Page 1

Court Smacks Down Trans Military Ban 04

Trumpism Forced Back on Its Heels 14

Center Women’s Event 23

BEHAVIOR AMERICANS WON’T TOLERATE IN A FICTIONAL PRESIDENT Page 05

NETFLIX

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Call 718-431-2667 to see a doctor Stock photo, for illustrative purposes only. People shown are models.

© GAY CITY NEWS 2017 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

FREE | VOLUME SIXTEEN, ISSUE TWENTY-THREE | NOVEMBER 9–NOVEMBER 22, 2017


In This Issue COVER STORY Behavior Americans won’t tolerate in a fictional president 05 EDUCATION DOE on defensive at bullying hearing 11 HEALTH Opioid response in NYC vs. DC 12 THEATER Space queens unleashed, again 38

2

ORGANIZING LGBTQs in mix at Women’s Convention 16 FILM Loving look at ballet’s Trocks 42 Return to Vietnam in a new war 44 BOOKS Alistair McCartney’s obsessive novel of death 48

Shamir settles happily into a new genre 37

November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 2017

3


CIVIL RIGHTS

US Judge Smacks Down Trump Trans Military Ban Court finds no factual basis for sudden reversal of Obama 2016 policy BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

I

n a blunt rebuke to President Donald Trump, US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, finding no factual basis for Trump’s July 26 tweet decreeing a ban on military service by transgender people or his August 25 memorandum fleshing out that policy, has issued a preliminary injunction against its implementation. Kollar-Kotelly’s action on October 30 ordered the government “to revert to the status quo with regard to accession and retention that existed before the issuance of the Presidential Memorandum — that is, the retention and accession policies established in the June 30, 2016 Directive-type Memorandum as modified by Secretary of Defense James Mattis on June 30, 2017.” The practical effect of the preliminary injunction — which will stay in effect until the court issues a final ruling on the case’s merits, unless an appellate court reverses it — is that the policy on transgender service announced on June 30, 2016, by Ashton Carter, former President Barack Obama’s secretary of defense, will remain in effect. Trump’s tweet and subsequent memorandum purporting to revoke these policies, which the administration planned to put into effect next February and March, are blocked for now. By incorporating reference to Mattis’ directive of this past June 30, the judge’s order requires that the Defense Department allow transgender people to enlist beginning on January 1. The memorandum that Trump issued on August 25 specified that his new policy — involving the discharge of transgender military personnel and a ban on new enlistments, at least until the president was persuaded it should be lifted — would go into effect no later than March 23, 2018. Key to Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling was her conclusion that the plaintiffs, represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and

4

DEFENSE.GOV

President Donald Trump, with one of his “generals,” Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Vice President Mike Pence.

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), have adequately established they are likely to prevail on the merits of their claim that Trump’s ban violates their equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment and that allowing it to go into effect while the case is pending would cause them irreparable harm that could not be remedied later by monetary damages. The judge concluded that a policy that explicitly discriminates against people because of their gender identity is subject to “heightened scrutiny” under the Fifth Amendment, meaning that the policy is presumed to be unconstitutional and the burden is placed on the government to demonstrate an “exceedingly persuasive” justification. “As a class,” she wrote, “transgender individuals have suffered, and continue to suffer, severe persecution and discrimination. Despite this discrimination, the court is aware of no argument or evidence suggesting that being transgender in any way limits one’s ability to contribute to society.” In the absence of a clear precedent by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — under whose jurisdiction her

court is — or the Supreme Court, Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling was staking out new ground here. She noted, however, that appeals court panels in the Sixth and 11th Circuits have ruled that gender identity discrimination is really sex discrimination and should be evaluated by the same “heightened scrutiny” standard that courts use to evaluate sex discrimination claims against the government. A petition by a Wisconsin school district is pending at the Supreme Court presenting the question whether gender identity discrimination is sex discrimination, in the context of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and bathroom access in public schools. As for the justifications advanced by the government for Trump’s ban, the judge wrote, “There is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effect on the military at all. In fact, there is considerable evidence that it is the discharge and banning of such individuals that would have such effects.” The judge concluded that the public interest is served by blocking the ban, since harm to the military from allowing transgender service

was non-existent while letting the ban go into effect would actually impose significant costs and readiness issues on the military, including the loss of a large investment in training of transgender people now serving and the cost of recruiting and training people to take their places. A major part of Kollar-Kotelly’s decision was devoted to refuting the administration’s contention that she did not have jurisdiction to decide the case, which she characterized as a red herring. The government argued that because Trump’s August 25 memorandum delayed the policy’s implementation until next year, nobody yet has standing to challenge it since none of the plaintiffs has suffered tangible harm. The judge, however, accepted the plaintiffs’ argument that both intangible and tangible harm was imposed as soon as Trump declared his policy, stigmatizing transgender people as unworthy to serve, tarnishing their reputations, and creating uncertainty and emotional distress regarding their future employment. As well, federal courts have long held that a policy that deprives a person of equal protection of the laws imposes an injury affording constitutional standing to mount a legal challenge. The issue that seems to have provoked Trump’s July 26 tweet starting this whole controversy was military payment for sex reassignment surgery. Several Republican House members, outraged by that chamber’s rejection of their proposed defense appropriations amendment barring payment for such procedures, complained to the president and reportedly threatened to withhold their support for the must-pass budget bill. The simple-minded president apparently jumped to the easiest conclusion: barring all transgender people from the service would solve his immediate problem while also playing to the anti-transgender biases of his political base. In com-

TRANS BAN, continued on p.31

November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Behavior Americans Won’t Tolerate in a Fictional President Kevin Spacey drowning in torrent of accusations following Anthony Rapp’s account

NETFLIX

Netflix has informed the “House of Cards” production company it will not air the series’ final season if it includes Kevin Spacey.

BY ANDY HUMM

K

evin Spacey is finished. No one will be able to look at him again without thinking about the fact that when he was 26, he cornered a 14-year-old boy on his bed and tried to force himself on the boy sexually. While Spacey said that he had no recollection of the attack on actor Anthony Rapp in 1986 and said that he must have been drunk if it happened and he was sorry, neither that excuse nor his attempts to come out as a gay man after a lifetime in the closet are going to help him. As I predicted in posting the original version of this story on October 30, many more men would come forward now with stories of how Spacey sexually abused them using his power as a star. And indeed they have. Rapp, now 46, told BuzzFeed that when he was 14 and on Broadway performing in “Precious Sons” and

Spacey was in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” Spacey invited Rapp and a 17-year-old friend of Rapp’s to the Limelight disco (where they got in despite being underage) and a few days later to a party at his apartment, where Rapp went unaccompanied and found himself the only teen there. Rapp said he got bored and went to Spacey’s bedroom to watch TV while the party continued past midnight. Rapp told BuzzFeed, “My memory was that I thought, ‘Oh, everybody’s gone. Well, yeah, I should probably go home,’” but Spacey “sort of stood in the doorway, kind of swaying. My impression when he came in the room was that he was drunk. He picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold. But I don’t, like, squirm away initially, because I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then he lays down on top of me. He was trying to seduce me. I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was

GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 2017

trying to get with me sexually.” Rapp told BuzzFeed of the turmoil the incident has caused him over the years, especially when he and Spacey crossed paths. Spacey issued a statement saying he doesn’t remember the incident, but “if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feeling he describes having carried with him all these years.” Spacey also said this “has encouraged me to address other things about my life,” but he only admits to being gay — not someone with a terrible reputation for preying on other young actors throughout his life. Since Spacey will no longer be a powerful movie star with the ability to make or break careers, many of the boys and men he preyed upon over the last 30 years are coming forward. Another man, with whom

Spacey had a sexual relationship in the 1980s when he was a 14-year old boy and Spacey was 24, gave a lengthy interview to Vulture.com and said that Spacey tried to rape him when he was 15. Stories of Spacey making unwanted sexual advances on attractive young men on his movie shoots have abounded over the years and now these testimonies are being taken seriously and reported widely, and Spacey will go the way of those who have abused their power such as Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, and Harvey Weinstein and the men exposed for serial sexual predation just in the last several weeks: political reporter Mark Halperin, movie director James Toback, Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, New Republic publisher Hamilton Fish V, and Atlantic magazine contributing editor Leon Wieseltier. With one in two women saying

SPACEY, continued on p.19

5


EDUCATION

Department of Ed on Defensive at Council Hearing Parents, students, advocates warn schools failing to address rampant bullying

ANDY HUMM

Students testifying at the City Council Committee on Education hearing on bullying on October 30.

BY ANDY HUMM

O

ut gay City Councilmember Daniel Dromm of Queens, on October 30, presided over a hearing of the Committee on Education he chairs that heard more than six hours of testimony on bullying in the city public schools, with representatives from the Department of Education (DOE) on the defensive and students and advocates calling for a radical overhaul in the way this public health crisis is fought. In his opening remarks, Dromm, a former grade school teacher in his home borough, said, “Most textbooks do not mention LGBTQ contributions, offer no LGBT role models, and make LGBT people invisible. This must end! Antibullying education is worth nothing unless the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer words are used at every grade level.” He added that it was “unacceptable” that LGBTQ issues can only be brought up “at certain times.” And he decried the fact that students being bullied for being LGBTQ or thought to be so “often cannot tell anyone, especially if there is no visible supportive LGBTQ person.” “Bullying, harassment, and discrimination can have long-lasting negative effects on students,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, “but the issue is particularly challenging for certain populations such as LGBTQ students, English-language learners, and students with disabilities.” Throughout the day, students of color and their parents in particular spoke of a school system in which their lives and cultures are not valued or taught about, leaving them more vulnerable to bullying. Mireya Solis, the mother of a fourth grader, said, “I don’t want my child to be bullied because of his/ her skin color or told to go back to their country. I want my child to feel like they belong and are part of the community.”

GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 2017

ANDY HUMM ANDY HUMM

Among parents testifying, many were from communities of color.

Julian, a youth leader at the social justice group Make the Road, said, “We need teachers who are trained to teach and support students of color who come from various economic and racial backgrounds and identify as LGBTQ, gender non-conforming, and have disabilities… Having a culturally responsive education would help everyone feel valued and represented.” Elizabethe Payne, director of the Queering Education Research Institute, cautioned, “Bullying behaviors are not anti-social but rather social acts that maintain the peer boundaries for normal and acceptable within a peer context.” She explained that “proposed solutions have failed to consider how educational institutions assume and/ or expect heterosexuality and gender conformity of all students and thus limit possibilities for exploring why LGBTQ youth are so vulnerable. Consistent intervention is critical, but it is not enough.” Nancy Ginsburg, director of the Legal Aid Society’s Adolescent Intervention and Diversion Project, said, “We are failing [our children] because we have been slow to recognize and take into account the stressors associated with prolonged exposure to poverty, violence, and substance abuse. While we are willing to commit resources to law enforcement, we need to do the same for quality health and mental health care.” The hearings were called in response to the September 27 incident at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx, where Abel Cedeno, a relentlessly bullied gay teen, told Gay City News that he snapped as he was attacked in a classroom and defended himself with a knife, killing Matthew McCree and wounding Ariane Laboy. Cedeno has been charged with manslaughter, and his next court date is November 15. The New York Times reported that a 12-yearold boy with long hair at the same school was bullied and isolated so badly, including being labeled as gay even though he said he was not,

Councilmember Daniel Dromm, the out gay committee chair, was the only member to hear all six hours of testimony.

that he tried to hang himself with his sweater. That boy and his grandmother guardian complained repeatedly to the school and not only was nothing done about it, the bullying got worse as a result. Now — at the city’s expense — he goes to a private school where, he told the Times, “They treat me like I’m someone.” The lead witness at Dromm’s hearing was Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who announced $8 million in new funding to enhance anti-bullying programs in the schools and other initiatives. Her department is being sued for $25 million by McCree’s family, whose attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, was called to testify at the hearing and decried the fact that metal detectors were not in place at McCree’s school despite being requested by the principal. He also criticized the DOE’s failure to enforce the antibullying Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) — state legislation requiring that incidents of bullying, harassment, and violence be reported and combatted. Dromm argued with Rubenstein about the value of metal detectors, and the students who testified said it made them all feel like criminals. Don Kao, the veteran leader of Project Reach Youth, testified, “What we really need are detectors for racism, sexism, and homophobia.” “Metal detectors don’t get at the root causes or prevent conflicts and don’t teach students anything,” Dromm said, “other than that they can’t be trusted.” He and many students and advocates, led by those from Make the Road, called for more “Restorative Justice” programs that are being field-tested in a small number of schools. Onyx Walker of the Urban Youth Collaborative said, “We don’t need double the number of school safety personnel than guidance counselors in schools” and called for at least one guidance counselor per 100 students in “under-

BULLYING, continued on p.18

11


HEALTH

City Shelters to Guarantee Overdose Prevention Staffing Facilities serving opioid at-risk populations must train staff, residents in Narcan use BY NATHAN RILEY

A

measure approved by the City Council on October 31 guarantees that homeless shelters across New York will be staffed by people trained to prevent fatal overdoses. Three years ago, drug overdose became the leading cause of death among the homeless. The new legislation expands the city’s public health commitment to reduce fatal ODs. The bill, sponsored by Ritchie Torres, an out gay councilmember from the Bronx, requires that employees at city shelters and those at non-profit providers who operate single-room-occupancy hotels under contract with city agencies, such as the HIV/ AIDS Services Administration (HASA), be trained in the use of naloxone, which is sold under the brand name Narcan. Torres told the Council that his bill “will save lives. The city will be required to train shelter providers and shelter residents in the administration of naloxone, which has been shown to reverse, in real time, the impact of an otherwise fatal opioid overdose.” The device is injected into a person’s nose and sprays an opioid

DONNA ACETO

Bronx Councilmember Ritchie Torres led the drive to improve overdose prevention at city homeless shelters and other facilities servicing at-risk populations.

antagonist that revives a person’s breathing. The device is designed for use by lay persons and can be used after just one training session. The new local law requires that in every city shelter and single-room-occupancy hotels under its jurisdiction there be at least one trained person on duty at all times. It is expected that training will be offered to many shelter employees to ensure that a trained staff member is always on duty. The legislation expands existing

programs and represents an extensive collaboration among advocates for the homeless, including VOCALNY and Torres. In an emailed statement, city Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks offered an upbeat assessment of the new measure, writing, “This legislation would take our comprehensive training efforts even further, expanding preparedness programming to additional facilities and offering new training opportunities to clients.” Under the law, homeless shelter and SRO residents will also be trained in the use of Narcan, something that VOCAL-NY, which works directly with the city’s drug-using population, hailed as a step forward in public health responsiveness. Jeremy Saunders, co-executive director at VOCAL-NY, was ebullient in telling Gay City News, “Passage of 1443 would not have been possible without Councilmember Ritchie Torres and Commissioner Steve Banks. But most importantly, it took shelter residents telling their stories and demanding that they be included into the legislation.” Saunders then praised several homeless New Yorkers who pressed the importance of training shelter residents themselves in the use of

Narcan, saying, “Thanks to people like Stevie Weltsek, Sarah Wilson, Jeffery Foster, and many others, the law was expanded to include the training of shelter residents and reporting to ensure it is really happening.” Banks echoed that message, saying, “We remain committed to continuing to empower more New Yorkers to be overdose first responders, ready to save lives.” Public health prevention of overdose deaths depends on wide distribution of Narcan kits so that a user gets immediate help from others during a crisis. During an overdose episode, breathing is suppressed and while waiting for an ambulance a person might suffocate. The city health department has long encouraged ordinary New Yorkers to become overdose first responders. This legislation creates a framework for helping drug users to help themselves in preventing fatal overdoses. In his remarks to the Council, Torres summed the issue up saying, “One need not be a doctor to administer naloxone, and one need not be an emergency responder to save a life on a moment’s notice. All that is required is a basic training, a basic drug, and a basic show of compassion towards those in crisis.”

No New Money, No New Ideas in Opioid Response Falling short of declaring “national emergency,” Trump chooses hype over progress BY NATHAN RILEY

D

onald Trump’s declaration of a public health emergency to end the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths wraps itself in virtue, but avoids the burning question about the nation’s drug policy: What works? During the 1990s, Switzerland and Portugal were among the nations that experienced the growth in opioid use seen here in the US as well. In those two nations, however, the response was radically different than in the US.

12

Switzerland and Portugal asked public health officials to solve the problem and minimized law enforcement activity in response. As a result, there, drug use seldom involves criminal sanctions and services are provided by health and social workers comfortable in working with drug users. The Swiss offered medically-assisted therapy with methadone, and for a smaller group of users medical heroin itself. Programs were geared toward aiding drug users in managing their habit. There were never grand declarations to “end” drug use. The Swiss program — designed

by doctors in tandem with users — conflicts with basic American attitudes toward drug use. A cardinal principle is that the user picks their dose. Overdose levels, of course, bring intervention, but the program design is clear that the user must determine their comfort level. After 20 years without a major backlash, heroin users, over the long run, tend to abandon their habit. And, crucially in the context of the link between drug use and other criminal behavior, most live without relying on illegal activity to pay for their habit. Drug users have easy access to medically-assisted treatment. Those

users permitted access to medical heroin in Switzerland must stop over a three-to-10-year period. The number of Swiss narcotics-related deaths in 1995 was 376; by 2012, it had fallen two-thirds to 121. These nations have housing and psychological services available to all, one of the key demands of drug reformers. The presidential commission appointed by Trump and headed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie endorsed that idea, but there is no money in Medicaid for these services.

OPIOIDS, continued on p.33

November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


On 14th Street, I found three things I desperately needed. A specialist, a plan, and hope.

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GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 2017

13


POLITICS

Trumpism Forced Back on Its Heels Transphobe loses big in New York City; Dems win Virginia, New Jersey governor’s races

PAUL MARTINK A

Mayor Bill de Blasio, reelected this week to a second term, in June’s Pride March in Brooklyn.

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

O

n an off-year election night, a wave of revulsion at the radical and chaotic presidency of Donald Trump meant big wins for Democrats and the election of LGBTQ candidates and their allies in local races nationwide. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who bested out lesbian Christine Quinn for the queer vote in the 2013 Democratic primary, easily overcame a challenge from Staten Island Republican State Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis. According to unofficial results from the city Board of Elections, the mayor captured more than 66 percent of the vote, with the GOP candidate garnering less than 28 percent. (Bo Dietl, an inflammatory law and order candidate who participated on the public debate stage with the two leading contenders, finished with less than one percent of the vote, trailing a little known out gay independent, Michael Tolkin.) In 2011, during her first term in the Assembly, Malliotakis voted against marriage equality, when it was enacted into law, a vote she has since recanted. In an astonishing interview with Gay City News and its sister publications earlier this year, however, the Republican explained her continued opposition to the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a transgender civil rights measure, by saying, “If a man were to follow someone into a restroom… they’re there because they want to commit a crime against a woman and they are caught, they can use that law as a loophole. I believe there is a loophole in the law that allows it to be exploited for individuals… to commit a type of sex crime.” Elsewhere in the city, incumbents largely were returned to office, though Manhattan Dis-

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FACEBOOK.COM/DANICAFORDELEGATE FACEBOOK.COM/RALPH.NORTHAM

Governor-elect Ralph Northam of Virginia.

trict Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., running unopposed, faced a surprisingly strong, last minute write-in challenge from Marc Fliedner, an out gay ex-prosecutor prompted to jump in when revelations surfaced about the incumbent’s failure to pursue fraud charges against Ivanka and Donald Trump, Jr., in their marketing of the Trump Soho and sexual assault charges against Harvey Weinstein brought by an Italian model who captured a partial admission from the former film mogul on tape. The write-in tally in the DA’s race was nearly 10 percent of the total, highly unusual in any elective contest. The evening’s big news came from Virginia, where Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam easily dispatched Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chair who abandoned his establishment style to go fullTrumper with ads about immigrant gangs, sanctuary cities, and even pedophilia. Still, Gillespie held off on bringing the president into Virginia, leading former White House senior advisor Steve Bannon to brag to the New York Times that a purported GOP surge in the polls there proved that “Trumpism without Trump can show the way forward.” Instead, it proved to be a right-wing delusion. And though the president frequently voiced his support for Gillespie and made 11th hour robocalls on his behalf, when the news of Northam’s big win emerged, Trump, halfway around the world in Asia, quickly distanced himself from the loser, tweeting, “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for.” The Democratic wave in Virginia also swept away a huge GOP advantage in the House of Delegates, the lower house of the General Assembly, where Republicans held 66 of 100 seats. Based on preliminary results, there is now a 50-

Danica Roem became the first out transgender candidate elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

50 split, though a number of races, including one with an apparent Democratic victor, could be subject to recounts. In the Virginia Senate, Republicans hold a 21-19 edge, but seats in that chamber were not up for election. The Democratic House of Delegates sweep brought the state’s first out transgender legislator, Danica Roem, into office, when she beat incumbent Bob Marshall, an anti-LGBTQ Republican who has pushed a “bathroom bill.” Marshall, trying to hold onto his seat representing Prince William County, southwest of Washington, repeatedly referred to Roem with male pronouns. Virginia also elected its first out lesbian to the General Assembly, Dr. Dawn Adams, who will represent the Richmond area. Elsewhere, Andrea Jenkins became the first African-American transgender woman elected to office, winning a seat on the Minneapolis City Council, as did trans man Phillipe Cunningham. In Erie, Pennsylvania, voters chose Tyler Titus, a transgender man, for the School Board, a post won by trans woman Gerri Cannon in Somersworth, New Hampshire, while Stephe Koontz, a trans woman, was elected to Doraville, Georgia’s City Council and Lisa Middleton, also transgender, was elected to the Palm Springs City Council in California. Seattle elected Jenny Durkan as its first lesbian mayor — and the only woman in that post since the 1920s. In the Delaware River town of Milford, Pennsylvania, Sean Strub, the founder of POZ magazine and an early LGBTQ marketing innovator, was elected mayor. Strub has in recent years steered significant economic development projects in Milford, including revitalizing the

ELECTIONS, continued on p.55

November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ORGANIZING

LGBTQ in Intersectionality Mix at Women’s Convention Detroit gathering late last month a next step from January 21 Women’s Marches

MICHAEL LUONGO

California Congressmember Maxine Waters (second from right) with Women’s March and Convention organizers Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez, Tamika Mallory, and Bob Bland.

BY MICHAEL LUONGO

I

ntersectionality. It was a phrase used throughout the Women’s Convention, held in Detroit October 27 to 29. The Convention was a natural progression from the January 21 Women’s March, the response by women and their allies to the inauguration of Donald Trump that was held in Washington and other cities across the country and worldwide. Nearly 4,500 were in attendance at the Cobo Center on the Detroit waterfront, a building best known for hosting the annual North American International Auto Show with a view of Canada across the Detroit River. The convention was nearly entirely female, cis and trans, with a smattering of men, those more often than not partners of female activists, Cobo staff, or journalists. The convention was organized by the same quartet of New York women who were behind the January 21 march: Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez, and Tamika Mallory. The most important political figure was California Congressmember Maxine Waters, whose own words, “reclaiming my time,” were echoed in the convention’s theme, “Reclaiming Our Time.” Described by activist Michaela Angela Davis, as “Auntie,” Waters was introduced by Mallory, who gave a preamble explaining that the controversial news that Bernie Sanders, the former presidential candidate, was

16

MICHAEL LUONGO

LaLa Zannell, lead organizer at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, Raquel Willis of the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, and writer Katelyn Burns speak on a transgender-focused panel. MICHAEL LUONGO

to be the original keynote speaker was never true. Waters, honored during the Sojourner Truth Luncheon, gave a powerful speech, largely aimed at Donald Trump and other men in power whose policies hurt women. “This is a man with no respect, with no values,” Waters said of the president. She went on more forcefully, saying, “Donald Trump is the most dishonorable and despicable human being to ever serve in the office of the president. His declaration of being able to grab women by their private parts or his own history with sexual assault violations and disrespect of women is a kind of mentality that sends a message to men and young boys out there that if the president of the United States can get away with it, so can I. This president has no respect for women.” Describing Trump’s comments about both Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton, Waters also admonished political consultants for advising female candidates not to respond by saying what is on their minds when insulted. The #MeToo movement that erupted in the immediate aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein revelations was also a component of Waters’ speech, as she told the audience of “a record number of women who are boldly coming forward to reveal disturbing and grotesque acts of sexual harassment, assault, rape, often times at the

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James speaks on a panel of elected officials.

MICHAEL LUONGO

hands of men who believed they were too rich and too powerful to ever be confronted.” She reminded the audience that it went beyond Hollywood, and was everywhere in America, even an issue for her colleagues in Congress. Other issues she touched on were healthcare, childcare, and equality for all women regardless of their race or social class. As next steps, Waters said, “Let the world know from this day forward that the women in this convention, and all across the country, have had enough,” calling on everyone in Cobo to “organize a plan of action to continue our resistance,” and to “tell the world that the women in this country are reclaiming our time.” More than 172 individual workshops, panels, and other talks were conducted throughout the three days of the conference. While LGBTQ topics were addressed in many of the events, several were focused directly on LGBTQ interests. These included a panel on publishing for women and nonbinary writers, another called Safe Spaces for Queer Communities, and a transgender-focused panel called Not All Pussies Are Pink and Not All Women Have Pussies. A major topic within this panel was the difficulty for trans people to find work. Freelance writer Katelyn Burns, a panelist, said, “Hire us to do things that aren’t trans-

Commentator and organizer Sally Kohn, who founded Movement Vision Lab, a grassroots progressive think tank.

related — trans women shouldn’t have to feel the only way to survive is through sex work,” adding, “The only way I get paid to eat is if I write about trans stuff.” Still, Burns emphasized, being trans was freeing. “When you come out as trans, you shuck off the chains that have held you your whole life,” she said. Burns said she felt organizers of the Women’s Convention could have included more trans women on other panels, rather than having only what she called a “Trans 101” discussion. Raquel Willis of the Transgender Law Center was also on the panel and said, “My agenda is trans women and trans women of color being in every place.” She also acknowledged the visibility that her work affords her and said that more everyday trans women should be represented in the media. “I want to show trans fully, other than just the advocates,” Willis said. LGBTQ issues were also visible at the Social Justice City, where a wide range of organizations had booths. Among them was the Justus Business League, promoting a smartphone app where people can look up a company based on various factors including LGBTQ

WOMEN’S CONVENTION, continued on p.33

November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 2017

17


BULLYING, from p.11

served schools.” Gena Miller, an attorney at Advocates for Children of New York who represents LGBTQ and disabled students who are bullied and does “know-your-rights” trainings on bullying for parents, students, and staff, called for “whole-school trainings in Collaborative Problem Solving and Restorative Practices to promote a positive school climate and supportive, inclusive learning environments where bullying is prevented and appropriately addressed.” Dromm said, “Giving students an opportunity to express their views and perspectives on conflicts and issues that arise, having their voices truly heard by adults and students alike, and holding them responsible to repair any harm their actions may have caused can truly be transformative.” He cited schools in Manhattan such as the Earth School, the East Side Middle School, and LaGuardia High School as places where the Restorative Justice model works. The schools have lots of policies and procedures in place ostensibly to curb bullying — including Respect for All coordinators in every school. But as witnesses at the hearing testified, few students know who that coordinator is in their schools. Dromm’s Intro 1538 would require the DOE to put the names and contact information for all Respect for All coordinators on its website “for the reporting of bullying or bias-based incidents” — and compel each individual school website to do the same. One of the biggest complaints from students and parents is that their reports of bullying are not dealt with effectively, if at all, and that making a report of bullying puts the student at further risk. Fariña announced that an online “Bullying Complaint Portal” is being developed, but that it would not be up and running until 2019. At present, the DOE advises students and parents to report incidents to the Respect for All coordinator at their school or via email to RespectForAll@schools.nyc.gov, which is monitored by the Office of Safety and Youth Development. The current statistics on bullying are astounding — not because they show it to be rampant, but

18

because there are so few “material incidents” reported to the State Department of Education as required under DASA. In the 2016-17 school year, Fariña said, a total of 3,281 such incidents were reported. Many schools reported none. Overall, the statistic works out to fewer than two incidents per school per year — indicative of alarming underreporting. Dromm cited the DOE’s own 2017 Teacher Survey that “revealed that more than 50 percent of teachers at more than 400 schools indicated that students at their schools harass, bully, or intimidate students some or most of the time. In what other working and learning environment would such a climate be acceptable?” Becca Mui, education manager of GLSEN, said, “Of the LGBTQ students surveyed in New York, 65 percent had faced harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and 50 percent on the basis of gender expression” and that “most never reported the incident” and of those who did, “only 33% said it resulted in effective staff intervention.” Fariña acknowledged “the fear of reporting,” but also said many of these incidents “happen out of the vision of school officials.” She also said the “material incidents” reported to the state have to meet “a higher bar — something that causes physical injury or emotional harm.” But the stats don’t seem to get at the many students who absent themselves from school because of bullying — Cedeno was one last year — or who fall into deep depression over it, deeply affecting their ability to learn. Dromm pressed Fariña on making LGBTQ issues more visible in the schools through posters, Out for Safe Schools badges worn by teachers to indicate they are safe to talk to about LGBTQ issues, and advising teachers and administrators to integrate LGBTQ references into their presentations. The committee did pass Intro 1638 that requires the DOE “to report, for each middle and high school, whether such school has a gay-straight alliance or gendersexuality alliance (GSA); the number of teachers and administrators who have received trainings related to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and gender non-conforming (LGBTQGNC) students;

and a narrative description of the training offered by the department to support LGBTQGNC students, including whether any such training includes training related to GSAs.” The measure passed the full Council the next day, with one dissent from Chaim Deutsch and an abstention from David Greenfield, both Orthodox Jewish councilmembers from Brooklyn. Greenfield, who is leaving the Council to run the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, has devoted much of his public life to securing taxpayer funds for private and religious schools. Fariña pledged funding of $1 million for the development of new student-led GSAs and Respect for All clubs. Middle and high schools can apply for the funding. Jillian Weiss, director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, submitted testimony saying, “After 30-plus years of being a lawyer and two decades as an advocate, I know from my experience that victims of bullying and discrimination often do not know where to turn,” leading to “severe emotional distress.” She called for more visibility and training for Respect for All coordinators. Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, made extensive recommendations, concluding that “the DOE must do more not only to respond to incidents of bullying, harassment, and discrimination in the schools, but also put in place proactive measures such as increased training, visibility, accountability and support, and funding to support a positive school climate.” Jared Fox, who is the sole DOE staffer charged with coordinating LGBTQ issues in the schools for its 1.1 million students, was the only representative of the DOE who stayed for the entire hearing. And Dromm was the only councilmember to hear all six hours of testimony. After she testified, Fariña, who said she has been to the Urban Assembly school four times since the deadly Cedeno-McCree incident, would not acknowledge whether McCree’s alleged membership in a local gang played any role in Cedeno’s fear of McCree and Laboy, boys who he said had not bullied him personally before but whom

he knew to be gang members and who had bullied a friend of his. She cited the investigation at the school by the special commissioner of investigation as her reason for not answering. But there are reports from the school that many student witnesses to the conflict and friends of Cedeno are being intimidated by gang members to prevent them from speaking up about the bullying Cedeno endured and corroborating his claim to be acting in self-defense. There are also reports that the teachers fear many of the students. McCree family lawyer Rubenstein also denied knowledge of whether McCree was a member of a gang. Out gay Councilmember Ritchie Torres of the Bronx complained to Fariña about the DOE’s “lack of transparency” in the Cedeno case. “Most of what I find out is from the press, not the DOE,” he said. Upper West Side Councilmember Mark Levine said that when a child who is supposed to be monitored by the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) dies at the hands of abusive parents, “the city treats it as a crisis and does an exhaustive investigation,” which is not the case with bullying in the schools. He said he saw homophobia from children in his own kids’ school and remembered it from his days as a teacher. “It is treated as part of childhood banter,” he said, something that needs to end if LGBTQ kids are going to be safe. Fariña said she would address these concerns specifically in letters to teachers and parents. Rachael Morgan Peters, New York executive director at the Peer Health Exchange, testified that “effective health education can play a strong role in dispelling myths about sexual orientation and gender identity and can build safe spaces for learning and respect, critical pieces to combat bullying.” But, she noted, a “recent report by Comptroller Scott Stringer shows that the DOE is not providing comprehensive health education — as required by state law — to all middle and high school students, and is not prioritizing sex ed as part of a larger health curriculum.” She praised the Council for forming a sex ed task force and looks forward to “progressive and bold recommendations.”

November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


SPACEY, from p.5

that they have been sexually harassed on the job — and an untold number of men — there are thousands of powerful, repellant men who are getting the message that the jig is up. No more power, no more ability to coerce sex. As the predator-in-chief infamously said, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” And when you’re not, you just get your face slapped. Spacey’s career on screen and stage — with two Oscars and a Tony and a Golden Globe Award — did manage to thrive in the closet. It will not survive this. Netflix immediately canceled his “House of Cards” series — though the sixth season was already in the works. Production on that has now been halted indefinitely, and Netfilx has told the showrunners it will not air the final season if Spacey appears. Eight employees on the series came forward with complaints of him creating a “toxic” environment of “sexual harassment and assault” on the set, according to People magazine, that included “touching employees without consent and making lewd comments towards staffers who were usually young men.” Spacey’s desperate attempt to claim membership in the gay community (“I choose now to live as a gay man”) is being rejected for the insult that it is. Out actor/ comedian Wanda Sykes wrote, “No no no no no! You do not get to ‘choose’ to hide under the rainbow! Kick rocks!” Out actor Zachary Quinto wrote, “I am sorry that Kevin only saw fit to acknowledge his truth when he thought it would serve him — just as his denial served him for so many years.” And Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD said, “This is not a coming-out story about Kevin Spacey, but a story of survivorship by Anthony Rapp and all those who bravely speak out against unwanted sexual advances. The media and public should not gloss over that.” What’s behind Spacey’s life of secrecy and abuse? It won’t matter to the law or the people who may sue him now or those of us who won’t care to see him on stage anymore, but his older brother, Randall Fowler, has elaborated about their toxic childhood under the reign of a father, Thomas Geoffrey Fowler, who

was a an American Nazi white supremacist so devoted to Adolf Hitler that he styled his hair and mustache like the fuhrer’s. Fowler said that when he was 12, their father raped him and beat their sister, Julie. It was “a house of horrors,” Randall told the Daily Mail, which led to his brother’s secrecy about his personal life and perhaps influenced the abuse Kevin Spacey inflicted on so many others. Shortly after being knighted in 1953, Sir John Gielgud, then 49, was arrested for having sex with a guy in a loo. He thought his career was over, but he survived and thrived because despite the fact that such sex was illegal and prosecutions of gay men were common, most people make a distinction between consensual and forced sex. For his work as artistic director of the Old Vic in London, Spacey was made a Commander of the British Empire in 2010 and a Knight Commander in 2015, but in the wake of these developments Queen Elizabeth may take them back, especially now that employees of the Old Vic are also coming forward with stories of sexual harassment by Spacey during his 11 years there. Actor Robert Cavazos told the Guardian he had several “unpleasant encounters” with Spacey and that many young men there had “a Kevin Spacey story.” “It seems that it only took a male under 30 to make Mr. Spacey feel free to touch us,” Cavazos said, adding that he groped “whoever caught his attention” in the bar of the theater. Coming out in the acting profession is harder than some other professions, but not as hard, say, as trying to survive as gay in Epypt or Chechnya or Uganda — or Mississippi for that matter. Kevin Spacey now acknowledges a sexual and relational life with men — something he was able to enjoy because of the sacrifice of countless others who came out and fought for the elimination of anti-sodomy laws and the passage of laws banning antiLGBTQ discrimination. No one is beyond redemption and forgiveness — and his publicist said he is seeking “evaluation and treatment” for his behavior — but Spacey is showing no real sign of understanding the damage he has done to himself and others. Curtain down.

GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 2017

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19


COMMUNITY CENTER FÊTES WOMEN LEADERS

Patsy Spyer, cousin of the late Thea Spyer, and Judith Kasen Windsor, Edie Windsor’s widow, presented the Center with a check for $100,000 from Thea and Edie, whose marriage led to the 2013 Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.

Glennda Testone, executive director of the Center.

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

O

n November 4, the LGBT Community Center hosted its 20th annual Women’s Event at Capitale on the Bowery with a splashy evening of cocktails, dinner, dancing, and a celebration of leaders in the fight for LGBTQ rights.

Lisa A. Linsky, a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery, was given the Community Impact Award.

Tony Award winner Sara Ramirez (“Spamalot”), honored with the Trailblazer Award, and New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray, given the Visionary Award.

Bernadette Harrigan, an attorney at MassMutual, was honored with the Corporate Impact Award.

Sue Wicks, a former star of the New York Liberty, and Lisa Cannistraci, owner of Henrietta Hudson.

GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 2017

23


PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

When Life Is Skeevier than Art

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

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

© 2017 Gay City News. All rights reserved.

FOUNDING MEMBER

24

BY ED SIKOV

“N

etflix dumps Kevin Spacey from ‘House of Cards,’” the Entertainment Weekly headline announced. The article, by Derek Lawrence, went on to summarize the nasty but delicious story, which broke on BuzzFeed. (Oh, come on! Don’t tell me your outrage isn’t tempered by even a teensyweensy bit of pure delight. It’s a sex scandal!) “It’s been less than a week since ‘Star Trek’ actor Anthony Rapp came forward with allegations that a then-26-year-old Kevin Spacey made sexual advances towards Rapp when he was 14 years old. The ‘House of Cards’ star issued a public apology, though he said he didn’t remember the incident. He also used the statement to come out as gay.” A link at the end of the last sentence led to an article, also on EW.com, by Lynette Rice, in which Rice reported what Spacey’s public statement actually said: Rapp’s story “encouraged me to address other things about my life. I know that there are stories out there about me and that some have been fueled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy. As those closest to me know, in my life, I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic relationships with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.” A mob quickly formed. Haul out the guillotine! Rice’s article included a number of outraged people who lashed out at Spacey for, well, let’s let them speak for themselves: “GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, ‘coming out stories should not be used to deflect from allegations of sexual assault.’” The out lesbian comedienne Wanda Sykes tweeted, “No no no no no! You do not get to ‘choose’ to hide under the rainbow!” Another out comedian, Billy Eichner, tweeted, “That Kevin Spacey statement. Nope. Absolutely not. Nope.” He also wrote that Spacey had “invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out.” In a third tweet, reported by TMZ, Eichner added, “But honestly I hesitate to make jokes because the Spacey statement is truly disgusting,

irresponsible and dangerous.” “This is changing the subject,” Frank Rich tweeted bluntly, “Rapp’s charge is pedophilia.” The most valid point is Rich’s. The other commentators seem to me to be kind of defensive, as though they want to make absolutely sure that nobody comes away from this scandal associating being gay with committing crimes. Anyone with even half a brain knows that being gay has no connection whatsoever with harboring a taste for sexual assault. And if you don’t know it already, you’re hardly likely to learn it from a tweet. Dennis Hensley takes a more nuanced view. In the interest of full disclosure, Hensley and I have been friends for a long time; we both wrote for the UK edition of Premiere in the 1990s, and in fact we saw Anthony Rapp in “Rent” together. “My first thought when I read his statement was, “And the GLAAD Award goes to…’ I mean that sarcastically, of course,” Hensley told me via email. “He really seems to have contempt for the gay community. At least that’s how it feels to me as a gay person. That statement was even more tone deaf than when he hosted the Tony Awards back in June and did shtick about not coming out. That really pissed me off. I remember saying to the friends I was watching it with, ‘He’s doing tacky closet jokes! Meanwhile, how many chorus boys go you think he’s accosted backstage?’” Of course the urtext of all of this is Harvey Weinstein, the priapic and decidedly former film executive who stands accused of everything from displaying his penis to women to raping them. Weinstein didn’t face the problem Spacey did. Everybody knew that Weinstein is a straight cad. Everybody also knew Spacey is gay, the only problem being that Spacey had never acknowledged the fact in public. By not coming out much earlier in his career, Spacey really had no choice but to do it at the very beginning of this sordid story — in other words, in the same statement in which he apologized to Rapp. Had he not come out at the very start of the mess, he could never have done it later without looking like a fool. Damned when he doesn’t, damned when he does. We now turn to an unlikely source for more information. Breitbart — yes, Breitbart! — picked up on a story in

the Advocate that revealed that the magazine knew about Rapp’s ugly encounter with Spacey but decided not to publish the story. “In 2001,” Breitbart writer Charlie Nash reports, quoting the Advocate’s October 31 revelation, “‘Rent’ actor Anthony Rapp and Dennis Hensley — a former freelance writer for the Advocate — were both promoting CD releases at the time. Hensley believed he asked the LGBT magazine’s then-editor in chief, Bruce C. Steele, for ‘a little online space’ to help promote these projects. But at one point during the brief back-and-forth, Rapp broached the topic of closeted actors. And a bombshell dropped. ‘That makes me think of [a certain leading man] in [a certain award-winning film],’ said Hensley at the time — the name and film were redacted in the final published article.” Nash continues: “In response, Rapp reportedly declared, ‘It’s hard for me to evaluate his acting because I’m so angry at him. I met him when I was 14 because we were both in plays and he invited me to a party at his house. I was bored, so I was in his bedroom watching TV and didn’t know everybody had left, and he came to the bedroom and he picked me up and lay down on top of me.’ “‘Oh, my God! What did you do?’ replied Hensley in 2001. “‘I squirmed away and went into the bathroom,’ Rapp claimed. ‘I came out and I excused myself, and he’s like “You sure you want to go?” I always wonder if he remembers it, because he was pretty drunk. And he’s had so many.’” As it turns out, Spacey claims not to remember it. As Breitbart’s Nash puts it, “The Advocate then attempted to justify the reason why they didn’t release Spacey’s identity. Hensley’s memory is fuzzy about the conversation with Steele, regarding how Spacey’s name was redacted. He said he may have been ‘seasoned enough’ at the time to not even type Spacey’s name in his first draft, because he knew ‘it would never run’ if he did.” Last week’s Advocate piece quoted Hensley saying, “It just felt like a lot more of a legal mess than we’d want to get into. We weren’t doing a big exposé. We were just having a conversation

SKEEVY, continued on p.26

November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: Snide Lines

How To Make the Trump Era Seem Like Fake News BY SUSIE DAY

C

ongratulations, smart American shopper! You have just overcome months of electorally induced PTSD by purchasing a Li’l Orange President®! These droll, five-inch-high orange neo-fascist dudes are living genetic replicas of our current US president! Yes, say goodbye to annoying computer viruses introduced by over-clicking on endless STOPTRUMP petitions! Wave ta-ta to feelings of la nausée as one more protest supporting DACA goes unnoticed! Your Li’l Orange President — brought to you by trumPets®, first name in Trump-survival products! — is a nifty emotional-support animal that will help manage worries about gutted healthcare, increasing xeno- and homophobia, nuking North Korea, and the ecological demise of planet Earth! Your Li’l Orange President is an amusing neo-fascist companion that embodies our company’s scientific credo: IF YA CAN’T BEAT ‘EM — CLONE ‘EM, SHRINK ‘EM, AND SELL ‘EM AS PETS!!! Why struggle to get through another day by minimizing your political pain, when — thanks to cutting-edge bioengineering techniques — you can minimize your president? Just follow these simple pet-care tips, and your angst will be — literally — well in hand!

Bringing Your Li’l Orange President Home Your new Li’l Orange President is not used to being five inches tall. Neither has it ever found itself shrieking for help inside a lo mein takeout carton with air holes punched in the top. It will therefore feel a tad hostile and scream hurtful invective about your being an “animal” who should be sent to “Guantánamo.” This is no time to get your feelings hurt. Tell your Li’l Orange President that you’re sorry it’s upset, but firmly remind it that it knew what it signed up for. Then twirl the takeout carton around your head several times until you hear comforting little retching noises.

SUSIE DAY

A Li’l Orange President, a product of trumPets®, first name in Trump-survival products!, stands on his cage door.

Once you arrive home, your Li’l Orange President is sure to pester you with feisty demands to “get me outta here!” Turning off your wifi and all the lights, toss your pet inside its cage. Add a little Drano to its treat cup. Now that your Li’l Orange President is in a contaminated environment without water or electricity, ask it to imagine that it is really in Puerto Rico, in the wake of Hurricane Maria. To show your pet just how much you care, throw it a few rolls of paper towels. Tiptoe out, giving your Li’l Orange President several days to get acquainted with its new home. Taming Your Li’l Orange President There is a popular myth that Li’l Orange Presidents are difficult to tame — nothing could be further from the truth! Moving slowly and quietly, so as not to startle your pet, reach into its cage and attempt to stroke its comb-over. Your Li’l Orange President will no doubt snap at you viciously. It is now time to discipline your pet. First, force it to perform arduous domestic tasks, like sewing you a new pair of britches

GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 2017

or planting 200 acres of cotton. Second, explain to your Li’l Orange President that, although it has been kidnapped, abused, and enslaved, there are still some very fine people on both sides. To prove your point, grasp its torso firmly between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand, while gently crushing its tiny orange head with the thumb of your right hand. If your Li’l Orange President is slow to catch on, try ordering it to “take a knee.” Repeat taming process as needed. Fun With Your Li’l Orange President You are now ready to accessorize your pet with the exciting options offered in our trumPets holiday catalogue! Your Li’l Orange President will want to keep its claws sharp, so why not get it the tiny, slightly misshapen CrookedHillary Doll®? Then watch the fun as your pet maniacally tries to rip it to shreds and imprison it! Let’s keep your Li’l Orange President in intellectual trim with the trumPets mini-iPhone-’n-mirrorset®! Watch your pet as it perches on its swing, preening itself in its mirror, while chirping out nasty

little “tweets” on its toy cell! Fun and educational! Did you know how many eminent people whom you used to respect are actually “dummy-dopey-phony-lightweight-pathetic-low-class-overrated-slob-losers?” Don’t you feel smarter already? And throw away that burglar alarm! Instead, purchase the trumPets Li’l Horde-Stopper Wall Kit®, complete with 150,000 wee cinder blocks! Your Li’l Orange President will spend happy hours stacking and restacking its “wall” — while protecting you from dangerous immigrants! If you fi nd the trumPets price excessive, just fill out the enclosed form, asking the Mexican government to pay for it. More pragmatic owners prefer to put their pet to work on the trumPets Hamster-Wheel-Generator® that provides “green” energy for the entire household. At the end of a hard day, just pop your Li’l Orange President into your kitchen blender for a relaxing whirlpool bath. Microwave dry. Disposal Ridiculous urban legends abound of people who, tired of their Li’l Orange Presidents, flushed them down the toilet, where their pets grew into gigantic reptiles, returned through the Washington, DC, sewage system, and became repulsive new congressional candidates. HA HA HA! These stories are absolutely true. If you have decided to “impeach” your pet, please do not flush. Also do not donate your pet to live bait shops, as it could introduce harmful toxins into our lakes and streams. Little orange neo-fascists really make a mess, too, if you stomp them into the ground. The most ecological thing to do is to return your pet to our trumPets laboratories. There, we will bio-engineer it into our upcoming line of Li’l White Attorney Generals®! Remember, trumPets: First Name in Trump Survival Products. Crotch-grabbing fun! Susie Day is the author of “Snidelines: Talking Trash to Power,” published by Abingdon Square Publishing.

25


PERSPECTIVE: Me Too!

One Gay Man’s Experience with Sexual Humiliation BY SAM OGLESBY

F

orty years ago I stood in the center of a crowded room with a nervous smile on my face. It was lunch time, and the office canteen was packed with noisy colleagues in a festive mood. Decorations and a sumptuous buffet table lent a festive air to the gathering, which was a farewell party for me. I had prepared what I thought were some appropriate remarks about how rewarding my five years had been working with the people who surrounded me. Never good at public speaking and a shy person by nature, I dreaded the attention that was being lavished on me at that moment. I hoped after I delivered my speech, which had been scribbled on the back on an envelope, that the crowd would disperse and I could somehow melt into the milling throng of well-wishers. My work was in Southeast Asia with an international organization, and it had been interesting and rewarding. I had been told, via performance reports, that I had carried out my duties in an exemplary manner and, as a reward, I was being offered another assign-

SKEEVY, from p.24

about music and stuff.” “I never thought for a second that it would get published with Spacey’s name,” Hensley told me. “The Advocate had a policy of not outing people, and speaking for myself, I wouldn’t have wanted to risk whatever the legal ramifications might have been at that time. I supported the blind item treatment because I felt like it was a way to say to the reader, ‘This kind of stuff goes on and yeah, it’s probably the person you think it is’ without getting into legal trouble.” The Advocate’s “no outing” policy had a key exception: it would out a celebrity if it was a “criminal case,” which the magazine’s editor, Steele,

26

LYNAS

ment with greater responsibility in a neighboring country. Now was the time to end this chapter of my life and move on with the dignity and satisfaction gained from a job well done. Unfortunately — in my view — the farewell formalities stretched out into quite a production, with a

procession of speakers singing my praises. The final speaker was my secretary, an intelligent, attractive young woman with whom I had had excellent professional collaboration and a friendly personal rapport. I should add at this point in the story that it was an open secret in the office that I was gay. While not

decided Spacey’s wasn’t. Steele made the right call, even though he might have been technically wrong. After all, Spacey didn’t fuck a 14-year-old. He simply climbed on top of him for the few seconds it took Rapp to escape from under him. It may have been sexual assault, but without any supporting evidence — other kids with similar tales, for instance — the Advocate might have found itself with a wide expanse of legal exposure. What’s different about the decision faced by BuzzFeed in recent weeks? Times have changed in the media, for one thing; what was unacceptable in 2001 is perfectly fine in 2017. Also, Spacey has had ample time since 2001 to generate rumors

about his taste for cock. I guarantee that nobody at BuzzFeed was surprised about Rapp’s claim. Hensley recalls that his story attracted next to no attention at the time. “Back then, I don’t think that very many people even read the article. I don’t recall one person saying to me, ‘Hey, I read the piece with you and Anthony Rapp on Advocate.com. Who was the famous actor he was talking about?’ No one asked about it. I forgot that it was even part of the article. I remember Anthony telling me the story, and I would think of it whenever I’d see Spacey on screen, but I thought he might have told me at a party or something. It wasn’t until I saw the Buzzfeed piece that I remembered it was part of the ar-

openly or officially “out,” circumstantial evidence — unmarried, 38 years old, never seen dating a female — and well-documented rumor had established my sexual orientation as fact. For years, heavy hints had been dropped by colleagues on almost every possible occasion, that my secretary, also single, was lovely and “eligible.” Knowing that I liked poetry and was a great fan of limericks, my secretary had cleverly crafted her farewell speech in the form of a “roast,” a limerick poem, full of biting humor and, as it turned out, a bit more insight than I had bargained for. As she proceeded with her speech, which bemoaned my lack of interest in pretty girls, the verse suddenly deteriorated into sexually-laden innuendo ending with what was meant as a comically plaintive lament, “And Sam OglesBY never flirts with ME!” As the crowd roared with laughter, stamped their feet, and shouted cat-calls, I stood frozen and red-faced, humiliated to my very core. This was not the kind of send-off I had envisaged. After what seemed an eternity, the crowd fell silent, focusing their eyes on me. Did they expect a response to that damning limerick ? For better or worse, I had no reply. With my head slightly bowed and a tight smile on my face, I silently exited the room. Sam Oglesby is a writer living in New York City. He worked for many years with the United Nations in Asia.

ticle we did together.” Since BuzzFeed broke the story, however, many other men have accused Spacey of sexual harassment, with eight staff members of “House of Cards” alleging he acted in a predatory fashion toward young men working on the show, and Richard Dreyfuss’ then-18-year-old-son Harry saying that Spacey groped him in the same room in which his father was sitting reading a script, but that Richard Dreyfuss was so engrossed in the script that he didn’t notice that Spacey was grabbing his son’s dick through his pants. Gee, it appears that Kevin Spacey is even more skeevy than Frank Underwood, his (former) character on “House of Cards.” I didn’t think it was possible.

November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


䉴

TRANS BAN, from p.4

mon with his other major Twitter policy proclamations, this seemed to be impulsive, not vetted for legality or defensibility, and oblivious to the harm it would do to thousands of people. The way in which Trump rolled out his decision contributed to the judge’s conclusions. The policy was announced without any factual basis, by contrast with the 2016 policy decision from the Obama administration, which followed several years of study, a report by the RAND Corporation (a widelyrespected nonpartisan military policy think tank), wide-ranging surveys, and participation of numerous military officials. The outcome of all this investigation was a well-documented conclusion that there was no good reason why transgender people should not be allowed to serve, explicitly rejecting the grounds raised by Trump in support of his decision. Kollar-Kotelly noted the irony of Trump’s methodology: first announce a ban, then a month later task Defense Department leaders with setting in motion a process to study the issue, and mandate that the policy go into effect several months after that, with the study limited to recommending how to implement the ban. Attorneys for the government argued, in effect, that the policy is still in development and that at present it is not clear what the final implemented policy will be, including whether it would provide discretion to military leaders over discharging specific transgender personnel or even allowing particular individuals to enlist (such as, for example, highly qualified people who had already transitioned and thus would not be seeking transition-related medical procedures while serving). Their arguments lacked all credibility, however, in light of the absolute ban proclaimed by Trump on July 26 and the directive to implement that ban contained in his August 25 memorandum. The judge granted the government’s motion to dismiss a different theory raised by the plaintiffs — “estoppel� — as opposed to their constitutional claim. She found that none of the plaintiffs had alleged facts to support a claim that

they had individually relied on the June 2016 policy announcement and its implementation in a way that would support the rarelyinvoked doctrine that the government is precluded from changing a policy on which people have relied. Despite its length (76 pages), Kollar-Kotelly’s opinion left some ambiguity about the very issue that sparked Trump’s tweet — availability of sex-reassignment surgery for transgender personnel while this case is pending. Trump cited the cost of providing such treatment as one of the reasons for his ban (though the judge noted that the actual costs were a trivial fraction of the Defense Department’s health care budget). She found, however, that none of the individual plaintiffs had standing to challenge it or to seek preliminary relief against it while the case is pending, since, among other things, Trump’s August 25 memorandum provided that such procedures would continue to be covered until a new policy’s implementation. Kollar-Kotelly’s dismissal on this point was “without prejudice,� which means that if additional plaintiffs with standing are added to the complaint, the claim could be revived. Still, given that the June 2016 policy that the government was ordered to revert to allows for coverage of sex reassignment, the plaintiffs’ attorneys announced the ruling was a total victory. Response to the opinion by the White House and the Justice Department was dismissive, suggesting that an appeal is likely. Kollar-Kotelly’s opinion is not the last word, since similar motions for preliminary injunctions are on file in several other district courts around the country where other plaintiffs are challenging Trump’s prospective ban. Kollar-Kotelly’s was appointed as a District of Columbia trial judge in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan and put on the US District Court by Bill Clinton in 1997. Though long eligible for senior status, she continues to serve as a full-time active member of the trial bench at age 74. Her rulings in major cases exhibit an independent, nonpartisan approach to deciding politically-charged cases, with no clear predispositions reflecting either president who appointed her.

GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 2017

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WOMEN’S CONVENTION, from p.16

issues. The American Civil Liberties Union promoted transgender issues through pink and blue T-shirts, flags and even military patterned socks, a new product to raise money to fight the proposed transgender ban under the Trump administration. Rainbow-covered Spanish material promoted LGBTQ rights issues of interest and importance to immigrants. Michaela Angela Davis also had her own booth, promoting her consulting and fashion advice firm Mad Free Life. Davis commented on the significance of Detroit as host city to a conference focused on intersectionality . “There was a really big effort that it was grounded locally,” she said, adding, “I feel like the D was a guest or a host in a real way, like a character.” Davis said she wasn’t certain that locating the conference in a city that is more than 80 percent African-American surrounded by suburbs with the country’s largest Arab and Muslim population necessarily accounted for the large turnout of black and Arab women, but noted that the success in drawing such a turnout created a special opportunity and challenge

OPIOIDS, from p.12

Donald Trump had two ways to go — finding more money for health services or making bold but empty promises. If he had declared a “national emergency” — as he initially pledged — it would have created claims on a $53 billion federal fund. For the “public health emergency” he declared last week, there is currently $57,000 in the kitty. Hence the Times’ headline: “Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a ‘Health Emergency’ but Requests No Funds.” A swift warning came from Gay Men’s Health Crisis about the “potential efforts under the Public Health Emergency Declaration to redirect funding from HIV/ AIDS programs.” The Daily News also voiced suspicion that money would be siphoned from AIDS/ HIV services. But the biggest howl of fury came from the new executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who blasted the president’s speech saying it showed “a profound and reck-

for white women in the audience. Black women she said, “should be here instructing and they [white women] should be here as students. We’ve been grandmothered into this work and not by choice. Black women gather and talk about strategy and how to work together in sisterhood all the time. We know how to do this, and it was white folks who elected Donald Trump. They have to do this work. If white people don’t do their part of the civil rights work, their humanity is at stake.” In making that point, Davis was highlighting another theme of the Women’s Convention: the 53 Percent Problem — in recognition of the fact that more than half of the white women in the US voted for Trump. Tamika Mallory, one of the organizers, questioned white women at one point from the stage, asking, “We want to know what you were doing before the election.” Perhaps the most prominent LGBTQ attendee at the convention was commentator and organizer Sally Kohn, on hand for a media training session. Kohn told Gay City News, “Intersectionality is a two-way street. Why doesn’t community XYZ show up for our issues? We also have to show up for other people’s issues.”

She added that people can have multiple identities which “merge together. But I think the transformation started happening when the theory of intersectionality caught up to people’s lived experiences, including for gay people to have a way to understand their multiple identities and express those identities.” Many of those attending and speaking were from New York, including Letitia James, the New York City public advocate who was on a panel with other elected officials. She told Gay City News that as a New Yorker who already knew Trump before the elections, she was “surprised at the outcome and I am still surprised he is polling so well.” She added, however, that “progressives and people who care about this country, women in particular, are just rising up and there is just so much momentum and energy and that is what women claiming our time at this convention is all about.” That LGBTQ issues needed to be included within the greater women’s movement was made clear by Mallory during the conference closing session, when from the stage she said, “We need to do better when it comes to our trans and LGBT community.” She also

said that issues of concern to indigenous Americans are also often ignored by the movement. Despite the sense of progress and energy palpable in Detroit, behind the scenes there were incidents making clear how much further women have to go to claim their time. At a Saturday evening concert, an all-male battalion of guards encircled the stage, preventing women, including staff, from getting anywhere near the entertainers, even though the predominantly male press contingent, including this reporter, were given access. Rose McGowan, one of the most important celebrities in attendance who opened the convention by focusing on her fight against harassment of women in Hollywood, began to yell at one of the guards who would not let one of the convention’s female staff members through. “You’re a man, a man doesn’t tell a woman what to do,” McGowan shouted at one of them, her own face filled with anger, fierceness, and determination. In the end, according to one of the staff members who spoke anonymously, “It took a man to talk to another man to resolve the issue,” and let the female staffer get to the stage.

less disregard for the realities about drugs and drug use.” Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, a human rights activist who replaced Ethan Nadelmann, challenged Trump, poopooing his recommendation that drug prevention programs revive the “just say no” evangelizing of Nancy Reagan and his faith that public service announcements would “prevent” drug use. “He made a big deal” about taking a pharmaceutical opioid off the market, she scoffed, noting that such a strategy is years out of date. “The opioids involved in overdoses are mostly coming from the illicit market” today, McFarland SánchezMoreno said. Drug users have gone from the gray market to a wholly criminal underground market of drugs laced with fentanyl — a transformation that is a damning indictment of the prohibition and the criminalizing of drug use. Drug deaths have been rising for years. Last year, there were 64,000 overdose deaths — roughly equal to all Americans

killed in the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan conflicts combined. Trump also showed his ignorance about how drugs enter the US, when he spoke lovingly of how his Mexican border wall would halt the inflow. McFarland Sánchez-Moreno was unconvinced; the illicit drug trade, she said, “always” finds ways to “get around the walls and barriers the US has put up to block it,” with many drugs smuggled inside freight containers as part of our heavy border commercial traffic with Mexico. Pointing his finger at immigrants, she added, has a sinister motivation. Trump blames “immigrants for bringing drugs across the border, ignoring that immigrants are overwhelmingly more law-abiding than US citizens,” McFarland Sánchez-Moreno said. The entire presidential declaration, she said, provided yet another excuse for “talking about criminal justice answers to a public health problem, even though the war on drugs is itself a major factor contributing to the overdose crisis.” Trump is still trying

to use a hammer to smash the drug problem, with immigrants hit with a special ferocity. The president’s plan, McFarland Sánchez-Moreno charged, will spread pain and misery, “condemning even more people to death, imprisonment, and deportation in the name of his war on drugs.” Sadly, as if on cue, Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the US Senate, answered Trump’s call, finding $12.5 million to fund a new DEA team to focus on the smuggling of fentanyl at Kennedy Airport. Look for the arrest of black and brown baggage handlers. Nobody expects this one unit to make a real difference, but it points up drug reformers’ fears that in a nation that refuses to give up its belief that criminal law protects its young from drug addiction, law enforcement will get the bulk of any new funds identified. A public health approach, based on strategies that “work,” remains the low man on the budget totem pole.

GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 2017

33


The Many Loves of Gilbert Gottfried Showing his warm, fuzzy side, veteran comic revels in vintage showbiz gems BY DAVID NOH f your basic impression of comedian Gilbert Gottfried is of an overbearing loudmouth who does nothing but spew obscenities and the most vulgar of jokes, you’ve only experienced the tip of the iceberg. Far more is revealed of this quite shy, sensitive, true eccentric in Neil Berkeley’s utterly disarming doc “Gilbert.” It charts his life from a Brooklyn misfit high school dropout who only came out of his shell at 15, with the discovery of comedy clubs proliferating across a Manhatan then more dangerous but far more interesting. His résumé includes an early “Saturday Night Live” stint, appearances at every comedy club you can name, TV and movie work (disconcertingly, in Disney’s “Aladdin”), and the voice of the Aflac duck (before he was canned for insensitive statements about the Japanese earthquake). It also includes, surprisingly, a very happy family life, two adorable kids who brought out the natural, quite wonderful father in him, and a very lovely wife, Dara, who’s quite funny herself, and, obviously, a model of forbearance. She and the film’s talented director, Berkeley, joined Gottfried for an often uproarious meeting with Gay City News in Chelsea.

GILBERT

I

DAVID NOH: This film really surprised me. Of course, I laughed my ass off, but then I would often find myself kinda misting up at moments. GILBERT GOTTFRIED: Thank you! One critic said the same thing, that our film will make you laugh and cry. Sounded like something you’d slap on a poster, a blurb of your own making. DN: You allowed yourself to be so naked in front of the camera. GG: The idea of me naked makes you laugh and cry at the same time. When I look at myself full frontal, I start crying. I get suicidal when I look at myself naked. DN: The scene where you ran into

46

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ARLENE GOTTFRIED/ FUTUREYOUPICTURES.COM

Neil Berkeley’s “Gilbert” offers a surprising portrait of comedian Gilbert Gottfried.

those guys wearing Nazi uniforms at that war reenactment event was hilarious. You couldn’t make that up. GG: We were in the same hotel as that convention. You can’t have a war without the bad guys and that was like gift from God. That is probably the only time you’ll ever hear that the Third Reich was a gift from God. The Nazi officers were in love with me, kept running over, yelling “‘Problem Child’ is my favorite movie!” Nervously asking if they could take a selfie with me. One of them explained to me that they may have lost the war, but the Nazis won the fashion show. I’m standing around them, laughing and thinking, “You know, the Nazis got a bad rap!” DN: So tell me about this podcast you have, which the Village Voice voted best podcast of 2015 and had Stephen King proclaiming you as a national treasure. I’m all about old movies, and I hear that is what you feature. GG: My sidekick, Frank Santopadre, and I both love old movies and old showbiz. To me and other crazy people who love it, a superstar is someone like Janet Ann Gallow. She was a child actress who appeared in the 1940s in a film called “The Ghost of Frankenstein.” She told us she would play hide and go seek on the set, with Lon Chaney, Jr., and Bela Lugosi. I wish that had been my childhood. DARA GOTTFRIED: The chance to talk to his heroes is why he has the podcast.

GG: I always said that when I was growing up the greatest film school in the country was right in your living room because TV showed old movies 24 hours a day. One of the biggest treats was when Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies asked me to pick my favorite movies. It was a horrible homework assignment, having to choose like four best movies and that was dependent on if they could get their hands on them. We sat in those big easy chairs and talked about movies, loads of fun. So the ones I presented were Todd Browning’s “Freaks,” Coppola’s “The Conversation,” the original “Of Mice and Men,” with Lon Chaney and Burgess Meredith that came out in 1939, which was a ridiculous time for movies, “Gone with the Wind,” “Wizard of Oz,” “Goodbye Mr. Chips.” Another one I chose was “The Swimmer” with Burt Lancaster [from John Cheever’s book], strange film but fascinating. Another weird film came out with Karloff and Lugosi named “The Black Cat.” Obviously a pre-Code film, it has incest, necrophilia, Karloff is skinned alive. It’s so weird and usually when I see things that don’t make sense, I get angry. “The Black Cat” seems to makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and I don’t care! I’ve had incredible guests on my podcast. Carl Reiner is amazing, remembers everything when I can’t even remember what I did earlier today. He sang some Italian opera and also an Irish folk song, because he always wanted to be a singer.

Bruce Dern told me he has always been a fan of mine, which is always a real thrill to hear. He, too, has a scary memory, like who did the catering on a movie he did 50 years ago. Amazingy, he said he was never into drugs. Surprisesurprise, Jack Nicholson was, but Bruce gets up every morning and runs. NEIL BERKELEY: When we went to interview Dick Van Dyke, it was amazing. We drove to his house and it was kind of dark and then he appears. GG: It’s scary how, at 90, he moves around so well, still dancing. Phenomenal. NB: Filming them together was the only time I ever saw Gilbert hesitate about telling this filthy joke. GG: I have such respect for him, and he never worked blue, as I did, never used a dirty word. Sometimes I will think twice, but I have to say it anyway. I think “Oh, I really shouldn’t say this,” but then the words come out of my mouth. NB: Thank God he thought you were funny. GG: What I notice with the older generation of performers is that most of them have a great sense of humor. They’ll laugh off camera at a filthy joke or word and tell one themselves. But on camera, these performers in their 90s won’t say anything because they don’t want to damage their image. I’m like, you’re 100, what’s the big deal? DN: Okay, so I have to ask. What was your interaction like with Bill Cosby? GG: [laughing hysterically with Dara and Neil] It’s funny. I worked with Cosby twice, he had me on

GILBERT, continued on p.47

November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ä&#x2030;´

GILBERT, from p.46

two of his shows. And I ran into him once, doing â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.â&#x20AC;? It was like when I met O.J. Simpson years ago, before all that happened. It was kind of a treat to meet him, he told me was a fan, and did an imitation. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s kind of like meeting Charles Manson, and him saying, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a big fan! I saw â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Aladdinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; a thousand times!â&#x20AC;? But I do remember meeting Cosby and then waking up in the street with my pants around my ankles and heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d be going [does Cosby impersonation], â&#x20AC;&#x153;Aw rawr, roozooraza roar!â&#x20AC;? I heard that he cut ties with Coca Cola as their spokesperson because they made him advertise the New Coke, saying it was better than the original. But people hated the New Coke, and he felt that damaged his image because it made him look unreliable. Coke was the least of his problems! [Laughs.] DN: Talk about Joan Rivers. GG: I was crazy about Joan. She was a nut. I once went to this big birthday bash at the Stern Theatre. I was lucky enough to be sitting at a table with her and that was like a show in itself. All these celebrities would go by and, under her breath, sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d say â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a tramp, what a total slut. She fucked everybody!â&#x20AC;? Then another guy would go by: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Big fag!â&#x20AC;? The next day people would always talk about stuff she said. I roasted her on Comedy Central, and she said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Watching Gilbert Gottfried makes me want to drive to Malibu and blow Mel Gibson!â&#x20AC;? DN: Is your film eligible for an Oscar for Best Documentary? GG: Yes, and if I do get an Oscar,

Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not going to show up and will send an Indian princess to receive it for me. [Laughs.] NB: You should do the [legendary, notoriously filthy, and improvised] Aristocrats joke. GG: [laughs] Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll say, â&#x20AC;&#x153;This award means the word to me. A family walks into a talent agencyâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;? The documentary about that joke, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Aristocrats,â&#x20AC;? completely disappeared. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know who owns it. What shocked me the most was I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t expect anything to come out of it. But when it was released, it got this exposure and quite a following. I was doing â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Tonight Showâ&#x20AC;? and heard someone call out, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I loved you in â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The Aristocrats!â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? It was Harrison Ford, and I thought, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Wow!â&#x20AC;? DN: Your crazy persona, married to the usual pitfalls and temptations of your business, bring up the question of drug use. GG: No drugs really. I remember grass, as I call it, or pot â&#x20AC;&#x201D; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s weed now â&#x20AC;&#x201D; used to be more prevalent. People would pass it around. I stopped doing that and it was no big deal because what I found was that one puff would make me terrifically happy, a great time, but immediately after Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d think, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Wait a minute, what am I so happy about?â&#x20AC;? And then I would start getting depressed and the paranoia would set in. Say, if I were stoned now, I would think, â&#x20AC;&#x153;There are people downstairs listening in.â&#x20AC;? I was also one of those people who got that feeling of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Oh, am I ever gonna back to normal?â&#x20AC;? By the way, your readers will love this. My favorite line in the film is from my grandmother who died at 104: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Even Gilbert, himself, says heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a homosexual!â&#x20AC;?

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MANTA SPA FOCUSING ON MAN TO MAN MASSAGE                                                        

             

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   GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; November 22, 2017

47


BOOKS

A Book of the Dead Alistair McCartney’s new novel explores his and our obsession with mortality BY DAVID FRANCIS A author Alistair McCartney’s compelling new novel, “The Disintegrations,” is the story of one man’s obsession with death. It pulls no punches. As Australian author Christos Tsiolkas wrote, it’s “a book that takes possession of you right from the opening and will not let you go. Challenging and gripping, a rumination on death and memory that speaks eloquently to our sense of loss, both personal and communal. The writing is exquisite. I know this book will haunt me for the longest time.” I found myself similarly haunted as I read this genre-bending book, engrossed in the stories of suicides, serial killers, and a disquieting array of natural deaths. I was drawn into the unique and surprisingly funny perceptions of its narrator and moved by the warmth that arises in unexpected places. McCartney establishes a wonderful intimacy between the author and the reader. I recently caught up with my fellow Australian American in his

THE DISINTEGRATIONS

L

OASIS, from p.42

with who he is on the outside.” The actors developed their sexual tension in rehearsals. One of the questions Lynn considered was “What is the relationship between Andrew and Oliver?” The men obviously have a connection, but can their friendship and their secret past blossom into romance or are there other factors coming between them? There is a real sexual frisson between the guys, which comes to light especially during an intimate hotel room encounter when a drunken, naked Andrew begs Oliver for a backrub one night. What transpires the following day forces the characters (and the audience) to reconsider the motivations of the characters. When asked about the hotel room

48

By Alistair McCartney University of Wisconsin Press $26.95 232 pages

COURTESY: ALISTAIR MCCARTNEY

The author standing against a mural Friedrich Nietzsche.

neighborhood of Venice Beach to talk about “The Disintegrations” before he headed to New York for his launch at Dixon Place.

cyclopedia of obsessions, literally, A to Z, but for this book I narrowed the lens to just one. Who knows why we become fascinated with anything? I was fixated on the subject, and I needed to write my way out of it. It’s not a subject I would have chosen to write about. That said, since I was a teenager, most of the writers I’ve gravitated to — Jean Genet, Marguerite Duras, Dennis Cooper, W.G. Sebald, to name just a few — have taken the excavation of death as their primary subject. And I think it’s a fairly common preoccupation, though one we’re taught to repress. My narrator can’t repress it.

DAVID FRANCIS: How did you come to write “The Disintegrations?” Can you talk about how your fascination with death was born? ALISTAIR McCARTNEY: The book arose from an obsession. That’s the source from which all my writing springs. My first novel, “The End of The World Book,” was an en-

DF: The protagonist of your book spends a lot of time at Holy Cross

scene with Oliver literally drooling on Andrew’s ass, Lynn demurred in his response, saying he “won’t comment on my personal life.” But he was then completely candid in discussing his full-frontal nudity in the film. “Maybe because I was so in the closet when I was younger, I don’t have a problem with my body,” he said. “I can be an ambassador to the world and show my body and that I have no shame about who I am physically. After we shot it, I did realize my penis will be visible in a 40-foot screen in New York and Los Angeles for lots of people to see. But I don’t have a problem with that.” Lynn’s comfort level may also stem from the fact that he is a photographer by trade. He started taking photos back when he was doing his ministry work. At age 23,

when he came out, lost his job, his family, and was questioning his future, he pursued photography and filmmaking at Full Sail University in Florida. That led to him being accepted at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and making a living shooting photos and films. Currently, Lynn is shopping around a new series he created and wrote called “Triads” about three gay men in a polyamorous relationship. His purpose in making the series, he explained, is not just to explore the emotional swings, struggles, and trust issues of being in love with two people but also because, “I want to elevate gay content. I want to prove a point. I want to make a show that an audience finds a connection with. It’s a drama that doesn’t apologize or water down what it is.” In Lynn’s view, the effort is, in

Cemetery in Culver City on the Westside of LA, wandering around, trying to get to the bottom of death. I am also someone who is fascinated by and writes in cemeteries — my local being Hollywood Forever. Can you talk about your relationship with Holy Cross? AM: Well, like my narrator, I do teach across the street from Holy Cross, at Antioch University. I’ve taken my classes there, had my students write there. My book is very much an investigation of that cemetery, drawing on that great tradition of writers mining the mythology of death and California, like Joan Didion. “But at a certain point, I didn’t allow myself to go there or even look at it, even though I can see it from my office window. The Holy Cross I conjure up is based on the actual space, but it’s a character, it’s the cemetery I’ve fashioned in my head. DF: You call this book a novel but it reads as a subtle fusion of fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and prose

DISINTEGRATIONS, continued on p.53

part, about broadening the reach of queer cinema. “Gay content is a lot like Christian content — there is a devoted audience that excuses the shortcomings of the quality because we made the content and we like the message and what it’s saying,” he said. “We are much more forgiving. We do work harder and struggle more. I fully believe the way the industry is going you have to build a brand and have a following to create content. There’s somewhere between by/ for/ about the community and crossover into mainstream. There are so many life experiences and stories that straight people can connect with gay culture. I’d love to create that bridge.” Director Jorge Ameer hosts Q&As after the 4 p.m. show on November 10 and the 7 p.m. show on November 12.

November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


/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 or NOMINATE ONLINE WWW.GAYCITYNEWS.NYC/NOMINATION2018.

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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. GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; November 22, 2017

49


OPERA

No Exit Thomas Adès adapts Luis Buñuel’s party at the end of the world

turn on each other. The final tableau depicts their equally inscrutable liberation into a world that is now threatening and offers no refuge. Adès’ score embodies what a friend of mine dubbed “tonality in crisis” — a mixture of the spare lyrical realism of Benjamin Britten heavily spiked with Stravinsky at his most dissonant and cacophonous. Adès is wildly adventurous and imaginative in his orchestration, utilizing exotic instruments like the ondes Martenot (the musical voice of the “Exterminating Angel”), bells, guitar, and piano. In the midst of all this dissonant mu-

sical expressionism, Adès drops in musical quotations and allusions — waltzes, baroque sonatas, and Sephardic song for Leticia’s incantatory aria in the last scene. The fragmentary, expressionist style gives the listener a vivid sense of dislocation and disorientation. I found the first two acts (played without intermission) intriguing but alienating. My problem with Adès’ score is that while in the film the story moves from the comfortably elegant to the disturbingly surreal, the opera starts out dissonant and jarring and has nowhere else to go. Buñuel famously dissuaded critics from suggesting a literal or symbolic interpretation of his film but there is an element of social satire of Franco-era Spain as well as considerable black humor. The composer might have introduced a musical atmosphere of elegant banality with dissonant expressionist undertones gradually emerging and progressively dominating the sonic landscape as the story develops. Adès does not have this kind of light touch and lays on the apocalyptic bells and whistles with the first notes. In the third act, when the entire cast has been reduced to an almost animal-like “Lord of the Flies” existence, the expressionist brutality of the score really began to score points. Passages of lyrical beauty

in Act III — like the love-death duet of the suicidal young lovers Beatriz and Eduardo — function outside of the main musical fabric yet provided dramatic truth as well as musical contrast. A hallucinatory nocturnal “dream” sequence in Act III showed director and composer working together in an inspired fashion. Librettist Cairns’ production moves fluidly, smartly using the stage turntable to keep the action moving and to change the visual perspective on the elegant salon turned existential prison. Hildegard Bechtler’s sets and costumes lack the luxuriously realistic detail of the film, opting for a modern expressionist style. The physical degradation of the characters was vividly realized as the story progresses. One continuing problem with Adès compositional style is his penchant for pushing the human voice — especially high women’s voices — into their extreme registers. Adès introduced the party’s hostess Lucía de Nobile (sung by the striking South African soprano Amanda Echalaz) with an ungainly arioso that seesaws from the highest register to toneless low chest, rendering text indecipherable and alienating us from the

narrative. I’ve seen two of the three films Hong has made in 2017. (The third, “Claire’s Camera,” hasn’t played New York yet, although it stars Isabelle Huppert.) There’s a noticeable darkening in his tone. If some of his work resembles the comedies of Éric Rohmer, “The Day After,” and “On the Beach At Night Alone” come closer to the autobiographical lacerations of Jean Eustache and Philippe Garrel. But it’s a fantasy of what could go wrong in his affair with Kim, a worst-case scenario reflection on a passion that still seems to be going strong. Hong is still unwilling to serve up a straight memoir or let himself play out a fantasy in which a woman acts as his

perfect love object. To put it mildly, a director like Woody Allen could learn a lot from him. Stylistically, Hong settled on a look for his films early on and stuck with it: “On the Beach At Night Alone” is based on long takes whose dynamics are controlled by a zoom lens rather than camera movement. He really has his actors get drunk during the scenes in which they imbibe soju, and their ability to remember their lines and deliver good performances while intoxicated is remarkable. (Characters in Hong’s films drink alcohol almost as often as Cheech and Chong smoked pot, with the narrative climaxes often coming in restaurants where everyone is trashed.)

It’s a shame that New Yorkers won’t see this film now in the context of the other two 2017 Hong films; he has kept up a remarkable pace of exactly 21 films since his debut film, “The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well,” in 1996, and is now in production on a 22nd. Many festival programmers, critics, and cinephiles have long since decided his work is the equal of French New Wave directors like Rohmer. Alas, American audiences have never gone for it, although his 2015 film “Right Now, Wrong Then” played briefly at the Metrograph last year. Don’t miss your chance at an update from one of world cinema’s current giants, whose power stems partially from Kim’s ability to play a variation on herself.

BY ELI JACOBSON ne of the more adventurous offerings of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2017 - 2018 opera season is the US premiere of Thomas Adès’ “The Exterminating Angel.” The Adès opera, based on Luis Buñuel’s enigmatic 1962 surrealist film “El Ángel Exterminador,” arrived in New York after premiering last summer at the Salzburg Festival with a stop at London’s Covent Garden along the way. Tom Cairns’ libretto, in collaboration with the composer, smartly condenses the screenplay by Buñuel and Luis Alcoriza combining several characters and streamlining the plot. The revisions are intelligent and aim for clarity without losing the spirit of the original. The story concerns a group of wealthy Spanish aristocrats hosting a dinner party after the opera. A mysterious inertia takes over this group of the privileged elite and they find themselves blocked by an invisible psychological force from leaving their hosts’ elegant salon. Days and weeks of this strange captivity pass by: food and water runs out, personal hygiene hits crisis level, party guests die under various circumstances. Trapped together by a mysterious invisible force, the one-percenters

O

ON THE BEACH, from p.45

to be up in the air for her. “On The Beach At Night Alone” is not exactly a film a clef, but even the press materials supplied by its American distributor admit it bears a resemblance to Hong and Kim’s life at the moment. However, Hong didn’t lazily ask Kim to play herself in her exact situation. He is still interested in fooling around with bifurcated structure. Apart from the dual settings and credits, the two parts of “On the Beach At Night Alone” were shot by separate cinematographers, although the difference isn’t hugely noticeable. The film has a pastel look throughout. The emphasis is on character over

50

KEN HOWARD/ METROPOLITAN OPERA

David Adam Moore and Amanda Echalaz in the US premiere of Thomas Adès’ “The Exterminating Angel” at the Metropolitan Opera.

ANGEL, continued on p.53

November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ADVERTORIAL

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

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

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

GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 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.

51


CLIPPED WINGS, from p.39

and theatrical, and it does break up Emma’s episodes, but not much more. The one thing this kind of play does offer is the opportunity for some epic scenery chewing, and Denise Gough as Emma doesn’t disappoint. The problem is that her character isn’t well enough developed, so the eruptions of behavior are merely over-the-top and impressive for their emotional pyrotechnics. Without a developed character or relationships, such showmanship serves no purpose other than to show that an actress has the technical ability to flail and scream without shredding her voice and allow herself to look an awful mess. Each scene or section is a set piece, and because it’s so plot-driven, there is no time to get inside the character and understand her journey, so for all the emotional heat, the effect is oddly distant and cold. (Gough gives a much more nuanced and developed performance as Harper in the production of “Angels in America” coming to Broadway. That’s also a much better play and character to start with.) Addiction is a serious disease, and recovery is painful and never guaranteed. When we watch Mary Tyrone, in O’Neill’s play, we see not just her tragedy but the tragedy of a family poisoned by her disease. “People, Places & Things” — the title taken from a 12-Step axiom warning against triggers that could lead to relapse — lacks that perspective and depth. It is only Emma’s story and, as powerful and horrific as

LAST FLAG, from p.44

way three 60-year-old Vietnam veterans would see life. They were drafted at a time when women didn’t serve in combat and one gets the feeling that their closest bonds are to each other, not their wives (if they have them). Starting with “Boyhood,” Linklater’s reputation as a warm humanist — these qualities are evident all over “Last Flag Flying” — began to be tarnished by accusations of blinkered racism. It seems undeniable to me that his treatment of Latinos in “Boyhood” is patronizing, but the scenes involving them take up about

52

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RICHARD TERMINE

Pico Alexander, Aimee Carrero, Mary Testa, Jason Alexander, and Sherie Rene Scott in John Patrick Shanley’s “The Portuguese Kid,” which the playwright directs.

“The Portuguese Kid.” John Patrick Shanley’s new comedy, which he also directed, at Manhattan Theatre Club isn’t very much fun. In fact, it’s terrible. It aspires to be vintage Neil Simon, and it’s vintage all right — as in dated. Haven’t we as a culture moved beyond comedy that portrays women as either bimbos or barracudas? Haven’t we seen enough emasculated men trying to get their own back. Evidently not in Shanley’s world, for that’s the stock-in-trade of this play. And what’s with the gratuitous Trump jokes? They’re nothing more than pandering to the presumed biases of the audience, which would be fine if they were funny. But they’re not. The tortured plot concerns a lawyer, Barry, who has married a much younger wife, Patty. When Atalanta shows up for Barry to

handle the estate of her late husband, we learn they were childhood friends and Atalanta once saved Barry from being mugged by a Portuguese kid. Atalanta has taken up with Freddie, also much younger, who used to be Patty’s boyfriend and left her. You can see where this is going as these mismatched couples go at one another. Also lurking about is Barry’s mother, Mrs. Dragonetti, who serves the dramatic purpose of adding cynical hostility to the proceedings while providing the hackneyed comic device of hearing old people swear. With comedies like this, the audience needs at least one character they can relate to as events become chaotic and excessive, but each one here is so repellent that they can’t get off stage fast enough. The poor actors caught in this mess are doing the best they can, but Shanley’s direction is sub-par sitcom stuff. There isn’t a bit we haven’t seen before, from a tissue

two minutes of a 160-minute film. Linklater’s critics have gone further to point out that his casts are almost always all-white: the only exceptions are his use of an animated Keanu Reeves (the actor is part Asian) in “A Scanner Darkly” and some relatively substantial Latino roles in the ensemble cast in “Fast Food Nation.” Here, Linklater has made a film where one of the three lead characters is African-American, although the novel he’s adapting — written by co-screenwriter Darryl Ponicsan in 2005 — dictates this. He also included a large part for African-American actor J. Quinton Johnson as a friend of Doc’s son, who travels with the

central trio part of the way. I wonder if these decisions, even if they stem from the source material, are Linklater’s reaction to the criticism he’s received. They also, however, reflect the fact that “Last Flag Flying” was created by more than one auteur and that, back in the ‘70s, Hal Ashby and Ponicsan laid out the framework with which Linklater is now working. For that matter, so did the politicians who started the wars whose fallout “Last Flag Flying” depicts. “The Last Detail” is notorious for its raunchy dialogue, and “Last Flag Flying” picks up the torch in a similar vein: I’m sure it’s rated R entirely for its profanity. When Sal turns on

that is, its scope remains small, allowing the audience to keep its distance, untouched and unengaged.

gag to overly spicy canapes. Jason Alexander and Sherie Rene Scott as Barry and Atalanta come off pretty well, given their inherent comic talents. They are much better than the material. Pico Alexander and Aimee Carrero as Freddie and Patty have the thankless job of being undeveloped foils. The best one can say of the wonderful Mary Testa as the nasty Mrs. Dragonetti is that she is fully committed to the part, but she deserves better. This is the kind of comedy that grew up in the years after World War II and made light of gender roles. During the Vietnam years, comedies like Simon’s played with established social structures even as they were being challenged by the Baby Boomers and changing sensibilities. They were intended as light diversions, reassuring but not to be taken too seriously. Times have changed, and what once was playful is now cringe-inducing and tone-deaf. Seen in that light, “The Portuguese Kid” is a kind of zombie. The best thing to do is shoot it in the head.

the radio and hears an Eminem song (which leads him and Mueller to talk about how much they hate hip-hop, although Sal doesn’t know that the rapper is white), Mueller complains about Eminem’s “sewer mouth.” This shows a massive lack of self-awareness, considering that “fuck” pops up in every other line of the film’s dialogue. But the film gets at the vulnerability behind the cussing and machismo. The actors do a great job of suggesting a friendship going back decades, suddenly picked up again.

䉴 LAST FLAG, continued on p.53

November 9 – November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


SOOMI KIM, from p.41

become a woman, given my loss. “After my mom passed away, my dad didn’t know what to do with himself so he got married by arrangement. So much drama, so Korean. I think my dad’s cousin was friends with this woman. There were some other women around — it was like the Mama Auditions. All of these things happened very quickly, and it was the worst period of my life, with everything suddenly being replaced. I’m a million times happier now.” Kim disdains the usual, often starkly foreboding concept of the one-person show, where the subject is center stage, often narcissistically nattering, arrogantly confident of

LAST FLAG, from p.52

Only Peter Straub’s novel “Koko” has achieved the same kind of depiction of Vietnam vets suddenly renewing old bonds with this much power. Working-class white men who voted for Donald Trump have been pro-

DISINTEGRATIONS, from p.48

poem. Did you write “The Disintegrations” with much awareness as to the form it was taking? AM: Yes and no. The book took me about eight or nine years to write, and one of the reasons for that was figuring out the right form to tell this story, to hold together the pieces I’d written. It was originally much longer and more traditionally structured, but I realized the structure wasn’t working and last year I did a pretty radical re-write and revisioning that arose organically.

ANGEL, from p.50

character. Similarly, coloratura soprano Audrey Luna pipes away in her whistle range incomprehensibly all night long as the opera singer Leticia (slightly less, however, than Luna was obliged to as the stratospheric Ariel in Adès’ “Tempest” at the Met five years ago). In contrast, lower-voiced singers like the veteran bass Sir John Tomlinson (as the voice of reason Dr. Conde), baritone Rod Gilfry, and the mezzos Alice Coote and Christine Rice provided vocal balm and

the audience’s total fascination with what they choose to spout. “I use movement and video as entry points to what’s happening on stage, where I start with spoken word,” Kim said. “I’m still exploring my process so this is a way of furthering that. “When I made ‘Chang(e),’ that opened me up to performance and politics, community activism. The actors’ world is very small — all me me me, my headshots! — as you try to climb the ladder. But that show opened me up to a wider picture: how can you create something that will provoke change? It was transformational.” I know from traditional Korean families, and trying to be an artist

(rather than a doctor) can be a hard nut to crack for them, so I asked Kim about this. “They’re past that point and are now, ‘Okay, as long as you’re happy,’” she said. “I’ve been doing it so long and living in New York, most of them are on the West Coast. I have a longterm partner [noted jazz guitarist Adam Rogers], who lives across the hall from me in the East Village, two separate studio apartments. We’re not married, but it’s a stable relationship, so I think from my family there’s a sort of acceptance, even admiration that I’ve pursued what I wanted to do. My dad was remarried twice, and I have two biological brothers, one half brother, and one step brother. And I am the only girl, so nobody is in a po-

sition to judge what I do.” Kim also went through a different kind of scarring experience many readers might be familiar with: getting dressed for school in the 1980s. “It was such an event, so stressful in that time of Flock of Seagulls and Madonna, Duran Duran, Culture Club, Bowie, Michael Jackson! So stressful. What am I going to wear? You needed all kinds of product because the bangs were teased, with the bad perm and the big earings. Then you needed your socks to match the belt which matched the earrings. I look around today, and kids have it so much easier. They dress however they want. Ohmigod, I remember so many bad hairdos!”

filed endlessly in the media, usually in ways that romanticize and patronize them at the same time. Linklater’s politics are far enough to the left that he allows his characters to be proud of their military service while raging against the wars they fought and that Doc’s son died in. Otherwise, this is

a depiction of the same demographic credited — rightly or wrongly — for Trump’s election. It speaks about the damage done to our country and its people by war, which has turned Sal into an alcoholic and Mueller into one who has traded booze for an addictive attachment to religion, in

a language that both progressives and conservatives should be able to understand. That’s a real feat, and I’m very curious how the film will be received when Lionsgate, the studio that brought America “The Hunger Games” and Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” puts it into wide release.

One thing I was always clear on was that even though I would use real names, this book is fiction. My stories are eulogies, but they’ve fictional eulogies. It’s impossible to access the truth of the dead. Like I say in the introduction, “Death makes fiction of us all.” DF: You became a US citizen in July, after a long immigration struggle, something your husband, the performance artist Tim Miller, has done great work on. What was that like? And can you talk about your identity as a writer — an Aus-

tralian writer, a gay writer, an immigrant writer, a California writer? Do you particularly ascribe to any of those monikers? Or do you find them limiting or unhelpful? AM: To be sworn in with over 4,000 new immigrants at the LA Convention Center was amazing and moving. For me, that only became possible when DOMA was overturned, and Tim and I were able to finally marry. For years we were living in great uncertainty, so becoming a citizen after more than 20 years of bureaucracy was a huge relief.

To answer the second part of the question, I think all those categories arise in this book. Some of the stories take place in Australia, much of it is rooted in California and LA. The narrator’s sense of distance from the past and from his own life is perhaps the predicament of the immigrant. And one of the recurring threads in “The Disintegrations” is the intersection between sex and death. But if I take up any moniker, it would be, to go back to the first question, obsession: I’m an obsessive writer who has to follow his obsessions through to the end.

clear diction all evening. Tenor Joseph Kaiser as the host Edmundo de Nobile overcame the awkward vocal writing, projecting compassion and humanity. The other two tenors, David Portillo and Frédéric Antoun, sounded attractively lyrical. David Adam Moore (who possesses a silent movie matinee idol profile), Sally Matthews, and Sophie Bevan made excellent Met debuts in the roles they created last year at the Salzburg premiere. Countertenor Iestyn Davies sang beautifully and avoided condescending caricature as the

overwrought Francisco de Ávila, a character the director-librettist and composer turn into something of a hysterical queen. Adès himself presided in the pit, giving an interpretation of unquestionable authority that the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra realized with stunning force and detail. The audience rewarded the composer with a standing ovation at the final curtain call; however several audience members managed to flee this operatic dinner party before it ended. Critics also either loved it or hated it. This critic al-

ternated loving and hating it over the course of the evening but recommends you remain after the intermission.

GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 2017

“The Exterminating Angel” will be transmitted internationally in HD on November 18 at 12:55 p.m.; visit metopera.org/Season/In-Cinemas/Theater-Finder for participating movie theaters. Eli Jacobson’s reviews of the New York City Opera production of “Dolores Claiborne” and “Crossing” at BAM are web exclusives at gaycitynews.nyc.

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November 9 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


In Tragedy’s Wake, Halloween Parade Carries On

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

O

n a beautifully crisp autumn day, the whimsical and faux-spooky spirit of Halloween was smashed by a horrifying terror attack on a Lower Manhattan bike bath that left eight people dead and at least 11 injured. In a city ca-

ELECTIONS, from p.14

historic Hotel Fauchere, that have restored the town’s position as a weekend getaway locale. The results in the New Jersey governor’s race were never in doubt. There, Democrat Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive who served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Germany for four years, trounced Republican Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, by 13 percentage points. Guadagno battled unsuc-

pable of almost unimaginable resilience, New York straightened its shoulders and let the show go on at the 44th annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade up Sixth Avenue from Houston Street, barely a mile from the real-world carnage. The event was a tribute to the spirit of wonderment that children and all the young at heart trea-

sure. The parade was full of Trump monsters, plenty of scary ghouls, goblins, witches, and spectral skeletons (including an undead Uncle Sam), but also several signs of hope or at least nostalgia with the likes of former President Barack Obama and the beloved late rocker Tom Petty.

cessfully to escape the taint of Governor Chris Christie, wildly unpopular in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal that came to light after his 2013 reelection and his obsequious devotion to Trump once the president’s nomination became clear last year. In New York, the next big question is Melissa Mark-Viverito’s successor as City Council speaker. Among those running are three gay incumbents — Chelsea’s Corey Johnson, Majority Leaader Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, and Ritchie

Torres, a Latino black man and the Bronx’s first out LGBTQ elected official. Other contenders are the Upper West Side’s Mark Levine, Upper Manhattan’s Ydanis Rodriguez, a Dominican immigrant, Donovan Richards, Jr., an African American from Queens, Brooklynite Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., who cochairs the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, and Jumaane Williams, who represents a large Caribbean constituency in Brooklyn. Williams, in a recent interview with Gay City News, sought to put

GayCityNews.nyc | November 9 – November 22, 2017

to rest concerns among progressives about his support for marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose. Rodriguez angered progressives this year by supporting longtime LGBTQ foe Ruben Diaz, Sr.’s run for the City Council. After two consecutive female speakers, no woman appears to be in contention. Julissa FerrerasCopeland, a Queens councilmember thought to be a strong candidate, surprised everyone when she announced earlier this year she would not seek reelection.

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November 9 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; November 22, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc

Gay City News  

November 9, 2017

Gay City News  

November 9, 2017