Page 1

Trump Ignores LGBTQ Elders 10

Relief for Homeless 20-Somethings? 06

Voting for Hope in France 17

“Please Keep Going,” Hillary Clinton Urges Page 04 DONNA ACETO

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

FREE | VOLUME SIXTEEN, ISSUE NINE | APRIL 27 – MAY 10, 2017


TRUMP TO LGBT ELDERS:

DROP DEAD The National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants is used to determine what services will be provided to older Americans in need. Trump wants the survey to stop gathering information about LGBT elders. If they aren’t represented their          community from the American map. We will not be erased. We will not be eliminated. We will not go quietly. We refuse to be invisible. We have until May 12th to make our voices heard. Sign the petition now at SAGEUSA.ORG.

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April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


COVER STORY “Please keep going,” Hillary Clinton urges 04

PERSPECTIVE RSPECTIVE When the Times mes tried gay men’s souls 16

POLITICS Queer academics versus mainstream 05

CINEMA Quad ad relights indie ndie torch 19

REMEMBRANCE Amy Ashworth, P-FLAG pioneer, dies at 92 08

“Below Below Her Mouth”: heat, at, less light 21

POLITICS GOP State Senate nixes GENDA 10

Foxy ladies Cynthia Nixon & Laura Linney 18

PERFORMANCE FORMANCE Christine ristine Pedi: Off-Broadway’s Broadway’s newest est producer 24

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GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 2017

3


POLITICS

“Please Keep Going,” Hillary Clinton Urges At LGBT Community Center Dinner, resistance preached to the choir BY PAUL SCHINDLER

“I

know the election hit a lot of us hard,” Hillary Rodham Clinton told the crowd at this week’s Center Dinner in a drolly delivered bit of understatement. After the knowing laughter subsided, the former secretary of state, who won last year’s presidential popular vote by nearly three million votes yet is not sitting in the Oval Office, added, “Even when it feels tempting to pull the covers over your head, please keep going, please remember those who came before us.” Speaking to more than 900 guests of the LGBT Community Center gathered on April 20 amidst Cipriani Wall Street’s gilded elegance, Clinton then recalled the role of Larry Kramer and Peter Staley in ACT UP, marriage equality pioneers Edie Windsor and Jim Obergefell, and the surviving family members of hate crimes victims, including Matthew Shepard’s parents, Judy and Dennis, in honoring activists “who fought for their families [and] never lost faith that justice would prevail; all the people who risked their jobs, their homes, even their lives to fight for the fundamental rights and dignity of all people. Because you marched, you organized, you brought lawsuits, you ran for office, we made progress.” The challenge facing those activists, the crowd at Cipriani, and LGBTQ Americans generally, the 2016 Democratic standard bearer said, is that “we have to face the fact that we may never be able to count on this administration to lead on LGBT issues.” Instead, Donald Trump, Clinton argued, is at the helm of a brutal backlash. “The progress we fought for and that many of you were on the front lines for and that we’ve celebrated and maybe even taken for granted may not be as secure as we once suspected,” she said. “When this administration rescinded protections for transgender students, my heart broke for all the parents who

4

DONNA ACETO

Clinton was introduced by Arianna Huffington.

DONNA ACETO

Honoree Marc Jacobs and filmmaker Lana Wachowski.

are advocating so fiercely for their child’s rights to live, learn, and go to school just like anybody else.” Cuts to HIV/ AIDS research, prevention, and treatment, Clinton warned, threaten “all of our efforts to achieve an AIDS-free generation — and we were on the way.” And, she noted, at times the Trump regime’s hostility is gratuitous. “Each time this administration elevates an outspoken opponent of LGBT equality, sometimes in particularly cruel ways — like replacing the first openly gay secretary of the Army with someone who called being transgender a disease,” Clinton said, “I picture all of the joyful, beaming couples that I’ve met, on

rope lines, backstage at rallies, at the Center, who were excited to get married, start a family, and begin their lives together.” The issues at stake, she said, range from the LGBTQ community being counted in the federal Census to the future of the Supreme Court — and beyond the nation’s borders, as well. “In recent weeks, we’ve heard terrifying accounts from Chechnya of gay and bisexual men being taken from their homes and families, tortured, and even killed,” Clinton said. “And when government authorities were confronted with these reports, their response was chilling. They said you cannot arrest or repress people who do not

exist. The United States government, yes this government, should demand an end to the persecution of innocent people across the world.” The enormity of the threats posed by the Trump administration, Clinton seemed to acknowledge, can at times be overwhelming. “When you feel a little down, when a good friend or loved one says, ‘Quit yelling at the television set,’ just remember, we need to resist, insist, persist, and enlist and make sure our voices are heard,” she said toward the close of her 15-minute remarks. “Keep fighting together side by side for equality, and we’re going to make sure that nobody turns the clock back on what we have achieved as Americans.” First and foremost on the agenda, Clinton reminded the crowd, are the 2018 midterm elections. “We can never stop fighting,” she said. “We need to dedicate these next years, the next two years, the next four years, and beyond to supporting people and organizations that are advocating for the best of American values around the world, here at home, and we also have to win elections to make it clear where our country stands.” With her audience repeatedly cheering her insistence they stay engaged, Clinton said, “I know this is a little like preaching to the choir. But that’s okay, I love standing ovations.” But if the Center crowd rained love on Clinton, she in turn took care to praise the Center, noting its role as birthplace of ACT UP and recalling a tour there last year where she discovered a “beautiful welcoming space… a hub for LGBT rights in New York City but more than that a beacon of hope, a refuge for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in every corner of our country.” Clinton also praised Center executive director Glennda Testone’s announcement at the dinner that it is launching a new “advocacy

CLINTON, continued on p.29

April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


POLITICS

Queer Left Academics Take on LGBT Mainstream Five hours of critique that even one critic could not bear BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

R

oughly two hours into a conference titled “Beyond Marriage, Beyond Equality,” Meredith Talusan, a transgender author and activist and a conference speaker, tweeted “Wow so much @HRC-bashing among queer academics has me thinking, ‘But they’re trying.’ Who have I become???” The conference, which was organized by historian Martin Duberman and held at the main branch of the New York Public Library, featured Duberman and six queer left academics on two panels. Much of the discussion at the conference was concerned with what the panelists oppose and what they enjoy criticizing –– the drive for equality under the law by mainstream LGBTQ groups and same-sex marriage. Duberman opened the conference by noting that movements that have radical left roots often see the founders “pushed off stage” and replaced by others with a narrower vision or more limited goals. “I think we’ve seen something like that pattern in the movement for gay liberation,” he said at the April 22 event. During the discussion, the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), an early and short-lived far left group that emerged following the 1969 Stonewall riots, was held up as an example of the movement’s radical roots and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ lobbying group, was held up as the embodiment of the moderate –– some of the panelists would say conservative –– impulse that supplanted the movement’s radical politics. Katherine Franke, a professor at Columbia Law School, began her comments with a rhetorical tactic that is commonly used by both the far left and the far right –– asserting that the state of society is terrible and so radical politics are called for. She compared 2017 to the early ‘70s when sodomy laws were enforced in nearly every state and no jurisdiction barred discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 2017

ALICE PROUJANSKY

Speaker Meredith Talusan, a transgender author and activist, at one point tweeted in wonderment at all the firepower raining down on the Human Rights Campaign at the conference.

ALICE PROUJANSKY

Joseph DeFilippis, a professor at Seattle University, discussed his study of eight small LGBTQ advocacy groups.

ALICE PROUJANSKY

Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Franke said, “Only one thing has changed from 1971, gay and lesbian couples are marrying.”

Hugh Ryan, a Martin Duberman Fellow at the New York Public Library.

“If we fast forward 50 years to today, we are by and large fighting the same fights,” Franke said. “Only one thing has changed from 1971, gay and lesbian couples are marrying.” Some of the panelists were concerned with the movement abandoning the critique of capitalism made by a few groups from that time. Some early gay rights groups, such as GLF, shared the goals and ideology of anti-racism, anti-poverty, and socialist organizations, though they did not necessarily establish links to those groups. “We’ve gone from trying to dismantle a system to trying to get inside it,” said Hugh Ryan, a writer and recipient of a Martin Duberman Fellowship as visiting scholar

at the Public Library. That abandonment aided the push for same-sex marriage, in Franke’s view, because lesbian and gay couples were compared favorably to the stereotype of the failed African-American family. “In that sense, winning marriage benefited from a kind of racial endowment,” Franke said, after noting that she did not believe that marriage proponents were racist. “It was easier for us to say, ‘We’re like you, straight people.’” The appeal to government and to the law that have been very much a part of the LGBTQ community winning recent gains was also criticized during the conference. Michael Warner, a professor at Yale and author of “The Trouble

ALICE PROUJANSKY

With Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life,” said that during debates about the US Department of Homeland Security shuttering rentboy.com, a website that linked gay escorts and customers, he would inevitably find defenders of the criminal prosecution asserting that it was justified because prostitution is illegal. “When did we start loving the law, and then I realized ‘Oh yeah, gay marriage,’” Warner said. “That love of the law has become far too pervasive.” As is often the case at both extremes of the political spectrum, critiques are common and solutions are less common. That was certainly the case during the conference. Joseph DeFilippis, a professor at Seattle University, studied eight small organizations that he said showed an alternative way of organizing in the LGBTQ community and were addressing poverty and racism. Questioned by Duberman, DeFilippis said that not all of them are radical, the ones that are cannot be too radical, and all of them are constrained by their legal nonprofit status. “There’s only so much they can talk about without being written off,” DeFilippis said. Lisa Duggan, a professor at NYU, touched on intersectionality during her talk, which is frequently used on the queer left when discussing organizing and setting goals. The term was first introduced by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor at Columbia Law School, and she called it “an analytic sensibility, a way of thinking about identity and its relationship to power” in a 2015 editorial in the Washington Post. Intersectionality has no agreed-upon definition. “It’s had a very strange career and many, many meanings,” Duggan said. “The term is all over social media.” Talusan spoke last and nodded to the gloomy presentations that came before her. “I’m not sure I’m going to be any less depressing, but at least I’ll be perky about it,” she said.

5


HOUSING

Advocates Seek Beds for Homeless 21 to 24-Year-Olds With state runaway, homeless youth law age limit raised, attention turns to city BY PAUL SCHINDLER

U

nder legislation signed this month by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the maximum age at which homeless young people can seek emergency housing separate from the adult shelter system has been raised from 20 to 24. Advocates for homeless youth are now turning their attention to the de Blasio administration and the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) to fund shelter beds for this population. As with homeless young people 16 to 20, those who work with youth have long identified adult shelters as dangerous places for those in their early 20s. In a written statement, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams — who played a pivotal role in pushing the Albany legislation in partnership with its sponsors, Assemblymember Helene Weinstein, a Brooklyn Democrat, and Senator Diane Savino, a Staten Island member of the Independent Democratic Conference — pointed out that homeless people under 25 often have “fears of bullying, harassment, sexual assault, and violence” in adult shelters and so instead choose to live on the street, something that forces many of them to engage in survival sex. According to experts on LGBT youth homelessness, including Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, and Kate Barnhart, who heads up New Alternatives for Homeless LGBT Youth, queer young people are particularly at risk in the adult shelters. In a memo to the seven lesbian and gay members of the City Council, Siciliano said there are “hundreds of frightened and imperiled LGBT homeless youths in our care who currently have no access to safe shelter.” Studies of the homeless youth population in New York and nationwide suggest that as many as 40 percent of young people living on the streets identify as LGBTQ. In an interview with Gay City News, Siciliano said that housing for 21 to 24-year-olds “is the one

6

DONNA ACETO

Ali Forney Center’s Carl Siciliano, VOCAL-NY’s Jawanza Williams, New Alternatives’ Kate Barnhart, and the Coalition for Homeless Youth’s Jamie Powlovich at an April 26 City Hall press conference.

DONNA ACETO

VOCAL-NY’s Jawanza Williams predicted “the city will ultimately not have a choice” but to provide more housing for the 21 to 24-year-old population.

great structural hurdle remaining” in the city’s effort to address the problem of homeless youth. The push to expand specific housing for homeless youth up to the age of 24 dates back to at least 2010, when a commission appointed by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg identified the 21-24 age range as a group at risk as much as younger people. In response to that commission’s report, DYCD broadened access to youth drop-in

centers and to its street outreach efforts to those as old as 24. The department has consistently taken the position, however, that its shelter program be limited to youth 16 to 20. Among the reasons DYCD has cited was the State Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, which until now applied only to those under 21. According to Siciliano, attorneys who have examined the legal issues told him that the state law

imposed no barrier to the city expanding its housing program, but he met with resistance from the city on that point. In any event, the new legislation removes that barrier. The debate over housing 21 to 24-year-olds emerged during a period when advocates were fighting tooth and nail to provide beds for homeless youth under 21, and to some extent there has always been tension between serving the youngest homeless people and turning attention to the older segment of youth. During the Bloomberg years, there were repeated budget battles between the mayor, who would zero out funding for homeless youth beds in every budget cycle, and the City Council, led by then-Youth Services Committee chair Lew Fidler of Brooklyn and Speaker Christine Quinn, who worked to restore what funding there was. By the end of Bloomberg’s third term, only about 250 emergency beds for homeless youth existed in the city — which meant long waiting lists for vulnerable young people with no alternatives. During his 2013 campaign, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to grow that supply by 100 beds each year. The stock now stands at roughly 450 beds, with another 100 in the pipeline — an expansion the city has shouldered without help from Albany. According to both Siciliano and Barnhart, the 200 new beds have made a significant contribution to eliminating the waiting list problem. Barnhart, whose organization works to connect homeless LGBTQ youth with appropriate housing, said she can usually arrange placement for a client under 21 within a few days. For those 21 to 24, however, it can take up to six months to find safe emergency shelter outside the adult system. To date, the only alternatives for this age group have been fewer than two dozen beds provided by Ali Forney, Trinity Place, and Sylvia Place — all of them privately funded. One step the city has re-

HOMELESS YOUTH, continued on p.31

April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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7


REMEMBRANCE

Amy Ashworth, P-FLAG Co-Founder, Dies Mother to two gay sons taken by AIDS, lifelong activist was 92 BY ANDY HUMM

W

hen Amy Ashworth died April 6 at age 92 in Ojai, California, her surviving son Everard Ashworth was asked, for purposes of her death certificate, what her profession was. “Put ‘Gay Rights Activist,’” he proudly said and that is what it reads, reflecting her commitment to the cause since 1972 when she cofounded a group in New York called Parents of Gays (now P-FLAG) with her husband Dick Ashworth, Jeanne and Jules Manford, and Bob and Elaine Benov. (Amy always credited Jeanne Manford as the prime mover behind the group.) All contributed enormously to the movement, but Amy’s contributions were singular, encompassing LGBTQ rights, the fight against AIDS, and public education on these issues through network and cable TV and countless presentations in classrooms for more than four decades. “She was a force of nature,” Everard, who works in environmental science, said, “inspired by unconditional love.” A native of Holland, her experience working as a nurse in Nazioccupied Amsterdam during World War II forged a commitment to social justice that lasted her entire life. She came to New York alone after the war and met Richard Ashworth while working at the Dutch Consulate, marrying him and raising their three sons Tucker, Eric, and Everard in Bronxville in Westchester County. When Tucker came out to them in 1972, they became founding members of Parents of Gays, marched in Pride Parades, lobbied for gay rights at the local and national level, and were instrumental in turning the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG) into a national and international organization with more than 500 chapters. They also served on the founding board of the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian & Gay Youth in 1979 that became the Hetrick-Martin Institute in 1987. Frances Kunreuther wrote that “Amy and Dick were such

8

BELA BORSODI/ VILLAGE CARE OF NEW YORK

Amy Ashworth in a photo for a profile of her in Village Care of New York’s 1999 “Legends of the Village” calendar.

Amy Ashworth at 90.

huge supports” when she took the helm of Hetrick-Martin in the early 1990s. Amy and Dick were frequent guests on the talk shows of the day, including the “Phil Donahue Show” and the late-night “Merv Griffin Show.” In 1983, Amy appeared on WNYC’s gay “Our Time” show hosted by gay pioneer Vito Russo that also featured a young Jay Blotcher. Amy offered advice on coming out to parents: “When you feel sure of yourself, I feel it is very important to go to your parents and say you are happy about who you are. Also give your parents time to digest it. You can’t be impatient. Come prepared with all the questions they may ask.” She also talked about the transformative power of participating in a P-FLAG support group for parents. Marching in the 1989 Pride Parade in New York, Amy told the Times about parents who came to their group: “The biggest thing they realize is that people don’t choose to be gay. You choose to hide it, or you choose to be open about it.’’ Amy also hosted a weekly segment on the “Out in the ‘80s” cable television program in Manhattan for several years, interviewing parents, other allies, and lesbian and gay activists — and sounding off on the LGBTQ issues of the day. In 1973, Amy and Dick joined Tucker in their first Christopher Street Liberation Day March. “Four years later,” she told me in

an interview, “our son Eric joined us and the four of us marched, Dick with his ‘Proud Father of Gay Sons’ sign and me with my ‘We Love Our Gay Children’ sign. We have always been overwhelmed by the response of the crowd, especially when we march into the Village. What is more natural than loving your children?” The Ashworths moved from the suburbs back to Manhattan in 1987, settling in the West Village. In 2007, Amy moved to Ojai to be close to Everard and his family. Amy’s activism was not just as a parent, but on the front lines of the LGBTQ and AIDS movements. She frequently testified for the city’s gay rights bill that took 15 years to pass. When Ronald Reagan, who had neglected the AIDS crisis for six years, finally appointed his President’s Commission on the HIV Epidemic in 1987, Amy testified at its first hearing in Washington. She made substantial recommendations on policy and said that she had recently lost her son Tucker to AIDS. Commission chair Dr. Eugene Mayberry of the Mayo Clinic responded by saying, “We are so sorry for your loss.” In an instant, Amy shot back dramatically and with intensity, “I don’t want your sympathy! I want your conscience! I want to you to do something.” She was incredibly focused — despite or maybe because all she had been through. And she was not going to waste any time with such a

COURTESY: EVERARD ASHWORTH PFLAGNJ.ORG

Amy, Tucker, and Dick Ashworth in the New York City Pride March in the late 1970s.

powerful panel just dealing with the personal. (I witnessed this and will never forget it.) The Catholic Archdiocese of New York was the most relentless opponent of gay civil rights from the introduction of the nation’s first gay rights bill in the City Council in 1971 — it did not pass until 1986, and then over the strident objections of Cardinal John O’Connor. Amy and Dick Ashworth met with officials of the Archdiocese in the early 1980s to try to move them on the issue. Amy reported afterwards that the priests ended the meeting by asking them, “Would you like some pastoral counseling to deal with having gay children?” Amy rolled her eyes and realized she was dealing with implacable foes. Father Bernárd Lynch wrote, “I got her into Mount St. Vincent’s to speak in Riverdale. This was regarded as a major triumph ‘speaking in a Catholic college’ in about 1980. I was able to use my connection as ‘a Catholic chaplain’ to do this... Her courage was infectious and as perennial as the grass.” Many in New York’s LGBTQ community have fond memories of Amy. Out gay City Councilmember Daniel Dromm of Jackson Heights said, “There was nothing too small for Amy to do” in the movement, citing her presence at the first Queens Pride Parade in 1993, her assistance

AMY ASHWORTH, continued on p.9

April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


䉴

AMY ASHWORTH, from p.8

to him and Jeanne Manford with the founding of the Queens P-FLAG chapter, and her defense before the Board of Education of the Rainbow Curriculum, an early, controversial, and ultimately unsuccessful effort to integrate LGBTQ issues into school lessons. Amy and Dick also co-founded a Westchester chapter of P-FLAG. Ginny Apuzzo, director of what was then the National Gay Task Force in the early 1980s, wrote, “Amy was a regular at the then-NGTF office, cheering, urging, volunteering and ever eager to do battle on our behalf.â€? Longtime gay activist Frank Jump recalled how Amy was “like an older sister to my mother Willy Jump,â€? also Dutch and also long active in the leadership of P-FLAG. Pat Galloway, a longtime ally of the community, wrote. “Back in the dark days of the mid-’80s, she was a staunch supporter of the support group for family and friends of PWAs that I started at Manhattan Plaza‌ Her relentless pursuit of the truth about the vast spectrum and scope of people’s sexual orientation helped many, many parents of LGBT sons and daughters, and by extension helped heal their families and ease the deaths of many PWAs — a monumental contribution to humanity amidst the horrors of the dark early days of AIDS.â€? In addition to her caretaking, advocacy, and support networking, Amy was a constant volunteer at God’s Love We Deliver, preparing meals for PWAs. Bridget Hughes wrote, “It was about 1991 and a group of youth from The Center’s Y.E.S. program and BiGLTYNY were doing a theater showcase and poetry reading... and there were no parents in the audience to clap for them, [but] Amy came. She came with Willy Jump and they clapped for the kids and hugged them and told them they were precious. And because the Alexander Room had no heat, they went across the street and bought trays of hot chocolates for all the young people and staff and volunteers. She saw all kids as her kids. And held them close.â€? Veteran gay activist Wayne Steinman wrote, “She could always be seen at community events as a proud parent of gay sons. But we will GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 2017

most remember a baby shower that she and PFLAG hosted for me and Sal when we adopted our daughter (now 30 years ago!).â€? Lesbian activist Miriam Yeung wrote, “Amy Ashworth had such a forceful heart. My fondest memory of her was marching in the anti-Iraq War rally at Washington Square Park after a scholarship meeting. The mounted police were starting to pen the marchers in and surrounded us on Washington Square Park North from University to MacDougal. But she yelled at the cops and waved her cane and they parted for us.â€? AmĂŠlie Wilhelmine Marie Everard was born August 31, 1934 in Aerdenhout, the Netherlands. Amy and Dick’s son Tucker Ashworth, an early gay activist and director of public affairs for the New York City Planning Department, died of AIDS in 1987 at 32, as did son Eric Ashworth, a literary agent, in 1997 at 39. For all her strength, these unimaginable tragedies plunged Amy into a deep depression, but one that she was able to climb out of with treatment and with the love and support of family and friends. Her husband Dick died in 1998 and Amy established a scholarship for LGBTQ students in his name. Amy is survived by her son Everard and his wife Brooke and their children Henry and Emma as well as Gordon Stewart, who her family calls her “son-in-spirit,â€? and legions of loved ones. In the days before caller-ID, Amy always answered with a cautious, “Hallo?â€? but lit up speaking with loved ones and always ended a call with the brightest, happiest, “Bye!â€? I’d ever heard — a grace note that left her callers smiling. Good-bye, Amy Ashworth. Your pioneering life and work eased the path for literally millions to grow up in a society infinitely more accepting than the way it was when you began showing how to love your gay children — and all children. Amy Ashworth’s life will be celebrated at a memorial service at a church built by her father in Aerdenhout, Holland on July 22 at 3 p.m. For details, contact Everard Ashworth at eashworth@algcorp.com. The family has asked that those who wish to make memorial contributions in Amy Ashworth’s name make them to P-FLAG.

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SENIORS

SAGE Fights Against “Erasure” of LGBTQ Seniors Leading queer elder advocate lining up opposition to Trump policy on annual survey BY PAUL SCHINDLER

A

dvocates for LGBTQ seniors are scrambling to mobilize opposition to a Trump administration plan to drop questions about sexual orientation and gender identity from an annual government survey of older Americans. According to Michael Adams, the executive director of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, or SAGE, the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants, which has counted the number of LGBTQ seniors each year since 2014, is a critical tool for making the needs of older Americans known to legislators and other policymakers. “The most important impact,” Adams said of the former Obama administration’s decision to incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity into the tally, “was in sending a message to federally-funded elder

SAGEUSA.ORG

SAGE’s campaign to block the federal Administration on Aging from deleting the LGBTQ community from its annual survey.

DONNA ACETO

Michael Adams, SAGE’s executive director.

care providers that this was a segment that had to be served. We saw positive results as a consequence.” Now, the federal Administration on Aging, a unit of the Administration on Community Living within the Department of Health and Human Services, has put forward its new survey format that deletes the count of LGBTQ seniors that was

done in 2014, 2015, and 2016. The agency is accepting public comment on the proposed survey form through May 12, and SAGE is pushing to get as many people as possible to submit their input. A dramatic public campaign by SAGE (which appears as an ad on page 2 of Gay City News this week) recalls the famous New York Daily News front page castigating President Gerald Ford’s refusal to bail out New York City during the height of its 1970s fiscal crisis, with the

all-capitalized phrase: “TRUMP TO LGBT ELDERS: DROP DEAD.” Directing people to the group’s website at sageusa.org, the ad also states: “We refuse to be invisible.” The new administration’s plans regarding the annual survey, Adams said, amounts to “an erasure” of older queer Americans. “Trumps wants LGBT Elders to just disappear,” the SAGE website reads. Asked what specific benefits old-

ELDERS, continued on p.11

CIVIL RIGHTS

State Senate Committee Nixes GENDA Joined by Ruben Diaz, Sr., Republicans once again turn back transgender rights bill BY PAUL SCHINDLER

I

n a move likely to end chances for enacting the long-stalled Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act during this session of the Legislature, the State Senate’s Investigations and Government Operations Committee has voted against sending the measure on to the full body for a vote. The 6-3 vote on April 25 on the transgender civil rights measure saw three Democrats in the minority, with all five Republicans joined by Bronx Democrat Ruben Diaz, Sr., an implacable foe of LGBTQ rights, voting to defeat GENDA. This week’s vote — which came about only because GENDA’s lead sponsor, Democrat Daniel Squadron, who represents Lower Manhattan and portions of Brooklyn,

10

DONNA ACETO

State Senator Daniel Squadron, the lead GENDA sponsor.

filed a motion forcing it — was only the second time a Senate committee has even taken up the measure, first proposed 14 years ago and approved 10 times by the Democratic-led Assembly. In 2010, the Judiciary Committee also blocked floor

consideration, with Republicans and Diaz united in opposition. “Today, the Senate stood with Trumpian divisiveness, discrimination, and fear,” Squadron said in a written statement. “As the Trump administration rolls back

basic protections for transgender Americans, the Senate Majority has an obligation to ensure all New Yorkers are protected. Today, not one Republican senator voted to support basic fairness for all.” Senator Brad Hoylman, Squadron’s out gay Manhattan Democratic colleague who was one of the other two “yes” votes on the committee, said, “It’s morally reprehensible that the State Senate considers transgender New Yorkers to be second-class citizens.” Juli Grey-Owens, a Long Island transgender activist who headed up this year’s push in Albany dubbed GENDA 2017, said, “We thank those members of the Investigations and Government Operations Committee who voted in the affirmative to begin the process of

GENDA, continued on p.11

April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ELDERS, from p.10

er LGBTQ Americans gained from their inclusion in the survey, Adams explained, “We saw state offices on aging and area offices on aging stepping up and doing needs assessment and designing programs to serve our community. Of course not everywhere, but in a growing number of places including in places we wouldn’t have expected.” Noting that the federal government is the largest funder of elder services across the nation, Adams added, “Our fear is that this disregard will cascade down to state and local governments.” Adams argued that the proposed change in the Older Americans survey is “part of a pattern and practice of stripping rights from the LGBTQ community” on the part of the new administration in Washington. A similar modification is also proposed for the annual survey of residents of independent living centers, which provide housing for seniors and other Americans who have physical disabilities. The Census Bureau, within the Department of Commerce, recently pulled back plans in the works — again in the Obama administration — to include questions aimed at tallying the number of LGBTQ Americans in 2020. The Census has, since 1990, accumulated data

GENDA, from p.10

passing legislation that would protect transgender New Yorkers with explicit anti-discrimination protections in our human rights and penal laws. While the Executive Branch of our federal government is politically motivated to target the marginalized and at-risk transgender community, it is a crushing blow to realize that the majority of our state senators believe that all New Yorkers are not equal.” Other groups involved in the lobbying for GENDA included Equality New York, a group that emerged in the wake of the Empire State Pride Agenda’s collapse several years ago, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Housing Works. Terri Cook, the parent of a transgender child who lives near Syracuse and wrote “Allies & Angels: A Memoir of Our Family’s Transition,” said, “The voices speaking GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 2017

on same-sex partner households, but LGBTQ self-identification has never been measured. “The federal government is the primary collector of data on so many things,” Adams said. “At the end of the day, it is difficult to make change on so many issues, elder issues included, without data.” In recognition of the critical link between being counted and getting services, New York City late last year enacted several laws aimed at better counting a variety of underserved populations — including LGBTQ residents, non-English speakers, and those with multi-racial backgrounds — for a wide array of service delivery purposes. “It’s an atrocity, a huge step backwards,” Adams said of the Trump administration push against documenting the nation’s LGBTQ population, as he also noted its reversal on protecting transgender students. “Our goal here is stop this from happening,” he said, noting support SAGE has from other leading LGBTQ and elder advocacy groups. “But there is something else we need to accomplish here. It’s clear the Trump administration thought this could be done in the dead of night. We need to show them that they can’t do this in the dead of night. We need to make it really clear they will pay a high price.”

the loudest in opposition to GENDA are the ones with the least experience understanding it. The committee members who voted against GENDA neglected their obligation, as senators, to gain a deep understanding of this critical legislation and how it impacts New Yorkers.” Many of the protections GENDA would provide were established by executive action from Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2015 in the face of intractable Senate Republican opposition, but President Donald Trump’s reversal of protections afforded to transgender students by the former Obama administration has heightened the urgency advocates feel in codifying the progress here in New York. While acknowledging that the issue is now dormant for the session that runs through June, Squadron insisted, “A very bad vote is very

Our Perspective Bloomingdale’s Needs to Recognize Value of Its Workers By Stuart Appelbaum, President Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW ince 1937, the RWDSU has represented the employees at Bloomingdale’s flagship store on 59th Street. The store is a New York City institution and an internationally famous tourist destination. Every year it generates millions of dollars in profits for Bloomingdale’s and serves as an icon for the upscale retail chain. The customer service provided by RWDSU Local 3 members is one of the reasons for the enduring popularity at this iconic store. Bloomingdale’s workers’ customer service and skills on the sales floor at the 59th street store have helped establish the Bloomingdale’s brand which has benefited the retailer’s sales both in-store and online. That’s why it’s important that Bloomingdale’s invests in its workers. They want the in-store experience to be a positive one for customers, created by motivated workers. Bloomingdale’s needs to negotiate a fair new contract with its workers by the May 1 deadline. Negotiations have so far been difficult, with the company asking for unreasonable givebacks and refusing to address issues with the commission policy that are hitting workers’ paychecks hard. At 59th Street, online sales are happening because of the work Local 3 members do on the sales floor – often spending hours providing service to customers who then finalize their sales online. In fact, Bloomingdale’s has placed signs in the store encouraging customers to finalize their purchases online. Workers’ time and attention are helping to make sales every day, but commissions that should be going to them are instead being pocketed by management. This is resulting in huge pay cuts for Bloomingdale’s workers, the majority of whom are paid only through their commissions. Bloomingdale’s workers are reporting that they are taking home at least 20 percent less than they were five years ago. Bloomingdale’s management has so far refused to consider reasonable solutions to this issue that would reward commission pay from these types of sales while still providing customers with the option to pay online for in-store sales. In addition, Bloomingdale’s health care benefits are becoming unaffordable for workers, with premiums going up each year and outpacing employee wage increases. The company also wants to take away hard-won seniority rights and other benefits from senior employees. And, Bloomingdale’s workers are also being harmed by a store policy which requires them to give up commissions even months after a sale is made if an item is returned. When they get their paychecks they don’t even know if they will be able to keep the money they have earned or will be forced to return it at a later date. The bottom line is that Bloomingdale’s needs to reinvest in its workforce to build for the future, and to protect its brand. It’s what will keep people shopping at Bloomingdale’s and online. It’s more important than ever that Bloomingdale’s ensures a positive in-store experience – and not just to make sales, but to preserve the mystique of the Bloomingdale’s brand that transcends their brick-and mortar stores. RWDSU members will not accept a contract that diminishes the value they provide for Bloomingdale’s. And Bloomingdale’s shouldn’t pursue a contract that will hurt their workers as well as their standing as a premier shopping destination and experience.

S

www.rwdsu.org

GENDA, continued on p.12

11


MEDIA

Radio’s Anti-Gay Voice Edges into LGBTQ Giving iHeartMedia, syndicator of Limbaugh, Hannity, sponsors GLAAD, Harvey Milk Foundation galas

roughly 40 sponsors of the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, which will also take place on May 6 in New York City. GLAAD has had a relationship with iHeartMedia since 2014, and the company has participated in GLAAD’s Spirit Day, an annual anti-bullying campaign. “iHeartMedia is not a financial sponsor of GLAAD or the GLAAD Media Awards,” the media watchdog group said in a statement. “They are listed as a sponsor of the GLAAD Media Awards because of their donation of airtime, which will be used for pro-LGBTQ PSAs that GLAAD will produce. iHeartMedia has a long history of donating airtime to LGBTQ organizations for culture-changing messages that reach listeners who may not often hear about LGBTQ issues.” Carusone said that it was a net positive that iHeartMedia was contributing to LGBTQ groups despite the company’s long history of profiting from the distribution of antiLGBTQ vitriol. The “inconsistency,” as he put it, of maintaining pro-

and anti-LGBTQ positions might prompt iHeartMedia to limit or drop its anti-LGBTQ radio hosts. “It’s hard to say what the line is,” Carusone said. “Sometimes an investment in a community can create a decision point… The more that they have to build these relationships with not just the LGBT community, but with other communities, the harder it is to maintain that inconsistency.” Carusone readily conceded that such an argument could apply to any company and so the question becomes is there any company that is so far over the line that accepting cash or in-kind services from them is going too far. iHeartMedia was not over that line, in his view. “I think that’s a good thing,” Carusone said. “I think it’s good when marginalized groups get money… They’re not just building up these communities, but they’re strengthening those communities.” In an email statement, iHeartMedia wrote that the company “sponsored and promoted numerous local and national LGBTQ events,” adding, “We participate in local Pride celebrations nationwide every year, and have used our airwaves, and our digital and social platforms to promote LGBTQ History Month, National Coming Out Day, the annual anti-bullying campaign #SpiritDay, and more on-air and online.” The company has “owned and operated LGBTQ stations, including Pride Radio — which has broadcast stations in Minneapolis and Austin, as well as a popular digital station on iHeartRadio. The

statement added, “It’s also important to note that we do continuously work to educate our on-air talent and programming teams, and have a best practice reference guide for our talent to speak about LGBTQ topics in an informed way. Many of iHeartMedia’s on-air talent also publicly support LGBTQ equality and use their platforms to speak and educate listeners on LGBTQ issues.” iHeartMedia is struggling financially. Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, two investment firms, took the company private in a 2007 leveraged buyout and larded its balance sheet with debt. iHeartMedia now carries nearly $21 billion in debt. The speculation in the financial press and local papers in San Antonio, where the company is headquartered, is that it will soon enter bankruptcy or be forced into bankruptcy by its creditors. Most recently, iHeartMedia has been trying to negotiate with bondholders, offering to swap its debt for shares in Clear Channel Outdoor, the billboard sector of the company that is still publicly traded. Bondholders have generally not taken the offer. “They tried to build a business model on top of these talkers who are abusing already marginalized communities in our society,” Carusone said. “It feels to me that this talk side is increasingly a diminished part of it, in fact, it’s a liability.” The Harvey Milk Foundation and the Pride Center at Equality Park did not respond to emails seeking comment.

unsuccessful December 2009 vote, where the issue went down 38-24, laid the groundwork for primary and general election activism by the community that led to a 33-29 victory 18 months later. Asked about Hoylman’s repeated argument that Senate Republicans have been unwilling to entertain any LGBTQ rights issues since the marriage win, Squadron said, “Yesterday was a strong piece

of evidence toward that conclusion. One clear lesson is that with a Democratic-controlled Senate, [passage] is a lot more likely.” With four of the five Republican “no” votes coming from senators representing either New York City, Nassau County, or the Hudson Valley — including Staten Island’s Andrew Lanza, long thought to be “gettable” — Squadron acknowledged, “It really does say something when even

moderate Republicans vote ‘no.’” Still, he noted that there are several dozen other Republicans in the Senate, some of whom also represent localities with transgender rights protections. Keeping his eye on the road ahead, Squadron said, “We know a lot more today than we did two days ago. We can see what we need to do. Look, we’re going to continue to push, continue to focus on this.”

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

T

he company that distributes leading antiLGBTQ voices to radio stations across the country is sponsoring fundraisers that will benefit GLAAD, the Harvey Milk Foundation, and the Pride Center at Equality Park in Florida. “They are the biggest, and they are nasty,” said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, a leftleaning media watchdog group, referring to iHeartMedia. “They are responsible for the worst and most extreme conservative talk radio.” iHeartMedia, formerly Clear Channel Broadcasting, syndicates Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and other conservative radio talk show hosts through its Premiere Networks subsidiary, which handles a range of content. It also syndicates the Fox Radio News Network. iHeartMedia owns and operates 858 radio stations in the US. The syndicated content is heard on more than 5,000 stations. The company is among the sponsors of the May 6 Diversity Honors Gala, which will be held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Florida. The event will benefit the Harvey Milk Foundation, which was founded by Stuart Milk, the nephew of the civil rights icon who was assassinated in 1978, and the Pride Center at Equality Park, an LGBTQ health clinic and community center in Wilton Manors, Florida. This is the third year for the gala and the first year that iHeartMedia is a sponsor. iHeartMedia is also among

GENDA, from p.11

different from defeat for the issue… Yesterday was very disappointing, very discouraging, and very disturbing, but it’s a step forward in identifying what we need to do to get this bill enacted.” Though Squadron was unwilling to draw a specific analogy, many of those involved in the 2011 victory for marriage equality felt that the

12

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April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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FAMILIES

Manhattan Court Rebuffs Ex-Partner Custody Claim Trial judge won’t apply, extend scope of NY high court’s 2016 co-parenting precedent BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

M

anhattan State Supreme Court Justice Frank P. Nervo ruled on April 11 that the former same-sex partner of a woman who adopted a child from Africa after the women’s relationship ended could not maintain a lawsuit seeking custody and visitation with the child based on the relationship she developed with the child after the adoption took place. In one of the fi rst applications of last August’s historic New York Court of Appeals co-parent ruling in Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C., Nervo found that plaintiff Kelly Gunn failed to show by “clear and convincing evidence” that she and her former partner, Circe Hamilton, had agreed to adopt and raise the child together. Such evidence would have brought the case within the conceptual sphere — if not the precise holding — of the Brooke S.B. precedent. Gunn announced she will appeal the ruling to the Appellate Division’s First Department in Manhattan, and seek an extension of the 20-day stay Nervo put on his ruling. Nervo’s consideration of the 2016 precedent from the state’s highest bench was complicated by its limitations. Brooke S.B. was a consolidation of two separate cases, both involving donor insemination where former partners planned for and carried out their child’s birth as part of their relationship, with an explicit mutual agreement they would both be parents. In both cases, the couples lived together with the child before separating. Gunn’s case posed different facts. In its Brooke S.B. ruling, written by the late Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the Court of Appeals cautiously abandoned its prior bright line test, under which a biologically-unrelated same-sex co-parent was treat-

14

ed as a legal stranger without standing to seek custody or visitation. The 2016 ruling made a specific exception for situations where a parental relationship was created by mutual consent within the context of donor insemination. “Because we necessarily decide these cases based on the facts presented to us,” AbdusSalaam wrote in that case, “it would be premature for us to consider adopting a test for situations in which a couple did not enter into a pre-conception agreement. Accordingly, we do not now decide whether, in a case where a biological or adoptive parent consented to the creation of a parent-like relationship between his or her partner and child after conception, the partner can establish standing to seek visitation and custody.” Gunn and Hamilton, who entered into a cohabitation agreement” in 2007, were together until 2009. “It is undisputed that during their relationship, they entered into a plan to adopt and raise a child together,” Nervo wrote. “It is also undisputed that the parties’ relationship deteriorated over time and they entered into a separation agreement on May 28, 2010.” About 10 months later, Hamilton learned that a child was available for adoption in Ethiopia and took steps to complete the adoption. Gunn claims that despite their separation, she facilitated the adoption through a substantial monetary payment as part of their separation agreement, which made it possible for Hamilton to “establish a home sufficient to pass inspection by the adoption agency.” Gunn also arranged a business trip so she could travel with Hamilton and the child, Abush, on the London-to-New York part of Hamilton’s trip home after getting custody of the boy in Ethiopia. Gunn presented evidence of her continu-

ing relationship with Abush, though she conceded “her involvement with the child was limited because [Hamilton] would disapprove.” Hamilton argued that the couple’s plan to adopt and raise a child together “dissolved contemporaneously with the dissolution of the parties’ relationship.” Gunn’s involvement after she adopted the child, Hamilton asserted, was “only a supportive role as a close friend.” Gunn was “merely a godmother,” not a parent, said Hamilton, who argued she did not “encourage, facilitate, or condone a parental relationship” between Gunn and the boy, who is now seven years old. In attempting to adapt the Brooke S.B. ruling to the facts in this case, Nervo interpreted the earlier case to extend to an adoption situation — but only if the plaintiff could show, by clear and convincing evidence, that the parties planned to adopt the child and raise it together and carried out their plan within the context of their continuing relationship. He found that the two women had such a plan prior to their separation, but it did not continue through the adoption process and the raising of the child. The timing of Gunn’s lawsuit is interesting. Hamilton adopted Abush in 2011, but Gunn did not file her lawsuit until September 1, 2016, two days after the Court of Appeals decided Brooke S.B. Prior to then, her suit would have been blocked by the earlier precedent the Court of Appeals overruled, Alison D. v. Virginia M. from 1991. In an April 20 article, the New York Times reported that Gunn went to court “to prevent her former partner… from moving to her native London” with the child. Her complaint first went before Justice Matthew F. Cooper, who issued an interim order restraining Hamilton from relocating Abush to London while the case was pending. The case

was then assigned to Nervo, who held hearings sporadically from last September 8 until February 16 of this year. Nervo’s ruling this month granted Hamilton’s motion to dismiss the case, denied Gunn’s motion, and vacated Justice Cooper’s order restraining Hamilton’s travel to London with Abush. However, recognizing that Gunn would likely appeal and could have grounds to argue that last year’s Court of Appeals’ precedent should be given a broader reading, Nervo stayed his order for 20 days. A prompt appeal could extend that stay while the case gets appellate review. In a lengthy summary of testimony from both women, Nervo wrote, “Upon the presentation of the evidence of both parties over 36 days of testimony, constituting a hearing transcript of 4,738 pages, 215 exhibits on behalf of petitioner, and 126 exhibits on behalf of respondent, the court finds the petitioner has on numerous occasions stated that she did not want to be a parent and gave no indication to either respondent or third parties that she either wanted this role or acted as a parent. Therefore, she has failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that she has standing as a parent” in line with the Brooke S.B. precedent. The court never addressed the best interest of the child, usually a key finding in a custody dispute, because a plaintiff must first establish their status as a parent or otherwise show some extraordinary circumstances. Part of Gunn’s argument on appeal will likely be that Brooke S.B. implicitly overruled the extraordinary circumstances requirement in cases involving same-sex partners who had jointly planned to raise a child together — even in cases not involving donor insemination or a continuous

CO-PARENTING, continued on p.15

April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


CO-PARENTING, from p.14

relationship. Reading through Nervo’s summary of the evidence — which is unlikely to be upset on appeal, as appellate courts generally refrain from secondguessing trial judges’ findings of facts in custody and visitation cases — it seems he concluded that while Gunn has formed a relationship with Abush perhaps deeper than a mere acquaintanceship or what a babysitter might forge, there was significant evidence she had expressed reservations during her relationship with Hamilton about the adoption plans and had never directly communicated to her ex-partner after the adoption that she desired to take on co-parenting responsibilities. Given the Court of Appeals’ emphasis last year that standing would arise from a mutual agreement between the child’s biological or adoptive parent and her same-sex partner, the lack of evidence of such an

GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 2017

agreement at or after the time of this adoption meant this case could not be made to fit precisely into the Brooke S.B. precedent. At the same time, since the Court of Appeals specifically stated last year it was not ruling on factual situations different from those in Brooke S.B., the Appellate Division could take a different view. The Court of Appeals clearly rejected the bright line test of the old Alison D. v. Virginia M. case, but whether it will countenance a broader exception to the standing rules it carved out last year is uncertain. Gunn’s attorney, Nancy Chemtob, told the New York Times, “I believe that this decision doesn’t follow Brooke.” The Times reported that “Bonnie Rabin, one of Ms. Hamilton’s law yers, said the ruling should allay concerns that a trusted caretaker could suddenly claim parental rights under the state’s expanded definition of parentage. ‘That would be scary to parents,’ she said.”

15


PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

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16

BY ED SIKOV

F

rom the New York Times, we learned that the cop who was shot to death in the most recent Paris terrorist attack was not only gay but also an LGBTQ activist. Xavier Jugelé, 37, wasn’t just out and proud; he was especially public about it. As the Times noted, “Officer Jugelé joined protests against Russia’s ban on what the Russians called ‘homosexual propaganda’ before the 2014 Olympics.” (That apparently means that the propaganda was sexually oriented toward propaganda of the same gender.) One poignant coincidence was that Jugelé was among those police officers who had been sent to the Bataclan Theater on the night of November 13, 2015, when 90 people were slaughtered in another terrorist action. He actually turned up in People magazine for the Sting concert that took place days after the Bataclan reopened one year and one day after the mass killing. “I’m happy to be here,” he said. “We’re here tonight as witnesses. Here to defend our civic values. This concert’s to celebrate life.” The Times did just that in its story’s fi rst sentence: “He was a proud gay man and a committed policeman.” Cheers to the reporter, Lilia Blaise, and to all the Times editors who approved that lede. Queerty, when it picked up the story, cited the Times but misspelled ChampsÉlysées and left off the accents entirely. As far as the Times proclaiming the total lack of shame that many lesbians and gay men feel — and have for decades — well, it was not always thus. Frank Bruni penned a recent column about how the Times and all other news outlets took it upon themselves to unsex the famous and enormous chef James

Beard. It wasn’t as though Beard was closeted; no, he was forced into an extra-large storage room by news organizations, the Times among them, which purposely failed to note that Beard was as out and proud as Xavier Jugelé. He made no attempt to hide; the Times did the hiding for him. The same held true for the food critic and chef Craig Claiborne. Claiborne’s column in the Sunday Times Magazine was usually the fi rst and sometimes the only thing I read in the whole paper when he was at his peak in the 1960s and 70s. It would have helped me greatly to have such a gay role model. By the way, Claiborne was also noteworthy for sticking a gigantic pin in the ass of the late Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who had to be told of the severity of the AIDS epidemic over lunch, at Claiborne’s invitation, when Claiborne informed Sulzberger that he and his newspaper really ought to do a better job of covering the crisis, given the colossal number of deaths in the city and all. And who can forget William F. Buckley, Jr.’s 1986 call on the Times’ op-ed page for the government to forcibly tattoo all HIVpositive people? Buckley’s clever Buchenwald-based identification system was to have everyone tattooed at the presumed site of the infection: IV drug users would be tattooed on their arms, while gay men would be tattooed on our asses. This piece of journalistic terrorism should never have been printed, and I still hold the Times responsible for its tastelessness, let alone its fear-mongering. It’s stories like this that have led the longtime AIDS and gay rights activist and professional pain in the butt Michael Petrelis, now based in San Francisco, to advocate for a public apology to be issued by — and printed in — the Times. Good luck with that, Michael. In/on Pink News the day af-

ter the French elections came this choice observation: “Incredibly, polling by gay hook-up app Hornet last month found that despite [Marine] Le Pen’s pledge to scrap same-sex marriage, she is still popular among gay men.” According to one poll, one in fi ve gay men are voting for Le Pen, who is usually described as being “far right” but who actually is more of an undiluted fascist. Le Pen has not stated any plans as yet to ship all the gays to a remote camp (or, in the memorable words of the deplorable Sean Spicer, “Holocaust center.”). That honor would probably fi rst be extended to Muslims, a group toward which Le Pen vents particular vitriol. From the great Hollywood house rag Variety: “K Period Media, the upstart production company behind the Oscars darling ‘Manchester by the Sea,’ will be producing and fi nancing a drama about gay conversion therapy, Variety has learned. The project, ‘Conversion,’ will center on a religious Midwestern family, grappling with the sexual orientation of its son. The fi lm is told through the perspective of the mother, with a meaty role for its lead actress.” First of all, calling “Manchester by the Sea” an “Oscars darling” is overstating the case; yes, the picture was nominated for six awards, but it won only two (Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay). Second, by telling the fi lm’s story from the mother’s perspective, the producers have insured that there will be no doubt about what genre the fi lm will fall into. It will be a melodrama. Were it to be told through the son’s perspective, it would have been a horror fi lm — rather like the excellent “Night of the Living Dead,” with the religious fascists taking over where the flesh-eating zombies left off. Follow @edsikov on Twitter and Facebook. April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad

Voting for Hope in France

KELLY COGSWELL

A public gathering of Macron supporters at the Paris-Bercy stadium on April 17.

BY KELLY COGSWELL

T

he first round of France’s presidential election is over, and it’s down to the centrist Emmanuel Macron and the candidate of the extreme right, Marine Le Pen. I think Macron will win. God, I hope so. In many ways, he was the most progressive in the pack, emphasizing education, human rights, social mobility, economic justice (achieved through reform rather than revolution), and the democratic process. It is to his credit that he was, and is, the candidate most hated by Putin, partly because nine of the other 10 candidates wanted to leave Europe, not stay and push for reform. My girlfriend’s been campaigning for Macron for weeks, going door to door in our modest Paris neighborhood, leafleting at metro stops, and in the outdoor food markets. Here, in the 11th arrondissement, situated between Place de la Nation and Belleville, she saw a clear racial divide among voters. Young white lefties mostly stumped for the leftwing populist, Jean-Luc Melenchon, but almost everyone with roots in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, West Africa, happily took Macron’s fliers and stopped to chat, even grabbing my girlfriend’s arm, assuring her at length that God was on their side. “Don’t worry, we’ll win.� One supporter was impressed that, on a trip to Algeria, Macron acknowledged that French colonialism had included crimes against humanity. GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 2017

More importantly, he refused to recant, hedge, or soften his words, even though there was a total uproar afterwards that set back his campaign. Another liked his plans to improve schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods, but also offer retraining for the unemployed and continued education for everyone in this new world where technology and information advance rapidly. Others Macron voters support his plans to modernize a fossilized economy and create jobs in this country with 9.6 percent unemployment, making it easier for them to start new businesses, from small law firms to nail salons. They are tired of being offered handouts instead of jobs, palliative care instead of access to social mobility, which begins quite literally with public transportation. Out in the Paris banlieues, the suburban ghettoes, it’s a lengthy and expensive process to get to jobs in the city, assuming you can find one. They applaud when Macron calls it “house arrest�. Like him, they see plenty to criticize in Europe, but they also embrace it. They understand a Frexit would be an economic disaster for France — and probably the end of the European Union. They know that retreats into nationalism are never good for anyone, particularly for minorities. Immigrant-bashing is Britain’s new pastime, like in Trump’s white nationalist US. They are glad that Macron is young and hopeful, but pragmatic. Many, like my girlfriend, have seen

what happens when authoritarian populists come to power and are quite certain that utopias of the left and of the right, like coalmines and salvation by old-time manufacturing, are pipe dreams that belong to the last century. Unlike the white French, few of

those with immigrant roots consider Macron tainted by the three and a half years he spent in an investment bank. One immigrant I know considers the experience a plus. If you want to reform an economy, it helps to have real world experience on how one operates and to accept that globalization is as much of a fact as mechanization. It’s how you handle it that counts. Women’s rights and gender parity in his movement En Marche are an important part of Macron’s platform. He’s also recovered his footing on LGBTQ issues even though he initially stumbled trying to reach out to right-wing voters that had opposed marriage equality. Last Monday, we went to a big public meeting, and Macron’s supporters represented — as they claim — the face of France, including an enthusiastic range of ages, races, genders, ethnicities, and accents. Big screens broadcast images of the crowd, and when it showed two dykes who were surprised to see themselves there, they suddenly smiled, turned to each other, and

䉴

MACRON, continued on p.28

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17


THEATER

Foxy Ladies Cynthia Nixon, Laura Linney sharpen their claws in classic tale of avarice and revenge BY DAVID KENNERLEY illian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes” has one of the juiciest female roles in American theater: Regina Giddens, a greedy matriarch conniving for control of the family cotton business in Alabama at the turn of the 20th century. None other than Tallulah Bankhead originated the Broadway role; in revivals, Anne Bancroft, Elizabeth Taylor, and Stockard Channing did their best to outshine that iconic standard. And now, in the Manhattan Theatre Club’s splendid new production, it takes two actors to fill the role. Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney play Regina at alternating performances (Nixon did the honors the night I attended), swapping out another key role, that of Birdie Hubbard, Regina’s flighty, foolish sister-in-law. The two characters couldn’t be more different. If the kindhearted Birdie represents artistic culture, then the brusque Regina personifies hard-nosed capitalism. Tackling both roles in repertory is a testament to the versatility and courage of these gifted actors. Nixon is extraordinary as the ruthless schemer, manipulating her brothers to snag a larger share of a lucrative, can’t-miss business deal — building a cotton mill so they no longer have to ship their crop to a facility

THE LITTLE FOXES

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JOAN MARCUS

Cynthia Nixon, seen here playing the Regina role, and Laura Linney, as Birdie, in the Manhattan Theatre Club production of Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes,” directed by Daniel Sullivan.

up north. Beneath Regina’s cold exterior lies an even stonier heart. Nixon masterfully amplifies the cynical, borderline bitchy demeanor that she perfected years ago as Miranda on “Sex and the City,” to chilling effect. Greed is hardly Regina’s only motivation. Her money-grubbing brothers, Ben and Oscar, played to smarmy perfection by Michael McKean and Darren Goldstein, inherited their daddy’s fortune and, as a woman, she received zilch. She had little choice but to marry the now-ailing Horace Giddens (the ever-reliable Richard Thomas) not for love, but to secure her future. Now it’s payback time. Linney’s somewhat mannered take on Birdie makes less of an impact,

Manhattan Theatre Club Samuel J. Friedman Theatre 261 W. 47th St. Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m. Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $70-$150; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 30 mins., with two intermissions

mostly because it’s a quieter role. The quadruple Emmy-winner is certainly convincing as the artistic dreamer who drinks too much and waxes nostalgic about the glory days of her family’s plantation, which was taken over by her husband, Oscar. Linney shines during a revelatory, hearttugging monologue, between gulps of elderberry wine, where she admits that, on her wedding day, everyone knew Oscar married her for the cotton fields but she hadn’t a clue. And that she secretly dislikes her son, Leo (Michael Benz), who takes after his avaricious daddy. Regina’s 17-year old daughter, Alexandra (Francesca Carpanini), has a special bond with her Aunt Birdie and, at the play’s climax, has to make a tough choice between culture and capitalism. Director Daniel Sullivan wisely

takes a straightforward approach to this classic 1939 drama (no gimmicky projections or winking anachronisms here). Under his careful guidance, the three acts move at a fast clip. The handsome, realistic set of a vast, genteel parlor, anchored by a curving staircase, is designed by Scott Pask, and the eye-popping period costumes are by Jane Greenwood. And yes, there is an old-timey red velvet curtain that announces the opening and closing of each act with an exclamation point. In this gripping, psychologically rich revival of “The Little Foxes,” character and plot mesh seamlessly. Many of its themes still reverberate today: the tyranny of big business, the corrupt power of an unethical moneyed class, the disgrace of racial oppression, and the failure of doing nothing when crimes of injustice are committed. No better is this articulated than in a pointed speech by Addie (Caroline Stefanie Clay), the devoted black servant. “Yeah, they got mighty well off cheating negroes,” Addie says of the Hubbard family. “Well, there are people who eat the earth and eat all the people on it like in the Bible with the locusts. Then, there are people who stand around and watch them eat it. Sometimes I think it ain’t right to stand and watch them do it.”

Playing Tricks Girl discovers love, show goes to pieces, and story is full of illusions in three engaging evenings BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE he new musical “Amélie” would be perfect for a first date. It’s endearing, not too demanding, and with the magnificent Phillipa Soo in the title role stages a charm crusade that is nigh irresistible. That may seem like damning with faint praise, but “Amélie” may little pretense of having big ambitions. Rather, it seems designed to divert and enchant on a small scale. It’s a gem, albeit an imperfect one.

AMÉLIE

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Walter Kerr Theatre 219 W. 48th St. Tue.-Thu. at 7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $49.50-$169.50; ticketmaster.com Or 866-745-3000 One hr., 50 mins., no intermission JOAN MARCUS

Adam Chanler-Berat and Phillipa Soo in Craig Lucas’ “Amélie,” with music by Daniel Messé, lyrics by Messé and Nathan Tysen, and directed by Pam MacKinnon.

I had never seen the movie on which the musical is based, so the

story of a shy, young woman who lives to do good in the world while not drawing any attention to herself was new to me. As a child Amélie lost her mother, lived in an overly protective world, and used her outsized imagination as a coping mechanism. As an adult, she moves to Paris, works in a bistro, and quietly helps people. Whether finding ways to instill confidence in a fledgling writer or urging on a tentative relationship, she stays well in the background un-

THEATER, continued on p.26

April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


FILM

Renovated Quad Relights Indie Torch Venerable moviehouse proud of its downtown tradition, commitment to queer classics BY SEAN EGAN ou go back and look at listings in New York magazine from the late ’70s of movie theaters, and you’ll see there were dozens of movie theaters downtown and none of them are around anymore,” explained film programmer C. Mason Wells. “They’re all practically gone — but the Quad remains. The Quad has always persevered and somehow eked through in very different time periods in New York exhibition, and kind of changed with the times, and adjusted and showed all different kinds of movies, and I love that. The theater is a fighter. It always has been; it will continue to be.” The latest chapter for the Quad (34 West 34th Street; quadcinema. com) began this month when the four-screen cinema reopened after a two-year renovation process, under the new ownership of Cohen Media Group. Since being founded in 1972 as the city’s first multiplex, the Quad built up a reputation as a go-to neighborhood moviehouse, as well as a haven for cinephiles looking for top-quality queer, independent, arthouse, foreign, and repertory films. This eclectic slate made the theater both a local gem and a respected cultural destination in its own right; no less than Andy Warhol was a frequent patron. “Keeping those strands alive is a crucial aspect of this,” elaborated Wells, an IFC Center veteran who has been tapped to be the renovated Quad’s director of repertory programming. “We have two managers who’ve worked there for decades who are still going to be our managers. But at the same time it’s a brand new space, and we’re going to be kind of building on what the theater has always been and represented, and kind of adding these new ideas, new programs, new exciting things. So it’ll kind of bridge that gap between something that has this history that a lot of other spaces in New York don’t.” The renovation has ensured the Quad is well equipped for this gap-bridging mission. In ad-

“Y

GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 2017

COHEN MEDIA GROUP

Hugh Grant and James Wilby in James Ivory’s 1987 Maurice, which will be presented in a restored version as the kick-off to the Quad’s series of lost queer classics beginning May 19.

CALEB CALDWELL

The Quad Cinema’s “red” theater, with the U in Quad emblazoning the ceiling in neon.

dition to standard features like a popcorn-stocked concession, the space will feature funky modern touches — like the huge, rectangular arrangement of 32 screens on its back wall, which will be programmed to play unique video content year-round. The four theater spaces are color-coded (red, black, blue, and gray) and each is outfitted with a sleek neon-light letter; when taken collectively, they spell out “QUAD.” And, most importantly, their screens are outfitted with the tools to screen in 4K digital, 3D, and from 35mm and 16mm prints. “There are still so many films that aren’t available in a digital format that if you want to program them, there’s no choice but to play a print,” commented Wells, who as-

serted that “there’s something very special and magical” about watching movies on film — especially older titles, which, as in the past, will be screening plentifully at the Quad. “We’re doing something that’s an ongoing series called ‘Quadrophilia,’ which will look at the great films that screened at the theater in the past,” said Wells, noting that due to the deep roster of quality films that fit that bill, it will be a regular feature. “Both as a reminder to older New Yorkers who had been to the theater maybe in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, about incredible films they saw back in the day, but also to kind of educate younger cinephiles who might not know some aspects of the theater’s illustrious history.”

In its first month, “Quadrophilia” will also be complemented by another Quad-centric series, the cheekily-named “Four Play,” featuring numeric titles like “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Quadrophenia,” and “Rocky IV.” But the new programmer’s commitment to the theater’s legacy cuts far deeper than amusing wordplay. “The LGBT programming is really important to me, because for decades it was a go-to place for those types of films in the city,” revealed Wells. “We’re going to be doing a monthly series devoted kind of lost queer classics that have kind of fallen into the cracks over the course of history that aren’t as well known.” This series will kick off on May 19 with a new restoration of James Ivory’s “Maurice,” a 1987 gay romance Wells described as “a really fantastic and unfortunately lesserknown film in queer cinema history.” But then, bringing unheralded movies to the fore has always been an endeavor the Quad has excelled at. In fact, its first major retrospective program — through May 1 — focuses on Italian director Lina Wertmüller, whose taboobusting ’70s films nabbed her the first-ever Best Director Academy Award nomination for a woman, but whose films fell out of the public eye in the ensuing decades. “She has never had a comprehensive retrospective in New York, which is unthinkable to me. But somehow that’s the case, and now we have restorations of several of her classic films,” said Wells, noting “Seven Beauties” and “Swept Away” have been given 2K polish. “To be able to bring her films back to audiences and show them in the proper context is very exciting to me.” Then there’s Wells’ “lifelong dream” program, “First Encounters.” “We invite filmmakers and authors and painters and curators to select a film that they’ve never seen before and then watch it for the first time with us and with an audience,

QUAD, continued on p.20

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FILM

Labored But Elusive Wang Bing falters in film about Burmese refugees in China BY STEVE ERICKSON suppose it’s inevitable that even the greatest directors will screw up from time to time. I’ve long considered Chinese documentarian Wang Bing one of his country’s greatest living directors. Unfortunately, “Ta’ang,” made last year and now receiving a week-long run at Anthology Film Archives, is the only Wang film I’ve disliked. (He’s already moved on with a new film, “Bitter Money,” which had a one-off screening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in February.) Wang’s exposure in the US has been limited, probably because his two best fi lms, “West of the Tracks” and “‘Til Madness Do Us Part,” run nine and four hours, respectively. “Ta’ang” clocks in at a reasonable 147 minutes, but it feels longer than the entirety of “West of the Tracks.” This fi lm attempts to document the life of the Ta’ang people, a Burmese ethnic minority who have been forced to take perilous refuge in China due to civil war in Myanmar. Wang opens in a decrepit Chinese refugee camp for the Ta’ang. The refugee is a key image of our time, whether one views him or her as a photogenic victim (on the left) or a potential source of crime and terror (on the right). “Ta’ang” attempts to restore humanity to the refugee. Apart from onscreen text at the beginning and end, the fi lm never offers clear context to the Ta’ang’s struggles apart from what they

I

QUAD

and then they react live to it immediately after,” he explained. Thus far, Kenneth Lonergan (“Yi Yi”), John Turturro (“Pather Panchali”), and Noah Baumbach (“Withnail and I”) are amongst the New York notables that have signed up for the ongoing series to rectify some of their cinematic blind spots. “They’re entertaining people under any context,” noted Wells, “but I think they’ll be especially enter-

20

CHINESE SHADOWS/ WIL PRODUCTIONS

A scene from Wang Bing’s “Ta’ang.”

have to say in the course of their daily conversation. You could say it’s ideological in a larger sense but not political. But it offers a picture of refugees as full people, not walking versions of a politician’s talking points. Wang is obviously extremely interested in duration and long takes. Up until now, this has suited him fi ne. The ability to capture extremely long scenes in one shot gets more problematic in “Ta’ang.” The fi lm completely grinds to a halt during a lengthy section devoted to a group of Ta’ang people sitting by a fi re talking. There are several obvious points made: the Ta’ang live in a world without electricity, much less television, cell phones, or the Internet. The bright red glow of the fi re gives the scene a demonic mood, casting the proceedings in a sinister light even when the conversation is completely in-

nocuous. All these points are made very quickly, and the section seems to drag on for an hour. I’m usually not one to play armchair editor to fi lmmakers, but I would’ve preferred a version of this section cut by at least half. In the past, Wang’s style has succeeded in immersing the spectator in someone else’s reality. His three-hour monologue “Fengming: A Chinese Memoir” is the best fi lm I’ve seen on the Cultural Revolution, and it represents fi lmmaking degree zero, consisting of a close-up of a woman talking about her horrible experiences for its entire length. Something’s happened since then. At least in “Ta’ang,” Wang’s sense of pacing has gone out the window. The sequence set around the fi re is the most egregious example, but the entire fi lm feels bloated and damaged by the ease of shooting very long takes on

video. At his best, Wang can take us to a completely different world, like the industrial town slowly being dismantled in “West of the Tracks”; some of the imagery of “Ta’ang” recalls the hellish fi res of that nine-hour epic, but that’s all there is to this fi lm. I haven’t seen “Bitter Money” yet, and Wang is so prolific that he’ll probably make a new fi lm by 2018 too, but “Ta’ang” is an unwelcome departure from his usual excellence.

taining in this live and raw context of watching these films. It kind of gives a real portrait of a person’s cinephilia.” Of course, as Wells pointed out, “There’s more films being made now than ever before,” and he and senior programmer Gavin Smith have ensured there’ll be no shortage of quality first-run movies. “It will be independent, foreign, documentary, arthouse titles that will be in the same adventurous vein as our repertory program-

ming,” said Wells. He highlighted early-weeks offering like Terence Davies’ “A Quiet Passion” and Bruno Dumont’s “Slack Bay” as examples of the challenging, “exciting and vibrant” premieres the Quad will be home to. It’s in this balance of the classic and cutting-edge and the sophisticated and neighborhood-y vibes that Wells sees the Quad’s strengths. The Quad “is something that’s been part of the fabric of the moviegoing landscape in one way or

another for over four decades now, so when you’re stepping into the Quad to see a movie, you’re participating in that history,” Wells concluded. “It almost feels romantic to me in a certain way, in the way that going to the movies should be. That is the feeling I want a Quad viewer to have when they’re at the theater, when they’re leaving the theater, when they’re thinking of coming back: that the Quad is a place where movies still matter.”

TA’ANG Directed by Wang Bing In Ta’ang with English subtitles Chinese Shadows/ Wil Productions Opens May 5 Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave. at Second St. anthologyfilmarchives.org

April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


FILM

More Heat than Light April Mullen’s “Below Her Mouth” is erotically charged but spare on plot

GUNPOWDER & SKY DISTRIBUTION

Natalie Krill and Erika Linder in April Mullen’s “Below Her Mouth.”

BY GARY M. KRAMER

he Canadian romantic drama “Below Her Mouth” may become an erotic lesbian cinema classic — its many sex scenes as hot as the two female protagonists — but the underlying story is hardly groundbreaking. It’s nothing readers of romance novels won’t find very familiar. The film opens with Dallas having sex with Joslyn (Mayko Nguyen). Joslyn, writhing in passion, pauses to take a breath and declares her love for Dallas. But Dallas, a love ‘em and leave ‘em type, responds by saying she is moving out. Not one to be alone for long, Dallas, who works as a roofer, catches sight of the fetching Jasmine, a fashion magazine editor, returning home one afternoon. They unexpectedly meet again that evening in the bathroom of a local bar during a “girl’s night.” The women flirt on a balcony, with Dallas claiming she has “no emotional stamina for intimacy” and Jasmine revealing she is engaged. Her fiancé, Rile, is away on business and moments later, the women are kissing. “It will never happen again,” Jasmine soon declares. The frisson between the beauty and the butch is palpable, and when Jasmine spies Dallas out her window the next morning, she quickly heads to her bathtub to pleasures herself, a moment equally ludicrous and erotic but one that will satisfy anyone who appreciates glossy soft-core pornography. That

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GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 2017

BELOW HER MOUTH Directed by April Mullen Gunpowder & Sky Opens Apr. 28 Cinema Village 22 E. 12th St. cinemavillage.com

night, when Jasmine finishes up work early to meet Dallas for “one drink,” she takes audiences along in exploring the possibilities of forbidden desires. When Dallas rests her hand between Jasmine’s legs in the bar, it is pretty clear where things are headed. Director April Mullen, working from a screenplay by Stephanie Fabrizi, does best when she concentrates on the Sapphic sex — up against a wall outside the bar, in the bed of Dallas’ truck, on top of her kitchen table. “Below Her Mouth” pulses with erotic energy and may leave viewers trembling, especially when the women are biting each other’s nipples and rubbing their crotches together. Of course, the film also needs dialogue — to give the sex scenes some emotional context and to fill the spaces between them — but a sequence in which the women hold hands and embrace while on a day trip together offers unremarkable insight, except for Dallas’ resistance to talk about her coming out, which suggests it wasn’t an issue

䉴 HEAT, continued on p.23

BRINGING MANHATTAN to BROOKLYN 943 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11230 646.494.7227 | AtlasSteak.com 21


OPERA

Who’s Afraid of Hugo Wolf? The Met fields an old “Aida” and a new “Rosenkavalier” BY DAVID SHENGOLD he Met finally replaced its beloved if stodgy 1969 staging of “Rosenkavalier” with Robert Carsen’s clever, usually over-busy production from Covent Garden, sporting striking if not always handsome Sezession sets (Paul Steinberg) and outstanding pre-World War I period costumes (Brigitte Reiffenstuel). Strauss and von Hofmannsthal crafted three stupendous act endings; to me, Carsen finessed only the first, with the Marschallin exiting through doors seemingly closing down possibilities. Act II’s group photograph and the “surprise” military massacre at the very end both draw on currently egregiously overworked clichés. Some ideas and images were brilliant, but then Carsen would have furniture moved or multiple couples dancing pointlessly at key musical moments. Opening night occasioned boos for the production team but no one booed April 17’s second night. Instead, there were cheers for the strong musical performance under Sebastian Weigle. He left a generally swift and clean account, though tempos slowed during virtually all moments featuring Renée Fleming, with typical prudence taking (tentative) leave of the operatic stage in a role congenial in some ways but requiring careful husbanding of her never abundant middle voice. She looked predictably lovely and sang the high music ravishingly with her trademark whipped cream tone. Hers is a gracious but rather recessive dramatic presence onstage — especially as counterposed with such stage animals as Elina Garanca and Guenther Groissboeck, both of whom gave brilliant, well-worked out performances and, unlike Fleming, handle conversational music with aplomb. The Austrian bass’s testosterone-laden characterization is an engaging, linguistically idiomatic study that makes one re-evaluate the opera. Still, one wished at times for less shouting and more legato. Marking her last appearances in

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KEN HOWARD/ METROPOLITAN OPERA

Renée Fleming and Elina Garanca in Robert Carsen’s staging of “Rosenkavalier” at the Metropolitan Opera.

this “trouser” role, Garanca’s remarkably convincing Quinquin and astounding, oversexed Mariandel were voiced in rich, beautifully phrased lines. She won — and deserved — the greatest ovations. If somewhat small-scale, Erin Morley’s dramatically feisty Sophie sounded lovely, especially in highlying phrases. Markus Brück’s Faninal knew his business but barked like Alberich. Styled as Enrico Caruso, Matthew Polenzani honored the legacy of such past Met exponents of “Di rigori armato” as Di Stefano, Gedda, and Pavarotti. Easter Sunday late afternoon is an odd recital time, but on April 16 Anne Schwanewilms and Malcolm Martineau drew a goodsized crowd to Alice Tully Hall for a Richard Strauss/ Hugo Wolf program under the auspices of “The Art of the Song.” It proved among the season’s best recitals, with the German soprano in pristine voice and a charming mood plus the Scottish pianist achieving wonders of sensitivity and tonal caress throughout. Schwanewilms started very ethereally, with slow tempi and rather disengaged sound, but her soprano gained in richness and shine throughout, and its enduring purity of attack and dynamic subtlety impressed as much as the expressiveness she can bring to

bear with a fairly uncomplicated tone color. The two composers at issue, near contemporaries, both showcased her particular gifts. Impressive throughout in some rather recondite songs, she moved me to tears in the final Wolf numbers (“Gesang Weylas” and “Verborgenheit”) and in her two radiant Strauss encores, the evergreen “Morgen” and “Allerseelen.” Renée Fleming is very professionally reliable, and has a listed “cover”; but cool that Peter Gelb had two acclaimed interpreters (Schwanewilms and Krassimira Stoyanova) to call on if necessary. One hopes their Princesses will be heard locally soon. The company’s eternal — well, 29-year-old — and crowd-pleasing “Aida” soldiered on through the season’s third and fourth changes of principals. March 27, under Daniele Rustioni’s not unpromising but rather bumptious direction, the biggest news was Stoyanova in her latest company assignment. A remarkably musical and tonally even singer, the Bulgarian lirico-spinto soprano doesn’t shatter memories in the role and occasionally needed extra breaths, but sings Aida with artistry, commitment, and a great deal of really gorgeous sound. The other very healthy vocalist

MART Y SOHL/ METROPOLITAN OPERA

Krassimira Stoyanova in “Aida” at the Met.

was Morris Robinson’s King, aweinspiring in sound if improvable in diction. James Morris — remarkably on this stage since 1971 — still earns his check as Ramfis, as does the earnest, soldily capable George Gagnidze (Amonasro). Jorge de León — “opera handsome,” in the immortal “Parterre Box” phrase — offered a conventional, adequate Radames, tending to loud and very loud, with legato a distant dream. Kind of an “openair arena” style, but we’ve endured some way below de Leon’s level. Mezzo Violeta Urmana now pays the price of her decade-long run in soprano roles: the tone can be very lean and edgy, though she did her best to maintain legato flow and attractive timbre in soft dynamics. She held something in reserve for the Big Gay Moment, the Judgment Scene. Poignant to see a conscientious artist cope with vanishing resources. On April 4, Zankel hosted a gala celebrating the splendid career of Italian dramatic tenor Giuseppe Giacomini, at the Met for 13 years and with major innings at Milan’s La Scala (1975-2001) and London’s Covent Garden (19802000), plus 73 Vienna State Opera performances (1977-2000).

HUGO WOLF, continued on p.23

April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


HEAT, from p.21

for her. Jasmine admits she had a summer romance with a girl that ended when her mother discovered them, while Dallas insists she’s always been in charge of her sexuality. Her confidence is what makes her so damn sexy — though her striking blonde hair and blue eyes don’t hurt either. “Beneath Her Mouth” reveals little about the characters beyond their bodies. The women exhibit

HUGO WOLF, from p.22

My live memories of Giacomini are resonantly ringing Cavaradossis (“Tosca”) in New York (1980) and San Francisco (1985), a luxurycast Met Banquo (1982), and — in 1988 — a sensationally sung and remarkably dignified Canio (“Pagliacci”) alongside Diana Soviero and Juan Pons: the most effective performance of this iconic dramatic tenor role I’ve ever seen. Regrettably, that Met run marked the last appearances in a healthy company career that began with

some friskiness by slapping each other in Dallas’ truck before kissing in the rain and then heading into Jasmine’s house where Dallas uses a strap-on on her in the bathtub. The conflict over Jasmine’s engagement is clumsily telegraphed in a scene where Rile discovers his fiancé’s affair. The question of whether the two women will end up together provides what suspense there is in the film, with Dallas soothing her emotional pain in a strip club and Jasmine trying to

rekindle the spark with Rile in the bathtub where she’s gotten off with Dallas and by herself. The love triangle creates some plot tension, but “Beneath Her Mouth” is largely 94 minutes of erotic eye candy. As Dallas, dazzling newcomer Erika Linder sets the screen on fire, compelling simply by walking around her apartment topless — never mind in the film’s many sex scenes that will have some viewers swooning. Natalie Krill as Jasmine is equally

committed in her full-bodied performance during the erotic encounters, but less convincing during dramatic moments — though that could be the fault of the flimsy script. In support, Sebastian Pigott as Rile has only a handful of scenes, but he too spends most of his screen time in the buff. What Mullen’s film lacks in a strong story, it makes up for in its charged eroticism. Some viewers may feel the need to head for the bathtub Dallas enjoys so blissfully.

“Forza del destino” in 1975 and encompassed two new productions, “Don Carlo” as well as that “Macbeth.” But, as gala organizer Matthew Laifer said, Giacomini’s serious, no-frills achievement was eclipsed by the “Three Tenors” media circus. The enthusiasm and high vocal promise of some of the young participants to honor Giacomini’s legacy went some distance to allay disappointment at the widespread Slavonic tongue and jaw tension and imprecise diction and musicality, neither a factor in the tenor’s forth-

right, enduring artistry. One singer — present onstage for financial rather than artistic contributions — proved deeply embarrassing, and headliner Alessandra Marc evoked mixed emotions with a still potent, remarkable voice under diminished control in Turandot’s aria. But there were several high points: a steamy, luxuriant “Mon coeur” by Nancy Fabiola Herrera, Eglise Gutierrez’s immaculate style and control in “Al dolce guidami,” the stylistic refinement and healthy sound of Tim Renner’s Silvio, and the resplendent sound of

Issachah Savage’s “Ch’ella mi creda,” probably the most direct homage to Giacomini’s art. Eve Queler and Douglas Martin valiantly led members of the OONY orchestra. After a video clip of the tenor and Sherrill Milnes singing the “Otello” Vengeance Duet, they took the stage for Milnes’ genial and Giacomini’s moving speeches. A justified tribute to an underappreciated star. David Shengold (shengold@yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues.

COMING IN SEPTEMBER OF 2017

Manhattan. 2 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10011 A new day care center for children ages two to five will open its door for 2017/2018 school year. The GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 2017

center will be offering enhanced academic programs, dance/ movement, languages, sports, and art classes. The specific disciplines will be finalized based on the enrollment and the selection made

by the parents. For information and application please contact our Main office at 212-938-1223 ext. 112 vborsen@lifeadjustmentcenter.com

23


Spoofing “Hamilton,” Saluting Comden Christine Pedi, Off-Broadway’s newest producer, set for Feinstein’s/ 54 Below show May 3 BY DAVID NOH he multi-talented Christine Pedi is a genuine New York treasure, delighting us for years now with her hilarious impressions of all our favorite Broadway divas — boobalicious, crusty-voiced Bernadette, pear-toned if a tad wobbly Julie Andrews, a Sherman tank of a Stritch and, of course, an endlessly manic Liza. A new chapter has opened up for her with “Spamilton,” by master satirist Gerard “Forbidden Broadway” Alessandrini, which marks Pedi’s debut as a producer. I caught this breathlessly paced, uproariously funny romp at The Triad on April 21, and shook with laughter at its breezy send-up of a certain juggernaut of a show, spectacularly performed by a troupe of incredibly versatile talents. I adored the luscious looking and sounding future star Nicole Vanessa Ortiz, who easily tossed off the only female role’s incredibly challenging and varied tessitura, intricate choreography, and impressions — ranging from Beyoncé to Janet Jackson to JLo to Audra McDonald. My admiration increased infinitely when Pedi told me that this was her very first performance in the show, as a replacement. “I’m learning all the things I never knew I never knew, to quote a song lyric,” Pedi told me after the show, in which she had also made an hilarious guest appearance, channeling Peters and Minnelli in the form of Sondheim’s raunchy beggarwoman, pleading for “Hamilton” tickets. “I was at Broadway.com last year and said to [producer] Jordan Roth, ‘Who in their right mind wants to be a producer?,’” she recalled. “‘A very short list of people get rich being a producer. You’ve truly got to a cockeyed optimist. And then I became one.’ But he said, ‘You’re a rare breed because you’ve been a performer, a member of the press, and now you’re a producer.’” For the last 15 years, Pedi has hosted a Sirius Radio show on Broadway, Monday through Fri-

T

24

DAVID NOH

Christine Pedi and David Noh.

SPAMILTON The Triad 158 W. 72nd St. Through May 28 Tue.-Sun. at 7 p.m. Sat. at 2:30 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $69-$98.90; spamilton.com/new-york

day, 9-3 p.m., and on Saturday, with Seth Rudetsky, “The Dueling Divas.” “So I’m very aware of press releases, etc. My primary concern is always with the actors, working in that tiny confined space at The Triad, doing this locomotive of a show. When I did ‘Forbidden Broadway’ there originally in 1996, the theater used to own the restaurant downstairs, but now they don’t, so part of the dressing room has been turned into a dishwashing station... dignity, always dignity, to quote Comden and Green! [Laughs.]” The show, which will be moving to the 47th Street Theater in June, originally opened last summer, on a workshop basis, three times a week. “Gerard wanted to see what he had and he had something on day one. It has not changed, really, although it’s been tweaked. The bones were essentially there and as it went on, they extended it and decided to open it officially. It got

CHRISTINE PEDI SINGS COMDEN & GREEN Feinstein’s/ 54 Below 254 W. 54th St. May 3, 7 p.m. $30-$65 at 54below.com $5 premium at the door $25 food & drink minimum

great reviews and has all the spirit of ‘Forbidden Broadway.’ ‘Hamilton,’ itself, is so multi-layered, about history, ambition, love, and New York, that Gerard couldn’t have picked a better show to create a new chapter in his life as a satirist.” Indeed, “Hamilton,” not “Rent” or “The Book of Mormon,” was one show that, for me, truly lived up to the hype. I had a single press ticket for a performance downtown at The Public during a wicked snowstorm and was prepared to grouse as soon as I took my seat. Ten minutes into it, I was utterly entranced, as was Pedi. “Me, too! I took Andrea McArdle to see it and at intermission, she said, ‘This is usually not my kind of show. I’m a traditional loud, fast, and funny girl but, boy oh boy, is this amazing!’ We were beside ourselves with love for the show. She’s actually quite shy and didn’t want

to go backstage, but I knew [LinManuel Miranda] would love to meet her. “He couldn’t have been lovelier with this show. He came and loved it and then brought his family. “I was at the recording session for ‘What the World Needs Now is Love’ [the all-star Broadway charitable effort for last year’s Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting], and Lin was there. We were in rehearsal already for ‘Spamilton,’ but I couldn’t tell him about it. I said, ‘Gerard told me that many months ago, you told him you had an idea for a number he could do but you never told him what it was.’ He said, ‘Well, I think there should be a number about how everybody’s sobbing at the end of the show — naming who dies — sobbing and sobbing.’ He smiled, sheepishly: ‘I know “Forbidden Broadway” is going to eviscerate us.’ “Little did he know that at that moment, Gerard was creating ‘Spamilton.’ I told him what Lin’s idea was, and I always know what Gerard’s thinking, when the wheels are turning. He said, ‘Could it be this song?’ And that one he turned into ‘Cry,’ and when he saw it, Lin said that was exactly what should have been done with that number.” I told Pedi that this show must be rather liberating for Alessandrini, an escape from having to make fun of so many already brain-dead shows, season after season — what can one say about non-events like “Amélie” or “Bronx Tale?” “Absolutely! He’s thrilled because this show has a bit of a story arc, whereas, with ‘Forbidden,’ you go through 13 weeks of previews before you get the perfect running order of songs. He would pull one out because it wasn’t working, and then the whole show would fall apart because you couldn’t get an actor in a certain costume in time. The whole structure had to be rethought. He did that for over 30 years, and it’s very stressful. I’m so glad you noticed that, David, because it has been very liberating

SPAMILTON, continued on p.25

April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


SPAMILTON, from p.24

for him.” Among Alessandrini’s chief fans is none other than Stephen Sondheim, “who has been a consistent supporter of Gerard’s work. He came to see this early on. Martin Charnin was weeping tears of joy, because he loves the form. It’s more important than ever now to be able to laugh at ourselves at this particular juncture in the evolution of our country.” “Spamilton” productions have been planned in every city where “Hamilton,” is scheduled to run, like Chicago where it opened, and Los Angeles in November, which will kick off the national tour. “The show is like a locomotive, and I was stunned by how timeconsuming the audition process was for it. Our performers have to have a solid musical theater voice, also pop — even operatic — and be able to lock the audience in with their gaze. It’s also fully choreographed, so we have got to have triple threats.” Pedi will be celebrating another legendary wordsmith when she brings her Betty Comden show to Feinstein’s/ 54 Below on May 3, the centennial of Comden’s birth. “I adored her and got to know her in her later life. I would visit her and sing for her, as she was really homebound by the end. They’d bring her out and she’d lie on her chaise longue, and we’d sing and sing. I’d bring Michael Levine and Matthew Ward, who would play for me. She and [her partner] Adolph Green came to see this show I’m doing many years ago, and then he passed away. “I did it again, especially for Betty, and instead of a car service, I had my parents pick her up and bring her downtown to Mama Rose’s. When they got out to help her up the stairs, my first high school musical director was walking in. My Dad yelled, ‘Hey, Joe! Help me carry Betty!’ [Laughs.] His jaw dropped! Cy Coleman came, and Joe Franklin, Steve Ross, and Maria Friedman, too. “I admired her above and beyond her ability as a lyricist because she was a woman in a man’s world and she made it look easy. She had class and style, and was on a very short list of women in her field to this day, writing book GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 2017

and lyrics, prolific for six decades. When I did my first cabaret show, I knew I’d have to do a lot of ‘Forbidden Broadway’ impressions, but then when I knew I had to move it forward I chose Comden and Green material because they wrote wonderful parts for women, full of character, personality, and energy. I got wonderful reviews, and not a single person asked, ‘Why didn’t you do impressions?,’ because they felt like they had already gotten characters, a wide variety of women’s voices. These were not wimpy leading ladies and I maintain that, at the point where another lady would sing the blues or a torch song, their leading ladies always put a spin on the negative, making it a positive, whether it was ‘It’s a Perfect Relationship,’ ‘100 Easy Ways to Lose a Man,’ or even ‘If.’ She takes ownership of the situation, and I love that!” I was lucky enough to meet the always warm and gracious Comden a few times — at the Laurence Olivier Lincoln Center tribute where she was sitting with Green and Celeste Holm, and at her very last Christmas party, where I was just about the only non-famous New Yorker there. She was quite frail at the time and spent the night sequestered in her bedroom, watching a football game, while a solicitous Wendy Wasserstein guided people in, a few at a time, to say hello. I was able to tell her that, even above her dazzling musicals like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Band Wagon,” I loved her “It’s Always Fair Weather,” with its bittersweet look at life and how it changes people and friendships. “Really?” she asked, pleased but surprised. “It was not a success!” Pedi got to spend her final birthday party with her. “Her lawyer was there, and Pia Lindström. We had cake and ice cream. I’m doing my show on May 3, which was her birthday. I’m so lucky to have been alive when she and Adolph were on this planet together. As people, they were the spirit of New York, with the style and accents, and having them in my audience I knew instinctively that they were on my side. It was a privilege and an honor to know them, and if I live long enough, maybe kids will ask me questions about them. I just wish I wrote more things down.”

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THEATER, from p.18

known and unacknowledged, living a solitary life. Her neurosis (though that seems such a strong word for this gentle, well-meaning creature) is so internalized that when she is confronted with the potential for real love, she’s terrified and pretty much immobilized. To a greater or lesser degree, many of us can relate to that. The story is told in a series of set pieces that establish the character. Ultimately, she encounters an artist, Nino, and throughout the course of trying to get his lost work back to him, falls in love. How Amélie conquers her fear and takes a chance on being vulnerable consumes the second half of the show. As I said, great for a first date. Craig Lucas’ book captures the sweetness of the tale, though it takes a while to get going; the exposition is complicated. The music by Daniel Messé is pleasant if not memorable, but the lyrics by Messé and Nathan Tysen are often extremely clever and insightful, their seeming innocence delightfully belied by sophisticated rhyme and meter. Any reservations one might have about the structure of the show, however, are more than compensated for by Soo’s performance. She plays Amélie as a gamine with a pixie-like charm and sense of humor that offsets her darker side. She sings with delicacy and flawless technique that send chills of pleasure up one’s spine. Adam ChanlerBerat is perfectly cast as Nino. He has an appealing presence that is part innocence, part passion and manages to be both challenging and non-threatening to Amélie. If anyone can bring this bird to light, it’s him. Chanler-Berat has an excellent voice and an inherent earnestness that work throughout. The rest of the company fills a variety of roles very well. The sets and costumes by David Zinn evoke Paris, though the show as written doesn’t seem too intensely French, presumably by design. Pam MacKinnon has directed with delicacy and humor appropriate for this tiny tale. Clocking in at an hour and 50 minutes without intermission, the show knows not to overstay its welcome. In a world of muscular musicals, the delicacy of “Amélie is decidedly welcome –– but much more

26

JEREMY DANIEL

Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields, and David Hearn in Lewis, Sayer, and Shields’ “The Play that Goes Wrong.”

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG Lyceum Theatre 149 W. 45th St. Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 & 7:30 p.m. $30-$139; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., with intermission

and it might start to cloy. That said, when Amélie is finally able to experience a little of the joy she brings to others, it’s a hard heart indeed that would remain untouched. “The Play that Goes Wrong” portrays either every producer’s nightmare or every 11-year-old boy’s idea of the pinnacle of comedy. I’ll go with the latter, and my internal fifth grader had the most wonderful time at this screwball comedy where each successive screw-up provokes gales of laughter. The moral is that when everything goes wrong, the best thing to do is laugh, and when we’re talking Broadway, rather than politics, it’s a much-needed tonic. The production by Mischief Theatre is about a college theater troupe staging a murder mystery from the 1920s. Mayhem ensues. It is some of the most hilarious mayhem you’ve ever seen on a stage, and to give away too much would be to wreck the fun. To call it a “door-slamming farce” is the most egregious understatement. It starts with a door and falls apart from there. The piece recalls the very best of Monty Python in terms of witty silliness and gonzo slapstick. Playwrights Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields started with the idea of all the things that could go wrong in a play — and then never stopped. By the end of the first act, sides aching from laughter, one wonders how they could possibly up the ante…

IN & OF ITSELF Daryl Roth Theatre 101 E. 15th St. Through Jun. 18 Tue.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sat. at 3 p.m. Sun. at 3 & 7 p.m. $58-$248; ticketmaster.com Or 866-745-3000 One hr., 15 mins., no intermission

and then they do. The company is absolutely smashing, especially at smashing. The physical comedy is gasp-inducing hilarity with absolute precision. At the same time, the determination of the characters to capture the 1920s spirit is artfully inept and amateurish. Watching the characters try to regain the artifice as their lives are in real and constant danger is part of the fun, particularly when it’s obvious these actors are playing amateurs hearing the response of an audience for the first time or when a stage manager gets caught on stage and sees the audience. These clever bits humanize the situation and let us empathize with the poor actors caught in an epic disaster. Humanity is essential to this piece’s success; otherwise all the goings-on might seem mean-spirited. Instead, this is classic comedy as the hapless heroes undergo outrageous fortunes. Pretty much everyone who has ever appeared on a stage has stories of the odd thing that goes wrong in a production, how they got through it and lived to tell the tale. Now imagine every single one of those stories in one show, and you begin to get the idea. Over the years, I’ve observed that shows often fall apart in the second act. I’ve never before meant it as the highest praise. I’m the perfect audience for illusionists. I love how they play with our perceptions, and I never want to know

INANDOFITSELFSHOW.COM

Derek DelGaudio in “In & Of Itself,” directed by Frank Oz, at the Daryl Roth Theatre through June 18.

how it’s done. It’s the only situation in which I like being tricked or played with. In college, I had a roommate who was a sleight-of-hand magician, and I would sit at our kitchen table watching for hours as he practiced. “In & Of Itself” is a perfect show for someone like me. It combines an engaging story about how one man became an illusionist with a variety of mind-bending tricks that are nothing short of dazzling. Like “The Object Lesson” earlier this year, the illusions appear in the context of larger story and make the mechanical theatrical. In this case, the overarching theme is how we find out identity, how events shape us, and how we respond and grow. Written and performed by Derek DelGaudio and directed by Frank Oz, the show is warmly philosophical, with the illusions woven into DelGaudio’s story. He is the opposite of a stage magician; his style is understated and honest, rather than flashy. All the better to make the illusions more surprising. DelGuadio’s illusions are diverse — close-in magic, vanishing, and predicting, for instance. He says that as a young man he set out to learn a range of tricks from the best people he could find. It was the antidote to a challenging childhood, and we are the better for his determination and skill. The best trick of all, though, is the artful way DelGaudio weaves all of this together into a compelling piece of theater. April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ADVERTORIAL

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

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

GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 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.

27


PERSPECTIVE: The Long View

Modest Advance on Drug Harm Reduction BY NATHAN RILEY

U

nable to quell a steep increase in overdose deaths, New York City has opted to create a Municipal Drug Strategy Advisory Council that will include drug users and propose new policies and pilot programs that could save lives and give a helping hand to beleaguered opiate users. However, the new inter-agency body, with community participation, will exert its influence only through moral suasion. The evolution of this new Advisory Council –– which under early proposals would have taken the form of a mayoral office with formal policy-making authority –– demonstrates that the stalemate on drug policy and reform here remains unbroken. New York City policy continues to careen between a prohibitionist reliance on criminal law and a public health focus on harm reduction and compassion. Sometimes, the city takes from column A, other times from column B. It was neither the mayor nor the City Council that announced the new Advisory Council but rather harm reduction advocates. “We are looking for an approach that is a bit more holistic,” said Alyssa Aguilera, the co-executive director of VOCAL-NY, in a phone interview. “The health department is doing harm reduction while the police crack down often on the same block.” Joining Aguilera in pointing to the Advisory Council’s potential was Peter Schafer of the New York Academy of Medicine. “We hope to see a more supportive and less punitive approach coordi-

KELLY COGSWELL

An excited member of Youth for Macron in line at the Paris-Bercy stadium.

28

nated across the city agencies,” said Schafer, who is the Academy’s deputy director for Family Health and Disparities. In a prepared statement, Schafer focused not on heroin users entering rehab to kick their drug habit but rather on “improving” drug users’ “health and well being,” and diminishing the punitive impact of anti-drug laws and stigma that force users “to hide their drug use issues” fearing “negative repercussions” from city agencies. Official opprobrium, he emphasized, is the greatest obstacle to successfully curbing the overdose crisis. Advocates for community medicine want city decision makers to accept the obvious: drug users will always be here so just get used to it and adapt policies so they are consistent with that reality. Basing policy on the assumption that a person can only be helped if they enter treatment means the crisis continues with people shot, in jail, or bereft of breath dying from an overdose. Police officials, of course, believe they are protecting the public by reducing supply, but recurrent crises –– whether cocaine, crack, meth, or heroin –– argue that prohibition doesn’t work. Meanwhile overdose deaths have skyrocketed. Looking at the surging overdose pattern overall in the US, Dr. Dan Ciccarone, a professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, said, “It’s the steepness at which it’s climbing” that is “horrible.” Preliminary numbers for 2016 suggest “overdose deaths are growing at a rate comparable to the height of the HIV epidemic,” according to an Up-

shot report in the New York Times. Here in New York, drug deaths have grown in every year since 2010. This has not always been the rule. From 2006 until 2010, overdose deaths declined an average of 22 percent a year, but after 2010 a dramatic reversal occurred. By 2012, deaths had risen from 541 to 730. Last year, the health department said, drug deaths totaled at least 1,075. That number is greater than the combined toll from homicides and vehicular accidents. In 2015, Corey Johnson, the City Council Health Committee chair, introduced legislation creating a Mayor’s Office of Drug Strategy to create a coherent policy that bridged the yawning gap between prohibition and public health strategies. The original bill would have created a full-time staff backed by the authority of the mayor’s office to forge a unified policy across all city agencies. Drug users and harm reduction workers in needle exchanges would have met agencies like the Police Department and the Housing Authority on an equal footing. Staff from the mayor’s office would have been responsible for drafting reports and negotiating policy. That proposal died, and an Advisory Council with no full-time staff replaced a Mayor’s Office. The mayor, under the Advisory Council’s authorizing legislation, “will designate an agency or an office to prepare” short and long term plans and recommendations, but staff will carry out this work in addition to their existing duties. A report out of the City Council Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disabilities makes clear that no funding has been es-

tablished for the Advisory Council. The good news, however, is that there is a requirement that the Advisory Council consult with “stakeholders,” including harm reduction and treatment programs and drug reform organizations. The radical step here is that stakeholders must include “persons directly affected by drug use, persons formerly incarcerated for drug-related offenses, and experts.” Drug users and former drug users will have a seat at the table. The last time opiate users died in large numbers from an epidemic was during the early years of the AIDS crisis. In response, an innovative prevention strategy radically curtailed new HIV infections by making sterile needles available to users. HIV prevalence rates among injecting drug users fell precipitously from 50-60 percent to just 5 percent. That success demonstrated that drug users are not obsessively self-destructive; using new sterile needles became routine for them. Drug reformers today emphasize peer outreach and desperately want to see supervised injection facilities established, where a nurse would be on hand if a user overdoses. Many needle exchange programs are eager to fold this service into their existing programs. If the modest Advisory Council approach the city finally embraced fails to produce new policies, it could mean another six years of New Yorkers dying preventable deaths — a sign we learned nothing from the AIDS crisis, where the unthinking blamed gay men’s sexual habits rather than finding ways that allowed men to have sex without transmitting the virus.

while at the same time acknowledging that France hadn’t achieved them. That France had to modernize the economy and create job growth, but at the same time continue to protect the vulnerable. That he had to engage with countries like Russia, but still denounce the abuse of human rights, including the concentration camps in Chechnya where they are torturing gay men. When he mentioned those, the horror was visible on his face. If I could vote for him, I would, not

just to thwart Marine Le Pen, but because I believe in his platform. Whether or not he can pull it off is another story. He’d have to get a majority in the legislature and unify a fractured country. He may not even get past the final round vote on May 7. One obstacle: a substantial minority of the extreme left prepared to sacrifice people of color and immigrants — among many, many others — as they self-righteously proclaim, “Anybody but Macron.”

MACRON, from p.17

kissed, and the crowd went wild with cheers and applause. A few minutes later, it was two men kissing, also to great applause. When Macron finally spoke, I found myself agreeing with nearly everything he said, especially his insistence on complexity and his use of the phrase “en même temps” — at the same time. He was comfortable expressing pride in the ideas of the Enlightenment,

April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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Center executive director Glennda Testone and West Side State Senator Brad Hoylman.

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Carmelyn P. Malalis, the out lesbian chair of the city Human Rights Commission.

ä&#x2030;´

CLINTON, from p.4

and mobilization programâ&#x20AC;? to allow it â&#x20AC;&#x153;at a momentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s notice to inform and mobilizeâ&#x20AC;? the community on critical issues, an effort currently in the planning stage and about which more details will be available by June. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is the right step,â&#x20AC;? Clinton said of the new initiative. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is absolutely essential that you do this.â&#x20AC;? When she announced the new program earlier in the dinner, Testone told the crowd that three donors had each issued $25,000 matching challenge grants. Four more donors in the crowd immediately pledged $25,000 each â&#x20AC;&#x201D; more than enough to redeem the challenge grants. Testone also elicited donor commitments from the crowd on hand for more than $100,000 to support the Centerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s internship program and $15,000 to fund its free legal clinic evenings. In her remarks, Testone argued that while the gains the community has made may be â&#x20AC;&#x153;fragileâ&#x20AC;? given the new political climate, LGBTQ GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 2017

DONNA ACETO

ADPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s out gay CFO Jan Siegmund.

people themselves are â&#x20AC;&#x153;not fragile,â&#x20AC;? but are instead ready to â&#x20AC;&#x153;resist.â&#x20AC;? All told, the event raised at least $1.75 million. Among the eveningâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s other honorees was designer Marc Jacobs, who was introduced by filmmaker Lana Wachowski (â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Matrixâ&#x20AC;? series, among many credits). Wachowski, in very personal and extended remarks, linked her gender transition of a decade ago to the way in which fashion serves to allow people to define themselves and their relationship to others. The Center also honored Carmelyn P. Malalis, the out lesbian chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, and Jan Siegmund, the out gay chief financial officer at ADP, the payroll and human resources management company. Clinton was introduced by Arianna Huffington, who thanked the eveningâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s caterers for serving a meringue cake of sorts for desert, rather than chocolate, noting that chocolate cake has now â&#x20AC;&#x153;joined the long list of things Donald Trump has ruined.â&#x20AC;?

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29


30

April 27 - May 10, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


HOMELESS YOUTH, from p.6

cently taken is the opening of Marsha’s House in the Bronx, which is geared toward providing housing for LGBTQ homeless people 21 to 30. That effort, however, is run out of the Department of Homeless Services, not DYCD, and a young person first has to spend time in an adult shelter before gaining entry to the Bronx facility. On April 26, advocates gathered on the steps of City Hall to press the de Blasio administration to step up on providing DYCD beds to the 21 to 24-yearold population. Siciliano and Barnhart were joined by representatives from VOCAL-NY and the Coalition for Homeless Youth, as well as Councilmember Stephen Levin, who heads the General Welfare Committee. By all accounts, DYCD’s reluctance on the issue has been a concern about not undercutting its efforts with 16 to 20-year-olds, given the funding it has available. “They have been concerned about resources,” said Barnhart, “that if they stretched to meet the needs of older youth, they would do so at the expense of the younger group. But rather than setting the younger youth piece of the pie against that of older youth, we need to get more pie.” Jamie Powlovich, the executive director of the Coalition for Homeless Youth, summarizing her sense of where DYCD is on the question of providing beds for the older age group, said,

“They don’t oppose it completely but they want to make sure it is different and separate from the resources for 16 to 20-yearolds.” Noting that 100 new youth beds should come on line soon, she added, “DYCD is not open to opening those beds to the older youth.” As a result, Powlovich said, advocates are seeking new resources — specifically $4.8 million, which she said would provide 50 beds for older youth, as well fund the hiring of housing specialists at all DYCD facilities to work helping young people find permanent housing solutions and the establishment of two new 24-hour drop-in centers for homeless young people up to age 24. Currently, the only such facility in the city is run by Ali Forney in Harlem. Jawanza Williams, a youth organizer at VOCAL-NY, said, “I think the city will ultimately not have a choice” but to provide more housing for the 21 to 24-year-old population. “The biggest barrier,” he said, “for DYCD before was state law that would not allow this. Now they have no excuse, and it’s our job to hold them accountable.” DYCD, Williams added, “knows the need.” He also noted that given the city’s commitment to the Plan to End AIDS, the mayor and other policymakers should see the importance of providing safe housing for vulnerable young people who, without stability, run greater risk of either becoming HIV-infected or, if positive, being unable to keep their viral load under control. In advocating for DYCD step-

ping up on older youth, Siciliano is putting particular emphasis on the Council’s lesbian and gay members. In his recent memo to the group, he wrote, “I hope that you will join us in our urgent call for the mayor and DYCD to raise the RHY age to 24. It is inexcusable that our progressive city, with the nation’s largest homeless LGBT youth population, is lagging behind the state and federal efforts to end youth homelessness, both of which now define Runaway and Homeless Youth as being 16-24 years old… it is troubling that our city, with its relatively robust LGBT political leadership, is not in the forefront of this effort to protect its most vulnerable young people.” In a written statement, out gay Chelsea Councilmember Corey Johnson said, “When it comes to runaway and homeless youth — many of whom are LGBTQ — we have to acknowledge that the need for these services doesn’t just disappear when they turn 21. We must bring our age requirements in line with federal standards and give DYCD the resources it needs to address this pressing issue.” The Bronx’s out gay Councilmember Ritchie Torres, a leader on the effort to launch Marsha’s House, which is in his district, has also voiced support for increased housing opportunities for homeless youth over 20. As of press time, neither DYCD nor the mayor’s office responded to a request for comment.

INNOVATION AWARD FOR NEW ALTERNATIVES

N

ew Alternatives for Homeless LGBT Youth in Manhattan was one of five organizations out of 500 applicants selected for a national “Renewal Award” for social innovation from The Atlantic magazine and Allstate — an effort to highlight people and organizations making a difference. Kate Barnhart, New Alternatives’ executive director, said, “We’re really grateful for the recognition for our GayCityNews.nyc | April 27 - May 10, 2017

small but dedicated organization. Twenty-thousand dollars makes a tremendous difference to us as we operate on a modest budget and are mostly driven by volunteers committed to the under-served LGBT homeless youth of New York.” Barnhart is shown here with Dave Prendergast, Eastern Territory president of Allstate and Ron Brownstein, senior editor of The Atlantic. — Andy Humm

COURTESY: NEW ALTERNATIVES FOR HOMELESS LGBT YOUTH

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