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Special Commemorative Section: 2018 Gay City News Impact Awards














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April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

In This Issue COVER STORY Nine revolting Rebekah Mercers in one museum! 06

CRIME Calls for order of protection for Abel Cedeno 12

OBITUARY David Buckel’s shocking death 05

COMMUNITY “Drastic� demands for changing Pride 13

POLITICS Statewide agenda advances on two fronts 08

THEATER Remembering Dr. H. Anonymous 20

HEALTH A closer look at U=U 10

Three Remarkable Tall Women 22

OPERA Jonas Kaufmann takes on Tristan at Carnegie 24

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GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; May 9, 2018



US Court Orders Trial on Transgender Military Ban Seattle judge rejects Trump claim newest policy is owed automatic deference BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


federal court has rejected the Trump administration’s argument that the four existing preliminary injunctions issued last year against President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban are moot because they were based on his memorandum from last August 25 and the earlier July 26 tweets announcing the ban, which the president’s most recent memorandum, from March 23, purported to “revoke.” US District Judge Marsha J. Pechman of the West District of Washington, in Seattle, one of four federal judges who had issued injunctions, released her order on April 13. Pechman rejected the government’s argument that the policy it announced in March, a month after Defense Secretary James



US District Judge Marsha J. Pechman, of the West District of Washington in Seattle, ruled on April 13 that the Trump administration must prove at trial that its new policy on transgender military service is owed deference as necessary for national security.

Mattis reported back on the issue at Trump’s direction from last August, is so different from the


The new policy the Trump administration announced after Defense Secretary James Mattis reported back to the White House faces continued hurdles in court.

one the president previously announced that the lawsuit before her, specifically aimed at that earlier policy, is effectively moot. Nor would she credit the government’s argument that the policy laid out in Mattis’ February 22 memorandum to Trump deprives plaintiffs in the case of “standing” to sue the government. The administration argued that due to various tweaks and exceptions in the policy announced on March 23, none of the plaintiffs in this case were threatened with the individualized harm necessary to have standing, but Pechman concluded that each of the plaintiffs, in facts submitted in response to the March 23 policy, had adequately shown they still have a personal stake in the case’s outcome. Most consequentially, Pechman found that the court should employ the most demanding level of judicial review — strict scrutiny — because transgender people are a “suspect class” for constitutional purposes. She decided, however, that it would be premature to grant summary judgment to the plaintiffs because there are disputed issues of material fact yet to be resolved. One is whether the government can prove that excluding transgender people from the military is necessary for the national

security of the United States. Another is whether the purported “study” behind Mattis’ February 22 recommendations is entitled to the kind of deference that courts ordinarily extend to military policies. Pechman had earlier found that the military policies under challenge should be subjected only to heightened scrutiny, not strict scrutiny, the highest standard of review, which is called for in cases involving “suspect classes.” Under strict scrutiny, a challenged government policy is presumed unconstitutional and the government has a heavy burden of showing that it is both necessary to achieve a compelling government interest and narrowly tailored to achieve that interest without unnecessarily burdening individual rights. The Supreme Court has identified race, national origin, and religion as suspect classifications, and has not identified any new classifications in a long time. Lower federal courts have generally refrained from identifying any new federal suspect classifications. Heightened scrutiny developed in that latter years of the 20th century, as the Supreme Court began to identify some types of discrimination that merited review somewhere between the demanding strict scrutiny standard and “rational basis” review, which is the least demanding approach that presumes laws that are adopted are constitutional unless plaintiffs can show they were based on animus against a particular group. Sex discrimination cases were the first to be subjected to heightened scrutiny. A growing number of federal courts have applied heightened scrutiny to cases involving transgender rights, including recent controversies about restroom access for transgender high school students, public employee discrimination cases, and lawsuits by transgender prisoners. In the four injunctions issued last fall on Trump’s trans military policy,

TRANS BAN, continued on p.18

April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


David Buckel’s Death Shocks Community Lambda’s ex-Marriage Project leader took his life to protest environmental inaction BY PAUL SCHINDLER


avid Buckel, a former longtime attorney at Lambda Legal who had led the group’s Marriage Project and advanced LGBTQ rights on a broad range of fronts, was found dead in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park early in the morning on April 14, the victim of a suicide. According to the New York Daily News, Buckel, in a hand-written note left in a shopping cart near his charred body, said, “My early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves,” he wrote. “A lifetime of service may best be preserved by giving a life… Honorable purpose in life invites honorable purpose in death. I hope it is an honorable death that might serve others.” The Daily News, which first reported Buckel’s death, reported that his body was found by the FDNY, which was responding to reports of a fire burning in the park, and by early morning joggers. In a written release from Lambda, Camilla Taylor, the group’s acting legal director who also heads up its constitutional litigation, said, “The news of David’s death is heartbreaking. This is a tremendous loss for our Lambda Legal family, but also for the entire movement for social justice. David was an indefatigable attorney and advocate, and also a dedicated and loving friend to so many. He will be remembered for his kindness, devotion, and vision for justice.” The Lambda release noted several prominent cases on which Buckel worked while at the group, which he left nearly a decade ago. In 1995 and 1996, Buckel was on the Lambda team that sued a Wisconsin high school on behalf of Jamie Nabozny who had been relentlessly harassed because he was gay. After a federal trial court found in favor of the school, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, laying out the obligations of public schools to protect students from anti-gay abuse. When the case was sent back to the lower court, the school agreed to settle GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 – May 9, 2018


David Buckel.

with an award of nearly $1 million in damages to Nabozny. The following year, the US Department of Education clarified the requirements schools have under Title IX to ensure that gay and lesbian students are protected. In 1999, Buckel prevailed against a Nebraska county sheriff for negligence in providing protection to Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was raped and murdered in 1993. Teena’s story was the basis for the 1999 film “Boys Don’t Cry,” for which Hilary Swank won an Oscar for portraying him. On the marriage front, Buckel worked on the New Jersey case that led that state’s Supreme Court to rule in 2006 that gay and lesbian couples deserved all the rights and benefits of marriage, a decision that led the state to adopt its civil union law. Buckel also argued forcefully that LGBTQ advocates should pursue a marriage lawsuit

in Iowa, a venue some considered an unlikely target but which had state constitutional protections and a Supreme Court make-up that provided a strong likelihood for success. In 2009, Iowa become the third state where gay and lesbian couples could marry. Buckel was also one of the attorneys who represented James Dale, an out gay Boy Scout leader who successfully challenged in the New Jersey Supreme Court that group’s ban on gays participating as either scouts or adult leaders, only to lose at the US Supreme Court in 2000 when the Scouts appealed the New Jersey decision. The lead attorney on that case was Evan Wolfson, who at the time was Buckel’s predecessor as Lambda’s Marriage Project director before going on to found Freedom to Marry. Saying he was “horrified” when he heard the news of Buckel’s

death, Wolfson, in an email message, said, “I have so many warm memories of David as a friend and colleague over two decades. He was earnest and dedicated, serious and kind, and worked on many important cases and battle fronts in our movement… He was such a good person and I am stunned at his death.” In an email message, Dale wrote, “David Buckel was a kind, selfless man. I’m heartbroken to learn of his early death. His work and commitment to justice have helped countless LGBT people. His contributions to equality and civil rights have made this a greater nation.” Alphonso David, who serves as counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, worked at Lambda with Buckel on cases including the marriage lawsuits in New York and New Jersey and the effort to win recognition of out-of-state marriages in New York, which garnered a court victory in 2008 three years before full marriage equality was achieved here. In an email message, David said, “David Buckel was a brilliant, thoughtful, and strategic lawyer. He always played the long game and crafted legal arguments and theories, not simply to achieve success in a specific case but to advance the goal of true equality for the LGBT community. I had the privilege of working with him on several cases and was always impressed with his intelligence, creativity and tenacity. He also exhibited profound empathy for others; a level of empathy that we rarely see. We all owe him a big debt of gratitude for his work and his commitment to LGBT equality. I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing.” Suzanne Goldberg, a Columbia Law School professor who heads its Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, worked with Buckel while both were attorneys with Lambda. She recalled, “David was a deeply passionate colleague when we worked together many years ago — and also wry and funny. I remember seeing a letter he wrote and

DAVID BUCKEL, continued on p.19



Nine Revolting Rebekah Mercers — In One Museum! Lesbian direct action group pressures AMNH on Breitbart funder’s role


Jo Macellaro donning her Rebekah Mercer drag.

The Revolting Lesbian demonstrators being escorted out by museum security.


Amanda Lugg was the uncostumed spokesperson for the protesters



he Revolting Lesbians were back on the steps of the American Museum of Natural History this month, and they weren’t afraid to get kicked out or even have the cops called on them. In fact, that was partially their goal. The Friday the 13th “horror show” was a demonstration against Rebekah Mercer — a museum trustee who has donated to various climate change denial groups, owns half of the website Breitbart, and is a board member of the data firm Cambridge Analytica. “It’s outrageous,” said Amanda Lugg, a member of the Revolting Lesbians, which formed last November to follow the money of right-wing organizations. “This institution is basically giving her a legitimacy and a cover and an aura of respectability that she doesn’t deserve.” Nine protesters wearing floor-length black robes with masks of Rebekah Mercer solemnly marched through the museum late in the afternoon. They began their march in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals near the elephants. The group — which had some dozen security officers monitoring the procession — marched in a single file line, humming and chanting: “Why am I a trustee here?” and “I do not belong at the American Natural History Museum.” After exiting, they stood on the steps facing Central Park West, continuing to chant: “Rebekah Mercer is killing our planet, get her off the board god-dammit!” “They wanted us out as quickly as possible,” said Lugg, who was not wearing a robe, but ex-



Revolting Lesbians, dressed as Rebekah Mercer, passed museum visitors.

plained to the security guards why the protesters were marching. “We wanted out just as slow as possible.” A nearby security guard murmured into a walkie-talkie, telling a colleague that the group was chanting and humming softly in the hallway. Another one told Lugg that they would have to call the police if they didn’t leave. She responded, “Well, that’s kind of what we want.” That revelation, Lugg added, “kind of stumped him.” The group’s demand is that the museum remove Mercer from the board of trustees. But the demonstrators’ second goal is much broader

than that. Many people do not know who Mercer is or that she serves as a trustee of the museum. “We’re trying to be creative and think of any way that’s different to reach different people,” said Anne Maguire, another protester among the Revolting Lesbians. The Friday the 13th horror show theme would help expose who she is, and “she is a horror,” said Maguire. Maguire and others hope the recent focus in the news cycle on the data firm Cambridge Analytica’s involvement with scraping data from

REVOLTING REBEKAH, continued on p.7

April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


That’s not the Supreme Court, it’s nine Revolting Rebekah Mercers on the steps p of the American Museum of Natural History.


tens of millions of people on Facebook will help people “connect the dots.” Mercer’s father, Robert Mercer, is a major investor of the firm, and Rebekah Mercer serves on the board. The billionaire heiress has donated more than $48 million to groups promoting climate change denial, according to the group’s review of the Mercer Family Foundation’s 990 tax forms from 2005 to 2016. She also served on President Donald Trump’s transition team alongside Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. Late last year, Mercer and her sisters acquired the stake their father sold in the Breitbart website, known for promoting alt-right content during the 2016 presidential election and since. “She’s flying under the radar,” said Jo Macellaro, another member of the Revolting Lesbians. She added that if someone with a bigger name — such as Trump or Bannon — were on the board, then “people would be furious.” When asked about Mercer’s potential influence on scientific information in the museum, a spokesperson for the museum said that is not the responsibility of trustees. “It’s not the role of Trustees or donors to make decisions about scientific and educational content,” Scott Rohan, senior publicist at the museum, said by email. “At the Museum, those decisions are made by scientists and educators based on evidence, facts, and research.” Rohan added, “As a scientific and educational institution, the MuseGayCityNews.nyc | April 26 – May 9, 2018


Anne Maguire of the Revolting Lesbians.

um believes that human-induced climate change is well-supported by scientific evidence and is one of the most serious issues currently facing our planet. We are deeply committed to presenting evidencebased, scientific information about climate change to a broad public. That has included, and continues to include, exhibitions, educational and public programs, scientific research, and content in our permanent halls, including updating content where we have new scientific information.” The Revolting Lesbians were back at the museum’s entrance on Earth Day, April 22. And in January, the group protested outside the museum with the same demands, as Gay City New reported. Their campaign to remove Mercer from the board won’t stop until she is removed as a trustee or resigns herself.



Statewide Agenda Advances on Two Fronts Equality New York, LGBT Community Center raising the profile of their advocacy


Equality New York co-founder Gabriel Blau and Bronx immigration rights attorney Luis Fernando Mancheno, a member of the EQNY advisory board, at last year’s LGBTQ Pride Rally in Foley Square.



hen the 25-year-old Empire State Pride Agenda, in late 2015, abruptly announced it was closing up shop — with only a vague pledge, that it never fulfilled, to keep its political action committee functioning — activists, advocates, and service providers in the LGBTQ community across New York were at a stunned loss as to what would come next. Matt Foreman, who led the group for two stints between 1998 and 2003, was the most forthright in expressing his alarm, warning that “the job isn’t half done” and arguing that the large and diverse queer constituency statewide needed a voice to ensure that “lived equality” became a reality. In the minds of most LGBTQ New Yorkers, nothing has arrived on the scene to carry on and move beyond the progress the Pride Agenda achieved during the most fruitful period of advances in the community’s history. Largely behind the scenes, however, there have been several years of out-


reach, meetings, conversations, and planning. Those efforts are now poised to bloom into full view — interestingly, on at least two fronts. Equality New York, an almost all-volunteer group that is building from the ground up with the support of a wide array of advocacy and service groups statewide in a diverse range of communities, is not, in fact, new. It began taking shape in the second half of 2016, barely six months after ESPA’s departure. But for EQNY, Tuesday, May 8 is something of a ready-forprime-time coming out, with hundreds of activists from around the state converging on the Legislature in Albany for LGBTQI Advocacy Day. The Albany effort is supported by a seven-page Legislative Platform that concisely lays out more than 20 legislative goals addressing four broad areas: gender expression, identity, and inclusivity; youth issues; discrimination against “intersecting” populations, including immigrants as well as parents, veterans, married couples, and business owners; and a group of issues,


Glennda Testone, executive director of the LGBT Community Center.

including comprehensive sexuality education and services for seniors, for which legislation still needs to be been drafted. Advocates affiliated with Equality New York also had a recent sitdown with Alphonso David, the out gay counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, and other top officials in his administration to discuss the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), stalled for 15 years by Republican intransigence in the State Senate. Given Cuomo’s pride in his 2015 directive that led to regulations interpreting sex nondiscrimination provisions of the state Human Rights Law to protect New Yorkers based on their gender identity and expression, the administration’s commitment to going the step further to get those reforms codified in law cheered transgender activists at that meeting and others briefed on what took place. Separate from the Equality New York push — but including at least some of the same groups working with EQNY — was a congress convened earlier this month in Albany by the New York City LGBT

Community Center. According to Center executive director Glennda Testone, the gathering, which included about 30 executive directors of service-focused LGBTQ organization statewide, was “several months in the planning” and first discussed seriously among her staff going back about a year. Testone explained that her team, with the assistance of several outside advisors, carried out a “landscape analysis” that drew on data collected about New York’s LGBTQ community in 2015 and a look at advocacy efforts going on in other states. From that base, the Center began outreach to groups statewide to determine how current and relevant the information from three years ago remains. The purpose of the Albany gathering, she said, was to begin getting formal input from other organizations on shaping an advocacy program that the Center plans to host in-house, with an approximate budget of $500,000 annually over its first five years. The pillars of that program, Testone

AGENDAS, continued on p.25

April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


Nixon’s Working Family Coup With new posture on drugs, justice, challenger rallies the left BY NATHAN RILEY


t’s official, Cynthia Nixon is no longer merely the actress from “Sex in the City,” but now the official candidate of the Working Families Party, with the opportunity to stay on that ballot line in the November election. The candidate damned for being “inexperienced” and even an “unqualified lesbian” outmaneuvered Governor Andrew Cuomo in a game of insider baseball. Cuomo suffered an abject defeat, and then lashed out by strong-arming unions to stop contributing to and supporting the WFP. Nixon is now the candidate of a united left disgusted with what activists see as “corporate” Democrats who compromise their principles to avoid taxing the ultra-wealthy. Also meeting on Saturday, April 14, in Albany was an affiliate of Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution, the New York Progressive Action Network, which endorsed Nixon, as well. Ken Lovett at the New York Daily News reported the local affiliate will press the national organization to give Nixon the nod. Sanders, careful about getting involved in primaries where one Democrat feuds with another, has made it clear that Nixon will have to prove she is capable of ousting Cuomo before he would get involved. The critical challenge facing the WFP candidate is making New Yorkers care if they vote for Cuomo or her. How would she make life different by being governor and would that matter to the voters? Given that everyone is being told that Donald Trump is the problem, why does it matter if Nixon or Cuomo is elected? Nixon can expect decent media coverage until the final weeks before the Democratic primary, at which point attention usually bends in favor of the incumbent, especially an incumbent like Cuomo who nurtures wealthy support. But Nixon is already changing policy in the state. On the same day GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 – May 9, 2018


On April 14, Cynthia Nixon claimed the Working Families Party nomination for governor.

Cuomo gave up on seeking WFP support, he conceded that New York would legalize pot at some point. Possibly, he would even push a legalization bill in the final weeks of the legislative session. With Senate Republicans likely having continued control over the agenda, they and Cuomo could enact a cramped, restrictive bill comparable to their narrow medical marijuana bill that in two years has registered 49,780 patients, though the state is unable to say how many actively use the program. It allows certain patients for specified illness to obtain drinkable solutions and pills that alleviate specific symptoms. But no patient is allowed to smoke pot or enjoy the euphoria that comes from its high. That is prohibited in New York. Other states that enacted medical marijuana by referendum like California created programs that gave pot to virtually anyone who sought it: have a bad back, a person could buy pot. Depressed and having a bad reaction to HIV meds, ditto — pot was available. Cuomo and many New Yorkers mocked this permissive approach. But its real purpose was to educate consumers and give them a mindset where they thought about what they wanted from using marijuana. Public health advocates are trying to change people’s mind about

NIXON, continued on p.12



When Did HIV Education Become Scary? A closer look at “Undetectable=Untransmittable”


The data from the PARTNER study had a weaker confidence level regarding receptive anal sex than for vaginal intercourse.



ne of the first things I learned when I joined ACT UP in 1987 was that we could understand the science behind HIV without having PhDs or MDs. ACT UP remade the face of healthcare by proving that people dealing with a disease could understand the data behind it, and use it to make informed decisions. One of the ways I have survived with HIV for 37 years is by learning about this disease myself, rather than simply following the edicts of the experts. So it’s disheartening that the same activists who inspired me to learn, and to teach others, about the medical aspects of HIV — which I’ve been doing since the late ‘80s — are now taking a very different approach. I’m now told we should not teach the data underlying the reports that people who have an undetectable HIV viral load have a much lower chance of transmitting the virus. Rather, we should simplify it to a catchphrase like “Undetectable=Unstransmittable,” because people can’t understand the nuances of the study behind it. Really? Here are the facts: a number of studies have found that people who have an undetectable viral load, and who have been adherent to HIV treatment for at least six months, dramatically lower


their chance of transmitting HIV. The most compelling data came from the PARTNER study, which followed 880 couples in which one partner had HIV and the other did not. The thing that made PARTNER stand out from other studies was that the only prevention tool used was having an undetectable viral load. No PEP or PrEP (drugs that can prevent HIV infection) or condoms were used. When PARTNER found no transmissions in more than 58,000 sex acts, it was a game-changer. Soon, many experts and activists simply stated that U=U, with no caveats whatsoever. If your viral load had been undetectable for six months, you cannot transmit the virus. Period. And many people, particularly gay men, began using this information to make decisions about whether condoms were needed with a partner who is undetectable. But when I actually read the PARTNER study, I found it wasn’t that simple. PARTNER studied both gay and straight couples, and looked at all kinds of sexual behavior. And the study clearly gathered enough data to show that the risk of transmission during vaginal intercourse was negligible. But when it came to receptive anal intercourse (bottoming) with ejaculation, the data was not as strong. While 61 percent of the HIV-negative people in PARTNER engaged in vaginal

sex, only 21 percent bottomed during anal sex. This led to a weaker “confidence level.” What does that mean? It’s a calculation based on how many people are studied and how long they are followed. For example, if a study followed only 50 couples for a year and found no infections, the confidence level would not be strong. But if a study followed 5,000 couples for 10 years, the confidence level would be very high. So my first question was this: was the difference between anal and vaginal sex significant? Not being a statistician, I read the study carefully to see what its authors said. And they clearly stated that there was a real difference in the confidence levels for the two behaviors: “Despite an observed transmission rate of zero for [anal sex with ejaculation]… an upper limit estimate of 20 percent risk over 10 years [cannot be excluded]… additional followup in MSM [men who have sex with men] is therefore needed… to provide equality of evidence between MSM and heterosexual couples, to inform both policy and also individual choice on condom use” [italics mine]. This does not mean that bottoming carries a 20 percent risk

of transmission over 10 years. It means that the risk is somewhere between 0 percent and 20 percent — a broad range. So the same research team that did PARTNER is doing a follow-up study, PARTNER2, that is focused on anal sex (since it is the riskiest sexual behavior for HIV). PARTNER2 is following about 950 couples (MSM and transgender women) for three years, to ensure that the data gathered for anal sex is equal to that gathered for vaginal sex. In order to do that, all researchers in the study have agreed to not release any preliminary data, but instead to wait until the study is complete, in 2019. To many, “U=U” is a done deal, and no caveats need be presented. For example, when I brought up PARTNER2 at a community forum on “U=U”, the moderator tried to stop me by shouting, “People don’t need to hear that! You’re scaring them needlessly!” Wow — when did information become scary? I’ve spoken to public health experts about this, and they agree that this information is important, but then do nothing to educate people about how to make decisions on condomless anal sex with someone who has an undetectable viral load. For example, when my HIV-neg-

HIV ED, continued on p.11

April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

HIV ED, from p.10

ative boyfriend saw the U=U campaign, he asked me if we could stop using condoms. I said we could, but first I told him about PARTNER2. I explained that this large follow-up to PARTNER was being done to ensure that the data on anal sex was equal to the data on vaginal sex. After he understood why PARTNER2 was being done, he said he’d like to wait until it reports its results before we take off the condom. So my question is: did I have an ethical obligation to tell my boyfriend about PARTNER2? And if I did, do we all have an ethical obligation to tell anal bottoms about PARTNER2? I’m shocked that some of my activist friends say “no” — that it’s too complicated to explain and, besides, they’re sure PARTNER2 will find zero infections. They also say, “There’s tons of data from other studies that prove U=U.” But when I actually looked at those studies, I found very little data on gay men who didn’t use condoms. For example, only 2 percent of the couples in HPTN 052 were MSM, and 96 percent of people in the study reported regular condom use. People also point to the “Opposites Attract” study (which also found zero infections) but that was a much smaller study, and the two cannot be combined due to their differences. PARTNER is the only large study I’ve seen that gathered significant data on anal bottoming without a condom, and even it didn’t gather enough to satisfy its authors — that’s why we need PARTNER2. I’m also told that the positive aspects of U=U — the reduction in stigma, the reduced transmission, and the incentive to get tested and treated — outweigh the need to talk about PARTNER2. I agree that those are all important, but I don’t feel they negate the need for personal empowerment and choice. It’s hard for me to write this and go up against so many people that I respect. But to me, the need for PARTNER2 is clear, as is my ethical duty to teach it. And the information is clear to people when I teach them. They thank me for telling them, and are angry that they hadn’t been told before. I agree that PARTNER2 will most likely find no infections. But that’s GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 – May 9, 2018

not the point! (And if it does report no infections, don’t come to me saying, “I told you so.”) The point is: are we going to turn our backs on decades of patient empowerment and start making decisions for people based on our “expert” opinions? Do we now think that information should be withheld because we’ve decided people are too slow to understand it? That goes against everything I’ve worked for in 30 years of activism. I can support someone ditching the condoms if they know about PARTNER2 and choose to rely on the experts, but almost no one I’ve talked to has ever heard of it! (And none of them has actually read the PARTNER study.) So if people feel that U=U is a done deal, why don’t they recommend that PARTNER2 be stopped? It’s a very expensive, very long study, and if people think that questions about anal bottoming have already been answered, the study should be stopped. But if we don’t feel that way, shouldn’t people be informed as to why it is being done? Couldn’t we just say something like the following?: “While experts are confident that U=U for all behaviors, people who bottom during anal sex should be aware that PARTNER2 — a larger, longer study focused on anal sex — is being done, since PARTNER did not gather as much information on anal sex as it did for vaginal sex. This study will report its results in 2019.” My final caveat is that the data from PARTNER is being applied to situations very different from those studied. PARTNER followed long-term couples, in which the negative partner could be sure that their partner was undetectable, had been for six months, and was adherent. But if you meet someone on Grindr who says he’s undetectable, do you know he really is? And that he’s been undetectable for six months? And that he’s not missing doses? Extrapolating data from the couples in PARTNER to this scenario is questionable at best. In the end, the issue is whether people who engage in the riskiest behavior for HIV have a right to know that a large study is being done on exactly that behavior. I think they do, and I’m disappointed that many of my peers feel they don’t.


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Calls to Protect Gay Student in Bronx Slay Case Councilmembers press DA to issue order of protection for defendant Abel Cedeno

lawyers, Christopher R. Lynn and Robert J. Feldman, asked for an order of protection from Judge Armando Montano, who is overseeing the case in which Cedeno faces manslaughter charges, he said that it was not within his jurisdiction to issue one and that it would have to be brought up with the judge handling the Dennis case, which does not go to court until May 21. On the way out of the courtroom, having failed to obtain the protective order, Hernandez physically collapsed and had to be assisted into a holding room by family members. Lynn said that Montano told Assistant District Attorney Nancy Borko, “You realize of course that if this robbery victim was an eyewitness to the Cedeno matter in the class then your failure to notify counsel and the courts creates a

conflict for your office and you probably will have to consider charges of witnesses tampering.” But in open court Borko said she “did not know” if the witness allegedly robbed by Dennis was a witness to the classroom incident the same day. DA Clark is prosecuting Kevon Dennis on a series of charges including felony robbery with a weapon, but has shown no interest in pursuing an investigation into evident witness tampering and threats in the case. Montano urged Borko to get the DA’s office to move up consideration of the request for an order of protection from Kevon Dennis. Borko dismissed the idea that Kevon Dennis was threatening Cedeno, telling the court that Dennis shouting, “I could have gotten him. I don’t care if I go to jail” on March 6 was just a statement of what he “could” have done. Cedeno’s older brother told Gay City News last month that he saw Dennis “pull his pants up like he is going to hit someone” and shouted, “I don’t give a fuck. I’m gonna fuck him up.” None of this seems to be of any interest to the Bronx DA. Louna Dennis, the mother of McCree and Kevon Dennis who is pursuing a $25 million lawsuit against the city for the death of her son, ignored a question as to whether the video of the classroom incident that she released to the press was illegally obtained by Kevon. When asked again if her sons were gang members as defense counsel is asserting, she said, “They can say

whatever they want. We don’t care about Abel.” Supporters of Ms. Dennis stood behind Cedeno’s attorneys at a press conference outside the court after the court appearance making gang signs. Louna Dennis’ attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, may see the case against Cedeno falling apart. The grand jury reduced the charges from murder two to manslaughter. So he keeps emphasizing “the failure of the Department of Education to have metal detectors installed despite a request from the principal and the failure to follow the Dignity for All Students Act,” the state anti-bullying law. It was Cedeno who was being bullied since the sixth grade and who contends he “snapped” when McCree charged him and pummeled him, defending himself with the knife that killed McCree with one cut. In another development, a former custodian at the school, Benito Arau, has come forward to say that he was ordered by school authorities to clean up the blood in the hallway and staircase after the September 27 incident before police investigators had any chance to take blood samples. Feldman said he will move for dismissal of the case on June 25 on that basis. “That blood should have been tested forensically,” Feldman said. “It belonged to Abel Cedeno who was injured in the mouth by McCree” and would bolster Cedeno’s self-defense.

stead, racist enforcement of the existing recreational prohibition has continued for decades. Mayor Bill de Blasio softened the policing policy but did not end it. Nixon has pounced on this issue, and persuading black women that she cares about racial justice is critical to her electoral success. She is the only one taking a principled position — if it’s racist, it has to stop. The battle between drug reformers and prohibitionists revolves around stigma and autonomy. Reformers, citing human rights and notions of dignity, say a user has

to decide to give up their drugs and often compare the struggle to dieting where some people succeed and control their weight while others wrestle with the problem for years. This position enjoys broad medical support. Dr. Mary Bassett, the city health commissioner, has tweeted, “We fail people every time we say they have to ‘get clean.’ There is nothing dirty about addiction.” This dynamic is familiar to the LGBTQ community because of debates of discussion about HIV and stigma. The prohibitionists are convinced

psychoactive drugs used without a physician’s guidance are bad and are willing to jail or threaten jail to users who don’t get “clean.” Reformers who object on civil liberties grounds are quick to respond that many users wait until their parole or probation period is over and immediately get high again. This is a group of users at risk for overdosing. They can be overwhelmed by taking high doses of a drug after a long abstinence. The medical community rec-



ity Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the Council’s LGBT Caucus, and two other Bronx councilmembers are calling on Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark to secure an order of protection for Abel Cedeno — the gay student charged in the September 27 classroom fight that left Matthew McCree dead — from McCree’s brother, Kevon Dennis, who was ticketed for threatening Cedeno at the court on March 6 and arrested for armed robbery of witnesses in the case on the afternoon of the incident last fall. “We understand that Abel has requested but not received an order of protection against Kevon,” the councilmembers wrote. “Such measures have been liberally granted in other cases, yet Kevon’s access to Abel, his family, and other relevant individuals remains unchecked.” They also said that “it is critical that you take all necessary measures to ensure that justice, i.e., a trial free of witness tampering, prevails.” At Cedeno’s April 23 court date, Luz Hernandez, Cedeno’s mother, told Gay City News, “We need an order of protection.” She, Cedeno, and other members of the family have had to move to undisclosed locations in the face of what they describe as threats from Kevon Dennis and other members of McCree’s gang. While Cedeno’s

NIXON, from p.9

how to use marijuana. They want to get away from the hipster belief that’s it’s for getting high and present pot as a drug as like Prozac — a substance that makes a patient happy and able to function. The positive experience with medical pot was undoubtedly a reason that California voters in 2016 endorsed legalizing it for adult recreational use. New York’s medical marijuana program is having no impact on public perceptions on pot use. In-



Abel Cedeno and his mother Luz Hernandez at a recent hearing at a Bronx courthouse.

NIXON, continued on p.17

April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


Activists Demand â&#x20AC;&#x153;Drasticâ&#x20AC;? Changes to Pride Coalition seeks limits on police, corporate participation in June 24 parade


    !      ! DUNCAN OSBORNE

Reclaim Pride Coalition members Ivy Arce, Natalie James, Sister Gladiola Gladrags of the NYC (dis)order of Sisters, Jay W. Walker, and Gabriel San Emeterio outside the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Municipal Building as they distributed their demands regarding the June 24 Pride Parade.




group of activists who have deep ties to the LGBTQ and other movements are demanding significant changes in how Heritage of Pride (HOP) operates New York Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual Pride Parade and in how the NYPD polices the event. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are delivering demands to address historic and ongoing issues with the administration of the Pride parade by Heritage of Pride and the NYPD,â&#x20AC;? said Natalie James, a member of the Reclaim Pride Coalition (RPC), as she and other members delivered the demands to police headquarters, the de Blasio administration, and HOPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s offices in the West Village on April 25. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are seeking new and drastic changes to the march since last year.â&#x20AC;? The coalition wants HOP to bar members of the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) and other organizations representing law enforcement from marching in their uniforms and carrying weapons â&#x20AC;&#x153;nor shall GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; May 9, 2018

any police be afforded a place of pride near the front of the March,â&#x20AC;? the coalition said in its demands. They also want the NYPDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s marching band barred from the march, which takes place every year on the last Sunday in June to note the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots that marked the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. The coalition wants â&#x20AC;&#x153;Police Free Zones at Christopher Streetâ&#x20AC;? and on the piers at the end of Christopher Street on the Hudson River. Security in those zones would be provided by â&#x20AC;&#x153;trained members of our community,â&#x20AC;? the coalition said in its demands. The group does not want barricades along the march route and in the assembly areas for march contingents. It opposes arresting people who protest during the march. Like last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s march, the coalition wants a resistance contingent â&#x20AC;&#x153;in recognition of the ongoing and unique oppression enacted upon our community by the Trump








PRIDE, continued on p.18






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Barbara Bush, AIDS Activist? Oh, Gimme a Break BY ED SIKOV


hen the administration censored images of the flag-draped coffins of the young men and women being killed in Iraq — purportedly to respect ‘the privacy of the families’ and not to minimize and cover up the true nature and consequences of the war — the family matriarch expressed her support for what was ultimately her son’s decision by saying on ‘Good Morning America’ on March 18, 2003, ‘Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? I mean it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?’ Mrs. Bush is not getting any younger. “When she eventually ceases to walk among us we will undoubtedly see photographs of her flag-draped coffin. Whatever obituaries that run will admiringly mention those wizened, dynastic loins of hers and praise her staunch refusal to color her hair or glamorize her image. But will they remember this particular statement of hers, this ‘Let them eat cake’ for the twenty-first century? Unlikely, since it received far too little play and definitely insufficient outrage when she said it. So let us promise herewith to never forget her callous disregard for other parents’ children while her own son was sending them to make the ultimate sacrifice, while asking of the rest of us little more than to promise to go shopping. Commit the quote to memory and say it whenever her name comes up. Remind others how she lacked even the bare minimum of human integrity, the most basic requirement of decency that says if you support a war, you should be willing, if not to join those nineteen-year-olds yourself, then at least, at the very least, to acknowledge that said war was actually going on. Stupid. Fucking. Cow.” This marvelous passage is the work of David Rakoff (1964-2012), one of the funniest and brightest and best writers of his generation. His enviable sense of humor is summed up by the title of the book from which I drew the quote: “Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach

Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems.” I particularly admire the descriptive “torments” as applied to the effect of downscale sheets. While practically the entire nation reveled in Barbara grief, obituary writer Enid Nemy of the Times did have the nerve to mention that atrocious quote of hers a little more than a third of the way through the obit. As nauseating as the following factoid is, Nemy had to acknowledge that “she was clearly a political asset. A 1999 poll found that 63 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of her and that only 3 percent had an unfavorable one.” Then again, this means that one third of the country simply had no opinion of her at all. Either that or they simply didn’t know who she was. The Hill ran an especially obsequious story about Mrs. Bush: “U2 frontman Bono said during a conversation with former President George W. Bush on Thursday that Barbara Bush helped ease the stigma tied to AIDS, according to CNN. ‘It was so powerful when your mother, Barbara Bush, hugged that child and then hugged the man that challenged her, the older adult AIDS sufferer,’ Bono told Bush. ‘Because stigma, in the domestic AIDS problem here in the United States, stigma was a killer. You were born of an AIDS activist, sir. And you became one,’ Bono told Bush, who would work to fight AIDS in Africa during his presidency.” What? While it’s true that Bush 43 did commit increased funding toward fighting AIDS in Africa, it’s also the case that when it came to AIDS, Bush 41 was no big improvement over the genocidal Ronald Reagan, about whom the less said, the better. The Odessa American (no, not the one in Ukraine; the one in Texas) went so far as to state, “She also reached out to many who were hurting and became one of the early voices calling for compassion for all who suffered from AIDS and HIV.” No. NO! Mathilde Krim was one of the early voices calling for compassion for all who suffered from AIDS and HIV. Barbara Starrett was one

of the early voices calling for compassion for all who suffered from AIDS and HIV. Elizabeth Taylor was one of the early voices calling for compassion for all who suffered from AIDS and HIV. During the Reagan catastrophe, I don’t recall the wife of thenVice President Bush doing much of anything about HIV/ AIDS. And that biking accident must have damaged Bono’s brain if he can call Bush 43 an “AIDS activist” with a straight face. NO! Peter Staley, Larry Kramer, Spencer Cox, Maxine Wolfe, and the thousands of other people in ACT UP New York, San Francisco, Paris…. They were the activists. Bono evidently considers 1988 one of the “early years” of the epidemic, which actually began seven deadly years earlier in 1981. According to the Washington Post, 1988 was the year Mrs. Bush, as the Post puts it, “persuaded her husband to visit an AIDS clinic during his presidential campaign and acknowledge the epidemic ravaging the country.” Of course, a major reason it was ravaging the country was that, as vice president, her husband hadn’t bothered to lift a finger to stop it. The Post continues: “Then, just two months after becoming first lady, she paid a historic visit to one of the nation’s first homes created to care for AIDS-infected infants. At the time, many Americans wrongly believed you could contract HIV simply by touching someone who had the virus. To defuse the stigma, Bush cradled an infant, kissed a toddler, and hugged an adult AIDS patient. ‘You can hug and pick up AIDS babies and people who have the HIV virus’ without hurting yourself, she said. ‘There is a need for compassion.’ “The first lady’s hour-long visit, which generated immense national media coverage, was a courageous act of humanity that many leaders in the gay community have never forgotten. It’s been mentioned in several online tributes since she passed away on Tuesday.” Where? A Log Cabin Republicans press release? “Ronald Reagan’s inaction on what was sometimes referred to at the time as the ‘gay plague’ remains one of the biggest black marks on his legacy. ‘Barbara Bush broke that shameful silence with a hug and her voice,’ writes Jonathan Capehart. ‘She saved lives that day by bringing

BARBARA BUSH, continued on p.17

April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


Herman Bell and the Future of NYS Parole


Herman Bell in 2013.



nly a couple of years ago, the New York State Parole Board was a draconian gimmick to keep people in prison — regardless of how they had grown and changed over their years inside — until they died of systemic abuse or neglect or, if they lived long enough, old age. This was especially true for people convicted of killing police officers: “offenders” who could expect never to leave prison alive, because of the unchanging “nature of the original offense.” John MacKenzie, for instance, accepted responsibility and expressed deep remorse for his shooting of officer Matthew Giglio in 1975. He spent more than 40 years in New York prisons, during which he mentored other prisoners, advocated for victims’ rights, became a Zen Buddhist, and maintained a perfect disciplinary record. In August 2016, at the age of 70, MacKenzie killed himself after being denied parole for the 10th time. In

GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 – May 9, 2018

his last letter, he wrote his daughter about his latest denial, quoting a Buddhist text: “Can a new wrong expiate old wrongs?” MacKenzie is only one reason among hundreds why the Parole Board has begun its own process of rehabilitation. In recent years, tireless organizers (one of whom, full disclosure, is my esteemed partner, Laura Whitehorn) have worked to push the Board to focus on “risk and need assessments” in considering suitability for parole, including factors beyond the original crime such as what someone’s done inside, their family, job, and community awaiting them outside, and especially their risk to public safety. The Board expanded and humanized parole regulations, requiring commissioners to give factual, individualized reasons for their parole decisions. In 2017, the State Senate approved the hiring of six new parole commissioners. On March 13, the State Parole Board did something amazing — and eminently reasonable. Using its new, progressive regulations, a

panel of three commissioners approved the parole of my friend, Herman Bell, on his eighth try. Herman, whom I’ve visited for years, is someone the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and tabloids reflexively call “vermin,” a “cold-blooded cop killer,” and “monster.” But I, being part of the queer community, and having long internalized being seen as a “monster,” know first-hand that most monsters are not what they’re cracked up to be. Until only few weeks ago, I, a pinko dyke and card-carrying cynic, fully expected to keep visiting Herman until he died in prison. After all, Herman’s been behind bars more than 45 years because, in 1975, he, along with two other men, was convicted of the fatal 1971 shooting of Officers Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini in Harlem. Herman is now 70 years old. Over his years inside, he’s come to express deep sorrow for his actions. He’s never stopped learning, garnering three college degrees; he’s never stopped trying, in small acts of human kindness and larger acts of counseling young men and organizing outside community projects, to make the world better. And, given the Parole Board’s current “risk and need assessment” scale, Herman scores the lowest possible risk to public safety, or “recidivism.” Herman’s not perfect, but he is one of the strongest, gentlest people I know. Herman’s original release date was April 17. But he’s still in prison. A couple of weeks ago, he sent out a package of clothes he expects to wear when he gets out. He’s all packed and ready to go — but can he? Beginning March 13, the day Herman’s parole was announced, through the rest of March and into April, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association launched a series of attacks, demanding a suspension of Herman’s release, saying the Board broke the law in failing to consider the 1975 judge’s sentencing minutes and the impact statements from the victims’ families. The Parole Board duly reviewed this evidence and reaffirmed its decision to release Herman. Herman was good to go. Until April 4, when Officer Piagentini’s widow, in tandem with the PBA, sought and received a

temporary restraining order to suspend Herman’s release, pending an April 13hearing in Albany, before Judge Richard M. Koweek. One week later, Koweek ruled that Mrs. Piagentini and the PBA had no legal standing and that “[e]ven if the court was to consider the Parole Board’s decision on its merits, it would still rule against the Petitioner.” The PBA says it will appeal. And the judge also stayed Herman’s release until 5 p.m. Friday, April 27. Meanwhile, back at the Legislature, the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus — 53 state lawmakers representing a quarter of New York State residents — released a statement supporting the Board’s decision for Herman’s parole. This historic action was predictably ignored by mainstream media, which instead zeroed in on cop-killer-condemning PBA press conferences, outraged editorials, and the NYPD police commissioner’s revulsion at the release of Herman, a man he’s never met. But thinking beyond Herman, this case could be a watershed. If Herman Bell can be seen by the New York State Parole Board as a dimensional human being; if he can be allowed out of prison on the strength of sound, humane reasoning, so can — so should — thousands of other human beings aging inside prison. People convicted of violent crimes who have transformed their lives and deserve to spend their last years living among the rest of us. Writing about Herman’s parole is hard. The killing of police officers is as wrong as the killing of anyone else, including the scores of unarmed people of color, shot down by cops who almost never face trial. There is grief on every side. But rather than being a springboard for vengeance, grief, says the poet Rumi, can also be a springboard for compassion: “If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” As I sit here, typing, it remains to be seen what, if anything, the PBA may attempt to prevent Herman’s release. Which may — or may not — happen after 5 p.m. this Friday. I’m keeping my cynical, pinko dyke heart open…



Can Three Parents Make a Family in New York? Manhattan judge gives gay father’s husband custody claims, but punts on legal parental status BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


n an opinion issued on April 10, a New York Family Court judge confronted the question whether there can be a third parent — an adult with legal rights to seek custody and visitation of a child who already has two legal, biological parents. In a case involving a married gay male couple and the woman who agreed to have a child with them and share parenting, Judge Carol Goldstein concluded that the “non-biological father” in this triad has “standing” under New York’s Domestic Relations Law to seek custody and visitation of the child, but not necessarily to be designated as a “legal parent.” As usual in contested child custody cases, the judge assigned pseudonyms to all parties in order to protect their privacy, naming the men David S. and Raymond T., the woman Samantha G., and their child Matthew Z. S.-G. The three adults, all friends, decided over brunch in May 2016 to have a child who would be “raised by the three parties in a tri-parent arrangement,” Goldstein wrote. “While the parties agreed that the mother would continue to live in New York City and the men would reside together in Jersey City, the parties agreed that they would consider themselves to be a ‘family.’” The three carried out the plan but never reached agreement on a signed written document. Over an eight-day period, the two men alternated in providing Samantha with sperm for artificial insemination. Around Labor Day of 2016, she announced she was pregnant and, according to Goldstein’s opinion, all three posted about the impending birth with pictures on social media, with the two men wearing T-shirts reading “This guy is going to be a daddy,” and Samantha’s shirt reading, “This girl is going to be a mama.” The couple participated fully with Samantha during the pregnancy, attending a natural childbirth course, creating a joint savings account for the child — to


which Raymond contributed 50 percent — and making all medical decisions jointly. The child was born on May 6, 2017 at the men’s New Jersey home, with the assistance of a midwife. Only after the birth did the couple and Samantha learn that David’s sperm had initiated the pregnancy, and on May 11 he signed a New Jersey acknowledgment of paternity. The infant, Matthew, lives mainly with his mother in Manhattan, although David and Raymond have enjoyed regular parenting time and last summer the three adults and Matthew vacationed together in the Catskills. The judge noted that when speaking to Matthew, the adults refer to Samantha as Momma, David as Daddy, and Raymond as Papai, which is Portuguese for father. Raymond and Samantha have a contract with a literary agent to write a book about their joint parenting venture. However, wrote Goldstein, disagreements over their parenting of Matthew and the extent of David and Raymond’s access to him led relations among the three adults to become “strained.” This past November 12, David and Raymond filed a joint petition in Manhattan Family Court seeking “legal custody and shared parenting time” with Matthew by court order. On December 6, Samantha responded with a “cross-petition” seeking sole legal custody of Matthew, with the men being accorded “reasonable visitation.” In these initial filings, none of the parties sought an “order of paternity or parentage.” Goldstein asked both sides to submit followup memorandums of law regarding the underlying parenting issues in the case. The main issue of dispute between these parties, which came out in their briefs, is about Raymond’s legal status toward the child. Under New York law, the husband of a woman who gives birth is presumed to be the child’s father, but the legal status of a man who is married to another man whose sperm is used to conceive a child

with a woman to whom he is not married presents new, unresolved legal issues. Samantha agrees that Raymond should have standing to seek visitation, but, according to Goldstein, she argued “strenuously” that “the right to seek custody and visitation as a ‘parent’ under the Domestic Relations Law does not automatically bestow parentage on the nonbiological party” and asked that the court not declare him a third legal parent. The men, in contrast, argued that not only should Raymond have standing to seek custody and visitation as a “parent,” but that the court should formally declare him to be a third legal parent of Matthew. Goldstein, taking account of the understanding and agreement among the three adults when they planned Matthew’s birth, found that its is clear that Raymond has standing to seek custody and visitation in line with the 2016 decision by the state’s highest bench, the Court of Appeals, in the Brooke S.B. case. There, the court overturned a 25-year New York precedent and ruled that a non-biological parent could have standing to seek custody and visitation under certain circumstances. That case involved a custody and visitation dispute of a lesbian couple over a child born to one of them through donor insemination. “In making this decision,” Goldstein wrote of the dispute between Samantha and the two men, “this court is specifically taking into consideration that the relationship between [Raymond] and Matthew came into being with the consent and blessing of the two biological parents and that both biological parents agree that [Raymond] should have standing to seek custody and visitation.” A “fundamental principle” of the Brooke S.B. ruling, she found, was that the state’s family law “must be read to effectuate the welfare and best interests of children, particularly those who are being raised in a non-traditional family structure. The parent-child relationships fos-

tered by children like Matthew, who are being raised in a tri-parent arrangement, should be entitled to no less protection than children raised by two parties.” The judge noted the likelihood that this kind of situation will recur and specifically distinguished between cases involving the use of anonymous sperm donors where no parental role is contemplated for the donor and situations where a known donor is involved “where the parties agree that the provider of the egg or sperm will be a parent.” However, pointing out that the men’s original filing with the court did not seek an order of “parentage” on behalf of Raymond, Goldstein declined to issue one. “There is no need for the issue of parentage to be addressed since pursuant to Brooke S.B., [Raymond] may seek custody and visitation as a ‘parent’ under [the state’s Domestic Relations Law] without a determination that he is a legal parent. If, in the future, a proper application for a declaration of parentage is made and there is a need for a determination of parentage, for instance, to rule on a request for child support, the court may address this issue.” Goldstein added, however, “that there is not currently any New York statute which grants legal parentage to three parties, nor is there any New York case law precedent for such a determination.” So a child can have three parents, or at least three adults with standing to seek custody and visitation, while at the same time having only two “legal parents,” in New York. The state’s Domestic Relations Law has not been revised to take account of the sorts of “nontraditional” family structures that have emerged over the past half century as assisted reproductive technology has become broadly accessible and a diversity of family structures has arisen. Goldstein will now determine the specific custody and visitation arrangement that are in Matthew’s

THREE PARENTS?, continued on p.17

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s we come together tonight in celebration of achievement, commitment, and solidarity, we are all too aware of the dangers that face our community, many other communities, our country, and the world. But to put some perspective on the matter, we should remember that this month marks 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was gunned down in Memphis. On that terrible night, April 4, 1968, New York Senator Robert Kennedy was in Indianapolis campaigning for the presidency. He was scheduled to speak to a largely African-American crowd and in that era without smart phones in everyone’s pocket, the audience was unaware of the tragedy. Some of Kennedy’s advisers warned him not to speak, that the situation might be too volatile. But Kennedy, who himself would die at an assassin’s bullet just two months later, did speak , taking on the responsibility of delivering the awful news. And in improvised, emotional words, Kennedy ended by quoting the Greek poet Aeschylus, who wrote, “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” In 18 months of almost unimaginable outrage coming out of Washington, in January Donald Trump — in my thinking — crossed a particularly critical line in the way he talked about immigrants coming to the US from Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa. Feeling helpless in thinking of what could possibly be an adequate response, I reached out to two leaders in our com-

munity for wisdom about how to confront this kind of bigotry. One of them was one of tonight’s honorees, Clarence Patton. At Clarence’s suggestion, he and I held an online chat about race and resistance in America. For me, it was a very thought-provoking exchange (which you can read online at gaycitynews. nyc/white-mans-burdendialogue-race-resistance if you haven’t seen it). Clarence closed with a note of grace by congratulating me on “phoning a friend,” and saying that “black friends and white friends are going through/ having that same exchange all over the place these days.” The other leader I reached out to was Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, the longtime senior rabbi at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. In an essay she wrote for the newspaper, Rabbi Kleinbaum wrote that her advice for conquering the despair that she herself felt the day after the 2016 election is: “Do something on a regular basis — every week, do something other than posting outrage on Facebook. Get out and meet others who are engaged in building a future.” And then she wrote, “We Jews know what happens when democracies are dismantled and bigotry and hatred flourish in the silence of bystanders. Don’t be bystanders, engage, and engage with joy and determination and love.” So tonight, let’s engage in joy and determination and love. The people we honor tonight have all engaged in important work — advocacy, health care, comedy, politics, journalism, organizing, and resistance. All as out, proud LGBTQ people and allies. Not as bystanders. Not in silence. But as visible witnesses to what can be.

April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

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GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 - May 9, 2018

2018 Gay City News Impact Awards


Faisal Alam


aisal Alam is a queeridentified Muslim activist of Pakistani descent. At 19, while trying to reconcile his sexuality with his faith, he organized the first-ever gathering of LGBTQ Muslims, which led to the founding of Al-Fatiha, an international organization for LGBTQ Muslims and their allies. Alam led the group as volunteer director from its inception in 1997 to 2003. In 2013, Alam co-founded the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD), a national organization that works to support, empower, and connect LGBTQ Muslims. Alam considers himself a global citizen, having grown up in Germany, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and a small town in Connecticut. He has lived and worked in Boston, Washington, DC, Atlanta, and now New York, working in HIV/ AIDS education and prevention, public health, reproductive

Global Citizen, Advocate for LGBTQ Muslim Equality

rights and justice, and international human rights. As an LGBTQ Muslim community advocate, Alam has traveled across the US and around the world to meet with LGBTQ Muslims to build a global movement for justice and equality. He has been featured in LGBTQ and mainstream media, including The New York Times, BBC World News, the pan-Arab Al-Hayat,

and The Washington Post. Alam has received numerous awards for his activism. The Advocate selected him as an “Innovator,” Genre Magazine recognized him as a “Founding Father,” and the Utne Reader chose him as one of 30 “Young Visionaries Under 30.” The Philadelphiabased Equality Forum named Alam as one of “40 Heroes” who have “made a defining difference in LGBT civil rights over the last forty years,” and Pride Toronto honored him with an award for

his “outstanding contribution in the area of spirituality that positively impacts LGBT communities.” In August 2011, President Barack Obama invited Alam to attend the White House Ramadan Iftaar (breaking of the fast dinner). In October 2014, he was honored as grand marshal of the Atlanta Pride March and Festival. Living at the intersections of many identities — immigrant, Muslim, person of color, queer man — Alam has shared his story of resilience and those of other LGBTQ Muslims at more than 175 universities. When not traveling to visit his loved ones and chosen family, Alam binge-watches old “Star Trek” episodes and hunts for new dystopian TV programs. He enjoys dancing to top 40 music, watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster, trying out new dishes, and discovering New York’s many neighborhoods.

Arthur Aviles


s a member of the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company, founder of his own company, Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre, and cofounder of BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Arthur Aviles has been recognized with a Bessie New York Dance and Performance Award, an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts from his alma mater, Bard College, the Mayor’s Award for Art and Culture, and a BRIO — Bronx Recognizes Its Own, among many honors. Born in Queens and raised on Long Island and in the South Bronx, Aviles studied dance and theater at Bard and then danced internationally for eight seasons with the renowned Jones/ Zane company. His work there in 1988 and 1989 earned Aviles his Bessie. Establishing his own company in 1996, he has choreographed more than three dozen dances,


2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

Creating, Nurturing Dance in the Bronx

many embracing themes of Latinx and queer culture. The company has performed at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Jacob’s Pillow in the Berkshires, Central Park Summerstage, Symphony Space, Harlem Stage, Bard College, Celebrate Brooklyn, Hostos Center for the Performing Arts, and numerous other venues throughout the

northeast. Aviles has been awarded dance residencies at dozens of universities worldwide. Writing in the New York Times, Anna Kisselgoff called him “one of the great modern dancers of the last 15 years,” while the newspaper’s Jennifer Dunning wrote, “Arthur Aviles has developed an individual voice and style that might be compared to bold street theater and poster art, communicating his truths about life as seen by a gay male Puerto Rican through simple narratives that

are always colorful — and often poignant and amusing.” The founding of BAAD! in 1998 created, in the words of Theater Journal, “a space for art in an environment that seems antithetical to that act.” The Bronx Dance Coalition, which Aviles founded in 2002, supports professional dancers and companies in the borough and launched Bronx Dance Magazine. Since 2009, Aviles has made a series of dance films to reinterpret his choreography and creative ideas. His first film, “This Pleasant and Grateful Asylum,” was presented in festivals including MIX NYC, Cinemarosa in Queens, the E-Moves Festival at Harlem Stage, and others from Oakland, California to Torino, Italy. More recent films include “To Be Real” (2011), “Dorothur’s Journey” (2012), “Elysian Fields” (2013), and “Periodic Solution” (2016), based on Jean Churchill’s dance piece that he originated in 1986. April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

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GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 - May 9, 2018

2018 Gay City News Impact Awards


Sean Coleman


ean Coleman, an out transgender male who believes that being visible and living his truth encourages others within the transgender community to do the same, is the founder and executive director of Destination Tomorrow and also serves as the operating manager of the Bronx Trans Collective. Coleman has more than 19 years of experience working with the LGBTQ community. In 2009, he opened Destination Tomorrow, a grassroots South Bronx agency that provides neighborhood-based services and referrals as well as capacity-building trainings for other organizations that recognize their own need to strengthen their cultural competency in serving the LGBTQ community — and transgender people in particular. Coleman’s motivation in launching the organization was his recognition of the lack of adequate programs for LGBTQ African Americans in the borough. A key

A Champion of Bronx African-American LGBTQ Visibility

goal in his work is shining a light on racial and health disparities that exist while building programs to address them. Coleman is a member of the Transgender Advisory Group assembled by the state health department’s AIDS Institute to develop recommendations for addressing trans community needs in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Ending the Epidemic Blue-

print. The governor’s plan aims to end AIDS as an epidemic in the state by 2020. He also sits on the board of directors of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and is a member of the New York State HIV Advisory Council, the State Health and Human Services Community Advisory Board, and the advisory board of the New York State Psychiatric Institute/ Columbia University Department of Psychiatry’s Project AFFIRM, which studies vulnerability, risk,

and resilience in the context of transgender identity development. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz appointed Coleman to serve on Community Board 2. In 2016, Coleman launched the Bronx Trans Collective, the only trans-led multi-service agency in the state, which resulted from a collaborative effort by grassroots transgender leaders of color. The Collective uses a wraparound approach to care so that clients can access multiple services under one roof, often all at the same time. BTC’s opening was made possible by funds obtained by the Bronx’s out gay city councilmember, Ritchie Torres. Coleman is a member of the House and Ballroom scene, and has worked to integrate a public health narrative into this social network since 2004. His efforts led city and state agencies as well as other community-based organizations to recognize the value of such interventions.

Sharen Duke


haren I. Duke has served as the executive director and chief executive officer of Alliance for Positive Change — formerly the AIDS Service Center/ ASCNYC — since it was founded in 1990. Under her leadership, the non-profit has grown from a three-person agency into one of New York City’s premier multi-service community organizations. With its innovative, culturally competent services, Alliance is at the forefront of efforts to end AIDS in New York State by ensuring broad access to HIV testing, treatment, and care. With 28 years of expertise, Alliance has expanded its services to address other chronic health conditions such as substance use, hepatitis, and diabetes, and now provides direct services to more than 6,000 people annually at six sites, and through outreach programs, reaches nearly 15,000 New Yorkers each year.


2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

New York City Leader in Battling HIV/ AIDS for 28 Years

During her tenure, Duke has pioneered model peer education programs and forged partnerships with the city’s top hospitals. Because of her leadership, more New Yorkers today have access to the services and support they need to make lasting positive changes toward health, housing, recovery, and self-sufficiency. Duke continues to strengthen workforce devel-

opment initiatives and peer training, advocating for city and state funding to create opportunities for more New Yorkers living with HIV/ AIDS and other chronic conditions to re-enter the workforce. Throughout her career, Duke has been a consistent advocate on behalf of low-income New Yorkers through her active service on community planning boards, including Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Ending the Epidemic Task

Force, the New York State ValueBased Payment HIV/ AIDS Clinical Advisory Group, and the New York City HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council. She serves on the boards of directors of iHealth, a collaborative of organizations advocating and negotiating on behalf of HIV targeted case management programs in New York, and the CAEAR Coalition, Communities Advocating Emergency AIDS Resources. In November 2017, Duke was named to POZ magazine’s POZ 100, recognizing women who are making a difference in the HIV/ AIDS field. Additionally, on World AIDS Day 2017, she accepted an award from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recognizing Alliance for its exceptional work in battling the epidemic here in the city. Duke is a graduate of Barnard College and the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

Chiké Frankie Edozien


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hiké Frankie Edozien, an associate professor at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, has since 2008 directed its Reporting Africa Program, which, with a base in Ghana, affords students on-the-ground experience in that continent. An award-winning reporter at the New York Post for 15 years prior to that, Edozien covered national and international beats and from 1999 until 2008 was the newspaper’s City Hall reporter, covering crime, courts, labor issues, human services, public health, legislative affairs, and politics. In 2001, Edozien co-founded the AFRican Magazine, where he served as the editor-in-chief. Traveling internationally reporting on the impact of HIV/ AIDS, particularly among Africans, he was named a 2008 Kaiser Foundation Fellow for global health reporting. He is also a contributor to the Arise News Network, where he reports weekly about sub-Saharan Africa. Last year, Edozien, who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, published “Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 - May 9, 2018

as an African Gay Man,” a memoir detailing lives lived between America and Africa — his own and those of other LGBTQ men and women. In an interview with Gay City News’ Michael Luongo, Edozien explained, “A narrative of gay Africa being a foreign concept was taking root. And with legal discrimination and the horror of people being routinely shamed, it was important to explore the more nuanced reality and celebrate the small victories the community is having. One way to take away the power of a people is to erase or limit their ability to tell their own story. And what you end up with is a false narrative that there isn’t a market for these kinds of stories or these books. The belief is no one will read them, but the reality is everyone wants to see their stories in literature.” Edozien’s story “Shea Prince” was shortlisted for the 2018 Gerald Kraak Human Rights Award and his “Forgetting Lamido” was anthologized in “Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction.” An NYU journalism graduate, his work has appeared in The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Times (UK), Vibe magazine, Transitions Magazine, Out Traveler, Blackaids.org, and The Advocate, among other publications. In 2017, Edozien was awarded NYU’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Faculty Award for excellence in teaching, community building, social justice advocacy, and leadership.

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2018 Gay City News Impact Awards


Gary English


ary English, who first became engaged in the field of HIV prevention among Black men who have sex with men (MSM) in 1994 in upstate New York, where he grew up, would later found two prevention agencies focused on this community here in the city. English has been involved in progressive politics for decades. In the mid-1980s, he worked in a coalition pressing for the real facts about the death of Michael Stewart, a graffiti artist who died after 13 days in a coma following his 1983 arrest by transit police for spray-painting a subway station wall. A series of botched medical examiner’s office reports on his death finally reversed the initial finding that alcohol was the cause and concluded Stewart suffered blunt-force trauma to his spinal cord. The officers charged were all acquitted by an all-white jury, but Stewart’s family later received a $1.7 million settlement

Uncompromising Voice for Black Gay, Bi Men’s Health

from the MTA. English also helped organize a public awareness campaign to alert the community about a slasher targeting Black people in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. From 1997 through 2007, English was executive director of

People of Color in Crisis, a group that thrived under his leadership. There, he co-created a national curriculum for Black MSM HIV prevention, “Many Men Many Voices.” He also founded Pride In The City, which was New York’s first and largest Black Pride event. During the all-day picnic and fair’s five-year run, the event tested more than 1,000 Black LBGTQ people. English is now founding executive director of a new agency,

Get It Get It, here in New York with a mission is to provide the Black MSM community with education, information, services, and resources to combat HIV, homophobia, racism, stigma, and lack of visibility. English, who has spoken to Gay City News about his own experience taking PrEP, has never shied away from frankly highlighting the needs of the Black MSM community and how institutions of government and the broader LGBTQ community fall short in serving those needs. This past December, addressing the state’s ambitious plan to end AIDS, English questioned its outreach efforts, saying, “We have to get the word out. We have to make sure that men who are at high risk know that they can get PrEP through Medicaid and through New York State… If not, we’re going to have a problem come 2020. Let’s do it now rather than later.”

James Esseks


ames D. Esseks is the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project. There, he oversees litigation, legislative lobbying, policy advocacy, organizing, and public education around the nation aiming to ensure equal treatment of LGBTQ people and Americans living with HIV. Esseks is counsel in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, currently in front the US Supreme Court — which heard oral arguments on it in December — about whether a business open to the public can turn away LGBTQ customers based on its religious or artistic objections. The baker in this case is claiming both a religious and a free expression exemption from Colorado’s human rights law that bars discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation — a strategy employed by anti-gay forces in recent years


2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

Litigator Leading the Charge While Mounting the Defense

to evade the LGBTQ community’s hard-won civil rights protections. Esseks previously was counsel in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that won the freedom to marry

nationwide at the US Supreme Court in 2015; in United States v. Windsor, Edie Windsor’s successful 2013 challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act; and in Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, a case in which a transgender teenage boy challenged his Virginia high school’s policy of banning his use of the boys’ restroom appropriate for his gender identity. Esseks was also counsel in

successful challenges to bans on adoption and foster parenting by lesbians and gay men in Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, and Nebraska. Esseks and the ACLU have also worked extensively to fight the recent spate of anti-LGBTQ and specifically anti-transgender bills in states around the nation and to challenge the use of religious freedom claims as an excuse to harm LGBTQ people. Esseks is a graduate of Yale College and earned his law degree at Harvard Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Prior to joining the ACLU in 2001, he was a partner at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, PC. Esseks clerked for Judge Robert L. Carter of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York and Ninth Circuit Judge James R. Browning. April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

Public Health Innovator,

Donna Aceto

Dr. Edward Fishkin, M.D. JAMES D. ESSEKS ESQ.

Achiever in North Brooklyn


r. Edward Fishkin is the chief medical officer for NYC Health + Hospitals Woodhull, located on Broadway in North Brooklyn. A primary care internist, Fishkin, at Woodhull, has worked to improve patient access, enhance primary and secondary prevention, institute disease management, encourage lifestyle modification, and eliminate disparities in health care outcomes. Among his initiatives is the hospitalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first Colon Cancer Screening Program, which since 1995 has quadrupled the number of colonoscopies for North Brooklyn residents. Fishkin has addressed the areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s asthma epidemic by creating the acclaimed Attack Back program to educate children, parents, and teachers on how to control the condition. The North Brooklyn Asthma Action Alliance â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a coalition of dozens of community groups, schools, and health care organizations working to reduce asthma morbidity â&#x20AC;&#x201D; was also formed under his leadership. The program has reduced adult and pediatric ER visits and hospitalizations for asthma by 70 percent. Fishkinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work fighting asthma has attracted significant grant funding, the most recent being a five-year, $500,000 appropriation to develop asthma standards for public schools. He also chaired the NYC Health + Hospitals Asthma Standards Task Force, developGayCityNews.nyc | April 26 - May 9, 2018

ing the guidelines for care in cityowned hospitals. Fishkin spearheaded a program that takes the opportunity presented by hospitalizations to immunize adults against influenza and pneumonia, and created a lifetime dashboard of preventive measures based on age, gender, and clinical condition to help patients maintain their health. Recognizing the virtual absence of high quality primary and specialty care for LGBTQ Brooklynites, he advocated for and, in June 2017, opened an outpatient practice at Woodhull to expand access to dignified, holistic healthcare for that community. Fishkin works with area youth groups to improve young Brooklynitesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; physical fitness and keep them from smoking. For 23 years, he has led bike rides with local youth, teens, and their parents, and he advises the boards of Recycle a Bicycle and OUTRAGE, an environmental group fighting to limit waste transfer and diesel pollution in North Brooklyn. For such public health endeavors, Fishkin was recognized with the Rising Star Award for Community Service from the St. Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corporation and the Chancellorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Award from State University of New York for Excellence in Professional Service. Fishkin received his Doctor of Medicine from SUNY Downstate Medical Center and pursued postgraduate training in Internal Medicine at Kings County Hospital Center, University Hospital, and the Brooklyn VA Hospital.

Congratulations Thank you for the IMPACT you have made on all of our lives.

Donna Aceto & Susan Rowley Maxine Esseks-Ornstein Tom Fabbricante & Jeff Mooney Michael Georgianna & Barnett Jarman Shmulik Grosshtern & Mickey Ronan-Grosshtern

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Arthur Aviles Visionary Artist

FEARLESS ACTIVIST Te Amo, Hugh 2018 Gay City News Impact Awards


Funny Gay Males


n 1988, Danny McWilliams, Bob Smith, and Jaffe Cohen first appeared together on a New York Pride Week comedy bill. The three stand-ups, frustrated with the homophobia at local comedy clubs, decided to band together, booking themselves at The Duplex under the name Funny Gay Males. Excellent reviews from both The Times and The Voice extended their two-week run to to two years. What followed were three soldout summers at Provincetown’s Post Office Café, runs in Boston, Philadelphia, and Key West, and performances in Montreal, Sydney, and at the 1993 March on Washington. FGM performances helped raise funds for AIDS research, equal rights, youth at risk, and other LGBTQ causes. Their bravery in being out onstage in that stillhomophobic era inspired thousands, and surely the laughter

Breaking Down Comedy’s Walls By Earning Big Laughs

they generated during the worst of the AIDS crisis fortified those living with the virus and those caring for them. The trio were guests on Joan Rivers’ show and, in 1995, collaborated in writing “Growing Up Gay: From Left Out to Coming Out.” McWillams, Smith, and Cohen continued performing together on occasion while each concentrated on solo careers and

writing projects. In 2001, Eddie Sarfaty joined the group and FGM returned to Provincetown for three more seasons. The quartet performed together from time to time until Smith, his speech compromised by ALS, which took his life early this year, retired from stand-up. Cohen was nominated with his writing partner Michael Zam, who is Smith’s surviving life partner, and Ryan Murphy for a screenwriting Emmy for the 2017 FX series “Feud: Bette and

Joan.” McWilliams starred earlier this year in Straton Rushing’s one-act play “Hal and His Atomic Ray Gun,” presented at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s New Works of 2018 Series. Sarfaty last year talked to Gay City News about his 10-year struggle with anxiety prior to finding success in stand-up. “I’m fearless now on stage,” he said. “Now I’m not such a nice Jewish boy. My material is smart and interesting and cutting.” Smith, the first out gay comic with an HBO special and to appear on “The Tonight Show,” was also a prolific writer. His “Openly Bob” (1997) earned him a Lambda Literary Award, and even after ALS began taking its toll he wrote three books — a gay science fiction/ political thriller, “Remembrances of Things I Forgot,” “Treehab,” a book of essays, and “The Third Actor,” a not yet released novel about the bisexual, neurotic life of Sophocles.

Ethan Geto


government affairs, public relations, and lobbying professional, Ethan Geto has also been involved in reform politics, government service, campaign work, and grassroots gay activism his entire adult life. Born and raised in the Bronx, he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at Columbia University and completed graduate study there in public affairs. He first became in involved in reform politics in college and went on to work on Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign. Four years later, he was Senator George McGovern’s New York State primary campaign manager, and periodically throughout his career Geto stepped up to major roles in other progressive Democrats’ campaigns. In the 2004 presidential cycle, he managed Vermont Governor Howard Dean’s New York campaign. As he went into the post


2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

Go-To Guy in New York Progressive Causes for FourPlus Decades TEQUILA MINSKY

in early 2003, Geto, in an interview with the New York Observer, emphasized Dean’s early outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq and also, noting Vermont’s firstin-the-nation civil unions law, said, “Dean is the candidate that the gay community has been most excited about, even at this early stage in the contest. It’s because of the civil unions issue. Not only did he stand up for it in the face

of fierce opposition, but he did it in a way that the gay community was very pleased with.” In total, Geto has worked on seven presidential campaigns, from Robert Kennedy's to Barack Obama's. Geto was a key play in former New York Attorney General Robert Abrams’ political career, from his time as Bronx borough president to his first run for attorney general and his 1992 US Senate

campaign. He served Abrams in the AG’s office as communications director and senior policy advisor. Geto has often talked about his gradual coming out process during the 1970s, but as early as 1971 he became involved with the Gay Activists Alliance. In 1977, gay rights groups in South Florida hired Geto to manage their fight against Anita Bryant’s effort to repeal the Dade County gay rights ordinance. In New York, Geto lobbied on high profile LGBTQ rights causes including the 1986 city gay rights law and the 2002 state Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act. Geto & de Milly, the firm he runs with his ex-wife and close friend Michelle de Milly, is engaged in a diverse practice, advising and representing Fortune 500 companies, real estate developers, industry associations, non-profit groups, and advocacy coalitions. April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

Laura A. Jacobs


aura A. Jacobs, LCSW-R, is a trans and genderqueer psychotherapist, activist, writer, and public speaker in the New York metropolitan area whose work addresses transgender and gender non-conforming, LGBTQ+, and sexual/ gender diversity issues. Jacobs currently serves as chair of the board for the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, which since the early-post Stonewall era has provided comprehensive care, regardless of ability to pay, to the LGBTQ community. Jacobs is the first trans and genderqueer person to occupy that position. Recipient of the 2017 Dorothy Kartashevich Award by the Community Health Center Association of New York State, they were honored “In recognition of your dedication and advocacy to ensure high-quality health care for all.” Jacobs has been featured on NPR, MSNBC, NBCNEwsOnline, SiriusXM, and CBSNews, and in

GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 - May 9, 2018

Trans Mental Health Expert, Agent of Community Well-Being The New York Times, and has spoken at countless organizations, conferences, and universities. Jacobs is also a contributor at Huffington Post. Writing about a wide array of topics, they have taken Jamie Foxx to task for taking out against Caitlyn Jenner in an unfunny comedy routine, taken Caitlyn Jenner to task for doing all those things that Caitlyn Jenner does, offered advice to gender non-conforming youth, and pushed back against politically reactionary forces from North Carolina to the White House.

Their book, “You’re In The Wrong Bathroom!,” co-authored with Laura Erickson-Schroth, was published in May 2017. Debunking the 21 most common myths and misperceptions about transgender issues, the book has won widespread praise from leading trans figures as well as mental health professionals. Barnard College professor and New York Times columnist Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote, “A breath

of fresh air. This book provides, with equal measures of scholarship and humanity, thoughtful pushback against the most common misconceptions, misunderstandings, and just plain lies about trans people and the people who love them. A book for everyone, ‘You’re in the Wrong Bathroom’ will open hearts, change minds, and save lives.” Dr. Carol Bernstein, M.D., the former president of the American Psychiatric Association, wrote, “Amid all the misinformation about trans lives and people, this is a refreshingly accurate book that covers the most pernicious myths and also has the virtue of being written accessibly. Everyone from therapists and teachers to parents and young people will find the book invaluable.” As Lawrence Jacobs, they worked as a musician, composer, photographer, and in the decidedly less glamorous world of corporate middle management.

2018 Gay City News Impact Awards


Shivana Jorawar


n attorney and policy advocate, Shivana Jorawar joined the Center for Reproductive Rights in Washington in 2017 and, as state legislative counsel, manages the group’s defensive state advocacy initiatives. In her work, she analyzes harmful restrictions, implements strategies to fight back, and delivers advocacy support to the Center’s clients and its state partners nationwide. She had previously served as the federal policy director for the National Abortion Federation. Earlier, at the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, Jorawar directed the group’s reproductive justice priorities and focused particular attention on the ways in which the growing number of restrictions on access to abortion have targeted Asian women in particular. In her career, she has also worked at the New York State Division of Human Rights, the

Defender of Women's Reproductive Rights & Dignity

American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Sakhi for South Asian Women, assisting survivors of domestic violence. Jorawar’s writing and commentary have been featured in many media and academic outlets, including the Associated

Press, Colorlines, The American Prospect, The Hill, The Nation, the Asian American Law Journal at Berkeley Law School, and the Harvard Asian American Policy Review. Her writing has addressed women’s rights to control their own reproductive choices and the way in which abortion restriction and feticide laws have been employed to target immigrant women. She has frequently been interviewed by print, television, and radio outlets. Jorawar earned her bachelor’s

in Political Science from Fordham and a JD from the Emory University School of Law. There, she co-chaired its Law Students for Reproductive Justice chapter and was on the board of the OUTLaw LGBTQ legal association. She is a board member at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, a network of Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander LGBTQ organizations. Raised in the Bronx, Jorawar, in 2007, was a co-founder of Jahajee Sisters, a grassroots group creating a safer and more equitable society for Indo-Caribbean women through dialogue, arts, leadership development, and community organizing. In addition to her legal and policy credentials, she has also pursued artistic endeavors, having studied Indian and Indo-Caribbean dance styles and written poetry addressing the trauma and resilience of women in her community.

Harris M. Lirtzman


ith educational credentials spanning Urban Policy, American History, and Teaching and a career ranging from Wall Street to government service to coaching youth with learning disabilities, Harris M. Lirtzman has, in his words, “with intention, lived a non-linear life — career, community work, intellectual interests.” He recalls a confused youth where his only connection to gay people came in toll-charged phone calls from his Connecticut home to a WBAI radio program. The next time he spoke to an out gay man was during his senior year at Stanford. After graduation, he moved to San Francisco, where he joined the Alice B. Toklas Gay Democratic Club and worked on Harvey Milk’s city supervisor campaign. He left that city just weeks before Milk was gunned down in late 1978. Earning a master’s at Harvard’s


2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

Making Change, in Suits and on the Street, on Many Fronts

Kennedy School of Government, Lirtzman worked at Merrill Lynch advising clients including state and local governments. From there, he went on to become the New York City Housing Authority’s chief of staff, before devoting 14 years to senior positions in both the city and state comptroller’s office. He oversaw risk management for the city’s $110 billion retirement funds and later man-

aged operating and capital funds in the millions for the state comptroller. In a 2009 career change, he began working with special needs students, in public schools and private coaching. Lirtzman calls all that experience his suit jobs; he’s also been a street activist. Years before ACT UP, he joined the AIDS Network that once tried to publicly confront Mayor Ed Koch, who slipped out a back door, leaving Lirtzman

to explain the activists’ message for local TV cameras. The group later staged a candlelight march from Sheridan Square to the Federal Building downtown demanding the Reagan administration act. He also joined the 1986 outpouring protesting the Supreme Court’s upholding of sodomy laws, that demonstration in full view of the throngs descending on Lower Manhattan for Statue of Liberty centennial festivities. In his professional life, Lirtzman worked to reform the city’s Division of AIDS Services and on the earliest shareholder activism pressing for LGBTQ-inclusive policies in corporate America. While teaching at a Bronx school, he blew the whistle on its failure to provide its 75 special ed students with basic services, charges the state Department of Education corroborated. Lirtzman’s activism has also included board roles at the LGBT Community Center and the Anti-Violence Project. April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

Kelsey Louie


elsey Louie is the chief executive officer of Gay Menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Health Crisis, the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first and the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading provider of HIV/ AIDS care, prevention services, and advocacy. Each year, GMHC serves 12,000 people living with and affected by HIV/ AIDS in New York City, the epidemicâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest US epicenter. GMHC offers HIV and other sexually transmitted infection testing, nutrition counseling and hot meals, legal support services, supportive housing, mental health and substance use services, and workforce development. The organization also advocates for public policies at the local, state, and federal level to provide the best treatment and social supports for those affected by HIV while advancing the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York State by 2020. Louie describes his management style as rigorous and data-

Creating Data-Driven Programs to End the Epidemic

driven, making use of sophisticated evaluation and a commitment to staff development. In a 16-year career in social services, HIV/ AIDS prevention and care, behavioral health, addiction services, homelessness, LGBTQ issues, and family and childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s services, his approach has led to concrete, measurable results in the lives of thousands of clients as well as staff members under his direction. At GMHC, the service delivery

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model Louie created integrates robust evaluation processes and continuous quality improvements to achieve measurable outcomes, stronger programs, efficiencies, and greater quality of service to clients. Prior to joining GMHC in 2104, Louie served as chief operating officer, chief program officer, and senior vice president of HIV/ AIDS treatment and support services at Harlem United Community AIDS Center, where he worked for seven years overseeing the agen-

cyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s $42 million budget and managing operations, administration, finance, development, programs, and healthcare services to thousands of clients annually. In 2014, Louie was appointed to Governor Andrew Cuomoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ending the Epidemic Task Force. He currently serves on the boards of the National Minority AIDS Council, the Network for Social Work Management, and iHealth, a statewide collaborative of community-based organizations united to advocate and negotiate on behalf of HIV targeted case management programs. Louie is a former board member of Big Apple Performing Arts, the umbrella organization of both the New York City Gay Menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Chorus and the Youth Pride Chorus. Louie received an masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in Social Work from New York University in 2001 and an MBA from Columbia University in 2008. He is an adjunct professor at the NYU Silver School of Social Work.

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@OZ^V6EWZa]\ GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 - May 9, 2018

1]\U`ObcZObW]\aFOQV 2018 Gay City News Impact Awards


Jonathan Lovitz


onathan D. Lovitz is a senior vice president at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, as well as director of nglccNY, NGLCC’s New York network. NGLCC, founded in 2002, is the voice for the nation’s estimated 1.4 million LGBTQ business owners and the $1.7 trillion those enterprises add to the national economy each year. The organization currently enjoys the support and participation of more than 190 corporate partners. In addition to leading public affairs, media relations, supplier diversity, and political advocacy efforts at NGLCC, Lovitz regularly speaks at conferences and to the press about LGBTQ economic empowerment and the vital role business plays in creating equity for our community. He is a regular commentator on MSNBC, CNBC, and NPR and in the pages of The Advocate and Out Magazine, among

Empowering LGBTQ Businesses & the Communities They Serve

many media outlets. Lovitz has lent his talents to fundraising for and speaking on behalf of a wide range of organizations including Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS, The Trevor Project, GLSEN, and the Democratic Party. Prior to joining NGLCC, Lovitz worked as director of communica-

tions and operations for StartOut, a national non-profit empowering LGBTQ entrepreneurs, as a respected stage and television actor, and as a news anchor for Logo TV and other major networks. Lovitz regularly speaks to college and university audiences encouraging young people to get involved in public service and to use the Internet to make a difference for their communities.

While business and LGBTQ youth causes are the primary focus of his efforts, Lovitz looks for any chance to work with any community in need of a voice and he has served on the boards of directors of multiple non-profit groups. Lovitz graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida, and in 2014 was proud to return to give the keynote address at the school’s Pride Awareness Month opening ceremony. This year, Lovitz was recognized by Business Equality Magazine as one of its 40 LGBTQ Leaders Under 40. Just this month, he was also named Outstanding Young Alumni by the University of Florida. On his Facebook profile page, L ovi tz quo t e s fame d ant hro pologist Margaret Mead saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Liz Margolies


iz Margolies, LCSW, the founder and executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network, has served the LGBTQ community for more than 40 years as a psychotherapist, political activist, and volunteer. Based in New York City, the Network is the first and only national program addressing the needs of LGBTQ people with cancer and those at risk, focusing on education, training, advocacy, and support. Among the Network’s programs and resources are its LGBT Cultural Competency Toolkit, a training program and manual originally designed for the 38,000 employees of NYC Health + Hospitals, and now customizable for a full range of health and social service settings; personalized cancer risk assessment tools and directories of LGBTQ-friendly cancer screening and treatment facilities; original articles and published reports on LGBTQ cancer, survivorship, bar-


2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

Pioneer in Addressing LGBT Cancer Risks, Prevention & Treatment riers to care, cultural competency, and research; and a program to bring anal cancer, an affliction that may be as much as 34 times more prevalent among men who have sex with men than in the general population, out of the shadows and into wider public understanding. Before founding the National LGBT Cancer Network, Margolies was the original coordinator of the Lesbian Cancer Initiative, the first program in New York City devoted exclusively to the needs of lesbians, bisexual women, and transgen-

der men and women with cancer. She both developed and directed the program, providing individual counseling, support groups, community outreach and training, advocacy, referrals, and public educational forums. Margolies is a co-author of multiple peer-reviewed articles, several based on the Network’s original research, and several book chapters. She is also a psychotherapist

in private practice, specializing in trauma, loss, health disparities, and sexuality. Margolies is the co-chair of the NYC Lesbian Cancer Support Consortium, a network of oncology social workers and cancer survivors whose mission is to share resources, improve treatment of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender survivors in institutions and agencies, and reach out to underserved and underinsured LBT survivors in the city. She also serves on the Disparities Community Advisory Board of the Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Center for the Elimination of Cancer, the American Cancer Society Diversity Council, and the Diversity Outreach Committee of the Young Survival Coalition. She is a member of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. In 2014, Margolies was chosen as one of the OUT100 for her work on behalf of LGBTQ community health and well-being. April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 - May 9, 2018

2018 Gay City News Impact Awards


Hon. Rosie Mendez


lifelong New Yorker, Rosie Mendez was born in Williamsburg to parents who had moved here from Puerto Rico. She served 12 years as the District 2 city councilmember representing Manhattan from the Lower East Side north to the Flatiron District and Murray Hill. Prior to her 2006 election, Mendez served her predecessor, Margarita Lopez, as chief of staff. On the Council, Mendez chaired the Committee on Public Housing and the LGBT Caucus, co-chaired the Black, Latino and Asian and the Women’s Caucuses, and was a member of the Council’s Budget Negotiating Team. Representing a district undergoing gentrification and major land use changes, Mendez, a longtime tenants’ advocate, fought for the preservation of affordable housing by passing laws to strengthen tenant rights, prevent demolition of rent-stabilized apartments, and increase penalties for convert-

City Councilmember, Tenant & Social Justice Champion

ing apartments into illegal hotel rooms. She also secured sustainable tax abatements in buildings that maintain permanently affordable units. During the high profile debate over policing practices during the Bloomberg administration, Mendez was a leading advocate of the Community Safety Act, two mea-

sures that reformed stop-andfrisk, outlawed racial profiling, and created an independent inspector general within the NYPD to review practices and procedures. Those measures were enacted over the mayor’s veto. After four more years of advocacy, Mendez and her colleagues were able to secure enactment of other measures in the original reform package limiting police searches of individuals stopped and also requiring police — in certain situations — to identify themselves and explain their

reasons for questioning an individual. On health issues, Mendez led the fight for legislation to reduce asthma-causing toxins and cosponsored a bill to keep so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that counsel against abortion from posing as legitimate medical care facilities. She fought for a decade to enact legislation to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. Mendez earned her bachelor’s degree in Metropolitan Studies and Political Science at New York University and a J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law-Newark. She began her career as a tenant organizer in Williamsburg and then worked as an attorney at Brooklyn Legal Services. Among her efforts as a community activist, Mendez was instrumental in the campaign to save St. Brigid’s Church on Avenue B and served on the board of directors of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union.

Elisa Padilla


lisa Padilla recently joined The Howard Hughes Corporation, a leading developer and operator of master-planned communities and mixed-use properties, after a brief time at Apple as head of product launch. Prior to her time at Apple, Padilla was chief marketing officer for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, where she oversaw the marketing efforts for the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center arena, including branding, advertising, merchandising, database research, creative, websites, and social media. At Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, Padilla was responsible for the seamless rebranding strategy of the Nets when the team moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012, creating the award-winning branding campaign, Hello Brooklyn. She also played a key role in establishing the brand identity for Barclays Center by branding its


2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

Bringing Creative Marketing, Branding Skills to a Variety of Tables

five programming franchises. She then led the marketing efforts for the venue’s sixth programming franchise, the New York Islanders, who began playing in Brooklyn in the fall of 2015. Padilla joined the Nets in 2010 as a director, was named vice

president in 2012 and senior vice president in 2014, and was promoted to chief marketing officer in 2015. During her years with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment and the Nets, she honed her skills in the areas of sports, entertainment, event, and Hispanic marketing, and the development of creative marketing campaigns, strategies, and solutions focused on defined goals that were achieved.

Prior to joining the Nets, Padilla developed a record of success in nearly 20 years of experience in the marketing industry, working with high profile sports and entertainment companies such as AT&T, HBO Sports, Nickelodeon, and the National Basketball Association. During her time at AT&T, she developed marketing plans targeted at the Hispanic market segment that resulted in major customer growth and expanded retail distribution in targeted areas of high Hispanic traffic. Padilla also spearheaded the marketing efforts behind the launch of the first AT&T store in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Padilla has taught Sports Marketing at NYU, where she was an adjunct faculty member for five years. She has also served on the National Board of Women in Sports and Events, or WISE, which is the leading voice and resource for women engaged in the business of sports. April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

NYXT.nyc, Manhattan Neighborhood Networkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cable and digital platform encouraging community engagement, congratulates our partners Innocence Project and the LGBT Center for their contributions in advocating for the human rights of New Yorkers. We are honored to amplify your missions as you continue to make our world better for all.

GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 - May 9, 2018

2018 Gay City News Impact Awards


Clarence Patton


larence Patton is the founding director of the Pipeline Project, a leadership development organization focused on increasing the number of LGBTQ people of color who work in and lead progressive non-profit groups, especially those involved in LGBTQ rights, service, and advocacy work. He is also the principal at Pipeline Consulting, which provides organizational and leadership development for institutions, with a primary emphasis on bolstering diversity and inclusion. Patton provides a range of professional training for both individuals and organizations in strategic problem-solving, relationship-building, staff management, and forward planning. A graduate of Cornell University, Patton, from 2005 to 2008, served as both executive director of the New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project and acting executive director of the National Coalition of Anti-Vio-

Empowering LGBTQ Leaders of Color

lence Programs, which now has more than 50 member organizations. During his first year at the helm of AVP, he turned a $52,000 operating deficit into a $76,000 surplus. On behalf of AVP and 13 other agencies across New York State, Patton leveraged $750,000 in funding for LGBTQ domestic violence services and programming. Prior to becoming AVP’s execu-

tive director, Patton was its director of organizing and public advocacy, often serving as the group’s primary spokesperson and managing the effort to expand government and foundation funding. In this role, he created the first statewide LGBTQ Domestic Violence Network and also implemented strategies to improve outreach to and staff recruitment from communities of color and among transgender New Yorkers. Before taking on his organizing and public advocacy roles, Patton served as AVP’s director of development

for three years, putting in place fundraising efforts to support the growth in the group’s operating budget from $850,000 to nearly $1.2 million. Before joining AVP, Patton served as program coordinator at the Empire State Pride Agenda. In that role, he was the organization’s primary contact both with communities of color and with New Yorkers living upstate. In organizing the gay and lesbian community in support of the group’s political and legislative agenda, Patton traveled around the state extensively. At Cornell, Patton studied Urban and Regional Studies, was active in the Cornell Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Coalition, and headed up Gays, Bisexuals and Lesbians of Color. Patton has served on the boards of directors of Gay Men’s Health Crisis and CenterLink, a national coalition of LGBTQ community centers.

Hon. Michael Sabatino


ichael Sabatino, the majority leader of the Yonkers City Council, was born and raised in the Bronx and has been a resident of Yonkers for the past 36 years. His early career was spent working as a hospital laboratory technologist, a pharmaceutical researcher, a teacher, and, as a principal at LEAP Technologies, a robotic instruments sales manager. Sabatino was elected to the City Council in November of 2011 as Yonkers’ first out gay elected official, becoming minority leader in 2014 before assuming his post as majority leader. “My election allowed for many changes here in Yonkers that have resulted in the city having a perfect score for the last three years on the Human Rights Campaign Municipality Equality Index,” Sabatino said of his experience on the Council. Despite his prominence in Yonkers’ politics, Sabatino said he is


2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

Pioneer in Marriage Equality, Yonkers City Government

most proud of the role he and his husband, Robert Voorheis, played in the push for marriage equality here in New York State and nationwide. The couple joined Marriage Equality New York shortly after its founding in 1999, and Sabatino served as its communications director while his husband is the group’s former co-executive director. Sabatino and Voorheis married

in Canada in 2003 after sharing a relationship of 25 years. The couple were plaintiffs in Godfrey v. Spano, a case brought to ensure that Westchester County and the State Department of Civil Service could recognize legal same-sex marriages from jurisdictions outside New York, before the marriage equality law was enacted here. Their 2009 victory at the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest bench, strengthened the judicial trend begun the year before

of courts according recognition to marriages like that of Sabatino and Voorheis. New York’s recognition of outof-state marriages prior to the 2011 marriage equality law was critical to Edie Windsor’s successful 2013 challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, where she argued her Canadian marriage to Thea Spyer, who died in 2009, should be recognized by the federal government. Prior to his election to the Yonkers City Council, Sabatino was a community advocate, as a founding member of the Yonkers Committee for Smart Development and the River Community Coalition of Yonkers. He also served as a Human Rights commissioner for the City of Yonkers. A graduate of St. Raymond High School, Sabatino earn his bachelor’s of science degree from St. John’s University in Medical Technology and a master’s in Medical Biology from Long Island University. April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

Julian Sanjivan Malaysian Refugee Passionately Supporting Other Immigrants


ulian Sanjivan came to New York from Malaysia in 2012 on a fellowship funded by the US Department of State. His fellowship involved working for ACRIA, the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America. Upon completing his fellowship, Sanjivan applied for asylum due to threats he had experienced from a group of police officers in Malaysia because he is gay. Malaysian law currently provides for whipping and up to a 20-year prison sentence for sodomy, which is codified in Section 377 of that nation’s penal code. Prior to coming to the US, Sanjivan was the human resources director at PT Foundation, one of the largest non-profit organizations in Malaysia focusing on HIV awareness, education, care, and support for populations most at risk, including men who have sex with men, transgender individuals, sex workers, and injecting drug users. Besides managing an organization with more than 700 volunteers, he advocated on behalf of the marginalized communities with which PT Foundation worked closely. GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 - May 9, 2018

In 2013, in New York, Sanjivan became the director of strategy and communications at the Refugee & Immigrant Fund (RIF), an organization that provides support services for asylum seekers in New York City. His own asylum was granted in April 2015 and he successfully obtained his Green Card in May of 2017. Sanjivan currently serves on the Executive Board of Heritage of Pride as the NYC Pride March director, responsible for all aspects of one of the world’s biggest Pride events. His oversight includes planning for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising next year, which will coincide with the celebration of WorldPride here. During his tenure as march director, Heritage of Pride signed a contract with ABC last year to broadcast the march live on TV for the first time. The production earned an Emmy nomination. Sanjivan is currently conducting research for “Asylee Designs,” a project funded by Fordham University aimed at better understanding the needs and realities of asylum seekers in New York. The hope is that the information will identify new solutions to the challenges facing asylum seekers and engage the city and other service providers in implementing them. An avid news junkie whose interests span the globe, Sanjivan is passionate about the movements for civil rights of LGBTQ and immigrant communities in the US and internationally.



Michael Sabatino

We are grateful for your commitment to the community and proud of you! From your friends and family at The LOFT LGBT Community Center

2018 Gay City News Impact Awards


Terri Smith-Caronia


erri Smith-Caronia is a founding member and executive director of the Black LGBT Alliance of New York, a new non-profit that aims to create a new model for Black LGBTQ community development focused on economic justice, optimal health and wellness, and community safety. The vision is to structurally transform the relationship between the Black LGBTQ community and government by moving from a disease prevention model to a more holistic approach to community development focused on eliminating social, health, and economic inequities in the state. The group works alongside Black LGBTQ lead organizations and advocates to advance an inclusive social justice agenda. The need is for safe and welcoming communities for all with just and equitable public policies responsive to the urgent needs of Black LGBTQ people, especially

those who are poor. Smith-Caronia has worked for more than 30 years in non-profit public health, civil rights, and public policy, engaging and serving youth, the homeless, active and recovering drugs users, the physically and mentally disabled, the formerly incarcerated, and folks living with HIV and AIDS. Her activism began at the age of 14 when she organized a voter drive in her neighborhood for Senator George McGovern’s presidential run, protested the Vietnam War, and demonstrated for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Among Smith-Caronia’s proudest achievements are the creation of a consumer advocacy group in Harlem whose grassroots efforts secured more than half a million dollars in AIDS funding from the AIDS Institute at the state department of health. This money launched the Harlem Directors Group. She also worked with the City Council to lead an effort with 40 AIDS services orga-

Dogged Organizer Among Black LGBTQ New Yorkers nizations of color and their clients to secure $5 million in new city funding to provide HIV/ AIDS prevention and care in communities of color — a nearly 300 percent increase to the city budget. Smith-Caronia has organized the community to educate legislators about the need to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. And she has served on social change groups including the federal CAEAR Coalition (Cities Advocating Emergency AIDS Relief), the NYS Medicaid Managed Care Coalition, the NYC Ryan White Planning Coun-

cil’s Policy Committee and Housing Workgroup, the city HIV Prevention Planning Group, the Public Health Budget Coalition, and the Injecting Drug Users Health Alliance, among many. Smith-Caronia has given community trainings and organized demonstrations, civil disobediences, press conferences, and large community meetings on HIV/ AIDS, housing, harm reduction, inequities within communities of color, and welfare policies. She has also worked with adolescents on issues of sexual health and pregnancy and to get them involved in community service and organizing. Smith-Caronia annually organized the word’s largest World AIDS Day commemoration — Housing Works’ 24-hour “Reading of the Names” vigil in City Hall Park — and was responsible for putting together a 21-day walk from New York to Washington, DC, for the Campaign to End AIDS, the precursor to the Ending the Epidemic Campaign.

Kiara St. James


iara St. James, founder and executive director of the grassroots New York Transgender Advocacy Group, has been a community organizer and public speaker for more than 20 years. Trans-led, NYTAG works to create opportunities for the community through partnerships and innovative sustainability initiatives. In New York City, she has been instrumental in changing homeless shelter policies that discriminated against trans New Yorkers. St. James presented workshops about marginalized communities at the 2010 International AIDS Conference in Vienna and at the UN, among many venues. Since 2002, she has organized lobbying efforts in Albany to explain the need for the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a bill adding “gender identity and expression” as protected categories in the Human Rights Law's anti-discrimination provisions as


2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

Powerful Voice for Trans Community’s Dignity & Empowerment well as in the hate crimes law. When Governor Andrew Cuomo, in 2015, directed the state to adopt regulations to include “gender identity and expression” in the interpretation of “sex” under the Human Rights Law, St. James was among a group of transgender leaders who argued the fight for GENDA must continue, saying they “appreciate the regulations and the protections they will offer… [but they] lack important elements, including the need to openly proclaim that transgen-

der individuals are human beings deserving of equality in Human and Civil Rights; the need for a clear standard of enforcement for businesses and landlords; and the need for a standardized interpretation of case law.” St. James has been a powerful voice in decrying violence against the trans community, especially the ongoing epidemic of homicides against trans women of color, and has consistently demonstrated her

commitment to coalition-building in the LGBTQ community. Speaking at a protest against the National Park Service’s declaration last fall that the Rainbow Flag flying over the new Stonewall National Monument is not technically on federal land, St. James said, “It is our duty to fight. It is our duty to win.” Then invoking the memory of trans Stonewall pioneers Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, she warned, “If we work in our silos, we cannot bring down this system of white supremacy.” When Abel Cedeno, a bullied gay Bronx teenager, appeared in court facing manslaughter charges in the stabbing death of another youth he said he was defending himself against, St. James was outside the courtroom in support, saying the state anti-bullying Dignity for All Students Act “is not being enforced. We have to have intensive trainings for staff and students.” April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

Gay City News Congratulates the 2018 Impact Award Honoree s A special thank you to Presenting Sponsor:

Our other Sponsors:

GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 - May 9, 2018

2018 Gay City News Impact Awards


Mustafa Sullivan Organizing the Next Generation of LGBTQ Leaders of Color


Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick Congratulations to all of the 2018 Impact Award’s accomplished honorees including my dear friends: Sharen Duke, Hon. Rosie Mendez, Harris M. Lirtzman, Glennda Testone, Ethan Geto,Hon. Michael Sabatino, and Clarence Patton.


2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

ustafa Sullivan was born and raised in Brooklyn as a Black Muslim, and he moved to the Bronx in 2003, where he has lived for nearly 15 years. He started his work in the Bronx as a leader in environmental justice efforts with Black and Latino youth in Van Cortlandt Park. In 2001, he joined Sistas and Brothas United, providing leadership training, organizing campaigns, and direct action planning among Bronx youth. At SBU, he had lead responsibility for multiple community and school-based campaigns and eventually became the director, staying with the organization for nine years. One of the founding organizers of the Urban Youth Collaborative — which brings together city students to fight for real education reform that puts students first, with a focus on high quality education for all while working with young people in their struggle for social, economic, and racial justice in their schools and communities — Sullivan joined with youth leaders to open a high school called the Leadership Institute. In April 2010, he joined the Alliance for Educational Justice — a group he had helped found two years earlier that works to

engage youth of color and LGBTQ students in major cities across the country — as its national campaign organizer. In 2014, Sullivan became director of national programs at the Gay Straight Alliance Network. He joined FIERCE, a membership-based organization building the leadership and power of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth of color in New York, in 2016, first as its board co-chair and then in his current role as executive director. FIERCE was an organization he looked up when he came out in the late 1990s, and he strives to work with its membership in developing the movement’s next generation of leaders. Sullivan builds by using active listening, compassionate agitation, fearless strategy, and his Black Caribbean gay Muslim warrior wisdom. In all his endeavors, he has worked tirelessly to build an ongoing national movement of trans, queer, and gender nonconforming youth leaders to reinvent America’s schools. Outside of his organizing work, Sullivan, over the past decade, has written plays, poems, and short stories, and continues to grab the rare spare hour to work on a novel. Sullivan believes the world can change using three ingredients: love, light, and revolution. He pushes forward using those ingredients along with the tools, intention, and discipline he’s learned from movement-building among youth and communities of color. April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

Glennda Testone


lennda Testone joined New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center as its first female executive director in 2009. Since then, working to strengthen The Center’s programs for adults, youth, and families, she spearheaded the launch of innovative programming for LGBTQ young people, members of the transgender community, and lesbian, bisexual, and trans women. As the Center celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014, Testone oversaw a $9.2 million capital building renovation that dramatically updated the first floor lobby welcome area, adding a cybercenter and café, improved sightlines in the first-floor Kaplan Assembly Hall while preserving site-specific artwork from the 1980s, enhanced the acoustics and aesthetics of the third floor Lerner Auditorium, made a new home for the Pat Parker/ Vito Russo Center Library and National Archives, and pre-

Lesbian Leader at the Center of New York’s LGBTQ Life

served Keith Haring’s famed wall mural, “Once Upon a Time,” originally housed in a men’s room that is now open in refurbished form for general viewing. Testone came to The Center from the Women’s Media Center, where she served as the vice president for three years. Prior to the WMC, Testone was the senior director of media programs for GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against

Defamation. Testone has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News and been quoted in outlets including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, Vogue, and W Magazine. She is a member of the Ending the Epidemic Task Force, which developed and is now working to implement Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York State by 2020. Testone also sits on the board of CenterLink, a nationwide coalition

of LGBTQ community centers, on the Executive Board of the City University of New York Institute for Health Equality, and on the Bronx Borough President’s LGBT Policy Task Force. During Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, she served on the New York City Commission on LGBTQ Runaway and Homeless Youth, which made recommendations for providing more safe shelter spaces. Originally from Syracuse, Testone has a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and Philosophy from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in Women’s Studies from the Ohio State University. She served as a Tenenbaum Leadership Institute Fellow at Milano, the New School for Management & Urban Policy and, in 2005, won Syracuse University’s LGBT Foundation Award for Outstanding Alumni. Testone lives in Asbury Park with her spouse and their French bulldog.

Congratulations to our dear Medical Director

Dr. Edward Fishkin We are privileged to be led by your wisdom and kindness and are honored to be called not only your medical staff but your friends. With love and affection,

Woodhull Hospital Medical and Dental Professional Society Jonah Green, MD President

GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 - May 9, 2018

Sallye Granberry, MD Vice President

RoseMarie Flores, MD Secretary/Treasurer

2018 Gay City News Impact Awards


Karen Thompson

         "" !


Unapologetic Advocate for Those Wrongly Convicted


From the office of State Senator Brad Hoylman

To this year's Gay City News Impact Awardsrecipients,

Congratulations! Stay in touch at nysenate.gov/senators/brad-hoylman hoylman@nysenate.gov | @BradHoylman facebook.com/bradhoylman 322 8th Avenue, Suite 1700, New York NY 10001

Congratulations Jonathan Lovitz! We salute you!


2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

aren Thompson, a senior staff attorney at the Innocence Project, founded in 1992 at the Cardozo School of Law to exonerate those wrongly convicted, litigates postconviction DNA cases nationwide. She also she supervises law students at Cardozo participating in the Innocence Projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clinic there. Thompson was previously director of Scholarship Programs at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and she did international arbitration work at Morrison & Foerster and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe while litigating many pro bono cases. One such case was her appellate representation of Patreese Johnson, one of four young women jailed after defending themselves against a 2006 homophobic attack in the West Village. Though the assailant was caught on security video making anti-lesbian slurs, throwing cigarettes and spitting on the women, and grabbing one by the throat, Johnson was sentenced to 15 years for stabbing him. In the appeal, Thompson emphasized that Johnsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sentence was longer than that of many men convicted of killing their girlfriends. â&#x20AC;&#x153;First, that his wounds were not the serious physical injury required to convict someone of first-degree assault.â&#x20AC;? Thompson

told Gay City Newsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Kelly Cogswell last year. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And that secondly â&#x20AC;&#x201D; does self-defense not count if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a dyke and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a dyke of color from Newark, New Jersey?â&#x20AC;? Tabloids thought it didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. The New York Post called the confrontation â&#x20AC;&#x153;Attack of the Killer Lesbians.â&#x20AC;? When the women were convicted, the Daily News cheered, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Lesbian wolf pack guilty.â&#x20AC;? But appeals courts felt differently, with two convictions overturned and the other women given reduced sentences. Working on that case, Thompson told Cogswell, convinced her that overturning wrongful convictions was the work she wanted to do. Thompson and Cogswell first met in the 1990s as members of the direct action group Lesbian Avengers. Today, being a lesbian is not necessarily the biggest hurdle she encounters. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Walking into a small town courtroom in Arkansas, the dyke thing is probably the least of my concerns,â&#x20AC;? Thompson said of her litigation work. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s great about it is that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not limited to being nice. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not afraid of being called a bitch. Or a dyke. Because Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not really seen as a woman in the same way. In those environments, my blackness supersedes my womanness. So, if Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not fuckable, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really matter, right? This means I get to be the best advocate for my clients. Because I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care what the repercussions are of acting like a man in a courtroom. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s amazing to see what happens when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not apologetic.â&#x20AC;? April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

Charlie Vázquez


uerto Rican novelist, short story writer, and poet Charlie Vázquez is a Bronx native and director of the Bronx Writers Center, a project of the Bronx Council on the Arts. Since 1996, the Writers Center has nurtured literary culture in the borough. The Bronx Writers Center’s programs include the Seeing It Through professional development series and monthly Bronx Fiction Writers Group meetings. Each Spring, the Center collaborates with the PEN American Center and the Bronx Museum of the Arts in planning PEN World Voices festival events in the borough. Its Poetry Town Hall Tour presents community forums tackling issues such as gentrification, immigration, LGBTQ and feminist concerns, and racism. The Bronx Memoir Project, which collects memoir fragments written by borough residents, released its first volume in 2015.

A Bronx Champion of Books and Writing

The Bronx Reads is a new initiative to address the borough’s lack of bookstores through discussions, performances, and book giveaways. After attending school in Oregon in the early ‘90s, Vázquez began his career as a musician, first writing song lyrics, before moving on to poetry and later fiction.

He published his first novel, “Buzz and Israel,” in 2004, a gay noir tale of a closeted actor who at 27 meets the love of his life, a junkie and jewelry store thief. In 2010, Vázquez published another noir set in a near-future America beset by civil war, where Volfango Sanzo, a haunted man, lives in an underworld exile of tunnels and labyrinths. “Business as Unusual,” published in 2007, is a fiction collection of novellas and short stories. From 2008 through 2011,


Vázquez curated an East Village gay Latinx reading series, PANIC!, and in 2010 he edited “The Best of PANIC!,” an anthology of more than 30 authors’ work presented there. The following year, with Charles Rice-González, Vázquez edited “From Macho to Mariposa,” another anthology of gay Latinx short story fiction. In 2015, Vázquez and David Caleb Acevedo published a book of poetry exploring the meanings of “hustler” and “hustle” in gay urban society. Vázquez’s work has appeared in anthologies including “Best Gay Love Stories: New York City” (2006), “Best Gay Erotica 2008,” “Queer and Catholic” (2008), and, in Spanish, “de Pinga[zos]: Antología gaybiqueer de cuento y comic pornoerótico” (2014). Vázquez is currently finishing a short story collection and a novel set in Puerto Rico in the wake of last September’s devastating Hurricane Maria.




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2018 Gay City News Impact Awards


Jay W. Walker


or more than two decades, Jay W. Walker has been an activist working passionately on issues of LGBTQ rights and the fight against HIV/ AIDS. Walker has volunteered for AIDS Walk New York for 21 years, and from 2001 through 2007 he managed Special Events at Gay Menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Health Crisis, which is the lead beneficiary of the annual May AIDS Walk. In the late 1990s, in the wake of the murder of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old Wyoming college student, he helped form the October 19th Coalition, which used direct action demonstrations to raise awareness about hate crimes targeting LGBTQ communities. During that same period, he was also an active volunteer with GMHCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s NY Citizens AIDS Network legislative public policy initiative. In recent years, Walkerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s activism has focused on gun control

Activist Schooled By His Civil Rights Movement Mother


advocacy and resistance to the Trump administration in Washington. He was a founding member of Gays Against Guns, formed after the 2016 Pulse massacre in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 people in an LGBTQ club there on a Latinx night were murdered. He has served on GAGâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s steering committee since its founding.

Following the November election that year, Walker also helped form the Resistance direct action group Rise and Resist, whose board he currently serves on. For much of last year, he was also a member of the steering committee for another Resistance group, RefuseFascism.org. Since 2016, Walker has been a ubiquitous participant and organizer of protests highlighting the dangers of both gun violence and Trump administration policies. For fun and release, Walker

sings Resistance songs with the â&#x20AC;&#x153;queertetâ&#x20AC;? Sing Out Louise (nĂŠe GAG Reflex/ GAG Nog). A native of Virginia, he moved to New York in 1985 to pursue his education at NYU. After graduation, he remained here since living in New York City was his childhood dream. Walker credits his commitment to social justice to the lessons he learned from his late mother, Cherryvera Walker, who had been active in the Civil Rights Movement and brought him up with first-hand accounts of her work within it. As a gay, Black, 20-year HIV/ AIDS survivor, Walker recognizes the crucial role that intersectionality plays in effective activism and resistance to the current political regime in Washington. His work within organizations he belongs to focuses on trying to develop synergies among different groups so that they can work in concert and amplify their voices.

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2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

Photo credit: Donna Aceto

Dear Honorees, Friends & Invited Guests It is with deep regret that I have a conflict and cannot be here tonight with all such extraordinary and deserving honorees. Congratulations to you all. Edie Windsorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s legacy is a tremendous acknowledgement of how much each and every one you and the LGBTQ community meant to her, and how this community through volunteer work and philanthropic support of causes endures. This honor is a testament to how much one personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life contributions, over time, can make a lasting and powerful transformative difference on both a community and the world as a whole. And how one can find within themselves the courage to empower oneself to cultivate a culture of change. Edie Windsor was steadfast in her belief for trailblazing action and this recognition is a demonstration of how one person can claim their stake in life and transform its course for the greater good of humankind. Continually ask yourself - how can you be that catalyst for change? Remember that for Edie, there was never a wrong time for justice, equality, and love. And no effort, action, or person too small to effectuate great things. With Love & Admiration,

Judith M. Kasen-Windsor GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 - May 9, 2018

2018 Gay City News Impact Awards



LaLa Zannell


Battling AntiLGBTQ Violence, Advancing Trans Women of Color


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s the lead organizer at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, LaLa Zannell is the face of AVPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s community organizing work, doing advocacy, outreach, and networking on behalf of LGBTQ New Yorkers who have experienced violence both outside and in their homes. Zannell also plays a key role in AVPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Rapid Incident Response team, which moves into action

whenever incidents of hate violence, sexual violence, or intimate partner violence impacting LGBTQ and HIV-affected New Yorkers become public and local and national responses to such violence must be voiced. Zannell is a gifted speechwriter and public speaker who often appears in prominent settings to address the full dimensions of violence against the LGBTQ community, especially regarding the


LALA ZANNELL, continued on p.31

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LALA ZANNELL, from p.30

disproportionate rates of violence facing transgender and gender non-conforming people of color. She has served on the Movement Building Committee of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, a consortium of more than 50 victimsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; services organizations across the country that is spearhead out of New Yorkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s AVP. During the Obama administration, Zannell spoke at two White House briefings, in 2015 and 2016, specifically focused on the needs of the transgender community. She also testified at the historic first Congressional Forum on Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2015. In the broader womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s movement, Zannell spoke at the Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Freedom Conference in October 2015 and, last October, at the Women's March 2017 Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Convention in Detroit. Zannell works in a variety of roles aimed at bringing about

fundamental cultural changes in city institutions â&#x20AC;&#x201D; as co-chair of the Policy Working Group at Communities United for Police Reform as well as the program committee chair for a series of citywide trans forums held with the City Council, its LGBT Caucus, and other community partners. She has served as a member of the Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC) leadership team that anchors that groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Healing and Restorative Justice Institute, and in 2015 was named to the Trans 100 List for her work in improving the lives of transgender woman of color. Zannell has most recently been working on creating the first transgender discrimination survey in New York City aimed at documenting the communityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s experiences in employment and job access. That data will become the basis for a public campaign to inform policymakers and establish key demands for transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers gaining equal access to jobs.

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2018 Gay City News Impact Awards

April 26 - May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


BARBARA BUSH, from p.14

attention to the ignored.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Capehart is sometimes too sweet-tempered for his own good. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In her 1994 memoir, Bush recalled her trip to the townhouse in Logan Circle. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I especially remember a young man who told us


NIXON, from p.12

ognizes this problem and prefers medically assisted treatment. It alleviates the craving for drugs and lets the patient decide if and when to taper off. Nixon is for more than simply legalizing pot, she brings a new


THREE PARENTS?, from p. 16

best interest, to embody in a formal order that would protect Raymondâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

that he had been asked to leave his church studies when it was discovered he had AIDS,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; she wrote. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;His parents had also disowned him, and he said he longed to be hugged again by his mother. A poor substitute, I hugged that darling young man... But what he really needed was family.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Tom Rosshirt, who would later be a speechwriter for Bill Clinton, lost a brother to AIDS around this time and knew the man she hugged. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;My parents knew of individuals whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d been fired from their jobs for volunteering for AIDS organizations. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how crazy the fear was,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; he wrote in 2012. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;In a

time of ignorance, her wise touch eased the sting of exclusion for my friend and many others. Thank you, Mrs. Bush.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? Excuse me, please. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going to throw up now.

attitude toward drug use that is perhaps unintelligible to Cuomo. Drug reformers argue we can live with people who use drugs â&#x20AC;&#x201D; that a friend or family member who gets high is no more of a problem than that a person is gay or straight. We know that people all over the world in many different cultures use psy-

choactive drugs. The US will never be drug-free and should learn to live peacefully with drug users. Most drug users are conventional people living productive lives. Others who have more serious problems with drugs can recover and then live conventional productive lives. The difference between the left

Democrats and the corporate Democrats are large and will be the subject of controversy. Even if Nixon loses the election, she will have mobilized a progressive base that will stay and work to grow larger. Rome wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t build in a day nor will a progressive political partyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s future be decided by one election.

rights as a non-biological parent. While she has ruled that Raymond has standing to seek custody and visitation, she has so far expressed

no view about the viability of tripartite custody. But, she has not ruled it out either. David and Raymond are rep-

resented by Patricia A. Fersch of Fersch Petitti LLC. Samantha is represented by Alyssa Eisner of Sager Gellerman Eisner LLP.

Follow @edsikov on Facebook and Twitter.

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PRIDE, from p.13

Administration.” This year, HOP is limiting contingents to a maximum of 200 people and requiring at least some march participants to wear wristbands. The coalition wants only “Corporate and for-profit entities” limited to 200 people. It rejected that limit and wristbands for “community, activist, and not-for-profit group contingents.” It also wants “political parties, elected officials, and political candidates” to be subject to the limit and said they “should not march in a place of pride near the front of the Pride March.” Separately, the coalition is making the same demands of the NYPD and it is asking for “a public apology from the NYPD for the part it played at Stonewall and for historic and ongoing violence by the NYPD against members of the LGBTQ community, particularly the most vulnerable members of our community.” The coalition wants the NYPD “to give deference to marshals trained and supplied by the RPC and HOP in providing security for the Pride March,” it does not want sound can-

TRANS BAN, from p.4

each of the judges referred to a heightened scrutiny standard. Now, Pechman blazes a new trail by ruling that discrimination against transgender people should be subject to the same strict scrutiny test used in race discrimination cases. It is very difficult for the government to win a strict scrutiny case, but its best shot in this litigation depends on the court finding that the policy announced by Mattis is entitled to deference, and this turns on whether it is the product of “expert military judgment,” a phrase that appears in the Mattis report to the president. Pechman is clearly skeptical on this point, referring to the Mattis document as an “Implementation Plan.” She had earlier raised the question whether Trump consulted with any generals and military experts last year — as he said he did — in announcing his policy, and she now implies the Pentagon did not substantively advance expert review of the appropriate policy but rather simply delivered


nons used during the march, and it is demanding that there be “no cooperation between the NYPD and [federal immigration officials] during NYC Pride.” The coalition has held a series of meetings at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center beginning on April 7 to formulate its demands. The first meeting was on the record. Gay City News was permitted to attend the next two, but the discussion in those meetings was off the record to permit the activists to have completely open conversations. The coalition members include Leslie Cagan, who has long been active in the LGBTQ and anti-war movements, Brandon Cuicchi and Mark Milano, longtime ACT UP members, Jake Tolan and Jeremiah Johnson, members of Rise and Resist, Jay W. Walker, a member of Gays Against Guns (GAG), Jamie Bauer, who has delivered civil disobedience training to a number of groups, and Natalie James, a member of the Queer Caucus of the Democratic Socialists of America, which convened the coalition meetings. The meetings have also drawn members

of the Jewish Voice for Peace, the Red Bloom Collective, Hoods4Justice, and NYC ShutItDown. The coalition is confronted with some obstacles. As Gay City News went to press, just two groups other than the coalition had reportedly endorsed the demands, but Gay City News could not confirm that. Organizing broader support had just started. Registration for the march has closed and HOP is notoriously reluctant to admit groups late. In June 2016, following the killings of 49 people in a Florida LGBTQ club, GAG sought a slot in the parade. It got into the parade only after Corey Johnson, then a member of the City Council and now its speaker, gave his place to the anti-gun group. HOP’s longstanding policy has been to admit any group to the march as long as the group follows HOP’s rules, which apply equally to all contingents. The coalition is asking HOP to single out GOAL and police the content of its messaging. There have been protests over police in Pride events in six North American cities, including in New York City last year.

While the crowd that lines the march route every year tends to cheer for everything that passes by, GOAL does seem to be particularly popular. Given that it was a police raid on the Stonewall Inn that prompted the 1969 riots, GOAL’s presence in the parade is seen by some in the broader LGBTQ community as evidence of the community’s success and acceptance by the broader society. The NYPD is highly unlikely to agree to these demands. That agency sees itself as responsible for the safety of all New Yorkers and as the expert on how any safety measures should be deployed. James said that recent decisions to not prosecute some low-level crimes by the Brooklyn and Manhattan district attorneys and community views toward policing generally indicate a new environment that was receptive to the demands. “I think we’re entering into a new zeitgeist in terms of community attitudes on policing,” she said. As Gay City News was going to press on April 25, the NYPD, GOAL, and HOP had not responded to requests for comment.

the president the document he wanted. Regarding Trump’s policy pronouncements of last year, she wrote, “Defendants to date have failed to identify even one General or military expert he consulted, despite having been ordered to do so repeatedly. Indeed, the only evidence concerning the lead-up to his Twitter Announcement reveals that military officials were entirely unaware of the Ban, and that the abrupt change in policy was ‘unexpected.’” Mattis’ February report to Trump would seem to support a position of deference by the courts, but Pechman is, as of yet, unconvinced. She did not, however, mention press reports that the Mattis document originated at the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank, rather than from the Defense Department, and has been subjected to withering criticism by, among others, the American Psychiatric Association. The government’s argument, as Pechman summarizes it, is that the Mattis Implementation Plan is “the product of a deliberative

review. In particular, Defendants claim the Ban has been subjected to ‘an exhaustive study’ and is consistent with the recommendations of a ‘Panel of Experts’ convened by Secretary Mattis to study ‘military service by transgender individuals, focusing on military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion,’ and tasked with ‘conduct[ing] an independent multi-disciplinary review and study of relevant data and information pertaining to transgender Service members.’… The Defendants also claim that the Report was ‘informed by the [DoD]’s own data obtained since the new policy [of allowing open transgender service initiated late in the Obama administration] began to take effect last year.’” Pechman, however, concluded that “whether the Ban is entitled to deference raises an unresolved question of fact. The Implementation Plan was not disclosed until March 23, 2018. As Defendants’ claims and evidence regarding their justifications for the Ban were presented to the Court only recently, Plaintiffs and [the State of Washington, an intervening

co-plaintiff] have not yet had an opportunity to test or respond to these claims. On the present record, the Court cannot determine whether the DoD’s deliberate process — including the timing and thoroughness of its study and the soundness of the medical and other evidence it relied upon — is of the type to which Courts typically should defer.” In other words, Pechman suspects that this purported “study” is a political document, produced for litigation purposes. Undoubtedly, she is aware that its accuracy has been sharply criticized. Even if the court were to conclude that the new policy is owed deference, Pechman wrote, the court “would not be rendered powerless to address Plaintiffs’ and Washington’s constitutional claims, as Defendants seem to suggest.” Pechman also noted that the “claimed justifications” for banning transgender service members “are strikingly similar to justifications offered in the past to support the military’s exclusion and segre-

TRANS BAN, continued on p.19

April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


DAVID BUCKEL, from p.5

asking him whose initials were at the bottom next to his own â&#x20AC;&#x201D; as though someone had typed it for him. It said DB/afq. I asked him since we didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have anyone with those initials on staff. He looked at me, smiled and said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Another fucking queer.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? On Facebook, Steven Goldstein, who when he headed up Garden State Equality worked with Buckel on the marriage fight there, called out the media for being â&#x20AC;&#x153;irresonsibleâ&#x20AC;? in â&#x20AC;&#x153;buying into the story that David Buckel died by suicide in a protest to further his cause.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;We who worked with David experienced his unshakable optimism in pursuing justice and in predicting success against the longest odds,â&#x20AC;? Goldstein wrote, adding, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Depression and other mental health challenges cause suicide. God forbid anyone alive believes what David wrote, and tries to follow suit by attempting suicide allegedly to further a cause.â&#x20AC;? Buckel, who was 60 at his death, graduated from Cornell Law School in 1987. He had a 34-year relationship with Terry Kaelber, the former executive director of SAGE, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders. At a 2006 SAGE event honoring Kaelber on his departure from the group, he and Buckel appeared with Cindy Vail and Rona Broholm and the daughter they were all coparenting, Hannah. Both the Daily News and the New York Times reported that in recent years, Buckel had devoted


TRANS BAN, from p.18

gation of African American service members, its â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Ask, Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Tellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; policy, and its policy preventing women from serving in combat roles.â&#x20AC;? In short, Pechman will not be bamboozled by a replay of past discriminatory policies, all of which have been abandoned because they were based mainly on prejudice and stereotyping. The next stage for the case before Pechman is resolution of the factual controversies she identified before any a final ruling on the merits is made. Plaintiffs are represented by a team of attorneys from Lambda GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; May 9, 2018

himself to environmental causes and groups, including the NYC Compost Project at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the Added Value Red Hook Community Farm. According to the Daily News, the note Buckel left at the scene of his suicide referred to Buddhist Tibetans setting themselves on fire to protest their countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s occupation by China, writing, â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is not new, as many have chose to give a life based on the view that no other action can most meaningfully address the harm they see. Here is a hope that giving a life might bring some attention to the need for expanded actions, and help others give a voice to our home, and Earth is heard.â&#x20AC;? The Times reported that the newspaper received an email with Buckelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s suicide note at 5:55 a.m., barely a half hour prior to his body being found in Prospect Park. According to the newspaper, the note sounded despair that Buckel could ever do enough to address the ills he saw in society. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Many who drive their own lives to help others often realize that they do not change what causes the need for their help,â&#x20AC;? the newspaper quoted Buckelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s note as saying. Neither the police department nor the medical examinerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office responded to Gay City Newsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; request for information about Buckelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s death. A call to Buckel and Kaelberâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s home on Prospect Park Southwest was not returned.

Legal and OutServe-SLDN, with pro bono assistance from the law firms of Kirkland & Ellis and Newman Du Wors. In a written statement Lambda senior attorney Natalie Nardecchia said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The court wants to expose this bigoted ban for all of its ugliness at trial, and we are happy to oblige. If itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a full record the judge wants, then itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a full record we will give her. We look forward to putting the capriciousness and cruelty of this discriminatory ban against transgender people on trial, where it can be relegated for good to the trash heap of history, alongside other vile military policies that discriminated based on race, sex, and sexual orientation.â&#x20AC;?



Photograph by Layla Kovacevic



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Homosexuality’s Historic Redesignation Ain Gordon play explores Dr. John Fryer’s anonymous work; Marilyn Maye & Grace Jones in memorable appearances BY DAVID NOH in Gordon’s play, “217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous,” running next month at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, concerns the work of Dr. John Fryer (1937-2003) that culminated in the removal of homosexuality from the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) after his riveting testimony at the annual American Psychiatric Association (APA) meeting in 1972. Back then, an openly gay psychiatrist could lose his medical license, so Fryer, who had already been fired from the University of Pennsylvania for being gay, testified under a pseudonym (Dr. H. Anonymous), wearing a rubber Richard Nixon mask and using a voice modulator. His opening words were, “I am a homosexual. I am a scientist.” Gordon learned of Fryer when he came across 217 boxes filled with his papers, ferreted away in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Center City. The May 3-11 run of the play will coincide with this year’s APA meeting occurring steps away at the Javits Convention Center from May 5 to 9. Multi-award-winning actress Laura Esterman met me in a Chelsea diner to talk about her involvement in this important dramatic reveal — commemorating the 45th anniversary of homosexuality’s redesgnation — about this too-little known, major gay hero. “I love this play. We originally did it in Philly in 2016. I’ve worked with Ain before, and he’s great. His father is choreographer David Gordon and his mother is Valda Setterfield, the dancer, and we were able to use their sudio to rehearse in. “Fryer is not very well-known, considering what he did. I play Katherine M. Luder, his longtime secretary who was with him 25 years. Besides his practice, he taught at Temple University while having to stay closeted and helped a lot of people who came to him in secret, that’s what my third of the play is about. This is not some sad play about lonely characters find-




Baryshnikov Arts Center Jerome Robbins Theater 450 W. 37th St. May 3-11 at 7:30 p.m. $40 at 217boxes.com


Early lesbian and gay activists Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny appear with Dr. John Fryer, disguised with a Richard Nixon mask as Dr. H. Anonymous, before the 1972 American Psychiatric Association meeting one year prior to the group voting to eliminate homosexuality as a mental illness as designated in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

ing each other. He had partners, and she had her own life, a working relationship that worked. It consists of three monologues, and I am preceded by his gay activist friend Alfred A. Gross (Derek Lucci), and followed by Ken Marks, who plays his father, Ercel.” Fryer, himself, is not actually portrayed, Esterman explained, “and I think that’s more interesting. The whole evening s very compact, with a lot of humor. Ain’s specialty is writing about historical characters that aren’t very well known, and the premise is that it’s a series of conversations between a historical tour guide and these three characters.” Just about a year ago, I met Esterman, an actress I’ve always admired, at the annual New Dramatists’ Luncheon at the Marriott Times Square and was immediately drawn to her down-to-earth friendliness and realistic attitude about the ups and downs of a theatrical career. This year has been a good one for her, for, besides this play, she just finished appearing in David Rabe’s “Good for Otto”, playing the mother of a hoarder (Kiki & Herb’s Kenny Mellman). She received her greatest acclaim for the play “Marvin’s Room,” which in 1991, won a slew of awards and really thrust her into the media spot-

light. Of that time she recalls, “It was wonderful, although it was sad that [playwright] Scott McPherson was sick. But we knew when it was happening that it was special and we’d better enjoy it. The real joy was in creating that part. A lot of things you commit to don’t work out, but something about that one clicked. In the wrong hands, it would not have worked. It’s so delicate and could have just turned into melodrama. “Of course, I didn’t see the recent revival of it, or even read the reviews. I couldn’t, it was too painful for me, and thinking about it made me sad. Scott is dead, and it’s very hard to find the right tone for it. I didn’t want to see someone else do it. I couldn’t handle it.” Esterman was born in Brooklyn, but her parents moved the family to Lawrence, Long Island, when she was very young. “Even as a child, I’d say, ‘Why do we have to live here? Why can’t we live in New York?’ I don’t know where I got the acting thing from but as a child I was always putting on shows. My parents would take me to Broadway shows and the opera and enrolled me with music teachers, as I played the piano.” A production of “Great Expectations” needed a little girl to play

Estella: “You know, ‘What’s your name, boy?’ I could do the British accent, thanks to a very cultured uncle of mine, but it was always inside me, this need, something I couldn’t control. I don’t think most actors would actually choose this profession unless this was so, otherwise, why would you want to? It’s a hard life, with very little glamour. “Actually there is some glamour and it is fun to work with good directors and actors. I love directing, myself. It’s such a relief to be able to just watch from the back with a drink and not have to be on stage.” Esterman got her training at the prestigious LAMDA academy in London. “I loved it there. It was the swinging 1960s, unbelievable to be hanging out, having affairs with these gorgeous men with accents. Being a Jewess was exotic to them, not a religious thing, but exotic, like a goddess, a belly dancer. They still have a different viewpoint there, less overt and therefore healthier, I think. But now the world has changed so much, so who knows?” She returned to America and did regional theater everywhere for two years, playing all the classical roles she was trained for. Her Broadway debut came with Saroyan’s “The Time of Your Life,” followed by “Waltz of The Toreadors,” starring Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson: “They were fabulous, treated us all wonderfully and I became real friendly with them. I was bored, playing a small part, but I understudied the older woman part, with whom Eli

217 BOXES, continued on p.21

April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


Women — and Their Audience — on the Verge Miguel Arteta returns with edgy film about two lesbians letting loose BY GARY M. KRAMER iguel Arteta makes squ i r m-i nduci ng movies. His 2000 comedy-drama “Chuck & Buck” is a classic of uncomfortable cinema. Last year’s “Beatriz at Dinner” was also awkward — and rather nasty. His latest film, “Duck Butter,” which he co-wrote with bisexual actress Alia Shawkat, who stars and produced, is equally disconcerting. The film, which had its world premiere in the past week at the Tribeca Film Festival, is now in theaters ready to polarize audiences. Naima (Shawkat) is an actress who is excited to start work on the latest Duplass brothers film. However, in her first day on set, she does not mesh well with her co-stars. Later that night, she accompanies her friend Ellen (Mae Whitman) to a lesbian bar. When a female singer named Sergio (Laia Costa) asks Naima to dance, the possibility of romance hangs in the air. After the women connect deeply and spend most of the rest of the night together, Sergio asks Naima to impulsively give over her next 24 hours to drinking juice with her and having sex every hour. Naima begs off, but circumstances prompt her to return the next day and go through with Sergio’s wild proposition. “Duck Butter” mines most of its humor from the two young women’s interactions. Naima talks about feeling free, and Sergio encourages her to act on those feelings. That leads to them having sex in public while walking Sergio’s dog, but it



217 BOXES, from p.20

fell in love, which was fun. Victor Garber was in it, too, and he is so witty, with a great sense of making fun of himself, you could fall in love with him. So much fun, the coolest guy!” Esterman has the distinction of being in one of Neil Simon’s rare GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 – May 9, 2018

Directed by Miguel Arteta The Orchard Opens Apr. 27 Village East Cinema 189 Second Ave. at E. 12th St. citycinemas.com/villageeast


Laia Costa and Alia Shawkat in Miguel Arteta’s “Duck Butter,” which opens April 27.

also involves Sergio hitting Naima in the face with a bag of dog shit to get a reaction out of her. In a movie that takes its title from the women’s discussion about smegma, such is the nature of the characters’ behavior. Naima and Sergio spend their screen time listening to and playing music, eating and drinking, having sex — and they talk and talk and talk. The big question is: Are these characters and their actions interesting? The answer is maybe. Or rather, occasionally. “Duck Butter” asks viewers to spend 93 minutes with Naima and Sergio, and at times these women will grate on their nerves. That may be the point — Arteta is not aiming to make anyone feel warm and fuzzy here — but even Naima takes a personal time-out every so often to go hide in the bathroom just to gather her thoughts about what Sergio just did, or said, or wants. The film’s rambling, episodic nature works both for the story and against it. Viewers get to learn more about Naima and Sergio as they get to learn more about each other,

and their discussions about getting caught masturbating, their anger toward their mothers, and the men who treated them badly are revealing. Still, it can be hard to get a full sense of them even as some of their insecurities bubble to the surface. When Naima is prompted by Sergio to send a nasty text message to the Duplass brothers about a professional issue, it’s just plain juvenile. Scenes that capture the two women being honest and real are more successful. Sergio reacts negatively to a broken hairbrush, which seems extreme but does tell a lot about her character. When Naima speaks an uncomfortable truth at one point, it changes the atmosphere in the room. The film is best during such dramatic moments. A fight the couple has results in a brief silence between them. Unmaking a bed together, the two women are stubborn and put their guards up. It may be the most enlightening scene in the film. Arteta films “Duck Butter” in an intimate style — not unlike the Duplass brothers’ trademark

bombs, “God’s Favorite”: “Oh God, I played the daughter of Vincent Gardenia, and my bathrobe was always open so he was always telling me to close it. It was based on the book of Job, and not very good. Charles Nelson Reilly was in it — a great guy who adopted me and took me to Sardi’s. “Weirdly, it was directed by Mi-

chael Bennett. I was a little girl, all I could think was ‘A Chorus Line?’ We all kind of knew we were in trouble, the play did not work, nobody’s fault. Neil Simon was very sweet: he’d come and laugh at his own lines, but when it wasn’t successful, he disappeared, which is what happens.” Esterman is happily married,

mumblecore films — that gives it a naturalistic, documentary-like feel. The women may be exhausted from their 24-hour experiment, but some viewers will tire of them long before that. Others, however, will be riveted by the power shifts between the women. When Sergio’s mother visits, a perceived slight soon has Naima exacting payback on the woman who has intruded on their privacy. Arteta and Shawkat ask viewers to repeatedly recalibrate their opinions of the characters, both of whom can be unlikable. The uncomfortable elements in the film are the most authentic and the hardest to watch, but at times there are hints they are also contrived. The film suffers from a seemingly improvised style that is not fleshed out enough to sustain its few emotionally powerful moments. Shawkat gives a strong performance as Naima, who is a sympathetic character despite her foolish decisions. Laia Costa makes a good foil, and the couple’s sex scenes are appealing. All this, however, is not enough to make “Duck Butter” any more than intermittently entertaining.

for years, to Eric Hart, who owns the Cape Cinema movie house — which hosted the first ever showing of “The Wizard of Oz” in 1939 — in Dennis, Massachusetts, where she blissfully summers. “We were introduced by the propmaster working on ‘Tamara,’ which

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A Lear for Our Times Sir Antony Sher’s final Shakespearean esp pearean b bow is chillingly on point BY ANDY HUMM irst things first. This splendid production of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “King Lear”— directed by artistic director Gregory Doran with Sir Antony Sher as Lear in what he says will be his last Shakespeare performance (because what’s left for him?) — is at BAM only until Sunday. Go. Now. It is the kind of crystal clear Shakespeare we rarely get the chance to see here. No matter how well you know the play, sitting through this epic version in the midst of the madness of American and world politics is a chance to reflect on power and family dynamics — and to contemplate the tragedy of the destructive power of vanity, jealousy, and resentment. If that doesn’t sound like a play for our times, the opening scene — where Lear enters looking like a human mountain and demanding flattery from his daughters, giving over his kingdom



BAM Harvey Theater 651 Fulton St., btwn. Ashland & Rockwell Pls. Brooklyn Apr. 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. Apr. 28 at 1:30 p.m. Apr. 29 at 3 p.m. $35-$135; BAM.org Three hrs., with intermission


Mimi Ndiweni and Sir Antony Sher in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of “King Lear,” directed by the company’s artistic director Gregory Doran, at BAM through April 29 only.

to the sycophants — is to be put in mind of a Trump cabinet meeting. By play’s end, I came to think of We the People as Lear — citizens of a failing nation who committed suicide on Election Day 2016 by embracing a leader who told us we were great instead of dealing maturely with the issues before us. This 1606 play is such an assault

on the audience that the standard version from 1681 to 1838 — an adaptation by Nahum Tate – had a happy ending where Lear and Cordelia survive, she marries Edgar, and there is no Fool. Doran’s production is a ship of fools and not just the Fool (Graham Turner), a daffy, scary, and wise clown tortured by the truth. Sher’s

Lear is both tyrant and someone so eager to get on with carousing with his buddies that he leaves his kingdom divided and in the worst of hands — his treacherous and contemptible kids Goneril (Nia Gwynne) and Regan (Kelly Williams). Good, responsible Cordelia (Mimi Ndiweni) gets the boot. Kent (Antony Byrne) gets banished for speaking truth to power, but returns to the disempowered Lear in disguise to try to return

KING LEAR, continued on p.23

Women in the Spotlight Four new plays focus on complex female characters BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE nyone who has dealt with a headstrong, aging parent on the cusp or, or sliding deeper into, dementia will feel for the women named simply A, B, and C in the magnificent revival of Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women” now on Broadway. A, a wealthy widow, is 92 claiming to be 91. She spends her time sparring with B, her caretaker, and wallowing in memories. C is from the lawyer’s office who has arrived to try to make sense of A’s finances, which she neglects but will not relinquish. With Albee’s trademark incisiveness, A dominates the prickly banter and is maddeningly inconsistent, but she’s paying everyone.




John Golden Theatre 252 W. 45th St. Through Jun. 24 Tue, Thu. at 7 p.m. Wed., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m. Sun. at 3 p.m. $59-$169; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 One hr., 45 mins., no intermission


Alison Pill, Glenda Jackson, and Laurie Metcalf in Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women,” directed by Joe Mantello, at the John Golden Theatre through June. 24.

Like many in her position, she is both charming and vicious. B has learned to negotiate the ups and downs, while C is frustrated. At

the midpoint in the play, however, everything shifts and we are suddenly in a different reality. A is lying in bed, having had a stroke. Yet

here are A, B, and C again. This time, though, they are the same woman, examining her life from different ages — her 90s, her 50s, her 20s. C doesn’t want to become

WOMEN, continued on p.23

April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


Sir Antony Sher and Oliver Johnstone.

KING LEAR, from p.22

him to sanity. Trusting Gloucester (David Troughton) is a believer in all kinds of fake news. His loyalty to the new regime earns him (trigger warning!) nothing less than a graphic gouging of his eyes by Cornwall, Regan’s husband (James Clyde) — and only after he has been taken in by the lies of his “bastard” spawn, Edmund (Paapa Essiedu), and forsaken his goodly son, Edgar (Oliver Johnstone). (The heartfelt reunion of Edgar, coming out of his “Poor Tom” dilapidated persona, and the blinded Gloucester was a

WOMEN, from p.22

B. B lives in fear of becoming A, and A is preparing to die. If this sounds morbid or confusing, it is anything but. As it dawns on the audience what’s going on in the latter half, it provokes a rueful awareness of the transitory nature of life and recalls Emily’s question in “Our Town:” “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?” Albee’s play makes no judgments. Rather, it examines the illusory nature of what we call reality — at every time of life. Albee is often wry and crackling in his language, and demonstrates there is something affirming in just making it through life. Glenda Jackson leads the cast as A with a dynamic performance that is unforgettable. She has an intensity of focus that is galvanizing. She perfectly plays a woman who is hanging on to what power she has and has finally reached a stage to be perfectly honest about her life. Laurie Metcalf as B turns GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 – May 9, 2018

deeply moving moment — right up there with Lear’s lament for dead Cordelia.) Lear often shouts to the heavens and Sher sends his sonorous pleas directly to the rear balcony — what we might think of as cheap seats but where real power should reside, with average people. We are privileged to have this production, born in Stratfordupon-Avon in 2016 and honed to perfection in performances around the world on its way back to Shakespeare’s home May 23 through June 9. Catch it here whilst you can — and while we are still free to criticize our leaders.

in yet another fully developed role that is based in the script yet imbued with originality. Particularly in the first half, she plays the layers of protection and frustration with absolute precision and more than a little perfect comedy. Alison Pill as C is exceptional, as well. On some level, C is the most fragile of the three. Young in her career in the first half and young in life in the second, she is most vulnerable as she comes to terms with the likelihood that her youthful dreams will not become her midand later-life realities. Joe Mantello’s flawless direction keeps the audience engaged, mind and heart, through every moment. A.E. Housman called death “the road all runners come.” Albee reminds us that the running is all. Applying any kind of serious critical analysis to “Frozen” is, in a word, pointless. It’s a Disney show, and that means lavish, fun-

WOMEN, continued on p.28



Star-Crossed Lovers in Ancient Castles Jonas Kaufmann takes on Tristan; Met revives Laurent Pelly “Cendrillon” production BY ELI JACOBSON n April 12, anyone close to Manhattan who considers themself a hardcore opera fan was in one place: Carnegie Hall. We were all convened in that hallowed hall to hear Jonas Kaufmann attempt his first partial climb up the Mount Everest that is Wagner’s Tristan in a concert performance of Act II of “Tristan und Isolde” with the Boston Symphony Orchestra led by Andris Nelsons. Nelsons’ interpretation of the score is much more sensual and warmly emotional than Simon Rattle’s coolly cerebral, clinical take at the Metropolitan Opera two seasons ago. The strings and woodwinds rustled with fevered expectation and then floated hypnotically into the night air — the spell only broken by some out of tune horns offstage representing King Marke’s hunting party (which really does break the spell later on in the act when the King stumbles upon his wife and best friend’s tryst). Nelsons could have been more impulsive in his rhythmic attack but this was a measured, authoritative reading and his Boston players acquitted themselves well. As Isolde, Finnish soprano Camilla Nylund was more of a jugendlich heldensopran (lyricdramatic) than a hochdramatisch (heroic Wagnerian dramatic soprano). A noted Elsa and Elisabeth who will debut in a few seasons at the Met as Strauss’ Marschallin, Nylund was initially overparted by the “Frau Minne” section. She needed extra mid-phrase breaths to get through the overwhelming outburst where Isolde extinguishes the torch. However, once Kaufmann’s Tristan came on the scene, Isolde’s music becomes more lyrical and here Nylund was more in her natural element. Her voice is a good instrument and she is a striking statuesque blonde — but I say the complete role should be taken on by her in about 10 years




Jonas Kaufmann sings Tristan in concert with the Boston Symphony led by Andris Nelsons.

and only in small houses. Veteran Bayreuth mezzo-soprano Mihoko Fujimura sang Brangäne with focused intent and authority; her tone is even and concentrated and her German diction is clear. Bass Georg Zeppenfeld brought a lieder singer’s subtle attention to detail and line to King Marke’s long monologue. Zeppenfeld’s tone is that of a true bass and this Marke remained dignified and regal, never stooping to self-pity or bathos. And what of our errant tenor? Kaufmann’s curly locks are now sprinkled with salt and pepper and his waist is not as slender as it once was — but then neither is his voice. His handsome baritonal tenor seemed in healthy but somewhat blunted condition — the tone is very covered and dark with not enough light to offset the tonal shade. The “Tag” or “Day” section was sung with stentorian force and Kaufmann’s face turned red with the heroic effort — but the tone remained steady with unforced power. In the dreamy “O sink hernieder” “Liebesnacht” section, Kaufmann

attempted to soften the tone but his voice lacked float. One longed for a shaft of pure bright tenor tone suggesting tenderness and longing to offset the opaque covered sounds. Jon Vickers managed to survive Tristan successfully for decades not by deploying extra vocal muscle but by exploiting every “piano” and “mezza voce” marking in the score. Vickers’ third act Tristan was practically a full-evening Frankie Valli solo concert of falsetto crooning. If he is to successfully attempt the entire role, Kaufmann needs to cultivate the lieder singer lyricism and lightness in Tristan’s eternal night. His reading of Schubert’s “Die schöne Müllerin” at Carnegie Hall this past January showed the potential that is there. Opera obsessives allergic to Wagner had another option on April 12: the belated Metropolitan Opera premiere of Jules Massenet’s 1899 fairy tale opera “Cendrillon” (“Cinderella”) with a libretto by Henri Caïn adapted from the Perrault. Cinderella and her Prince Charmant, like Tristan and Isolde,

are lovers separated by society who resort to magic. In Act III of Massenet’s charming “Cendrillon,” our heroine Lucette has her own nocturnal episode in a forest glade where she and her royal lover, magically reunited by the Fairy Godmother, are longing for death yet craving the love that cannot be consummated in their daily life. Massenet’s “Cendrillon” was imported by the Met as a vehicle for the popular Yankee diva mezzosoprano Joyce DiDonato. The occasionally overly whimsical yet endlessly witty and imaginative production by Laurent Pelly was created for Santa Fe Opera back in 2006 (starring DiDonato) then traveled to Covent Garden, Barcelona, and Brussels. Pelly recreated his production at the Met with style and flair and it looked none the worse for wear given its age and travels. Pelly’s costumes are hilarious and absurd — check out the procession of prospective brides in the Act II ball scene. Barbara de Limburg’s quick-moving scenery consists of rotating white walls with Perrault’s “Cendrillon” text written upon them as if a book of fairy tales has come to life. Alas, neither our Cinderella nor her Prince proved as untouched by the passage of time as Pelly’s staging. Massenet strives to create a world of childlike innocence but DiDonato as Lucette is 49 years old and Alice Coote in the trouser role of Prince Charmant will turn 50 the day before the last performance on May 11. Both are singing roles composed for a soprano and their voices now strain at the high notes and tessitura. DiDonato’s tone too often turned white with rattling vibrato while Coote let out some raw high notes with puffy matronly tones below. Looking more like a sophisticated woman of the world than a radiant ingénue in her white sleeveless ball gown, DiDonato does project sincerity and her soft middle register sing-

STAR-CROSSED, continued on p.31

April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

AGENDAS, from p.8

said, would be convening diverse voices to work on issues, developing a “proactive and people-centered policy agenda,” increasing civic and community engagement on the ground, and supporting the next generation of leaders. Developing that policy agenda, Testone emphasized, is a work in progress. The Albany meeting, she said, was a “first step in what will be a longstanding effort.” The 30 or so leaders in Albany at the Center’s invitation also scored a high profile meeting, sitting down with the governor for almost an hour. Like his counsel David, Cuomo voiced support for GENDA but also cautioned about the hurdles that remain in the Senate. As he did when he took the lead on the marriage equality fight in early 2011, Cuomo underscored the critical importance, in his view, of the community statewide speaking with a united voice in Albany. Unity can often be a tough nut, and in a community that has long been led primarily by cisgender gay men, most of them white, there is widespread wariness in communities of color and among transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers about the movement’s commitment to the specific challenges they face on a daily basis. Numerous advocates from organizations representing these communities who spoke to Gay City News, however, praised the efforts by both EQNY and the Center to enlist their input and active participation. Having two different efforts moving along separate tracks, even with intersection and overlap, of course, also poses risks to unity, though groups that spoke to the newspaper praised both efforts, noting that there’s plenty of work to be done and pointing out that EQNY has an political action arm able to do lobbying and make campaign contributions. Still, there is an apparent fundamental difference in approach between a largely volunteer effort that aims to “build power and hand it off” to local groups on the ground and an effort housed within an already existing major service provider. Gabriel Blau, a cofounder of EQNY who is the former executive director of the Family GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 – May 9, 2018

Equality Council and now consults for LGBTQ non-profits, noted that Equality New York is a member of the nationwide Equality Federation of statewide LGBTQ advocacy groups, and that none of the federation members are units within larger service providers. It may well be, however, that any potential for conflict is for now merely theoretical. The risk is not a concern voiced by groups statewide that are familiar with both efforts. Sean Coleman, an out transgender African-American man who founded Destination Tomorrow, a grassroots South Bronx agency that provides neighborhood-based services to the LGBTQ community there, serves on advisory boards both for the congress the Center convened and EQNY. Both Testone and Blau, he said, “have been very intentional” in soliciting buy-in and trust from organizations like his that he said have traditionally been ignored. The script is not yet written, he said, on precisely where either group is headed, but he is eager to “stay in the loop” on both efforts. Brooke Malloy, who has headed the Rockland County Pride Center since it launched two years ago, described the Center’s congress in Albany as “the best use of my time as executive director of this agency.” “It was the first time that as an executive director of a smaller group, but in a suburb of New York, that I felt like we had a voice,” she said. “And that people upstate and people of color and trans and gender non-conforming people had a voice.” The experience, Malloy added, was “1,000 percent better” than any such gatherings she attended in the past. Asked about EQNY’s efforts, she said, “It’s critical that they move forward.” Then noting that group’s ability to play politically, she added, “We are all staying in our lane.” Tandra LaGrone, who for more than a dozen years has been the executive director of In Our Own Voices, which provides services to LGBTQ people of color in seven upstate counties centered on Albany, was at the congress convened by the Center. “The most important part for me was seeing other people of color or-

ganizations in the room,” she said. “I’ve often found our group the only one in a meeting.” Explaining she has not had too much contact with EQNY, LaGrone said her group had been invited by Equality New York to participate in the May 8 Advocacy Day. Ari Moore, an African-American transgender woman and former police officer in Buffalo, is active in Erie County Democratic politics and also on the boards of the Stonewall Democrats of Western New York, the Pride Center of Western New York, and the Western New York Anti-Violence Project. She was effusive in her praise for the meeting EQNY members held with Alphonso David and other top Cuomo aides, saying, “Trans people were not only able to speak, but we were listened to. And I give the governor’s staff credit for that. We asked the governor’s people what we can do to help them help us.” Mel Wymore, a transgender man long involved in trans and neighborhood activism on the Upper West Side, was not at the meeting with David, but said the commitment by the governor’s team to push forward on GENDA “is a shift in tone, definitely a positive shift.” Kristen Browde, a Westchester attorney who is on the EQNY advisory board as well as the board of the LGBT Bar Association of New York and the National Trans Bar Association, credited the organizing work done on EQNY’s behalf by Blau and Juli Grey-Owens, a longtime Long Island transgender activist, saying, “I think Gabriel and Juli are doing exactly what needs to be done. Their vision is just the right thing.” Luis Fernando Mancheno, an immigrants rights attorney in the Bronx who won asylum from his native Ecuador based on persecution he faced there, has been on EQNY’s advisory board since its launch and lauded the group for being “as inclusive as possible” throughout its ramp-up. “It’s about understanding that there is such a thing as intersectionality,” he said. “I’m a gay man. I’m an immigrant, and I’m Latino. I care about LGBT rights, immigration rights, the needs of Latino people.” Then, speaking to the urgency of what everyone involved in this story is working on, Mancheno added,

“New York is a blue state but we are behind many of the other states on so many issues,” mentioning as one example the lack of a ban on so-called “conversion therapy” performed on minors. In Buffalo, Bryan Ball, who heads up the Stonewall Democrats of Western New York, praised the “stellar level of cooperation” among grassroots groups working with EQNY, saying the group’s advisory board “has done a great job of being there for us without dictating to us. It’s refreshing and needed.” The engagement over the past year, Ball predicted, “would come to fruition on Advocacy Day.” Clifton Garmon, who is a policy analyst with VOCAL-NY, was a chief architect of the Legislative Platform EQNY released in advance of the Advocacy Day. Interestingly, the document is not branded with the EQNY logo but instead is bannered as the New York LGBTQI Advocacy Coalition. Its last page includes a list of nearly four dozen supporting organizations, including the Ali Forney Center, the Audre Lorde Project, Gays Against Guns, Make the Road NY, PFLAG NYC, Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, SAGE, and the United Federation of Teachers. In a sign that the two nascent efforts underway statewide are finding common ground to work together, the LGBT Community Center is also on the list. Garmon said he sees EQNY as the “glue that brings together everyone to build power in Albany to make real change.” Noting that much of the work he does at VOCAL-NY involves analysis of health data publicly available, he said one issue he is particularly concerned about is better data collection on the lives of LGBTQ New Yorkers, an issue addressed in a bill in the Legislative Platform sponsored by two out gay Democrats, Manhattan Senator Brad Hoylman and upstate Assemblymember Harry Bronson. According to Blau, EQNY, which raised about $35,000 last year, should have a budget of about $100,000 this year, with half of that going to its PAC for the November election. He expects the group’s budget to double next year. This spring, the group’s first paid employee, a part-time community organizer, will begin work.



When the ‘60s Were Over Olivier Assayas’ 1994 meditation on 1972, finally in US, is dead-on BY STEVE ERICKSON he 1990s were a golden age for world cinema, as the New Waves taking place in Iran and “the three Chinas” matured and finally came to the West’s attention. France also went through a resurgence after a fallow period when the major filmmakers who followed the French New Wave were largely ignored and the 1980s gave us the vacantly fashionable debuts of Luc Besson and Jean-Jacques Beineix. A decade later, veterans like Benoît Jacquot and André Téchiné reached the high points of their careers, while younger directors like Claire Denis, Arnaud Desplechin, and Olivier Assayas blossomed into greatness. But to catch many of these films, you had to attend one-off screenings at film festivals, as distributors often ignored them. I could make a list of my favorite films of the ‘90s that could double as a list of the best movies of that decade that went undistributed in the U.S. Until now, Assayas’ “Cold Water” would be on the list. Made in 1994,



Directed by Olivier Assayas Janus Films In French with English subtitles Opens Apr. 27 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com


Cyprien Fouquet in Olivier Assayas’ “Cold Water,” which opens at the IFC Center on April 27.

it was set in 1972. It’s sobering to realize that we’re now more distant from the time when Assayas directed it than he was from the youthful experiences he drew on when he made it. Made as part of the nine-film TV series “All the Boys and Girls of Their Age,” “Cold Water” fol-

lows its rules: it’s about teenagers, it features a soundtrack using some music from producer Sony, and it’s a period piece set between 1960 and 1990. It follows teenagers Gilles (Cyprien Fouquet) and Christine (Virginie Ledoyen) as they rebel against their parents and the entire early ‘70s society.

Christine gets arrested for shoplifting. Gilles’ father (László Szabó) lectures him about the dangerous path he’s going down and how privileged he is not to have to work, but the boy would rather run through the woods reading Allen Ginsberg poems aloud. Gilles and Christine meet up at a Dionysian party that takes up the entire second half of “Cold Water.” The DCP restoration of “Cold Water” preserves the film’s original look. The Steadicam cinematography is smooth and graceful, but also raw and grainy. There were no attempts to make the film’s 16mm origins look any glossier digitally.

COLD WATER, continued on p.27

#MeToo’s Hurdles in China Uncensored, Vivian Qu links rape culture to governmental power reviewing in the May 10 Gay City News. “Revenge” fits into a tradition of violent B-movies, while “Angels Wear White” feels halfway between TV crime drama and art film. Still, “Revenge” is a far more optimistic film, despite the amount of blood it spills, while “Angels,” though very discreet about violence, suggests that China devotes much more care to statues of women than the safety of real teenage girls. “Angels Wear White” takes place

BY STEVE ERICKSON et’s retire the phrase “this is the movie we need now” from reviews and headlines. It just feeds into the shallow topicality dominating so much film criticism right now. That said, Chinese director Vivian Qu’s “Angels Wear White,” while made in Asia before the #MeToo movement began, intersects with it in intriguing ways. It also rhymes with “Revenge,” the French film about a woman avenging her rape and attempted murder that I’m

L 26


Zhou Meijun and Jiang Xinyue in Vivian Qu’s “Angels Wear White.”

ANGELS, continued on p.27

April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

COLD WATER, from p.26

Assayas captures the party scene in long takes that convincingly create the sense of chaos, no matter how choreographed it really was. The camera beautifully follows a hash pipe being passed from teenager to teenager, as they exhale blue smoke. But the party is based around capturing fading highs, whether they come through drugs, music, or even property destruction. “Cold Water” uses rock music better than any film of its time — possibly better than any film ever made. Some of Assayas’ choices have different implications than they did in 1994: Creedence Clearwater Revival and Janis Joplin have become instant signifiers of the counterculture since then. Joplin’s “Me And Bobby McGee,” with its “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” chorus and posthumous release, has come to sum up its failures. However, “Cold Water” also looks toward the future, with Alice Cooper’s protopunk “School’s Out” and Roxy Music’s “Virginia Plain,” which is filled with Brian Eno’s synthesizer bleeps and squelches. Nico’s harmoniumdriven dirge “Janitor of Lunacy,” which serenades a hungover dawn, still sounds timeless. The kids at the party seem more enthusiastic about the possibilities for excitement offered by the next song than the one they’re currently listening to. Repeatedly, they tear the needle off the vinyl 90 seconds into a song, only to put it back at the beginning or play another record. The characters of “Cold Water” are high on rebellion, to lift the title of a Patti Smith song, but devoid

of the overt politics they would’ve had in 1968. This was a deliberate choice on Assayas’ choice: as a teen, he was staunchly anti-communist but still attracted to the French far left, eventually embracing “The Society of the Spectacle” philosopher Guy Debord. “Cold Water” combines exhilaration and bleakness, with the latter winning. The sheer energy its characters have is breathtaking, but so much of it is devoted to vandalizing train seats and theft. When options for real change in people’s lives disappear and revolutionary hopes turn sour, “Cold Water” suggests, all they can do is party and hope vainly for their pain and frustration to go away. This film ranks with Jean Eustache’s “The Mother and The Whore,” Robert Bresson’s “The Devil, Probably” and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “The Third Generation,” Robert Stone’s novel “Dog Soldiers,” and albums like the Rolling Stones’ “Exile On Main Street” and Sly and the Family Stone’s “There’s A Riot Goin’ On” as a reflection on the hangover left by the ‘60s. It’s amazing that someone who experienced this era as a teenager who could get it down so well. Assayas was marked enough by the hopes of the period’s political idealism to return to them twice more, in “Something in the Air,” based closely on his memoir “A Post-May Adolescence,” and the mini-series “Carlos.” There’s despair here, but no cynical dismissal of his characters’ desires. As contemporary American teens seem to be starting to find a political voice, maybe it’s fitting that “Cold Water” is finally making it to our country.

ANGELS, from p.26

in a decrepit resort town. It’s the sort of locale that should be devoted to pleasure, with a park destined to open on “Children’s Day,” but in this film it looks seedy at best. In a hotel, a middle-aged district commissioner gets two 12-yearold girls, Wen (Zhou Meijun) and Xinxin (Jiang Xinyue), drunk and assaults them. Although this happens off-screen, it’s pretty clear that he commits some form of sexual abuse. Hotel clerk Mia (Wen Qi), who is a teenager herself, realizes that something sinister is going on GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 – May 9, 2018

ANGELS WEAR WHITE Directed by Vivian Qu KimStim In Mandarin with English subtitles Opens May 4 Metrograph 7 Ludlow St., btwn. Hester & Canal Sts. metrograph.com

and films the girls’ entrance to his room on her cell phone. The official

Our Perspective

Outrage at Union Busting Gay-Owned Adult Boutique By Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union n June of 2017, the employees of Pleasure Chest stores voted unanimously to join the RWDSU. But their owner, a wealthy gay man who lives in L.A., has fought them every step of the way, dragging out first contract negotiations for nearly a year and refusing to agree to even the most basic safety provisions and trainings for his largely LGBTQ workforce to choose union representation. He’s gone so far to hire one of the most notorious and expensive anti-union law firms, Jackson Lewis, to fight his workers’ contract needs. It’s a shocking blow to workers who are seeking much more than just improved wages and benefits. The sex toy industry is rife with workplace issues, including sexual harassment and even physical assault. A union voice can make a huge difference toward making workers in adult toy stores safer and more secure. One has to look no further than the case of Babeland – another queer-owned chain of adult toy stores in New York City – to see the difference. Babeland workers won RWDSU membership in 2016, and have secured a strong first contract that not only improves wages and benefits, it created safety protocols in the workplace that address the many issues these retail workers face, and workers have won increased pay and hours. The workers at Pleasure Chest want the same kind of protection, they are demanding it, but it’s also their right. They’ve continued fighting, by protesting and even engaging in a Black Friday work stoppage. Their boss responded not by addressing his workers’ safety needs, but by filing a frivolous charge at the National Labor Relations Board that would have allowed him to fire workers who participated in the strike. The flimsy charges were soon dismissed by the regional labor board, but Pleasure Chest has now appealed his charges to the Trump-controlled NLRB in Washington, D.C. Union-busting is always troubling, but in this case, it is even more so. It’s an outrage that a gay man running a supposedly inclusive non-judgmental sex toy shop would appeal to the Trump administration for help in repressing the rights and potentially firing his own employees, who are mostly low wage trans and gender non-conforming people of color, just because they wanted to be safe while doing their very difficult and emotionally intimate jobs. The workers aren’t going to stop fighting, and neither is their union. Like so many other workers, their fight for justice is all of our fight – for fairness, for justice, and for equality.



ANGELS, continued on p.31


WOMEN, from p.23

ny, heartfelt, and everything one associates with that brand. So, if you’ve decided to go — and more importantly, even if you’ve paid an exorbitant amount for tickets on the secondary market — it will be completely worth it. One thing that’s always true with Disney: they know how to tell a story. The stage version of the 2013 animated movie has a few changes and there are new songs, but it remains completely recognizable. Songs like “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and “For the First Time in Forever” are right where you’ll expect them. And, the go-to belter ballad for the tween and teen set, “Let It Go,” ends the first act with knock-your-socks off theatrical magic, which no one does better than Disney. The trick of translating animated characters to the stage, notably Sven the reindeer, is creative and original, and new numbers like “Hygge” (from the Danish word for “cozy”) are endearing. The company under the direction of Michael Grandage and with choreography by Rob Ashford is outstanding. Greg Hildreth is hilarious as Olaf the snowman. Jelani Alladin is wonderful as Kristoff, and John Riddle is the perfect bad guy, Hans. Caissie Levy as Elsa is sensational and brings down the house with “Let It Go” even as an ice palace rises around her. The real treat of the evening, though, is Patti Murin as Anna, Elsa’s sister. Murin is a born comedienne, with a great voice and infectious exuberance that enlivens every scene she’s in. The hardworking ensemble pulls out all the stops to bring the world of the show to life. For this critic, though, the most exciting part of the evening was watching how the kids in the audience (all well-behaved, by the way), many of whom were likely at their first Broadway show, were so delighted. One can only hope it’s the first night of a lifetime of joyful theatergoing. “Carousel,” on the other hand, is a musical that is decidedly for adults. With its darker themes of domestic violence, criminality, and desperation, though written more than 70 years ago, it still resonates today. It is a musical that


CAROUSEL Imperial Theatre 249 W. 45th St. Through Sep. 2 Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m. Wed., Fri.-Sat at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m. Sun. at 3 p.m. $59-$169; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 35 mins., with intermission JULIETA CERVANTES

Jessie Mueller and Joshua Henry in the revival of “Carousel,” directed by Jack O’Brien, at Imperial Theatre through September 2.

FROZEN St. James Theatre 246 W. 44th St. Tue.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m. Sun. at 3 p.m. $79-$212.50; ticketmaster.com Or 800-653-8000 Two hrs., 30 mins., with intermission

isn’t afraid of its darkness and was one of the first to use the score to provide insight into characters. The tale of carnival barker Billy Bigelow and his tempestuous relationship with Julie has real high stakes. The characters struggle with prejudice and poverty, even as Julie’s friend Carrie Pipperidge and her husband, the ambitious Enoch Snow, rise into what we today call the one percent. For all of this, it is also a beautiful musical, with a classic score and much of the story told through dance. The new Broadway production at the Imperial Theatre is bold and breathtaking, beautifully directed by Jack O’Brien and choreographed by Justin Peck. Together they have created a truly heavenly revival. Peck, in particular, deserves high praise for the staging of the opening number, the second act ballet, and the integration of dance into many of the scenes. The choreography underscores the action, giving it appropriate levels of emotion, even passion, and there are delightful quotes of Agnes de Mille’s choreography from the original 1945 production. Jessie Mueller is Julie Jordan, and her wonderful voice is in top

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE Gene Frankel Theatre 24 Bond St. at Lafayette St. Through Apr. 28 only Apr. 26-28 at 7 p.m. Apr. 28 at 2 p.m. $25-$55; Brownpapertickets.com Or 800-835-3006 Two hrs., 20 mins., with intermission

form. Renée Fleming plays Nettie Fowler, which isn’t much of a part, but Fleming gets to sing “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and her performance is simply thrilling. Lindsay Mendez as Carrie has a clear voice and a lovely comic take on the role. Alexander Gemignani as Enoch Snow sounds wonderful and does some of the heavy lifting with an often unsympathetic character. Joshua Henry as Billy Bigelow is the center of the show. At times angry, sometimes softer and loving, he is a complicated, troubled man. He is no good for Julie, but their powerful sexual attraction propels the conflict and the tragedy. Henry tears your heart out with “Soliloquy,” which ends the first act, and his too-late realization of how he might have lived a better life is deeply moving. This is not a perfect show. Rodgers and Hammerstein didn’t like the tragic ending of “Liliom,” the play on which “Carousel” is based. The upbeat ending seems a little forced, given what has gone before, but ultimately that’s a small quibble in a deeply moving show that now has this superlative revival.

There’s a real gem of a revival from the Wheelhouse Theater Company through this weekend only, and it’s definitely worth a trip. “Happy Birthday, Wanda June,” Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s 1970 play is as gripping, immediate, and relevant as it was nearly 50 years ago. Written in response to the cultural chaos unleashed by the nation’s hapless Vietnam misadventure, it’s a crazed, contemporary echo of Penelope’s story from “The Odyssey,” but is just as suited to Donald Trump’s America. Vonnegut’s absurdist tale is a satiric and jaundiced view of aggressive masculinity, guns, war, corrupt and antiquated morals, and abusive treatment of women. As directed by Jeff Wise, the dark comedy is both playful and affecting. Harold Ryan is home from his own odyssey. His wife, Penelope, has had him declared dead and is about to marry Dr. Norbert Woodly, a pacifist and violin player. A battle, of sorts, ensues. Wanda June, by the way, is a girl who was killed by an ice cream truck and visits the action from Heaven, her name appearing on a cake bought for a celebration. The epic battle between Harold and Norbert is really a conflict between the intellectual and elemental — a fight to see which is man’s dominant nature. The fact that decades later the play seems so immediate should provide a grim hint. Jason O’Connell as Harold is both terrifying and pathetic. Matt Harrington as Norbert is excellent, as is Kate Maccluggage as Penelope, a natural comic with an electric presence. The company also includes Craig Wesley Divino, Finn Faulconer, Kareem Luca, and Charlotte Wise as Wanda June. Don’t miss this last-minute chance to see a rarely produced piece. April 26 – May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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

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

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

GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 – May 9, 2018

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.



April 26 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

217 BOXES, from p.21

I did in the Armory. I got really lucky because I’m pretty neurotic, and he’s not always the easiest, but I’m here working and he’s on the Cape a lot. So we’re not together all the time, and it’s hard being apart. But I always look forward to seeing him. It’s good, it works out, and I can’t wait for the weather to improve, just be on the beach with a drink and relax.” Two music legends recently gave me big joy. Marilyn Maye just celebrated her 90th birthday, and I caught her commemorative gig at Feinstein’s 54 Below on

STAR-CROSSED, from p.24

ing has a mournful delicacy. Both mezzos are fine musicians and committed actors with stylish phrasing and sensitive projection of Caïn’s text. But they have both outgrown these parts that would be better served — perhaps in a projected revival? — by Nadine Sierra as Lucette with Marianne Crebassa as her Prince (and add coloratura Sabine Devieilhe to the mix for her Met debut as La Fée). The Met showed greater imagination and aptitude in casting the

ANGELS, from p.27

turns out to be very powerful, and Mia younger and more marginal than she claims to be. Mia and Wen turn to a middle-aged female lawyer, Attorney Hao (Shi Ke), and the police for help, but they’re stuck in a situation where abusive men retain power over them. Qu’s movie has been called a film noir, but cinematographer Benoît Dervaux’s work goes in the exact opposite direction of stereotypical chiaroscuro lighting and gloomy images. Instead, he shows dangerous situations taking place in bright sunshine and institutional lighting. The film captures the look of summer and the atmosphere of a seaside town but presents a narrative so downbeat that it verges on dystopian, mocking the idea of fun in the sun. At a press conference, reflections of light glow on the floor, getting obliterated when the results anger the attendees GayCityNews.nyc | April 26 – May 9, 2018

But she eventually righted herself to make a relatively graceful exit, and, after an understandable delay, returned to be interviewed by already long-suffering reporter Melena Ryzik. The outrage continued, with her gleefully highjacking the night, answering Ryzik’s repeated inquiries as to her noted male-female androgyny with statements like “I have a very big clitoris” and, when asked how her male side manifests itself, she replied, “You’ll know when I penetrate you.” Ryzik’s face, as she finally left the stage after the interview, looked like she’d just experienced rough sex for the very first time.

April 22. A packed house of Mayeniacs made it one huge lovefest as this indestructible vocal force of nature glided through the Great American Songbook, bringing distinction to everything she sang, as well as the kind of magisterial, deep humor only a supremely confident mistress of her metier can muster. During her glowing Cole Porter medley, she opened “I Get a Kick Out of You,” with the words, “My story is much too sad to be told,” and proceeded to trudge sadly offstage, into the darkness, her shoulders hunched with gloom, before getting her laughs and returning with a more familiar radiant smile on her face to finish the ditty.

Loved that, love her!

supporting roles: Kathleen Kim sparkled as La Fée sprinkling incandescent high D’s over the stage like glittering fairy dust while her legato tone was buttery and sweet. Stephanie Blythe as the imperious stepmother Madame de la Haltière had a field day reveling in a booming contralto, ridiculous wigs and hilarious over-the-top reactions. Laurent Naouri as Cendrillon’s ineffectual yet loving father Pandolfe brought wittily precise acting and diction to the part enlivening each moment. The stepsisters Noémie and Dorothée work more as an en-

semble team than as individualized personalities: Ying Fang and Maya Lahyani were as elegant in their vocal harmony as they were absurdly awkward in their physical impersonations. The supporting players and chorus precisely executed absurd comic business and even dance the choreography of Laura Scozzi. Bertrand de Billy in the pit expertly evoked the 18th century rococo elegance that Massenet interwove with the more romantic passages. Massenet spiked his “Cendrillon” score with a coolly

droll modernism that Francis Poulenc would mine 25 years later. Despite the miscast leads, the “Cendrillon” of Massenet & Pelly & Co. is a musical and visual delight that will enchant the proverbial children of all ages.

into coming close to violence. Qu wrote the screenplay in addition to directing the film, and she proves to have a knack for telling multiple storylines at once. The struggles of Mia and Wen intersect, but they are not directly connected all the time, and “Angels Wear White” does an excellent job of keeping all its balls in the air. Qu shows the way that rape culture in China is intertwined with governmental power. She seems to be using the theme of sexual abuse as a way to critique the state without getting her film banned. Reversing the usual practice, Wen Qi is actually younger than the character she portrays. I don’t know if Zhou Meijun and Jiang Xinyue are actually 12 or how much they really understand about the horrors their characters go through, but Zhou, in particular, gives a heartbreaking performance. Men are not on-screen very often in “Angels Wear White,” and

when they are they are either about to commit violence or representatives of a government that’s useless at helping women. Given her characters’ ages, Qu opts to keep all the violence off-screen; when Mia is attacked, she is dragged behind bushes and we hear her scream for 20 seconds, which is more disturbing than a close-up of her bloodied face might be. She knows enough about getting beaten to tell her coworker to press a cold soda can to a bruise to reduce its swelling. “Angels Wear White” is Qu’s second film as a director, following the 2013 “Trap Street,” but she produced “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” which takes a similar look at China’s dark underbelly. Right now, the AMC theater chain distributes big-budget genre films made in Hong Kong and mainland China, often with nationalist themes, to America’s big cities. The director Jia Zhang-ke has been perceived by Westerners as a symbol of a dis-

sident Chinese cinema, but this is not necessarily his own intention; he recently started a film festival where all entries have to be approved by the Chinese government. (French director Arnaud Desplechin’s “Ismael’s Ghosts” could only be shown there with minor cuts.) Chinese independent cinema exists, but we haven’t had many chances to see it beyond oneoff festival screenings and Anthology Film Archives’ week-long runs of Wang Bing’s documentaries. Given the similarities between the corruption Qu shows in “Angels Wear White” and the depths of misogyny that have been publicized in the US since last fall, the world’s a small place indeed. But her film should not be reduced to the cinematic equivalent of an oped. It expresses its politics through a command of visual style, ability to capture place, and storytelling that would work wonders for the most innocuous comedy, too.

Another sold-out fan orgy occurred with Grace Jones’ nowhistoric appearance on April 13 at the New York Times Center for a Times Talk that began with a surprise musical performance. Mounting her trademark staircase, she sang a throbbingly funky “Nightclubbing,” clad in sequinned derby, tailored jacket, stiletto heels — and that was about it. When she got to the top, she decided to jump some six feet back onto the stage. Those heels gave way and she was sprawled, flat on her back, for a small eternity as everyone wondered if she was alive.

“Cendrillon” will be transmitted in HD in selected movie theaters on Saturday, April 28 at 12:55 p.m. In an online exclusive at GayCityNews. nyc, Eli Jacobson writes about the New York City Opera’s recent revival of Italo Montemezzi’s “L’amore dei tre Re.”



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April 26 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; May 9, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

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