Page 1

A Second Court Rebukes Trump’s Trans Military Ban 04

Transgender Day of Remembrance Marked 23

LOVE STIRRED SLOWLY Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet Find Each Other in Luca Guadagnino’s Exquisite “Call Me By Your Name” Page 27





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In This Issue COVER STORY Love stirs slowly: Armie Hammer & Timothée Chalamet 27 CRIME Abel Cedeno pleads “not guilty” 04 CIVIL RIGHTS Trans professor wins $1.2 MM bias verdict 06 RELIGION “Fix” doesn’t take 14

PERSPECTIVE Celebrating Diane Torr: drag king of kings 16 TRAVEL Kauai’s splendid underdevelopment 24 GALLERY Michelangelo’s process revealed 26 THEATER An Arrow Collar Man romance 28

Coming of Age Gay In Africa, America 30


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“Not Guilty” Plea in Bronx Bully Slay Case Abel Cedeno’s attorneys plan to argue self-defense, voice concern about witnesses’ safety BY ANDY HUMM


bel Cedeno, 18, the bullied Bronx gay teen who says he was acting in self-defense against an assault in class on September 27 when he killed Matthew McCree, 15, and wounded Ariane Laboy, 16, with a knife that he had recently bought for protection, appeared in Bronx Criminal Court on November 15 and pleaded “not guilty” to charges of manslaughter, assault, and criminal possession of a weapon. Cedeno attorney Christopher R. Lynn acknowledged that his client


On November 15, Abel Cedeno, 18, who faces manslaughter charges in the fatal stabbing of Matthew McCree, pleaded “not guilty.”

had a knife, but said that he suffered “an extreme emotional disturbance” under the pressure of relentless bullying that he had endured since the sixth grade. While much has been made of the fact that Cedeno had not been bullied by McCree and Laboy before, Cedeno told Gay City News that he knew they had recently assaulted his friend Brandon, knew them to be members of an armed gang, and was sure he was “going to die” when they attacked him in class. Lynn charged that McCree and

ABEL CEDENO, continued on p.5


Trump’s Ban on Military Trans Reassignment Surgery Blocked Second federal court goes further than another in rebuking president’s new policy on troops BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


second federal district judge has issued a preliminary injunction against implementation of President Donald Trump’s August 25 memorandum implementing his July 26 tweet that announced a ban on all military service by transgender individuals. The November 21 action by Judge Marvin J. Garbis of the Maryland District Court came just three weeks after a federal judge in the District of Columbia, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, issued a preliminary injunction against two directives in Trump’s three-part memo. Garbis took the next step, enjoining implementation of all three directives, finding that the plaintiff group represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in this case includes at least two individuals with standing to challenge the directive against the military providing sex reassignment procedures for military personnel. In his August 25 memorandum, Trump directed that all transgender service members be discharged, beginning no later than


March 23, 2018, and that the existing ban on enlistment of transgender service members, scheduled to end this coming January 1, be extended indefinitely. The president’s third directive provided that after March 23 the Defense Department cease providing sex reassignment surgery for transgender personnel, with possible exceptions in cases where procedures were already underway and failure to complete them would endanger an individual’s health. (Of course, such an individual, being identified as transgender, would be subject to discharge under the first directive in any event.) On September 24, Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued his own memorandum, establishing an “interim policy” under which he would meet Trump’s deadline of submitting a “plan to implement the policy and directives in the Presidential Memorandum” by February 21, but until then, there would be no immediate effect on individual service members. The ACLU filed this lawsuit on August 8. Three other lawsuits challenging the transgender ban are pending. One filed on August 9 in the DC District Court has al-

ready resulted in Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s preliminary injunction. The others are pending in the district courts in Seattle and Los Angeles. Judge Garbis leaned heavily on Kollar-Kotelly’s October 30 ruling for much of his analysis, agreeing with her that heightened judicial scrutiny applies to the plaintiffs’ equal protection claim and that the usual judicial deference to military policy decisions by the Executive Branch was not appropriate here. The judge took particular note of an amicus brief filed by retired military officers and former national security officials, who had written that “this is not a case where deference is warranted, in light of the absence of any considered military policymaking process, and the sharp departure from decades of precedent on the approach of the US military to major personnel policy changes.” Garbis continued, “President Trump’s tweets did not emerge from a policy review, nor did the Presidential Memorandum identify any policymaking process or evidence demonstrating that the revocation of transgender rights was necessary for any legitimate national interest. Based on the

circumstances surrounding the President’s announcement and the departure from normal procedure, the Court agrees with the DC Court that there is sufficient support for Plaintiffs’ claims that ‘the decision to exclude transgender individuals was not driven by genuine concerns regarding military efficacy.’” Garbis, in fact, concluded that heightened scrutiny was not even necessary to rule on the plaintiffs’ behalf. “The lack of any justification for the abrupt policy change, combined with the discriminatory impact to a group of our military service members who have served our country capably and honorably, cannot possibly constitute a legitimate governmental interest,” he wrote, so it would fail the minimally demanding “rationality test” applied to all government policies. Garbis also closely followed Kollar-Kotelly’s analysis of the grounds for jurisdiction in this case, rejecting the government’s argument that since Mattis had not yet made his implementation recommendations to the presi-

TRUMPED, continued on p.39

November 23 – November 29, 2017 |


ABEL CEDENO, from p.4

Laboy were part of the 800 YGZ (for “young gunnersâ€?) gang that terrorizes the neighborhood and specializes in robbing people of their cell phones for profit. He said that McCree has older male family members who are also part of the gang. At an October 30 City Council hearing on school bullying, McCree family attorney Sanford Rubenstein said he was unaware whether McCree had gang involvement and Schools Chancellor Carmen FariĂąa would not comment pending a Department of Education investigation of the school. Lynn took exception to the characterization of McCree and Laboy as “victimsâ€? by the district attorney since it was they, he contends, who attacked Cedeno. “He was pummeled before he took any action,â€? Lynn’s co-counsel Robert Feldman said after the proceeding. They ran up to him thinking Abel Cedeno was too much of a ‘sissy’ to do anything.â€? According to Cedeno, McCree saw that he was displaying a knife to defend himself and attacked him

anyway — despite another student trying to hold McCree back. Laboy, Cedeno said, joined in the attack on him. “I never intended to hurt anyone,â€? Cedeno told Gay City News earlier. The courtroom was packed with the family and supporters of both Cedeno and McCree, whose family is suing the city for $25 million for failing to install metal detectors in Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation or to enforce the state anti-bullying law — the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA). Attorney Rubenstein is now also seeking the dismissal of FariĂąa, who has launched an enhanced anti-bullying campaign for the schools in the wake of this case. Since September 27, 30 students from Urban Assembly have been granted safety transfers from what has become known as “the zoo schoolâ€? not just for its focus on conservation, but for its chaotic atmosphere. The district attorney’s office emphasizes that the incident “traumatizedâ€? those in the classroom who witnessed it, but Department of Education surveys showed that students and teachers there re-

garded the school as an unsafe environment long before the CedenoMcCree incident. “Nobody had the kids under control,� McCree’s brother told the Daily News. Another student at the school attempted suicide in February due to incessant bullying. The case is being heard by Judge William I. Mogulescu, who has been serving on the Bronx Supreme Court bench since 1998. Cedeno, according to the judge, may be entitled to “youthful offender� status since he has no prior record — in which case he is not facing 50 years for two B-class felonies but five years. Lynn said they will argue that Cedeno was acting in self-defense. He added that he will seek to have witnesses in the case, which resumes November 29, testify in a closed courtroom “because there is a conspiracy to silence the classroom eyewitnesses� by friends of McCree, many of whom, he said, are also gang members. “The teachers from the classroom are on administrative leave and lawyered up and not talking to any-

body,� Lynn said. Bail in the case was originally set at $500,000, but Cedeno’s attorneys are arguing that it be lowered. They are endeavoring to raise the necessary bond and are getting close with pledges not just from people in the LGBTQ community but, according to Lynn, also from State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. and his Pentecostal congregation. Diaz, who has a long record of opposition to LGBTQ rights, has taken a keen interest in aiding Cedeno’s family. Cedeno’s mother, Luz Hernandez, is from the same part of Puerto Rico that Diaz is and met with him after her son’s arrest to seek his help. Hernandez met with school authorities several times to get them to stop the bullying of her son, “but they said, ‘Ignore it and be a better person,’� she said outside the courtroom. McCree’s mother, Louna Dennis, said, “If Abel Cedeno was being bullied, I feel sorry, I’m sorry for him, but he was not being bullied by my boy.� The only thing both families agree on is that the schools failed their children.

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Transgender Prof Wins $1.2 Million Bias Verdict Southeastern Oklahoma State University, undaunted by judge’s rebuff, went to jury trial BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


ess than a month after a federal district court judge refused to dismiss a transgender woman’s job discrimination case against Southeastern Oklahoma State University, a jury has found in favor of the plaintiff, Dr. Rachel Tudor, in the amount of $1.165 million. Tudor was a male-identified tenure track faculty member at the university when she informed officials at Southeastern Oklahoma that she was transitioning. Tudor brought her lawsuit against the university under the employment provisions of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act barring discrimination based on sex. According to District Judge Robin J. Cauthron’s October 26 opinion allowing her to proceed with her case, Tudor alleged that after informing officials of her plans, “she began suffering significant discrimination and harassment. The alleged discrimination culminated in denial of her application for tenure and dismissal

Dr. Rachel Tudor.

from the University.” The motion on which Cauthron ruled was the university’s bid for summary judgment on all counts. But the judge found Tudor’s pleadings sufficient to ground actionable charges under Title VII and that material questions of fact had to be determined. Cauthron rejected the attempt by the university to minimize the frequency and severity of incidents on which Tudor relied in alleging a hostile environment. She also noted that in prior rulings the court had rejected the university’s argument that 10th Circuit precedent made Title VII protection unavailable to a transgender

woman alleging discrimination because of her gender identity. The university was relying on a frequentlycited case from 2007, Etsitty v. Utah Transit Authority. Employers facing discrimination claims routinely overstate the significance of that precedent, which, in any case, predated significant developments in Title VII employment case law. There is now widespread agreement in the federal judiciary that employees who transition are protected under the sex discrimination ban in Title VII, although some employers haven’t yet caught up to this understanding. Cauthron also found that Tudor’s complaint alleged multiple plausible grounds for a retaliation claim. The judge’s denial of the university’s motion for summary judgment on all counts came in a stronglyworded opinion, and writing then in LGBT Law Notes, this reporter suggested “the university would be welladvised to seek a settlement.” It did not follow that course of action, and on November 20, an Oklahoma jury agreed that Tudor had

suffered discrimination barred by federal law. Tudor is represented by Brittany M. Novotny of Oklahoma City, Ezra I. Young, then with the Law Office of Jillian T. Weiss in upstate Tuxedo Park, and Marie E Galindo of Lubbock Texas. Tudor’s suit was filed jointly with the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, though the DOJ, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, withdrew from the case earlier this year, exemplifying the Trump administration’s rejection of conclusions on this issue shared by President Barack Obama’s two attorneys general. The attorney general of Oklahoma, who defended the university in this case, had no immediate comment on the jury verdict, but it would not be surprising if an appeal were filed with the 10th Circuit, especially since the 2007 case makes it uncertain as to how far it is willing to go in recognizing gender identity discrimination claims under Title VII. But the trend in other circuits is in a clear direction of broader coverage. — Additional reporting by Paul Schindler


Polish Divorce, New York Style Judge waives residency requirement for overseas couple wowed by chance for Gotham wedding BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


ew York’s Domestic Relations Law sets residency requirements for married couples seeking to divorce in the state, which vary in length — one or two years, depending upon whether they were married in New York and have lived in the state continuously. This creates a problem for a same-sex couple who came to New York to marry and then returned home to a jurisdiction that does not recognize their marriage. The problem is compounded, of course, if they want to divorce without at least one of them establishing residency here.


This was the problem faced by Andrzej Gruszczynski and Wiktor Jerzy Twarkowski, Polish citizens who were married in the New York City Clerk’s Manhattan Marriage Bureau on December 6, 2013, having traveled to New York specifically for that purpose before returning to their home in Warsaw. After a few years, they “mutually decided” to end their marriage, according to Justice Matthew F. Cooper’s October 26 opinion in the matter, which explained, “because Poland does not recognize same-sex marriage in any form, the parties could not turn to their local courts to obtain a divorce.” After receiving legal advice to file for divorce in New York State,

Gruszczynski filed papers in New York County’s “uncontested matrimonial calendar” in September 2016, noting the two men have no children, no assets to divide, and no request by either for alimony. The matrimonial clerk, however, finding that the men’s residency in Poland meant the one-year New York residency requirement had not been met, refused to accept Gruszczynski’s filing. Their lawyer, Livius Ilasz, then filed a motion with Justice Cooper, seeking an order permitting an uncontested divorce despite the lack of residence. Cooper’s summary of Ilasz’s motion explained that the two men “stress that if New York refuses to entertain the proceeding,

they will face the prospect of being unable to find any forum in which they can be divorced.” The motion called on Cooper to use the court’s equitable powers to waive the residency requirement and allow them to dissolve their marriage. The case harkens back to the “wed-lock” phenomenon experienced by US same-sex couples prior to June 26, 2015, at which time same-sex marriage — and divorce — became available in every state. Occasional media reports cited judges in states without marriage equality who were earlier than that willing to bend the rules to help out local residents married out of state

DIVORCE, continued on p.38

November 23 – November 29, 2017 | | November 23 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Novembe r 29, 2017



Anti-Gay Wedding Venue’s First Amendment Claims Advance Proprietor barred from farmer’s market by local bias ordinance finds sympathetic US judge BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


federal judge in Michigan has refused to dismiss a farmer’s lawsuit claiming he was unconstitutionally excluded from participating in a farmer’s market because of his policy against allowing same-sex couples to marry on his farm, which also serves as a popular wedding venue. The case presents an unusual example of “extraterritorial” application of a city’s anti-discrimination law. Stephen Tennes is the proprietor of Country Mill Farms, LLC, in Charlotte, Michigan, about 22 miles from East Lansing. He operates a working farm that hosts weddings in its orchard. Country Mill started participating in East Lansing’s farmer’s Market in 2011 and did so through the 2016 season. However, in 2014,


Stephen Tennes, with his family, is trying to protect his right to participate in the farmer’s market in East Lansing, Michigan, even while his nearby farm discriminates against same-sex couples wishing to avail themselves of the venue’s wedding services.

Tennes turned down two women who wanted to have their wedding in his orchard. His religious be-

liefs, he said, are opposed to samesex marriage and “promoting and participating” in a same-sex wed-

ding would violate those beliefs.

FARM WEDDING, continued on p.9

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FARM WEDDING, from p.8

He referred the women to another orchard in the area that also hosted weddings, and he thought that was the end of the matter. But, according to a November 16 opinion by District Judge Paul L. Maloney, one of the women on August 22 of last year posted a message on Facebook “discouraging people from patronizing Country Mill because Tennes had declined to host her wedding.” That posting quickly came to Tennes’ attention. Two days later, he posted a statement about his religious beliefs on Facebook, expressing the view that marriage is a “sacramental union between one man and one woman” and that he honored this belief by hosting and participating in different-sex weddings on his farm. He said he would refer requests for same-sex weddings to another orchard in the area that was happy to host them. Two days later, Tennes claims, he received a phone call from the East Lansing Parks and Recreation director asking that Country Mill not attend the scheduled farmer’s market on August 28. Then, Tennes said, “under pressure from the city,” he decided to temporarily stop booking any weddings at Country Mill, posting his decision on Facebook and informing East Lansing officials, as well. The city did not rescind its request that he refrain from participating in the farmer’s market, but he continued to attend for the remainder of the season. Last December 16, Tennes posted a lengthier statement of policy on the farm’s Facebook page, explaining his belief that his business has a First Amendment right to “express and act upon its beliefs.” Around the same time, East Lansing amended the vendor guidelines governing the farmer’s market to require that all participants comply with the city’s civil rights ordinance and public policy against discrimination “while at the Farmer’s Market and as a general business practice.” Since Country Mill could not attest to that on its vendor license application, it was formally excluded from the 2017 farmer’s market, prompting this lawsuit. In a letter to Tennes, the

city referred to his December 16 Facebook post to explain why it rejected his application. Country Mill is outside the East Lansing city limits, so it is not formally subject to its civil rights laws, and because the state of Michigan does not ban sexual orientation discrimination by places of public accommodation, samesex couples denied access to the farm for their marriage have no legal recourse. (Interestingly, the East Lansing ban on sexual orientation discrimination was one of the earliest to be enacted in the US — dating back to 1972 — and now protects all LGBTQ people.) Tennes filed a multi-count complaint in federal court, alleging speech and religion violations of the First Amendment and due process and equal protection violations of the 14th Amendment. The city filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in its entirety, pointing to numerous decisions by courts in many states that have rejected claims by businesses that they have a constitutional right to refuse wedding-related services to same-sex couples. But this is an unusual case, and Judge Maloney found those decisions to be relevant to some of Tennes’ claims but not to others. Maloney allowed Tennes to pursue a challenge under the First Amendment, focusing on provisions of the ordinance that on their face could be characterized as “content and viewpoint speech regulation,” noting particularly the anti-harassment provisions, which broadly sweep in activities including printing and publishing “certain statements and signs based on their content.” Maloney found that at this early stage of the litigation, the city “has not articulated a compelling reason” to dismiss this facial challenge. The judge also found that the city had not “identified an ultimately persuasive reason” for dismissing Tennes’ claim that the ordinance was overly broad by defining “harassment” to “include communication, not just conduct.” “The ordinance would be implicated by negative statements made by [farmer’s market] vendors against same-sex couples and interracial couples and negative | November 23 – Novembe r 29, 2017

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FARM WEDDING, continued on p.39



Kate Millett, Feminist and Bi Pioneer, Celebrated Author in 1970 of “Sexual Politics,” she was the face of women’s rights Second Wave


Singer/ songwriter Holly Near greets Gloria Steinem at Kate Millett’s memorial.



ate Millett, author of the 1970 “Sexual Politics” that became the bible of Second Wave Feminism, was celebrated and sorely missed by hundreds at her New York memorial service on November 9. Millett died of a heart attack in her beloved Paris on September 6 at age 82 on a visit there with her spouse, Sophie Keir, her partner for 39 years. “Don’t you wish we could read Kate on Harvey Weinstein?” said Gloria Steinem, 83, to gales of laughter in the Unitarian Church on Central Park West. The service was attended by many from the feminist movement instrumental in changing the status of women radically 50 years ago, an achievement not without a corresponding massive resistance then that continues to this day with the Trump backlash. In January, Millett, in a wheelchair and holding a sign with her name on it, was at the head of the historic Women’s March in New York against Trump the day after his inauguration — one of many dozen demonstrations that turned out masses in cities throughout the country and around the world. Steinem recalled reading some of


the material that became “Sexual Politics” and thinking, “Is it possible that a female American human being could be a global intellectual?” Such was the power of Millett’s Columbia University thesis that became an improbable bestseller and culture-shifting manifesto. An uncharacteristically unsmiling Millett was pictured on the cover of Time magazine in August 1970 as “Kate Millett of Women’s Lib,” the kind of fame that made her uncomfortable in a movement that she saw as only succeeding based on collective efforts. In December that same year, the center-right Time played up Millett’s bisexuality to tear her and the movement down — something some skittish feminists like Betty Friedan played into (later labeling lesbians in feminism “the lavender menace”). But lesbians such as Barbara Love and Ivy Bottini staged a show of feminist solidarity with Millett that included Steinem, who said at the service, “She let me hold her hand at the press conference and we got to be an item for two weeks.” Yoko Ono, who met Millett as a sister artist, said, “Her smile was not the kind you see on anyone else. It was part of her body and beautiful.” Lisa Millett Rau, now a Philadelphia judge, said, “We knew Aunt Kate as an artist first, sitting on the

Yoko Ono said of Millett, “Her smile was not the kind you see on anyone else.”

floor with us, doing art, and talking to us like adults.” She added, “If there was a bully around, Kate would go after them,” including a perilous mission to Iran after the Islamic revolution in 1979 when Iranian feminists invited her to a women’s conference there. Eleanor Pam of Veteran Feminists of America, which sponsored the service and that Millett co-founded, recalled her “intimate sparring partner and friend,” how when they lived on the Bowery “Kate embraced downward mobility” and how Millett “fell in love easily and often.” When Millett did make decent money from “Sexual Politics,” she plowed it into a farm in Poughkeepsie that became a women’s art colony and became Kate Millett Farm. Many of the feminist activists and artists who frequented it over the decades came to celebrate her at the service. Lesbian feminist Linda Clarke called her friend of 50 years “an improbable celebrity who was first an intellectual and a bookworm.” She called her someone “who changed the world, all the while doing it with an unruly mind.” Cynthia MacAdams, the photographer famous for capturing images of Second Wave feminists in their early revolutionary days, called Millett “a great teacher, a

Lesbian activist Linda Clarke said Millett was “an improbable celebrity who was first an intellectual and a bookworm.”


The program for Kate Millett’s memorial service.

great lover, and a great artist… Be a warrior as Kate was.” Kathleen Turner read a brief tribute from Hillary Clinton and a longer one from Millett’s longtime comrade Robin Morgan that included this exhortation: “A feminist generation is marching again, this time into shadow. Another generation will march into the sun.” Holly Near led the assembled in the women’s labor anthem “Bread and Roses” and “Singing for Our Lives,” which she wrote in the wake of Harvey Milk’s assassination in 1978 — reminding us “we are a gentle, angry people and we are singing for our lives.”

November 23 – November 29, 2017 |


Accepting Your Age and the Youth Among You Second in a series on gay men experiencing their older years BY PERRY BRASS


everal years ago, a gay man, at that time a neighbor of mine, walked into my living room and stopped in front of the coffee table. “You shouldn’t have that out,” Bryan said, pointing to a copy of AARP Magazine. “You can pass for a lot younger person. You have the looks and walk of a younger guy. Why tell people your age if you don’t have to?” Bryan was at an awkward age himself: his mid-40s, just entering middle age, and after a lifetime of being young, the thought of being older and gay was scaring the hell out of him. I had to tell him the truth: I really didn’t hide my age. Most people knew it; after all, as a writer, it’s pretty public information. I had, when I was younger, gone through the age heebie-jeebies a lot, much more so in my early and middle 20s than at any other time. I had come out into the world in my teens — sneaking into gay bars at 17 — and when you are a kid in the queer world you do get a lot of attention. There is no arguing about that. My great fear, certainly by my mid-20s, was that it would just disappear, along with any attraction other men had toward me. It’s a terrible fear — I know that — and endemic in the gay world where it seems like almost every periodical is filled with ads for plastic surgery, cosmetic enhancers, hair restorers, penis lifters, and other means to roll back the years. I admit I am not 100-percent immune to it: I have used a moisturizer most of my life and adhere to a regimen of exercise and diet I have been on for decades. I like the fact that at 70 I have a lot of mobility, stamina, and strength — but the idea of hiding my age is not something I can make myself do. In my futurist novel “Carnal Sacraments,” a man who looks so much younger than his actual age of 78 is dancing with a younger man in a club who suddenly looks at him and says, “You just can’t be that old!” Our culture makes age into a hor-



In Perry Brass’ futuristic novel “Carnal Sacraments,” a young man finds it hard to believe his dance partner is 78.


Perry Brass, a pioneering activist from the earliest post-Stonewall years, writes about the issues facing gay men as they age.

rifying handicap when it shouldn’t be. I have always found older men extremely attractive, even when I was in my 20s, though at that point my contemporaries thought I just had “strange tastes.” What I liked about older men — meaning, at that point, men in their 40s and even 50s — was the self-possession they had, that they fit into their own world. My young friends did not have that — they were working too hard to find a place in their own. The bad side of this equation though is that older men often cannot resist that impulse either to give advice you’re not interested in — kind of “eat your spinach,” like your Mom, and “do your job”— or to compare their own generation to

the next one in a way that finds the younger one lacking somehow. Every older generation does have this pernicious desire to do that, and when I have seen older guys doing this to kids… well, I cringe. There was nothing in my youth that I find so exalted that it needs to be a model for younger people now. The fabled “free love” 1960s and 1970s had enough downsides — rampant racism and sexism, the Viet Nam War, crime and violence on the streets, just to name a few — that I would not want a return to them for anything. There were definitely good sides, and much of that was simply economic: it was a lot cheaper to be young then (or any age). Young people really need and deserve an economic freedom that

they don’t have now. I did crazy things when I was a kid, like going to Europe at 21 for the first time with $80 in my pocket — and spending three months there. My companions were often stoned hippies, I learned how to survive freezing-cold showers, 10th-rate hotels, and bed bugs, but it was a great adventure that I loved. You couldn’t do that now, but maybe you shouldn’t have to. Today, kids have the Internet and they can find out what’s ahead for them, what resources are available to them, and even how to crowdsource their first trip abroad. Young people at 21 probably know a lot more than I did then, certainly as far as financial sophistication is concerned (everything now is so much about money), but what I did know was how to get along in the “big world.” I had been trained to socialize well, and to be, as a form of courtesy, curious about other people, their lives and feelings. That came from my growing up in the South at a time when so much of life required a tie and jacket. As Dick Leitsch, the last president of the Mattachine Society, who had grown up in Kentucky, once said to me, “We were trained to be belles.”

PERRY BRASS, continued on p.15

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For this Southern Evangelical Gay Man, the “Fix” Failed Sheldon Rogers still sings in church, as a voice for welcoming LGBTQ people into the fold BY NATHAN DICAMILLO


very summer at church camp, Sheldon Rogers asked God to fi x him. “I would spend my days praying away the gay and my nights fantasizing about my counselors,” Rogers said. “Freud would have had a field day with me.” Camp was where kids went to renew their faith but also to be “delivered from demons.” One girl went up before her fellow campers to be delivered from “sexual impurity,” which was code for premarital sex. After 20 minutes of the group praying in tongues face down on the carpet and shaking, she vomited. Not surprisingly, the environment was toxic for Rogers. He never felt compelled to ask to be delivered from homosexuality in this way. “Looking back, I think that was God’s way of looking out for me,” he said. “I don’t think I was ever convicted to be delivered from it because I feel like that was God’s way of saying I didn’t need to be.” Now, Rogers is one of the most active church-going people in his extended Southern family. He’s a worship leader at Forefront Manhattan Church, a LGBTQ-accepting church in the West Village, and also the social media and outreach director for Grafted NYC, a non-profit that connects LGBTQ Christians with each other. At 31, he works full-time at a reality TV production company while pursuing a career in music. Rogers has been in the church for most of his life but was only able to be open about his sexuality in a church when he came to New York and joined Forefront Manhattan. He grew up on a farm in Waxhaw, North Carolina, a small town with less than 10,000 people. Part of the “Southern community mentality” in Waxhaw was the unspoken code about things polite Christians didn’t talk about: sex, drugs, alcohol, smoking. So when his mother, Paula Rogers, found a picture of a male model among her son’s things and asked



Sheldon Rogers hopes to pursue a music career and plays guitar as part of his worship leadership at Forefront Manhattan, an LGBTQ-affirming congregation that holds its services at the LGBT Community Center on West 13th Street.

him if he was gay, he didn’t want to talk about it. “I brushed it off, and I was like, ‘Mom it will never happen again,’” he said. “It obviously kept happening.” Rogers’ mom knew before her son did what it was like to be shunned by the church. When she divorced her husband, she was told not to come on Sundays anymore. Rogers was always best friends with his mom. He felt ashamed of being different than his brothers and cousins. He didn’t like to play basketball at family reunions. He loved theater and the arts. When he was eight, she was usually the one who drove him to auditions.

“We always sang together in the car,” he said. “When I was young we actually tried to form a mother and son country gospel duo…. She would always sing us lullabies.” He came out to his mom when he was 23 years old. He was in a relationship with a man whom he thought he might marry and felt it would be a disservice to not tell his family. He sat down by her bedside late one night. “I was like, ‘You might have noticed I’ve been talking a lot on the phone with someone,’” he said. “Yeah, I have,” she replied. “I’m dating somebody.”

“Okay… Is this somebody a boy or a girl?” She didn’t waste any time. He hesitated. “It’s a boy.” “Okay.” “I don’t know how you feel about this, but I care about this person,” he said. “I want him to be a part of my life, and I want him to be a part of your life if that’s okay.” She paused. “Sheldon, when you become a parent, the only thing you ever want in your life after that moment is for your child to be happy,” she said. “You want to protect them from everything that will make them feel bad and you want to keep them safe from anything that might harm them, but most of all you want them to be happy… Are you happy?” “Yeah, Mom, I’m really happy,” he said. “That’s all I want,” she said. They sat in silence. She sat upright in her bed. “So what’s his name? Where’s he from? Is he cute? Do you have any pictures?” These moments were few and far between for Rogers. After college, he lived in Minnesota for a year, worked at Hersheypark in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a few years, and moved to New York in October 2013. “I wish I would have cherished that moment a little more,” he said. In February 2015, Roger’s mom died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism. “We just understood each other,” he said. “She was always my biggest supporter. We had a much stronger relationship than I had with my dad or stepdad.” Roger’s mom nurtured her son’s talent. She knew he loved to sing since he was very young. One Sunday when he was three, Rogers crawled under the pews at church to sing all the lyrics of “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” in front of the whole congregation. “He has been singing his entire life,” Candace Pappas, who’s known Rogers since they both were five-

STILL SINGING, continued on p.15

November 23 – November 29, 2017 |

STILL SINGING, from p.14

years-old in Waxhaw, said. Pappas and Rogers sang in choir together in middle school and both went to Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina. Pappas saw Rogers get teased a lot for being different growing up. “I was like, ‘this is garbage,’” she said. Theater and music was one of the ways he could escape. Pappas has seen him gain confidence since coming out. “He owns himself now,” she said. “He’s so much happier and less guarded.” He now works hard to devote time to music while balancing his full-time work and hopes to release some original music next year and collaborate with friends. He has been a worship leader for his church for almost a year — a position he would have been denied in the churches he went to growing up. “Forefront has been unapologetically affirming for a couple of years now,” Rogers said. Rogers helped his pastor, Travis Eades, and other Forefront Manhattan staff learn how to serve the LGBTQ community in a way that wasn’t alienating. Justin Nieto met Rogers through Grafted NYC and was inspired by seeing another Christian who was gay stand up for LGBTQ rights within the church. “He was really adamant about creating opportunities to use his voice and to move forward with

PERRY BRASS, from p.12

That was the truth. I wish more of us would remember that. Not every one of us is going to be a “Southern belle,” but some of that training has genuinely helped me in growing older, allowing me to not be so focused on myself, but rather secure enough in myself to let other people in. And also to remember that I still get this huge kick out of life — and that in itself is very young and sexy. This is the second in a series of articles by Perry Brass on gay aging. Future pieces in the series will focus on loss and not being alone, on housing solutions, on sexuality and

this issue,” Nieto said. “He’s been a real pioneer in his church.” Eades also came out of a Southern evangelical background. “I also had a hard time with a lot of the aspects of my religious upbringing, and the way we treated people,” Eades said. Rogers experienced the treatment that Eades had only observed, and the church benefits from his experience. “He helped us understand how we can avoid tokenizing our LGBTQ brothers and sisters,” Eades said. Rogers is honest but not abrasive. “He has learned to be completely laser focused honest with what he thinks and feels,” Eades said. “But he will offer that up in a gracious and articulate way.” Because of budgeting issues caused by losing financial backing because it is affirming of LGBTQ people, the church has moved to the LGBT Community Center at 208 West 13th Street. “I was very surprised by that,” Rogers said. “I wasn’t sure whether it would polarize our congregation too much.” Rogers’ leadership has been a critical part of Forefront’s ministry to LGBTQ people, and serving in an affirming church has been a dream he’s had for a while. Now, he fulfills that dream every Sunday. “I didn’t think about how members would think about having a gay worship leader,” Rogers said. “I just knew that my church needed my help.”

its changing formats, among other issues. His 19 books include the novels “The Substance of God,” “Carnal Sacraments,” and “King of Angels,” and the classic gay self-help book “How to Survive Your Own Gay Life,” as well as “The Manly Art of Seduction” and “The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love.” You can learn more about these books at his new blog at or at perrybrass. com. A member of New York’s radical Gay Liberation Front, in 1972, with two friends, he co-founded the Gay Men’s Health Project Clinic, the first clinic specifically for gay men on the East Coast, still operating as the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. | November 23 – Novembe r 29, 2017





Long Live the King! Celebrating Diane Torr




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:

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unday afternoon, I gussied myself up and was at the door putting on my red shoes when I realized I was still wearing puffy white athletic socks. I was going to a memorial at Dixon Place for Diane Torr, a remarkable artist, extraordinary human, and king of all drag kings everywhere, who died in May. So of course I stopped and changed. The first time I met Diane, we were both on the bill for a fundraiser at Jennifer Monson’s Williamsburg loft that in 1992 did double duty as a dance studio and performance space called the Matzoh Factory. There was nothing legendary about the encounter. I had to piss and she was hogging the bathroom. “Come on in,” she said in her slightly Scottish lilt. “Don’t mind me.” And when I hesitated — because I’d never met this slightly stocky woman in trousers and a man’s shirt, squinting in concentration as she used eyeliner or something to draw a beard on her face, or maybe it was a mustache — she said, “I promise not to look.” I wasn’t so sure. She had a wicked gleam in her eye. And as a newly minted dyke, nearly fresh off the bus from Kentucky, I declined the offer, and had to read my poems with a busting bladder. Of course I almost peed myself when she performed. Diane did experimental dance, performance, and film, but that night she was my first drag king, and her work shook me as much as the Five Lesbian Brothers, whom I’d seen not long before and were so unapologetically raunchily, lustfully, and lesbianishly perverse that I blushed all night long. As for drag performers, I’d seen drag queens in their high heels and big hair at a gay bar in Lexington where there were rumors of knife fights. And then again in New York en masse the time I’d been caught in the middle of the Halloween Parade. But Diane was something else. She crackled with an energy fueled in part by anger, sex, and more than a little mischievous glee as she crossed boundaries you weren’t supposed to. A woman making dick jokes and pulling one out of her pants!? Impossible. How she strides across the floor! How her form grows in mass and density as her largely feminine body accepts


Scottish-born performance artist Diane Torr was the drag king of kings.

the mantle of masculinity! Her performance was alternately an exploration, a critique, and maybe, revenge. She ran away from a violent, alcoholic father, and got dumped in reform school for her pains, where she had to fight to be allowed an academic education. She never took “no” for an answer, and won, of course, even going on to college. Then, in ‘70s London, got radicalized as a feminist and Marxist, and studied dance before she moved to New York in ‘76 and discovered the downtown art and performance scene. She wasn’t the only one who worked as a go-go dancer to pay the bills, but she was one of the few to defend her rights. All that was in the delight and power she claimed with every step in front of the crowd at the Matzoh Factory. Yeah, this girl from Aberdeen that was supposed to be a shop assistant or factory worker can put on a suit and tie and take up as much space as you, you fucking wanker. There’s not some magic power in your body. She was committed to sharing the experience through her drag king workshops, which she’d launched just a couple years before. She later renamed them “Man for a Day,” when drag kings exploded in popularity, leaning more and more toward entertainment and humor. As hilarious as she could be, her

“Man for a Day” project, teaching women to pass, wasn’t a joke. And certainly not just a “performance” meant to fuel the work of gender theorists, as that word “performance” increasingly minimizes the consequences of how we express gender. How we get beat up for it, raped, ignored, and marginalized. At 5’3” she learned aikido to defend herself on the streets. In a clip of a documentary they showed at the memorial Sunday, she explained that part of the attraction of going out in drag was the vacation it gave her from being Diane. From being a woman in public. It wasn’t just about danger. “If you walk into a room as a man, you are seen. Walk in as a woman, and you’re checked out. By both men and women. To see if you are sexy. At least until you’re 35 or 40, then you aren’t seen at all.” As a man, though, she existed. Was suddenly human. That’s the gist of what she said anyway. I wasn’t taking notes, and was suddenly overcome with loss at the sound of her voice in the room, her kind face. It is impossible that this artist, this groundbreaking human… is gone. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.

November 23 – November 29, 2017 |


Rump, Rose, Moore, Tambor & a Monstrous “Frankenstien” BY (((ED SIKOV)))


rump Risks Hypocrisy Charges with Franken Attack,” The Hill informs us. No shit, Sherlock. In fact, given Rump’s history with women accusing him of sexual predation, there is no risk at all — his Twitter attacks on Franken are pure hypocrisy — and no charges need to be filed, except maybe by law enforcement. It’s been an exhausting couple of weeks, as more famous and powerful men than you can count on your fingers and toes have been named as instigators of unwanted sexual advances at the very least, with rape at the top of the heap, by more women and men than you can count on the fingers and toes of five or six of your closest friends. Fortunately, late-night television writers haven’t lost their sense of humor. “As a fellow comedian, I long admired Al Franken,” Stephen Colbert said one night last week. “But I’ve got to say, this does not bode well for Louis C.K.’s Senate hopes.” This week, Franken’s troubles widened, with a woman coming forward to say he “put his hand full-fledged on my rear” as her husband took a photo of the two of them at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. (The couple now live in Texas, perhaps less than wowed with the legendary “Minnesota Nice.”) But particularly appalling among accusations that have surfaced recently is one from a transgender woman, Trace Lysette, who plays a character named Shea on the series “Transparent.” She alleges that her perp is none other than the star of the series, Jeffrey Tambor. Lysette told the Hollywood Reporter that Tambor made “many sexual advances and comments at me, but one time it got physical… My back was against the wall in a corner as Jeffrey approached me. He came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrusts back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas and I pushed him off of me.” Tambor, of course, has denied the accusations. As one of my smartest teachers, “Doc” Walters, told me in high school, “Deny everything. Admit nothing. Because as soon as you acknowledge having done one thing, they’ll decide you did them all.” Rest in peace, “Doc.” I missed the accusation made against Tambor that preceded Lysette’s. As SFGate reports, “Earlier this month, Amazon opened an investigation into the actor after Van Barnes, a trans actress and Tambor’s former assistant, accused him of sexual harassment in a private Facebook post, allegations which Tambor ‘adamantly and vehemently’ denied.” Meanwhile, “Eight women have told the | November 23 – Novembe r 29, 2017


The Ten Commandments monument that Roy Moore installed at the Alabama State Supreme Court building and then refused to remove under a federal court order, which led to the first of his two expulsions as the state’s chief justice.

Washington Post that longtime television host Charlie Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas.” Not to make too much light of this, but I wouldn’t want to see Charlie Rose wandering around naked. Then again, I wouldn’t even want to see me wandering around naked. These women worked for Rose from the late 1990s to 2011; Rose was at least 67 at the time he exposed himself to these women. Not to be ageist, but let’s face it — if you’re planning to sexually abuse someone, you’ve got much better odds of not sparking outrage if you’re close to the victim’s age. But let me be clear: it’s not Rose’s age that makes this story vile. It’s sexual predation. As it is with Glenn Thrush, the New York Times reporter who essentially threw away star status allegedly for a few moments of one-sided bliss with women he worked with. Thrush flew from a position at to the New York Times and frequent MSNBC appearances. He was famous enough to be impersonated on “Saturday Night Live” in sketches about the circus that is the daily White House press briefing. And now? He would seem to be just another sick predator, perhaps using what his bosses must have told him were his magnificent people skills and ability to relate to everyday people. Even worse, the impact that his reporting has had in calling the president’s agenda into question is all at risk. Never mind that Rump boasted about grabbing women’s “pussies.” One false move by a critic is

enough to derail considerable good work done despite personal failings. All of this, of course, comes after weeks of revelations about Hollywood and other entertainment celebrities, including megaproducer Harvey Weinstein, actors Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Piven, and Ed Westwick, comedian Louis C.K., and director James Toback. Meanwhile, in that other pretend world — politics — Alabama’s Republican Senate candidate, Roy Moore, stands accused of having a thing (read: erection) for teenage girls while in his 30s. One of his many accusers alleges that Moore, who at times has gone so far as to suggest gay people should be executed — and certainly supports our imprisonment — was so intent on pursuing her that he called her high school and had her pulled out of class to take his predatory phone call. Her response to him proved one of the few light spots in what is otherwise a grim roster of the ways men who think they’re powerful, both straight and gay, use that authority sexually against those with less power. According to the then-teenager, she uttered the now-immortal statement, “I’m in trig class!” as a way of terminating the conversation. We turn now to for more Moore: “Moore maintains that the accusations are ‘fake news,’ and wrote an open letter to Fox News host and pro-Trump propagandist Sean Hannity in which he claims to have been ‘attacked by the Washington Post and other liberal media in a desperate attempt to smear my character and defeat my campaign.’ He accused his accusers of lying, and even claimed that what looked like his signature in an accuser’s high school yearbook was the result of ‘tampering.’ But lest we forget, something similar happened to the president. A month before his election, Donald Trump was revealed to have bragged into an open mic in 2005 that he grabbed women ‘by the pussy,’ and that he kissed them without permission. He was also accused of predatory behavior by more than a dozen women. Then he won. But though he maintains that all of his accusers are lying and though he has not yet joined the Republican outcry against Moore, he has responded to fresh accusations against Democratic Senator Al Franken — who posed for a photo of himself grabbing a sleeping woman’s breasts, and is accused of kissing her without permission — by accusing him of even worse behavior on Twitter.” What exactly did Rump tweet? “The Al Frankenstien [sic] picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?...” Leave it to Rump not only to misspell the most famous monster in history (actually, of course, his mad-scientist creator) but also to conjure up five even more disgusting images than the one

MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.18


PERSPECTIVE: Transgender Awareness Week

Addressing Trans Health Respectfully, Holistically BY COREY JOHNSON & DOUG WIRTH


magine surviving childhood trauma, sexual assault, homelessness, an HIV-positive diagnosis, and multiple suicide attempts. That’s a snapshot of the life of one Amida Care member, a transgender woman of color living in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, her story is all too common for people of transgender experience and gender-nonconforming individuals. Transgender individuals experience higher risk for violence, murder, and suicide, and triple the rate of unemployment compared to the general population. They also face overwhelming barriers to accessing quality, culturally competent health care, including stigma, discrimination, and a lack of knowledge about the community’s health needs. A symptom of these socioeconomic and health disparities, the HIV epidemic disproportionately affects the transgender community — transgender women are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population. New York City and State are working to find solutions to these issues, which must also be addressed by health care professionals and government leaders across the country. With Transgender Awareness Week having concluded this past Monday, it is particularly timely to emphasize the need for advocacy for the rights of the trans community. Health care is a right, not a

MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.17

for which Franken had already abjectly apologized. Team Moore, including his wife, has been generating more than enough fake news to go around, Vice’s Mike Pearl reports: “‘Second Roy Moore Accuser Works For Michelle Obama Right NOW,’ the headline says, and gosh, I know some Facebook uncles who are eager to hit the share button on a story like that. Indeed, according to the counter on the site that published it,, 20,000 people did share it online.” They’ve got to be kidding, right?


privilege. It’s critical to ensure that trans individuals are able to receive respectful, high-quality, culturally competent health care, including gender-affirming services, access to HIV prevention methods, HIV testing, and linkage to treatment. Being engaged in treatment and care is essential for people living with HIV to become virally suppressed, which means they have the chance to live longer, healthier lives and cannot transmit the virus to others. More than one third of New York City’s trans women living with HIV were not retained in care in 2014, and negative experiences with health care providers are a contributing factor to that fall-off. If trans individuals feel uncomfortable and unsafe visiting their health care provider, they are unlikely to return. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) are highly effective in preventing HIV-negative people from contracting HIV, but access still remains a significant issue, often due to lack of insurance. As of November 1, New York State Medicaid Special Needs Health Plans (SNPs) expanded to accept transgender HIV-negative New Yorkers. Previously, New York SNPs only enrolled eligible individuals who are HIVpositive or people who are experiencing homelessness. The expansion enables Amida Care, the largest of the three Medicaid SNPs in New York, to help HIV-negative transgender individuals stay negative. Amida Care

has a long history of helping the transgender community — which comprises seven percent of its total membership — access high-quality, culturally competent health care. It also works with community-based organizations to help members access support for housing, employment, and legal issues. Amida Care recently partnered with Community Healthcare Network to devote a day of the seventh annual Transgender Health Conference to educating health care professionals about culturally competent transgender care. Community-based health organizations have been working with New York City and State to push for smarter and better policies to help make the end of AIDS a reality for the trans community and all New Yorkers. Funding to end the AIDS epidemic has brought the number of new HIV infections down incrementally in New York State, from 2,509 in 2013 to 2,436 in 2015, but much more work needs to be done to reach the goal of fewer than 750 new HIV infections by the year 2020. By investing in the comprehensive care needed to keep people living with HIV healthy, the government can save millions in costly hospitalizations and in-patient care. Preventing one new HIV infection can save as much as $500,000 in lifetime medical costs. Attention to transgender health care must go beyond HIV treatment and prevention. Health care must take a holistic approach that empowers individuals to access the

full spectrum of care and services that are needed to live authentic lives. We also need policy reforms that break down barriers to gender affirmation so that transgender individuals can live authentically. In 2015, a New York City Council bill took effect allowing transgender individuals to more easily change their gender on their birth certificates by eliminating the surgery requirement. Since then, more than 730 change applications have been approved, a dramatic increase from the approximately 20 change applications approved annually prior to the bill’s implementation. Accurate identification for transgender individuals is critically important to access employment, housing, and health care. New York City and State are at the forefront of a national conversation around transgender health, but broader progress depends on others stepping up. New York’s initiatives can serve as a model for the nation and can be adapted to meet the distinct needs of specific cities and states. Efforts to provide competent care and improve health outcomes for trans individuals are essential not only to end the HIV epidemic but also to ensure that they can live their best, healthiest, and most authentic lives.

Well, as a matter of fact they are. “But hold the phone!” Pearl continues. “This isn’t real news, and we can be sure of that because according to a disclaimer at the bottom of every page, is ‘satire.’ So those thousands of people who shared this fake post about a fake accuser working for the former first lady? Don’t worry, they just enjoyed the article for its sidesplitting humor!” But that’s not all. As Pearl goes on to report, “Then, like a bolt from the blue around November 15, a robo-call claiming to be from the Washington Post started ringing phones in Alabama. Initially re-

ported by a pastor named Al Moore (no relation), the calls to the homes of potential voters seem to be coming from a reporter named ‘Bernie Bernstein,’ a name that doesn’t match the name of anyone on staff at the Post. ‘Bernstein’ claims to be paying sources enormous sums of money for information that he ‘will not be fully investigating.’ Before hanging up, he gives the email address of someone named Al Bernstein instead of his own. Oh, and he has a Jewish name, and the exact speech pattern of my Jewish grandmother, so I think it’s safe to say his name is meant to be spelled ‘(((Bernie Bernstein))).’” [The triple

parentheses are the alt-right’s cute way of designating that the person is a dirty Jew.] This whole story is bound to get even uglier as the weeks and months go by. And I promise you that I’ll enjoy every grotesque moment of it. I’ll close with a hilariously sick joke a friend posted on Facebook: “Why did Elon Musk call his Mars lander mission SpaceX? Because if he called it SpaceY he would have had to land on 14-yearold boys.” Come on! It’s a joke!

Corey Johnson, the City Council Health Committee chair, just won reelection to a second term representing District 3 on Manhattan’s West Side. Doug Wirth is president and CEO of Amida Care.

Follow @EdSikov (no triple parentheticals) on Twitter and Fracebook.

November 23 – November 29, 2017 |



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November 23 – November 29, 2017 |


Longtime activist Randolfe Wicker, a close friend of Sylvia Rivera’s, at Christopher Park.


Tanya Aspansa Walker, a transgender Army veteran, and Jennifer Louise Lopez, founder of the T.R.A.N.S. Network, at Washington Square.


Kellen Gold and Jamie Bauer, Rise and Resist organizers of the Washington Square vigil.




LaLa Zannell, lead organizer at the Anti-Violence Project, speaks at City Hall.

s Transgender Awareness Week came to a close on Monday, November 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance was solemnly marked in several locations in Lower Manhattan. At Christopher Park, the site of the Stonewall National Monument, the Transgender Flag took its place alongside the Rainbow, American, and NYC Parks Flags — recognition made possible by the activism of Michael Petrelis and Steven Love Menendez. At City Hall, transgender activists and allies, including the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the New


Rise and Resist’s Jay Walker.

The spire of One World Trade Center lit in the colors of the Transgender Flag on November 20. | November 23 – Novembe r 29, 2017

The transgender colors join the rainbow colors on the flagstaff at the Stonewall National Monument in Christopher Park.

In front of the Transgender Flag in Christopher Park, Summer Minerva reads the late Sylvia Rivera’s famed speech at the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally.

York City Anti-Violence Project, and Amida Care, rallied and held up signs bearing the names of transgender Americans who have fallen victim to hate violence. Later, as darkness fell, Rise and Resist led a similar commemoration at Washington Square Park, where the names of transgender violence victims were read, the crowd responded with, “Say their name,” a person in the crowd would read a paragraph about that victim’s life, and then the crowd would chant, “Trans lives matter.” At the World Trade Center, the spire of One World Trade Center was lit for the evening in the colors of the Transgender Flag.


Melissa Sklarz, a longtime activist who is development director at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Network.



Kauai’s Mix of Nature and Adventure The smallest of Hawaii’s four major island getaways is splendidly underdeveloped


Kauai’s Napali Coast.



f you think about it, Hawaiian culture is one of the most easily identified, even for those who’ve never set foot on its lush lands. How quickly we conjure up hula skirts, floral prints, tiki torches, and the soft strum of ukuleles at just the thought of the Aloha State. They’re so pervasive that visitors here might have oversimplified expectations. As a first timer to America’s 50th state, I couldn’t help but harbor some of these stereotypical images as I — at long last — got to see it for myself. I arrived late at night into Kauai’s Lihue Airport, eager to lay eyes on the verdant beauty of the “Garden Isle,” only to have to hold off until morning. It was worth the wait. The sun rose and my jetlag was interrupted by gem-green trees and sparkling blue ocean waves outside my window. As I breathed in the warm South Pacific air, instantly I felt the richness of this place. It was as if every sense absorbed the peaceful beauty. Of Hawaii’s eight main islands, nature lovers say Kauai is the best, and it’s pretty clear why. To its east is the famous island of Oahu, home to the state capital Honolulu. Next over is ever-popular Maui, and the mountainous “Big Island” (the island of Hawaii). Kauai, meanwhile, has only a modest popula-



Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”

tion (about 58,000 — a fraction of each of the three bigger islands), and remains wonderfully underdeveloped. That’s not to say that Kauai is short on tourists. Last year, 1.2 million travelers visited its modest 552 square miles. The difference is that tourism doesn’t feel like the dominant force here. Buildings are low-rise thanks to a law limiting them to the height of palm trees. And there’s no interstate here, only two-lane highways that connect two-thirds of the island; the other third is the northwest side’s untouched, magnificent Napali Coast. South Shore Happenings Kauai’s small scale offers a nice balance of good restaurants, cultural and historic sites, and natural splendor. The South Shore is a prime jumping-off point, and parking yourself at the posh Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa is a good way to get your feet wet — specifically in one of its pools, hot tubs, a saltwater lagoon, or at the sandy beach — and have easy access to some of the island’s best attractions. For starters, a catamaran sail with an outfit like Holo Holo Charters is a fun way to lay eyes on the Napali Coast State Park, where you can behold its verdant peaks (and the valley made famous in “Jurassic Park”), plus dolphin, turtle, and waterfall sightings along the way,



The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa on Kauai’s South Shore.

The Kauai Marriott Resort situated in the inlet of Nawiliwili Bay.

and a chance to snorkel among a rainbow of tropical fish. Some might say helicopter tours are best for touring Kauai’s pictureperfect terrain. If you’re keen to get up close to the cliffs and waterfalls of Waimea Canyon (the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”) and volcanic Mt. Waialeale Crater, a chopper is just the ticket. But real aerial enthusiasts prefer a more direct approach like ziplining across valleys with familyowned Skyline Eco-Adventures. For less air, more earth, and a hidden waterfall, join a muddy-fun all-terrain vehicle tour with Kauai ATV based in Koloa. Less wild but still adventurous is a horseback ride along the sandy shores of Mahaulepu Beach with CJM Country Stables, where seasoned guides will lead your group

of cowpokes across the meadows and shady trails. Break from the active jaunts with tasty tours, like the Steelgrass Farm chocolate tour, where you can sample exotic fruits and learn all about Mother Nature’s great gift to humanity, cacao. Meanwhile, java lovers will enjoy a free guided tour and tasting at Kauai Coffee Company’s historic estate in Kalaheo. And since sugar is a major crop here, why not sample some of the local spirits at the Koloa Rum Company, a distillery that also produces cocktail mixes, syrups, jams, and jellies? When lunch or dinner calls, head to the Shops at Kukuiula. There you’ll find delicious Mexican fare at gay-owned Tortilla Repub-

KAUAI, continued on p.25

November 23 – November 29, 2017 |



$ 3<


Going all-terrain with Kauai ATV.


KAUAI, from p.24

lic, with its casual daytime patio or evening dining area upstairs. Merrimanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, meanwhile, offers an enticing menu of locally sourced ingredients and fresh-catch seafood. The Shops also hosts a weekly culinary market on Wednesday afternoons, so you can sample many of Kauaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s top food and souvenir vendors all in one place. Royal Coconut Coast Thanks to loads of coconut-palm groves, the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s East Side has a killer nickname â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the Royal Coconut Coast â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and is home to the largest residential population. The hub city of Lihue (â&#x20AC;&#x153;Lee-hooeeâ&#x20AC;?) is where youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll fly in and probably rent your car (necessary since thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only one, infrequent public shuttle bus). Here youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find the Kauai Marriott Resort, which may seem a bit large, yet itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perfectly situated in the inlet of Nawiliwili Bay where you can swim, surf, or paddleboard in fair ocean waters or float in its sprawling, tree-lined pool. The Marriott is in a nice spot along the public-access Kalapaki Beach, and you can stroll the

CJM Stables offers the opportunity for horseback riding on the sandy shores of Mahaulepu Beach.

shoreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s promenade to relax at one of the beachside eateries like Dukeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s or CafĂŠ Portofino (which becomes a nightclub on weekend nights). Around the corner is the friendly but admittedly old-school, divey Nawiliwili Tavern. The Tavern is one of the few spots on Kauai where the LGBTQ crowd clusters, usually on Thursday nights when the cruise ship docks in town. But as I expected in such a laid-back, sociable place as Hawaii â&#x20AC;&#x201D; where marriage equality made its earliest, though unsuccessful progress in the 1990s â&#x20AC;&#x201D; there arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t queerdedicated bars and clubs here. Gay and lesbian travelers will feel right at home in Kauaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chill atmosphere anywhere they go. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the thing about Kauai. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not trying too hard, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just quietly enjoying the heavenly richness of nature, weather, and community that dwell there. That includes visitors, especially the ones who arrive with open minds, grateful hearts, and adventurous tendencies. Kelsy Chauvin is a writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, specializing in travel, culture, and LGBTQ interests. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kelsycc.


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Michelangelo’s Process Revealed Met’s painstaking show contextualizes his work, honors his passion for Tommaso dei Cavalieri MICHELANGELO: DIVINE DRAFTSMAN & DESIGNER Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave. at E. 82nd St. Through Feb. 12 Sun.-Thu., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. $25; $17 for seniors; $12 for students


Michelangelo’s “Young Archer, ca. 1490, marble overall, 37 in. x 13 ¼ in. x 14 in., 177 lbs.

BY DAVID NOH ommaso dei Cavalieri (1509-87) may not be a name as familiar as Michelangelo but he is integral to the utter fascination exerted by the truly blockbuster show “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer,” which just opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Its brilliant curator, Dr. Carmen C. Bambach, has thankfully not stinted on the homosexual aspects of the great artist’s life and for the first time has brought together in one room the exquisitely rendered and quite homoerotic drawings Michelangelo gave to dei Cavalieri, for he was the love of his life. Dei Cavalieri was a 23-year-old Italian aristocrat when he was brought to Michelangelo’s house in Rome by their mutual friend, sculptor Pier Antonio Cecchini. The 57-year-old artist was immediately besotted by this beautiful youth who was also well-educated, highly intelligent, and cultured. They became lifelong friends, with dei Cavalieri present at his death bed, and, besides the drawings, Michelangelo dedicated approximately 30 poems to him, some 50 years before those gay sonnets of Shakespeare. One of them read:




Michelangelo’s “Three Labours of Hercules,” 1530–33; drawing, red chalk; 10 11/16 in. x 16 5/8 in.

Love takes me captive; beauty binds my soul; Pity and mercy with their gentle eyes Wake in my heart a hope that cannot cheat. During the 32 years they knew each other, they spent a lot of time together, but Michelangelo, who gave his heart and soul freely here, was often tortured by the younger man, who did not always reciprocate in kind. Their relationship became centered around the arts, with Michelangelo in mentor mode, engendering a constant stream of passionate correspondence between them. The care and comprehensiveness bestowed upon this display of their relationship runs through this entire magnificent exhibit, which gives you real insight into this tirelessly energetic, complex, passionate, and ambitious man. Most fascinatingly, through the canniest selection and arrangement, Michelangelo’s actual working process is revealed, providing the rarest insight into the mind of a genius from 500 years ago. After eight years of intensive labor, Bambach has amassed 133 drawings and three sculptures, as well as a number of relevant sketches and paintings by contemporaries of Michelangelo, which beautifully con-

textualize the overall exhibition. His work as an incredible architect is also represented, with gorgeous blueprints and one of the only three existing physical models he made, of a church dome. Bambach shares my asonishment that so many rare, priceless works were donated for the show from the most bewilderingly far-flung variety of museums, churches, and collections. Bambach, whose book bearing the same title as this show accompanies the exhibit, obviously adores her subject, and her generosity was such that, even as the press preview at the Met was winding down, she led a small group of journalists through a private tour of the show that lasted two hours after the scheduled noon conclusion. (She had to finally be dragged by Met press officer Mary Flanagan to her overdue lunch.) Bambach was the perfect guide — impassioned, not pedantic, and completely accessible. I will forever treasure not only this show, but the experience of her guiding me through it, as every word out of her mouth was deeply enlightening. She stopped at a thrillingly arranged trio of sculptured busts, led by Michelangelo’s Brutus, and said, “His whole world comes to life with research! Here, we see Michelangelo breaking new ground

with a new kind of bust, with its contrapunto [turn of the head], more austere with less decoration than these contrasting older Roman ones, with their very complex, antique style. I was really keen to bring these ancient Roman busts to show his inspiration — the way the fabric gathers at the shoulder of this [other bust of] Julius Caesar and is caught by a clasp — and subsequent innovation. This one from Caracalla, I learned, belonged to a collector who lived right down the street from Michelangelo, before 1556. So, here we have not only the visual interest, but the fact that he probably visited the collector several times, and when the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples said yes, they would loan it, I nearly fell to the ground! It’s important to widen the circle and look at some of Michelangelo’s collaborators, which puts the artist in a very different light through his contacts and the specific manner in which he collaborated with other artists.” Bambach learned that one of the bust’s sculptors, Andrea Ferrucci, was the foreman of Michelangelo’s workers and marble sculptors in the creation of the New Sacristy in San Lorenzo. “All the loans were negotiated in

MICHELANGELO, continued on p.37

November 23 – November 29, 2017 |


Love Stirred Slowly Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet discover a bond amidst a sensual Italian summer CALL ME BY YOUR NAME Directed by Luca Guadagnino Sony Pictures Classics Opens Nov. 24 Regal Union Square 850 Broadway at E. 13th St. Paris Theatre 4 W. 58th St.


Armie Hammer (background) and Timothée Chalamet in Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name,” adapted from André Aciman’s novel.

BY GARY M. KRAMER n the opening scenes of “Call Me By Your Name,” gay filmmaker Luca Guadagnino’s exquisite adaptation of André Aciman’s exquisite novel, set in 1983, Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives at Dr. Perlman’s (Michael Stuhlbarg) villa in northern Italy. A summer intern for the professor, Oliver is handsome, confident, intelligent, perhaps arrogant, and quite charming. He is also one tall drink of water that Perlman’s’ 17-year-old son, Elio (Timothée Chalamet), soon begins to thirst for. Guadagnino films Oliver — drinking apricot juice, playing volleyball shirtless, and dancing to the Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way” — in a way that quickly has viewers appreciating Elio’s attraction if not swooning themselves. The filmmaker exacts such sexual magnetism out of his romantic leads that when Oliver touches Elio’s shoulder in an early scene, the erotic frisson between them is palpable. Oliver, however, at first puts off Elio’s interest, in one moment displacing the teen from his bedroom in the villa. Elio, in turn, finds Oliver’s penchant for saying “Later” to abruptly end conversations and excuse himself to be rude. Elio is a


typically moody teenager: restless, virginal, and grappling with coming of age just as his same-sex feelings are unexpectedly stirred. When Elio puts a pair of Oliver’s shorts over his head, soaking in the scent of the object of his desire, it is a striking and telling moment of self-discovery for the youth. The intern and teenager bond a bit when Oliver hears Elio playing music on a guitar and then performing variations on the piano. Oliver begins to pay attention to Elio, which increases the teenager’s fascination with the summer guest. In time, sitting in the town square one afternoon, Elio discloses his feelings for Oliver. Guadagnino films this exchange with the would-be lovers moving away from each other and then back toward each other in a way that makes viewers breathless with anticipation for the romance to come. Things intensify when the couple becomes intimate. They share a sexy first kiss in the grass, and, when Oliver later manipulates Elio’s feet to soothe him, the moment is incredibly erotic. But “Call Me By Your Name” is less about sex and more about emotion. Guadagnino only briefly depicts passionate scenes between Elio and Oliver, instead emphasizing the sensuality of | November 23 – Novembe r 29, 2017

their bond, with his characters’ sundrenched bodies lying around a pool or entwined naked in a bed. Given the age gap between the lovers, Guadagnino is careful to show the relationship between Oliver and Elio as consensual — Oliver specifically asks Elio, “May I kiss you?” before they act on their attraction. One of the film’s more tender scenes involves Elio’s arousal as he sits alone with a ripe peach, spilling its juice on his naked torso. When Oliver happens upon this, Elio feels a measure of shame, but Oliver consoles him as Elio becomes overwrought with tears. “Call Me By Your Name” never shows Oliver and Elio directly discussing their being gay, and they keep their relationship a secret from the professor and his wife. But moments with the lovers almost holding hands as they walk around town and sitting together in a tree underscore their love. The film makes an interesting point about power shifting back and forth between Elio and Oliver in their relationship. Oliver, trying to control their romance to maintain discretion, instructs Elio to “grow up.” But as Elio becomes emboldened in his love for Oliver, he’s also able to be more affectionate toward his parents. Touchingly, Elio and Oliver ex-

press their affection by calling each another by their own name. The sensuality in Guadagnino’s film comes not only from the men’s relationship but also from the beauty of their surroundings. When the professor takes Oliver and Elio to see an archeological discovery, the moment is infused with wonder. Elio’s mother, Annella (Amira Casar), reads a German poem about someone being humbled by love, and the moment is thoughtful and arresting. As Elio and Oliver traverse a mountainous Italian landscape, waterfalls symbolize the abundance of their emotions. Perhaps the most magnificent scene in the film, however, is an extremely touching and powerful exchange between father and son late in “Call Me By Your Name.” Spelling out the details would destroy its magic, but it will likely move viewers to tears. Stuhlbarg is exceptional in that particular scene, as is Chalamet, for whom Elio is surely a breakout role. The young actor so perfectly and naturally encapsulates Elio’s desires, anxieties, and enthusiasms that viewers will embrace him from the start. As Oliver, Hammer conveys an cool insouciance that manages to be both sexy and infectious. And don’t miss writer Acimen’s cameo appearance as Mounir, one half of a gay couple who visit the Perlmans for an evening. One of the best films of the year, “Call Me By Your Name” is a romantic drama that casts a truly seductive spell.



Hot Under The Collar Celebrating a forgotten illustrator and his sexy male muse, partners in business and love BY DAVID KENNERLEY t is particularly fitting that Lance Ringel’s new play, “In Love with the Arrow Collar Man,” employs a teacher’s lecture as a framing device. That’s because this modest piece shines a light on a little-known chapter in queer New York history, the nearly 50-year love affair between the pioneering illustrator J.C. (Joe) Leyendecker, and his debonair model, Charles Beach. While we learn much about this maverick couple and the burgeoning ad biz in the first half of the 20th century, it hardly feels like a lesson. The story is not only fascinating but well delineated — Ringel has chosen key plot points for maximum drama. The prevailing throughline is whether their brazen, openly homosexual relationship will ultimately cause their thriving studio to come crashing down. The play opens in the present with an astute art teacher (Joanna Parson) discussing the Golden Age



Theatre 80 St. Marks 80 St. Marks Pl., btwn. First & Second Aves. Dec. 1 at 9 p.m., Dec 2 at 7 p.m. $18.50 at pr/981820 80 mins., with no intermission


Ian Brodsky and Jack D. Martin in Lance Ringel’s “In Love with the Arrow Collar Man,” directed by Chuck Muckle, at Theatre 80 St. Marks through December 2 only.

of Illustration in American Life, paired with projected images of Joe’s work, such as iconic Saturday Evening Post covers and Arrow Collar ads featuring the handsome (some might say beautiful), impeccably turned-out Charles. Flash back to 1901, where 17year old Charles, hungry for mod-

eling work, visits the Leyendecker studio on East 32nd Street, run by Joe and his brother, Frank (the excellent Rupert Simonian), who is also a talented artist. And also gay. Although Frank succeeds in coaxing the boy to strip off his shirt for a “test sketch,” it is the broodingly attractive Joe who wins his heart.

The sibling rivalry grows fierce, as the brothers compete for art commissions, power, and men. When the “lesser Leyendecker,” as Frank is known, turns to drink and drugs, Joe takes control of the company, and together with his beloved muse builds a successful business, erecting a mansion in New Rochelle where they would throw wild gay parties, incensing their sister (Evelyn Peralta). The career-destroying gossip columnist Walter Winchell

ARROW COLLAR MAN, continued on p.29

Match Play Ambition, hopes, and inchoate fears animate three new pieces BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE ulia Cho’s complex and engrossing new play “Office Hour,” now at the Public, is a boldly theatrical examination of a harrowing, contemporary issue: random violence, or more to the point, the fear of random violence and its impact on our culture. Dennis is a creative writing student at a college where the graphic violence and sexuality of his work have made the faculty leery of him. Not knowing how to handle their anxieties, his professors have simply passed him on to other courses but harbor fears that his fiction may be a





Sue Jean Kim and Ki Hong Lee in Julia Cho’s “Office Hour,” directed by Neel Keller, at the Public Theater through December 3.

way to broadcast intent. And they’re scared of him and what they think he might do. After all he “fits the profile.”

The Public Theater 425 Lafayette St. btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Through Dec. 3 Tue.-Sun at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $75; Or 212-967-7555 One hr., 30 mins., with no intermission

He is now the student of Gina, an adjunct professor, who rather than shying away from him, attempts to get to the bottom of the young man

behind the writing, to draw him out from behind his oversized hoodie and dark glasses. This happens in the context of a mandatory office hour when students must meet with their instructor. The storytelling is artistic and abstract. Scenes play out, repeat with different endings — some violent, some touching — leaving the audience unsure of what is real. Of course, that’s the point. What Cho is exploring are the ways in which incidents unfold and the trigger points (literal and figurative) that shape them in one way or another. It’s a brilliant technique, as it keeps the audience in a state of hyper-awareness,

MATCH PLAY, continued on p.29

November 23 – November 29, 2017 |



(Justin Bennett) tries to weasel his way into one of their notorious soirĂŠes, posing a threat to their cozy enterprise. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Arrow Collar Man,â&#x20AC;? directed with sensitivity by veteran actor/ dramatist Chuck Muckle, follows the trajectory of the coupleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s personal and professional lives, which were intertwined through 1951, when Joe died of a heart attack at age 77. For their part, the director and playwright know a thing or two about long-term partners in work and love. Amazingly, they are spouses who have collaborated for nearly the entire 41 years they have been together. We learn one reason that the Arrow Collar Man became such a celebrity was his fresh, clean-cut, heroic American image, displacing the fusty whiskered gents of the late 19th century. If he was the male answer to the Gibson Girl, he surpassed her in popularity because folks thought he was real, attested to by the 17,000 fan letters he received each month at the peak of his stardom. In a way, Charles Beach was Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first advertising sex symbol, yet today he is all but forgotten. We also get a glimpse of Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s competition with a younger upstart named Norman Rockwell (Steven

Trolinger), who, as we all know, ended up surpassing him in fame, though some argue that Joe deserves to be in the history books more than Rockwell. Unlike his rival, Joe never relied on photographs, insisting on drawing from life. To be sure, this micro-budget, Equity-approved showcase lacks polish, and the performances are a mixed bag. There is no set to speak of, and the lecture scenes could be integrated more smoothly into the narrative flow. Ian Brodsky, as Joe, does a fine job navigating the tricky transition from eager artist to savvy businessman. Jack D. Martin lends an alluring confidence to Charles, making it clear that heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not just a pretty face (in fact, Charles ran the Leyendecker household for decades). The partners considered themselves, for all intents and purposes, â&#x20AC;&#x153;married.â&#x20AC;? And what better venue to showcase a slice of New York history than the landmark, gloriously ramshackle Theatre 80 St. Marks with its storied adjoining tavern, born as a speakeasy during Prohibition, which has seen its share of luminaries like Thelonious Monk and a young Frank Sinatra. A draw for bohemian types, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to imagine Joe and Charles tossing back Gin Rickeys at the massive wooden bar, scoping out guests for their next big bash.




Laura Pels Theatre 111 W. 46th St. Through Dec. 23 Tue.-Sat at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m. Sun. at 3 p.m. $79; Or 212-719-1300 One hr., 30 mins., no intermission

The Public Theater 425 Lafayette St. btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Through Dec. 10 Tue.-Sun at 7:30 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 1:30 p.m. $75; Or 212-967-7555 1 hour 50 minutes, no intermission


MATCH PLAY, from p.28

never knowing whether a moment will bring healing or havoc â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but mindful that either is possible. Without being heavy-handed, Cho explores how Dennis and Gina might have gotten to this particular point in their lives, touching on themes of racism, alienation, and the breakdowns in communication that bedevil contemporary life. Both Gina

and Dennis are sympathetic characters, though they are often antagonistic, and their pain, vulnerability, and confusion are often heartbreaking, providing a fascinating study of character and situation and, most tellingly, underscoring how little we do or can know definitively about what makes people tick. Ki Hong Lee as Dennis plays the | November 23 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Novembe r 29, 2017


MATCH PLAY, continued on p.37



eee5Og1Wbg<Sea\gQU`]aaW\RSQS\Qg 29


Gay Memoir of Coming of Age in Africa and America Nigerian-born NYC journalist Chiké Frankie Edozien has stories to tell BY MICHAEL LUONGO ives of Great Men: Living And Loving As An African Gay Man” is a new memoir by Chiké Frankie Edozien, detailing a life lived between America and Africa. Edozien grew up in Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, learning to read from newspapers his father brought home daily. He later became an ink-stained scribbler telling the stories of others in service of a greater good. Edozien is currently a journalism professor at New York University. Prior to that he was an awardwinning metro reporter for the New York Post covering City Hall. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, Quartz, Time Magazine, the Times of London, GlobalPost, Out Traveler, Edge, Colorlines, Vibe, the New York Amsterdam News, the Advocate, and more. He is a contributor to the 2016 Commonwealth Writers anthology “Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction,” and in 2017 his “Last Night in Asaba” was published by Jalada Africa/ Transitions. Edozien spoke to Gay City News about his new memoir.



MICHAEL LUONGO: What inspired you to write this book? CHIKÉ FRANKIE EDOZIEN: As a result of a few recent legislative actions aimed at criminalizing queer people in many parts of the African continent, a narrative of gay Africa being a foreign concept was taking root. And with legal discrimination and the horror of people being routinely shamed, it was important to explore the more nuanced reality and celebrate the small victories the community is having. ML: There are in reality very few books looking at the African gay experience. CFE: One way to take away the power of a people is to erase or limit their ability to tell their own story.


By Chiké Frankie Edozien Team Angelica Books $14.99; 266 pages

proud African New Yorker that I am. It’s a privilege to be a local in several countries. And it’s a great honor that my global citizenship allows me to tell the stories of these remarkable women and men. TEAM ANGELICA BOOKS

the travel, and writing, and even the kernel of the idea from its origination? CFE: Writing is re-writing so that process has taken several years just to get it right, but as a journalist I’ve been telling portions of these stories for two decades. JIMBÉ CARROLL

Journalist Chiké Frankie Edozien has published a memoir, “Lives of Great Men: Living And Loving As An African Gay Man.”

And what you end up with is a false narrative that there isn’t a market for these kinds of stories or these books. The belief is no one will read them, but the reality is everyone wants to see their stories in literature and as difficult as it was to get this published, we found Team Angelica Press who know there are many waiting to read a true reflection of this segment of the queer world. ML: What is your favorite chapter, or story, within the book? CFE: I love them all equally. But I’m especially moved at the portions where there are “aha” moments and heterosexual folk realize their queer friends and family are to be cherished and really not that different from them. ML: How long did it take you to put this book together, in terms of

ML: Beyond LGBTQ identity, other aspects of Nigeria appear in your book, from differences between north and south, Christian and Muslim, rural and urban, along with the relationship with nearby Ghana. What can readers learn from these components of the book? CFE: Even beyond my two most visited countries, they will learn of the diversity of the continent as we go from Uganda to Zimbabwe to South Africa, too. It’s not a monolith, and each African society has its own wonderful community of LGBT people with its joys and challenges. ML: For yourself, within this memoir, you also talk about how you have multiple identities — immigrant, African, black, gay man, Western to some when home, worldly to yourself. CFE: I’ve had the good fortune to be part of many communities and all those sensibilities make me the

ML: Some of the relationships in the book with some men seem undefined. Do you think that we in the West too often are hung up on labels, clarity over sexual identity? CFE: Indeed. Those relationships aren’t exactly “undefined” but they do not fit neatly into a Western box. But all those relationships have love as their foundation. The notion that they can have a spouse or spouses and still have a companion closer than spouses poses no conflict to some. Everyone has their role to play. ML: There is also a lot about men with wives, and yet they have relationships with other men, which also seems acceptable to some of the wives. Can you comment on this? CFE: It is a contemporary Western idea that marriages now are simply the end result of falling in love. For some of these people, whether queer or straight, marriages sometimes have other considerations. Other obligations. So when those responsibilities are fulfilled, sexual fidelity may not always be the priority. ML: The book also uses the locations in Africa to discuss what is

EDOZIEN, continued on p.34

November 23 – November 29, 2017 |

Chloë Sevigny Fears Him Funny man Drew Droege wriggles out of drag to be a drunken mess BRIGHT COLORS AND BOLD PATTERNS Soho Playhouse 15 Vandam St., btwn. Sixth Ave. & Varick St. Through Jan. 7 Sun.-Wed. at 7:30 p.m. Fri. at 9 p.m.; Sat. at 5 & 9 p.m. $79;


Drew Droege at the Hudson Diner.

BY DAVID NOH efinitely one of the Bright Young Things of Los Angeles, hilarious Drew Droege was discovered on the Internet, impersonating, of all people, Chloë Sevigny. Sharing a slightly similar equine mien with that long-lipped, terminally hip downtown muse, Droege has her glacial been-everything, doneeverything blasé manner nailed. Even when nattering incomprehensibly and dropping a multitude of arcane designer names —because you are definitely not fierce enough to know who they are, anyway — he is irresistibly funny. Droege is back in New York, going “legit” again with his solo show, “Bright Colors, Bold Patterns,” directed by Michael Urie, which addresses what it is like to be definitely gay but seriously conflicted in these confounded, contrary times. I summoned the very warm and witty performer to dear old Hudson Diner to further explicate stuff. Okay. The Burning Question: Why Chloë Sevigny? “She was basically discovered by [writer] Jay McInerney here in the nightlife scene, at least a full year before her movie ‘Kids’ came out. I think she interned at Sassy magazine and was involved in fashion, while making these indie films. She was fascinating to me. Com-


Drew Droege in “Bright Colors, Bold Patterns,” directed by Michael Urie, at the Soho Playhouse through January 7.

ing from a small town in North Carolina, that downtown New York culture was so far removed from me. What was it like to be in the middle of all that? Don’t you have moments when... like I was at the premiere party for this friend’s TV show last night where they were handing out all this ridiculous and specialty name drinks. And there was a tie in with ‘Sleep No More,’ so there was interactive theater going on, as well, upstairs. It was so crazy. And how is it not ridiculous? Of course, it’s awesome and wonderful, but you’re not allowed to laugh at this, what most of the world doesn’t get to experience. And I think if you lose your sense of irony, you’re in trouble.” Asked if Sevigny is aware of his presence on earth, Droege replied, “She has seen the videos and has talked about them, but she seems to have different takes on me. She did this interview in W magazine where she said it hurt her feelings — because I am a comedian. If I were a drag queen, she would have seen it more as an honorary thing. “She’s allowed to feel whatever she wants, of course, but the truth is I never try to put her down because I think she’s fascinating. It’s kind of silly because my Chloë is so far removed from her — I went to the moon last year! I consciously try not to do what she’s doing, mine is more an intergalactic car- | November 23 – Novembe r 29, 2017

toon, but I was happy to learn that she is going to be doing an OffBroadway play.” I told Droegue that I had seen Sevigny in the 2000 Off-Broadway revival of Joe Orton’s “What the Butler Saw,” where, for some reason, the cast took their curtain calls to the accompaniment of “The Thong Song.” “Ohmigod, really? I love that. I will never get over my freshman year in college. Our drama professional brought us here on a theater trip and announced that on our first night we were seeing the play ‘Entertaining Mr. Sloane.’ I was so upset, ‘That sounds like the most boring and awful play!’ But it changed my life. We had to walk over, like, trash and I will never forget that performance, one of the best I’ve ever seen. I became obsessed with Joe Orton, and loved the film ‘Prick Up Your Ears,’ with Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina.” Asked to describe his play, Droege said, “A few years ago, I was invited to a straight wedding, and the invitation told the guests not to wear bright colors or bold patterns. Basically, the bride — my friend — is such a control freak that she wanted to have a very pretty palette across the thing. Those words stood out to me as a very good title but I didn’t know for what. “I was driving to Palm Springs and it occurred to me: What if this

was a gay wedding and gay people were asked not to wear bold colors or bright patterns? And then gay marriage passed and, of course, it’s beautiful and wonderful, but at what point do we get accepted into normalcy, and what are we forcing upon ourselves to be accepted and ultimately stop being gay? I thought of my play being set in a house like ‘Boys in the Band’ or ‘Love! Valour! Compassion!,’ except with my friends and the way we speak and behave with each other. “And what if I play someone who doesn’t have his life together and isn’t ready for marriage, but is sort of panicking about all this? He is at a crisis point and not ready for marriage, and is sort of panicking that queerness is leaving the conversation. We’re trying so hard to keep up with the Joneses, who are straight, like I’m a gay guy and I like sports! “The minute marriage became legal, immediately gay publications were featuring weddings and everyone was getting married. And we all put the pressure on ourselves. Obviously marriage equality is incredible, but what are we forcing on ourselves and what are losing? Now that we can get married, should we behave and want suburban lives and kids and want this quote unquote normal life and stop being gay, not be bright and bold? “If this character was just the real me, it would be very different because I can be very wishy-washy and think everything’s just great. But I wanted to write a charac-

DREW DROEGE, continued on p.38



Boston, Houston, Manhattan Transfer Anthony Roth Costanzo stars at Lincoln Center and as Giulio Cesare in Texas BY DAVID SHENGOLD incoln Center’s annual White Light Festival kicked off with a pleasing program November 1 at the Rose Theater, focused on a reprise of the Pergolesi “Stabat Mater,” some of the most inspiriting — and certainly influential — music of the 18th century, directed and choreographed by Jessica Lang. First seen at Glimmerglass four years ago, Lang’s staging deploys nine outstanding dancers, who often double as the Marian and Christ figures otherwise embodied by (or described by) the two vocal soloists. Speranza Scappucci led a fine group of musicians with alacrity; a bit more rehearsal might have yielded even tighter string coordination, but the instrumental solos all emerged well. Bradon McDonald’s subtly shifting costuming (earth tones yielding to blue) and the transfixing set of two movable trees, reconfiguring in crossed patterns, yielded memorable imagery. So did Lang’s choreography when not too literally executing the hymn’s text. It’s remarkable how gracefully both Andriana Chuchman and Anthony Roth Costanzo fit into the piece’s danced portions, even while singing very beautifully indeed. Occasionally, the soprano’s upper middle notes sounded a touch too “operatic” in scale, and the countertenor, whose trills and sculpted phrases proved fantastic, at times sounded slightly occluded at range ends. Still, a lovely experience.


One understood Costanzo’s work ethic (and slight exhaustion) when — after repeating the Pergolesi the following day ——he returned two nights later to his first-ever series of “Giulio Cesare” title role performances for Houston Grand Opera. Since Hurricane Harvey, the valiant company has been performing in an improvised space in a huge, impersonal convention center. It was better than nothing, and the shows are going on, but both sight-



Anthony Roth Costanzo in the title role of Handel’s “Giulio Cesare” at Houston Grand Opera.

lines and acoustics proved problematic, causing a sense of audience remove in terms of the response. Some years back, and in more accommodating venues, James Robinson’s “filming a silent movie” concept must have been charming, but this gambit has staled, and — apart from the spiffy costumes (James Schuette) and Marcus Doshi’s fine lighting — everything fell quite flat. Orchestral sound registered mushily. Even singers gifted at comedy like Heidi Stober (Cleopatra) and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen (Nireno) were pushed into shtick, though Cohen sounded terrific in his sole aria. The direction countenanced and encouraged whooping and cackling over the music. For future note, Handel is not “Hellzapoppin’” even when amusing, and proves less amusing when mirth is forced. Almost no one laughed at anything. The boyish Costanzo — surrounded by extremely tall colleagues — mustered sufficient military bearing to be a credible Casere (He also tap danced gracefully.) The part is a huge sing but he encompassed its testing portions well thanks to keen phrasing and technical savvy. His precision made the ecstatic “Se in fiorito” and elegiac “Aure, deh, per pietà” particularly memorable. This part should serve him well, as was the case with two distinguished Handelians onstage, Stephanie Blythe (Cornelia) and David Daniels (Tolomeo). Both now work within some limitations — the

mezzo of breath, the countertenor of range — but as soon as they open their mouths, both produce their characteristic, instantly recognizable timbres, and plenty of it. That sense of instant connection with the music and audience went lacking in Stober’s highly accomplished but rather anonymous singing. She and her voice — when not at full tilt, when it takes on a soubrette edge — are lithe and pretty, but the takeaway is visual. Very young, Megan Mikailovna Samarin (Sesto) had the same anonymity and needed a far more stylish Handel conductor than Patrick Summers to imbue her work with the requisite vocabulary. I’m still shocked that Summers cut “Cara speme” — Sesto’s greatest aria — down to its first A section, especially as that was Samarin’s best moment. Bass Federico De Michelis (Achilla) showed real promise but must learn how to land ascending intervals. On November 2 the Met revived the beautiful Anthony Minghella staging of “Madama Butterfly” — still, after 11 years, the best production Peter Gelb has imported. Some of the stage magic seemed slightly dimmed with time (and mid-season revival rehearsal time limits) but it still makes a moving evening, not only diverting but thought-provoking. Debuting conductor Jader Bignamini presided with appropriate stylistic panache and due urgency while allowing for the score’s quieter moments to work their charms; definitely a positive acquisition. Hui He returned to the title role with pleasing though not historic results. Unlike many who tackle the part, the Chinese soprano commands a genuine spinto-weight voice that never sounds overtaxed by Puccini’s varied demands. Moreover, it boasts uncommonly handsome timbre and is used with some variety of dynamics and thoughtful shading. She’s not a riveting interpreter but handled herself with seriousness and dignity and made the necessary points: certainly well

worth hearing in the part. Roberto Aronica (Pinkerton) has commendably made himself a more plausible stage figure but his tenor remains blaring and undistinguished. David Bizic, on the other hand, wields a far fi ner, fresher baritone than many Sharplesses command and gave a fully worked-through characterization. Maria Zifchak’s Suzuki — with this show from the beginning — remains a moving presence and audience favorite but on this occasion sounded edgy on top. No one among the small roles registered much quality except lush-voiced Juilliard grad Avery Amereau as Kate Pinkerton. On October 27, the Boston Symphony played Berlioz’s “Damnation de Faust” under veteran maestro Charles Dutoit. Both orchestra and conductor have specialized in the composer’s music and the familiarity with his uniquely orchestrated idiom told, even though the afternoon’s performance proved estimable rather than duly exciting. The three leading soloists — Paul Groves, Susan Graham, and John Relyea — have been singing Faust, Marguerite, and Mephistopheles for many years, and it showed in ways both salutary and poignant. None of their instruments remains in immaculate form, but all sounded quite good and at times the tenor and especially the mezzo made very lovely sounds indeed. Relyea’s voice is a bit grayed but he seems to have recovered some of his younger form. All three use the French language with skill and understand Berlioz’s style. So — especially in the wondrous fourth part — the singing proved quite satisfying. Dutoit acknowledged the horn underpinning Graham’s glowing “D’amour l’ardente flamme” and the fine work of both choruses. David Shengold (shengold@yahoo. com) writes about opera for many venues.

November 23 – November 29, 2017 |


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

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

Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per- | November 23 – Novembe r 29, 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.



R.E.M.’s Pinnacle, A Quarter Century On Reading “Automatic For the People” as Michael Stipe’s somber response to AIDS BY STEVE ERICKSON


t the time “Automatic For the People” came out in 1992, I had abandoned my earlier fandom of R.E.M. — who helped popularize college radio in the ‘80s and pave the way for the commercial success of grunge and indie rock in the ‘90s — because hits like “Stand” and “Shiny Happy People” sounded like children’s novelty songs to me. I was astonished by the quality of this album, which is largely a serious reflection on mortality and grief. (“The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite” is its sole deliberate attempt at levity.) Released just as the sonic landscape of mainstream rock had opened up greatly, the band responded by getting quieter and more melancholy instead of trying to ape Nirvana’s mix of punk, pop, and hard rock. “Automatic For the People” is now widely considered R.E.M.’s best album, and while I can’t say it’s as groundbreaking as their very early work’s mix of postpunk and ‘60s folk-rock, it’s one of the greatest examples of how to approach the end of one’s youth

within the form of rock music. The album received both wide critical acclaim and huge commercial success. It peaked at #2 on Billboard magazine’s top 200, sold 3.5 million copies in the US and 18 million worldwide, and spawned six singles, the most

popular being “Drive.” Instead of touring to promote it, the band kept making videos, and they are all collected on a Blu-Ray with this new 25th anniversary set, which also includes the original album, a live album taken from the one concert they played in

are many of our own people.

their brothers and sisters are understood and cherished and a safe environment is there for all. There is pushback from cultural icons, writers, and others in these countries and rays of light within dire circumstances. We must engage and encourage them. And supporting those who have escaped horrors and ended up at our doorsteps is equally needed. Letting them languish in immigration limbo serves no one. The fight of LGBT equality worldwide is not won until all of us can benefit, but recognition of the efforts happening ought to be acknowledged and supported. Change comes when conversations and different viewpoints are allowed to co-exist.


EDOZIEN, from p.30

ongoing in terms of LGBTQ rights — and the push and pull, the West using aid delivery to promote LGBTQ rights, yet Western Christian churches are also working to harm LGBTQ rights at the same time. CFE: There isn’t a single story, hence the need to examine as many societies as one is able to. Religiosity is an issue, with some adherents of strict interpretation of Abrahamic texts pushing hard against any kind challenge to patriarchy whether it be gender expression or — horror of horrors! — acknowledging that sexuality is a spectrum and along that spectrum


“Automatic For the People 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” Craft Recordings $25 for original album reissue $85.00 for deluxe set


ML: What more on LGBTQ Africa should readers know — from the book or, more broadly, beyond news headlines? CFE: That engagement is needed, but not the engagement that comes off as former colonial masters or imperialists telling African nations what to do. There is currently a vast amount of LGBTI people who have been forced to seek asylum in the West because of real danger to their lives. In the New York metro area, the numbers are growing daily. Beatings, kidnappings, and killings are not unheard of. Yet there are many people who are working to ensure that all

1992, and 20 demos from its recording sessions. There are a few songs on “Automatic For the People” which rock out, especially “Ignoreland,” an attack on the lingering ugliness of George H. W. Bush’s politics. But the album is fi lled with acoustic guitars, strings (arranged by former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones), and keyboards. For me, its highlight is “Nightswimming,” a song on which guitarist Peter Buck and drummer Bill Berry don’t even play. To the accompaniment of Mike Mills’ piano and Jones’ string section, singer Michael Stipe evokes carefree “recklessness in water.” The singer has admitted that “Automatic For the People” is haunted

R.E.M., continued on p.35

And I’m hopeful the stories in this book hit home to many and each one of us can play a role in making our world a more hospitable place. Everyone has a bit of power but they must be aware of it. Reading these stories and talking about them are early steps to change. On Thursday, November 30, from 5 to 7 p.m., Chiké Frankie Edozien will read from “Lives of Great Men” and host a Q&A at NYU’s Africa House, 14A Washington Mews, just off University Place, between Waverly Place and East Eighth Street. Details are at nyuafricahouse. org/?risen_event=book-readinglives-of-great-men.

November 23 – November 29, 2017 |


R.E.M., from p.34

by AIDS, which was killing off many of his friends around the time he made it. To me, whatever â&#x20AC;&#x153;Nightswimmingâ&#x20AC;? may have literally been inspired by, it reads now as a look back on a time before people were aware of HIV and felt much freer sexually. Stipeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vocals and the instrumental melody are both nostalgic and deeply sad. The Blu-Ray includes an eight-minute version of the video, directed by experimental fi lmmaker Jem Cohen, featuring nudity and more narrative context. The live and demos sets are a study in contrasts. While this live album is R.E.M.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fourth official one, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the only one recorded this early in their career. The band plays with a punch they rarely achieved in the studio when they wanted to rock out, especially on a cover of Iggy Popâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Funtime.â&#x20AC;? On a quieter note, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a moving version of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Country Feedback.â&#x20AC;? The sound quality is excellent. On the other hand, sitting through 79 minutes of unfi nished versions of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Automatic For the Peopleâ&#x20AC;? tracks is a slog. The song titles are deceptive: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Michaelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Organâ&#x20AC;? is really a version of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Everybody Hurts,â&#x20AC;? consisting of Stipe singing it, accompanying himself on the organ and a drum machine. The collection includes versions of numerous songs recorded when the instrumental track was complete but Stipe hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t yet written the lyrics, so he just sings nonsense syllables at random places. There are two complete songs that are quite good and could have fit on â&#x20AC;&#x153;Automatic for the Peopleâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mikeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

Pop Songâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;Devil Rides Backwardsâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; plus â&#x20AC;&#x153;Photograph,â&#x20AC;? a duet with Natalie Merchant that was released on the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Born to Chooseâ&#x20AC;? compilation. At the time this album was released, Stipe was publicly rather coy about his sexuality, but two years later, he started opening up about the fact that he was attracted to both men and women. By 2001, he told â&#x20AC;&#x153;Timeâ&#x20AC;? magazine he was a â&#x20AC;&#x153;queer artist.â&#x20AC;? But even if Stipe wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t honest about his bisexuality when â&#x20AC;&#x153;Automatic For the Peopleâ&#x20AC;? came out, its somber tone of facing down death now comes across as an unmistakable reaction to the way AIDS was decimating gay and bi men in the early â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;90s. Around 1992, Stipe was facing the false rumor that he himself was ill with AIDS. One of its biggest hits, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Everybody Hurts,â&#x20AC;? rejects the temptation of suicide. Other tracks, like the closing â&#x20AC;&#x153;Find the River,â&#x20AC;? are similarly downbeat but ultimately hopeful. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Drive,â&#x20AC;? especially in the context of its videoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s images of Stipe crowd-surfi ng and the band getting sprayed with water, rejects the Dionysian promise of rockâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;nâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;roll mythology for something more down-to-earth. I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t say that this reissue of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Automatic for the Peopleâ&#x20AC;? is worth getting for the previously unreleased demos (Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d recommend downloading â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mikeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pop Song,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Photograph,â&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;Devil Rides Backwardsâ&#x20AC;? off iTunes as individual tracks), but I stand by my 25-year-old opinion that the original album is a classic. The live album lives up to it, the BluRay of videos is worth owning, and the Dolby Atmos mix sounds remarkable, even on the demos.






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November 23 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; November 29, 2017 |


person, and in some cases I had to go back many times,” she continued. “The Ashmolean Museum [in Oxford, England] was an especially wonderful friend from the beginning, in a way a sister to this museum, lending 26 drawings, around which we could build this exhibit.” The show climaxes with Michelangelo’s glorious achievement, his “Last Judgement of the Sistine Chapel,” about which Bambach explained, “I can’t tell you how touched I was when the Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte lent us the two huge cartoons and the large painting of the ‘Last Judgment’ by Marcello Venusti, which is so beautiful and very fragile. It was made with Michelangelo’s supervision and depicts the figures in ‘The Last Judgment’ before the loincloths which [Daniele] da Volterra painted over them in 1565, [which were] removed in the 1980-94 res-

MATCH PLAY, from p.29

role with a rich physicality that conveys as much as when he speaks. It’s an intense portrayal of a conflicted man struggling with rage and loneliness. Sue Jean Kim is excellent as Gina, driven by a desire to help and finding she might be ill-equipped to handle the situation. The detail and focus that Kim brings to the role are essential for the central conceit of the play to work. We must believe that any of the various scenarios is or could be real, and through her fine work we do. Neel Keller has directed with a keen eye and a flair for tension that will keep you on the edge of your seat... when you’re not almost jumping out of it. “The Last Match” is only nominally about tennis. What Anna Ziegler’s play is really about is the drive to achieve and hold onto success. Tim, an American superstar, is playing Sergei, a Russian challenger at the US Open. Tim at age 34 is considered old, and he is desperate to hang onto his championship for one last match. Sergei is an upand-comer who has a good chance of defeating Tim and wants to in order to establish himself in the upper echelon of the game. Off the court, Tim’s wife Mallory and Sergei’s fiancée Galina provide love and support but


Michelangelo’s “Studies for the Libyan Sibyl,” ca. 1510–11 ; red chalk, with small accents of white chalk on the left shoulder; 11 3/8 in. x 8 7/16 in.

toration of the Sistine.” One of the cartoons, with its loving and very obvious focus on the posteriors of a group of men, reveals Michelangelo as a definite

also make demands. Life happens, and the characters do their best to stay on an even keel, though it’s both touching and amusing when things get thrown off balance. Tim and Sergei banter and compete on and off the court, as the characters move between the two worlds, deftly balanced by director Gaye Taylor Upchurch. The appealing four-member cast is excellent. Wilson Bethel as Tim conveys a great sense of a man at the top who has become aware he may not be able to maintain that peak while straddling the dichotomy between his public and private selves. Alex Mickiewicz as Sergei is often very funny, with his on-court bravado juxtaposed against his fears and his drive to succeed. Zoë Winters as Mallory and Natalia Payne as Galina offer distinctive counterpoints to their respective partners. The play is straightforward, wellcrafted, and highly entertaining. Advantage Roundabout. Richard Nelson’s gentle yet profound examinations of characters have a quiescent power that often manages to leave one shattered. That was the certainly the case with his most recent trilogy — the Gabriel plays. Following the fates of an upstate New York family through last year’s wrenching election virtually | November 23 – Novembe r 29, 2017

“ass man.” Bambach made the shocking event of the fresco’s unveiling come alive as she led us to a print depicting the layout of the Sistine Chapel at that time. “Here we begin to see why this would be very scandalous,’ she explained. “You see the pope at the altar, officiating Mass, the cardinals, and then the noblemen, a deeply ceremonial place. Now, imagine having all those naked people on the altar wall! What is absolutely fascinating is the extent to which Popes Clement VII and Paul III allowed Michelangelo to have this extraordinary creative freedom, because they wanted him to portray what he wanted to, as long as it was a last judgement and resurrection of the dead. But many of the succeeding popes did not feel this way and [besides the censoring loincloths] there were threats to pull it down. “Much of the controversy and

public accusations of indecency were fueled by the published letters of [poet] Pietro Aretino [who accused the artist of turning the Sistine into his whorehouse with those naked figures]. They came out of his frustration that he was unable to get a single drawing from Michelangelo, although many of them had been consigned to the fire. In several letters to him, he grovels but the artist doesn’t even deign to answer. It’s interesting to think about these things and the insatiable desire even back then to own something made by Michelangelo. Aretino was an incredible art collector, and it would have given him prestige to own a Michelangelo, who was by then a huge celebrity. There were concerns about his health and this was extraordinary, as it was not common then. Of course, we have all of this in the art world today, but this was unheard of, so this was the beginning of all that.”

in real time, we watched, transfixed, as their lives happened in front of us. The small moments of this ordinary family’s lives, which could have gone unnoticed, became at once poetic and theatrical — creating remarkably powerful and deeply human pieces of social criticism. In his new play, “Illyria,” also at the Public, Nelson uses many of the same techniques that made the Gabriel plays so compelling. The play is largely naturalistic conversation, and one has to pay close attention not to miss parts of the dialogue. (Assisted listening devices are available and recommended for even those who might not normally use them.) Events unfold slowly, characters are revealed, and there is no large, dramatic resolution. The topic this time, though, is more documentary, centering on the Public Theater itself during an early year of the New York Shakespeare Festival when city politics and challenging finances almost doomed a young Joseph Papp’s efforts to mount “Twelfth Night.” In the Gabriel plays, the story was secondary to the characters’ experiences, so their wandering structure made sense. In “Illyria,” however, the linear plot is central to the piece, and Papp is the central character around whom everything centers. (After all, the audience is sitting in the Public Theater and knows how things

turned out.) What’s dramatized are not the events but the characters’ reactions to them. In the Gabriel plays that worked because the audience was responding in their own lives to the same cataclysmic events that were affecting the characters — and they brought those feelings to the theater. In an historical play, that immediate, personal context is missing for the audience. Nelson attempts to overcome that by dropping in asides about events outside the world of the play, but it often gives the dialogue a self-conscious feel. That said, the play is engaging. The characters are real people, including Joe and Peggy Papp, director Stuart Vaughan, actress Colleen Dewhurst, and others. Nelson directs them with the same sensitivity to believable behavior that is his trademark. In the end, however, there are too many events and too much information crammed into the play to work with the directorial and performance style employed here. Despite its laconic pacing, the play seems crowded — overcrowded, really — with incident, as Wilde would have said. The documentary subject matter is interesting, of course, as part of New York and theatrical history, but ultimately it keeps the audience at a distance and leaves one wishing that the technique better served the topic.


DIVORCE, from p.6

who needed to get a dissolution of a marriage, or perhaps a civil union or domestic partnership. But published decisions on this point are scarce, so Cooper’s effort may fill an important legal gap now for foreign nationals who marry in the US and then return home. “There are good reasons to allow this uncontested divorce action to proceed irrespective of the parties’ inability to meet the one-year residency requirement,” the justice wrote, finding that Gruszczynski made a “compelling argument” that “a strict application” of the Domestic Relations Law is “inequitable and discriminatory.” Cooper noted how New York City carried out a promotional campaign after marriage equality became available to lure out-of-staters to get married here, generating substan-

DREW DROEGE, from p.31

ter who’s way more on the side of ‘Let’s be loud and queer.’ I wanted to be a big old drunken mess. We all know that guy and have even been that guy. “It’s fun to do, but at first, I was worried about how this one man show was going to work. And then I saw Annette Bening portray [monologuist] Ruth Draper in the 1920s, and I was overwhelmed, because this woman created all these 20-minute monologues. This was way before sketch comedy and she wasn’t really a comedian, more a commentator on the women in her world.” Droege has strong views about media representation of the community, which his play confronts: “We’re still writing gays who are either straight-acting or are really sassy and have the perfect life. I don’t see much else represented. Patrick Russo called these characters ‘Swish ‘n Fetchit.’ We’ve moved so beyond that that so many gay characters are boring. ‘Hey, dude! I’m like, dude!’” Hailing from North Carolina, Droege went to school at Wake Forest and now lives in Los Angeles. “In New York, there are only so many spaces you can fill. In LA, you have a shot, and so many people have moved there. I love coming to New York but have never lived here, so to me, it’s a magical


tial additional business for the city’s hotel, restaurant, tourism, and retail businesses. He quotes a figure, stated publicly by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of a quarter of a billion dollars in extra business revenues during the first 12 months — July 2011 to July 2012 — of the marriage equality era in New York. “Having accepted New York’s invitation to come and exercise their right to marry as a same-sex couple, the parties now find that they are being deprived of the equally fundamental right to end the marriage,” Cooper wrote. “Thus, they face the unhappy prospect of forever being stuck in their made-in-New York marriage, unable to dissolve it here or in their home country. Clearly, equity demands that the parties be spared such an excruciating fate.” The justice noted a parallel decision by the Albany-based Appellate

Division’s Third Department in 2011 authorizing a New York trial court to dissolve a Vermont civil union so that one of the partners would not have to establish residency there to terminate their relationship. Cooper also explained the policy concerns that led New York to establish its divorce residency requirements in the first place. When the state was early in liberalizing divorce law, there was fear that out-of-staters seeking to escape more demanding requirements in their home states (such as proving adultery) would flock to New York to divorce, inundating the courts. Since then, divorce laws throughout the country have been dramatically altered to allow no-fault divorce everywhere — including, ironically among the last to join that trend, recently in New York — so that the incentives to come to this state specifically to divorce, at

least from elsewhere in the US, have disappeared. In light of that, wrote Cooper, “It is difficult to see how permitting plaintiff and defendant to pursue their uncontested divorce here would somehow open the floodgates to our courts.” The court directed Gruszczynski to resubmit the uncontested divorce papers to the New York County matrimonial clerk within 30 days, and the clerk was directed to accept and forward the papers, “including the proposed judgment of divorce,” back to the judge’s chambers “for review and signature.” Nobody is going to appeal this ruling, so there will not be an appellate ruling that could create a binding precedent on trial courts, but Cooper obviously took pains to write an opinion that would be a very persuasive precedent for future reference.

place where I work and do shows. I’ve never struggled here, but I know it’s really hard.” Although enjoying success today, Droege has paid his dues. “When I was doing theater at Wake Forest, I was never the lead or encouraged. I was always the weird third spear carrier from the right. But I did spend a summer in London doing conservatory training, which I loved and could do all day long. Shakespeare, Moliere, Mamet, really fun, but there was something that didn’t quite fit.” One of Droege’s most hilarious and certainly most irreverent videos is titled “Maya Angelou is an Asshole,” in which that venerated, but kinda pretentious cultural high priestess is lambasted in no uncertain terms after a semester spent in a class of hers. “She was horrible, literally with that attitude of ‘Aren’t you glad to be in my presence?’ She’d say things like, ‘When you walk into a room, you throw your energy to the back wall.’ Okay, but what a nightmare colony we’re creating with that. Just enter the room, cross, and sit down, bitch. “But it was a really good lesson: never attach anything to an artist outside of their work. I was so young and impressionable, expecting her to have the answers. Nobody has the answers. We’re all complicated. She had led this life and overcome a lot and had

nothing to learn from us. I taught improv for 10 years, and I learned so much from people in a way I’d never experienced, to create characters. You learn from the whole class, and I was able not to think about myself and what I was or wasn’t doing for three and a half hours. It was off-putting when my students asked me, ‘How would you do it?’ or about my career.” Self-producing has been key in Droege’s carer: “There’s a really small group of gay character actors in Hollywood, and when any of us get anything it’s a victory for all of us as we’re all working as hard as we can, doing a million things. We all get along and see each other at auditions, but then they’ll get a big name, who is gonna cost more money and might be a lovely person but they’ll have so many people involved. “And the audience really doesn’t care about ‘names,’ they just want to see something authentic, which is why reality TV is so popular. But the Internet and YouTube have changed everything, where now you don’t have to see everything somebody’s done. Like if Julia Roberts has a big flop, it’s not going to end her. Now, nobody is a name where, if you get a flop, you’re done. It’s not that way anymore.” Improv sketch at the Groundlings in LA was an invaluable experience for Droege.

“All these character actors I loved — Jennifer Coolidge, Melissa McCarthy — hailed from there. I began improvising my own stuff and creating my own voice. That was the real shift, doing a lot of live shows and then the Internet came along. My friend Jim Hanson said, ‘I think we’re going to make the Chloë thing a video series.’ I resisted. ‘Nobody’s gonna watch it. I’m not really a drag queen.’ “It changed my life, and I was able to think and write from the point of view of character and all that stuff. I’ve had a very non-traditional entrée into the business. It took a long time.” The videos were up for three months and were finally featured on Perez Hilton and Entertainment Weekly, and our viewership went way up. Then came the phone calls, and I wasn’t prepared. The videos had been up for so long, among other things. People ask me, ‘How do you make a viral video?”’ That’s like asking how do you make a hit movie? You don’t know, motto being ‘Make what you love.’ “You have to keep banging. It’s hard, and there are also such a limited number of gay roles and so many straight actors can do whatever they want. “We can only play gay and, sadly, there’s a lot of gay people deciding that — because I don’t think straight people care.”

November 23 – November 29, 2017 |

FARM WEDDING, from p.9

statements against evangelical Christians and Muslims, to name a few verboten topics,” wrote Maloney. “The statements would be communicative. The statements could be demeaning. The statements would have the effect of making the ELFM [East Lansing Farmer’s Market] a hostile or intimidating environment. And, the statements would implicate characteristics listed in the Ordinance.” The city’s contention that the ordinance only regulated conduct, not speech, then, in Maloney’s view, was not correct, and the ordinance could have a “chilling effect” on constitutionally protected speech. However, Maloney agreed with the city that the argument about East Lansing’s ordinance being overbroad did not apply to the ban on discrimination by public accommodations. This, the judge found, was aimed only at prohibited conduct, not speech. He noted that although the ordinance also prohibited statements of discriminatory policy, this was merely an incidental burden on speech,

TRUMPED, from p.4

dent, nobody had been harmed so nobody had standing to bring the case. Adopting a policy that violates equal protection is deemed a harm even before it is implemented, and the stigma attached to the government officially deeming all transgender people as unfit to serve the country is immediate. The court found that Trump’s directive that Mattis study how to implement the president’s orders was not, in effect, a mandate to recommend exceptions or abandonment of the ban, undercutting the government’s argument that it is merely hypothetical or speculative that the ban would go into effect unless enjoined by the courts. Garbis went further than Kollar-Kotelly to enjoin the sex reassignment directive because the ACLU’s plaintiff group included at least two individuals whose transition procedures have already been disrupted and will be further disrupted if the ban goes into effect. The DC court had accepted the government’s argument that

intended to enforce the ban on discriminatory conduct, and as such is not protected by the First Amendment. Still, he refused to dismiss Tennes’ claim he had suffered unconstitutional retaliation in response to his constitutionally protected publication on Facebook of his views concerning same-sex marriage. Perhaps more significantly, Maloney was open to Tennes’ claim that the city’s enforcement of vendor guidelines to exclude him from participating in the farmer’s market could plausibly be a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Though the requirement that applicants signify their compliance with the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance appears on its face to be neutral and not to be targeting religion, Maloney focused on the fact that it was adopted in reaction to Tennes’ Facebook post last December. Maloney wrote, “After the City learned that Plaintiffs would not hold same-sex weddings on their farm because of Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs, the City amended the Ven-

dor Guidelines to incorporate the neutral and generally applicable law and applied it to Plaintiffs. As pled, the City’s action is a ‘veiled cover for targeting belief or a faithbased practice.’” He also found that Tennes’ complaint states a potentially viable claim under the Establishment Clause. “The facts in the complaint allow the Court to infer that the predominant purpose of the changes to the Vendor Guidelines was motivated by the disapproval of Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs,” Maloney wrote. “Specifically, the changes to the Vendor Guidelines were intended to target Plaintiffs’ religiously-motivated choices.” The judge rejected Tennes’ claim that East Lansing had violated its home rule powers by attempting to enforce its anti-discrimination ordinance against a business that was not located within the city. The court, then, while dismissing several of Tennes’ claims, left standing much of his complaint. Summarizing his holding, Maloney wrote, “Assuming the allegations are true, the sequence of

events permits the inference that the City targeted Tennes’ speech and religious beliefs and, therefore, most of Plaintiff’s claims are plausible” and should not be dismissed at this early stage in the litigation. This case arises under an unusual set of facts, and does not necessarily pose a danger to the enforcement of local ordinances that effectively forbid discrimination against same-sex couples by businesses that provide weddingrelated goods and services. But it does challenge, with potential success, an attempt by a city to act consistently with its anti-discrimination policy to deny participation in municipal activities to businesses that engage in their discriminatory conduct outside the city limits, especially when that exclusion is based on the business’ expression of policy inconsistent with the city’s anti-discrimination policy. Maloney was appointed to the court in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Tennes is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, an antiLGBTQ litigation organization.

appropriate adjustments meant the plaintiffs in that case would not be denied transition procedures, but Garbis found that the timing of the transition procedures for the plaintiffs before him would be disrupted if the ban goes into effect, so the harm was not merely hypothetical. The court based the preliminary injunction on its fi nding that plaintiffs were likely to prevail in their equal protection argument, and did not address the due process argument in that context. However, in rejecting the government’s motion to dismiss the due process claim, Garbis, taking note that the Obama administration in mid-2016 announced its intention to open up service to transgender Americans, accepted the plaintiffs’ argument that “it is egregiously offensive to actively encourage transgender service members to reveal their status and serve openly, only to use the revelation to destroy those service members’ careers.” In perhaps the opinion’s strongest statement, Garbis wrote: “An unexpected announcement by

the President and Commander in Chief of the United States via Twitter that ‘the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military’ can be considered shocking under the circumstances. According to news reports provided by Plaintiffs, the Secretary of Defense and other military officials were surprised by the announcement. The announcement also drew swift criticism from retired generals and admirals, senators, and more than 100 Members of Congress. A capricious, arbitrary, and unqualified tweet of new policy does not trump the methodical and systematic review by military stakeholders qualified to understand the ramifications of policy changes.” The only setback suffered by the plaintiffs was dismissal of their claim that the president’s bar on sex reassignment procedures also violated the military’s statutory guarantee of medical care. Garbis found that this claim lacked sufficient factual allegations. The dismissal, how-

ever, was made without prejudice, allowing the plaintiffs to amend their claim. In any event, Garbis granted the preliminary injunction on constitutional grounds against implementation of Trump’s sex reassignment surgery ban, exactly the part of the president’s memorandum targeted by the statutory claim he dismissed. The Justice Department will likely seek to appeal this ruling to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, just as it is appealing Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. By the time an appeal is considered, however, it is likely that preliminary injunctions will also have been issued by the district courts in Seattle and Los Angeles. Maybe a united front of judicial rejections of the transgender ban will convince Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose department is defending the ban, that it is time to withdraw the August 25 memorandum and disavow the July 26 tweet. Garbis was appointed by President George H.W. Bush. | November 23 – Novembe r 29, 2017



November 23 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; November 29, 2017 |

Gay City News  

November 23, 2017

Gay City News  

November 23, 2017