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Carlos Menchaca Prevails 07

Pioneering Activist at 70 18

“Elizabeth Blue� is Vincent Sabella’s Own Story 34

EDIE WINDSOR EQUALITY’S CHAMPION 1929 - 2017 Page 03 DONNA ACETO PHOTO CREDIT

    

 

          

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FREE | VOLUME SIXTEEN, ISSUE NINETEEN | SEPTEMBER 14–27, 2017


In This Issue COVER STORY Edie Windsor, equality’s champion 1929-2017 03

CIVIL RIGHTS Cisgender students lose a round in court 17

NEWS ANALYSIS Some moderate their hate in response to Trump 08

FILM Manolo Blahnik in style if not spirit 34

HISTORY NYPD surveillance of LGBTQ groups bared 10

IN THE NOH Antonio Ramos’ & Pedro Almodóvar 37

THEATER We can still fly 30

OPERA NYCO plays its cards right with spaghetti Western 38

RuPaul’s DragCon 32

ALL FESTIVAL EVENTS FREE SOME BOOKEND EVENTS CHARGE ADMISSION www.brooklynbookfestival.org

SEPTEMBER 11-17, 2017 2017 FESTIVAL DAY AUTHORS AND PARTICIPANTS

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Jay Asher

Tony Medina

Erna Brodber

Kei Miller

Farai Chideya

David Barclay Moore

Dhonielle Clayton

Meg Medina

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Lynn Nottage

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Deji Bryce Olukotun

Robin Coste Lewis

Joyce Carol Oates

Nicole Dennis-Benn

Tochi Onyebuchi

FESTIVAL DAY

Sarah Dessen

Morgan Parker

Jonathan Safran Foer

Darryl Pinckney

SEPTEMBER 17 BROOKLYN BOROUGH HALL AND PLAZA

Nelson George

Stephanie Powell Watts

Marita Golden

Jeffery Renard Allen

Chris Hayes

Danez Smith

Dave Hill

Renée Watson

N. K. Jemisin

Colson Whitehead

Victor LaValle

Jacqueline Woodson

Jonathan Lethem

and many more!

CHILDREN’S DAY PARTICPANTS

Come celebrate books and authors! The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest, free literary festival in NYC. The festival presents nearly 300 national and international authors in readings, conversations and panel discussions. Experience the outdoor Literary Marketplace that features over 220 local and national presses, bookstores, and publishers.

Eric Morse George O’Connor Javaka Steptoe Jacqueline Woodson Gene Luen Yang

Laurie Berkner Alexandra Bracken Angela Dominguez Sharon Draper Maira Kalman

CHILDREN’S DAY SEPTEMBER 16, METROTECH COMMONS Come enjoy authors and illustrators as they present beloved and new children’s books through readings, performances, and workshops. Have fun with costumed characters, join music performances, and browse a Children’s Marketplace of booksellers in a beautiful park setting.

September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


REMEMBRANCE

Edie Windsor, Equality’s Champion, Dies at 88 Victor against DOMA was seemingly everywhere in the community’s struggle

DONNA ACETO

Edie Windsor as the grand marshal at this June’s Equality March for Unity & Pride in Washington. (Cover photo is Edie at this year’s LGBTQ Pride March in Manhattan.)

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

E

die Windsor, a tireless advocate for LGBTQ rights who became a worldwide icon at age 84 when her lawsuit against the US government led the Supreme Court, in 2013, to strike down the key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, has died at the age of 88. “I lost my beloved spouse Edie, and the world lost a tiny but tough as nails fighter for freedom, justice, and equality,” said Judith KasenWindsor, who married Windsor last September, in a written statement. “Edie was the light of my life. She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community, which she loved so much and which loved her right back.” Roberta Kaplan, the civil rights litigator who represented Windsor in her successful DOMA challenge, said, “Representing Edie Windsor was and will always be the greatest honor of my life. She will go down in the history books as a true American hero. With Edie’s passing, I lost not only a treasured client, but a member of my family. I know that Edie’s memory will always be a blessing to Rachel, myself, and Jacob. I also know that her memory will be a blessing not only to every LGBT person on this planet, but to all who believe in the concept of b’tzelem elohim, or equal dignity for all.” Windsor’s victory at the Supreme Court, which came on a 5-4 vote

GayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

on June 26, 2013, meant that the federal government was obligated to recognize all legal marriages of same-sex couples on the same terms as those of different-sex couples. Windsor arrived before the Supreme Court in her challenge to a federal estate tax bill of more than $360,000 after the 2009 death of her first wife, Thea Spyer. Windsor and Spyer, both New Yorkers who began dating in 1965, had traveled to Toronto in 2007, where they legally married. The following year, a New York court ruled that the state would recognize legal same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, despite the fact that such marriages could not yet be formalized within the Empire State. Regardless of New York’s recognition of their marriage, the Internal Revenue Service viewed Windsor and Spyer as legal strangers. Although Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the DOMA case made clear that the court was not ruling on the underlying question of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry — but instead on the narrower issue of whether the federal government must recognize those marriages legally recognized by the states or foreign governments — over the following two years, district and appeals courts, in a blizzard of pro-equality rulings, drew on the logic of the Windsor decision to find just such a constitutional right. On June 26, 2015, two years to the day after the Windsor ruling,

DONNA ACETO

Edie Windsor celebrates her high court victory outside the Stonewall Inn in June 2013.

the Supreme Court, in the same 5-4 split, ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry. Edith Schlain Windsor was born on June 20, 1929 in Philadelphia. A graduate of Temple University, she was married to Saul Windsor for a year following college, before divorcing him and moving to New York. Here, she earned a master’s degree in mathematics at NYU and began a career at IBM. Windsor and Spyer, a psychologist, were in their 30s when they met at a West Village restaurant in 1963 and began a friendship that two years later blossomed into a romance. They got engaged in 1967, but as for marriage, at the time they “never thought it would happen,” Windsor told Gay City News last fall shortly after her marriage to Kasen-Windsor. Spyer lived with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis for decades before her death, and as Kaplan noted, when the couple traveled to Canada for their wedding, “four best women and two best men” were needed to help assemble and disassemble Spyer’s wheelchair at airports in New York and Toronto. “That’s how much they wanted

to get married,” Kaplan said as the time of the DOMA victory. The couple traveled to Toronto as part of an effort dubbed the Civil Marriage Trail, founded by New York activists Brendan Fay and Jesús Lebron after the Canadian courts ruled in 2003 that same-sex couples there had the right to marry. Civil Marriage Trail facilitated the planning for US couples wishing to travel to Canada to marry. When Windsor decided to mount a federal case against DOMA, she was no stranger to activism. In addition to years of working alongside the community’s earliest marriage advocates, she was, by 2010, already the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from SAGE, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, and had long been involved as well with the LGBT Community Center and the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. But in 44 years with Spyer, Windsor’s path to outspoken advocacy was a gradual one. On the day she prevailed over DOMA, Windsor told a packed news conference at the LGBT Community Center, “In-

EDIE WINDSOR, continued on p.12

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POLITICS

Carlos Menchaca Prevails in Brooklyn In three Bronx races, LGBTQ-favored candidates go down to defeat BY PAUL SCHINDLER

I

n a primary that saw four of the incumbent gay city councilmembers unopposed and two of the seven-member LGBTQ Caucus out of action due to terms limits, the one councilmember who faced a challenge, Brooklyn’s Carlos Menchaca, handily withstood an aggressive campaign by Assemblymember Félix Ortiz and the county Democratic organization to unseat him after one term. With nearly 99 percent of the ballots counted according to an unofficial tally by the city Board of Elections, Menchaca had more than 48 percent in a five-person contest. Oritz garnered just under 33 percent of the vote. In three contests in the Bronx that pitted progressives against more conservative candidates, LGBTQ favorites fell short. Incumbent Fernando Cabrera, a stridently anti-gay minister who once traveled to Uganda to offer his support to homophobic forces there pushing a death penalty bill for gay people, bested challenger Randy Abreu, a former Obama administration energy official, by nearly 20 percentage points. State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., another fiery opponent of the LGBTQ community, captured nearly 42 percent in a five-person race to succeed term-limited Annabel Palma, outpacing out gay Elvin García, a former de Blasio administration official by 27 percentage points, and Amanda Farias, who also had LGBTQ support, by 21 points. In the race to succeed out gay Councilmember Jimmy Vacca, Assembymember Mark Gjonaj, who had supported Diaz’s run, edged out Marjorie Velázquez, who enjoyed strong support among LGBTQ and women’s groups, by about four percentage points. In Queens, in a contest to succeed Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who unexpectedly decided earlier this year not to seek reelection, Assemblymember Francisco Moya prevailed over Hiram Monserrate, GayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

Out gay Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who represents Sunset Park and Red Hook in Brooklyn’s District 38, won a big victory in Tuesday’s primary.

who was expelled from the State Senate after a conviction for assaulting his girlfriend. Monserrate has been a nemesis to LGBTQ voters since he went back on a pledge to support marriage equality in 2009 after having long courted gay voters. Sunset Park-Red Hook: District 38 Menchaca, the first out gay legislator in Brooklyn as well as the Council’s first Mexican-American member, had been on the outs with the Kings County Democratic Party since he ousted incumbent Sara González in 2013. Allied with the area’s congressmember, Nydia Velázquez, Menchaca said he collaborated well with other elected officials, too, but never saw eye to eye with Félix Ortiz, who is one of the area’s assemblymembers. He also clashed with David Greenfield, a socially conservative councilmember who represents an adjacent district with a large Orthodox Jewish community. Greenfield is widely seen as an instigator in Menchaca being deposed as cochair of the Brooklyn Council del-

egation in early 2015. That move followed Menchaca’s high profile battle with the city’s Economic Development Corporation over redevelopment of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park, an issue Menchaca said was eventually settled to the community’s benefit. Menchaca, in an interview with Gay City News last month, emphasized that his work as a councilmember is focused on empowering a poor community with a large immigrant population, both Latino and Asian, that has long been neglected by the powers that be. “This has been, for a long time, a forgotten part of Brooklyn without a lot of attention paid to building political infrastructure,” he said. “The Democratic Party, the county party has not focused on this area and instead had a particular kind of candidate-based infrastructure to keep electing a very particular person, like Félix Ortiz.” The types of reforms he hopes to bring to the Council, such as the borough’s members coordinating their economic development efforts to serve common goals, are

not welcomed by county leaders, he said. “The reform movement is not only alive and well but I represent it as an independent and a progressive,” he said, and then explaining the forces arrayed against him in the primary, he added, “Hence, the multiple challenges from the old guard.” One key to Menchaca’s victory this week may be in the level of voter turnout. Four years ago, more than 7,300 voters turned out in a district that often draws less than 4,000 voters. Without hotly contested citywide races this year, Menchaca was concerned that low turnout could help the candidate backed by the county organization. If voter turnout were to fall back to traditional levels, he said, “I will lose. I could lose.” Victory, he explained, would rely on “movementbased response at the ballot box in September.” Menchaca apparently got that response, with roughly 8,500 votes cast on Tuesday. Kingsbridge-Morris Heights-University Heights-Fordham: District 14 In the Bronx’s District 14, incumbent Fernando Cabrera, who is pastor at a local Christian congregation, easily held off a challenge from Randy Abreu, who was appointed to the Energy Department by Obama, to win a third term on the Council. Cabrera survives in politics despite a documented history of antigay agitation. In 2014, when he challenged pro-LGBTQ State Senator Gustavo Rivera in that year’s Democratic primary, a YouTube video he produced while in Uganda surfaced in which he praised that nation’s aggressively homophobic government as “the righteous” at the very moment its legislature was considering infamous “kill the gays” legislation. Though Cabrera deleted the YouTube post, a record of its still exists (and will be posted in this story online). Given Cabrera’s radical anti-gay

PRIMARY, continued on p.22

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NEWS ANALYSIS

Some Moderate Their Hate in Response to Trump President’s radicalism, recklessness spawn distancing in Church, military, GOP

US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MICHAEL LUONGO

Pope Francis said that President Donald Trump’s purported “prolife” posture does not square with his decision to rescind former President Barack Obama’s DACA program.

BY ANDY HUMM

N

o, a lesbian can’t be pope, it’s still tough to be gay and out in the military (and now wellnigh impossible to be transgender), and the GOP-led Congress isn’t passing the federal LGBTQ rights bill. But while Donald Trump’s election and right-wing victories from Britain to Brazil unleashed a wave of open bigotry, it also seems to have shamed representatives of the Catholic Church, the military, and the Republican Party to come out with more positive positions on LGBTQ and racial issues in order to distinguish themselves from a president who sees “fine people” among the murderous neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. The Vatican earlier this summer cleared the publication in La Civiltà Cattolica of a scathing article by two men close to Pope Francis against American fundamentalism, accusing then-Trump chief adviser Steve Bannon, a Catholic, of pushing an “apocalyptic geopolitics” akin to Islamic jihadism. It also warns US Catholics against aligning them-

8

House Speaker Paul Ryan has distanced himself from Trump’s DACA decision and on other matters, but has yet to take action to reverse the president’s dangerous course on issues including immigration and LGBTQ rights.

selves with evangelical fundamentalists, the heart of Trump’s base, in a shared “nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state.” It’s not as if the Vatican is abandoning its own conservative interference in world politics — especially at the United Nations when it comes to LGBTQ and women’s issues. But the Trump embrace of walls, rejection of refugees, reversal of Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and denial of climate change are too much even for the leader of a patriarchal religion. In Brazil on July 30, Catholic Bishop Antônio Carlos Cruz Santos of Caicó gave a stunning sermon, calling homosexuality “a gift from God.” “If it is not a choice, if it is not a disease, in the perspective of faith it can only be a gift,” he said. “When you look at homosexuality, you cannot say it’s an option,” but rather something that one discovers about oneself “one day.” His only caution was that while sexual orientation is not a choice, homosexuality can be lived “in a dignified, ethical way, or in a promiscuous one. But pro-

MARINE CORPS PHOTO BY STAFF SERGEANT GABRIELA GARCIA

General Robert B. Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, tweeted, “No place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC” in response to the neo-Nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville.

miscuity can be lived in any of the orientations.” The bishop also said, “Just as we were able to leap, in the wisdom of the Gospel, and overcome slavery, is it not the time for us to leap, from a perspective of faith, and overcome prejudices against our brothers who experience same-sex attraction?” Like Francis who appointed him in 2014, Cruz ministered in the slums as a priest. And while his pronouncement was not directly a response to Trump, it comes from a nation also roiled by the right, with its leftist government usurped a year ago by an opposing party that used the judiciary to remove President Dilma Rousseff. Challenged by the Catholic right, Cruz said he was moved by reading about the high suicide rates among LGBTQ people and that his purpose was to “save lives, contributing so that we can overcome the prejudices that kill.” He acknowledged his Church’s official teaching in the Catechism, which treats homosexual activity as sin, but emphasized its condemnation of “unjust discrimination” against gay people as well — something few Catholic bishops do.

Father Bernárd Lynch, an out gay Catholic priest and therapist who lives in London and County Clare, Ireland, wrote in an email that Cruz’s homily was “a powerful act of generosity from a Catholic Prelate in a country that I believe has the largest Catholic population in the world. The crimes committed there against LGBTQI people are horrendous… Bishop [Cruz] Santos is taking a brave stand on the part of the ‘Queer’ so that this murderous behaviour can be at the very least questioned by those who see it ‘as normal.’ I believe it is a roundabout way of addressing the Trans issue of ignorant, prejudiced, and fanatical Christians (Fundamentalists). These latter group — funded by American Evangelicals — are the threat to our freedoms in South America and Africa.” Lynch added, “While I am pertinently aware that Bishop [Cruz] Santos is operating within the Catholic Catechism, I support him working from within the Institution — and staying within — as I have always done myself, all be it

MODERATION, continued on p.9

September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


MODERATION, from p.8

in a more radical way. He has real power and he is using it well.” Here in the US, when Trump initially tweeted his desire to ban transgender troops, it was amazing to read how many deeply conservative Republicans criticized him for it. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah — third in the line of succession to this precarious president — told USA Today, “I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them.” Senator John McCain of Arizona, one of three Republican saviors of the Affordable Care Act (surely in reaction to Trump’s constant attacks on him), said, “There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity.” Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama said, “I don’t believe the laws would let you discriminate against anyone.” And Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said that “we need to have a hearing, not a tweet.” All surprising sentiments from GOP senators with records of opposition to gays in the military and LGBTQ rights in general. The Congress has the power to overturn Trump’s ban with a law allowing open transgender service — just as Congress blocked President Bill Clinton from allowing openly gay people to serve in 1993, forcing him to opt instead for the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. This Congress, which overruled Trump by imposing harsher sanctions on Russia recently, has not shown any inclination to stand up to him on LGBTQ issues, whether it is overturning the recent move toward a transgender ban or blocking his anti-LGBTQ nominees to the federal bench. They are not backing up their words with action. Then there are the generals themselves. The military was slow to accept open gay service and was had only acceded to a process for allowing transgender people to serve at the end of the Obama administration. When Trump tweeted against transgender service, however, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said that while he would have to follow the orders of the comGayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

mander-in-chief, “any patriot that wants to serve and meets all the requirements should be able to serve in our military.” Coast Guard Commandant Paul Zukunft pledged not to “break faith” with transgender servicemembers. And when Trump went on his tirade about the “fine people” among the neo-Nazis and Klansmen in Charlottesville, five members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff broke fully with that outrageous stance. “Events in Charlottesville unacceptable and musn’t be tolerated,” tweeted Navy Admiral John Richardson. “No place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC,” tweeted General Robert B. Neller. “The Army doesn’t tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It’s against our Values and everything we’ve stood for since 1775,” tweeted General Mark A. Milley. It’s enough to make you ponder the advantage of a coup in the face of this increasingly unhinged presidency — something we would have to stand firmly against as we hope against hope for GOP congressional action and work for electoral change. Trump’s unilateral order to end DACA, the Obama program to allow immigrants brought here as children to stay, has led to similar dissent among congressional Republicans, with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joining many of their party’s rank-and-file in arguing against the president taking that step. Whether they will now produce legislation to rescue these Dreamers remains very much up in the air, especially with their far right members wanting more draconian anti-immigrant legislation — not what they consistently label “amnesty.” None of this has proven the least bit chastening to Trump. With the storm over his Charlottesville comments still churning, he went on to pardon the racist former sheriff from Phoenix, Joe Arpaio, further subverting the Constitution and challenging the independence and integrity of the judiciary. There, too, the president’s action was met with criticism but no action. For all those Republicans who are finding more and more occasion to distance themselves from Donald Trump, it is way past time for words to be translated into deeds.

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www.cityandcountry.org 9


HISTORY

NYPD Surveillance on Early LGBTQ Activism Bared Municipal Archives chronicle police spying on wide array of groups since 1897 BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

A

s activists were gathering in the West Village in 1970 for the first march to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots that mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, they were not alone. The NYPD was nearby surreptitiously taking pictures and film of New York City’s first Pride March. Some of those pictures and film are now part of a small, but still fascinating exhibit titled “Unlikely Historians: Materials collected by NYPD surveillance teams, 1960-1975” that the city’s Department of Records and Information Services has produced at the city’s Municipal Archives on Chambers Street in Manhattan. “I think the exhibit shows the array of protests in the city and across the country in a very, very tumultuous period,” said Pauline Toole, the commissioner of the records department. The Archives now have 750 cubic feet of police department records that show the department’s “Italian’s squad,” which was shorthand for anarchists, spying on suspects in 1904 and additional spying on a host of other groups over decades. The squad eventually became the Bureau of Special Services and Investigations and then the Special Services Division, which the exhibit describes as the “most prolific” surveillance unit in the NYPD. A display of mug shots, which includes some from outside the city and the state, suggests the NYPD was cooperating with the FBI and police in other jurisdictions. The police department’s photo unit contributed 250 cubic feet, with pictures taken from 1897 to 1975. The remaining 500 cubic feet were released under a long-running federal lawsuit that both limited the NYPD’s spying and required it to release records of that spying. In its more than a century of surveillance, the NYPD has spied on immigrants, labor leaders, Nazis, communists, the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam, civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and some early LGBTQ rights

10

NEW YORK CIT Y MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES

An NYPD surveillance photo of the 1970 Pride March, the first commemorating the 1969 Stonewall riots.

UNLIKELY HISTORIANS Materials collected by NYPD surveillance teams, 1960-1975 New York City Municipal Archives 31 Chambers St. at Centre St. Room 109 — First Floor Gallery Through Feb. 28 Mon.-Wed., Fri, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Thu., 9 a.m.-7 p.m. nyc.gov/html/records/html/events/ events.shtml

NEW YORK CIT Y MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES

A gay film festival caught the NYPD’s attention.

The police surveillance unit also collected a flyer for an early gay computer dating service.

groups. The records on the LGBTQ groups are a small, but significant part of the collection. The LGBTQ “ephemera” that police collected and are part of the exhibit include a Mattachine Society button reading “Go-Go Mattachine” and an ad for the Man-To-Man “cruise by gay computer” service that promises that subscribers will meet “14 new people a month for one year.” The “space age computer service” advertised in a Mattachine publication. Police took at least 30 photos and film at that first Pride March, which occurred on June 28, 1970. A picture of members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) at that march is also featured in the exhibit. The exhibit has video of several protests organized by the Gay Ac-

tivists Alliance (GAA) in the ‘70s, including two in 1973. One protest was in support of a piece of city legislation called Intro 475 that would have banned discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation. The police grow violent in one protest video. “It had a very, very hard time getting out of a City Council committee,” said Perry Brass, an author and GLF founder, who attended a hearing on the legislation. “Basically what they were talking about was was there real discrimination against homosexuals in New York City.” Thomas Cuite, who represented parts of Brooklyn in the City Council, was the majority leader in that body from 1969 to 1985. He refused to allow a floor vote on any legisla-

NEW YORK CIT Y MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES

tion banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Legislation adding sexual orientation as a protected class to the city human rights law was enacted in 1986 after Cuite left the Council. “Cuite would not allow this to get out,” Brass said, who had not heard of the exhibit when contacted by Gay City News. A second video appears to be at the Inner Circle Dinner, an annual charity fundraiser produced by a New York City press association. Another video shows a GAA sit-in in 1971. “I’m very happy,” Brass said. “There is so little documentation from that period so this is documentation.” The films of the LGBTQ protests are just a part of a far larger amount of footage that the records department possesses. “We have 490 films,” Toole said. “It’s an amazing trove that we’ll have to get funding to digitize.” September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


DONNA ACETO

Edie Windsor at the 50th anniversary celebration of the first gay rights demonstrations at Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell in 2015. DONNA ACETO

Edie Windsor outside the US Supreme Court on March 27, 2013, the day her challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act was argued.

EDIE WINDSOR, from p.3

ternalized homophobia is a bitch.” For many years during her relationship with Spyer, she said, “I lied all the time” to a close knit group of coworkers at IBM. Internalized homophobia seemed an odd topic to be broached by a woman whom others at the same press conference called a hero and “shero” and compared to Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, and Harvey Milk. Windsor had just gotten off the phone with President Barack Obama, who called her from Air Force One when the Supreme Court ruling came down. (The former president, who said he spoke to Windsor just a few days before her death, said of her Tuesday, “Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor — and few made as big a difference to America.”) At the same news conference, when a reporter asked her what love is, Windsor at first said there are many types of loves, then alluded to the excitement of her sexual relationship with Spyer, admitting that her late wife always insisted they “keep it hot.” Barely missing a beat, Windsor then quoted at some length a W.H. Auden poem about romantic love. Insisting that the two-and-ahalf years of DOMA litigation she endured were “joyous, just joyous,” Windsor said, “If I had to survive Thea, what a glorious way to do it. And she would be so pleased.” In the wake of her DOMA win — which unleashed a euphoric LGBTQ response from coast to coast — Windsor’s vigor in using

12

her new-found fame to advance the community’s agenda was nothing short of astonishing. Whether it was the Center’s annual Women’s Event, a roll-out of a national senior housing initiative by SAGE, a rally for homeless LGBT youth in Union Square, or innumerable other gatherings, she seemed to be everywhere. “Because of my name, because I am Edie Windsor, I have a certain amount of pull,” she said last fall. “And I feel an obligation when somebody asks me to please come speak or even to put my name on their ad — ‘Yes, yes, and I promise I’ll be there.’” Even as she was constantly in the public eye, Windsor admitted after marrying Kasen-Windsor, she had felt a deep and enduring loss from Spyer’s death. Her life, she told Gay City News, was “very full with the community, but that’s not the same. And when Judith came into my life, I had just admitted to my best friend, ‘You know, I’m really lonely.’” Windsor’s relationship with Kasen-Windsor began in late 2015, when Judith walked Edie home from an LGBT Community Center holiday party to Windsor’s lower Fifth Avenue apartment “We talked for, like, hours,” Kasen-Windsor recalled last fall. “We sat and talked for hours, and then in the hallway, by her door, she kissed me. Then I called her during the week, and she asked me to go to Robbie [Kaplan’s] Hanukkah party that following Friday.” “And very quickly, very quickly, it really caught quick, it really

caught,” Windsor interjected. “We began dating seriously, almost right away.” After an illness last summer, Windsor decided it was the right time to tie the knot again. “I said I think we should do it right away,” Edie recalled telling Judith. “My sense was that if I’m going to die on her, it would be unfair — we were clearly in love, we were practically living together, and that I shouldn’t cheat her” by leaving her unmarried. With Kasen-Windsor’s best friend, Danielle Reda, visiting from France, the couple traveled to Manhattan’s Marriage Bureau on Worth Street on a late September Monday to pledge their vows. When their officiant, Angel Lopez, learned from Judith who the other bride was, he briefly excused himself, saying, “Let me get my boss,” City Clerk Michael McSweeney. When asked whether her new marriage meant she was ready to slow down in her activism, Windsor shot back instantaneously, “Not at all!” This past June 11, she was in Washington as the grand marshal for the Equality March for Unity & Pride, called in response to the anti-LGBTQ backlash brought on by the new Trump administration. Two weekends later, she marched in the Dyke March and the LGBTQ Pride March on consecutive days. In insisting last fall that she would never retire as an activist, Windsor recalled a recent speech she’d given, after which “everybody kept thanking me. And I said, ‘Thank you.’ I’m somebody who was really a dumb, ignorant middle class woman, who said, ‘I’m not

in trouble about being gay but I do have trouble identifying with those queens,’ and then a queen overturned that police car and changed my life. Okay, so that was the beginning of my sense of unity. And then during the AIDS crisis, when the lesbians poured in to help, what had then been a split really between the males and the females was deeply changed and my sense of community grew. And then when people were pouring into, looking to get into the Supreme Court, that made it even wider, that meant that we were out more — and the more of us that got out the more of us got out. It was suddenly wonderful not to be left behind in the closet. And it keeps happening. But it also happens with the straight world. Mothers discovered that their kids were gay. Everybody discovered that their neighbor was, that their friend was. And a lot of the stigma for us disappeared.” Then, on that early autumn day last year, even as she voiced dread at the possibility that Donald Trump could win the White House — something that at the time she said might force her and Judith into exile in Spain — Edie Windsor said, “I’m grateful to live in this great world.” A public memorial will be held this Friday, September 15, at the Riverside Memorial Chapel, 180 West 76th Street at 12:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, Edie Windsor had requested that any donations in her memory be made to the following organizations: the LGBT Community Center, the CallenLorde Community Health Center, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, and SAGE. September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


HUNDREDS PAY TRIBUTE TO EDIE AT STONEWALL

Judith Kasen-Windsor, Edie’s surviving spouse (center), with Roberta Kaplan (at far right) and Kaplan’s wife, Rachel Lavine (between them).

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

W

ithin hours of the news that Edie Windsor, the heroic warrior for marriage equality and LGBTQ dignity, had died at age 88, hundreds turned up outside the Stonewall Inn to pay tribute to her. Edie was remembered as a person who loved others so much that Facebook on the evening of September 12 was full of photos of people who’d stopped her on the street and gotten her to agree to having a picture taken with them. Her attorney in her successful DOMA lawsuit, Roberta Kaplan, said she never imagined Edie ever being gone. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer recalled Windsor always

sitting up front at events and truly paying attention, while Assemblymember Deborah Glick talked about Edie’s love of having fun. Her surviving spouse, Judith Kasen-Windsor, said Edie would get so angry at television coverage of the Trump administration, Judith worried she’d have a heart attack. Former Council Speaker Christine Quinn said everyone had to carry on Windsor’s activism, telling the crowd, “You must keep fighting or Edie will come back and haunt you.� The final speaker, former Marriage Equality chair Cathy Marino-Thomas, recalled Edie and her first wife, Thea Spyer, throwing themselves into the group’s work and ended by shouting, “Act up! Fight back!,� a chant the crowd took up.

Roberta Kaplan, who successfully argued Edie Windsor’s challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act before the Supreme Court in 2013.

Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, where Windsor served on the board..

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Cathy Marino-Thomas, Windsorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s comrade in the fight for marriage equality, ended the vigil by shouting, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Act up! Fight back!â&#x20AC;?

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13


CIVIL RIGHTS

Cisgender Students Lose Round in Bathroom Dispute Federal judge in Pennsylvania declines to halt trans students’ facilities access BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

A

Pennsylvania federal judge has denied efforts by cisgender school students and their parents for a preliminary injunction in their lawsuit against the Boyertown Area School District for its unwritten policy of allowing transgender students to use bathroom and locker room facilities consistent with their gender identity. The decision, issued ahead of the new school year in mid-August, was explained in a lengthy August 25 opinion by Judge Edward G. Smith, who sits on the Eastern District of Pennsylvania court in Easton. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) — a non-profit law firm that litigates anti-LGBTQ cases nationwide and has filed similar lawsuits against other school districts — represents the plaintiffs

in arguing that constitutional and common law privacy rights of the students are violated by the school district’s policy. In addition to local attorneys representing the school district, attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Rights Project and the ACLU of Pennsylvania with cooperating attorneys from Cozen O’Connor intervened on its behalf. The Boyerstown case presents a mirror image of lawsuits brought by transgender teens seeking the right to use bathroom and changing facilities at their high schools consistent with their gender identity. In both kinds of cases, plaintiffs present testimony about the emotional and physical harm they have suffered because their school’s policy interferes with their ability to use a convenient, non-stigmatizing restroom when they need it.

Here, cisgender students asserted they were so traumatized at the prospect of encountering a “student of the other sex” — as they insist on calling trans students — in the restroom or locker room that they avoid using the facilities altogether during the school day and the fear of such encounters haunts them. The court rejected the underlying premise, because the Boyerstown high school has provided numerous single-user facilities and alternative locations that would accommodate the plaintiffs’ concerns and has made physical alterations in the common facilities to enhance individuals’ privacy. The court’s decision took account of the facilities that would be available to students in the new school year. This lawsuit points to several instances during the fall of 2016 when plaintiffs claim to have been

startled, abashed, and disturbed to discover students whom they considered to be of the opposite sex in the locker room or restroom, leading them to complain to administrators. The transgender students were in these facilities after having obtained permission from school administrators, who had determined the students had sufficiently transitioned to make their choice appropriate. The evidence presented to the court was that transgender students still in the process of transitioning in their gender presentation generally preferred using the school’s single-user facilities. Because surgical transition is not available under established standards of care before age 18, none of the transgender students at the high school had genital surgery, so their transitions were based

CISGENDER, continued on p.44

Having Graduated, Gavin Grimm Amends Complaint ACLU reframes case, focusing on his status as alumnus with ongoing personal stake BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

I

n the latest turn in the lengthy litigation waged by Gavin Grimm, a transgender teenager who recently graduated from his Virginia high school — to establish the right of students to access bathroom facilities consistent with their gender identity — the American Civil Liberties Union which represents him, has filed an amended complaint that argues his status as an alumnus who might visit the school gives him an ongoing personal stake in the issue. The litigation, which began more than two years ago, has dramatically raised the visibility of transgender students who are seeking to assert their right to receive equal access to bathroom facilities in their schools, and at one point, Grimm’s case seemed headed for the Supreme Court. Grimm’s mother, Deirdre, origiGayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

DONNA ACETO

Gavin Grimm, speaking at a 2016 ACLU event in New York.

nally filed suit on his behalf against the school board in July 2015 prior to his junior year in a Gloucester County high school. The suit alleged that the school’s policy of requiring

students to use restrooms based on their biological sex rather than their gender identity violated Grimm’s right to be free of sex discrimination forbidden under Title IX of the Edu-

cation Amendments Act of 1972 and the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause. In September of that year, District Judge Robert G. Doumar dismissed Grimm’s Title IX claim, while reserving judgment on the 14th Amendment claim, and denied his motion for a preliminary injunction allowing him to use the boys’ bathroom and locker room while the case proceeded. With the case before Doumar, the Obama administration’s Departments of Education and Justice filed a joint statement with the court supporting Grimm’s Title IX claim. In April of 2016, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals focused on that statement from the federal agencies, finding that Doumar should have deferred to their interpretation of the Title IX regulations, concluding it was reasonable. The Fourth Cir-

GAVIN GRIMM, continued on p.47

17


COMMUNITY

At 70: The New “Age” Pioneering LGBTQ activist says his generation now embraces its “oldness”

COURTESY: PERRY BRASS

Perry Brass, seen here through the years, turns 70 this Friday.

BY PERRY BRASS

O

n September 15, I turn 70. How could it happen? It’s a question I’ve asked myself for a long time, and when I was younger it seemed so far away that it was unimaginable. 70, that is old. There is no way around it. I have stopped telling myself that I am anything but an old man, but, definitely, I am not an old man the way I remembered old men in my youth. The gay, lesbian, straight, bi, trans (and even all those “micro-sexualities” and “genderalities” somewhere in the middle) Baby Boomer generation is heading toward the Big 7-0, and really changing the perceptions and definitions of age and aging. The generation that said, à la the Who song, “Hope I die before I get old,” is now… well, old. But we are looking at it more creatively, with more flexibility, and with enough surprises in common emerging that some are now being institutionalized and accepted within the culture. Among them: that you are never too old to change, and that nothing is too young for you — although some things, like the big-time drugs we used to take and the over-the-top binge-eating-drinking-and-sexing, too — I’m afraid to admit, are. I am a peculiar old man. Like a many of my gay contemporaries, there’s still some wild boyishness left inside me from the 1960s and 1970s. I have prostate cancer, but I have kept my body in great shape. I have a 32” waist; weigh what I did at 30 — about 150 pounds — can do 100 push ups (in four sets of 25, to prevent too much stress on joints, something seniors need to watch), can stand on my head for 90 seconds, and generally walk faster than most New Yorkers. I enjoy a drink in modera-

18

tion, an occasional drag on a joint, and a real sex life. I hate it that some of my friends have, as I put it, “abdicated” their bodies: they have let themselves go completely out of shape, and this has affected their entire being, leading to skeletal problems as well as sleeplessness and depression. Regular exercise is a great antidepressant, and a good key to sleep. So is sex, but then so is keeping up with what’s new and happening, and also happening to have younger friends as well as older ones. That is an important aspect of growing old: not staying locked inside your own generation. Breaking out of that is getting harder, especially in a very “specialized” city like New York where it’s easy to be categorized, shelved, and “processed” according to age, wealth, and looks. It’s important not to fall into that, but luckily, numbers of young people do want to get to know me. They want to know about New York before it became totally Starbuckized, when you weren’t being eaten alive by real estate and the Donald-Trumpized, 20-teens winner-take-all career rat race. It’s important to make friends with younger people: they have much to tell me, just as I have to tell them. Back to sex: Another “surprise” of my generation is that a lot of Boomer men are interested in each other; in other words, older men are going for other older men, instead of running after boys young enough to be their grandkids. We are finding older men sexually and romantically attractive. You still find men in my age bracket chasing after guys 40 years younger — while still complaining loudly about ageism in the gay community (and, like Jack Nicholson before he met Diane Keaton in “Something’s Gotta Give,” assiduously avoiding anyone their own age), but this once-bitter stereotype of older queer men is far from the complete picture.

This means the glass ceiling of sexual attraction is being raised by us — a lot. When I was a kid in the mid-1960s venturing out into the dark, secret Gay World, the attitude was that you were approaching “through” at 25, then totally “washed up” by 30. Much of this had to do with either being nailed tight into the closet or else risking being labeled as that most pathetic of creatures, the ghastly “aging homosexual,” an acid-laced revelation in too many bad Broadway plays. This also left multitudes of us scared shitless of that question Aunt Tillie was bound to ask at the next obligatory family blood-letting: “So, boychik? Why aren’t you married?” The immediate internalization was that if you just looked or acted 22 forever, you could score a free pass on that one. This gave rise to that phenomenon seen often in gay bars: the “world’s oldest college kids” — dudes in their 40s, 50s, and beyond still in college sweatshirts and penny loafers. You were just never too old to be an undergraduate, or at least pretend to be one. From my teens, I recall seeing older men wearing what I called “the mask of youth”: shoe-polish-dyed hair, dead-cat toupees, ironmask face-lifts — all while being stuffed into clothes so tight that real high school boys would have barfed at wearing them. As a teen, pre-Stonewall, I was in Julius’ once in the West Village and innocently asked a stylish-looking woman, “Where are all the older gay men?” She shrugged. “They just commit suicide.” There was no place to go: You were in this poisonous “Boys in the Band” world where your very existence was questioned daily. Everybody knew it, no matter how rich, successful, or powerful you were. Artists like Edward

PERRY AT 70, continued on p.19

September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERRY AT 70, from p.18

Albee knew it, though he could barely put it into words. Gay Liberation, no matter how you defined it or even didn’t want to admit it, changed all that, and it also changed aging. You don’t have to apologize any longer for being older and gay. Men I know in their 60s and 70s are finding boyfriends and even husbands. Why not? There may be more behind you than in front of you, but that doesn’t mean that what’s in front has to be bleak. There is something about love with age that’s exquisite, with big, amazing passions in it. But you have to come out of yourself to have it. Aging does, for too many reasons, isolate you. That may be the worst part about it, worse than losing your hair and short- term memory. It’s too easy to be by yourself when you’re old. Organizations like SAGE and other senior centers are helpful, but in a city that has a penchant for keeping people locked alone inside their small apartments, even SAGE may not

PrEP

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COURTESY: PERRY BRASS

Perry Brass, in recent pictures.

be enough. (Frankly, though, I think the city is a great place to be old in, as opposed to being alone in the suburbs and dependent on driving — especially at night, a skill that becomes harder with years.) You need to come out of yourself, as hard as that may be. A lot of older people complain about feeling invisible, and it is often sadly true: we are. I noticed that myself, although it took me several years to admit it. At the beginning of my

“adventures in being 60,” I almost enjoyed it, because writers, like spies, can like not being seen. We like being those ears inside the walls. But at a certain point, it bugged me, too. You have to come out of your invisibility, and start making noise and reminding people you’re still here. It means you stop taking a great deal of shit, and no matter how polite you were raised to be, step up to talk back. But — don’t get slotted into being the curmudgeonly old man ei-

ther. You have to learn to cut people some slack, including yourself. Older people generally like quiet — I have loved it all of my life — but you have to allow that kids will be noisier than you want them to be and are often completely unaware of it. At this point, I say thank God for noise-canceling earphones. They return a lot of my own sanity back to me. I was a kid once too — and for a very long time — but it’s still easy to forget the crazy impetuousness of your own youth. A good way to remember is to allow yourself some of that, too. As Trevor Howard said to Celia Johnson in “Brief Interlude,” “We’re only middle aged once.” Okay, but I’m only this age once also. I still like riding around in cars with boys, I still like getting giddy on champagne, or flirting outrageously, or having other men flirt with me. I still love having close friends and making new ones. And having that excitement that something fantastic is going to happen, and I can’t wait for it to — whether it’s seeing a new show, or writ-

PERRY AT 70, continued on p.47

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GayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

19


LET TER FROM THE EDITOR PUBLISHER

Call It Out. Every Time.

JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

jgoodstein@cnglocal.com FOUNDING EDITOR IN-CHIEF & ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER PAUL SCHINDLER

editor@gaycitynews.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR DUNCAN OSBORNE

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS CHRISTOPHER BYRNE (Theater), SUSIE DAY (Perspective), BRIAN McCORMICK (Dance)

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS 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, Ed Sikov, Yoav Sivan, Gus Solomons Jr., Tim Teeman, Kathleen Warnock, Benjamin Weinthal, Dean P. Wrzeszcz

ART DIRECTOR MARCOS RAMOS

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BY PAUL SCHINDLER

I

found myself in an awkward position with the de Blasio campaign last Friday evening. That day, while reporting on Bronx City Council primary races, I contacted the campaign to confirm something surprising on incumbent Councilmember Fernando Cabrera’s website — that the mayor had endorsed his reelection. Surprising because Cabrera is well-known for his Christian right antagonism toward the LGBTQ community, including a trip to Uganda while that nation weighed a draconian “kill the gays” measure in its legislature. There, he produced a YouTube video praising its homophobic leaders as “the righteous.” That video, which still exists online, has been widely reported since it first surfaced in 2014. Three and a half hours after I queried the mayor’s campaign, a spokesperson confirmed the endorsement, while saying de Blasio has always made his differences with Cabrera

PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad

Caring About Queers During the Trumpocalypse BY KELLY COGSWELL

CO-FOUNDERS EMERITUS Troy Masters John Sutter Please call (212) 229-1890 for advertising rates and availability.

NATIONAL DISPLAY ADVERTISING Rivendell Media / 212.242.6863 Gay City News, The Newspaper Serving Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender NYC, is published by NYC Community Media, LLC. Send all inquiries to: Gay City News, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Phone: 212.229.1890 Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents © 2017 Gay City News. Gay City News is a registered trademark of NYC Community Media, LLC. Jennifer Goodstein, CEO Fax: 212.229.2790; E-mail: jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

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FOUNDING MEMBER

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on LGBTQ rights known to the councilmember. We published our story, spotlighting that endorsement, late in the afternoon. More than five hours later, the same spokesperson — just before 11 p.m. on a Friday evening — contacted Gay City News to say a “miscommunication” had led him to mistakenly say de Blasio endorsed Cabrera, when in fact he hadn’t. After several attempts, the best I was able to learn about what was going on was the campaign’s assertion that it made an “internal mistake” based on “the left hand not knowing what the right hand did.” Readers will decide what they think the truth is here. Had de Blasio made the endorsement, with his campaign willing to acknowledge that up until the point it was reported in black and white, at which time a ham-handed claw-back effort began? Or had sophisticated people in politics, even after being clued in about the Cabrera YouTube video by my questioning, been so indifferent to it that they simply assumed if the councilmember said their boss en-

dorsed him, then he must have? This was all handled so inexpertly that it’s hard for me not to assume the worst. Unfortunately, that worst needs some context. Along with the de Blasio endorsement, Cabrera listed the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is headed by out gay labor leader Stuart Appelbaum, as supporting him, something confirmed on the website of the RWDSU, which never responded to a query. And three years ago, in a primary challenge to staunch LGBTQ ally State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Cabrera had the support of Congressmember Charlie Rangel and Public Advocate Letitia James. How does this happen? The best answer I’ve heard is from my friend and colleague Andy Humm, who wrote that this “is an area that shows the weakness of our movement. Open racial bigots are toxic. But open anti-gay bigotry is excused as ‘a difference on some issues.’” And that’s where we come in. It’s unacceptable that bigots like Fernando Cabrera thrive in New York politics. It is our job to call him and every one of his supporters out at every opportunity. Otherwise, this lamentable situation will never end.

A

fter gracing the front pages for what seems like years with major gains in trans rights and marriage equality, queers are nearly invisible again in the face of neo-Nazis in the White House and board rooms, nuclear war with North Korea, deadly earthquakes in Mexico, fires across the globe, and their evil twins — floods — impolitely fed by global warming. Traditionally-defined queer issues seem the least of our concerns. Just like after 9/11, when the local TV chains in New York suddenly disappeared everyone from the African-American women who did the news to city fixtures like Al Sharpton and Latina lesbian City Councilmember Margarita Lopez along with our tiny problems. Police brutality. Health. Housing. Freedom. Equality. Our replacements — all white guys all the time, the universal news anchor with dark suits and hard-ons, military brass, and congressmen next to Rudy

Giuliani in his rotating NYPD, FDNY ball caps. George W. Bush denouncing imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and encouraging citizens to rat each other out. His reps issuing yellow, orange, and red terror alerts, actively frightening people who are frightened still, and determined to return the country to a moment of pure and peaceful and prosperous white maleness as fake and powerful as Saddam’s chemical weapons. I try to imagine how terrifying it must have been to see those indestructible towers fall from a distance. Because everything is worse from afar. Then how great it must have been for these men equally deflated by strides in feminism, LGBTQ rights, racial equality to see dark skin and female flesh hidden away. And white guys back on top of the human dung heap, sacrificing their lives, being heroes. (Even if there were a few minimized reports buried in back pages that hinted some of the newly named “first responders” shouldn’t have been inside the towers

at all, were actually ordered not to go in but went in anyway. And so died with their comrades.) There was no room for queers in the heroic narrative. Except for the gay rugby player who intervened on one of the hijacked flights. And the dead gay priest. There’s always room for a dead gay. Yes, there was a sudden masculinization, a very white washing, a reheteroization of America. But LGBTQ people in the US had already ceded cultural ground. The queers I knew in ACT UP continued to work on global AIDS, but seemed to rarely mention homophobia. Dykes I knew from the Lesbian Avengers kept doing activism, taking to the streets for social justice issues like income equality, but somehow never became advocates for poor dykes. Maybe they imagined that there would be some trickle-down, or just wanted to get out of our ghetto. And so, we queer activists left Gay

TRUMPOCALYPSE, continued on p.21

September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

Rump Finds Coast Guard Branding an Irma Bonus BY ED SIKOV

S

unday September 10 was a gorgeous day on Fire Island — warm in the sun, cool in the shade, the air fresh and early-fall-like. My husband and housemates were lying around on the deck reading and doing crossword puzzles. I, meanwhile, was inside the house in the den, glued to the television, watching Hurricane Irma’s painfully slow progress up the Florida peninsula. It made for riveting TV. The all-Irma-all-the-time coverage on MSNBC may have seemed excessive to people who aren’t news junkies, but to those of us in need of a constant fix, it was like a nice big hit of China white. As Little Edie from “Grey Gardens” would say, Florida is a very long state, I don’t know if you know that, do you know that? It took forever for Irma to make it from the Keys to Marco Island. Now I confess to never having heard of Marco Island before Irma provided television news with the opportunity to give the nation an extended lesson in the geography of Florida. While anchor Brian Williams remained safe and dry inside the MSNBC studio, a parade of waterlogged correspondents kept the action going outdoors. Soggy and windblown, Mariana Atencio and Sam Champion reported from Miami Beach, while the ever-intrepid Miguel Almaguer literally lashed himself to a concrete post to ensure that he wasn’t blown to oblivion by the fierce winds and unforgiving rain in Florida City. Must-see TV! My friend writer David W. Rudlin took a contrary view on Facebook. Rather than finding the whole thing

TRUMPOCALYPSE, from p.20

Inc. to their usual devices, including political maneuvering and backroom deals, and only emerging occasionally to complain about their relatively conservative agenda (same-sex marriage, gays/ trans in the military, and the like), though we lustily celebrated each normalizing triumph. Things are no different now. Tracking my “radical” queer friends on Facebook, they frequently mention women, or people of color, but GayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

mind-blowingly entertaining, as I did, Dave, inexplicably, found it tasteless. Above a photo of the tethered Almaguer, Rudlin wrote: “Below is a news reporter lashed to a building while he tells us what rain looks like. He is also telling viewers to either evacuate or hunker down, depending on where they are. Yet he’s standing outside with goggles on, blithely disregarding his own advice. And that undercuts his message… I know the networks are trying to maximize the ratings bonanza that is a natural disaster. But it’s gotten pointless, unseemly, and arguably even ghoulish.” Ghoulish? That’s scarcely a surprise. Ghoulishness his been the backbone of American entertainment since at least 1920, when audiences watched in rapt excitement as poor, unconscious Lillian Gish floated down the river on an ice floe toward a fearsome waterfall, wondering whether they’d get the chance to see her smash against the rocks in D.W. Griffith’s marvelous “Way Down East.” With MSNBC’s Irma coverage, I found myself musing on the likelihood of seeing Sam Champion get beheaded by a flying coconut. One curious element of MSNBC’s coverage was the presence of Chris Hayes, the host of the political talk show “All In with Chris Hayes,” which has a prime time spot at 8 p.m. I thought this was very odd, since Hayes is the straight man’s answer to Rachel Maddow, albeit without quite the same high ratings. Weirdly, the network stuck Hayes in a rain slicker and sent him out into the elements to face the same projectile coconuts that threatened Sam Champion. At least they didn’t subject the increasingly annoying Chris Matthews to

the same degradation. Or perhaps they should have. Meanwhile, Mad King Rump merrily cheered the United States Coast Guard’s efforts to brand itself during the colossally destructive natural disaster. As Matthew Rosza posted on salon.com, “‘If you talk about branding, no brand has improved more than the United States Coast Guard,’ Trump said, according to the Associated Press.” To make matters even tackier, Rosza noted, “Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino caught heat for retweeting images that he incorrectly claimed showed Miami International Airport being flooded after Irma, according to the Washington Post. The airport later corrected Scavino, and one initial report suggested that the video was actually taken at an airport in Mexico City.” Oddly, the world’s premiere fashion magazine, Vogue (of all places), featured a damning assessment of the Rumpian position on climate change. As Mary Wang wrote on vogue.com, “Harvey and Irma have hit US soil within a timespan of two weeks: one is a superstorm whose torrential rainfall forced the National Weather Service to add two new colors to its maps, another is the hurricane said to be one of the strongest ever recorded in the Atlantic. While we seem to have gotten used to the word ‘unprecedented’ to describe our current political climate, meteorologists are still happily applying the same term to hurricanes. The problem is, these extreme weather events are going to be less and less ‘unprecedented’ as our earth heats up, and our only chance of survival lies in acknowledging exactly that... Hurricane Irma is currently raging over Florida, but to many Texans, the memory of

President Trump’s reaction to Harvey (and perhaps, Melania’s “hurricane stilettos”) is still fresh. Not only did Trump not mention climate change at any point, but when he first visited the disaster-stricken state, he didn’t even address Harvey’s victims. While many media outlets have picked up his failure in optics, we shouldn’t forget that his failures to our climate are much bigger: he withdrew from the Paris accord, he signed an executive order to reverse flood-protection measures 10 days before Harvey made landfall, and, starting right after his inauguration, his administration wiped mentions of climate change off of government websites completely.” It’s great to see the world’s preeminent arbiter of women’s fashion take such an angry stand.

almost never LGBTQ people unless Trump does. Like when he tweeted he was booting trans folk from the military or trumpeted his support for homophobic bakers. And yet, these “radical” queers are in the street for everything else, from nuclear war to neo-Nazi posturing. About queers, they, we, are mostly silent. And in that void of our own creation, the conservative “family values” nuts have stepped in, stronger than ever. They’re cleaning us out. Quietly.

In New York, the Justice Department butted in a workplace discrimination case arguing that the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not protect workers on the basis of their sexual orientation. Meanwhile, all mention of LGBTQ people and gender identity has been stripped out of certain federal documents, including those related to a program for child victims of sex trafficking. In Tennessee, the Knox County school board is considering changing its harassment policy to re-

move language explicitly protecting LGBTQ employees. And, of course programs for women that somewhat benefit dykes and trans women, programs that fight AIDS in black Southern gay men are all being cut or eliminated outright. That’s what you get when no one’s minding the store.

And they say I never cover good news: From thehill.com: “A reporter for NBC helped rescue two dolphins stranded on shore in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Kerry Sanders, a Florida-based correspondent, twice found dolphins stranded on beaches while covering the storm on Marco Island. He first found a baby dolphin and, with the help of a passerby, guided it back into the ocean. Sanders said he asked wildlife officials for their advice on how to help the stranded dolphin, according to ‘The Today Show.’ Sanders later came across a second stranded adult dolphin and helped to carry it back into the water with the help of others who were also on the beach.” I always loved “Flipper,” but that was because the boys usually ran around shirtless. Follow @Ed Sikov on Twitter and Facebook.

Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.

21


PERSPECTIVE: The Long View

Democrats of New Stripes BY NATHAN RILEY

K

iss the 1990s goodbye should be the wish of anyone who wants American politics to shift course. Democrats must overcome their fear of being labeled “too liberal, too long.” Simply put, a party made up of feminists, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, Latinos, blacks, and progressive whites can’t pretend not to be liberal. In the current political climate, pragmatism and idealism walk the same path. Abundant signs indicate a course correction is underway. In the primary election that nominated Eric Gonzalez as the Democratic candidate for (and presumptive) Brooklyn district attorney, he and the five other candidates argued over “ways to decriminalize poverty and decrease mass incarceration,” reported the New York Times. “They often spent more time discussing the crimes they would not prosecute as district attorney than the ones they would.” In another borough, Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan DA, recently announced he will not prosecute fare beaters as criminals and has said marijuana legalization is something New York will likely have to confront. In another sign of the changing times — and the challenges they raise — news stories spotlight the problems California and Massachusetts face starting their tax and regulate systems for recreational marijuana. Voters changed the law by referendum, and now legis-

PRIMARY, from p.7

views, it’s not surprising he has drawn fire from progressives. Randy Abreu’s campaign was endorsed by two LGBTQ political clubs, the Stonewall Democrats of New York City and the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, as well as by TenantsPAC, Planned Parenthood of New York City, Vote Pro Choice, the Working Families Party, and Rivera, who dispatched Cabrera’s two State Senate challenges handily in 2014 and 2016. In reporting on this race online

22

lators and local communities are expressing reservations that must be addressed. Legal pot is a problem that never existed in the 90s, a decade whose legacy is clouded by harsh penalties for crack cocaine and a ramped-up war on crime. Democrats are lining up to support Bernie Sander’s Medicare for All proposals, while others pay tribute, in backhanded fashion, to the power of the idea by bitterly complaining he’s creating a “litmus” test for the party’s candidates. The smartest Democrats are responding to Donald Trump by testing new issues and facing some hard truths. The Democratic brand remains in trouble. The last Wall Street Journal/ NBC poll taken at the start of August showed Trump getting 36 percent positive or somewhat positive responses, while Hillary Clinton, the Democrat who outpolled him by nearly three million votes, got 30 percent. In a Georgia special congressional election earlier this year, Jon Ossoff was defeated, with opposition ads charging he will “vote” with “liberal extremists” for a “bigger government” and a “weaker military.” Another ad urged voters to “stop Jon Ossoff, stop Nancy Pelosi.” The notion of liberal extremists still works for Republicans running for Congress in red, even purple districts. The developing counter argument is, “Yes we are liberal, but this will mean lower medical bills, cheaper public colleges, and ending mass drug arrests.” Democratic voters are unsettled

as the party searches for issues and a direction. It was Bernie Sanders who first exposed this thirst for change, and he pushed for difficult goals: medicine with no co-pays, public colleges without tuition, and a living wage. These issues remain on the table and represent a sharp departure from the less-government-is-good government days of the ‘90s. These inspirational goals drive Hillary Clinton crazy because she believes they can’t be realized and it is disingenuous to press them. She has complained they disrupted the Democratic Party in the last election. But such uninspiring pragmatism is flawed. Another pragmatist, Jack Kennedy, who was president while Hillary grew up, pushed for great ideas: creating NASA to send a man to the moon and adopting the nuclear test ban treaty in pursuit of world peace. In a 1963 commencement address at American University, Kennedy explained the ban would advance the cause of peace “by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we help all people to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.” Potentially, impractical proposals define goals and get people involved. A method clearly understood by Sanders but one that has eluded Clinton’s embrace. This is the reason pragmatism and idealism are walking hand in hand today. Clearly, Democratic voters are ready for new issues that would have been unthinkable in the days of the drug war and “ending welfare as we know it.” By and large, these new ideas push for social democracy and diminished inequality.

Black voters flex their electoral muscle, reminding us without their votes the Democrats lose, with Clinton in 2016 underperforming Barack Obama’s sweeps in 2008 and 2012. The community’s leaders want support from government officials when its members are shot by police and they voice skepticism when the nation says it has reached full employment while joblessness among black youth remains stuck at 20 percent. Immigrants and their friends are unlikely to let the Democrats deport as many persons as they did during the Obama years. They want pathways to citizenship. Satisfying these concerns require big ideas for economic growth and rising wages. Civil rights require prosperity for all. Once again pragmatism blended with idealism makes for good politics. The LGBTQ community wants the same protections enjoyed by women, including an end to sexual harassment, job discrimination, and protections for their right to present their gender identity as they choose. We will not play second fiddle in support of policies that seek to placate white voters who chose Trump at the expense of our interests. Big ideas will be an umbrella offering unity to sort out views dear to Democratic constituencies that might otherwise collide. The move toward a new narrative and new issues seems unstoppable. The reaction to Trump is growing legs, and the Democrats can expect some intraparty friction but the outcome may prove pleasing. Unlike the proverbial tiger, the party may succeed in changing its stripes.

last week, Gay City News noted that Cabrera’s website included endorsements by Mayor Bill de Blasio as well as the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is headed by out gay labor leader Stuart Appelbaum. The newspaper sought confirmation from both de Blasio’s campaign and Appelbaum. The labor leader did not respond, but the RWDSU website listed Cabrera as one its endorsed candidates. Early in the afternoon on September 8, Dan Levitan of BerlinRose, which works on behalf of

the de Blasio campaign, emailed Gay City News to confirm the mayor’s endorsement, but he emphasized, “Mayor de Blasio is a strong support[er] of marriage equality and LGBT rights, and the Mayor has been clear about his very strong disagreement with Councilmember Cabrera on these issues.” At about 5:30 that afternoon, Gay City News published a story online and noted the de Blasio endorsement. More than five hours later — just before 11 p.m. on a Friday night — Levitan wrote

back to say, “Hey Paul, sorry I was wrong see below. ‘Mayor de Blasio has not endorsed Councilmember Cabrera. We regret the miscommunication.’” After several back and forths in which the newspaper sought clarification on what went wrong, Levitan explained that the miscommunication was “internal.” Asked whether than meant that somebody in the de Blasio campaign had told BerlinRose that the mayor had endorsed Cabrera but the campaign was now saying he

PRIMARY, continued on p.23

September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ä&#x2030;´

PRIMARY, from p.22

had not, Levitan responded, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d prefer it being said it was a matter of the left hand not knowing what the right hand did.â&#x20AC;? Soundview-Parkchester-Castle Hill: District 18 In the South Bronxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s District 18, Ruben Diaz, Sr., who represented the district on the Council for a year prior to his 2002 election to the Senate, won a return to his old seat. Diazâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opposition to LGBTQ rights dates back to his denunciations â&#x20AC;&#x201D; while serving on the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s police oversight agency â&#x20AC;&#x201D; of the 1994 Gay Games in New York, which he warned would lead to a spike in AIDS cases and to greater acceptance of homosexuality. In the Senate, Diaz led efforts to derail the marriage equality law, enacted in 2011, and has been successful, in tandem with its Republican leadership, in blocking a vote on the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a transgender civil rights measure. He is also a vigorous opponent of a womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s right to choose. Progressive opposition to Diaz was splintered, with Elvin GarcĂ­a, who served as de Blasioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bronx borough director as well as his LGBTQ liaison, winning support from the Stonewall Democrats, while Amanda Farias, who has worked for Queens City Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, snagged endorsements not only from the Jim Owles Club, but also from Planned Parenthood, Vote Pro Choice, the 504 Democrats, which advocates on disabilities issues, and Black Lives Matter New York. The good government group Citizens Union, which does not make â&#x20AC;&#x153;endorsementsâ&#x20AC;? per se, had designated Farias as the â&#x20AC;&#x153;preferredâ&#x20AC;? candidate in the race. Diaz, whose son is the borough president, had the support of the county organization as well as incumbent Annabel Palma. Throggs Neck-Morris Park-City Island: District 13 In the most competitive race in the Bronx, Marjorie VelĂĄzquez, an accountant, a Democratic district leader, a member of Community Board 10, and the co-founder of Bronx Women United, emerged as GayCityNews.nyc | September 14â&#x20AC;&#x201C;27, 2017

the progressive choice in the northeast Bronxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s District 13. Assemblymember Mark Gjonaj, who prevailed, faced opposition from womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rights advocates over his flip-flop in 2014 on Governor Andrew Cuomoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s proposed 10-point Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Equality Act. The assemblymember often talked about his support for the measure, but he actually voted against it, telling the Daily News that year he was uncomfortable with the billâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s language regarding womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s right to choose. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I support the right to choice,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Anything thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vague, that would allow for an interpretation into late-term abortion, I am strictly opposed.â&#x20AC;? Gjonaj, first elected in 2012, is also viewed with suspicion in the LGBTQ community because of his support for Diaz, Sr.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Council run. Even though he supported Diaz, however, on one key LGBTQ issue the assemblymember has separated himself from the Pentecostal minister, voting, since his first term in office, for GENDA. VelĂĄzquez had the support of the term-limited out gay incumbent from the district, Jimmy Vacca, as well as his gay Bronx colleague, Councilmember Ritchie Torres, and out lesbian Manhattan Councilmember Rosie Mendez. The Stonewall Democrats and the Jim Owles club also endorsed VelĂĄzquez, who enjoyed the support of other leading progressive groups, including the Working Families Party, Planned Parenthood, Vote Pro Choice, Make the Road, TenantsPAC, the 504 Democrats, and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. VelĂĄzquez was also the preferred candidate of Citizens Union. Elsewhere While Vacca, one of the two term-limited lesbian and gay councilmembers, will now likely be replaced by a candidate not favored by LGBTQ organizations, in Lower Manhattanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s District 2, Rosie Mendez, after three terms, will be succeeded by Carlina Rivera, who had the support of both Stonewall and Jim Owles. Four incumbent gay councilmembers â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Torres in the Bronx, Corey Johnson on Manhattanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s West Side, Daniel Dromm in Jackson Heights, and Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer in Sunnyside faced no primary opposition.

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ELDER CARE

Alzheimerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Foundation Expands, Broadens Its Scope Chelsea-based nationwide resource aims to provide one-stop resource shopping

COURTESY: AFA

Last monthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ribbon-cutting for the Alzheimerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Foundation of Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Education and Resource center celebrated the nonprofitâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to offer more training classes and therapy sessions.

BY NATHAN DICAMILLO

W

ith the opening of a new Education and Resource Center at its headquarters in Chelsea, the Alzheimerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Foundation of America (AFA) is taking one more step toward becoming the â&#x20AC;&#x153;one-stop shopâ&#x20AC;? for information regarding living with dementia and taking care of Alzheimerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s patients. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So far since weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been doing training programs, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve trained 13,000 folks, through DVD training, live training, and webinars,â&#x20AC;? said Molly Fogel, director of educational and social services and a licensed clinical social worker at AFA, which is located at 322 Eighth Avenue at West 26th Street. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Now that we have the actual classroom, we can do more things here in our community in New York along with the things weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing around the country.â&#x20AC;? The AFA is a nonprofit that gives caregivers and families access to information about living with dementia. It serves more than 2,600 member organizations with a nationwide toll-free helpline (866-2328484) staffed by licensed social workers, educational conferences and materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers, a national memory screening program, and an â&#x20AC;&#x153;AFA Partners in Careâ&#x20AC;? dementia care training for healthcare pro-

GayCityNews.nyc | September 14â&#x20AC;&#x201C;27, 2017

fessionals. The foundation was created with the goal of having a place where no partner or caregiver of an Alzheimerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s patient has to â&#x20AC;&#x153;wonder where to go next.â&#x20AC;? Annexing new space in the same building as its headquarters, the AFA is expanding its already existing programs and creating new courses. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Especially as the disease continues to not have a cure, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking for ways to provide meaningful interventions so that individuals who are living with this illness have quality of life,â&#x20AC;? Fogel said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is just the next course.â&#x20AC;? The classroom will be especially ideal for the AFAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s monthly six-hour dementia care training. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got this beautiful, comfortable classroom,â&#x20AC;? Fogel said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;[The training] used to be in our conference room, so now weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re able to more than double the size of professionals we can train.â&#x20AC;? During the training, professional and familial caregivers alike receive information about understanding the illness, communication techniques, and strategies for patients from professional self-care to endof-life care. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re able to offer a lot more programming, and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re getting a chance to be more creative in our programming,â&#x20AC;? Lauren Snedeker, one of the AFAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s licensed social workers, said.

In a new â&#x20AC;&#x153;Coffee Talkâ&#x20AC;? series, the AFA will tackle issues around mental health and women in caregiving. Evening workshops, called the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sunset Series,â&#x20AC;? will offer work-

shops for professional development and education. The foundation is also in the middle of developing art therapy, pet therapy, and dance therapy classes. Fogel believes that networking is the most critical component of the AFAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to serve trainees. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Because we want folks to realize that, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not just a social worker whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s here to get my continuing education. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a social worker who is a mom and a sister, and I really like to cook and craft,â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? she explained. The professionals who utilize the AFA include hospital workers, managers of geriatric care centers, social workers, recent graduates, retirees, and people working in a private healthcare practice. As the professionals in AFAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s space learn new professional techniques from each other, Fogel also wants the caregivers to learn personal skills

ä&#x2030;´

ALZHEIMERâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S, continued on p.47

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29


THEATER

We Can Still Fly A refusal to grow up clashes with the march of time BY DAVID KENNERLEY ore often than not, theatrical meditations on mortality tend to be dismal affairs. But red-hot playwright Sarah Ruhl, who has earned plaudits for plays such as “Stage Kiss” and “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” has solved the problem in her latest effort by expertly grafting on elements of the beloved children’s story “Peter Pan,” injecting a fantastic dose of whimsy while embracing the tale’s dark undercurrents. “For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday,” now at Playwrights Horizons, is set in Davenport, Iowa, in the 1990s and in timeless Neverland. The first part features a protracted, tense scene in a hospital room, where an elderly father lies on his deathbed, attached to monitors and drips, surrounded by his five doting offspring. The siblings have put their lives on hold to stand vigil by their dying father (Ron Crawford). Ann, portrayed by the legendary, luminous Kathleen Chalfant, may be the oldest chronologically — she’s pushing 70 — but not emotionally. Her fondest memory is playing the role of Peter Pan as a teenager, and she still identifies with the boy, sharing not only his love of flying but also his refusal to grow up. John (Daniel Jenkins) is a college professor, while Jim (David Chandler) and Michael (Keith Reddin) are doctors who have followed

FOR PETER PAN ON HER 70TH BIRTHDAY

M

Playwrights Horizons 416 W. 42nd St. Through Oct. 1 Tue.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m.; Sun. at 7 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $59-$99; ticketcentral.com Or 212-279-4900 90 mins., no intermission JOAN MARCUS

Kathleen Chalfant and Ron Crawford in Sarah Ruhl’s “For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday,” directed by Les Waters, at Playwrights Horizons through October 1.

in the footsteps of their father, a local pediatrician back in the day. The youngest, Wendy (Lisa Emery), the apple of her father’s eye, appears particularly distraught over the dire circumstances. “Peter Pan” aficionados will notice that these names match those of key characters in the book. The achingly poignant drama finds poetry in the peculiar dynamic of a family reunion, studded with reminiscences of key childhood moments anyone can relate to. Occasionally, each of the old man’s children reverts to their role when growing up, stirring old rivalries and recriminations. Under the resourceful direction of Les Waters, the characters are richly drawn and expertly portrayed. Ann is based on Ruhl’s mother, who actually played Peter Pan in her youth, and some of the dialogue is lifted

from interviews with her extended family. The lead role is tailor-made for Chalfant, whose mischievous grin and sprightly demeanor conjures Peter Pan even before she dons the famous green tights, tunic, and feathered cap. Arguing is a family sport. The siblings spar about politics, religion, afterlife, and euthanasia. By liberally upping the dose of their dad’s morphine, is it murder or simply palliative care? “It’s about staying ahead of the pain,” says Jim defensively. Ann recalls an earlier trauma putting down the ailing family dog. The pooch, played by Macy, who starred in the recent touring production of “Annie,” makes several heartwarming, ghostly appearances and hits all of her marks. After their father finally takes his last breath, the siblings breathe a sigh of relief. The second part finds the family

at a large dining table at the family homestead, holding an Irish wake — drinking Jameson’s whiskey, cracking jokes, and trying find solace in their shared experience. “I pride myself somehow on not growing up,” Ann says, equating that with being “programmed” and “ossified.” Michael’s mantra used to be “immortality through immaturity.” In the final part — a metatheatrical fantasia set in their childhood bedroom and a warped version of Neverland — the siblings play roles in an otherworldly production of “Peter Pan.” Tinkerbelle is there and so is Captain James Hook, embodied with dastardly panache by Chandler. They discover the Lost Boys and the Jolly Roger. And yes, there is an abundant amount of jubilant flying involved. To this tenderly affecting drama’s credit, the cables miraculously disappear in our imaginations, and we are convinced the fairy dust is real.

The Past Is Prologue A revue, a relationship reviewed, and a Shakespeare adaptation worth re-viewing BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE he new revue “Prince of Broadway” has its charms, notably in the high power talent on the stage singing their hearts out in

T 30

a progression of songs from shows spanning six decades. It should be enjoyed for its variety show appeal rather than as a coherent musical — or a thematic revue, for that matter. The concept for this undertaking is a celebration of the work of Harold

Prince. No one is going to deny his role as a major force on Broadway, as a producer and director, but in the weak book by David Thompson that links the musical numbers, we learn nothing about Prince, what he went through to mount these some-

times-challenging productions, or the man as an artist. Such insights would be essential to give the show cohesion and context, and provide a new understanding for a compre-

PRINCE, continued on p.31

September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


MATTHEW MURPHY

Tony Yazbeck performs “The Right Girl” from “Follies” in “Prince of Broadway,” David Thompson’s tribute to Harold Prince’s six decades in the theater.

JOAN MARCUS

CAROL ROSEGG

Melissa Gilbert and Mark Kenneth Smaltz in Thomas Klingenstein’s “If Only,” directed by Christopher McElroen, at the Cherry Lane through September 17.

PRINCE, from p.30

hensive body of work. Instead, it’s merely an agglomeration of, for the most part, Broadway standards that could serve as the playlist for an average evening at a piano bar. Prince himself has directed this, with co-direction and choreography by Susan Stroman. Essentially, they have tried to reproduce some of the elements and original staging of each of the pieces. It appears to have been done on the cheap, though there are nods to the original sets from “Sweeney Todd,” “West Side Story,” and “Company,” for example. It would be more effective with a singular creative concept to frame the numbers, as with Roundabout’s “Sondheim on Sondheim” from 2009. The unfortunate result is that the show ends up seeming like a series of final callbacks for the actors or backers’ auditions for revivals of these shows. And very conventional revivals at that. The company does a very good job putting over the songs, though it’s surprising that arranger, orchestrator, and music supervisor Jason Robert Brown has set some of them poorly for the voices he’s working with. It’s difficult to watch the wonderful Chuck Cooper struggle with the setting of “Heart” from “Damn Yankees,” almost at the top of the show. He does better with “Old Man River” from “Showboat,” but seems lost in “If I Were a Rich Man” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” Tony Yazbeck is sensational in a variety of numbers that showcase the full range of his talent, including “Tonight” from “West Side Story” and “This is Not GayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

PRINCE OF BROADWAY Samuel J. Friedman Theatre 261 W. 47th St. Through Oct. 22 Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m. Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $89-$165; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 30 mins., with intermission

Over Yet” from “Parade.” He is sensational as Buddy from “Follies,” pouring his heart — and extraordinary dancing — into “The Right Girl,” providing one of the few legitimately moving numbers in the piece. Of the other men, Michael Xavier and Brandon Uranowitz are also excellent and best in parts they would be right for, such as, respectively, Bobby in “Company” and the Emcee in “Cabaret.” Highlights for the women cast members include everything Bryonha Marie Parham does, whether Sally Bowles from “Cabaret” or Amalia from “She Loves Me.” As with Yazbeck, her wonderful versatility gives her an advantage in interpreting diverse roles. Kaley Ann Voorhees gets to do all the ingénues — Christine from “Phantom,” Maria from “West Side Story,” and so forth, and she acquits herself well. Karen Ziemba gives a powerhouse performance of “So What” from “Cabaret,” though presented without context it requires the audience knowing the show. She’s more antic and funny as Mrs. Lovett from “Sweeney Todd.” Emily Skinner is a distant Desirée from “A Little Night Music” and

IF ONLY Cherry Lane Theatre 38 Commerce St. btwn. Barrow & Bedford Sts. Through Sep. 17 at 7 p.m. $55; ovationtix.com Or 212-989-2020 One hr., 40 mins. no intermission

totally lost in a ponderous interpretation of “Now You Know” from “Merrily We Roll Along.” I blame the direction for that. She redeems herself with a galvanizing “Ladies Who Lunch” from “Company,” giving this brassy diva standard a new and sharp edge. Good individual performances ultimately are not enough to make a satisfying evening out of this disjointed assemblage that is more like a live action cruising of YouTube than a coherent show. The tipoff comes at the beginning, when Brown crams 17 songs into a clumsy one-minute overture. It tries to marry too many different styles and visions and, like the rest of the evening, just never holds together. Melissa Gilbert is such a wonderful actress that it’s a shame to see her wasted in the disappointing play “If Only.” In the tiny space at the Cherry Lane, she radiates heart, intimacy and complexity — far more than is written for her. Gilbert plays Ann Astorcott, a woman who served in a field hospital in the Civil War, where she developed an intimate relationship

Rebecca Naomi Jones in the Public Theater’s Public Works production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” as adapted by Shaina Taub and Lauren Woolery.

with a black man. Years later, when he comes to visit her in her comfortable, if staid, life in New York, they talk about it. It’s clear that Ann was most alive when she was serving in the war and persuading President Lincoln to provide the wounded soldiers with milk, and now her life is dull and chafing. In that respect, Thomas Klingenstein’s play has echoes of David Hare’s far more engaging “Plenty.” The problem with this rambling play is that it never gets to the heart of the issue — the relationship between Ann and her friend, Samuel Johnson, until more than halfway through the piece and then it never goes into it deeply. There is heavyhanded musing about Lincoln and an unnecessary subplot about an adopted child that could easily have been jettisoned to focus on the relationship between Ann and Samuel. Even when when it does get to that issue, the play has a hard time staying focused, as if the relationship were too difficult to write about. That’s the challenge a better playwright would have embraced. Mark Kenneth Smaltz is very good as Samuel, but his performance relies on his strengths as an actor, one that remains largely on the surface because the playwright never explains how he went from runaway slave to university professor in Chicago. Nor do we ever learn what either Ann or Samuel really wants in revisiting their mutual past. There might be an interesting piece in exploring interracial relationships after the Civil War. If Kling-

PRINCE, continued on p.39

31


PERFORMANCE

Thousands Find Fabulousness at Javits RuPaul’s DragCon proves a dizzying celebration of divine fashions

BOB KRASNER

Queen Lactatia, an eight-year-old star.

BY BOB KRASNER pproaching the large gray behemoth that is the Javits Center this past weekend, one would have no idea that inside there would be a scene of overwhelming fabulousness. Over two days, 35,000 people traveled there to be part of the celebration that is RuPaul’s DragCon. The show was laid out like a typical convention, with rows of booths laid out numerically, but any resemblance to the real world ends there; it’s more of a celebration than an expo and people definitely came to celebrate. Although the booths were hawking just about anything a boy might need to feel like a woman, the big draw was the chance to meet the various stars of RuPaul’s universe — including RuPaul — but that was a separate ticket, and required more cash. Fans waited for hours to get autographs and selfies with their faves, but just standing in line was an adventure. The doors opened at 10 a.m., but by 10:30 the place was packed with an endless pa-

A

32

BOB KRASNER

BOB KRASNER

Desmond Is Amazing and 10 years old.

rade of stylish and creative personas that was equal parts Halloween, Mardi Gras, and Wigstock, the late but legendary drag festival. They actually closed the line for Jeffree Star, one of the event’s sponsors, at 10:30, so quite a few of his fans were out of luck. In addition to the stars who had their own booths, there was an “Autograph Alley” that featured a revolving cast of performers who met their fans one by one. Randy Jones of the Village People had a great time being a part of it all. “I love all the queens”, he said. “World of Wonder [RuPaul’s production company] has put together a wonderful cast of characters.” Another WOW celeb, TS Madison, is a transgender performer working on a different kind of transition — from adult videos to mainstream media. She participated in a one of the many panels and met the fans on Saturday and Sunday. “DragCon 2017 is amazing,” she told Gay City News. “It’s filled with queens and everyone who wants to be a queen”. Panel discussions, two dozen

The Boulet Brothers.

in total, covered subjects such as nightlife, fake news, the Internet, trends, fashion , beauty, and activism, with a diverse crew of many of the more popular drag queens — Sasha Velour, Bob the Drag Queen, and Naomi Smalls alongside media notables like Michael Musto and television’s Nico Tortorella (“Younger”). Gay City News took Tortorella aside and asked him if he had ever been in drag. “Of course !,” he exclaimed. “My drag name is Almond Milk.” Besides the clever drag names, the exhibitors and attendees showed off some seriously fun creativity. Some looked divine, and some looked like Divine. Sashaying through the hall were kings and queens ( all kinds), Madonnas (the MTV type), showgirls, divas (of course ), witches, fairies (uh-huh), monsters, wood nymphs (garden variety nymphs, as well), movie stars (of imaginary movies), and Amanda Lepore (there is only one Amanda Lepore). Many hours were obviously spent on putting together the outfits on parade — and many more hours on the makeup. Drag per-

former Meatball spent the better part of a week creating a hot pink homage to Jackie Kennedy. “My friend inspired the look,” she said. “He had created one quite similar, and I thought that the idea of a president being dead was very relevant in this time.” Gay City News wondered how long it took Merrie Cherry to create her elaborate look, a kind a cross between Grace Jones and Hellraiser. “Oh darling”, she confessed, “I paid someone to make this.” The makeup still took hours to get right. Muffy, having spent the previous day wearing an outfit that took four hours just to get into, opted for a simpler plan on Sunday. “I took my roommate’s old plaid shirts and tied them together,” she explained. “It took about 30 minutes”. Ophelia Hotass summed up the general feeling of the weekend when she mentioned she was there to “celebrate drag and all of this crazy beautiful stuff that

DRAGCON, continued on p.33

September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


BOB KRASNER

Asked how long her outfit and makeup took to perfect, Merrie Cherry said, “Oh Darling, I paid someone to make this.”

BOB KRASNER

Sasha Velour.

BOB KRASNER

Jaymes Mansfield.

DRAGCON, from p.32

goes with it.” Designer Garo Sparo, an exhibitor whose business is about 40 percent creating outfits for drag queens, agreed, adding that “the most wonderful thing is seeing the parents coming in with their kids [in drag]. It hits me in the heart.” Certainly eight-year-old DQ Lactacia and 10-year-old Desmond Is Amazing are becoming very visible role models in a way that would have been impossible not so long ago. “We’re leading into a draggier future, in the best way,” said Sparo. One final note — an unfortunate one. When Gay City News first entered, we took note of the sign that said “Drag is not consent — please ask before taking someone’s photo” (curiously, it was positioned next to a sign informing attendees that by entering they agreed to be photographed and filmed for whatever purposes). So Gay City News asked and every potential subject and every single celebrity, performer, exhibitor, and attendee graciously agreed, with one notable exception. Despite several face-to-face requests, RuPaul flat-out refused. And, we might add, he was not particularly nice about it. GayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

BOB KRASNER

BOB KRASNER

BOB KRASNER

BOB KRASNER

BOB KRASNER

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FILM

The Year of Living Precariously With “Elizabeth Blue,”Vincent Sabella tells his own story BY GARY M. KRAMER ay writer and director Vincent Sabella’s feature debut, “Elizabeth Blue” is an intimate and intense drama about the title character (Anna Schafer), who suffers from schizophrenia. At the opening of the film, Elizabeth tells her mother, Carol (Kathleen Quinlan), that she is being released from a mental institution and moving in with Grant (Ryan Vincent), her fiancé. Elizabeth has hopes of getting well and leading a “normal” life. After she gets out, she sees Dr. Bowman (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who prescribes medication to help her control her hallucinations and the voices she hears. The filmmaker, who based his drama on his own personal experiences, succeeds in getting a strong performance out of Schafer,

ELIZABETH BLUE

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Directed by Vincent Sabella Global Digital Releasing Opens Sep. 22 Cinema Village 22 E. 12th St. cinemavillage.com

GLOBAL DIGITAL RELEASING

Anna Schafer in Vincent Sabella’s “Elizabeth Blue,” which opens September 22 at Cinema Village.

who vividly captures Elizabeth’s fragility and obsessive-compulsive behavior in her speech and body language. Sabella chatted with Gay City News about his portrait of mental illness in “Elizabeth Blue.”

GARY M. KRAMER: There is a real effort to treat mental illness with both respect and compassion here. Can you talk about how you developed the story from your ex-

periences? VINCENT SABELLA: All these characters are real. Dr. Bowman is my real Dr. Bowman, and he consulted on the film. Elizabeth is myself, and Grant is my husband Joseph. I based this script on a year in 2010 when all my medications hit a plateau and I was having schizophrenic episodes every day. Joe was taking me to see my psychiatrist every day because he couldn’t handle me. I either had to

BLUE, continued on p.35

Shoes You Can Hang on Your Wall Michael Robert captures Manolo Blahnik’s style, if not his spirit BY GARY M. KRAMER anolo knows shoes. His name is synonymous with high fashion footwear. He has collaborated with designers around the globe, and his pumps, mules, and kitten heels have been featured in popular culture from “Sex and the City” to Sophia Coppola’s film “Marie Antoinette.” Now, there is “Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards,” a documentary — well, hagiography, really — about Manolo Blahnik that struggles to get at the man behind all of the happy feet. Director Michael Roberts’ film opens with Blahnik recounting his carefree childhood in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands, where he did, indeed, make shoes for lizards, as the documentary’s subtitle indicates. He describes wonderful parents who dream of him work-

MANOLO: THE BOY WHO MADE SHOES FOR LIZARDS

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Directed by Michael Roberts Music Box Films Opens Sep. 15 Landmark Sunshine Cinema 143 E. Houston St., btwn. First & Second Aves. landmarktheatres.com MUSIC BOX FILMS

Manolo Blahnik at work on a design in Michael Roberts’ “Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards.”

ing at the United Nations, before he decamps for the fashion scenes of Paris and London in the 1960s and 1970s. This backstory helps establish Blahnik as charming, insouciant, fussy, hedonistic, and even a bit arrogant. But these qualities are all

what captured the fashion world’s attention. He was demanding and worked hard, and when he met with the esteemed Diana Vreeland — an experience that rendered the chatty shoe designer speechless — his future storied reputation in footwear was guaranteed. Even if his models

suffered nobly during his first runway collection — because Blahnik didn’t reinforce his rubber heels with steel support — his shoes were still marvelous. “Manolo” traces the designer’s early, heady moments in breezy fashion, allowing viewers to get caught up in the haute couture.

MANOLO, continued on p.36

September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


BLUE, from p.34

go to a psychiatric hospital or Joe would have to take a year off work to find the right regimen of meds to get me back to normal. Carol is loosely based on my mother. All the characters are real people in my life, so it wasn’t a stretch to write this. GMK: “Elizabeth Blue” draws viewers in from the opening scenes in the hospital with a roving camera. There are also scenes depicting her hallucinations and the voices she hears. Can you talk about your visual and aural approach to making the film? VS: Visually, I knew I wanted it to be a very intimate film and have a lot of close-ups. It was made so you feel like you are in this psychiatric ward. It was one long continuous shot. I wanted each shot handheld so there was a presence following her. The Christmas tree lot scene is one shot. I wanted it to feel very real. Elizabeth was suffering from something a lot of people suffer from every day. The voices and all that she sees are real. It’s

what I hear, feel, see. GMK: Elizabeth wants to “have a life and be normal.” But that may not happen as quickly as she wants it to. Can you talk about this and how you created the episodes that define her life in the film? VS: When I began writing the script, I knew I would base it on that year, but I didn’t remember everything that happened. Joe tells me I was running around at night. He videotaped me, so I forgot I had an hallucination of a train. To me, it’s a choice to move on and get better. And people suffering from mental illness, the struggle because they don’t have support, meds, and doctors. I’m very fortunate and lucky that I am able to function and write and be a filmmaker. I am very much the type of person who doesn’t sit and wallow in my mental illness. When I have an episode, I want to take my Saphris [medication prescribed for schizophrenia] and make it go away as quickly as possible. The folks I talk to, the majority of them also want to get well. We push ourselves a

bit harder. We have the support of husband, psychiatrist, and the best medications. It’s a choice that I move fast in recovery and getting better. I always wanted to just be like everyone else and not be a victim of mental illness. I have it and embrace it and tell everyone about it, but I don’t want it to be a stigma. GMK: What can you say about the symbols in the film? VS: Whenever I had an episode or was getting over an episode, I always took a shower or a bath. It was a cleansing thing for me. Washing away what has just happened. Water relaxed me and sitting being silent was a therapy for me, so I wanted to put Elizabeth in those scenarios, and you could see her vulnerable in those moments also. GMK: I’m curious how your experiences as a gay man influence the film, the characters, and the story. Can you talk about that? VS: It wasn’t so much that the main character was straight or gay, it was more about it being a love

story and schizophrenia. I thought more people, gay or straight, would relate to the film if it was a young woman. It’s about love and finding love and the ability to get past your demons and what you are going through, and I wanted to show that people with mental illness are all normal; our brains just think a little differently. When people ask me about having mental illness, I say it’s a blessing in disguise. It makes me think and feel differently. It’s odd to say that, but it’s just how I feel. GMK: There is a line at the end of the film that “Elizabeth Blue” is dedicated “to all those people whose lives are affected by mental illness.” Can you talk about how you think this film can help the community? VS: National Alliance for Mental Illness is backing the film. They came to us at a screening in January and said it was accurate, and they want to screen it at the national convention, and they reached out and backed us, promoting it on their website. We give proceeds of what the film makes to them.

EMMA STONE AS

BILLIE JEAN KING

STEVE CARELL AS

BOBBY RIGGS

FROM THE DIRECTORS OF

‘LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE’

IN THEATRES 9.22 GayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

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FILM

Keeping Them at Bay Theo Anthony’s thought-provoking look at inequality in Baltimore BY STEVE ERICKSON heo Anthony’s “Rat Film” is the most original and unique documentary I’ve seen this year. It ties together two subjects that, at first, might not seem to have anything in common: rats and the history of segregation and institutional racism in Baltimore. If it resembles any other film, it’s Errol Morris’ “Fast, Cheap & Out of Control,” but with the montage that ties together Morris’ treatment of disparate subjects removed. (“Rat Film” is just as carefully edited, but in a much different way.) Anthony has made a political film that never preaches or tells the audience what to think. It’s obvious that he’s antiracist and has progressive politics, but beyond that his own views are kept implicit rather than explicit. Anthony studied with Werner Herzog, whose influence can be felt here too, but “Rat Film” never evokes any specific Herzog film, just the German director’s wideranging span of interests and bemused attitude toward them. Michael Moore has long been a contentious figure, but to many

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MANOLO, from p.34

Unfortunately, Roberts includes a series of distracting dramatic recreations, such as Manolo (Rick Kissack) wearing a suit that looks like it was stitched together from some Italian restaurant tablecloths. These episodes — including Manolo meeting Vreeland — are meant to bring alive events not otherwise captured on film. In contrast, the documentary images Roberts offers of young Blahnik from photo shoots and magazine layouts are fun, and are enhanced by comments such as photographer David Bailey recalling that he willingly buried himself up to his neck in the sand for a shoot that Manolo himself seemed unwilling to do. When Blahnik opens his shop in London, he becomes an instant success. Rupert Everett boasts of purchasing a pair of zebra-skin pumps

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Directed by Theo Anthony The Cinema Guild Opens Sep. 15 Film Society of Lincoln Center Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center 144 W. 65th St. filmlinc.org

MEMORY

Harold Edmond in Theo Anthony’s “Rat Film.”

people his work represents what liberal political documentaries should be. Perhaps the best possible version of a similar aesthetic can be found in Ava DuVernay’s “13th,” which lays out an argument about the racism of America’s prison system, uses all the considerable tools at the director’s command to convince the audience that she’s right, and doesn’t hesitate to create a two-minute

montage attacking Donald Trump in the strongest possible terms. A friend of mine hated it, called it manipulative propaganda on the level of Fox News, and said, “Even though it’s liberal, it’s just as bad as the conservative version of tabloid discourse.” I think he would be far more pleased with “Rat Film.” At the Q&A after I first saw it at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Real” festival last spring,

there, but admits he has never worn them. Perhaps it is because they are more a work of art than a practical pair of shoes for the British actor. Everett’s praise is typical of the reverence the film’s interviewees have for Blahnik. Anna Wintour, André Leon Talley, Paloma Picasso, and dozens of other fashionistas voice their enthusiasm. Isaac Mizrahi gushes about Blahnik’s “sexy pilgrim” shoes, and Rihanna is buoyant about a pair of boots that have to be seen to be believed. One of the film’s wildest scenes has Blahnik reuniting with John Galliano. The two designers collaborated on a famous fashion event earlier in their careers, and their reminiscences are accompanied by clips of the models from what was clearly a magical show. “Manolo” is best when it focuses on the fashion. A brief scene of the shoes being hand-made is lovingly

done. Likewise, when Roberts displays a montage of Blahnik’s products late in the film, viewers can truly appreciate the fancy fantasy footwear. Seeing the high heels and the “toe cleavage” will leave some viewer salivating, and the artistry of Blahnik’s brand will be clear even to viewers who can’t tell a pump from a mule. These shoe porn moments are not just for foot-fetishists. Blahnik discusses his appreciation of classical Roman and Greek statues, where the feet are a focus. For the designer, it is all about the beauty. A too-lengthy sequence about the influence African art and the Marlene Dietrich film “Blonde Venus” had on the designer obscures the underlying point that Blahnik pulls disparate elements together to create fresh designs. That message could have been conveyed less clumsily. If Roberts never quite gets at the

Anthony struck me as being one of the most self-critical filmmakers I’ve ever seen. Anthony takes on the racist history of Baltimore in an intensely local film. In fact, the end credits proudly proclaim “made in Baltimore.” “Rat Film” kicks off with a creation myth about a rat nibbling its way through an egg and leading to the beginning of the world, told over footage of cars preparing to race. From there, it shows a wide variety of human and rodent activity, including rat exterminators. We learn that rats can only jump 32 inches, and therefore Baltimore trashcans are 34 inches high. Anthony also goes back in time to

RAT FILM, continued on p.39

true character of Blahnik — his private life is never really discussed — that may be because the designer wasn’t really interested in being the subject of a film. Blahnik is a bit cagey in the film’s opening scenes, and he rarely lets Roberts in. A scene in which Blahnik is filmed signing books while being interviewed by a reporter suggests Roberts himself had limited access to him. Even scenes at Blahnik’s home in the famous Royal Crescent of terraced houses in Bath, England, are slight and underdeveloped by comparison to the numerous films about other fashion designers. For the legions of fans who will see “Manolo,” the film’s drawbacks may not be an issue, except that they take away from the time spent showcasing the shoes. Roberts’ film allows us far more insight into Blahnik’s style than into the designer himself. September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


Antonio Ramos’ Almodóvarian Vision Queer multi-media homage at Dixon Place; Annette O’Toole in George Kelly gem BY DAVID NOH or those who love dance, the films of Pedro Almodóvar, and the human body, I suggest “Almodóvar Dystopia,” Antonio Ramos’ choreographic, multi-media vision, playing at Dixon Place through September 30. The bearded, ebullient Ramos described his piece as “a general view of Almodóvar’s work, and it’s more about his process. Some of his films I have drawn upon are ‘All About My Mother,’ ‘Volver,’ ‘Talk to Her,’ ‘High Heels,’ and, of course, ‘Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!’ I think Almodóvar and I may share creative processes, improvising and putting layer after layer over our original concepts. As a choreographer, sometimes I make my dancers learn a piece of choreography all by themselves, and then I put this dancer with the others and it all

ALMODÓVAR DYSTOPIA

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Dixon Place 161A Chrystie St., btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts. Sep. 15-16, 22-23, 29-30 7:30 p.m. $21; $18 for students & seniors dixonplace.org $24 at the door

PETER YESLEY

Alvaro Gonzalez, Luke Miller, Antonio Ramos, and Darrin Wright in Ramos’ “Almodóvar Dystopia.”

comes together. “We have some great collaborators on this piece: genius Alex Romania has created multi-media with green screen, and we are incorporating some videos from

our previous residencies. Our costumes are by Claire Fleury, whom you know, so you know the kind of amazing cuts and colors she will bring. David Drake is bringing the dramatic stuff, directorially, for our

script includes spoken word.” Oh, and there will be nudity — a lot of it. “I like it. A lot of the dancers will be naked through the whole piece, changing into costumes onstage, and high heels, of course. In fact [laughing], I almost named this ‘Almodóvar Dystopia: All About My Butthole.’” And if you think Manhattan art

ANTONIO RAMOS, continued on p.40

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GayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

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OPERA

NYCO Plays Its Cards Right Winning co-production of Puccini’s Gold Rush spaghetti Western BY ELI JACOBSON ew York City Opera launched its 2017-2018 season on September 6 with a colorful, ambitious, and largely successful new production of Puccini’s “American” opera, “La Fanciulla del West” (“The Girl of the Golden West”). Consistent with the current NYCO business model, this “Fanciulla” is an international co-production with the Teatro di Giglio in Lucca, Italy, the Teatro Lirico in Cagliari, Sardinia, and Opera Carolina. The production premiered in Charlotte earlier this year, then after this week’s four performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, it will move overseas to Italy. Puccini’s intriguing mashup of oater and polenta takes a David Belasco Western melodrama set during the 1840s California Gold Rush and pours on the red sauce Italian verismo. This exotic dish is seasoned with refined French impressionist and post-Wagnerian German orchestral writing. Melodrama is the shared element among these incongruous ingredients. It should be ridiculous — and sometimes is — but it all works like gangbusters with the right singers, the right spirit, a fine orchestra, and a convincing, theatrically dynamic staging. City Opera provided most of these elements in somewhat unfinished form — but with the right spirit in abundance. Ivan Stefanutti directs and designed the production, which combines simple bare bones set pieces, furniture, and props with stagefilling visual projections. The unit set consists of a curved wooden platform upstage with movable set pieces added in each act (a staircase for the Polka Saloon in Act I, the loft in Minnie’s cabin for Johnson/ Ramerrez to hide in during Act II, and a hangman’s gallows in Act III). Visual projections (designed by Stefanutti and realized by Michael Baumgarten, the lighting designer) create cinematic effects with an emphasis on nature. The opening filmic montage set to the opera’s prelude introduces us

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SARAH SHATZ

Kevin Short and Kristin Sampson in “La Fanciulla del West,” which the New York City Opera co-produced with companies in North Carolina and Italy.

to aerial views of the snow-covered Sierra Mountains and a “wanted” poster of the bandit Ramerrez, which the tenor anti-hero passes by in silhouette. Projections indicating interiors change according to the moods of the characters: when the homesick miners sing of their faraway homes we see farmlands, and the poker scene is backed by a wall of playing cards. There are no walls, which gives a sense of wide open space, a set-up that fits the shallow but wide Rose Theater stage perfectly. Minnie does not ride in on a horse in Act III but otherwise everything is there, and Stefanutti’s choices are mostly sensible and work theatrically. Opera Carolina’s general director and principal conductor James Meena presided over an occasionally unfocused, uncoordinated but idiomatic performance that gained in power and assurance over the evening. In Act I, ragged ensemble and false entrances plagued the male soloists, orchestra, and chorus, and Kristin Sampson as the gun toting barmaid Minnie seemed to get lost during the final duet, dropping a phrase or two. Repetition over the run should correct these faults. The male voices were impressively strong — several of the miners were familiar from leading roles with small local opera companies. Newcomer Alexander

Birch Elliott cut a handsome figure as Sonora, pleasing the ear with a mellow lyric baritone, while bassbaritone Christopher Job as Ashby commanded his limited moments on stage. Tenor Michael Boley as the bartender Nick gave an alert, subtle performance. The opposing rivals for Minnie’s affection were cast with strong voices: Kevin Short lavished rich, mahogany velvet bass-baritone timbre on Sheriff Jack Rance’s higher-lying baritone music. As the bandit Ramerrez (aka Dick Johnson), debutant Jonathan Burton deployed an impressively bright, tireless tenor that lacked sensuous color and nuance but easily conquered all the treacherous passages in the role. Tall and burly, the affable American tenor seemed confident onstage (but not mysterious, dashing, or sinister) and gave a stirring account of his Act III aria “Ch’ella mi creda.” “Fanciulla” depends on the success of the titular character, the “girl” Minnie. A Dicapo stalwart back in the day, Kristin Sampson as Minnie initially made a tentative, uncharismatic impression. Minnie’s first entrance shooting her rifle into the air to break up the brawling miners’ bar fight is usually a surefire showstopper. Sampson ambled diffidently onstage at the top of the staircase and fired her shots out of sync with the action and the music.

Acting-wise, Minnie needs either plenty of gutsy tough-gal bravado or winsome charm — and preferably a combination of both. The petite Sampson lacked either quality and was deficient in stage presence and vibrant personality. Hands on hips, this saloon gal was all business. Vocally, Minnie requires the soprano to swing unprepared from chesty low voice declamation to soaring high soprano lines. Sampson’s lirico-spinto soprano sounded hollow and pressed on the bottom yet confidently nailed the many out-ofnowhere forte high B’s and C’s with an appropriate hint of metallic edge. But Sampson was efficient rather than commanding and lacked vocal warmth. In Act II, the soprano, orchestra, and production pulled together with greater musical and dramatic focus. Sampson and Burton impressed in a rarely performed, murderously difficult extended version of the Act II love duet (added by Puccini for a 1922 Rome revival), where several bars of “Tristan”-like high declamation culminate with the soprano and tenor holding a fortissimo high C in unison. Sampson and Short ended the act with a sizzling performance of the famous “Poker Scene. The commitment of the ensemble scored enough points to make NYCO’s “Fanciulla del West” production a winning hand. September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


PRINCE, from p.31

enstein had the insight or courage to write that play, the evening might have been salvaged. If only… The Public Works program from the Public Theater is the organization’s major community initiative, bringing together people from all five boroughs to experience theater and performance. As artistic director Oskar Eustis said in his curtain speech before “As You Like It” recently, part of the Public’s mission is that it truly is the people’s theater. Those lucky enough to see one of the production’s five performances at the Delacorte in Central Park were treated to a cast of more than 200 New Yorkers in a spellbinding musical adaption of the Shakespeare play by Shaina Taub and Lauren Woolery. Their contemporary take on the

RAT FILM, from p.36

examine the history of attempts to control the rat population. Simultaneously, he explores the roots of modern-day systemic racism: Baltimore has the unfortunate distinction of being the first city to enact legislation legally enforcing segregation, in 1910, six years before the Supreme Court made such government restrictions on private home sales illegal. However, after that ruling, landlords and banks conspired to keep African Americans ghettoized and poor anyway. So what does all this have to do with rats? Anthony leaves it up to the audience to make the connections. He accompanied exterminator Harold Edmond on his rounds, letting him talk about subjects like the afterlife, and it’s notable that seemingly every human who deals with rats in Baltimore on a street level is African-American. One man says, “You’ll find rats where people have no dreams or resources.” Despite Anthony’s interest in history, he doesn’t use a second of archival footage, relying on maps and texts instead. The vast majority of this film’s footage consists of scenes set in the present day. However, he also uses images from Google Maps and Google Earth, projecting computer views of Baltimore onto real people, with their faces wiped out. In addition to diGayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

classic tale was fresh, exciting, and deliciously romantic, and Taub’s score is wonderfully original, witty, and perfectly integrated with the original Shakespeare, making it very much of the moment and giving an immediacy to this centuriesold play. Combining sensational performances from professional actors — including Rebecca Naomi Jones as Rosalind, Joel Perez as Touchstone, and Darius De Haas as Duke Senior — with amateurs, local choruses, dance troupes, puppeteers, and more, the stage exploded with joy. At the performance I saw, the love and excitement flowing on the stage were as heartfelt as the piece itself. This adaptation deserves a longer run because it’s so good. But it’s hard to imagine any venue as thrilling as the Delacorte stage, filled with people celebrating the magical power of theater.

recting the film, Anthony also shot and edited it. The problem with essay-based documentaries is that they can ramble into irrelevant or uninteresting territory, and there are moments when “Rat Film” is guilty of this. Although it runs less than 90 minutes, it still could have done without an extraneous section about crime scene simulations. But when it gets to the real connections between rats and humans, it reveals how African Americans have often been treated as disposable pests, too. Lest anyone assume this is the film’s obvious point, it’s way more subtle than that. The original scientist who tried to control the rat population thought that humans had it too easy and expressed ideas that came dangerously close to eugenics. Rats and people are tied at the hip. Later scientists suggested that rats could only be controlled by improving human living conditions, but at the same time racist forces were setting out to make that impossible, as Anthony capably shows through his use of maps. The director made a short in 2015 about the aftermath of the killing of Freddie Gray. Making a feature-length film that devotes so much time to rats might seem like an odd follow-up, but after you’ve seen “Rat Film,” it becomes totally logical.

BRINGING MANHATTAN to BROOKLYN 943 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11230 646.494.7227 | AtlasSteak.com 39


ANTONIO RAMOS, from p.37

circles are any more sophisticated about this than the rest of the country, for which seeing a penis is even more verboten than watching an ISIS beheading, Ramos ran into problems with the New York Times photographer sent to shoot his company: “She was crying, ‘I can’t take a picture — there are penises flying everywhere!’ I was really upset by her comment, especially when she went to all the dancers, saying the same thing. If my dancers are brave enough to perform for an hour-plus naked, they should have some respect! And why hide the penis? It’s a beautiful thing. Maybe if it wasn’t so hidden there would be less real perverts around.” Ramos’ choreographic intention is to show “how in Almodóvar’s dramas, we have an eccentric culture that goes to every extreme. When I look at his films, all his women are like us, so messed up, but we cover it up with a front, while all these crazy things are happening politically and with gender and race. It’s a celebration of being alive, showing the neuroses of living in a multicultural society. It represents everything and nothing at the same time. Some characters in his films are representative of the fascists he grew up under, and here we are at this time with people controlling us, trying to take us back to 100 years ago. I feel that, to them, my community — immigrants, the poor, artists, gays — have become the Other. But the ending is celebratory — it has to be — about where we are and what it could be. Oh, and there will be some food for the audience, as well!” Ramos’ dancers range in size, age, and race, from native New Yorkers to two from Puerto Rico and Chile “to give it a little more Latin flavor. One thing that I’ve noticed in Almodóvar’s films and I’ve always wanted to ask him about was that there are very few people of color, mostly whites. I don’t know if it’s because he wants to copy Hollywood movies, as he refers to them constantly as inspirations, or what, but a person of color is never a main character.” Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Ramos moved to New York when he was 17. “I was a totally shy country boy,

40

THE SHOW-OFF Peccadillo Theater Company Theatre at St. Clement’s 423 W. 46th St. Through Oct. 21 Wed. at 7 p.m.; Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sun. at 3 p.m.; Sep. 25, 28 at 7 p.m. $49; thepeccadillo.com Or 866-811-4111

CAROL ROSEGG

Annette O’Toole and Ian Gould in George Kelly’s 1924 comedy “The Show-Off,” at the Theatre at St. Clement’s through October 21.

and the dance community was a supportive space that supported queerness, not just sexual but also being weird or funny,” he said. “Back home, I started dancing at 14, folkloric dance. My parents did not support my dancing, and my father wanted me to be a plumber. He said, ‘If you want to dance, you have to find someone who can give you a ride to your classes.’ So I found somebody who took me to San Juan and then back to the countryside, really late. “Our relationship is funny now. He never tells me he loves me, only ‘God bless you.’ That generation, it’s so hard to express their feelings! But as I got older, I became more patient and understanding. They love me more when I’m back now. “But I had to leave, I said, ‘I’ll shoot you all if I don’t!’ I came to New York and joined Ballet Hispanico at 17. Then I got my degree from SUNY Purchase, which wasn’t good for anything but it got me out of the tweena [post-ballet] stage. I did a lot of underground queer dance stuff, even go-go once. I didn’t like it then, but now that I’m older, I think I would [smiles].” Although Ramos has to support himself with massage therapy, leaving him beyond exhausted after a day of rehearsing, Ramos has enjoyed the benefits of various residences in places like Genoa, and,

particularly and more locally, El Museo del Barrio: “We were working on ‘Neverland,’ inspired by this queer African-American girl who went to Europe and connected with the queer dance community. We were naked in the space for almost six months while the museum director not to mention the cleaning staff would be there. Unfortunately, we were only able to do one performance, but I love that piece and hopefully we can do it again. There’s an online video of it that has had many, many viewers.” George Kelly (1877-1974) was one of those solid American playwrights from the first part of the last century whose canny craftsmanship does not get revived nearly as much as those ubiquitous warhorses O’Neill, Williams, and Miller. Thanks then to Peccadillo Theater Company for reviving his smash success 1924 comedy “The Show-Off” with a lovely cast, including the exceedingly lovely Annette O’Toole. “I thought it was a British drawing room comedy or something,” she told me about what she’d always heard about this play. “But it’s American through and through: George Kelly was born and bred in Philadelphia, Grace Kelly’s uncle.” O’Toole continued, “It’s interesting to work on, and I’m having ball! It’s a marathon, though, I’m hardly off the stage for two and a half hours. So I’m conserving my energy, eating well. I play Mrs. Fisher in this play that was a huge success on Broadway and toured all over the country, so lots of people knew it by the time it was made into a film with Louise Brooks. Kelly won the Pulitzer in 1925 for ‘Craig’s Wife,’ but it was felt that that was a consolation for ‘The Show-Off’ the year before. “It’s a great role for an older woman, and I’m so grateful they

thought of me for it because I don’t know if I would have my own first choice. She’s the matriarch of an Irish Catholic working class family and it all takes place in her home. No Philadelphia Main Line accent, thank God! I know some people, and that’s a hard one to do! “This character Aubrey Piper comes to court my younger daughter, and he stands for everything I loathe. He’s a braggart who says, ‘A little bluff goes a long way,’ and represents that part of America that is all a bluff, selling something that is actually more than what he has. Kind of like what’s happening now, and what we are reaping the repercussions of. That’s the serious side we are discovering but it’s a very funny play, as he’s up against this woman who’s the embodiment of truth and hard work, not a happy partnership. But I’m not a saint, which is wonderful. I have a lot of flaws, too, and am sometimes crude, but very moral and loves my family.” O’Toole talked about Kelly being gay. “I read that he had a relationship [with William Weagley, billed in those closeted days as his valet] for 55 years and when he died, the family did not invite his partner to the funeral. Like in a movie, he came anyway and sat in the back, and I get upset every time I think of that.” Weagley was nine years younger than Kelly, whom he might have met in New York’s Concord Hotel where he was a bellhop, according to some sources. Socially groomed by Kelly, he entertained with him at their house, and the couple even visited Princess Grace in Monaco. But the Kelly family never accepted the relationship, preferring to view Weagley as his servant and making him eat in the kitchen with the staff when they came to visit. “The Show-Off” comes at the end of a busy year for O’Toole, who was also in Tracy Letts’ “Man from Nebraska” and Horton Foote’s “The Traveling Lady.” “I’ve been lucky my whole career!,” the long-time Californian explained. “I also went up to Connecticut to work on a new play for three weeks and my husband, Michael McKean, was in ‘The Little Foxes,’ so I’ve gotten to be a New Yorker! I love it, and besides working, soaking it

ANTONIO RAMOS, continued on p.41

September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ä&#x2030;´

ANTONIO RAMOS, from p.40

all up and seeing all my friends, my son, Fletcher, is here! â&#x20AC;&#x153;Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s actually my stepson but I consider him mine, and he works at Trader Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and absolutely loves it. He just got married to his partner of several years, an artist, and the ceremony was in his studio near Trump Tower. So, on November 12, while these two young men were getting their vows, outside there was a protest going on against Trump! Not knowing what was going to happen at that time, there were all these voices shouting, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;We will endure!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Our voices will be heard!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; It was all so beautiful and mystical, and we were all so happy.â&#x20AC;? Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Toole made her screen debut in Michael Ritchieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s classic beauty pageant comedy â&#x20AC;&#x153;Smile.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;That film has such a special place in my heart. I thought then, â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is my very first movie, a big thing in my life, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going to remember this, and I do, vividly! [Legendary dance man] Michael Kidd couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have been sweeter [as the pageant choreographer]. They had a real pageant choreographer come in to do it, and while we were all doing our little routines, Michael recognized that I had danced. So he made me dance captain of one number, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Okay Annette, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re here. Count it off!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; By that point, he was more of a choreographer and hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t acted in a while, but I wish Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d had more time to be around him. Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Toole and McKean have been married for 18 years. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I knew him for many years to say hi to, as we were in the same circle of actors. But I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really meet him until we were cast in the Lifetime movie [â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Final Justiceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;], which was shot in Portland. I was still living in Oregon and coming down to LA, enrolling my kids in school. He called me one night, and we realized we were both free at the time. We connected and very quickly after that we knew we were going to be together, get married, and try to find a house where we could all live together, because we had to combine our four kids, aged 10 to 21. We found a great house and loved being there, so many memories, so thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hard to let go of.â&#x20AC;? With McKean, Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Toole has developed her songwriting skills, especially in the hilarious film â&#x20AC;&#x153;A GayCityNews.nyc | September 14â&#x20AC;&#x201C;27, 2017

Mighty Wind,â&#x20AC;? and theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve collaborated on a musical â&#x20AC;&#x153;which we have been working at for many years. We have the story and all the songs, but writing the book of it has been the hardest because itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really difficult to sit down and work together. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been acting a lot, separately, so when weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re together we just like to hang out, have fun, go to the movies. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been lazy about it, so maybe we have to get another writer to provide the dialogue.â&#x20AC;? Luck and happenstance have certainly figured in Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Tooleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s career, getting â&#x20AC;&#x153;Man from Nebraskaâ&#x20AC;? when J. Cameron Smith couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do it, and â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Traveling Ladyâ&#x20AC;? as replacement for Karen Ziemba, who went into â&#x20AC;&#x153;Prince of Broadway.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;There are so many brilliant actresses who just donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get enough work. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re always up for the same stuff, and it really doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t matter who gets it, though, of course, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to play everything. But the only person who gets to do that is Meryl, so we have to take the crumbs off her table [laughs]. Listen, there are so many who could have played my part in â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The Show-Off,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and hopefully will play it now that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s returned to New York. I really, really want to play Gertrude [in â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hamletâ&#x20AC;?]. I played someone playing her in â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Hamlet in Bed,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; a wonderful show by Michael Laurence, which we took to the Edinburgh Festival last year, but Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d love to do it for real.â&#x20AC;? I asked Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Toole if she knew what Pauline Kael said about her. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Well, I was in an Americanized, musicalized version of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The Entertainerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; with Jack Lemmon, playing another beauty pageant girl with a song by Marvin Hamlisch. I never read reviews, but someone told me, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;In her review, Pauline Kael likened you to a young Angela Lansbury,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; which was the nicest, most wonderful thing anybodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ever said about me, so I hope thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s true.â&#x20AC;? But that wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t what I meant. My friend Stephanie Zacharek, now lead film critic for Time magazine, told me that when she met Kael, she told her, â&#x20AC;&#x153;You have Annette Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Toole hair!â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Well, not anymore, now that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all gray. I was approached at one point to do Clairol ads. But those were the days when serious actresses didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do ads. The world is different now. I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do what these girls do now, God bless â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;em! They all should get whatever they can.â&#x20AC;?

MANTA SPA FOCUSING ON MAN TO MAN MASSAGE                                                        

             

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RALLY CALLS ON UN TO TAKE LGBTQ RIGHTS SERIOUSLY

Hass Agili, the only refugee admitted to the US from Libya for the entire year of 2016.

Lyosha Gorshkov is co-president at RUSA LGBT, the Russian-speaking American LGBTQ association, who taught political science and gender studies at a Russian university until threats from government security forces led him to flee that nation in 2014.

n a rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters on Sunday afternoon, September 10, activists from Rise and Resist were joined by international advocates to draw the General Assembly’s attention to the persecution of LGBTQ people worldwide. Jay Walker, an organizer with Rise and Resist explained, “After

the recent attention to the horrors being experienced by gay men in Chechnya and Indonesia, it became clear that the eve of the 2017 convening of the UN General Assembly would be the perfect time to call attention to the fact that in over 80 UN member nations LGBTQ people face either direct persecution from the government or no protection from mob violence by civilians. Even laws passed against same-sex marriage can create climates in which citizens are em-

boldened to physically attack LGBTQ people.” Speakers included both activists still working on the ground in their home countries as well as refugees forced to leave their countries due to the threat of arrest or violence. The crowd demanded that the UN takes its Universal Declaration of Human Rights seriously when it comes to queer people worldwide and also called on Americans to hold the homophobic Trump administration to account at home.

Yonatan Matheus, a Venezuelan social worker and community activist, is the founder of the LGBTQ Asociación Civil Venezuela Diversa.

Edafe Okporo is a Nigerian human right activist living in New York City, who fled his home country and was detained by US officials as an asylum seeker before being granted admission here.

Julian Sanjivan left Malaysia for New York City in 2012 as part of a State Department-funded fellowship, after which he applied for asylum due to his harassment by police officials in his home country.

Jay Walker, an organizer at Rise and Resist.

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

I

42

September 14–27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


How do you speak to the LGBT community? Through the publications they know and trust.

Representing the “best of the best” in LGBT media, with over a million readers weekly in print and online.

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GayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

43


ä&#x2030;´

CISGENDER, from p.17

on puberty-blocking drugs, hormones, grooming, and dress. One suspects that parents particularly objected to the presence of trans girls who still had male genitals in the female facilities, but there were no allegations that any trans girl had exposed male genitals to the view of others there. The objections made to the school administrators came months after they had received the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dear Colleagueâ&#x20AC;? letter sent out by the Obama administrationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Departments of Education and Justice in May 2016, which advised that Title IX required public schools to accommodate trans students by allowing them to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity and presentation. The administrators, who did not seek authorization from the school board on the issue, treated that letter as â&#x20AC;&#x153;the law of the landâ&#x20AC;? and informally extended approval on a case-by-case basis to trans students seeking permission to use appropriate facilities. Their approach was never formal-

ized in writing or announced to the school community. After the issue blew up last year, the Boyerstown board of education voted to back up the administrators, but declined to issue a formal policy. The board stuck to that policy even after the new Trump administration withdrew the Obama statement on Title IXâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s requirements. The complaint asserted claims under the 14th Amendment for a substantive due process violation of the studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; privacy; under Title IX for hostile environment sex discrimination; and under Pennsylvania privacy law. Judge Smithâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opinion identified the threshold issue in deciding a motion for preliminary injunction as whether to preserve the status quo in school policy or to upset the status quo by requiring trans students to restrict themselves to single-user facilities or those consistent with their sex as identified at birth. There is a strong bias in considering preliminary injunctions in favor of preserving the status quo, so the plaintiffs had a heavy burden to persuade the

court they were likely to prevail on the merits of their claim and that the status quo inflicted real harm on them that outweighs any harm from halting the policy. Smith concluded the plaintiffs had failed to make their case. The schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s alteration and expansion of its facilities significantly undermined the privacy arguments, he found, and he easily rejected the contention that the possibility of encountering one of about half a dozen trans students in a high school with well over a thousand students creates a â&#x20AC;&#x153;hostile environmentâ&#x20AC;? for cisgender students. The court also noted that the common law privacy precedents concerned situations where defendants had physically invaded a plaintiffâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s private space. After a detailed review of expert testimony on gender identity and transitioning, Smith also rejected the plaintiffsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; argument that this case is about boys invading girlsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; facilities or vice versa. The tone and detail of the opinion reflect the considerable progress made in educating courts and the pub-

lic about these issues. Regarding the plaintiffsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; likelihood of prevailing on the merits, Smith pointed to the most definitive appellate ruling so far on the contested transgender bathroom issue, a recent decision by the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of Ash Whitaker, a trans student seeking the right to use bathroom facilities consistent with his gender identity at his Kenosha, Wisconsin, high school. No other court of appeals has ruled on the merits of this issue. Because ADF is on a crusade to defeat transgender-friendly policies, it will most likely seek to appeal Smithâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s denial of a preliminary injunction to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. But if the Supreme Court grants the Kenosha school districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s petition for review in the Whitaker case, as seems likely, the underlying legal issues may be decided in the current term that runs until next June. Smith, a Republican, was nominated to the district court by President Barack Obama in 2013.

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September 14â&#x20AC;&#x201C;27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ADVERTORIAL

TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell

phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.

Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-

GayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.

Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at

a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.

Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.

45


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September 14â&#x20AC;&#x201C;27, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


GAVIN GRIMM, from p.17

cuit panel reversed Judge Doumar’s dismissal of the Title IX claim, and sent the case back to him to reconsider Grimm’s request for a preliminary injunction. Shortly after that, the Obama administration issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to all the nation’s public schools receiving federal funds, more formally stating the position on Title IX it had earlier conveyed in Grimm’s case. In June of last year, Doumar issued the preliminary injunction Grimm had sought nearly a year before. Unfortunately for Grimm in his upcoming final high school year, the Supreme Court granted Gloucester County a stay of Doumar’s injunction while the school district prepared to file for high court review. So, during his final school year, Grimm was still barred from using the boys’ bathrooms. The Supreme Court scheduled oral argument in the Grimm case for March 28 of this year, but after Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos withdrew the Obama administration interpretation of Title IX, the

PERRY AT 70, from p.19

ing a poem, or starting a book, or meeting someone who opens up a whole new space in my heart, or letting someone I’ve known for a while lead me directly, beautifully, to it — those are only some of the “young things” I don’t want to ever let go of.

ALZHEIMER’S, from p.29

from each other as well. “We want folks to do that same thing when they’re working with someone with dementia,” she said. “’Cause it’s not just, ‘Oh, this is Sam, and he’s living with dementia and he likes to go to dance class,’ but ‘Oh, this is Sam and he likes to go to the dance class, and he likes to engage and you can’t stop him from dancing.’” Understanding patients on an intimate level is part of working with Alzheimer’s patients, Fogel emphasized. Dana Marchetti, who coordinates community relations for a GayCityNews.nyc | September 14–27, 2017

high court canceled that argument. The case was sent back to the Fourth Circuit to address the merits of Grimm’s appeal under Title IX, absent any Executive Branch guidance on the issue. After the Fourth Circuit tentatively scheduled argument for this month, the school district argued the case had become moot because Grimm had graduated. But Grimm responded that his possible “future attendance at alumni and schoolcommunity events” at the high school gave him a continuing concrete interest in the injunction he sought, especially given the school’s “noncommittal statement” about whether its restrictive policy applied to alumni. Under Supreme Court precedents, the court does not have jurisdiction in the lawsuit unless there is an “actual case or controversy” between the parties, so Grimm must show a concrete interest in the outcome, which would mean that the policy he is challenging actually affects him personally. The Fourth Circuit decided it did not have the factual basis to answer this question, so it referred the case back to Doumar for additional fact-finding.

Litigating over the issue of mootness regarding a preliminary injunction did not strike the ACLU as the best approach at this point in the litigation, so it secured agreement from the school district to seek dismissal of Grimm’s appeal at the Fourth Circuit, which it granted in mid-August. The ACLU, meanwhile, proceeded to file an amended complaint. The new complaint supplements the original complaint and argues, “As an alumnus with close ties to the community, Gavin will continue to be on school grounds when attending football games, alumni activities, or social events with friends who are still in high school.” This would support his continuing personal stake in the issue of appropriate restroom access at the school. The complaint reiterates the claim that Grimm’s case rests on both the 14th Amendment and Title IX. The relief Grimm is seeking is a declaration that the school’s policy is illegal, nominal damages symbolic of the injury done to him by denying him appropriate restroom access, a permanent injunction allowing Grimm to use the same restrooms as “other male alumni,” reasonable litigation

costs and attorneys’ fees, and “such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.” The school board can be expected to move to dismiss the amended complaint with the argument it made earlier that the case was moot, but this time the standing question will be litigated solely with respect to Grimm’s alumni status going forward. The case now appears to be assigned to District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011 and issued a pro-marriage equality decision in 2014. Judge Doumar, 87, who issued the earlier rulings for the district court in Grimm’s case, is a senior judge appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981. The recent Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in favor of Ash Whitaker, a trans student seeking to use the boys’ bathroom in his Kenosha, Wisconsin, high school is being appealed to the Supreme Court. If the Whitaker case is accepted by the high court, it is likely that Grimm’s case will be put on hold pending what could prove to be the definitive say on the matter.

Some of my friends tell me it’s painful to look in the mirror now or look at photos of themselves: I understand that. Sometimes I wonder who is this person that I have lived with for 70 years? The best thing I can say is that I will always allow him to surprise me, and that is what is keeping me going.

Perry Brass has published 19 books, including poetry, novels, short fiction, science fiction, plays, and bestselling advice books (“How to Survive Your Own Gay Life,” “The Manly Art of Seduction,” “The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love”). Active in the movement toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights since 1969, Brass’

work deals with issues of sexual freedom, spirituality, and personal politics coming out of his involvement with the Gay Liberation Front right after the Stonewall Rebellion. In summer of 2018, he will be publishing a book on aging with Riverdale Avenue Press. For more information, visit perrybrass.com.

licensed homecare agency based in the financial district called Senior Helpers, has used the AFA as an educational center for both her employees and her clients. Now that the foundation has more space, more workshops can be held at the foundation’s headquarters instead of being hosted somewhere else in the community. “It’s a different way to bring everybody together and have a community education at the center,” Marchetti said. “You get to see everybody and see the social workers that you speak to on the phone.” Marchetti’s staff take courses through the AFA and refer family members of patients to the founda-

tion to find counseling and support groups. “The partnership shows that we are very passionate about caring for folks who are dealing with this and helping their families who are going through this,” she explained. “We want to educate ourselves and educate the community and get as much awareness as we can to change what we need to.” AFA employees often receive the first call from family members who suspect that they or a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, Snedeker said. While the AFA has its own support groups, helpline social workers will recommend resources in the local communities of those call-

ing. Even though the foundation is based in New York, it keeps in mind the needs of professionals and caregivers who don’t live in areas with as much access to resources, Snedeker noted. “We’re very strong advocates for person-centered care, and education in your local area is really where we try to begin,” she said. “I love what I do here because I love to have a conversation with people on my helpline to, in a natural way, understand what would be most beneficial for them.” For more information on the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, call 866-232-8484 or visit alzfdn.org.

47


Volume 1 | Issue 3

The Pulse of

Lenox Health Greenwich Village

Breast Cancer Awareness October is breast cancer awareness month – the perfect time to stop procrastinating and get your annual mammogram. Mammograms can detect changes in breast tissue before they are palpable by human hands. That means earlier diagnosis and treatment and a much better prognosis. It’s a fact – mammograms save lives.

Breast cancer facts and stats: – After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. – Risk factors for breast cancer include increased age, early menstruation, late or no pregnancy, and a family history. – Breast cancer is not just a women’s concern. About 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men this year. – A woman in the United States has a one in eight chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

Did you know…

You can decrease your risk of developing breast cancer by exercising regularly, being within a normal weight range and limiting your alcoholic intake.

Did you know…

There will be about 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in American women this year.

Getting screened for breast cancer can save your life. Lenox Health Greenwich Village has a state-of-the-art imaging center equipped to meet the breast imaging needs of the entire community. Visit Northwell.edu/LHGV or call (646) 760-6800 to schedule an appointment.

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Gay City News  

September 14, 2017

Gay City News  

September 14, 2017