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Trump Loses, But Roy Moore is the Booby Prize 12

Edie Windsor Celebrated in September 15 Memorial 04 www.gaycitynews. .nyc










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Donna Murphy, Christine Lahti both formidable



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Live in a world where you never miss an outage alert. | September 28–October 11, 2017



A Frontline Activist and Singularly Joyful Human Being Edie Windsor’s life is celebrated in poignant memorial at Temple Emanu-El


Edie Windsor at Manhattan’s 2013 LGBTQ Pride March, just days after her victory over the Defense of Marriage Act at the US Supreme Court.



utside the Upper East Side’s Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue, Edie Windsor’s comrades from the grassroots marriage equality movement lined up more than an hour and a half early to make sure they would get a seat inside for her September 15 memorial service. These were the people from Marriage Equality New York whom Edie sought out in order to marry Thea Spyer in 2007. After the couple worked with these activists on the front lines of that cause, they helped connect Edie to the legal help she needed after Thea’s 2009 death to get her marriage recognized by the federal government. The world will remember Edie, who died at age 88 on September 12, as the successful plaintiff in United States v. Windsor in 2013, a challenge


Roberta Kaplan, the civil rights litigator who took on Edie’s case after some LGBTQ legal advocacy groups turned her down.




Edie Windsor’s signature hat and scarf on the altar at Temple Emanu-El during her September 15 memorial service.

Judith Kasen-Windsor, Edie’s surviving spouse, was the first of the speakers at the service.

to the Defense of Marriage Act that secured full federal recognition of all same-sex marriages legal in the states. But hundreds gathered a week and a half ago to celebrate her as more than just a brave and determined plaintiff in a landmark Supreme Court case, but as a singular human being full of life and love. Like Gilbert Baker, the Rainbow Flag’s creator who died earlier this year, and Father Mychal Judge, the Fire Department chaplain who perished in the 9-11 catastrophe, she was a gay person who touched the lives of millions — and those who encountered her felt a deeply personal connection. (The service can be viewed at video/07b68277b0.) Inside, we were joined by civic leaders from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James to Congressmember Jerry Nadler and out LGBTQ elected officials. We heard from Edie’s

lawyer and friend Roberta Kaplan, her relatives and longtime friends, and — to the surprise of many — Hillary Clinton, in a service led by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. But most everyone in the pews had a significant Edie story of their own, as well. Michael Sabatino, now a Yonkers city councilmember, standing with his husband, Robert Voorheis, outside ahead of the service, said, “She came to a Marriage Equality meeting and said, ‘My partner has MS. I need to get married in Canada.’” At that point in 2007, Sabatino and Voorheis were already in court fighting right-wing attempts to deny them recognition of their Canadian marriage in New York. “We put her in touch with Brendan Fay” who


Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledged that Edie’s activism changed her heart and mind.

EDIE WINDSOR, continued on p.5


Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, chief rabbi at Chelsea’s LGBTQ Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, led the service.

September 28–October 11, 2017 |


Rose Walton and Marjorie Sherwin, longtime friends of Edie’s, read Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.”

EDIE WINDSOR, from p.4

had also married in Canada and, with Jesús Lebron, ran the Civil Marriage Trail to get American same-sex couples married there, Sabatino added. Fay persuaded Judge Harvey Brownstone, an out gay Toronto jurist, to travel to a hotel near the airport there to marry the ailing and wheelchair-dependent Thea to Edie. Edie never forgot Fay’s help, showing up for all his St. Pat’s for All fundraisers in support of his inclusive St. Patrick’s Day parade in Queens. “At the Irish Arts Center, she would get up on the stage with Malachy McCourt to sing our an-



James Esseks, who heads up the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Rights Project, chats with Jim Obergefell, whose 2015 victory at the Supreme Court made marriage equality a reality nationwide.

them, ‘Wild Mountain Thyme,’” Fay said. When his group, Lavender & Green, became the first Irish LGBTQ contingent allowed to march in the Fifth Avenue St. Patrick’s Parade in 2016 after a 25-year battle waged by the Irish Lesbian & Gay Organization and Irish Queers, Edie didn’t just show up. At 86, she marched the entire route and joined the afterparty in the East Village that evening. “She showed us how to love in tough times,” Fay said. Gay City News editor Paul Schindler said, “I remember first seeing Edie and Thea — not knowing who they were — as nice old ladies at a meeting of marriage activists at the Center where

Edie’s cousin Sunnie Baron Freeman and her son, Lewis Freeman.

the average age was probably 29. I was touched to see them, but didn’t realize these were the women who were going to change everything.” Activist Jay W. Walker said, “She was tireless and attended almost every action with Gays Against Guns and Rise and Resist. Turn a corner and there was Edie. She never stopped her activism and did it with such joy.” Historian Blanche Wiesen Cook and playwright Clare Coss, a power couple of the progressive LGBTQ movement together for 48 years, were close to Edie since the 1970s. “She was a force of love and joy,” Cook said,

EDIE WINDSOR, continued on p.20


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Stock photo, for illustrative purposes only. People shown are models. | September 28–October 11, 2017



Democrats in Hell’s Kitchen? Believe Drag artist Marti Allen-Cumming, attorney Tom Shanahan help lead new progressive club BY NATHAN RILEY


onald Trump’s election provoked waves of revulsion all over New York City. In Hell’s Kitchen, a full-time drag performer, realizing his rights would be under attack, sought advice from a politically connected friend — City Councilmember Corey Johnson, who suggested he join a political club. Following up on that suggestion, Marti Allen-Cummings surfed the Internet, but couldn’t find a club in his neighborhood. Nevertheless, he persisted. Neighbors and friends of his wanted a political club that would represent the current day diversity of Hell’s Kitchen. There was, in fact, already a political club in the neighborhood, but it’s one not suffused with the rainbow hues that would embrace Allen-Cummings and those he spoke to about the issue. The venerable McManus Midtown Democratic Club was founded in 1892 when political battles between Irish Democrats and Protestant Republicans animated city politics. Jimmy McManus, a Democratic district leader for more than half a century, is now basically retired but the club remains in the family. Mickey Spillane, Jr., a nephew, is a district leader in what is formally known as AD 75 part B, but Dick Gottfried, the local state assemblymember, said of Spillane, “I haven’t talked to him in two years.” Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio are busy this year running for reelection, but other electeds have no such obligations. Allen-Cummings emailed Gottfried on his public mailbox and a senior aide spotted the message. Gottfried, clearly pleased with the outcome that ensued, enthused over the phone, “It came together very quickly.” Wendi Paster, that senior Gottfried aide, called Allen-Cummings back. On Facebook, Allen-Cummings asked his followers if they wanted to start a club, and Mark Robinson, a friend, offered his living room for the first meeting. Paster was there for that December meeting — and, crucially, lead-



Mark Robinson, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, and Marti Allen-Cummings.


Tom Shanahan, Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, Marisa Redanty, Olamide Faison, and Jeffrey LeFrancois holding young Elijah LaFargue.

ers of the Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association showed up. These two high-rise apartment buildings on West 42nd Street, home to many artists, formed a critical springboard for the new political club, the Hell’s Kitchen Democrats. For Allen-Cummings, it was all a big learning experience. District leaders, nominating petitions, collecting signatures were unknowns, but he and other neighborhood residents who met in December proved to be willing pupils. Events also gave the new group momentum. Cynthia Doty, an Upper West Side district leader from the Three Parks Independent Democrats, remembers meeting members of the new club at phone banks for Jon Ossoff, who ran for Congress earlier this year in a Georgia Republican district with an open seat. The Hell’s Kitchen Dems marched as a group in the New York City Women’s

March the day after Trump’s inauguration. They answered Trump’s white supremacist message with posters placed in stores in blocks above 34th St. proclaiming, “All Genders, Religions, Ethnicities, Sexual Orientations, Human Beings Are Safe Here.” By doing the work, they earned the trust of elected officials. But it was evident the group had one big handicap — they were unknown, while the Spillanes, including Mickey’s sister and fellow district leader Denise, had the familiar name. But Gottfried, his fellow assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler all endorsed the new group. None of those officials are up for election this year, but according to Paster, they wanted the new club’s members to be able to say, “We’re here, we’re serious, and we’re not going

away.” They gave the club credibility and access to the skills of other insiders. One of Hoylman’s top staffers, Eli Szenes-Strauss, helped Paster in getting the club’s nominating petitions for city candidates and district leaders into shape, spending hours training Hell’s Kitchen residents on the intricacies of collecting valid petition signatures. The club held meetings at community spaces in the district that runs up the West Side from 34th St. to about 70th St. By May, its members were fully engaged in the endorsement process, supporting de Blasio, Johnson, Letitia James for public advocate, and Gale Brewer for borough president. All of them, of course, are incumbents overwhelmingly favored to win again this year. What was significant, however, was that this represented the first time the neighborhood ever had an open public endorsement meeting. The McManus club, following an older tradition of boss rule, plays follow the leader. It doesn’t hold public endorsement meetings. In settling on district leader candidates, the club chose Thomas D. Shanahan, a gay civil rights attorney, and Marisa E. Redanty, a past president of the Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association and a wellknown local activist. Shanahan and Redanty were up against the Spillane siblings, heirs to the McManus hold on the neighborhood. The Hell’s Kitchen Dems may be new to political organizing, but they are not social media novices. A Facebook ad featured local elected officials touting Shanahan and Redanty as “a new generation of Democrats in Hell’s Kitchen.” A video, also posted to Facebook, featured a very regal Marti AllenCummings wearing a full-length deep red evening gown urging voters to “Remember to vote locally” for district leader. The campaign also included “Dear Neighbor” letters from wellknown local residents like former Borough President Ruth Messinger

HK DEMS, continued on p.25

September 28–October 11, 2017 |







Texas’ Ex-Chief Justice Rebukes Court on Houston Benefits Representing city, files challenge to ex-colleagues on reach of 2015 Obergefell ruling BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


n June 30, the Texas Supreme Court issued a ruling claiming the US Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell marriage equality decision did not necessarily require state and local governments to treat same-sex and different-sex marriages the same for government employee benefits purposes. On September 15, asserting that his old court’s decision was clearly wrong, retired Texas Supreme Court Justice Wallace B. Jefferson and lawyers from his Austin firm, Alexander Dubose Jefferson & Townsend LLP, asked the US Supreme Court to reverse that ruling. Jefferson, a Republican and the first African American to serve on Texas’ highest court, was appointed to that bench in 2001 by thenGovernor Rick Perry, who elevated him in 2004 to chief justice, where he served until retiring in October 2013. His law firm was retained by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to represent the city in petitioning the Supreme Court for review. The case arose in 2013 when thenMayor Annise Parker, an out lesbian and longtime LGBTQ rights activist, reacted to the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act by asking her city attorney whether the reasoning of that case would require Houston to recognize the same-sex marriages of municipal employees. Although Texas did not allow same-sex marriages then, some city employees had gone out of state to marry and were seeking health care benefits for their spouses under Houston’s employee benefits plan. Parker got the answer she was seeking and ordered an extension of benefits to city employees’ same-sex spouses. Two local Republican activists, Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks, sued the city and Parker, seeking an injunction against extension of the benefits. They persuaded a state trial judge to issue a preliminary injunction, barring the benefits from going into effect pending the outcome of the litigation. The court relied on the Texas constitutional and statu-



Retired Texas Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson is taking on his former colleagues over Houston city employee same-sex spousal benefits.

A 2014 campaign ad for Texas Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Boyd, who wrote the June 30 opinion for a unanimous court.

tory bans on same-sex marriage, which had not yet been challenged in court. The city appealed the preliminary injunction. While the appeal was pending before the Texas Court of Appeals, the US Supreme Court decided the Obergefell case, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Houston, promptly affirmed a 2014 marriage equality ruling by the federal district court in San Antonio, DeLeon v. Abbott, declaring unconstitutional the Texas same-sex marriage bans that had been the basis for the trial court’s injunction in the Houston litigation. At that point, the Texas Court of Appeals reversed the preliminary injunction and instructed the trial court to decide the case consistent with the DeLeon decision. Pidgeon and Hicks appealed that ruling to the Texas Supreme Court. After extensively considering the matter, the Texas high court announced it would deny review of the Court of Appeals ruling. This outraged Texas Republican leaders, including Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton, strict social conservatives all of them. The state GOP went to work encouraging people to bombard the court, whose members periodically stand for reelection, with demands that it reconsider, grant review, and then reverse the Court of Appeals. Not surprisingly, given Republican dominance in Texas politics, the

pressure worked. The court did in fact reconsider and grant review of the Court of Appeals ruling. Just days before the Texas high court ruled on Pidgeon and Hicks’ appeal, the US Supreme Court underscored the clear meaning of its Obergefell ruling from two years earlier. On June 26 of this year, the high court issued a decision in Pavan v. Smith, a challenge to Arkansas’ refusal to list both members of married lesbian couples on birth certificates when one of them gives birth to a child through donor insemination. In Pavan, the Supreme Court made abundantly clear that the Obergefell decision had effectively decided the case by holding that same-sex couples had the same constitutional rights regarding marriage as different-sex couples, extending to the entire “constellation of rights” that went with marriage. In fact, the Supreme Court did not even bother to hold oral argument in the Pavan case, simultaneously granting the petition to review an adverse decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court and issuing a brief memorandum opinion, from which three members of the court dissented in an argumentative and disingenuous memorandum attributed to recently-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch and signed by Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The Pavan opinion left no doubt that same-sex and different-sex married couples must be treated the same by government entities under the 14th


Amendment. That crystal-clear point, however, was apparently lost on the Texas Supreme Court. On June 30, its justices unanimously reversed the Court of Appeals and sent the case back to the trial court with instructions to give Pidgeon and Hicks an opportunity to convince it that the city of Houston must refuse recognition to the marriages of same-sex couples under its benefits plan, relying on the Texas constitutional and statutory bans declared unconstitutional by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (based, of course, on the Obergefell decision). The Texas Supreme Court clings to the idea that constitutional rulings by the lower federal courts are not binding on the Texas state courts. Incredibly, the Texas court suggested that the US Supreme Court’s opinion in Obergefell could be interpreted narrowly to address solely the question whether states must allow same-sex couples to marry and must recognize same-sex marriages contracted from out of state, but that it said nothing directly about what rights must be accorded to same-sex married couples. This is, as retired Justice Jefferson’s petition to the US Supreme Court makes clear, blatantly untrue. The Texas court treats the Pavan ruling regarding Arkansas birth certificates as if Gorsuch’s dissent was speaking for the court.

HOUSTON, continued on p.25

September 28–October 11, 2017 |


LGBTQ Crowd Rallies to Faso Challenger Upstate GOP House member draws out the Dems, including Gareth Rhodes BY NATHAN RILEY


ne member of New York’s Republican congressional delegation with a big target on his back is John Faso, who provided a key vote when the House of Representatives, in May, on a 217-213, passed its version of a “repeal and replace” alternative to President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act. Faso, 65, served for 16 years in the State Assembly prior to waging unsuccessful bids for state comptroller in 2002 and for governor in 2006. Last year, Faso resurrected his political career by capturing the upstate 19th Congressional District seat — representing all or portions of 10 counties from the Catskills north and east toward Albany — being vacated by Chris Gibson. Though Faso handily defeated Zyphyr Teachout, a progressive favorite who gained fame with a tough primary challenge to Andrew Cuomo in 2014, the Republican already has a pack of Democrats lining up to challenge him next year. One of those hopefuls is 29-yearold Gareth Rhodes, who this week demonstrated that he has strong support in New York’s LGBTQ community, having made many friends from his days in Cuomo’s press shop beginning in the period that led up to the 2011 victory of marriage equality in the state. Prior to going to work in Albany, Rhodes had interned in the Obama White House, and from the governor’s office he went on to Harvard Law School. The strength of the bonds Rhodes forged working for the governor and the president before that were clear in a September 25 fundraiser at Elmo’s Restaurant in Chelsea. There, he was introduced by Christine Quinn, the former City Council speaker who is now CEO of Women in Need, a non-profit that serves homeless families headed up by women. Among the event’s 22 hosts were a variety of other LGBTQ leaders, including Aditi Hardikar, who did gay out-


Gareth Rhodes is a 29-year-old Democrat itching to take on Republican Congressmember John Faso in New York’s 19th Congressional District.

reach for President Barack Obama before taking on fundraising work in targeted communities in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Emily Giske, a partner in the high profile Bolton-St. John lobbying firm and a vice chair of the State Democratic Party, Peter Ajemian, who is State Senator Brad Hoylman’s chief of staff, Brian Ellner, who was a Bloomberg appointee at the Department of Education and later played a leading role in the marriage equality fight in Albany, Matthew McMorrow, who is an aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio on gay issues, and Dirk McCall, who works for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. Despite his impressive “résumé and high-profile friends, in Rhodes’ telling, his background is not all ivy walls and coveted internships. A farmer’s son, Rhodes graduated from Kingston High School and took a job drilling water wells while serving as a volunteer firefighter. It was at the urging of his friends, he said, that he decided to enroll in college. After securing a financial aid package, Rhodes boarded a Trailways Bus and came here to attend CUNY. Does this mean he is a big | September 28–October 11, 2017

booster of Senator Bernie Sander’s no tuition for public universities plan? Not exactly. “I wouldn’t have gotten a degree,” he acknowledged, without help from the state’s Tuition Assistance Program and Pell Grants, but Rhodes isn’t one who believes the higher education system is broken in giving opportunities to deserving students. His education, he said, cost him $16,000 for the four years, an excellent deal “for the kind of education you get.” In a Republican-leaning district, he understands, talking about college being “tuition-free” can lead to scoffing that ‘”nothing is free.” Many voters might take umbrage at being asked to pay for other people’s education. On the other hand, Medicare for All, in Rhodes’ estimation, “will vastly reduce the anxiety and onerous costs that are imposed on small businesses and hardworking families.” America, he said, should join “most other industrialized nations and begin work toward enacting this important reform.” Rhodes is campaigning for an activist government that will promote prosperity while alleviating

real social problems, and he accuses Faso of shortchanging local communities — from his vote on Trumpcare to his support for harsh budget cuts to agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency. The predominately rural district, he charges, will suffer when funding for parkland that attracts both tourists and new residents slows and if support for public health infrastructure dries up. These charges could stick; Faso is a member of the House Budget Committee. Hospitals are the “largest employers” in the district, said Rhodes, who pointed to a little-discussed impact of repealing Obamacare — its impact on healthcare employment. Faso isn’t looking after “local needs,” Rhodes insisted. His first priority is the Republican Party and Trump. Those on hand at Elmo’s voiced confidence Rhodes would look out for LGBTQ issues if elected, and his campaign website touts his work on marriage equality and women’s health upfront as proud achievements. Activist government plays well among gay voters. In a moving moment during his talk at the fundraiser, Rhodes recalled a high school friend who struggled to reconcile his gay feelings with his religion. The turmoil ended with his suicide after graduation. The young man’s brother called Rhodes after marriage equality passed, thanking him for showing that “my brother was just like everyone else.” In Congress, Faso has reversed his one-time vehement opposition to LGBTQ rights. In 2006, during his run for governor, he provoked laughter by saying that Eliot Spitzer wanted to “force gay marriage down the throats of New Yorkers.” This year, Faso was one of 24 Republicans who voted against an effort by a Missouri conservative to write a ban on transgender transition-related healthcare spending into the Pentagon budget. But in a phone interview, David Stacy, who heads the federal policy team at the

RHODES, continued on p.17



Bigoted Wedding Videographers Lose in Fed Court Minnesota law barring public accommodations discrimination offers no religious out BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


or the first time, a federal judge has ruled that forprofit businesses do not enjoy a constitutional right to refuse to provide services to same-sex weddings on the same basis they provide them for different-sex weddings. The September 20 ruling from Chief Judge John R. Tunheim of the US District Court in Minnesota turned back a suit brought by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an anti-gay religious litigation organization, on behalf of Carl and Angel Larsen and their videography business, Telescope Media Group. Tunheim’s comprehensive ruling may provide a preview of what the US Supreme Court will say in the pending Masterpiece Cakeshop case from Colorado, at least regarding the First Amendment issues common to both cases. ADF immediately announced that it will appeal the court’s ruling to the St. Louis-based Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Tunheim’s ruling is particularly significant because it is the first by a federal court to address this issue. Since 2013, several state appellate courts have ruled against such exemptions from complying with state anti-discrimination laws, rejecting appeals by wedding venues, photographers, florists, and bakers seeking to overturn rulings against them by state human rights agencies. Here, however, the Larsens and Telescope Media Group, claiming it was expanding into the wedding video business, sought an advance declaration from the federal court that they would be constitutionally protected if they were threatened with prosecution under Minnesota’s ban on public accommodations discrimination, which includes protections based on sexual orientation. This issue had stayed out of the federal courts, in part, because there is no federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation — or sex, for that matter — by businesses providing



Minnesotans Angel and Carl Larsen were turned back in their effort to have a federal court rule they are free to exclude same-sex couples in providing wedding video services.

goods or services to the public. When “sex” was added as a prohibited ground of discrimination to the pending 1964 Civil Rights Act in Congress, the amendment was directed solely to the employment discrimination section of the bill. The public accommodations section was not amended to include “sex.” The Equality Act bill first introduced in Congress two years ago would add both “sex” and “sexual orientation” — as well as “gender identity” — to that part of the Civil Rights Act. The previous state rulings all came in cases where businesses were being prosecuted under a state law. The Larsens strongly oppose same-sex marriage, and one of their stated goals in expanding their business is to propagate their view that only a marriage between a man and a woman is appropriate by including in every contract a provision in which the couple purchasing their services gives Telescope Media the right to make the video public on their website and in social media postings. They also want to be able to include a notice on their website that they do not provide video services for same-

sex marriages. The Minnesota public accommodations law was amended in 1993 to add “sexual orientation” as a prohibited ground of discrimination. When Minnesota enacted its marriage equality law in 2013, the State Department of Human Rights (MDHR) published an “interpretive guidance” for businesses covered by the law, stating clearly that it “does not exempt individuals, businesses, nonprofits, or the secular business activities of religious entities from non-discrimination laws based on religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage.” The guidance makes clear that people denied services by such businesses can file discrimination charges with the agency, which could result in legal penalties. ADF alleged in its complaint that Telescope Media was contacted by at least one same-sex couple seeking video services for their wedding, but were told the company does not do wedding videos. So far, that action is legal, since the company is not yet discriminating between same-sex and differentsex couples. But seeing a lucrative business opportunity, the Larsens say that are concerned about their legal liability and want the

shelter of a declaratory judgment that they enjoy the federal constitutional right to turn down samesex wedding business. ADF came up with seven different legal based on the First and 14th Amendments — violations of the Larsens’ rights to free speech (both in advertising and in an alleged responsibility to post samesex marriage videos on their website), expressive association, free exercise of religion, equal protection of the laws, and both procedural and substantive due process. The court rejected their argument that under the Minnesota law they could be compelled to display publicly any same-sex marriage videos they might produce. Tunheim carefully and systematically rejected all of their arguments, drawing extensively on US Supreme Court decisions dealing with comparable situations. But before tackling the substance of the Larsens’ claims, the judge had to decide whether the lawsuit was an attempt to get an advisory opinion, which is beyond the jurisdiction of federal courts. Given the MDHR notice that declining same-sex marriage business would violate the State Human Rights Act, Tunheim concluded that it was not merely theoretical that Telescope Media would be prosecuted if it implemented its exclusionary plan. As a result, he rejected the state’s argument that he lacked jurisdiction because the case was purely hypothetical, finding that the Larsens are deterred by the MDHR announcement from exercising what they assert are their constitutional rights. On the merits, however, Tunheim agreed with the growing body of state appellate court decisions that reject the constitutional claims the Larsens made. He found that the MDHR’s policy is not a content-based regulation of speech, does not target religion, is subject only to intermediate scrutiny under both the First and 14th Amendment, and is justified by the state’s important interest in

MINNESOTA, continued on p.18

September 28–October 11, 2017 |


NEA Honors Teacher’s LGBTQ Advocacy New Jersey Gay-Straight Alliance leader named Social Justice Activist of the Year BY MICHAEL LUONGO


obt Seda-Schreiber, an art teacher in the Kreps Middle School in East Windsor, New Jersey, runs that school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. Named in June as the National Education Association’s Social Justice Activist of the Year, he is the first recipient of that honor recognized for his work in LGBTQ advocacy. A straight married father and Brooklyn native, SedaSchreiber has been a teacher for 25 years and, in 2005, spent a year in Japan as a Fulbright Scholar. Gay City News recently chatted with him. MICHAEL LUONGO: How does it feel to be NEA’s Social Justice Activist of the Year? ROBT SEDA-SCHREIBER: It is extremely gratifying to be recognized on such a grand level, to

Robt Seda-Schreiber, who heads up a GSA in a New Jersey middle school, holds up his NEA Social Justice Activist of the Year medal.

be chosen amongst so many hundreds of other qualified and dedicated teachers, but I am even more thrilled that it will allow me the platform to speak on behalf of all the kids I serve and all the other students I can help exponentially — to be a voice for the voiceless, a

friend to the friendless. I realize though that the award is not only a validation of what I have done to this point in my career, but also a call to arms for what I will do moving forward with the rest of my career. I strongly intend and solemnly promise to move this forward with the love, respect, and strength of character it deserves and demands. I fully appreciate the support I received from my family, students, colleagues, union members, and folks from across the country who voted for me. In lieu of trying to quantify what is immeasurable, I will simply and truly try to live up to the confidence and the belief they have shown in me every day, and try my absolute best to make a difference in their honor. My gratitude for receiving this title will be shown a hundredfold in the actions I take to continue to deserve it. I know fully that now is

when the real work begins. ML: How important is it for students to have allies in the classroom, if they are LGBTQ or wondering about their sexuality? RSS: GSA’s are love, and love is contagious. The very existence of Gay-Straight Alliances saves lives every day, both literally and figuratively. Being in a GSA keeps kids off the streets, out of the hospitals, away from the jails, safe from their own hands and, even more so, the hands of others. GSA’s are not just for LGBTQIA kids, either — they are in no way exclusionary, hence the word straight in the very name of the group. It’s a safe space for all kids to listen to and to learn from each other, lend a hand to hold or a shoulder to cry on. They are a wonderful and in-


SOCIAL JUSTICE, continued on p.18

                 -  *$& $((&,$)")'(,&'$&$!&($%)&'$((&,( (!'%!,&'%$#'!, $&!%*(%&$!""!#!! $&(+( | September 28–October 11, 2017



Trump Loses, But Roy Moore Is the Booby Prize Anti-gay bigot, twice removed from Alabama Supreme Court, now GOP US Senate candidate


Disgraced and expelled twice from the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore is now the Republican candidate for the US Senate.



n a stunning repudiation of the Republican establishment in Washington and President Donald Trump personally, GOP voters in Alabama on Tuesday chose disgraced former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore over Luther Strange, appointed earlier this year to take the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as their candidate in a special election scheduled for December 12. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Moore captured just under 55 percent of the vote, in a runoff against Strange. Neither had garnered the required majority in a multi-candidate primary on August 15. Moore now faces Democrat Doug Jones, a former US attorney, on December 12. A Democrat has not been elected to a statewide office there since 1992, when Senator Richard Shelby, who was then a Democrat but switched parties two years later, won a second term. Moore’s checkered past includes two expulsions from the Alabama Supreme Court — last year due to his resistance to the US Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell marriage equality ruling and in 2003 when he defied a federal appeals court that found that his installation of a granite 10 Commandments monument in the State Supreme Court building violated the constitutional


separation of church and state. Though Moore failed in two bids for governor — in 2006 and 2010 — he was elected State Supreme Court chief justice again in 2012. It was his resistance to the marriage equality advances over the next several years that led to his most recent expulsion from the court. An evangelical Christian who routinely elevates God’s law above man’s, Moore has taken a wide array of other inflammatory positions on public policy questions. He supported Trump’s birther attacks on the question of Barack Obama’s American citizenship and qualification for the presidency, hanging on to that viewpoint even after the new president abandoned the canard late in last year’s campaign, according to CNN. In a 2006 op-ed on, a fringe right-wing site, Moore lashed out at Minnesota Democratic Congressmember Keith Ellison for swearing his oath of office on the Quran, writing, “Muslim Ellison should not sit in Congress.” Moore likened the Quran to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” Arguing at a campaign stop earlier this month that America is divided by a new Civil War, Moore referred to friction not only between blacks and whites, but also between “reds and yellows.” In a speech to a Baptist congregation early this year, Moore seemed to blame the 9/11 attacks on the


President Donald Trump, repudiated by Alabama Republicans in his support for Senator Luther Strange, now tweets, “Roy, WIN in Dec!”

atheism and godlessness of American society, according to CNN. The US had angered God because “we legitimize abortion” and “we legitimize sodomy.” Sodomy and LGBTQ rights generally have long been in his sights. In a 2002 custody case involving a lesbian mother, Moore, in his first stint as Alabama chief justice, wrote that homosexuality is “an inherent evil… destructive to a basic building block of society — the family.” The mother, he wrote, did not deserve custody because “if a person openly engages in such a practice, that fact alone would render him or her an unfit parent.” Three years later, after the US Supreme Court, in its Lawrence v. Texas ruling, struck down all sodomy laws, Moore, then gearing up for his 2006 gubernatorial bid, told C-SPAN, “Homosexual conduct should be illegal… It is immoral. It is defined by the law as detestable.” In a debate during that race, he charged that “sodomy and sexual perversion sweep the land.” Moore’s obsession with homosexuality would eventually doom his second act as Supreme Court chief justice. The trouble started shortly after US District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, in January 2015, issued rulings striking down Alabama’s ban on marriage by same-sex couples. Even during a brief stay she placed on her ruling to allow the state to seek a longer stay from

higher courts — an effort the Supreme Court turned back on February 9 — Moore began agitating against Granade. In a January 27 letter to Republican Governor Robert Bentley, asserting that the US Constitution gave the federal judge no authority for her ruling affecting marriage, which he termed a “divine institution,” Moore wrote, “I ask you to continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for posterity. Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.” On the evening prior to the Supreme Court denying Alabama’s request for a longer stay, Moore took the extraordinary step of issuing an order holding, “Effective immediately, no Probate Judge of the State of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama Probate Judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with” with the state’s constitution. Moore’s order was not a response to any court filing but rather undertaken, he explained, in his role as the “administrative head of the judicial system” in the state. Like the State Supreme Court justices, however, Alabama’s county probate

ROY MOORE, continued on p.13

September 28–October 11, 2017 |


ROY MOORE, from p.12

court judges win their office in partisan elections. On March 3, 2015, the entire Supreme Court formalized Alabama’s judicial resistance to Granade’s authority, in a ruling that asserted that while “state courts on federal questions are ultimately subject to review by the United States Supreme Court‌ state courts may interpret the United States Constitution independently from, and even contrary to, federal courts‌ Legal principles and holdings from inferior federal courts have no controlling effect here, although they can serve as persuasive authority.â€? Less than four months later, of course, the US Supreme Court hopscotched over the Alabama court’s objections to paying heed to the lower federal courts in its Obergefell marriage equality ruling. Still, the question in Alabama remained unsettled, at least in Roy Moore’s mind. It was not until early 2016 that the State Supreme Court ruled on all the prior marriage equality proceedings to resolve the question of probate judges’ responsibility for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On January 6 of last year — more than six months after the Obergefell ruling — Moore, once again acting as “administrative head of the judicial system,â€? ordered the state’s probate judges to refrain from issuing licenses until the State Supreme Court acted. Its ruling finally came on March 4, in a one-sentence order acknowledging the primacy of the US Supreme Court. Yet, in a nearly 100page “special concurrence,â€? Moore fervently denounced Obergefell, in part echoing the views of the dissenting US Supreme Court justices in that case, but also asserting that “marriageâ€? is an institution ordained by God and that it is beyond the scope of judicial power to “redefineâ€? it. He also continued in his assistance that Obergefell only governed marriage in the four states of the Sixth Circuit that were defendants in that case. Moore’s assertions that Alabama was entitled as a sovereign state to reject federal interference with its marriage laws, coupled with the series of disruptive actions he took in his orders to the state’s probate judges, led to allegations he had violated provisions of the ethical code

for judges. With formal charges brought against Moore, the state’s Court of the Judiciary found a string of ethical violations and suspended him from office in September of last year. Which looked to be the end of his career since, at 69, he was just one year shy of the age limit on once again seeking election as chief justice. The vacancy created by Sessions’ move to the Justice Department, coupled with rightwing anger at Senate Republicans for their inability to deliver on any of Trump’s or the party’s promises, created the opening Moore needed for a comeback. Published reports indicate that Trump was reluctant to weigh in on the primary contest, with early polls giving Moore a big advantage over Strange, who faced questions about his appointment, while state attorney general, to the Senate by Bentley as the governor faced potential impeachment in a corruption and sex scandal that shortly afterward led to his resignation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who sunk a reported $10 million into Strange’s campaign, is said to have convinced the president. The result of that lobbying led to last Friday’s bizarrely divisive speech Trump delivered in Huntsville, where he unleashed a weekend of controversy and pushback against his attack on Colin Kaepernick, a former 49ers quarterback who knelt during the pre-game playing of the national anthem to protest police violence against African Americans. During that 90-minute rant, the president, with Strange standing nearby, waffled in his support for the sitting senator, saying, “I might have made a mistake and I’ll be honest, I might have made a mistake.� Trump then said should Moore win the runoff, he would be “campaigning like hell� for him in the general election campaign. So on Tuesday evening, as the returns came in, the @realDonaldTrump tweets urging a vote for Strange suddenly disappeared. At 10:17 p.m., the president tweeted, “Congratulations to Roy Moore on his Republican Primary win in Alabama. Luther Strange started way back & ran a good race. Roy, WIN in Dec!� The president is now all-in for the bigot. | September 28–October 11, 2017



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Arizona High Court Recognizes Co-Mom’s Rights In donor insemination cases, a birth mother’s lesbian spouse is a legal parent BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


esolving a split between two intermediate appeals court panels, the Arizona Supreme Court, on September 19, ruled that the wife of a woman who bears a child using anonymous donor insemination, with that wife’s consent, is the child’s legal parent. The state’s high court relied on statutes providing that a woman’s husband, under similar circumstances, is the child’s legal parent. The ruling in McLaughlin v. McLaughlin is a logical application of the US Supreme Court’s ruling this past June in Pavan v. Smith, which dealt affirmatively with the related question whether Arkansas must recognize the parental status of a same-sex spouse by listing her as a parent on the child’s birth certificate. Pavan, in turn, relied on the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell marriage equality decision. The Supreme Court made clear in Pavan that the constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry is not just about the right to marry and have all states recognize that marriage, but also about the right to enjoy all the benefits and be subject to all the obligations of marriage on an equal basis with different-sex couples. The Arizona court, applying this principal, adopted a gender-neutral construction of a statute originally aimed at addressing the parental rights of men, rejecting the argument by a judge who partially dissented and asserted that correcting the statute’s flaw should be left to the legislature. Kimberly and Suzan McLaughlin married in California in 2008, during the five-month window before voters there adopted Proposition 8. They later decided to have a child together. Suzan went through donor insemination, but unsuccessfully. Kimberly then went through the procedure and became pregnant. The couple moved to Arizona during her pregnancy. Prior to the child’s birth, the women signed a joint parenting agreement in February 2011, in which they declared that Suzan would be a “coparent” of the child, stating: “Kimberly McLaughlin intends for Suzan McLaughlin to be a second parent to her child, with the same rights, responsibilities, and obligations that a biological parent would have to her child” and that “should the relationship between us end, it is the parties’ intention that the parenting relationship between Suzan McLaughlin and the child shall continue with shared custody, regular visitation, and child support proportional to custody time and income.” State courts generally take the position that such parenting contracts, while evidence of the intent of the parties, are not binding in custody determinations during a divorce, where the child’s best interests are considered paramount. Kimberly, a doctor, worked to support the fam-



Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales.

ily, and Suzan stayed at home to care for the baby. By the time the child was almost two years old in 2013, the women’s relationship had deteriorated and Kimberly moved out with the child, cutting off Suzan’s contact with their son. Suzan filed petitions in state court seeking dissolution of the marriage and legal decision-making and parenting time with the child, but she couldn’t file for a divorce because Arizona did not yet recognize same-sex marriages. Her lawsuit included a constitutional challenge to the state’s anti-gay marriage laws. After the Supreme Court, in late 2014, declined to stay the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals marriage equality ruling, which applied in Arizona, Suzan’s lawsuit turned into a divorce case. But the question about her status as the child’s parent, to whom she is not biologically related, remained. The trial judge in Pima County, Lori B. Jones, confronted Arizona law that make clear that if a husband consented to his wife’s donor insemination, he is presumed to be the child’s legal father. The problem was the gendered language of the statute. Based on the US Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell marriage equality ruling, wrote Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales about the conclusion Jones came to, “the court reasoned that it would violate Suzan’s Fourteenth Amendment rights not to afford her the same presumption of paternity that applies to a similarly situated man in an opposite-sex marriage.” Jones also concluded that the birth mother

should not be allowed to rebut that presumption where it was undisputed that her same-sex spouse had consented to the insemination process and was obligated to contribute to the child’s support. The Arizona Court of Appeals agreed with Jones’ reasoning on the Fourteenth Amendment issue and further concluded that Kimberly, under the principal of equitable estoppel, should be barred from asserting a legal right contrary to her prior representations and actions. After that appellate ruling, a different panel of the Court of Appeals released a contrary ruling in Turner v. Steiner, concluding, by a 2-1 vote, that “a female same-sex spouse could not be presumed a legal parent [under the statute] because the presumption is based on biological differences between men and women and Obergefell does not require courts to interpret paternity statutes in a gender-neutral manner.” The Arizona Supreme Court granted Kimberly’s petition to review the Court of Appeals ruling because it raised “a recurring issue of statewide importance.” Chief Justice Bales’ opinion for the high court made clear that one could easily resolve this dispute in favor of Suzan without even referring to the Pavan ruling from June, because Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 2015 opinion in Obergefell addressed all the salient issues in very clear language. The idea that Obergefell required only that states allow same-sex couples to marry and recognize samesex marriages from other states was contrary to the court’s language and reasoning. “‘The Constitution does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex,’” Bales wrote, quoting from Kennedy’s opinion, which, he said, noted “harms that result from denying same-sex couples the ‘same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples.’” In particular, Bales emphasized, the Supreme Court had focused on the importance to children of same-sex couples having equal recognition of their families. Pointing to Michigan plaintiffs who were part of the Obergefell case who sought to marry to secure the parental status of both of them regarding the children they were jointly raising, Bales wrote, “The benefits attendant to marriage were expressly part of the Court’s rationale for concluding that the Constitution does not permit states to bar same-sex couples from marriage ‘on the same terms.’ It would be inconsistent with Obergefell to conclude that same-sex couples can legally marry but states can then deny them the same benefits of marriage afforded opposite-sex couples.” A parental presumption for the spouse of a woman who gives birth, the Arizona Supreme

ARIZONA, continued on p.17

September 28–October 11, 2017 |


Trump Texas Judicial Pick Sparks Outrage Jeff Mateer warns Satan’s plan, bestiality are risks of LGBTQ rights progress BY PAUL SCHINDLER


GBTQ advocates and other progressive groups reacted with alarm last week to news that President Donald Trump has nominated a Texas assistant attorney general with a documented record of inflammatory statements about gay and transgender people to a US district court seat. If confi rmed by the Senate, Jeff Mateer, who prior to working in the Texas attorney general’s office served as general counsel to the First Liberty Institute, an anti-LGBTQ religious litigation group, would sit on the Eastern District of Texas federal bench. According to reporting by CNN, Mateer, in a 2015 speech titled “The Church and Homosexuality,” said that a transgender student’s efforts to use a school bathroom consistent with her gender identity “just really shows you how Satan’s plan is working and the destruction that’s going on.” In the same speech, Mateer charged that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling that year threatened “disgusting” changes in how society sanctions legal relationships. “Somebody wanted to marry a tree,” he said, CNN reported. “People marrying their pets. It’s just like — you know, you read the New Testament and you read about all the things and you think, ‘Oh, that’s not going on in our community.’ Oh yes it is. We’re back to that time where debauchery rules.” Later in 2015, appearing at a conference hosted by Kevin Swanson, a fringe pastor who argues that the Bible spells out the death penalty for homosexuality, Mateer denounced state laws banning so-called “conversion therapy” for minors aimed at al-

tering their sexual orientation or gender identity. Reacting to news of Mateer’s nomination, Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, in a written statement said, “How dare he? How dare anyone talk about children this way? This nomination is another slap in the face to hundreds of thousands of families across the country and their children who are transgender. How can they explain to their children that a public official, let alone a judge, speaks about them this way? This nominee simply cannot be confi rmed.” In a press release from the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffi n, the group’s president, said, “The Trump-Pence administration either failed to vet Jeff Mateer or they knew his hateful, extremist views and nominated him anyway. In either case, they must withdraw the nomination of someone who viciously attacks transgender children, openly embraced Mike Pence’s license-todiscriminate law in Indiana, and has repeatedly opposed anti-discrimination protections throughout his career. If the White House won’t withdraw this nomination, it is incumbent on the Senate Judiciary Committee to block this attack on LGBTQ people and the civil rights of all Americans.” In a written statement, David Dinielli, deputy legal director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said, “Jeff Mateer has demonized the most vulnerable members of our community and expressed support for conversion therapy — the dangerous, fraudulent, discredited, and inhumane practice that purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no place on our federal bench for people who harbor this sort of extreme and dangerous bias.” | September 28–October 11, 2017

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With Puerto Rico on Its Knees, Who Is Rump Worried About?



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





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ot, isolated, and running out of supplies, parts of Puerto Rico near desperation,” reads a headline in the Washington Post. “Postcards from an island of ruin,” the Los Angeles Times calls out, complete with color photos of the destruction. “Devastation from Hurricane Maria set Puerto Rico back nearly 20 to 30 years,” says Slate. com. But for Mad King Rump, the real story of the week is that some NFL players have chosen to kneel during the national anthem. Nice to see that he’s got his priorities in order. Colin Kaepernick, who while a San Francisco 49ers quarterback launched the silent action last year to protest police violence against African Americans and other minorities, is no longer employed by any NFL team, the effect, many commentators theorize, not of substandard playing on his part but of the political action he launched, an action that grew to enormous proportions this past weekend. The entire Pittsburgh Steelers team — or Stiwwers, as they are known back home — for instance, stayed in the locker room rather than participate in the playing of the national anthem. “From London to Los Angeles, virtually all NFL players on the sidelines before kickoff of Sunday’s slate of 14 games locked arms with each other in response to President Trump’s threeday campaign demanding that team owners ‘fire or suspend’ players who kneel during the national anthem and calling on fans to boycott games if the form of protest continued,” the Washington Post reports. (London, you may be asking? Yes, London. England. “NFL game day began at London’s Wembley Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens and [Jacksonville] Jaguars kicked off at 9:30 a.m. ET,” the Post explains about what is a once-aseason Jaguars tradition.) As the Post continues, “The silent rebuke to the president, determined independently by each of the 28 NFL teams in action Sunday, represented an unprecedented collective action and show of solidarity among players who battle against one another 16

weeks, some more, each season. “Some, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins, were joined on the sideline by their team owners, Shahid Khan, Jeffrey Lurie, and Daniel Snyder, respectively. Most were joined in standing shoulder-to-shoulder by coaches, staff, and, in some cases, police officers.” Meanwhile, in the real world, almost 3.5 million Americans on the island of Puerto Rico remain without power or running water as the result of the devastating Hurricane Maria. Maybe Rumpy never heard the soundtrack album of “West Side Story.” I’m thinking not of “Maria” but rather of “America”: “Immigrant goes to America/ Many hellos in America/ Nobody knows in America/ Puerto Rico’s in America!” For whatever reason, his royal Rumpitude has chosen once again to ignore the suffering of the citizens he (supposedly) governs and focus his attention instead on an irrelevant sideshow. No, I take that back. The protests Kaepernick launched are far from irrelevant. But compared to the immediate needs of Puerto Rican Americans — a roof over their heads, clean water to drink, food to eat, power to run air conditioners in the sweltering heat — Rump’s concerns are at best misplaced. The speed with which he rushed to the State of Texas after Hurricane Harvey — neglecting, I might add, to console even a single hurricane victim but basking instead in a series of illconsidered photo-ops with his stripper wife — stands in marked contrast to his conspicuous absence from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Yes, he’ll rot in hell, but that’s no consolation to those of us he’s taking there in a handbasket. “‘Imagine, if you can, government officials sitting down with Alfred Hitchcock back in the day, to tell him that, despite his commitment to making great films of suspense, political correctness demanded that he start making musicals, too. Or else,’ Carl Larsen wrote in a December 2016 commentary in the [Minneapolis] Star Tribune. ‘Or maybe they’d crack down on Steven Spielberg. If he’s going to make a monster hit about a shark,

he’s going to have to do films about dolphins, too. Again, or else.’” Larsen and his inappropriately named wife, Angel, are videographers who refuse to film same-sex marriages and plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging a provision in Minnesota’s Human Rights Act that outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation. Kyle Swenson cited Larsen’s idiotic comparisons last week in a Washington Post news article. No. The comparisons don’t fly, and it’s ridiculous to have to explain why. The real point of comparison is this: imagine if the Larsens said they’d only photograph Christian weddings; Jews and Muslims need not apply. Chief US District Court John Tunheim agreed. He dismissed the case, ruling that the Larsens’ wish to turn down same-sex clients was “conduct akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign,” according to the Post. “The Alliance Defending Freedom — an Arizona-based Christian right legal advocacy group behind samesex marriage and trans rights challenges across the country — took up the couple’s cause,” the newspaper reports. “With reportedly 3,000 attorneys across the country and $44 million in funding, according to Mother Jones, the ADF is a considerable force in a courtroom. The organization is also behind Jack Phillips, the Colorado cake maker who sued for the right to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex weddings. That legal challenge, which like the Larsens’ case is framed as a fight for of artistic expression, will be heard before the US Supreme Court in the fall. “The Larsens’ lawsuit, however, has been temporarily sidelined. In last week’s ruling, Tunheim stated the couple’s artistic desires are not protected. “‘Posting language on a website telling potential customers that a business will discriminate based on sexual orientation is part of the act of sexual orientation discrimination itself,’ Tunheim wrote in the ruling. ‘As conduct carried out through language, this act is not protected by the First Amendment.’” Rump’s Justice Department, led by the Dishonorable Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, is — surprise! — siding with the Colorado baker and one could reasonably assume also with the disappointed Minnesota videographers. Follow @EdSikov on Twitter and Facebook.

September 28–October 11, 2017 |


Mixed State of the Queer World BY KELLY COGSWELL


went for a check-up last week, and when the doc asked, “What’s new?” I blurted out, “It’s the End of Days. That’s what’s new.” Then I grinned so he wouldn’t haul me off to Bellevue. I hadn’t seen him since before the election when he told me there was no way Trump would win. Now, we have straight up Nazis in the very White House, daily earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, islands in the Caribbean destroyed beyond belief. Narrow shaves on Obamacare. And I’m in the middle of my own middle-aged dyke job search, which is going demoralizingly, and terrifyingly, slow. I am premature in my despair. Here in New York anyway, we’ve kept our feet dry during this hurricane season. The mayor and the governor speak out for immigrants and promise to keep providing health care for struggling New Yorkers. The Planned Parenthood nearby does get demonstrators, but abortions are still available and safe. Queers can get married under both federal and state law. And there is a reasonable amount of protections for us. New York City even has a department that investigates civil rights violations, especially important now that the Supreme Court will be confronted by the Trump administration view that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (barring job discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin) doesn’t protect queer workers. And here we can go to the several Trump Towers and protest in relative security, while in St. Louis, cops shout, “Who’s streets, our streets,” arresting protesters as violently as possible. If I walk down

RHODES, from p.9

Human Rights Campaign, noted that Faso has not stepped forward to co-sponsor any LGBTQ legislative initiatives, as a handful of his Republican colleagues have. Rhodes has demonstrated an ability to win trust from those he has worked with. That was certainly true of his relationship with Cuomo, where his last position in the press office was the crucial

ARIZONA, from p.14

Court concluded, is one of the “benefits of marriage” that must be equally afforded to same-sex couples. The high court rejected Kimberly’s argument that the statute dealt only with biological parentage, an illogical proposition anyway given that the

the street here, I may occasionally get harassed as a queer by other private citizens, but not by the cops or security enforcing the will of a government that hates my guts. At least not yet. There’s a special kind of terror for queers who don’t just experience a violent discrimination, but whose very existence has been declared illegal. The BBC reported a couple of weeks ago, that in Tanzania, where gay male sex is a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison, 20 people were arrested and charged for alleged homosexuality. Their crime: sitting in a hotel to receive training about HIV/ AIDS. Earlier this year, the government made HIV/ AIDS services illegal even in private health clinics because, they claimed, even talking about AIDS promotes gay sex. In Baku, Azerbaijan, where homo sex is theoretically legal, the cops recently used the excuse of an anti-prostitution campaign to beat, humiliate, even arrest at least 100 gay men and trans women, not only grabbing them in public spaces, but in their homes. According to the Advocate, “Victims report they have been subject to verbal abuse, beatings, and forced medical examinations. (In addition, trans women’s heads have been forcibly shaved.) Many were only allowed to leave after providing names and addresses of other LGBT people.” An anti-gay purge continues in Chechnya, as well, targeting gay and bi men using dating aps, in which victims expect to meet a hook-up, but find cops and security forces who stick a bag on their head and drag them off to be interrogated and tortured. And when they’ve given up a bunch of names, are outed to their families, which often respond with violence. This according to Kimahli Powell, head of the Rainbow Railroad, which has

been working with the Canadian government to get them to safety. Canada has declared that Chechen queers qualify as refugees. Plenty of Americans sympathize — with the Chechen regime. While our federal government doesn’t yet have the power to strip us entirely of civil rights, Trump and his henchmen continue to attack basic freedoms. And the hateful language of our bigot-in-chief is echoed everywhere from the New York City subways to Olathe, Kansas. Participating in a football homecoming parade there, members of a Gay-Straight Alliance were taunted by classmates throwing things at them, and chanting, “Make America straight again,” along with an assortment of slurs, insults, and encouragements to go kill themselves. The school district denounced the behavior, but some students in the group were so shaken they didn’t return to school the next day. There have been a few queer bright spots, too. In Hong Kong, an appeals court just ruled — unanimously — that a British lesbian whose partner works in the city should be granted a spousal visa, because the government had not proved the necessity of “indirect discrimination on account of sexual orientation.” In the US, Lena Waithe became the first black woman to pick up an Emmy for comedy writing for an episode of Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” drawing on her own story as an out lesbian. And lastly, the brand Lululemon is aiming to move beyond skinny white girl territory by adding a menswear collection. The company is launching it with a campaign called “Strength to Be” that features the likes of out gay Puerto Rican boxer Orlando Cruz and queer hip-hop artist Zebra Katz. Nice. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.

and delicate job of traveling with the governor on his trips around the state, a responsibility that required him to stay abreast of local issues and be cool when confronting surprises while directly in the governor’s view. Cuomo has made defeating Faso a priority, but he is unlikely to endorse in the primary. There are six other candidates in the race, including Jeffrey Beals, a Woodstock schoolteacher, Woodstock attorney

David Clegg, Antonio Delgado, a Rhinebeck attorney, Brian Flynn, the owner of a medical device company who lives in Elka Park, Pat Ryan, a Kingston native who is a West Point graduate and Iraq War veteran, and Steven Brisee of Walden, though the Daily Freeman reported this week that Brisee had been arrested for shoplifting. Even with the governor’s support, victory will only come after a tough and expensive fight. In 2014

in the 19th Congressional District, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, bested Cuomo 108,339 to 76,140. Rhodes, for now, appears unfazed by the hurdles he faces, confident that when he meets voters he will persuade them. So confident, in fact, that he has told Harvard Law School he won’t back for his third year and is instead taking a leave to run for Congress.

law aimed at extending a parental presumption to a man who was not a child’s biological father but had consented to his wife’s insemination. Rather than striking down the gendered parental presumption statute as unconstitutional in light of Obergefell, the high court instead extended it to apply to same-sex cou-

ples by adopting a gender-neutral interpretation of it. Suzan is represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, whose legal director, Shannon Minter, argued the case in the Arizona Supreme Court, assisted by staff attorneys Emily Haan and Cathy Sakimura, with local counsel Claudia

D. Work of Campbell Law Group in Phoenix. Amicus briefs were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, a University of Arizona law school clinic, and a group of Arizona family law practitioners. Kimberly is represented by Keith Berkshire and Erica L. Gadberry of Berkshire Law Office in Phoenix. | September 28–October 11, 2017



spiring microcosm of community-building: kids reaching out to other kids, creating relationships, and forming identities through conversation, mutual understanding, and respect. Simply hearing and seeing each other and simply being heard and being seen, for some of them, for the very first time. GSA’s make kids feel safer, more accepted, and, indeed, more loved. Sometimes, this is what allows some students to get up in the morning, traverse those very intimidating hallways, and make it through difficult days. ML: How different is all of this from what you remember for LGBTQ youth when you were in middle school? RSS: When I was 12, my parents told me my beloved Uncle Les is gay. He couldn’t come out until now because his father, my Poppy, wouldn’t have understood. Now sadly my Poppy is dead, but my uncle can finally be who he has always been. When I was an adolescent, these issues of identity, especially for youth, were shrouded in secrecy and thereby imbued with a sense of shame and wrongness. Nowadays, it is easier in that we realize how important it is to recognize

MINNESOTA, from p.10

preventing discrimination by businesses providing goods and services to the public. Tunheim specifically rejected ADF’s argument that the MDHR policy toward Telescope Media amounts to government-compelled speech. The company, he found, “provides a ‘conduit’ that allows others to pay for speech.” Since there is “little risk” that the public would attribute that “speech” to the Larsens, whatever “creative license” they exercise in creating the video, their claims are not subject to the “strict scrutiny” typically employed by courts in weighing free speech claims. The Larsens, Tunheim wrote, “may easily disclaim the message of its customers.” Weddings, he wrote, “are expressive events showcasing the messages and preference of the people getting married and


ML: What is your favorite success story in helping a young person, or for the GSA? RSS: The Kreps School GayStraight Alliance invited Vincent V., a student from another district who because of his otherness was being bullied to the extent that he had to be home-schooled, to one of our Rainbow Dances. He came to the dance and realized there were other kids and, indeed, other adults who accepted and, in fact, celebrated him. I became his advocate and his family’s partner in a difficult legal battle with his district, resulting in that district paying for Vincent to attend our school. Safe at our school, Vincent flourishe, finally able to realize who he was and who she had always been. Vincent became Vee, now Vita, our school’s first transgender student

ML: Do you see things getting harder or easier for LGBTQ youth in the current climate of the country? RSS: The future for LGBTQ folks of all ages is fraught with much peril but one that I truly believe has hope in equal measure. We, of course. have an administration that is not only unsupportive but has indeed shown itself to be

willfully ignorant and obstinate and fearful and hateful, but it’s in these dark times that we find our strength in each other and in our community. It may not seem like it, but these are our times. We will persevere, we will rise up, we will come out the other side — stronger, faster, better — with more folks on our side and at our backs. Love always has and always will trump hate. Remember that arc of justice will bend only if we do the good works to make it so. ML: What are your plans for the school year related to the GSA? RSS: The Kreps School GayStraight Alliance plans to have another fabulous year indeed. We will continue to host our fabulous Rainbow, Superhero, and various themed dances, bequeath our annual scholarship awards given to our inspirational graduates, hold our weekly meetings open to any and all students, faculty, and community members, present informational and motivational workshops, sell our fashion-forward T-shirts to raise monies for various charities, and many more fun and exciting and inspiring activities. This year we also plan to donate a Rainbow Flag to our school to be hung centrally in our cafeteria as a symbol of our pride and our sense of acceptance and community within the school!

attendees.” The Larsens, the court wrote, can always post an announcement on their website stating their opposition to same-sex marriage while noting that they produce videos of such weddings only to comply with state law. On the question of Telescope Media’s right of expressive association, Tunheim noted that ADF’s argument would undermine all anti-discrimination laws were a court to accept the argument that every interaction with a potential customer could be avoided on grounds of “forced association.” Finding the Minnesota Human Rights Act to be content-neutral regarding religion, the court easily rejected the idea that evenhanded application of the law would constitute a violation of free exercise of religion, and it similarly rejected the argument that the law imposed an “unconstitutional condition”

on the Larsens’ ability to conduct business in Minnesota. Tunheim also rejected ADF’s equal protection argument, since the law applies to all videography businesses, and found that there was no vagueness in its requirements that would support a procedural due process claim. And, he concluded, the Minnesota law did not violate any substantive 14th Amendment due process rights since there is no recognized “fundamental right to work or operate a business free from regulations that one dislikes.” ADF’s appeal to the Eighth Circuit is unlikely to result in any quick decision because the Supreme Court has accepted review of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which presents many of the same issues on an appeal of a Colorado Court of Appeals ruling. That state court found that Master Cakeshop and its owner, Jack Phillips, violat-

ed Colorado’s human rights law by refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple based on his religious objections to samesex marriages. The high court will probably hold oral argument in that case next year, with a decision expected by June 2018. In 2014 and 2015, the Eighth Circuit put pending marriage equality appeals on hold while the Supreme Court considered an appeal from the Sixth Circuit that led to the Obergefell ruling. Still, ADF alleged legal theories in the Telescope Media suit that were not advanced in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, so a Supreme Court ruling there might not definitively answer all the questions raised by the Larsens. The Eighth Circuit could conclude the two cases are sufficiently distinct to move forward on Telescope Media without waiting for the Supreme Court’s ruling.

and respect each child, no matter how they represent or indeed whom they love. But it is also important to know that we still have a very long and arduous journey to equality and these kids still face tremendous bullying and hardship in the form of physical, emotional, and psychological violence. We need to love, respect, and protect all our students as well as our colleagues and the folks in the greater community.

and she allowed me the honor of helping her with that transition. Vee’s bravery and self-realization was a gift to our entire school and our greater community and to me personally: a concrete example of the power of outreach, an abstract made very real. A life saved; a life realized. An extraordinary story indeed, but not uncommon in schools that allow GSA’s to exist. ML: What do the kids say about what it feels like to march in a Pride Parade? RSS: Marching in Asbury’s New Jersey Pride allowed my kids to feel a sense of pride in who they are and gave them a sense of a greater community. Seeing them take in all that love and acceptance literally brought tears to my eyes. It is an experience I think that opened their eyes and their hearts. It gave them strength and a sense of what is right and good in all people.

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EDIE WINDSOR, from p.5

to which Coss added, “She made people feel they could do the impossible. She cared so much about equality and justice.” Cathy and Sheila Marino-Thomas, leaders in Marriage Equality New York, worked alongside Edie for years. “When she walked out of the Supreme Court, she walked over to our kids to let them know it went well,” Cathy recalled of Edie’s big day before the nine justices in March 2013. James Esseks, co-counsel on the Windsor case for the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “I remember Edie saying that if she had to lose Thea, she would make something of it. And she did — not only a change in the law but she became a symbolic face so every American could better understand same-sex relationships. She turned a personal tragedy into a triumph for all LGBT people.” Columbia University law professor Suzanne Goldberg, who at Lambda was co-counsel for the defendants in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case that ended anti-sodomy laws in the US and was among those who submitted an amicus brief in the Windsor case, said before the service, “In addition to being beautiful, committed, and funny, she was fiercely brilliant.” Goldberg recalled, “She said she’d read every word of my brief and proceeded to stun me. Many lawyers don’t even do that.” Judith Kasen-Windsor, married to Edie just shy of one year, bravely led the speakers at the service. “She was an international symbol of LGBTQ rights,” she said, “but she was simply my love.” Rabbi Kleinbaum said, “Edie changed the world with a specific action, but like Rosa Parks she was part of a movement. She knew it took all of us to change the world.” Lewis Freeman, Edie’s first cousin once removed, spoke during the service about how that famous picture of Edie outside the Supreme Court with her arms spread wide resulted from her spotting her family members and breaking away from the press conference to greet them. “She was always Edie in public and in private,” said Freeman. “It didn’t matter how many people were around… For Edie, family wasn’t



Close friends of Edie Windsor’s — Jonathan Beebe-Franqui, Master Chief Petty Officer Dwayne D. Beebe-Franqui, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Allison Klein, Lisa Padilla, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Tom Moulton, Brendan Fay, Carla Grande, Police Sergeant Michelle Martindale, Clare Coss, Rose Walton, and Marjorie Sherwin — gathered outside Temple Emanu-El following the service in her memory.

limited by blood relatives. You were all her family.” His mother, Sunnie Baron Freeman, recalled always being very close to her cousin, but because she was 14 months younger, Edie, even to their final phone conversation the week before her death, called Sunnie “Baby.” Edie’s longtime friends Marjorie Sherwin and Rose Walton did a moving reading of Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” that contains the lines, “Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise?” Indeed, one of her doctors, Rosanne Leipzig, said Edie had been scheduled next month to speak to her fellow gerontologists about “love and sex” after 80. Karen Sauvigne said, “My friend Edie Windsor was brilliant to her dying day, lighthearted and beautiful.” She spoke of Edie’s pioneering work at IBM in the 1950s “achieving the highest technical rank — rare for a woman” at that time — and how proud Edie was to have “the first personal computer delivered to a New York address.” Sauvigne added, “Edie’s love was vast and boundless. She made everyone feel special.” Hillary Clinton was greeted with a standing ovation and gave a wellreceived speech that included the line, “Edie helped change hearts and minds, including mine,” a reference to her only embracing samesex marriage in 2013, after leaving her job as secretary of state and in advance of her second run for president. Veteran activist Jackie Rudin posted on Facebook, “I loved that Hillary’s presence did not over-

whelm. She came with just the right amount of reverence and respect.” Clinton said, “How she experienced loss, grief, and injustice made her only more generous, more openhearted, and more fearless in her fight. She refused to give up on the promise of America. There wasn’t a cynical, defeatist bone in her body. That’s especially important for us to remember now.” Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE, or Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, which honored Edie’s achievements years before her famous case, said, “In so many ways, Edie was our mother. She made every one of us, her children, feel as if we were the apple of her eye.” He also said, “With Judith, she reminded us that we can have love and romance at any age.” Roberta Kaplan, who took on the DOMA case independently after the LGBTQ legal groups initially turned Edie down, delivered what was a moving elegy, saying, “The fact that Edie was the perfect plaintiff was obvious to me from the moment we met.” Kaplan recalled sharing her concerns about the health of Edie’s heart throughout the litigation, pushing the district court judge to rule quickly. “Edie was never shy about describing the two maxims that she and Thea lived by: ‘Don’t postpone joy’ and ‘Keep it hot,’” Kaplan said. “While I had no issue with ‘don’t postpone joy’ — in fact, it’s a lesson I have tried very hard to keep in mind ever since — ‘keeping it hot’ was a different story.” Kaplan won Edie’s pledge that she would not talk publicly about sex while the case was pending,

even though “she made it clear she did not agree with my strategy.” They won the case “at 10:03 a.m. on June 26, 2013. I can assure you that Edie was publicly talking about sex before noon.” Kaplan continued, “As a lawyer, there are moments with a client when you hold your breath. Perhaps none is scarier than when your client speaks at a press conference for the first time while a case is pending, which Edie did the day we filed our complaint. But from the moment she opened her mouth, that 4’11”, 95-pound Jewish lady with perfectly manicured nails and perfectly coiffed hair explained with such clarity and humanity why her rights, and all of our rights, should not be denied.” “Edie saw in her lifetime the seemingly impossible dream of marriage that she and Thea shared when they got engaged back in 1967 become reality for gay and lesbian couples across the nation and now even the world,” Kaplan said. “In fact, she had a huge role in making that happen. And Edie rightfully exercised that right with the utmost joy when she married the second great love of her life, her beloved spouse Judith, last year.” We filed out to a heartbreaking rendition of “Over the Rainbow” from Cantor Steven Zeidenberg. Our anthem can be a cliché, but here it allowed us a release at the loss of the woman who indeed brought us… well, over the rainbow. Outside the service, Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Dwayne D. Beebe-Franqui, with his husband Jonathan, talked about how three years ago he got Edie to speak to more than 400 LGBTQ military service members and spouses in Washington and how Edie said to him, “You continue to love and support that man because you need him and he needs you.” She was a bit of an evangelist for marriage. And she became friends with the men, inviting them to her place in the Hamptons where BeebeFranqui helped her identify medals that Thea’s father won in the Dutch Army before fleeing the Nazis. Jim Obergefell, whose 2015 Supreme Court case, building on the Windsor victory, won same-sex marriage rights for all Americans, said after the service, “It perfectly captured Edie: irreverent, political, warm, and loving.”

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and a video from former State Senator Tom Duane. The Spillanesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; campaign, in contrast, was decidedly old school â&#x20AC;&#x201D; posters mounted in store windows throughout the district. On primary night last week, the new club held a party at the Ritz on West 46th Street. Though turnout citywide was down given de Blasioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s inevitability, more than 1,000 voted in Manhattan Plaza. The mood at the Ritz became ebullient as the evening wore on. In the end, Shanahan pulled 1,763 votes to Mickey Spillaneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 1,403 for the male district leader slot, while Redanty outpolled Denise Spillane 1,844 to 1,339 for the female post. It was a clean victory for both Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen Dems candidates, but Shanahan and Redanty understand that a rematch could well emerge down the road. The new club is careful to speak respectfully of its rival. In the aftermath, Allen-Cumming offered a â&#x20AC;&#x153;shout outâ&#x20AC;? to the army of volunteers whose â&#x20AC;&#x153;hard workâ&#x20AC;? gave the neighborhood a â&#x20AC;&#x153;voice.â&#x20AC;? Gottfried believes the new club will grow. The district includes Hudson Yards, where new high rises will


Wedding Pride Directory

HK DEMS, from p.6

HOUSTON, from p.8

Jeffersonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s petition makes mincemeat out of the work product of his former colleagues, quoting clear language from Obergefell that, among other things, specifically mentioned health insurance as an example of how the denial of marriage to samesex couples violated their fundamental right to marry and to be treated equally with different-sex couples. This case is just as clear as Pavan was â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and is likely to receive the same treatment from the US Supreme Court, unless its finds some procedural or jurisdictional reason to dismiss the petition without deciding the question presented by the city of Houston: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Did the Supreme Court of Texas correctly decide that Obergefell v. Hodges and Pavan v. Smith â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;did not hold that states must provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; regardless of whether their marriages are same-sex or opposite-sex?â&#x20AC;? Some have suggested that because the Texas Supreme Court

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add thousands of new residents. The Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen Democratic Club will be there to greet them. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We had activists without a political club,â&#x20AC;? Gottfried remarked, â&#x20AC;&#x153;but they certainly came out of the woodworkâ&#x20AC;? after Trumpâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s upset win last November. The new club successfully mobilized voters because it embraced diversity, something Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen residents love about their neighborhood. In this instance, Donald Trump gave a boost to progressive politics

was ruling only on the validity of a preliminary injunction, the matter is not procedurally ripe for US Supreme Court review, but any attempt to reinstate the preliminary injunction would directly violate the constitutional rights of Houston city employees in clear violation of the Obergefell ruling. On a parallel track, Lambda Legal filed a federal district court lawsuit in Houston over the summer on behalf of some married gay and lesbian city employees, seeking a declaratory judgment that they are entitled to the same benefits for their spouses that their straight colleagues get. If the Supreme Court does not grant Jeffersonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s petition, it is likely that the matter can be resolved relatively quickly through Lambdaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s case, since the city would eagerly comply with an order by the US district court to provide equal benefits. This entire controversy is, at heart, a dispute between the proLGBTQ Houston Democratic city government and the anti-LGBTQ Republican state government. | September 28â&#x20AC;&#x201C;October 11, 2017

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Histrionics Halliday Style “Up the Rabbit Hole” playwright comes clean BY DAVID NOH verything just happens to me. I never have had to go after anything,” Andy Halliday told me. The actor turned playwright is brimming over with excitement these days over the opening of his latest opus, “Up the Rabbit Hole,” which just opened at Theater for the New City (see David Kennerley’s review on page 27). “Yes, this is rather autobiographical, ” the playwright said, settling into a booth at the Hudson Diner, “with a brilliant beautiful young cast, and, yes, there is major nudity in it. It deals with my love for hustlers and a time in my life when I had issues with addiction. During that time, I would invite anyone over, and my thing was, ‘I have drugs if you want to come over and take your clothes off.’ And they weren’t the greatest — quite unsavory characters. One night, I ended up in a very dangerous situation, which I show in the play. It was the worst period of my life, very dark. It lasted about a year and a half — then you either get straight or you die. It was after my play ‘I Can’t Stop Screaming” closed,’ and that’s when everything really went downhill. “I invited the wrong person home, like ‘Lookin for Mr. Goodbar,’ and it saved my life, as it turned out but he could have killed me. I met him at Don’t Tell Mama, and I lived down the street. I would get high and go there, so we went on this 24-hour binge, got kicked out of the China Club, and wound up at this afterparty in a burned-out brownstone, where he was trying to sell my drugs. It was horrible — I was a mess and I never want to go back. “I have now been clean and sober since April 22, 1992. I went to rehab and then Cocaine Anonymous, but everyone was so crazy there, I couldn’t stay. So I went to AA — they were quieter there, because cokeheads are trying to come off that and the nerve endings are out. “Sometimes it takes and sometimes it takes years. Luckily, I got it right away, but I have friends who are in and out of it for years. I remember once I took someone home and when I asked if he wanted to get high, he was horrified and made me feel horrible. Because he rejected me, which was his right to do, but being judged like that was awful. We all have our issues, so I like to never judge.” Halliday’s play also deals with him, an adopted child, trying to fi nd his biological mother. “This happened through my biological brother, who found me fi rst. It was when I was doing the play ‘Red Scare on Sunset.’ Jerry




Peter Gregus and Tyler Jones in Andy Halliday’s “Up the Rabbit Hole,” directed by G.R. Johnson at Theater for the New City through October 15.

had gone to the agency and was told that, strangely, they had never put his fi le away and that he had a brother — me — and did he want to meet me? We contacted my mother and she denied it at fi rst, but then broke down and allowed us to visit her in Greenville, South Carolina. “I looked just like her in drag; Charles Busch always said we all look like our mothers in drag. She’d had a rough life, drank a lot, was married but never divorced, and put all her children in a foster care facility. It turned out to be lovely, with her and us and her other children, surrounding her at dinner together for the fi rst time. Halliday has no idea who his biological father is. “My mother gave me a story which I kind of don’t buy, about this traveling salesman who picked her up in a bar, which I’m sure is true. They spent a week together in a hotel and one day he took off, taking all her clothes. That’s what she says, but she was drinking so who knows? “I was adopted by a couple and brought up Jewish, with a lot of upper middle class kids in Orange, New Jersey. We used to do kiddie shows three years in a row, on a stage that was built for us, with my mother, who worked in a bridal shop, giving us costumes. She was a strong, no-nonsense woman who never


Playwright Andy Halliday.

could stand not knowing all about me. She accused me of being gay before I even knew it. I didn’t date in high school and had no friends except Bobby Halliday, whose name I took professionally. “My fi rst sexual encounter was with an older man when I was at theater camp. He was in his 30s and a very talented choreogra-

HALLIDAY, continued on p.37

September 28–October 11, 2017 |


Rock Bottom Gay man strives to climb out of jagged chasm of sex and drug addiction BY DAVID KENNERLEY ueer playwright Andy Halliday has a sincere quibble with the gay community. In its decades-long crusade for equality and respect, the public image of gay men has been somewhat sanitized. Certain honest, warts-and-all portrayals onstage are not only seen as politically incorrect, but as a tacit betrayal. Drug abuse, for example, runs rampant among gay men, but that inconvenient truth is not fully being told. With “Up the Rabbit Hole,” Halliday wants to change the conversation. He wrote the drama, in part, “to wake our community up to this epidemic that no one is talking about and to disrupt the idea that we must constantly propagate a positive queer image.” On that score, Halliday succeeds. “Up the Rabbit Hole” is a raw, unflinching appraisal of a young gay man’s descent into the hell that is drug addiction, and, as the title suggests, his struggle to climb out of it. Based on the playwright’s own harrowing journey of abandonment, drug abuse, and recovery, the story revolves around Jack (Tyler Jones), dealing with self-esteem issues surrounding being adopted. His dance career is sidelined by a major hamstring injury, and he yearns to locate his birth mother. The play, directed with economy by G.R. Johnson, opens with Jack in his New York studio apartment dominated by a large mattress, doing mounds of coke with a blond, chiseled Adonis named Timothy (Quinn Coughlin), a shady model/ actor/ cater-waiter. He’s a hustler on every level, and when he claims he has modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch, it’s easy to believe. Jack, who wonders aloud if he still qualifies as a twink, is unabashedly gay — nattering on about dance, Liza Minnelli, and Donna McKechnie, later lip-synching to Eydie Gormé’s rendition of “The Man I Love.” If Timothy says he’s straight and has a girlfriend, he also has a serious cocaine habit that Jack is all too happy to finance, even though he himself is strapped for cash. At times, Halliday’s script feels remarkably authentic and is rich with detail. Timothy is so coked up, he’s paranoid about the neighbors hearing them through the gap under the door. And when he spies what he thinks is spilled coke on the floor, he takes a straw and starts snorting. It’s probably just lint. This is just one of many coke-fueled scenes. One even finds Jack home, in his underwear, watching porn on the computer, doing lines all by himself. To its credit, “Up the Rabbit Hole” manages to

Q | September 28–October 11, 2017


Quinn Coughlin in Andy Halliday’s “Up the Rabbit Hole,” directed by G.R. Johnson at Theater for the New City through October 15.

UP THE RABBIT HOLE Windowpane Theatre Company Theater for the New City 155 First Ave. at 10th St. Through Oct. 15 Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $25; or 212-868-4444 100 mins., with no intermission

generate no small amount of tension. The erotic heat between Jack and his impossibly hunky drug buddy is palpable, intensifying as they do their seductive tango. It’s only a matter of time before Timothy’s “look but don’t touch” stance morphs into something violently carnal. Jack’s life starts to turn around after he meets his birth mother (Laralu Smith) and half-brother, Brad (a highly appealing Andrew Glaszek). Perhaps too conveniently, Brad is not only gay but once also spiraled out of control abusing drugs, finding salvation in rehab. Naturally, he becomes the big bro Jack never knew he had, counseling him on conquering his demons. Another potential lifeline is Robert (Peter Gregus), a well-off theater director smitten with the witty young dancer. In another tidy coincidence, Robert’s ex-boyfriend was a mess of an

addict (meth and coke “took away his soul”) and he knows the signs well. At first, Jack is unable to accept Robert’s attentions. Both Jones and Coughlin deliver compelling portrayals, no small feat when the script often calls for being high out of their minds. Jones reveals a core of inner strength even when Jack is at his lowest, most insecure moments. Coughlin sidesteps stereotype by giving Timothy layers that are complex and unexpected. He makes us believe that, on some level, Timothy is lonely and truly does long for a connection with Jack. Despite the authenticity, the plot has its share of lapses in logic. Why did it take three whole days, partying together in the micro apartment, for Timothy to notice the large gap under the door, or for Jack to discover that Timothy is straight and resistant to sex with guys? Not that such glitches take away from the overall production, which brims with insightful observations. Sometimes partying is more about ameliorating loneliness than actually having sex (at one point, a partied-out Jack admits he’s pretty much numb from the waist down, anyway). Never mind that it’s a false sense of camaraderie. The play astutely illustrates that no matter how dark or deep that rabbit hole is, there is a shining ray of hope. Glitches aside, Halliday should be commended for taking a bold step in amping up the dialogue on a fraught, vital issue.



Hollywood MIA at Lincoln Center New York Film Festival demonstrates how diverse content creation has become


Eili Harboe in Joachim Trier’s lesbian horror film “Thelma.”

BY STEVE ERICKON here’s something new about the 55th edition of the New York Film Festival that may not be apparent at first glance. There’s basically no participation from conventional Hollywood studios. The festival has not given up on showing mainstream cinema, such as the opening night film (Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying”; Sep. 28, 6 & 6:15 p.m.) and the closing night film (Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel”; Oct. 14, 6 & 6:15 p.m.). But both films are produced by Amazon Studios, as is the festival centerpiece by out gay director Todd Haynes, “Wonderstruck” (Oct. 7, 6 & 6:15 p.m.). Thirty years ago, those films would have been made by a Hollywood studio, while 15 years ago Miramax or Fox Searchlight probably would have distributed them. Netflix also has two films in the festival’s Main Slate, including out lesbian director Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” (Oct. 12, 6 p.m.; Oct. 13, 9:15 p.m.) and several in the documentary sidebar. A24, the one indie distributor to emerge in the past five years that has proven itself capable of competing with Hollywood (it released “Moonlight” and managed to win the Best Picture Oscar with it), has two films in the festival: Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” (Oct. 8, 6 p.m.; Oct. 9, 9:30 p.m.) and Sean Baker’s excellent “The Florida Project” (Oct. 1, 3 p.m.; Oct. 3, 6 p.m.; see review, page 32). There are several films of LGBTQ interest this year, especially out gay director’s Luca Guadag-




Nahuel Pérez Biscayart in Robin Campillo’s ACT UP feature “BPM.”

nino’s “Call Me by Your Name” (Oct. 3, 9 p.m., Oct. 4, 6 p.m.), which the Village Voice has already called a breakthrough in gay cinema and James Woods made a fool of himself by linking to NAMBLA (it was not available as of Gay City News’ deadline for review screening), Joachim Trier’s lesbian horror film “Thelma,” and Robin Campillo’s ACT UP epic “BPM.” As always, I’d urge festivalgoers not to ignore the documentary and avant-garde sidebars, as well as the revivals of older films in new restorations. “Thelma” (Oct. 6, 9 p.m.; Oct. 7, noon) borrows heavily from “Carrie” and Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan,” and while it’s better than the latter film, its tale of an 18-year-old lesbian struggling to find herself amidst an oppressively religious family, problems with epilepsy, and difficulties distinguishing fantasy from reality that pull Trier’s film into genre territory suffers from poor pacing, a bloated running time, and too many “is this real?” carpet-pulling games. Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s films combine a general pissiness with a sense of humor and a desire to entertain. His latest, “The Square” (Sep. 29, 8:30 p.m.; Oct. 1, 9 p.m.), took the top prize at Cannes last spring, and his fortune as a director has been rising since his previous film, “Force Majeure,” became a minor hit at American arthouses and the Film Society of Lincoln Center followed it up with a retrospective of his earlier work, including the excellent “Involuntary.” Östlund has a desire to provoke that he probably inherited from Michael Haneke

55TH NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL Sep. 28-Oct. 15 Various Lincoln Center venues

and Lars von Trier, but with the exception of von Trier’s “The Idiots” and “The Boss of It All,” the directors who’ve influenced him don’t make comedies. “The Square” begins as a satire on the art world: a museum director’s pride in a new installation, from which the film gets its title, goes awry when a staged promo video of a young homeless girl exploding near it goes viral and gets misinterpreted. It’s easy to mock artists like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, and, fortunately, this isn’t Ostlund’s real agenda. He’s far more interested in the way power and wealth function in urban life; unlike almost every other film set in big cities in the West, “The Square” is true to the amount of homelessness contained there and the extremes of class conflict that result from the rich and poor constantly bumping against each other. Running two and a half hours, it’s Östlund’s most ambitious film. Out gay French director Robin Campillo’s

NYFF, continued on p.29

September 28–October 11, 2017 |

NYFF, from p.28

“BPM” (Oct. 8, 8:30 p.m.; Oct. 9, 6 p.m.) is the ACT UP saga I never expected to see. Set a few years before protease inhibitors hit the market and changed HIV treatment forever, it tells a love story between HIVpositive activist Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) and his fellow ACT UP member Nathan (Arnaud Valois), as Sean gradually grows sicker. But the first half of the film is a celebration of ACT UP’s actions, told on a much larger and slicker canvas than ever before in narrative cinema. In fact, this is the kind of movie where Sean and Nathan’s relationship sometimes feels like a distraction from the more interesting political work they’re involved in. Campillo’s lack of prudishness is distinctly un-American: one scene starts with the beginnings of sex, turns into a discussion of how Sean became HIV-positive, and eventually turns back into an explicit sex scene. The finale crosscuts among sex, dancing, and a protest: pretty much every base is covered. Campillo was an ACT UP member himself in Paris in the early


Claes Bang in Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s “The Square,” which begins as a satire on the art world, but goes much further than that.

‘90s, and his memories of the period seem accurate. The full French title translates as “120 beats per minute,” and the film is full of ‘90s house music, as well as an ecstatic scene set to the Bronski Beat’s ‘80s gay synth-pop classic “Smalltown Boy.” The only film I can really compare “BPM” to is David France’s documentary “How to Survive a Plague,” but by working in fiction Campillo is able to indulge melodramatic effects that France was unable to use. This is both a call to protest and a tragedy, although it’s fairly conventional in form.


Valeska Grishebach’s “Western” considers frontiers in a 21st century context.

German director Valeska Grisebach’s “Western” (Sep. 30, 3 p.m.; Oct. 1, 8:30 p.m.), her first film in 11 years, is a deceptively casual film. Its sun-dappled cinematography, shot in the summer in rural Bulgaria, is beautiful in an unobtrusive way. The last German film to make an impact in America, Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann,” dealt with the interactions of well-to-do Germans and poorer Romanians, although it was far more concerned with fatherdaughter relations. “Western” takes that semi-colonial relationship between Western and Eastern Europe as its entire subject matter. How-

ever, the German characters are working-class men, and the sense of Bulgaria as a new frontier after communism is implied by Grishebach’s very title. This is obviously a film by a woman largely about men, and critic Michael Sicinski, on Twitter, compared it to Claire Denis’ classic “Beau Travail,” adding “but prose, not poetry.” It’s true that there are no obvious peak moments, such as Denis Lavant’s inept but incredibly expressive dancing at the end of “Beau Travail,” but “Western” goes deep in a way that’s not immediately apparent, lifting imagery such as horses from its titular genre.

New York’s LGBT Film Festival October 19th-24th, 2017 Over 100 films, panels, and parties that shine a light on the LGBT experience. For tickets, information and to become a member, visit | September 28–October 11, 2017



Provocateur and Rooted Married Man Tim Miller celebrates the victories won, braces for the struggles at hand BY WILLIAM J. MANN ooted,” the new performance by internationally acclaimed solo performer Tim Miller, digs deep as it explores New York history, his family trees that grow here, and what happens when we actually manage to achieve one kind of social change — like marriage equality — after a long effort only to face huge new challenges in 2017. With stops along the way at the Department of Homeland Security, amidst the queer history of hurting hearts, and at the DNA roots that lead him to Central New York and an ‘80s power rock epiphany on a farm road in Yates County, “Rooted” is a funny and charged story of the times we are living in. Miller will perform “Rooted” at Dixon Place on October 14 and 21, and will also lead an intensive performance workshop October 16-21 that will culminate in a separate public performance on October 21. “How do we as American citizens ground ourselves — root ourselves, really — for the assault on democracy and civil rights and sanity that we are currently in?,” Miller said in discussing his new work. “Artists like me need to ground ourselves, pace ourselves, root ourselves in community, and create the performance that we and, hopefully, others need. The piece is very much about connecting the historical dots.” Speaking of history, Miller has certainly played his part in it. No stranger to controversy, he was one of the notorious NEA 4, the four performances artists who had their National Endowment for the Arts grants taken away in the early 1990s for the content of their work but successfully took their case all the way to the US Supreme Court. Miller’s performances have been at the center of the culture wars, the fight against AIDS, and the struggle for lesbian and gay civil rights for the last 30 years. For years, he was also at the forefront of the battle for equal marriage rights — especially equal access to immigration rights long denied his Australian husband




Dixon Place 161A Chrystie St., Btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts. Oct. 14 at 9:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. $20; $18 for students & seniors or 866-811-4111 $22 at the door “Body Maps” performance workshop Oct. 16-21, with Oct. 21 at 5 p.m. public performance Register at


Performance artist and teacher Tim Miller emphasizes the importance of getting rooted in this age of Trump.

Alistair McCartney because of the so–called Defense of Marriage Act. Now that DOMA is dead, Miller and McCartney are married and Alistair is finally a US citizen. I caught up with Miller to talk about the State of the Union — both his marriage and what is going on in our country. WILLIAM J. MANN: What made you start focusing on the roots of your family tree in this new piece? TIM MILLER: Well, I knew I needed to close out the story I had traced in three performances of the struggles my Australian husband Alistair and I have been through to keep him in the country. “Rooted” begins at the Department of Homeland Security right before our interview for a green card through marriage, and I tell the story of getting married in New York City. The new show connects my husband Alistair and my New York State marriage license from 2013 with my great great grandparents Billy and Sarah Angell’s marriage license in the Finger Lakes region of New York State in 1865 right after the Civil War. When I was a kid, I saw a copy of their marriage license, and I was very intrigued with it. When Alistair and I got married in New York City — on the very day the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned — I immediately thought of my great great grandparents who were the last members of my family


A participant in a performance workshop led by Tim Miller at Ohio Wesleyan University.

ROOTED, continued on p.31

September 28–October 11, 2017 |





The cast of “Litmus,” a workshop performance created by Tim Miller at the University of Colorado.

ROOTED, from p.30

to be married in New York State until us 148 years later. WJM: Did you get to do a lot of genealogical research? TM: Yes, I fell into the orgasmic obsessional realm of family history. I always think ancestry-dot-com should be called ancestry-dot-cum because it is as addicting as Internet porn! Once you start, you just can’t stop. And in Australia, the word rooted also means fucked — Aussies laugh when I tell them the title — so the double meaning will add resonance to the performances in Australia next year! WJM: What did you discover? TM: I got to do a bunch of family tree research in Central New York, where lots of my family comes from starting around 1790. In the show, I tell the story of the truly wild day at the Yates County Historical Society in Penn Yan, New York. I made many discoveries. Especially that that part of New York was first settled in 1790 by this wild transgender radical Quaker named Jemima Wilkinson who said they had no gender and was called the Public Universal Friend. I had always heard about this figure through queer studies circles but it was great to connect the dots. Family members of mine may have been involved since they came there from Rhode Island with other Quakers. Or so I hope. Who wouldn’t want to be descended from a radical transgender Quaker prophet? I found my great great grandpa’s military record from the New York

44th Regiment at the Historical Society so later I wandered the streets of Penn Yan, where I could visualize my great great grandpa Billy in 1861 as a sexy teenager just having joined the Union Army — and surviving the war and getting married in New York at war’s end. Naturally, I imagine Billy making out with Walt Whitman during one of his many hospital stays in DC in the Civil War. WJM: And now the Civil War is even more resonant than ever? TM: Yes, the horror unleashed by Trump in Charlottesville with the white supremacists, Klan, and Nazis on the march and the conflicts it is exposing about how racism is glorified in public monuments have pushed all this forward. We never, ever escape the Civil War. The central fact of this country is that it was built on human slavery and white supremacism. There was slavery in the US and the colonies for almost 250 years, and we have only not had slavery for 152. At a time when I feel so beleaguered by the insane asylum of the US under Trump, it is helpful to take the long view and imagine my great great grandfather ready to step up and end slavery. WJM: You will be doing a “Body Maps” performance workshop intensive at Dixon Place October 16-21. What will happen in the workshop? TM: I do these performance workshops at a lot at universities and arts centers. Our work will be a fun and charged exploration into creating original performance work | September 28–October 11, 2017

ROOTED, continued on p.41












212-239-6200 STAGE 42 422 WEST 42ND STREET



The Mouse that Roared Jennifer M. Kroot celebrates Armistead Maupin and the residents of 28 Barbary Lane UNTOLD TALES OF ARMISTEAD MAUPIN Directed by Jennifer M. Kroot The Film Collaborative Opens Sep. 29 Metrograph 13 Ludlow St., btwn. Hester & Canal Sts.


Armistead Maupin (right) kisses his husband, Chris Turner, in Jennifer M. Kroot’s loving documentary of the “Tales of the City” author.

BY GARY M. KRAMER oinciding with the publication of “Logical Family,” a memoir by the San Francisco-based author best known for “Tales of the City,” is Jennifer M. Kroot’s adulatory documentary “The


Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin.” The film offers extended interviews with the author as well as his celebrity friends, including Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis — both of whom starred in the PBS and later Showtime miniseries of “Tales”—as well as gay actor Ian McKellen. Writers Neil Gaiman and Amy Tan, among

others, praise the “quirkiness” and “honesty” of the author’s writing. Maupin himself guides viewers through key moments in his early life. He grew up as part of the Southern aristocracy, trying, mostly in vain, to please his conservative father. He was a teenage Republican, and even worked at one time for Jesse Helms at a North Carolina TV MAUPIN, continued on p.43

Auteur for the Underclass Sean Baker follows “Tangerine” with a child’s take on the poverty engulfing her family BY STEVE ERICKSON PSA used to air on New York cable stations showing a child witnessing domestic violence and ending with the words, “If this were a movie, you wouldn’t let them watch it.” This came back to mind while seeing Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project,” a film essentially told from a poor six-year-old girl’s perspective that grows darker and darker. Baker is well aware that a child might not understand how much danger her mother is in or how precarious her life is. He also sets “The Florida Project” in a world full of surface pleasures that mock their characters’ despair even as




Directed by Sean Baker A24 Opens Oct. 6 Angelika Film Center 18 W. Houston St. at Mercer St. AMC Loews Lincoln Square 1998 Broadway at W. 68th St.


Bria Vinaite and Brooklynn Prince in Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project,” which opens October 6 at the Angelika and at Lincoln Square.

they offer temporary relief. “The Florida Project” starts off seeming relatively harmless, telling the misadventures of young Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her two friends. She lives with her

mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) in a hotel called the Magic Castle in Kissimmee, Florida. The hotel is managed by Bobby (Willem Dafoe), a relatively benevolent figure who spends his days and nights racing around solving minor problems. Halley drifts from job to job, not all of them legal, and struggles to keep putting food on the table and paying rent. Moonee seems unaware of this as she blithely relaxes and takes baths to hiphop songs a six-year-old probably shouldn’t be listening to. If Bobby represents a decent version of authority, eventually Halley’s illegal activities catch up with her and Moonee faces a much more malign

FLORIDA PROJECT, continued on p.33

September 28–October 11, 2017 |


Frankness Without Exploitation Dan Sickles, Antonio Santini documentary about Asberger’s couple hits universal notes DINA Directed by Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini The Orchard Opens Oct. 6 Quad Cinema 34 W. 13th St.

BY STEVE ERICKSON an Sickles and Antonio Santini’s “Dina” shows a rare attention to form for a documentary about a couple with Asperger’s Syndrome that could easily have become a pity party. For a 10-minute stretch, it never leaves a bench, although the camera is placed in different set-ups, the time of day changes, and the soundtrack veers



Dina Buno and Scott Levin in Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini’s “Dina,” which opens at the Quad Cinema on October 6.


version. Baker shot his previous film, “Tangerine,” on an iPhone, and it looked great. For “The Florida Project,” he has moved up to 35mm, even though the movie will be distributed to theaters digitally. Cinematographer Alexis Zabe, who has shot videos for pop singer Pharrell and films for austere Mexican arthouse director Carlos Reygadas, does a great job of capturing the day-glo images of Disneyland’s environs. Someone refers to Moonee’s hotel as “the purple place,” and Zabe’s cinematography captures fine shades of difference between pink and purple. Artist Jeff Koons, known for his outlandish kitschy sculptures, could have worked as production designer; “The Florida Project” has a hyper-real quality that marks it as a descendant of Pop Art. Many of its images look like still photos that hopped off a gallery wall and have been brought to life. At the same time, Jacques Tati’s “Playtime,” which was filmed on

an incredibly detailed set teeming with life, seems like an influence, especially when Baker uses long shots of the hotel complex. Baker himself acknowledges “Our Gang” and “The Little Rascals” as inspirations. If there’s a long-running agenda behind Baker’s work, it’s humanizing America’s underclass. This reaped him lots of kudos when “Tangerine” became a critical and, to a lesser extent, commercial success, especially because it cast transgender actresses as trans women, unlike TV shows like “Transparent” and movies like “The Danish Girl.” But more specifically, Baker is interested in nonjudgmental portraits of sex workers. His film “Starlet” depicts a young woman who performs in porn videos, but Baker devotes about 10 minutes of “Starlet” to that aspect of her life and most of the rest of the film to her friendship with an elderly woman. Given the way American culture treats all sex workers as pathetic victims who are probably drug addicts who were molested by their | September 28–October 11, 2017

family members, “Starlet” is quite subversive in suggesting that the fact its heroine makes adult videos is far from the most notable thing about her. Baker’s interest on that score continued in “Tangerine,” which reflected the reality that job discrimination forces 60 percent of trans women to become prostitutes at some point in their lives. Halley goes through a variety of legal and illegal hustles to support herself and Moonee, including stripping, selling drugs, prostitution, and con games. But if she’s a victim of anything, it’s poverty. She does put Moonee in the position of spending a lot of unsupervised time by herself, but nothing bad really comes of this. Moonee’s horror about the prospect of being separated from Halley seems to be shared by the film, as does her confidence in her independence, even at age six. Vinaite is a nonprofessional actress whom Baker approached on Instagram, but she meshes well with Dafoe, the only movie star with whom Baker’s ever worked.

DINA, continued on p.43

The ending of “The Florida Project” may be both the most exhilarating and the most disturbing scene in it, though talking about exactly what it contains would be a spoiler. Let’s just say that the film’s ongoing ambivalence toward pop culture and its characters’ surroundings takes center stage here, without ever becoming a coherent statement. The film might be a masterpiece if it could figure out what it wanted to say about everything it depicts, but to its credit, the final scene hurtles toward nihilism and the mainstream simultaneously. “The Florida Project” has a real possibility of breaking into pop culture itself; there’s been talk about whether an actress as young as Prince could get an Oscar nomination. If Baker ever enters Hollywood, I hope he’s able to brings his respect for America’s poor, including sex workers, with him instead of making superhero movies. “The Florida Project” is neo-realism for people who can appreciate both a Robert Rauschenberg exhibit and a Nicki Minaj video.



Mx Manners Transgender teacher makes etiquette matter for troubled, uncouth youths BY DAVID KENNERLEY CC Theater has long been a champion when it comes to showcasing social, ethnic, and sexual diversity onstage. With its latest offering, “Charm,” based on a true story about a 67-yearold black transgender teacher named Miss Gloria Allen, it’s kicking it up a notch. The lead is played with measured sensitivity by Sandra Caldwell, who identifies as transgender, as do many of the supporting cast members and the director, Will Davis. By casting actors whose own remarkable backgrounds and identities match those of the characters, MCC can’t help but supercharge the performance. The chaotic drama, by Philip Dawkins, is an updated, thoughtful riff on “To Sir, With Love.” Instead of a school in London in the 1960s, the action takes place in the LGBTQ community center in Chicago in




Sandra Caldwell and Hailie Sahar in Philip Dawkins’ “Charm,” directed by Will Davis, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre through October 8.

2014. Instead of a black man the kids come to call “Sir,” the instructor is a black transgender woman they call “Mama” (she goes by Mama Darleena Andrews). This is not a paid position; she’s volunteering out of a sense of duty to her community. The clamorous band of disadvantaged youths, who run the gamut of race and gender expression, is in dire need of attention, and there’s not

MCC Theater Lucille Lortel Theatre 121 Christopher St., btwn. Bleecker & Hudson Sts. Through Oct. 15 Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m. Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $49-$99; Two hrs., with one intermission JOAN MARCUS

Jojo Brown and Michael Lorz.

a tired stereotype in the bunch. The eldest is Ariela (Hailie Sahar), a trans woman and savvy hooker who tries to strike a friendship with Mama outside the classroom and wreaks havoc when she’s rebuffed. Donnie (Michael David Baldwin) is a sluggard recently out of prison who verbally abuses his insecure baby mama Victoria (Lauren F. Walker) in front of others. The tough, brooding Beta (Marquise Vilson) is in a violent queer gang and hides a shameful secret.

Then there’s the jittery, mumbling Lady (Marky Irene Diven, in a gloriously creepy turn), labeled “retarded” by the others though probably autistic, who is caught between male and female, searching for a true identity. Jonelle (Jojo Brown), who wears feathered black angel wings, has a crush on prettyboy Logan (Michael Lorz), a witty, wispy young man who

CHARM, continued on p.36

Women on a Mission Donna Murphy, Christine Lahti both present sturdy characters in powerful theatrical events


Christine Lahti in Suzan-Lori Parks’ profound and moving play “F**king A.”


T 34

wo key factors have had a serious impact on Broadway ticket prices in the past 10 years. Dynamic



Signature Theatre Center 480 W. 42nd St. Through Oct. 8 Tue.-Fri. at 7:30 p.m.; Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $85; Or 212-244-7529 Two hrs., 20 mins., with intermission

Shubert Theatre 225 W. 44th St. Tue, Thu. at 7 p.m. Wed. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $59-$229; Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 40 mins., with intermission

pricing, a standard practice in sports and airlines, has allowed producers to vary prices by the performance. Ticket reselling, legal in New York since 2007, means that you can almost certainly get into


Donna Murphy delivers a rich and unforgettable performance as Dolly Gallagher Levi, which she presents on a regular basis to give Tony-winner Bette Midler a break in her schedule.

any show you want at any time… if you’re willing to pay the price, sometimes at a price 10 times the listed ticket price. Savvy producers

have created tiers of premium tickets as well. If you want to see Bette Midler in “Hello, Dolly!,” you can pay any-

DOLLY, continued on p. 36

September 28–October 11, 2017 |

/E/@2A & >`SaS\bSRPg

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS At a gala at the Grand Prospect Hall on Thursday, April 12, 2018, Gay City News will present its third annual Impact Awards recognizing the achievements and contributions of outstanding LGBTQ and allied New Yorkers. These individuals will represent the best in a diversity of ďŹ elds, from advocacy, public service, and business to media, the arts, and literature, with a demonstrated commitment to enhancing the rights, cultural opportunities, health, and well-being of the LGBTQ community, while supporting the principle that America and the world are best served when the dignity and access to opportunity for all are respected and nurtured.

If you wish to nominate an LGBTQ or allied New Yorker who reďŹ&#x201A;ects these values and contributions in their life and work, please ďŹ ll out the attached form and mail it to the address below, before November 15.

Nominate an outstanding LGBTQ or allied New Yorker who has made a positive impact Your name (please print clearly): ___________________________________

Name of nominee: __________________________________________________

Your relationship to nominee: _____________________________________ Nomineeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s occupation/ profession:______________________________________ Where does your nominee currently work? ______________________________________________________________________________________________ What makes your nominee outstanding? (100 words or less, please): _________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ How can we reach you?

Phone__________________________________ Email______________________________________________________________

How can we reach your nominee?

Phone__________________________________ Email______________________________________________________

Please include a copy of your nomineeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bio and/ or rĂŠsumĂŠ, if available. MAIL TO: Gay City News, 2018 Impact Award Nominations, Attn: Paul Schindler, One Metrotech Center North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. | September 28â&#x20AC;&#x201C;October 11, 2017


DOLLY, from p.34

where from $675 to $998 for a front row seat, depending on the performance, and if you want to see it tonight, you can — for about $1,000 for an average orchestra seat. Only you can determine if that’s a good value for you. I paid $350 for a front row mezzanine ticket, and I would have paid twice that. Midler’s performance is theater history, pure and simple. “Hello, Dolly!” is an interesting case in the whole pricing and accessibility scheme, however, because when Midler gets a much-deserved break from her performance, the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi is taken on by no less than Broadway veteran Donna Murphy. Tickets for these performances are much more in line with typical Broadway prices, and availability is very good at the box office. You could pay as little as $59 to sit in the balcony, which given the intimacy of the Shubert Theatre is pretty good. I took advantage of a Broadway Week deal to go back and see Murphy in the role, and she is, in a word, spectacular. A star in her own right, with two Tonys (and three additional nominations) to her name, Murphy has an incredible talent and range perfectly suited to the role of Dolly. She is an actress who can command the stage, and her Dolly has a depth that can be surprisingly moving when her antic business of arranging things for everyone else gives way to her own vulnerability. At the heart of her performance is the portrayal of a widow at the turn of the 20th century who has to find a way. It’s a tender counterpoint to the

CHARM, from p.34

identifies as gay. Can Mama tame these monsters by teaching them some good old-fashioned manners? With dignity and civility, she slowly breaks through to them, wielding her fat book by Emily Post like a Bible. Not that the art of polite introductions and knowing how to set a proper table are all Mama is teaching these misfits. She shows them how to respect others and themselves to help them tackle the challenges brought on by their poverty and identity. Over time, she instills the exquisite power


role’s manic comedy as Dolly manipulates — with a healthy dose of clever stratagems and serendipity — happy endings for everyone, including herself. Murphy’s impeccable comic timing and wonderful singing make this a rich and unforgettable performance. Of course, the rest of the production is magnificent as well. It’s why we fell in love with musicals in the first place. It’s so full of heart and comedy, wonderful dancing, dazzling costumes, and perfect performances by the rest of the company that it’s impossible not to be swept away by this production. David Hyde Pierce is hilarious as Horace Vandergelder, and Kate Baldwin is touching and hilarious as Irene Molloy. Like Dolly, Irene is a woman trying to craft a life as a widow in a time that was not friendly to single women. It’s a tribute to director Jerry Zaks that in addition to all the comedy and color he has gently introduced this darker subject into the mix; it gives the characters dimension and truth, no small feat in a really big show. Gavin Creel and Taylor Trensch are wonderful as Cornelius and Barnaby, respectively, two clerks on a spree in New York. Supported by a superlative ensemble, this is a show you shouldn’t miss. As the rapturous cheers of the audience faded after the curtain call, I was completely ready to have them start all over again. That, of course, didn’t happen, but I will be back in January as Bernadette Peters takes over the role. And speaking of savvy producers, what theater lover would miss that? Here’s some good advice: buy your tickets now.

Suzan-Lori Parks’ profound and moving play “F**king A” is an homage to the Epic Theatre of Brecht in its form and themes, and its focus on power and oppression picks up on much of her other work, as well. Though set in an unnamed place, the echoes of contemporary America are unmistakable, from the way in which money is used to manipulate power to the marginalization and objectification of women and the glaring disregard for suffering in people’s midst. Parks has said that this play, presented with “In The Blood” at Signature Theatre under the banner “The Red Letter Plays,” is a riff on “The Scarlet Letter.” It is not a retelling, indeed there are few similarities aside from a main character named Hester who is branded with an “A.” Hawthorne’s Hester is an adulterer, while Parks’ is an abortionist who had the choice of continuing her work or going to jail, but both women are devoted to their illegitimate children. Park’s Hester, however, turns to revenge against the people who imprisoned her son and a system that keeps changing so that she cannot buy his freedom, or even an afternoon’s picnic with her son whom she has not seen in thirty years. Prison has turned her son, once named Boy and now called Monster, into a hardened criminal who, after escaping from prison, is sought by bounty hunters. Hester’s final act for her son is grim and tragic yet saves him from certain torture, gleefully discussed by the hunters in harrowing detail. Like Brecht, Parks deals in archetypes — the venal mayor, his

unfaithful wife, the whore, the outlaw, the hunters, and, of course, the mother. Parks imbues each of these with distinct characteristics and creates tension and empathy in the audience, as did Brecht. Parks has also written a series of songs reminiscent of those Kurt Weill wrote for Brecht, and a unique language called “talk” is a way the women can communicate without the men understanding. Under Jo Bonney’s precise direction, the stylized production packs a visceral emotional wallop that is pure and powerful theatricality. The company is excellent. Christine Lahti as Hester delivers a controlled, centered, and intense performance that is a master class in acting. Brandon Victor Dixon as her son skillfully negotiates the conflicting nature of this character — a man tortured by the system but still seeking love and human contact. Joaquina Kalukango as Canary Mary, the mayor’s prostitute and a friend of Hester’s, is outstanding as a foil to Hester’s darker side. Marc Kudisch as the mayor and Elizabeth Stanley as his wife are both outstanding. As the butcher who falls in love with Hester, Raphael Nash Thompson gives an unforgettable performance. He is full of heart, and he has a long monologue about his dead wife that is perfect comedy in the midst of the darkness. This is a play that isn’t content to sit behind the proscenium; it is both confrontational and inviting, drawing one in and balancing the realistic and poetic in a blaze of theatricality that is, to borrow Brecht’s word, epic.

of charm. Victoria is quick to absorb the lessons. When Donnie insults Logan, she says: “It don’t matter what he got in his pants, it matter what he got in his heart, right Mama?” What Mama cannot teach, because she simply lacks a solid grasp, are the shades of gray between the personal pronouns. She is old school, where binary thinking regarding gender is all she knows. She was biologically a male, then she transitioned, surgeries and all, to a female. When she tries to divide the class into ladies and gentlemen to reinforce traditional gender roles, mayhem ensues.

The tension is amped up further by the clash between Mama and the youth program director, who calls themself “D” (played with snappy officiousness by Kelli Simpkins). D is outraged that Mama is using an outmoded code of conduct that doesn’t allow for nuance. Unbelievably, Mama is not familiar with using the pronoun “they” to describe a person who identifies as non-binary. Victoria has never heard the term “cis” before. “It means your gender matches your birth certificate,” Jonelle snips, with an air of disdain. There are a few rough patches in

this earnest production. The action is raw, sometimes excessively so. Occasionally, Davis allows the cast a bit too much free rein, and the blocking could be tighter. The climactic scene, a fantasia where Mama meets Emily Post, feels more clunky than compelling. Although the performances are uneven, what some may lack in precision they make up for in spirit. Perhaps the most poignant moment the night I attended was during the curtain call, when the cast members beamed with pride, some in tears, grateful to finally be sharing their truths.

September 28–October 11, 2017 |

HALLIDAY, from p.26

pher. It was confusing to me because my very self-involved parents had never told me anything about sex, only ‘brush your teeth and change your clothes.’ I was in therapy since I was a little kid.” It was at that camp that Halliday met someone who would eventually change his life completely, future playwright Charles Busch. “I came out before him, but did not tell him. We would come into New York City and go to theater class together. We actually met in a production of ‘Brigadoon’ when he was known as Chuck. At fi rst he thought I was stuck-up, or the other way around. He had already been thrown out of camp for fooling around with a girl in the bushes who later became a lesbian. We were 15 in 1970 and one day, after class, we were walking to Grand Central together. He was living with his aunt on Park Avenue and we started talking and became friends. We just clicked and bonded — he was so funny and the audience was crazy for him already, he was so entertaining. I never had a friend like him ever again. “When he told me in 1984 he had written a role for me in this play ‘Vampire Lesbians of Sodom,’ I thought ‘Ohmigod, that sounds so crazy.’ I was a fully trained dancer [sidelined by an injury] and always wanted to play the boy next door and he had me in fishnet stockings, high heels, and a g-string. I thought, ‘Why not?’ We rehearsed and opened at the Limbo Lounge on First Avenue and 10th Street, and my life changed completely. It was different world back then — the East Village was dangerous. Our lighting person used to push a shopping cart fi lled with equipment and covered with lights, dressed as a homeless person, to get safely through Tompkins Square Park unmolested, the ground covered in crack pipes. We didn’t know anything — it was all an adventure. Michael Musto wrote about us and we really took off, at the beginning of the East Village scene. All these celebrities came, but I wasn’t too aware of who they were, except I knew that Jo Anne Worley came.”

Busch was to write nine original roles for Halliday, including his annual Christmas appearance in ‘Times Square Angel,’ in which “I played the drunk, the Gladys George role. My favorites were in ‘Theodora, She-Bitch of Byzantium’ and ‘Pardon My Inquisition,’ and, when we went to Off-Broadway, Lotte, in ‘The Lady in Question.’ Halliday’s early career really peaked with that puppy: as a beyond-evil replica of the demonic ‘Bad Seed’ little girl, but with added nasty Nazi urges in Busch’s parody of World War II propaganda fi lms, he was singled out by The New York Times, but found that it was to forever typecast him in the eyes of theater decision-makers. “Those early plays of Charles’ were so wild and dirty and outrageous. Really fun and out there, with titles like ‘Kiss the Blood Off My Castanets.’ The great thing about his plays is that they’re published and for young queer people; they no longer have to play in something like ‘Desire Under the Elms’ and a girl can play a boy and vice-versa. They offer so much more freedom, which better fits their own special craziness, and they’re so well-crafted. As a playwright I had to fi nd my own voice, but Charles was always so supportive of me and I learned a lot from him. It can be hard to land on an idea and think, ‘Okay I can run with this, there’s just enough of a tear in the paper that I can rip it open.’” When success hit the company Busch had pulled together, however, there were some rocky times, with ambition, competitiveness, and egos getting in the way. Time has seen such issues nicely resolved. “I love them all and miss them. Julie Halston was always so funny, loud, charming, caring, and self-involved, everything you want her to be. I just had dinner with Arnie Kolodner, who looks great and is a success, doing his children’s magic act all over the world. What he did for us was very hard to do and that was to be the romantic lead and not get upstaged, but he was so funny and and had that old movie style down pat. Charles discovered him when he was doing a Renaissance Fair in upstate New York | September 28–October 11, 2017

and he was doing his magic. He was really beautiful, had a nice body, and was kind of arrogant, which was perfect. Charles handpicked us because each of us had something that corresponded to the way he wrote at that time.” Halliday manages to do his creative thing and hold down a real job — at Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS — with beautiful aplomb. “I love Broadway Cares — they’re so good to me and supportive, and what they do is so selfless and giving and kind, supporting people living with AIDS, outreach food programs around the world, sending money to the needy, like Texas, recently. They don’t think twice, and I’m very grateful to be there. Halliday has been single since his lover Tim died in 1991. “I don’t mind. It would be nice, I think. I don’t miss it. I like going home and watching what I want to watch and going to sleep when I want to go to sleep. I have odd hours: I get up at four and write and go to work at nine and am in bed by nine. There’s so much

going on now with the show, and I’ve started a new play. I believe in never stopping, and then there’s the dog.” And there are also the 2,000 DVDs that Halliday, a true cinemaniac, owns. “I just saw ‘Rebecca’ again last night and loved it. My favorite fi lm? I couldn’t possibly pick just one but I love ‘Notorious’ and ‘Shadow of a Doubt,’ ‘Destry Rides Again,’ ‘Coney Island’ with Betty Grable, ‘Murder, He Says’ with Fred MacMurray, ‘The Spoilers’ with John Wayne, Fred Astaire in ‘Easter Parade.’ ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ is one of my favorites, so beautiful with a great music score. It’s a dark fairy tale and like so many horror movies, you have pity for the character because they can’t help who they are. They keep looking for a cure but there is none and they have to deal with who they are, whether in a coffi n or a body of assembled parts. They’re loners, who can’t connect with anybody because they’ll kill them. I love discovering old movies and with all these DVDs, I don’t want for anything!”


Divas and Tough Guys Patti LuPone, Norbert Leo Butz, Lindsay Mendez shine on stage; Film Forum’s Warner Bros. gold BY DAVID NOH don’t think I am alone in regretting that I was not in New York in 1962 to catch Judy Garland’s much-lauded Carnegie Hall concert. I am able to say, however, that I was at the Nederlander Theatre this past Sunday, September 24, to see Patti LuPone at the Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS benefit “Deconstructing Patti.” It was an evening that will surely enter the annals of show biz legend as a similarly magical night of vocal-driven entertainment. With rabid LuPone junkie Seth Rudetsky on the keyboard, egging her on ruthlessly, she delivered a jaw-dropping cornucopia of witty reminiscences, deliciously wry observations, and, of course, glorious song highlights from her long and beyond impressive career that had the packed, musicalcrazed audience in seventh heaven. Her voice at 68 is an absolute wonder of the world, insanely virtuosic, whether doing the ridiculously high tessitura of “Evita,” with guest star Raul Esparza as Che; a melting “As Long As He Needs Me” from “Oliver”; an electrifying “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miz”; the suave sophistication of “You’re the Top,” from “Anything Goes,” with her original leading man, Howard McGillin (who told a tale of having to perform at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and things getting very blowhard-tacky — surprise!); “Some People” from “Gypsy”; “With One Look” from “Sunset Boulevard”; a duet with her radiant “War Paint” co-star Christine Ebersole; and, for good measure, “Trouble in River City,” from “The Music Man,” just because. After “War Paint” closes on December 30, LuPone will be doing the role Elaine Stritch originated, Joanne, in a London production of “Company.” When she sang the infamous “Ladies Who Lunch,” her eternally dulcet pipes and searing belt made me realize for almost the first time that this song, indeed, has a melody, and she totally made it her own. Between songs, LuPone reminisced about her career, forever marked by her usual, highly amus-




Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St. Through Oct. 5 COURTESY OF FILM FORUM

James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart in Raoul Walsh’s “The Roaring Twenties,” screening at the Film Forum on October 4.

ing mantra, “I don’t think so,” whenever some particularly wrong piece of direction or musical cue gets foisted upon her. Her real life persona is fetching in the extreme, completely gemütlich and down-to-earth, and it was a total pleasure to hear the output of her feverishly intelligent, very funny mind, often peppered with salty obscenities. As a result of a lifetime of stage injuries, she had a noticeable limp and must soon undergo a hip replacement. Nevertheless, she displayed more ferocious energy than most 20-year-olds and, all in the name of this evening’s charitable cause, simply gave and gave and gave of herself like no performer I’ve ever seen. Superb music was to be found at 54 Below, where, on September 13, I caught Norbert Leo Butz, who surely has one of the best male voices on the planet. His natural go-to is hard-hitting blues-tinged rock, and he delivered a sizzling set, backed by some of the greatest musicians working in Manhattan today. Among his selections were two which he wrote himself — tasty ditties, both of them — as well as a profound reading of “Georgia On My Mind” that made me forget all about Ray Charles, and which he dedicated to one of his daughters, who bears the name. The following night, I was back at 54, to catch Lindsay Mendez, who blew me away last spring in the Encores! revival of “The Golden Apple.” Born in California, this Mexican-Jewish talent happily does not fit into the usually bland, white-

bread, skinny-mini Broadway leading lady type, and serves up heaping helpings of fresh, engaging personality and honied vocal tones, especially on her show’s classic hit, “Lazy Afternoon,” which she has made as definitive as Butz’s rendition of that glum male torch song “Ruby.” She described how she happily came upon the drummer in her crackerjack band, who is also her husband, Philip Wakefield, while in Kansas City, of all places. Best of all, she addressed the current dire state of affairs in this country with a beautifully stirring tribute to the great Joan Baez. Just how good was it to hear something like “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” ringing the rafters of this club, not to mention an audience singalong to “We Shall Overcome”? Who says cabaret is all self-indulgent torch songs and earsplitting power ballads? I first came to New York when I was 15, the first city on a crosscountry drive with my family visiting the mainland from Hawaii. Already movie-mad, all I wanted to do was watch rare, old films I’d only read about and buy vintage Hollywood photos from the variety of purveyors of such which existed then, like the Memory Shop and Cinemabilia. The day my clan went on all-day bus tour of the city, I ditched them to go to my Mecca, the Museum of Modern Art, which was showing a new restored print of von Stroheim’s “Greed.” Afterwards, shaken by the sight of miserly Zasu Pitts sleeping on a mattress covered with coins, I went up to its film research department

where I met its head, Charles Silver, and curator Stephen Harvey. Both of them were gay, both of them are now dead, and they took a shine to this crazy kid from the tropics, babbling on about Cukor and Lubitsch and von Sternberg. Charles said, “You tell me it’s impossible to see classic films in Hawaii. Well, we’ve got some prints here that are being returned to the library. Why don’t you pick one and we’ll run it for you in this little screening room we have here?” This was Christmas in July to me, and I feverishly scanned the 16mm canisters holding pure enchantment: “Pandora’s Box,” “Desire,” and many more, and finally settling on “The Awful Truth,” I positively reveled in Irene Dunne and Cary Grant’s master class in flawless comic acting, and Joyce Compton’s cheesy nightclub number. Even better than that was the chance to talk film with those endearing guys, especially the very winning Harvey, who loved the Hollywood studio system as much as I did. “MGM had the lavish production values,” he observed, “but Warners had the best actors.” I thought of dear Stephen again when I saw the lineup for Film Forum’s current series “Warner Bros.: Tough Guys, Tough Dames… Tough Pictures.” There are few rarities this time: Bruce Goldstein has rather rounded up the usual suspects, but, damn!, these are some good films, no matter how many times you’ve seen them, like the most trustworthy old friends, and there’s always the added charge of watching them on a big screen in

TOUGH GUYS, continued on p.40

September 28–October 11, 2017 |


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- | September 28–October 11, 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.



18th Century Joys to Cure Today’s Blues Mostly Mozart Festival opened with youth’s promise of light to extinguish sorrow BY ELI JACOBSON he mood of the country over the last year has been one of disaffection, discord, disunity, and disgust. The music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Handel is a balm to the ears and the soul, assuring us that there are immutable beauties of the mind and soul that historical aberrations cannot deface or erase. The 2017 Mostly Mozart Festival opened on July 25 and 26 with a program called “The Singing Heart” dedicated to the optimism and unlimited potential of the very young in a world filled with ignorance, violence, and cynicism. In the program notes, Mozart scholar Peter A. Hoyt wrote, “Whereas philosophers and theologians had previously portrayed mankind as in decline, the scientists, political theorists, and artists of the Enlightenment began to envision a society capable of previously unimagined progress. A valuable freedom from conventional modes of thought was found — rather surprisingly — in the child. Youth ceased to be regarded as a mere prelude to adulthood; instead, writers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed children could intuit possibilities that escape fully


TOUGH GUYS, from p.38

pristine prints. The dazzlingly versatile, hyper-kinetic James Cagney appears in “The Public Enemy” (Sep. 28, 12:30 p.m., 3:55 p.m., 7:20 p.m.), which made him a star, and “Lady Killer” (Sep. 28, 2:15 p.m., 5:40 p.m., 9:10 p.m.) — in both of which he mistreats poor Mae Clarke, one of the most likable and gamest gals to ever come down the Hollywood pike. Raoul Walsh’s baroque “The Roaring Twenties” (Oct. 4, 12:30 p.m., 4:20 p.m., 8:10 p.m.) is one of the true classics of the gangster genre, with a rough and tumble but rather thick Cagney brushing off a true blue, been-there-done-that nightclub hostess (wonderful, husky-voiced



The Young People’s Chorus of New York City, led by Francisco J. Núñez, at this year’s Mostly Mozart Festival gala opening, “The Singing Heart.”

integrated members of society.” The program was a triumph of creative programming, mixing the classical with the folkloric and the sophisticated with the naïve. The Young People’s Chorus of New York City, a multicultural youth chorus led by Francisco J. Núñez (he also charmingly acted as host on July 26), opened the evening with Mozart’s “Kyrie, K.90” (1772) — composed by Mozart at the age of 16. Then each movement of Mozart’s “Haffner Symphony” (played with panache by the Mostly Mozart Orchestra led by Louis Langrée) was interspersed with traditional folk songs performed by the Young People’s Chorus. This

practice of inserting solo pieces between the movements of a symphony was purportedly a common practice in the 18th century. Though it added variety to the program, it did diffuse the internal cohesion and interplay between each movement of the “Haffner Symphony.” Each folk song was performed with carefully choreographed movements and gestures by the charmingly costumed youth chorus, who displayed polished musicianship, discipline, and showmanship. The choral folk songs mixed the international with the devotional. “Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal” and “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” are tradi-

Gladys George) to pine for dull, bland Priscilla Lane’s wholesome girl next door. The studio’s other big tough guy, Humphrey Bogart, is in that, and also stars in “The Maltese Falcon” (Sep. 29, 2:50 p.m., 6:50 p.m.), one of the first and perhaps the greatest of film noirs, as well as the other masterpiece he made with John Huston, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (Oct. 1,1:30 p.m., 4:10 p.m., 8:50 p.m.), containing his greatest performance as the greedyily unhinged Fred C. Dobbs. I’ve never much cared for that windy talkfest “Key Largo,” but in “The Petrified Forest” (Oct. 4, 2:35 p.m., 6:25 p.m., 10:15 p.m.), which made Bogie a star on the stage and screen, he fully

demonstrates that element of danger which always made him so compelling. That movie also features Leslie Howard at his most annoyingly pallid and poetic, but a young and refreshingly unmannered Bette Davis is quite watchable, as is Genevieve Tobin, who has one very stirring scene, bemoaning her life’s road not taken as the actress she’d hoped to be. La Davis, at her iciest and most bug-eyed mesmerizing, gives one of her top four performances in William Wyler’s superb adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s ingeniously plotted “The Letter” (Sep. 30, 2:40 p.m., 6:45 p.m.). Everybody’s favorite Freudian mean mommy movie, “Now, Voyager” (Oct. 3, 12:30 p.m., 5:10 p.m.,

tional hymns and spirituals but the exotic “Três Cantos Nativos dos Indios Kraó” evokes the sounds of the Brazilian rain forest. Bird calls and soft percussive sounds eventually bring a rising thunderstorm to the stage, which resolve into a melody based on a tune sung by the Kraó Indians. The children used their voices to recreate the sounds of nature with virtuosic exactitude and then broke into song. The traditional French children’s tune “Ah vous dirai-je, maman” (better known to us as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”) was sung with spirit despite a rather busy and eccentric arrangement by Núñez. (Contrary to popular canard, Mozart did not compose this song as a child, though he did later arrange piano variations to the melody. These variations could and should have been added to the program — there was a perfect interpreter on hand.) The evening ended as joyously as it began with a spirited performance of Beethoven’s “Fantasia in C minor for Piano, Chorus, and Orchestra (‘Choral Fantasy’)” led by the 15 year-old piano prodigy Kit Armstrong in his Mostly Mozart debut. Armstrong opened the symphony with a piano

JOYS, continued on p.41

9:40 p.m.) will be shown, with Davis’ transformation from caterpillarbrowed loser-spinster to fierce cruise line diva, with Gladys Cooper trying to spite her progress by dying continually throughout, while “A Stolen Life” (Oct. 3, 2:50 p.m., 7:30 p.m.) is a descent into camp with Bette as good and evil twins. Davis’ great rival, Joan Crawford, is represented by her immortal, defining vehicle “Mildred Pierce” (Sep. 30, 12:30 p.m., 4:35 p.m., 8:40 p.m.), replete with come-fuck-me heels, massive shoulder pads, a divertingly hateful Ann Blyth, sleazy-hot Jack Carson, just sleazy Zachary Scott (born to play gigolos), and cherishable Eve Arden doing her wise-cracking BFF to the heroine specialty.

September 28–October 11, 2017 |


ROOTED, from p.31

from our personal lives: from our dreams, obsessions, peeves, memories, and desires. Telling our own story doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t separate us from other people, it connects us. This â&#x20AC;&#x153;Body Mapsâ&#x20AC;? performance workshop welcomes performers at all levels of experience â&#x20AC;&#x201D; artists, activists, queeridentified and queer-allied folks â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to come together to create an original performance that maps the charged border between our bodies and society, our personal narratives and our politics, our private selves and public view. Over the course of one week, we will shape our discoveries into a public performance. We will work intensively for a week and the workshop will culminate in an ensemblegenerated public performance. This work is really important to me and is a huge part of my work. Maybe itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also another way I send some roots out by emboldening lots of new performers to help in the battles ahead. WJM: So even as you get to take a victory lap for your husband Alistair


JOYS, from p.40

introduction of staggering clarity, command, and virtuoso technique. LangrĂŠe vigorously led a large cadre of six vocal soloists (which included such talented singers as Janai Brugger, Brandie Sutton, Jennifer Johnson Cano, and Miles Mykkanen in music that denied them solo opportunities), Armstrong on piano, two choruses, and the Mostly Mozart Orchestra. The jubilant â&#x20AC;&#x153;Choral Fantasyâ&#x20AC;? is reminiscent in spirit, force, and scope to the exultant â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ode


getting a green card after DOMA was overturned and now being a citizen, what journey does your show â&#x20AC;&#x153;Rootedâ&#x20AC;? take you on amid this catastrophe of Trump? TM: I am calling on the ancestors to help me deal with our current American mess. If my great great grandpa Billy Angell in Jerusalem, New York in 1861 could join the New York 44th Regiment when he was 18 years old and deal with a Civil War that would kill almost a million Americans in the struggle against the same white supremacists that now again fill DC, then I can face my own queer struggles ahead. Fasten your seatbelts. Plant your feet. Get rooted in your own history, then really root your resistance and be ready for these rocky times.


William J. Mann is a novelist, biographer, and historian and the author of the widely praised â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Wars of the Roosevelts: The Ruthless Rise of Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Greatest Political Family.â&#x20AC;? Mann is working on a biography of Marlon Brando. For more information on him, visit For more information on Tim Miller, visit

to Joyâ&#x20AC;? finale of Beethovenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ninth Symphony.â&#x20AC;? Beethovenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s celebration of art and the human spirit triumphing over discord sent us into the summer night with these sentiments (translated by John Glenn Paton): â&#x20AC;&#x153;When musicâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s magic holds sway, and poetryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sacredness speaks out, magnificent things must take form, night and storms turn into light. Outer calm, inner joy prevail for the happy person; indeed, the artsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; spring sunshine lets, from sorrow, light come into being.â&#x20AC;?

MANTA SPA FOCUSING ON MAN TO MAN MASSAGE                                                        



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    | September 28â&#x20AC;&#x201C;October 11, 2017



September 28â&#x20AC;&#x201C;October 11, 2017 |

MAUPIN323+, from p.32

station. (The future senator would speak out publically against PBS’ airing of Maupin’s “Tales of the City,” complaining that government funds were being used to promote homosexuality, nudity, drugs, and other threats to family values). Maupin also once shook hands with President Richard Nixon. These stories, which include Maupin’s description of not losing his virginity until age 25, may be familiar — rather than untold — in the estimation of anyone who has read interviews with the author over the years or even glanced at his Wikipedia page. Still, they flow from the author’s mouth with ease and will hold viewers in rapt attention. Kroot knows it is best to simply turn the camera on Maupin and let him speak because he is such an engaging raconteur. The filmmaker sometimes includes images from the “Tales of the City” miniseries, photos from Maupin’s life, and archival clips of San Francisco in the 1970s to break up the talking heads, edits that neither enhance nor detract from

DINA, from p.33

from the couple talking to an earlier 911 call. There’s no camera movement in “Dina” and a lot of abrupt editing. The videography looks slightly faded, although nowhere near as grungy as digital video from the early 2000s. Sickles and Santini, whose previous documentary “Mala Mala” explored trans rights in Puerto Rico, avoid the dangers of voyeurism that come with this territory. One of this year’s most interesting American documentaries, Bryan Fogel’s “Icarus,” borrowed a lot from Hollywood thrillers, and when I interviewed Fogel, he talked more about Paul Greengrass as an influence than any non-fiction filmmaker. “Dina” lifts a great deal from narrative cinema, although not necessarily from Hollywood. It never offers a formal introduction to Dina and Scott. Its storytelling is fairly elliptical; Dina is chatty enough to deliver her backstory — which includes surviving a stabbing (leading to that 911 call) and the death of her first husband

the narrative. Maupin explains — for anyone who doesn’t know—how he came to write “Tales of the City,” as a serial in what was then the staid San Francisco Chronicle. Many fans of the books or the miniseries might well wish they could have read the “Tales” as they originally appeared in print and hung on every word and every break in the action. Maupin describes creating Mary Ann Singleton, Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, and the mysterious Anna Madrigal, and the challenges the gay and transgender characters posed to the Chronicle editors and readers. One of the film’s highlights has Maupin’s reading some of the newspaper’s letters to the editor responding to his work. But “The Untold Stories of Armistead Maupin” is also about how Maupin became comfortable in his own skin. He describes his struggles with the demands of masculinity growing up. He eventually accepted his sexuality and came out when he moved to San Francisco. He talks about his relationships with his friends and partners, and eventually meeting his husband, Chris Turner on Dad-

dyHunt. Maupin is candid about his personal life — his previous partner ,Terry Anderson, was HIVpositive, and Maupin and Turner have an open relationship — but there is not much personal dirt, though perhaps some of the ugliness in the story of his father or a family suicide should be counted. Kroot separately delves into some controversies surrounding Maupin, such as his famous outing of Rock Hudson, after the actor had been hospitalized in France for an AIDS-related illness. Maupin’s recollection earlier in the film of a fumbling pass (or two) Hudson made is somewhat unsatisfying, given the lack of juicy — and, come on, necessary — details. McKellen counters any scandal viewers might attach to Hudson’s outing by recounting how Maupin and his then-partner Anderson encouraged the British actor to come out publically in 1988. Kroot shies away from being be too critical of her subject, emphasizing the joy Maupin’s work brought to his fans and the positive LGBTQ role models the “Tales” offered in a popular culture that still rarely portrayed gay people

in a positive light. When Maupin explains that his goal was to “put his life in the context of the rest of the world,” where gay and straight people can co-exist, it is poignant and affecting. While the film briefly mentions Maupin’s other novels, “Maybe the Moon,” and “The Night Listener,” the focus here is on “Tales.” Kroot builds to a dramatic crescendo with Maupin and other interviewees reading aloud sections from Michael Tolliver’s coming out letter in the Chronicle, which doubled as the author’s coming out letter to his family. It is a terrific, emotional, and inspirational letter, especially when Maupin describes the response it receives from his parents. “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin” showcases the author’s talents as a writer. Clearly aimed at enchanting his fans — which it will — the film also serves as a 90-minute advertisement for “Logical Family,” should anyone want to know what Armistead Maupin has left to tell.

from cancer — over the course of the film. Sickles initially met her as a friend of his family. That segment on the bench takes a lot of risks, relying as much on sound design as the image. For a long stretch, Scott and Dina are barely visible, occupying about two percent of the frame as they talk. There’s a sudden cut to a medium shot of their conversation. Then, the 911 call is played over a shot of the empty bench at dusk, as the scene is artificially sped up, rapidly becoming dark. The filmmakers suggest half a lifetime passing in 10 minutes. “Dina” recalls a much milder version of the extreme sexual frankness of this year’s other best documentary releases, Joanna Arnow’s “I hate myself :.)” Arnow depicted her extremely dysfunctional relationship with a man who embodies the concept of “hipster racism” — his idea of fun is going to open mic nights at Harlem comedy clubs and saying the N-word in front of African Americans. Arnow was not afraid to show her vulnerability faced with a man who seemed much more powerful — but then,

she was the one wielding the camera on him and he turned up at the opening night screening at Anthology Film Archives to jump onstage and drunkenly rant about how she misrepresented him. Dina and Scott talk very bluntly about the sexual aspects of their relationship. If “Dina” actually showed them having sex, I think it would risk crossing over into exploitation. The closest it comes is a scene at Dina’s raunchy bachelorette party, where a male stripper mimes having sex with one of her friends as her head bounces above Dina’s lap. Dina discusses a previous lover wanting to experiment with BDSM, which she refused because it was too close to the real abuse she had experienced. Talking to a male friend, Scott says his fear of sexual errors leads him to make statements like “Sorry dear, I didn’t mean to squirt you in the face.” Even “Magic Mike 2” didn’t go this far. American narrative cinema treats this kind of talk as a joke meant only for R-rated comedies, generally, and documentaries only include it if they’re about sex workers.

“Dina” emphasizes the importance of sex to a working relationship, and here the woman takes the lead. Scott is far more timid. The fact that both Dina and Scott have autism hardly prevents either of them, particularly Dina, from communicating their desires loudly. If they’re talking to each other, they seem aware that the camera is always on; Dina sometimes seems to playing up to it. Sickles and Santini made a remarkably sex-positive film without showing any sex! “Dina” borrows a lot of techniques from ‘60s direct cinema, but no one would mistake it for a Frederick Wiseman film (although it shares the same absence of editorializing). While tightly focusing on this particular couple, it has a great deal to say about marriage as a whole. It’s easy to forget that Dina and Scott are autistic — and at one point, he reels off a whole list of other mental problems she suffers from. Rather than providing “inspiration porn” based on their condition, Sickles and Santini made a film about the universal drama of watching a relationship mature. | September 28–October 11, 2017

Armistead Maupin will attend the film’s screenings on October 1.



September 28â&#x20AC;&#x201C;October 11, 2017 |

Gay City News  

September 28, 2017

Gay City News  

September 28, 2017