all moaning in terrible pain. Here at St. Vincent’s, the young AIDS patients weren’t moaning. They were anesthetized with morphine dripping into their veins through plastic tubes. They were dying quietly, no less terribly than Whitman’s young soldiers, slipping slowly out of consciousness. When Sam and I were diagnosed HIV-positive in 1985, my first thought was, “Who infected us, and when?” In the early ’80s, we explored independently the nocturnal fantasies of the S&M scene at the Spike and the Eagle’s Nest. It was possible, I thought, to be temperate in that exotic indulgence, and I chose the cowboy persona, a conceit I brought from Texas and was comfortBUSBY continued on p. 13 .com
R B E N BA KE TE M S Y S D N U HONE Y SO RES O H W N O H OX T SK Y N I K C A J AL A IN
June 23 - 29, 2016
Of Gay Men, Generations, and Listening
Photo by Sam Spokony
Perry N. Halkitis, at bottom left, joined some of the men he interviewed for “The AIDS Generation: Stories of Survival and Resilience.”
BY PERRY N. HALKITIS, PhD, MS, MPH For some time now I have been intellectually preoccupied with thoughts about generations of gay men. Without a doubt this is due in part to my own aging process — a middle-aged gay man taking stock of his own life — and in part to my own inimitable style of turning preoccupations of self into an intellectual exercise (my niece, Sophia, cleverly calls this research “me-search”). Regardless of what fuels my current scholarly obsession, there is something about the concept of generations that is quite timely. The current presidential race demonstrates the problems that arise when members of an older generation (in this case, women) degrade the thoughts, realties, and, ultimately, the lives of a younger generation of women. Supporters of Hillary Clinton, such as Madeleine Albright, have been somewhat misguided in their thinking that young women of today must certainly be like young women of yesteryear. This same misstep occurs across generations of gay men, creating a missed opportunity for our community to learn from one another. I have come to understand the gay men of my lifetime as belonging to one of three generations: the Stonewall Generation, which came of age at a time when being gay was a crime and psychopathology; the men of my generation, the AIDS Generation, who were promised all the hopes and dreams made possible by our predecessors but which were derailed by a vicious and unrelenting disease; and the Queer Generation, Millennials who have come of age at a time when sexuality and gender identity are being freed of the heteronormative, hegemonic, and binary conceptions of the past.
June 23 - 29, 2016
Where we misstep is in the thinking of some of our elder statesmen. Some believe that coming of age as a gay man nowadays is a joyride compared to the realties of the past. Such ideas and beliefs — which are often voiced from place of judgment — do nothing but create a greater chasm between these generations. And these thoughts are rooted in a false sense of reality. It is true that sociopolitical circumstances have improved somewhat from the days prior to the Stonewall Riots and from the 1980s, when I was a young gay man coming of age. We have the right to marry; we have greater legal protections; popular culture has embraced openly gay characters in film and television; and more so than ever before, young gay men have openly gay role models in their lives. I think of my own role as a university professor and the meaning it must have for my gay students to have an out gay man speaking freely in class about his husband and his life — as freely as those straight folks who bored us with stories of their spouses and children for years while we had to remain silent in fear of repercussions. But let’s not be fooled. The advances of our time that bestow these God-given but somewhat limited privileges to all gay men do not ensure that the lives of the Queer Generation are so much rosier than our lives were. Some 35 years into this crisis, young gay men still confront the realties of HIV, albeit with a greater arsenal of biomedical weapons to control the virus. They still confront the bigots in our society, including those within the political arena who develop insidious approaches such as so-called “religious freedom” laws that seek to deny us the rights that we have been justly granted.
Most importantly, young gay men these days come of age at a time when neither economic security nor personal and national safety are foregone conclusions. Long gone are assurances of affordable housing and of a lucrative financial future made possible by career options and possibilities. Those are 1980s dreams. Although AIDS destroyed us in many ways at that time, the possibility of an amazing career and an affordable home in a somewhat-safer-appearing world were attainable — if we were able to outsmart the virus. In contrast, many of our younger gay brothers remain dependent on their parents for many more years than we did because of the current economic state, a situation that is exponentially worse for young men of color. These challenges and others are those of a new generation of gay men — the Queer Generation. They may not be like the challenges we faced in the past, but they are challenges that are as legitimate and real to the lives of these young men as any of those we faced. I am disheartened when I hear my own peers belittle these young men’s life experiences. I am disturbed and angered when someone openly states that young gay men don’t care or fear AIDS. Correction: They do care. But the truth is that AIDS is not the same problem in their lives as it was for us some 30 years ago. If you were to ask me at age 21 what my primary concern was, I would have undoubtedly pointed to the AIDS crisis. In our own study of young, sexual, minority men, we find that HIV/AIDS is a worry — but one that is surpassed by worries about finances, a place to live, and lack of prospects for a stable future, in addition to fears of not finding someone to love (which I am sure ranked pretty high for my generation as well). We, the elder generations, should be thankful — not resentful — that a new generation does not have to face the level of death and destruction many of us faced. Recently, I had the privilege of meeting Wes Enos, the 29-year-old Executive Director of The Generations Project. This relatively new organization strives to bridge the generational divide in the LGBT population by bringing together people of all ages to share their stories. There is power and incredible beauty in the storytelling I witnessed on a warm April night at a Generations Project event at a bar in DUMBO. Those in the room ranged in age from early 20s to early 90s. I, the “wise” 53-year-old, learned of this group from my “in-same-ways-wiser” 20-year-old student, Grant, who accompanied me to the gathering. As I sat in that bar and heard the stories, I was reminded once again that what binds us all together is far greater than any of our intergenerational differences. And with the simple act of listening, the divide vanishes and creates a power for our community that is much greater when we are united across ages — honoring our past, our history, respecting our present, and empowering our future. GENERATIONS continued on p. 13 .com
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Perry N. Halkitis (@DrPNHalkitis; perrynhalkitis. com) is Professor of Global Public Health, Applied Psychology, & Medicine, and Director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies (CHIBPS) at New York University and author of “The AIDS Generation: Stories of Survival and Resilience.” To learn more about CHIBPS research, visit chibps.org. For The Generations Project, visit thegenerationsproject.info. HBO Out Group and The Generations Project are presenting a “Pride History Show” on Mon., June 27, at 1100 Sixth Ave. During 6–7:30pm’s open bar, mingle with those who fought back at Stonewall, brought the AIDS epidemic to the world’s attention, and continue to work for equality across all aspects of the LGBT community. Honored guests will tell their stories at 7:15pm. RSVP on Eventbrite (suggested donation, $100).
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able with. In my new role as a bottom, I liked bondage, which reminded me of the gift-wrapping I’d done as a child. The Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue back then provided perfect models of twine, tied tight around a package. At the Spike, I hooked up with a musician who had studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and taught solfège at Hunter College. He was into underwear as well as bondage, and was specific about how I displayed myself wearing the underwear he’d bought me on Orchard Street. Most of the S&M devotees I knew in the ’80s were painstakingly bourgeois in their appearance and behavior, and they were serious to the point of stultification. There wasn’t much laughing in the leather and cowboy scenes. Yet that very opaqueness ratified the sexual appeal of costumed young men displaying the shibboleths of commitment to the roles they had chosen to play, and with which they identified. The signals of preference were as rigid as those of any religious ritual: keys on a ring worn on the left side meant top; on the right side, bottom. Blue and red handkerchiefs worn left or right also indicated whether you were top or bottom and whether you wanted a penis or a fist. All this formality inspired an intimacy akin to raping (with a fastidious sense of style) a sexy stranger, or being raped by one. When drugs became a component of the routines, the dangers became harder to ignore. Crack was the drug of the moment and its effects instantaneously released all inhibitions. They also made the practical aspects of bondage an ordeal. Who wants to tie slipknots in a cotton clothesline when .com
Photo by Emil Cohen
L to R: Broadway actor Kyle Post swaps stories with Frank Davis (former dancer with Judy Garland) and Lawrence Merritt (former Broadway dancer with Lucille Ball), at an April 2016 Generations Project “Friendship” event.
you’re rapturously stoned? Finally Sam died, and I despaired. My friend, Craig Lucas, asked the Actors Fund to sponsor me at the Pride Institute in Minneapolis. While I was there, Princess Diana was killed in Paris. We all sat transfixed in front of the TV at the clinic. I fell for one of my roommates, a handsome guy named Gene, who had a deformed foot. My other roommate, Richard, a Native American from a tribe in northern Minnesota, had been busted for selling drugs on his reservation. He told me how the men of his tribe harvested wild rice in marshes. They paddled their canoes alongside the stalks of wild rice, bent them over the edge of the boat, then knocked the grains loose with a cedar stick. When the canoes were full, the men rowed back to shore to dump the wild rice into piles near a blazing fire. They danced on the piles to dislodge any remaining grains from their husks. I wondered, as Richard told me this, if the music they danced to was indigenous to the tribe, or if they grooved on gangster rap blasting from a boom box placed in a canoe turned on its side near the fire. Whichever it was, they boogied on grass. Within a few weeks after my return to New York, I relapsed and was sent to another rehab, located in the old Billy Rose mansion on 93rd Street, between Madison and Park. Billy Rose was a famous Broadway producer in the ’50s. He was famous for fancy parties attended by celebrities in the very ballroom in which we recovering addicts were now wandering in a daze waiting for the dinner bell. As usual, I got crushes on several men in the group. There was something about the emotional intensity of group therapy, centering on drugs and sex,
that always turned me on. I made a few friends playing Mozart sonatas on the rickety little upright piano in the lounge. One fervent Evangelical Christian asked me to play “Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling,” a hymn sung at the end of a gospel service to inspire lost souls to get saved. I knew the song well from my days touring with the evangelist Angel Martinez. It’s a slow, seductive love song with touching harmonies. But I couldn’t go down that path again. After a zealous speech, the Evangelical Christian slipped away to the laundry room where he stole an iron and sold it on the street for drug money — or so he said when he returned the next day. My older sister Juana Mae called me from Dallas and told me in tears that she couldn’t believe I was in such a place. She said she’d pray for me and would send me money once I was back at the Chelsea Hotel. After my 28 days were up at the rehab and I was back home, a Walgreens money order came in the mail with a note from Juana Mae that said, “Jesus loves you and so do we.”
Stanley Bard, the manager of the Chelsea, moved me from the four-room apartment I’d shared with Sam to a studio down the hall. The transfer came with an admonition, and a promise: “Pay your rent on time and behave yourself, and you can stay here the rest of your life.” The room was small and dingy, but it had an energy that infused my music, and everything else I did, especially sex, with a sense of adventure. My taste for danger was receding, and something good, though inexplicable, was taking its place. Gerald Busby is a longtime resident of the Chelsea Hotel and protégé of Virgil Thomson. He 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.” Busby’s life at the Chelsea Hotel is the topic of “The Man on the Fifth Floor,” a documentary film currently in production.
June 23 - 29, 2016
Courtesy La MaMa La Galleria
Ingo Swann: “Proto Adam” (1988-89; 52 x 61.75 inches).
Ingo Swann: An Outsider With a Remote View of All Things BY SCOTT STIFFLER A prolific visionary held in high regard by peers from the realms of art, psychic phenomena, gay erotica, and Cold War counterprogramming, the multiplicity of paths blazed by Ingo Swann (1933-2013) are remarkable not simply because they are the achievements of a man ahead of his time, but also because he did not regard his abilities as exceptional gifts. We are all capable of tapping the cosmic consciousness, Swann insisted, if properly motivated to learn how.
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For Swann, that spark of desire was ignited in a Lower East Side apartment, when a recently acquired pet chinchilla became evasive before each night’s return trip to its cage. If this furry little creature could sense the plan well in advance of the action, then why, Swann wondered, did that same ability elude him? Within a few years, by the early ’70s, the self-taught artist had secured his legacy as a founding father of “remote viewing” — a phrase he coined to describe the practice of being given
coordinates distant from one’s physical body, then describing the location in seven stages of progressively greater detail. Honed while at the Stanford Research Institute, Swann’s abilities and developmental techniques led to his employment at various clandestine agencies, where he became a valued member of the US government’s remote viewing program. Spurred by Soviet efforts to militarize extrasensory perception, the Star Gate project (original name, “Gondola Wish”) ran from 1977 to 1995. In later
years, Swann would express regret for his time as a “psychic spy.” But by all accounts, he never disavowed his firmly held belief that a penis — extracted from the pages of a men’s skin magazine — can never be too big, when recruited for use as the focal point of a multi-layered collage. Colorful and compelling and epic as all of this might seem, it merely scratches the surface of the tidbits, testimonials, insights, and aesthetic observations SWANN continued on p. 15 .com
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shared with a curious and receptive audience during June 19’s panel discussion. Held in conjunction with the exhibit “Ingo Swann: A Remote View” (through July 3 at La MaMa La Galleria), the well-informed panelists were every bit as eclectic and probing as the scope of their subject’s output during his 80 years on this particular plane of existence. To panelist Elly Flippen, Swann was a “cigar-chomping enigma.” Despite having lived with her uncle for a number of years over three separate periods, Flippen couldn’t say for sure if Swann had sustained romantic relationships, or explain with certainty why his decades of artistic output stopped a full 13 years before his death — but she did speak of him with great fondness, and a glint in her eye that recalls the mischievous humor present in Swann’s most sexually charged visual compositions (such as the ’90s-era collage, “The Demonstration Showing How It’s Done: Social Comment Series,” in which a bearded leatherman straddles his male partner, while a phalanx of straightlaced ballroom debutantes witness the act of anal penetration from their background vantage point). Asked by this publication to what extent Swann lived as an out gay man, Flippen recalled, “Well, he dressed as a nun and went to Studio 54” — a jarring, but not necessarily contradictory, detail, when one brings that knowledge to a viewing of “Madre Doloroso.” Evocative on many levels, the 1986 painting conveys Swann’s adoration of the Virgin Mary (arms folded, she looks downward in a state of compassionate contemplation), his merging of the sacred and the cosmic (a cross-shaped constellation), and his concern for the fate of man (an atomic mushroom cloud, just beneath the Virgin’s torso). That painting, which graces the cover of Swann’s 1996 book, “Great Apparitions of Mary: An Examination of TwentyTwo Supranormal Appearances,” almost didn’t make it into the current exhibit. Panelist Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, Founder and Director of Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), told the story of attempting to secure the painting: “Swann was particularly fond of the work, which he reluctantly sold,” Hoffberger noted. When the buyer passed away (followed by her husband a short time later), “nobody knew where that painting was.” With the search at a standstill, Hoffberger placed a copy of “Great Apparitions of Mary” under her pillow. The next day, the new .com
Courtesy La MaMa La Galleria
Ingo Swann: “The Demonstration Showing How It’s Done: Social Comment Series” (Collage, 9.438 x 18 inches, on loan from the Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, gift of the Ingo Swann Estate).
owner contacted AVAM, expressing his willingness to sell. The asking price was beyond their reach — but Hoffberger kept the work, and Ingo, on her mind. Unbeknownst to her, the owner independently contacted Harrison Tenzer, curator of “A Remote View,” and moderator of the panel. Ultimately, the piece found its way back to Swann’s family, who will gift it to AVAM — where it will join five other paintings by Swann, as well a huge triptych that appears in the museum’s three-story central stairwell. Hoffberger does not regard this narrative as meaningless serendipity, nor does she view Swann’s art as “just a flight of imagination.” Citing frequent invocation of auras, spirit animals, gender fluidity, and swirling galaxies in his work, Hoffberger asserts Swann’s organization of subject matter and technical mastery of any given expressive medium are the work of a man who is “tapping into something more” than wishful thinking and whimsy. “A remote viewer has to be in touch with reality, in order to project to a coordinate,” she said, praising Swann’s ability to execute the intangible act of creation, while also functioning as “a precise reporter, not an imaginative one” in his role as a remote viewer, and, later, an equally gifted teacher of that skill. Also marveling at the scope of Swann’s self-taught accomplishments was fellow panelist Hunter O’Hanian. As Director of Soho’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, O’Hanian described a common occurrence: leading museum tours, where Photoshop-savvy
Courtesy La MaMa La Galleria
Installation view: “Ingo Swann: A Remote View.”
Millennials marvel at the discipline and resourcefulness of Swann’s collage work. This was an era, O’Hanian noted, when “cut and paste” meant the use of an X-Acto knife and rubber cement (whose strong fumes, Flippen recalled, left the uncle and niece feeling “really happy” as they toiled in his dark, congested basement studio — where, one surmises, good air circulation was not among the amenities). O’Hanian asked the audience to rise from their seats and join him to discuss six 8x10 collages, on loan from LeslieLohman’s permanent collection (which boasts 200 of those works, along with 16 paintings by Swann). The gallery’s rear alcove was a fitting location; tucked away from the large works of cosmic themes and import, an air conditioner SWANN continued on p. 16
Courtesy La MaMa La Galleria
An installation view of Ingo Swann’s “Madre Doloroso” (1986, 50 x 42 inches). June 23 - 29, 2016
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research center focused on the health of LGBTQ people. We held a debriefing meeting where we shared our reactions to the attack, and brainstormed about ways we could help. We recognized how important it was to capture the experiences of LGBTQ people during this emotional time. Energized by the opportunity to potentially contribute something helpful, my colleague and I set about creating survey items to measure the collective trauma and resilience in response to the attack among the participants in our ongoing study. We began collecting data on June 15, with plans to roll out the same survey to a wider sample in the coming weeks. My partner and I are in the process of painting our new apartment. As new homeowners, we are experiencing the familiar joys and stressors of nesting. As we went about the monotonous task of rolling paint onto discolored walls in the days following the Pulse massacre, I thought about those young people who were killed. This is it? This is what they were killed for? Because they wanted to find someone nice, fall in love, move in together, and spend their weekends arguing over paint colors, just like their straight friends — this is what they were killed for? This is what the killer was so hateful of? There has also been an evolving narrative, particularly on social media, about what causes such atrocities and how to address it. The debate is often one that implies a false choice. Some argue that anti-LGBTQ beliefs are to blame. Others cite lax gun control laws across the nation. Many make this an argument about jihadism, the threat of global terrorism, and the state of mental
healthcare in this country. I believe, as President Obama intimated the day after the attack, that it’s not any one of these factors, but rather, all of the above. To address these concerns, it is important to consider what we as a nation have some control over. Though it may be impossible to completely root out homophobia and transphobia, it is possible to enact policies that foster a more accepting climate for LGBTQ people and put an end to bigotry and hostility. This is why it was so important to strive toward marriage equality and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. This is also why it is vital that we support anti-discrimination laws and prevent discriminatory policies, including the recent controversial bathroom bans, from being enacted. No single policy can ever be a silver bullet against anti-LGBTQ sentiment in this country, but taken together, they can lead to a more accepting and inclusive American society. Second, reasonable gun control laws can lead to less gun violence. Research examining suicide and homicide suggests that common sense barriers to access (e.g., “no fly, no buy” laws, closing gun show and online loopholes) may be one of our most effective tools in reducing self- or other-directed violence. While no single law can prevent an extremely motivated individual from acquiring means to inflict casualties, the preponderance of evidence suggests that making access harder may prevent many unnecessary deaths. Third, many opponents to gun control laws cite mental health as the primary driver of these attacks. As a licensed mental health counselor, I wholeheartedly agree that only disturbed, often radicalized, individuals could carry out such atrocities. I also agree that we
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situated mere feet away served to cool down the hot and bothered. “He was 36 in 1969, the year of Stonewall,” O’Hanian noted, taking those assembled through the gay imagery that Swann had access to, when building collages (eight layers deep in some cases) around naked men cut from the pages of gay skin mags like “Honcho” and “Drummer.” This technique necessitated other visual elements, such as the background environment, to be taken from art, historical, or decorative publications of the time; chosen not only for the mood they conveyed, but in a manner that complemented how Swann’s dirty magazine denizens were lit — as with “Awaiting Reincarnation and the Ecstasy of Re-Embodiment,” in which a disproportionately small farmer in overalls looks upon a naked young man, who sports a welcoming grin and a throbbing erection.
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Courtesy Christopher Stults
From the early 2000s, L to R: Christopher Stults and his partner, Giusseppe Quispe, getting ready to go out in Orlando.
should expand access to and availability of affordable mental health services. However, it is important to keep in mind that mental health professionals are already mandated reporters. As such, we are obligated to report if a patient states imminent plans to do harm to others. Clients are typically aware of this responsibility. Thus, it is likely that most people who intend to carry out such acts of violence will either not be honest in therapy or will not be in therapy in the first place. Finally, the role of extremism in all its forms is undeniable and should not be underestimated. Rather than vilifying groups of people based on their religion, ethnicity, or other sociopolitical characteristics, it is vital that we work with our partners in all communities to help identify and divert potential bad actors before they commit such atrocities. If we stigmatize particular groups of people,
“Who is he making these for?” O’Hanian wondered. It was one of many unanswered questions that, for all of their scholarship and insider knowledge, the panel was at a loss to fully explain. This seemed a fitting testimony; not so much to Swann’s enigmatic nature, as to what Flippen described as a “compartmentalized” existence in his latter decades, when artists, celebrities, clairvoyants, Manhattan socialites, and students from his remote viewing days were drawn to the building he owned on Bowery and East Fourth Street — the same space where, years before, a chinchilla who preferred not to be caged set his owner on a journey of sexual and spiritual freedom. “From an early age,” Flippen said of her uncle’s extrasensory instincts, “he was taught to suppress it, that it’s evil; like being gay.” “Ingo Swann: A Remote View” can be seen through July 3 at La MaMa La Galleria (47 Great Jones St., btw. Bowery & Lafayette). Free admission. Gallery Hours:
we risk alienating them and creating something of a chilling effect, whereby people who have an opportunity to intervene before something terrible happens are discouraged from doing so out of fear or threats to their livelihood. Upon reflecting on the Orlando shooting, it occurs to me that the resultant anxiety I’m experiencing is what members of other marginalized groups have felt for generations. Many people of color, and Black Americans in particular, were traumatized following the massacre that took place in Charleston last year, regardless of their proximity to South Carolina. Therefore, given the widespread direct and indirect damage these types of attacks inflict, it is essential that we mobilize our communities and advocate for change in this country. It is morally reprehensible to stand idly by. Like many other marginalized communities in our country, if there is a community that has the requisite organizing ability, historical wisdom, resilience, and grit to take on the inertia of the status quo, it is the LGBTQ community. Our hard-won rights to marry and start families make it all the more incumbent upon us to protect our loved ones, so that we will not have to witness a tragedy like this again. Christopher Stults is a Doctoral Candidate in Counseling Psychology and a Research Assistant at the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior, and Prevention Studies at New York University. He is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in independent practice in New York City (stultscounseling. com). For updates on the Orlando collective trauma and resilience survey, visit chibps.org.
Courtesy La MaMa La Galleria
Installation view: “Ingo Swann: A Remote View.”
Wed.–Sun., 1–7pm or by appointment. Artist info, and e-Books available for purchase, at ingoswann.com. Also visit lamama.org/lagalleria, leslielohman.org, and avam.org. .com
June 23 - 29, 2016
Queer Art Organics is Packed with Naturals
Photo by Puma Perl
Sappho tribute artist John J. Trause, with his latest book.
Photo by Stacie Joy
Queer Art Organics host Aimee Herman bares body and soul — and prompts others to do the same.
BY PUMA PERL Aimee Herman, a performance poet, writer, and educator, is very clear about her reasons for founding Queer Art Organics, a monthly series held at Dixon Place. “I wanted to create a space specifically for LGBTQ writers and performers, and to celebrate the immense range of talent in this city,” she told me. “We’ve had new writers and established ones as well. I wanted this series to be less about one’s bio and
June 23 - 29, 2016
more about having an encouraging space to share work with a welcoming audience. I started going to open mics at age 18, and I still remember how it felt to be given three minutes to untangle my soul onstage.” As host and curator, she selects people she’s seen perform, but also responds to queries from people wanting to be featured, and to recommendations by friends and participants. Some of the artists are as new to her as they are to the audience.
“Amazingly,” she told me, “I have never been disappointed.” The stripped-down, one-hour show, which Herman calls “a beautiful teaser of infinite talent,” consists of three or four performers, and does not limit itself to poets. Storytellers, comics, musicians, and performance artists of all kinds — including belly dancers and sword balancers — have been featured. My recent visit to the series demonstrated Herman’s success in presenting performers who vary widely in their experience. One of the artists, Charlotte Marchand, was reading in public for the first time. She enjoyed great support from the friends she had brought along and from the listeners, as she read excerpts from letters written by her late father. The prose piece was titled, appropriately, “Coming Out to My Dead Father,” and referenced the author’s experience in the women’s
movement of the late ’60s and with the Weatherman, two topics that don’t often arise at readings. Trae Durica, another of the night’s features, describes himself as “genderqueer masculine.” Although he’s had some experience reading in public, Durica said he still feels like “a ball of anxiety and introversion wherever I read. But I do like reading in a queer, safe space, since I often write about my big queer life. I feel so much support in these spaces, where my story resonates with many others.” Accompanied by Herman on ukulele for the first few poems, Durica’s reading included work from his 2014 chapbook, “Cacophony Worth Remembering.” I was particularly moved by one of what he calls his “Decisions” pieces, in which he asked the questions “normal” people never ORGANICS continued on p. 19 .com
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get asked. “When did you decide you were straight?” it began. “When did you decide you were the same gender as what’s on your birth certificate? When did you decide to wear clothes that make you look straight?” “I feel that we need to keep creating these queer spaces where it’s safe for us to tell our stories for as long as it’s unsafe to be queer anywhere in the United States,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I want to read in any space where people are paying attention to performers instead of their cellphones.” The third feature of the evening, John J. Trause, opened his set by announcing, in a deadpan tone, that he wished to pay homage to Sappho — then, in a hilarious high-pitched voice, recited one of her poems in the original ancient Greek Aeolic dialect. “I’m a performance poet,” Trause told me, “but I hate being labeled that way. I am also a visual poet, a conceptual poet, a metrical poet, a spiritual poet.” Trause is the Director of New Jersey’s Oradell Public Library and his list of writing credits and
published books is long. On this evening, he read some pieces from his brand new book, “Exercises in High Treason,” (great weather for MEDIA, 2016). He describes it as “a work of fictive translations, found poems, and manipulated texts.” In keeping with his self-description, the book is playfully arranged with a highly visual and conceptual appeal. “Even though I am a writer and librarian,” he said, “I love to reveal how words betray us. Since I have some real and some fake translation in my book, as well as other verbal transformations, I am committing high treason.” Queer Art Organics started at Brooklyn’s Branded Saloon in October of 2014, and moved to Dixon Place in February of 2015. “Dixon Place, which is all-encompassing, is my favorite New York City venue,” Herman declared, “because of its resiliency and incredible support to the queer community and to artists in general. I love that they offer free and low-cost shows.” This summer, the HOT! Festival, which is the world’s longest-running LGBTQ festival, returns to Dixon Place — and Herman is thrilled to
Photo by Linda Rizzo
Trae Durica reading from his 2014 chapbook, “Cacophony Worth Remembering.”
have the series included in it. As usual, Queer Art Organics will offer what she describes as “a myriad of language.” “I want to continue to be inclusive and never feel elite in any way,” Herman said. “Any queer humans out there reading this who would like to perform are welcome to contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sometimes the very best are the ones who’ve never taken the stage before. That’s so often when the magic happens.”
Queer Art Organics is held at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.), usually on the second Wed. of every month. It is a free one-hour event and starts at 7:30pm. The next show is Tues., July 19, as part of the HOT! Festival (which runs July 5–Aug. 6). The series skips Aug. and returns in Sept. For more info, visit dixonplace.org. Recent work by Aimee Herman and John J. Trause can be purchased at greatweatherformedia.com/books.
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Rally Highlights Hopes for Hopper-Gibbons House
Photo by Sean Egan
American flag decorations, in honor of Juneteenth, hung outside the front door of the Hopper-Gibbons House in preparation for the rally.
Photo by Daniel Kwak
Councilmember Corey Johnson (fourth from left) speaks with Fern Luskin (in hat) and Julie Finch (wearing glasses). In the background, draped in netting, is the Hopper-Gibbons House.
BY SEAN EGAN The restoration of the only documented Underground Railroad site in Manhattan continues to be a cause to rally around. The building, known as the HopperGibbons House (339 W. 29th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) has been caught in a years-long battle between local preservationists — led by the Friends of the Hopper-Gibbons Underground Railroad Site — and the site’s owner, Tony Mamounas. The building was landmarked in 2009 as part of the Lamartine Historic District, shortly after erroneously issued permits were revoked from Mamounas and Stop Work Orders were issued — though work on the house’s contentious fifth-floor addition reportedly continued. Court decisions in both 2013 and 2015 upheld that Mamounas must gain approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) before continuing construction. The LPC
June 23 - 29, 2016
does, however, have the ability to make the owner restore the house to its former state; this is what preservationists have been advocating for as the owner prepares to go before the LPC with revised plans. The site was home to Abigail HopperGibbons, a noted abolitionist, who used the house as a safe place for runaway slaves making their way North, and was also court to visits from Horace Greeley and Frederick Douglass. The house was so well known, in fact, that angry rioters targeted it during the 1863 Draft Riots — causing the Hopper-Gibbons daughters to escape the pandemonium by fleeing across the flush roofs of the houses in the district. The sunny afternoon of Sat., June 18 was a well-timed occasion for local preservationists to stage their latest rally in front of the Hopper-Gibbons House, as many in attendance noted it was the day before Juneteenth — a celebration of the emancipation of slaves). Draping
American flag decorations across the gates and sidewalk shed in front of the building’s entrance, activists handed out copies of a change.org petition (tinyurl.com/gwekkvu) to get the building restored as onlookers assembled and electeds arrived. The rally opened with remarks from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, a vocal supporter of the house in the past. She not only offered testimony to the building’s importance, but vocalized a common concern surrounding preservation issues: Why aren’t agencies like LPC enforcing laws to the fullest, and why aren’t owners in the wrong being held accountable? “I’m a big believer that if you do not follow the law, you should be punished,” declared Brewer, noting that the building should be “kept up to the Landmark standard” and have its extra story torn down. “It sets a statement; it sets a stick for others,” she asserted, calling on those present to continue to both celebrate and protect the building. Following Brewer, Kelly Carroll of the Historic Districts Council decried the situation with the owner as an “affront to our city, our country, our law.” City Councilmember Corey Johnson had similarly strong words of support for the cause. Noting that the building was steeped in history, Johnson commented, “The addition, covered in stucco, [was] an illegal story that not only disrespects this individual structure, it disrupts and disrespects all of Lamartine Place — the whole Historic District.” “Why isn’t this guy in jail?” questioned Johnson, asserting that the issue must be resolved as a way of “deterring other bad actors,” and that the LPC
must “not reward bad behavior.” “Enough is enough,” he concluded. “The city needs to come down with its full force of power and law to stop this from happening in the future.” Fern Luskin of The Friends of HopperGibbons Underground Railroad Site & Lamartine Place Historic District then
offered her own brief comments on the matter, echoing many of the sentiments heard throughout the afternoon, noting that the fifth floor was “insulting” and that Mamounas was acting with “selfish greed and gall.” Lesley Doyel, representing Save Chelsea, encouraged those present to “raise [their] combined voices and say a resounding ‘No’ ” to the mistreatment of the space. Next, a rep from New York State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried’s office read a statement from Gottfried referring to the addition as a “monstrosity” and urging the Department of Buildings and the LPC to “do what they are empowered to do: approve what is right and disapprove what is wrong. This is blatantly wrong. History must be preserved!” The last to speak was Pat Waldo, a tour guide and historic preservation student at Pratt, who emphasized that the house’s history in the Draft Riots should be looked at more closely during this “rise of Führer Trump” as a warning of how “white working class fears” can be provoked in “ugly and deadly” ways. “Now, more than ever, its important for us to examine that connection,” he maintained. Luskin called the rally to a close soon thereafter, and invited anyone present to come to a post-rally party on W. 26th St. The building has not yet been scheduled for an LPC hearing. .com
THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
Editor Scott Stiffler
Editorial Assistant Sean Egan Jane Argodale
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Lincoln Anderson Stephanie Buhmann Jackson Chen Sean Egan Winnie McCroy Colin Mixson Puma Perl Yannic Rack Paul Schindler Trav S.D. Eileen Stukane
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Account Executives Jack Agliata Lauren Blair Allison Greaker Jim Steele Julio Tumbaco
NEW COMMANDING OFFICER: Next week will find the 10th Precinct welcoming a new commanding officer, and saying farewell to current CO, Deputy Inspector Michele Irizarry. Irizarry’s tenure at the 10th Precinct began in July of 2014, with a focus on bringing down crimes such as larceny. Irizarry’s successor, Captain Paul Lanot, will be assuming the role of commanding officer after her departure next week. Previously, Lanot served as the executive officer of the 17th Precinct, and then the Midtown South Precinct.
PETIT LARCENY: Chump change At around 8am on Thurs., June 16, a Bronx man parked his 2000 Honda at a lot (435 10th Ave., at W. 34th St.), and then left for the day, confident in the safety of whatever valuables he had left inside. When the 47-year-old returned to pick up his vehicle, however, he noticed that the ashtray had been knocked to the floor, and, more pressingly, somebody had taken the $30 in quarters he’d been storing in the car. No one has been caught yet in relation to the caper, but police are strongly advised to canvas all nearby laundromats and arcades, and keep their eyes peeled for a person schlepping around 120 United States quarters (likely in a burlap sack labeled “$”).
ASSAULT: Bad night for Good Samaritan Published by
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him in the mouth with a closed fist, causing him to suffer a swollen lip. “I’m going to take care of you and your dog,” threatened the assailant, managing to add insult to injury before fleeing in an unknown direction. There are cameras in the area, though, so the sucker-punch ruffian stands a chance of getting caught.
ASSAULT: Cone dunce taken down At around 1am on Sat., June 18, a 25-year-old upstate New York man got into heated dispute outside of XL Nightclub (512 W. 42nd St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.), when a 48-yearold employee refused to let him enter the lounge. When the man continued to act belligerently, the employee approached him, causing the man to lash out and grab an orange traffic cone, and hurl it in the direction of the doorman. His poor aim, however, caused an innocent 2005 Honda Odyssey to get caught in the crossfire and suffer a damaged front fender. Undeterred by this attack, the doorman continued towards the perp, and was met with a far more direct strike to the nose, causing injury. The assailant was quickly arrested.
PETIT LARCENY: Can’t catch a brake In a strange turn of events, a local man was probably left wondering why someone didn’t just steal his bike on Sun., June 19. The man left the bicycle
One unfortunate incident on Sat., June 18 proved — swiftly and certainly —that no good deed goes unpunished. At about 2:30am, while walking his dog, a 72-year-old man was checking on a person he saw lying on the ground at the northeast corner of 10th Ave. & W 42nd St. While inspecting this sidewalk settler situation, an unknown perp approached the man, and punched
CASH FOR GUNS $100 cash will be given (no questions asked) for each handgun, assault weapon or sawed-off shotgun, up to a maximum payment of $300. Guns are accepted at any Police Precinct, PSA or Transit District.
locked up outside of 465 W. 23rd St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.) at about 2:30am, and when he returned to it at 10:30am, he found multiple items had been stolen off of the bike in his absence. A grand total of $800 of crucial bike equipment was taken, including its two Shimano tires, two disc brakes, and two cables — leaving the bike utterly nonfunctional. According to the police report, it is possible that video is available, which might aid in identifying the piecemeal thief.
THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Capt. Paul Lanot. Main number: 212741-8211. Community Affairs: 212741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-7418226. Domestic Violence: 212-7418216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-924-3377. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7pm, at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced. They are on hiatus until Sept. 28.
THE 13th PRECINCT Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. Second & Third Aves.). Deputy Inspector: Brendan Timony. Call 212477-7411. Community Affairs: 212477-7427. Crime Prevention: 212-4777427. Domestic Violence: 212-4773863. Youth Officer: 212-477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444. The Community Council meets on the third Tues. of the month, 6:30pm, at the 13th Precinct. They are on hiatus until Sept. 20.
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BY LENORE SKENAZY There was an outpouring of online sympathy for the parents of the little boy killed by an alligator at a Disney resort in Orlando last week, which just goes to show that sometimes the Internet has a heart, and sometimes it calls for blood. The question is, “Why?” In contrast to the half a million people who signed a petition against Michelle Gregg, the mom whose threeyear-old son got into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo, leading zookeepers to kill the 400-pound gorilla named Harambe, commentators did not go nearly as insane over the fact that officials “put down” several Disney-area alligators without being positive which of them, if any, dragged two-year-old Lane Graves to his death. It was with relief that I found far more comments castigating those who would blame the parents than actual parental castigation. It is like the high road was the cool place to be, this time. “It’s ridiculous to blame the parents who were sitting a few feet away and did all they could to save him,” read a typical online comment. And, on Twitter, “Pray for his family. Don’t judge.” Compare to: “#GorillaIncident Mom is totally at fault shoot her.” So, what accounts for the vast difference in response to these two incredibly rare toddler-animal tragedies that took place at family-friendly places? Well first of all, of course, the two-year-old died. There’s no way to say that the Graves haven’t suffered enough (and what an eerily sad last name). Also, even as the story broke, we heard that the father desperately
tried to open the alligator’s jaws and couldn’t. No one could dare accuse that dad of not doing enough. Then, too, there’s the question of racism — although I think many people were jumping on the Cincinnati mom before they knew she was African-American. The Graves are white. And there’s even the question of species-ism: Gorillas look like us. Alligators don’t (at least, not like most of us). But even more than all that, I think that so many people were eager to flog the Cincinnati mom because the mob needed someone to blame (that’s what mobs do), and moms are a favorite target these days. This is the era when we have come to believe that mothers can and must be in control of their kids at all times. Any mom who takes her eyes off her kids — and we hear about it — is automatically a public enemy. Think of all those moms berated for letting their kids wait in the car a few minutes, or play at the park unsupervised. If anything bad happens to an unsupervised kid, it is the mom’s fault. But with the alligator incident, the mob seems to be aiming not at the mom, but Disney. “I say the Grand Floridian is responsible for not having signs posted about the gators!!” read one typical comment. The similarity here is that if there is any entity we love to blame more than moms, it’s corporate America. So if we truly believe a mom should have been thinking, “Well, I know this has never happened once in 38 years of the gorilla exhibit, but what if today my kid tries to get in — and does? I better be preparing for that!” then we are also quite capable of thinking, “Well, just because we are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and not once has a guest ever been killed by an alligator, nonetheless we should be constantly warning vacationers about that gruesome possibility.” In both cases, the crowd has found someone it can second-guess after a once-in-a-generation (or twice) tragedy. That way it doesn’t have to contemplate the unpredictability of life, or the fact that there is no such thing as perfect safety, or perfect parents. The crowd can simply sit back and blame. Armchair blaming has become America’s favorite coping device. Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker who authored the book, and founded the blog/Twitter feed, FreeRange Kids (freerangekids.com).
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