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THE EINSTEIN OF SEX AT 150 GERMANY CELEBRATES A JEWISH, SOCIALIST GAY PIONEER Page 03

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Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (right) and his lover Tao Li at the 1932 World League for Sexual Reform Conference in Brno, Czechoslovakia.

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In This Issue COVER STORY The Einstein of Sex at 150 03 COMMUNITY Gay City News Impact Awards in pictures 08 The Center fêtes Emma González, Ricky Martin, Anna Wintour 18 PERSPECTIVE Reviving New York nightlife 20

CIVIL RIGHTS Lambda Legal honors Evan Wolfson 23 PERFORMANCE The Illustrious Blacks at Joe’s Pub 25

Unexpected, But Welcome Joy 25

MUSIC Janelle Monáe fleshes herself out 26 THEATER Color-blind casting for Tennesse Williams, Bill Inge 36

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May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


COVER STORY

The Einstein of Sex at 150 Germany celebrates the Jewish, Socialist gay pioneer Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld BY BENJAMIN WEINTHAL

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o speak about the modern LGBTQ movement is to use the intellectual and political tool kit created by the groundbreaking gay sexual researcher Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld. Germany’s Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation is slated to hold an extraordinary ceremony in Berlin on May 14 marking the 150th birthday of Hirschfeld, who was born on that date in 1868 in what was then Kolberg, Prussia, and is now part of Poland. Hirschfeld, a German-born Jew, was termed “The Einstein of Sex” by a journalist describing his achievements within the field of sexology. After Hirschfeld met with the German Jewish physicist Albert Einstein in California in 1931, the phrase gained traction. “Einstein is the Hirschfeld of physics,” was Hirschfeld’s piquant response. Hirschfeld was one of the most hated men among Hitler’s followers during the nascent phase of the Nazi movement. His troika of identities — Jew, Socialist, and gay man — infuriated them. Hirschfeld had left Germany by the time Adolf Hitler maneuvered himself into the chancellorship in January 1933. Motivated by anti-Semitism and homophobic rage, the National Socialist Students’ League, in that same year, stormed Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexual Research in Berlin and plundered its material. The young Nazis yelled “Brenne Hirschfeld” (“Burn Hirschfeld”) as they obliterated what was at the time the world’s most important repository of research material on sexuality. While Hirschfeld is largely forgotten in the US today, the LGBTQ culture and political work connected to him are ingrained in American culture. The gay English-American writer Christopher Isherwood stayed at Hirschfeld’s Institute in 1929 and 1930, and his novel “Goodbye to Berlin” — the basis for the musical play and film “Cabaret” — familiarized the broader society with Germany’s thriving underground of same-sex relations, bisexuality, and gender nonconformity. Harry Hay, the founder of the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles in 1950, also admired Hirschfeld. To understand more about the man, Gay City News surveyed a spectrum of leading Hirschfeld scholars, German LGBTQ activists, journalists, educators, a federal justice minister, a Green Party politician who spearheaded the fight for marriage equality in Germany, and a prominent musician about the legacy of Hirschfeld in his native country and across the globe. Professor Dagmar Herzog, a City University of New York Graduate Center historian who will deliver a talk on Hirschfeld at the May 14 reGayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

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Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (right) and his lover Tao Li in exile in Nice, France, in 1934, one year before Hirschfeld’s death.

membrance in Berlin, has written extensively on sexuality studies and fascism. She told Gay City News that Hirschfeld “was ‘the first’ in so many ways: the founder of the first gay and lesbian rights movement, launcher of the first campaign to decriminalize homosexuality, first vocal and empathetic defender of transgender rights (including facilitating early gender confirmation surgeries), first to open an institute of sexual science, first to start a medical journal dedicated to sexual minorities, first to use film and pamphlet literature and public talks to combat popular anti-homosexual prejudice, first to develop support groups for same-sexdesiring individuals in order to facilitate selfacceptance.” Herzog added, “He was way ahead of his time in thinking affirmatively about both same-sex and gender expression issues, he was a queer thinker avant la lettre. He made alliances with women’s rights activists and fought for a sexual morality based on consent and self-determination. And he was deeply humane, and incredibly courageous — continuing the struggle for sexual rights for all even in the face of outrageous and constant anti-Semitic slander, death threats, and brute physical violence. He modeled both generosity and guts.” When asked why Hirschfeld is not widely known today, Herzog answered, “There are multiple factors. Most important was the thoroughness with which right-wing, anti-Semitic homophobes — and then especially the Nazis — managed to taint Hirschfeld’s work as dirty. From the very beginning his campaign to decriminalize male homosexuality was described as ‘an aggressive act of Jewish horniness’ (a quote from the philosopher Eugen Dühring in 1897); others referred to him as the ‘most

ARCHIV DER MAGNUS-HIRSCHFELD-GESELLSCHAFT E.V., BERLIN

Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld in his library.

shameless and base poisoner of the Volk [People].’” She added, “It is telling that the archive and library in his Institute of Sexual Science — with tens of thousands of precious photographs, patient files, questionnaire responses, and sexological texts — was the first target of the Nazi book burnings in May 1933. Hirschfeld died in exile in 1935.” The Berlin-based Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation — a government-created organization founded in 2011 — seeks to revive contemporary awareness of Hirschfeld’s life, work, and motto: “Through Science to Justice.” Jörg Litwinschuh, the executive director of the Foundation, outlined to Gay City News how its work has entered the mainstream in Germany. With a staff of only eight and a publicly funded budget of 500,000 euros per year (roughly $600,000), Litwinschuh said he worked with the Research Centre for Contemporary History in Hamburg to include the persecution of homosexuals in its program. The Research Centre had not previously devoted serious work to the Nazi movement’s destruction of LGBTQ life during the 12 years of National Socialism. Commenting on the academic gaps and lack of knowledge among young people about the persecution of gays, Litwinschuh said, “Each generation must learn anew. The great challenge is how can one reach young people and compete with Facebook. We need to transmit the stories over tablets and smartphones.” The Hirschfeld Foundation has launched an “Archive of Different Memories” that documents via video the life histories of LGBTQ people in Germany and the now-defunct German Demo-

HIRSCHFELD, continued on p.14

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POLITICS

GOAL’s Marathon for Acceptance in the NYPD LGBTQ police group leader says barring uniformed cops in Pride March a non-starter BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

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onfronted by a crowd of several thousand who turned out for an October 1998 vigil called to mark the murder of Matthew Shepard who had died in Wyoming just seven days earlier following a brutal anti-gay assault, the NYPD decided that it was not going to allow the vigil to proceed. Over four hours, the police tried to stall vigil participants on blocks between Fifth and Sixth Avenues as they zigzagged from 59th Street and Fifth Avenue to Madison Square Park. Police arrested 115 people, though roughly 30 of those arrests were later voided but only after those people were held in handcuffs on a city bus for several hours. The evening’s most dangerous moment came when police trapped several hundred marchers on 43rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and ordered officers on horses to charge into the crowd. Two marchers suffered broken bones and a third had a concussion. The police response to the vigil spawned four federal lawsuits, at least 20 complaints to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, New York City’s police monitoring agency, and did immeasurable damage to NYPD-queer community relations. Fast forward to 2016 when Queer Nation called for a vigil outside the Stonewall Inn less than 48 hours after a gunman killed 49 people in an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Like the 1998 vigil, the 2016 vigil had no permit and the organizers (I was among them) had not consulted with police prior to the event. The NYPD reacted very differently. Police closed Christopher Street, the site of the 1969 riots that mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. The several hundred participants gathered and gave speeches for more than two hours without any objections from police. Toward the end, organizers, who were veterans of ACT UP, Queer Nation, and other activist groups, could be seen thanking

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Detective Brian Downey, the president of the Gay Officers Action League, at the 2017 World AIDS Day ceremony at the New York City AIDS Memorial in the West Village.

police. “I quarterbacked that,” said Detective Brian Downey, president of the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL), adding that after the Pulse nightclub shooting, “The department leaned on GOAL more than any other time in history.” The Shepard vigil and the Pulse nightclub vigil could be two events that describe the outer limits of NYPD-queer community relations. Those relations have been good and bad though they have generally gotten better since GOAL was founded in 1982. The fraternal organization has helped LGBTQ members of the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies in its 36 years and has taken steps to improve NYPD-queer community relations. “We’ve been training recruits for years,” Downey said. “I’ve seen reactions to that training improve.” GOAL has seen a “dramatic drop off” in calls from members complaining about mistreatment within the NYPD, according to Downey. The group has also trained other law enforcement agencies. It helped create a policy for transgender NYPD members who are transitioning. Later this year, GOAL will present its training to senior commanders in the NYPD.

“This October, GOAL is going to present to everyone ranked captain and above with the police commissioner standing next to us,” Downey said. “It’s his conference.” GOAL can take some credit for any improved NYPD-queer community relations though views about the extent of that improvement or if it has happened at all probably vary between white and people of color in the city. GOAL’s trajectory within the police department has mirrored the LGBTQ community’s own history. The founders received death threats in 1982. GOAL was reportedly the subject of an internal police department investigation after it was founded. In 1986, GOAL was protested by mounted NYPD officers who executed an about-face on their horses to turn their backs as GOAL went by during that year’s Pride Parade. One of the officers in that protest was among those who charged the crowd on horseback on West 43rd Street during the 1998 Matthew Shepard vigil. GOAL had to sue the NYPD in 1996 to be allowed to march in uniform in New York City’s Pride Parade and to be treated like every other fraternal organization in the police department. For Downey, creating change in

the NYPD is a long-term project. “We’ve been running this marathon for 36 years,” the 38-year-old said. “We’re not going to stop.” In 2018, it is the left that wants GOAL to stop wearing uniforms in New York City’s Pride Parade. The Reclaim Pride Coalition is demanding that Heritage of Pride (HOP), the group that produces New York City’s annual Pride Parade and related events, bar GOAL members from wearing their police uniforms and carrying weapons in the parade. The coalition also wants to limit the policing of the Pride Parade. There has been some ugly rhetoric directed at GOAL during Coalition discussions. “To me, having the NYPD or [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] in the Pride Parade is like the KKK wanting to be in a Martin Luther King march,” said Travis Morales, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, during the Coalition’s May 4 town hall meeting. That remark drew some applause. Last year, 12 members of Hoods4Justice were arrested after briefly blockading the Pride Parade just yards from the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street. Hoods4Justice said it was protesting the NYPD and corporations in the Pride parade though a member at last week’s Coalition town hall said that they were protesting the contingent of Toronto police in New York City’s Pride Parade at the request of Toronto Black Lives Matter. During a three-hour interview at a Bay Ridge restaurant, Downey declined to comment on the Coalition demands. Last year, he prepared GOAL members for the protest. “I briefed the membership several times that it was coming,” he said. “I said we are going to hold ourselves to the highest standards.” What Downey would say is that marching without a uniform would betray what the GOAL founders fought for. “I will not let their sacrifices and their life’s work be forgotten or dishonored, and taking off those uniforms would be just that,” he said. May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


POLITICS

Reclaim Pride Defers Next Steps to May 12 After making demands to HOP, NYPD, dissidents’ follow-up under debate

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Michael Basillas, a member of Hoods4Justice.

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Rise and Resist member Jeremiah Johnson.

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Jake Tolan, another Rise and Resist member.

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

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town hall meeting organized by the Reclaim Pride Coalition featured complaining about how Heritage of Pride (HOP) administers New York City’s annual Pride Parade and the commercialization and policing of that event, but the crowd of roughly 70 came to no conclusion as to the steps they will take to see the changes they want realized. “This is the event that represents LGBTQ issues to the world,” said Jeremiah Johnson, a member of Rise and Resist, an activist group that formed in response to Donald Trump winning the White House. “We need Heritage of Pride to organize with us and not make everything such a goddamn fucking fight all the time… We absolutely cannot continue to ignore the issue of policing. This is the issue for white people to show if they are going to show up for people of color.” The Coalition spent more than three weeks formulating a series of demands that were delivered to HOP, the NYPD, and the de Blasio administration on April 25. The demands include allowing a resistance contingent in this year’s Pride Parade, limiting the policing during and after the event, and requiring that members of the Gay Officer’s Action League (GOAL) who march in the parade be barred from wearing police uniforms and carrying weapons. The demands have been endorsed by ACT UP, the HIV activist group, Rise and Resist, and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA), a group that opposes Israeli policy toward Palestinians. The two-hour town hall was held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center on May 4 and was intended to grow support for the Coalition’s efforts. The town hall was moderated by Jamila Hammami, a founder and executive director of the GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

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Jamila Hammami, one of the town halls co-moderators.

Veteran activist Ann Northrop, the event’s other co-moderator.

Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, and longtime community activist Ann Northrop. With 30 minutes remaining in the meeting, Northrop suggested that attendees turn their attention to next steps, but they largely did not. Those will be discussed at the Coalition’s next meeting on May 12 at the Center. Maryanne Roberto Fine, a HOP co-chair, and Julian Sanjivan, HOP’s march director, attended the meeting along with a third HOP volunteer. They did not speak. They had to endure some harsh criticism throughout the meeting as they listened quietly. “There is a history of the Pride March not being so friendly with those of us on the more radical side of things,” said Kate Barnhart, executive director of New Alternatives, an organization that assists homeless LGBTQ youth. Last year, some of the groups that comprise the Coalition won a place near the front of the parade as the resistance contingent. The argument was that Trump’s election required such a statement. Like this year, HOP resisted admit-

ting the resistance contingent last year. (It later relented.) It has not responded to the other demands made this year. The critiques of HOP appeared to prompt some town hall participants to soften their language later in the meeting. “The truth is I really appreciate a lot of what HOP does,” said Jake Tolan, a Rise and Resist member. “It’s really hard to plan an event of this size and they do it all year. I don’t want to take on those responsibilities… I do feel like consistently we’re not being heard.” The police presence in Pride marches has prompted protests in a half dozen North American cities, including in New York City last year. A dozen members of Hoods4Justice were arrested when they blockaded Christopher Street during the parade just as GOAL was approaching. The protests occurred yards from the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots that mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. Police in Toronto were barred from marching

RECLAIM PRIDE, continued on p.24

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HEALTH

De Blasio Embraces Consumption Spaces to Curb Overdoses After protests, mayor rolls out plan with significant political, health institution support BY NATHAN RILEY

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multi-year push in New York City to offer drug users a safe place for consuming their drugs seems destined for success after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his support for “overdose prevention centers.” Public health advocates voiced enthusiasm as the news spread on May 3 that the administration had reached out to Dr. Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, for a go-ahead to open four Safer Consumption Spaces in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Brooklyn City Councilmember Stephen Levin, the chair of the General Welfare Committee who was arrested the day before in a sit-in on Lower Broadway opposite City Hall to push de Blasio to act (see story below), tweeted: “Where others look down upon our most vulnerable we will show love and a path towards recovery.” Thanking the mayor, Levin added, “This will save lives.” De Blasio’s action came in the wake of a city health department study of this approach toward

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Mayor Bill de Blasio acts on a public health initiative pushed by advocates, city councilmembers.

curbing drug overdoses funded by the City Council in 2016 and completed this past December. The mayor set conditions that likely will easily be satisfied. He sought support from the city’s district attorneys, and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr., and Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez immediately

signaled their endorsements via Twitter. “In the midst of an overdose crisis, we cannot sit by and let ppl die when there are proven interventions that can save live,” Gonzalez wrote, while Vance said, “We are proud to support the Mayor’s proposal to establish Overdose Prevention Centers. Thanks for your leadership.” Darcel Clark, the Bronx DA, has held meetings on the intervention but remains hesitant unlike her peers, saying only that she has an “open mind.” Clark faces the voters for reelection in 2019, while Vance and Gonzalez won four year terms this past November. In a written statement, Corey Johnson, the City Council speaker who initially pushed the proposal in 2016 when he chaired the Health Committee and got $100,00 put into the budget to have the health department carry out the study, said, “We thank Mayor de Blasio for taking this brave, important, and necessary step.” Johnson, who is gay and HIV-positive, often expresses sympathy for those who have died from drug overdoses, mentioning his own history with

CONSUMPTION SPACES, continued on p.7

ON EVE OF MAYOR’S ANNOUNCEMENT, PROTESTERS ENERGIZED

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ust one day before Mayor Bill de Blasio embraced a plan to establish safe places for drug users to pursue their high — facilities that are in place all over Europe with proven track records of reducing fatal overdoses — advocates were seemingly at the end of their rope in waiting for the city to release a health department study into that approach’s efficacy. On May 3, protestors sat down in the middle of Broadway across from City Hall bringing downtown traffic to a halt. Ten activists and City Councilmember Stephen Levin were arrested in the May 2 morning sit-in, as allies chanted slogans directed at the mayor, including “While you wait, we die” and “End overdoses now.” The city study was finished in December and the mayor promised to release it in April, but then didn’t do so. “I’m pissed off,” Asia Betancourt of VOCAL-NY said in an interview before joining a speakout that preceded the Broadway civil disobedience. “There’s absolutely no excuse. People are dying left and right.” An average of three to four people die of overdoses every day in New York City, and those numbers would tumble if users could inject in supervised facilities where medication that inter-

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Demonstrators sit in on Lower Broadway near City Hall following a May 2 speakout on Safer Consumption Spaces called by VOCAL-NY, Housing Works, and the Drug Policy Alliance demanding that Mayor Bill de Blasio release the city’s study on this approach to curbing overdose deaths — a day ahead of the mayor moving on the issue.

rupts overdoses, professionally delivered, is just steps away. Called Safer Consumption Spaces among those pushing the issue here in New York, the facilities also provide sterile equipment that reduces the risk of hepatitis C, abscesses, and other ailments that come from using in public bathrooms, city parks, and parking lots. Overdose prevention workers are on hand to explain proper procedures for avoiding contamination

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Councilmember Stephen Levin taken into custody.

and, should a user request it, provide information on sites offering drug treatment. They can also offer assistance on problems like evictions or arrests that often pose more pressing challenges to users than their drub habit. Most importantly, should a user overdose, the health workers have naloxone at the ready. It’s a public health wonder drug, a nasal spray that is squirted into a person’s nostril to inhibit the effects of opioids and quickly restores normal breathing.

PROTESTERS, continued on p.7

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


CONSUMPTION SPACES, from p.6

alcohol and drug use, from which he has been in recovery for years. “Too many people have died from opioids and heroin,” he said. “These sites will save lives and connect addicts with treatment options and trained professionals that could lead them to recovery. This is an issue that has deep personal significance to me.” The US Justice Department has issued quasi-official opinions that Safer Consumption Spaces are illegal, but the mayor, by establishing the sites as temporary research programs, believes Zucker has the legal authority to approve their operation. In the de Blasio administration’s letter to Zucker, Dr. Herminia Palacio, the deputy mayor for health and human services, asked “for immediate steps under Public Health Law to license a pilot research study.” The license would “include the possession of controlled substances.” She cited as precedent the pilot research that authorized needle exchanges

PROTESTERS, from p.6

A Google search for Safer Injection Facilities — the phrase most often used when the concept first emerged — shows how far behind New York City is from the services offered in Europe and Canada. The very first article that appeared in the search was written in 2002, reporting that Germany had 13 SIFs operating in four cities; the Netherlands, 16 SIFs operating in nine cities; and Switzerland, 17 SIFs operating in 12 cities. Sixteen years ago, such facilities were regarded as an essential component in AIDS prevention. Since then, these programs have expanded to 100 cities worldwide. Safer Consumption Spaces differ from needle exchanges “where clients generally visit briefly,” according to the article in the Journal of Drug Issues, and “allow for a more prolonged interaction” with health care staff. The facilities “place trained staff in direct proximity with injectors while they are waiting to consume their drugs, as well as after they have done so and returned to the waiting room to relax. SIFs that offer a café and other serGayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

whose distribution of sterile syringes brought dramatic reductions in new HIV infections among injection drug users. In examining the city’s request, Zucker can count on the strong support of Chelsea State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, who chairs the Health Committee. “The Mayor’s announcement is an important step and a testament to the hard work of public health advocates on this issue,” Gottfried said in an email to Gay City News, adding, “Supervised injection facilities are an effective harm reduction strategy and a place where people can be connected with appropriate health care and social services.” A letter to de Blasio from Charles King, president of Housing Works, the AIDS services group, demonstrates the quiet persuasion — that was coupled with loud protests from advocates, as well — that got city leaders behind this project. King was writing in his capacity as chair of Research for a Safer New York, Inc.,

CONSUMPTION SPACES, continued on p.24

vices give clients even more reason to remain on-site and interact with staff, during which time the clients become further stabilized.” Levin, who chairs the Council’s General Welfare Committee, explained he was willing to be arrested to “make sure the mayor does the right thing. The science is clear.” Even Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who as the Health Committee chair in 2016 initiated the study, was apparently unaware the mayor was about to act, releasing a statement saying, “I don’t know what the holdup is. Other cities are moving forward and we’re stuck in limbo. Meanwhile, the number of people overdosing continues to skyrocket. This is not a time for inaction. The mayor knows how strongly I feel about this, and we will continue to push for the study’s release.” In February, Dr. Mary Bassett, de Blasio’s health commissioner, had told a Council budget hearing that “the public health literature is clear” on the benefits of the approach, which has also been endorsed by the American Medical Association and in a strongly worded New York Times editorial in February. — By Nathan Riley

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COMMUNITY

Diversity, Enduring Commitment Celebrated Third annual Gay City News Impact Awards an evening of community-building BY PAUL SCHINDLER

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t Gay City News’ third annual Impact Awards, 28 individuals plus the four comedians of Funny Gay Males were honored for their achievements and contributions to New York’s LGBTQ community. The April 26 dinner and awards ceremony at the Grand Prospect Hall in Park Slope drew a crowd of about 300 from all five boroughs — plus a healthy contingent from Yonkers, as well. The event celebrated the many identities queer people carry with them and underscored the need to acknowledge the intersectionality that reality demands. Arthur Aviles, a dancer and choreographer and co-founder of BAAD!, the of Arts he Bronx Academy Acad

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Arthur Aviles.

and Dance, and Charlie Vásquez, a novelist, short story writer, and poet who heads up the Bronx Writers Center, both pointed to the cultural opportunities available in their borough, urging audience members to investigate what can be found there. Faisal Alam, founder of the Muslim Alliance lliance for Sexual and an Gender

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Jonathan Lovitz.

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Jay W. Walker. ker.

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Gay City News publisher and president of NYC Community Media Jennifer Goodstein.

Honoree Laura A. Jacobs, a trans and genderqueer psychotherapist who chairs the board of the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.

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Honoree Gary English, founder of Get It Get It, which does HIV/ AIDS DS prevention and education educat work about Black gay and bisexual men, with Gay City News’ Nathan Riley. ey.

Diversity, alluding to a Ramadan Iftaar he attended at the White House in 2011, joked that he can now confirm that former President Barack Obama is, in fact, Muslim, before talking more seriously about the grave challenges facing the Muslim community in the Trump era. Shivana Jorawar, the state legislative counsel at the DC-based Center for Reproductive Rights and a board member of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, talked about how her 24/ 7 advocacy includes her day job fighting for women’s right to choose and evening activism on behalf of her fellow Asian-American women. Karen Thompson, a senior attorney at the Innocence Project, where she works to exonerate prisoners wrongly convicted, described in

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Clarence Patton.

detail and great respect what other lawyers with that organization longer have taught her about being unapologetic and uncompromising in defending the rights of clients. The founder of the Pipeline Project that provides leadership training for LGBTQ people of color, Clarence Patton, who formerly headed

IMPACT AWARDS, continued on p.9

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May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


IMPACT AWARDS, from p.8

up the New York City Anti-Violence Project, talked about being asked earlier this year by Gay City News to write about race and resistance in Trump’s America. “I could, but I wouldn’t,” he recalled responding, suggesting instead that he have an online chat with the newspaper’s editor (gaycitynews. nyc/white-mans-burden-dialoguerace-resistance), Paul Schindler, on the topic. The white community, he said, must be involved in such conversations, “and those conversations must continue,” he added, fixing his eyes simultaneously on the audience in front of him and Schindler, standing to the right, behind him. Jonathan Lovitz, senior vice president at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, referred to the 1.4 million LGBTQ entrepreneurs and the $1.7 trillion their enterprises contribute to the nation’s economy and urged the crowd to “vote with your LGBTQ dollars.” Jay W. Walker recalled a lifetime of activism, though admitting he had become burned out for a time

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Honoree Mustafa Sullivan, who leads FIERCE.

— only to come back on the field when 49 people were murdered in an Orlando LGBTQ nightclub in June 2016 and he helped launch Gays Against Guns. Less than six months later, he added, Donald Trump was elected president and he threw himself, as well, into efforts at Rise and Resist. For Michael Sabatino, the majority leader on the Yonkers City Council, his proudest activism came in his work with husband Robert Voorheis on marriage equality, which included their role in a lawsuit against Westchester County that ensured their Cana-

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Jaffe Cohen, Michael Zam, Danny McWilliams, and Eddie Sarfaty.

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James Esseks. ks.

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Michael Sabatino and his fellow honoree Rosie Mendez, the former Lower East Side city councilmember.

dian marriage would be recognized in New York State before marriage equality became the law here. Sabatino’s fellow Yonkers resident, Harris Lirtzman, with a résumé that includes senior positions with both the city and state comptrollers where he was active in some of the earliest shareholder activism aimed at establishing proLGBTQ policies in corporate America, said he recalls most fondly the work he did on the streets, including helping to elect Harvey Milk to the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco and later in New York at LaLa Zannell, second from left, with her mother and 2016 Impact Award honoree Doug Wirth, the CEO of Amida Care, one of the evening’s sponsors, and Paul Schindler, Gay City News editor-in-chief.

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Karen Thompson. on.

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IMPACT AWARDS, continued on p.19

Faisal Alam.

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GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

9


EMPLOYMENT

Gay Judge Nixes Anonymity for Genderqueer Plaintiff Fired employee’s participation in news story about their case likely doomed bid BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

U

S District Judge J. Paul Oetken, the first out gay man to be appointed a federal trial judge, has granted a motion by the defendants in an employment discrimination case to lift an order he had previously issued allowing the plaintiff, a “genderqueer and trans-masculine” individual, to proceed anonymously as “Jamie Doe.” Doe, whose preferred personal pronouns are “they,” “their,” and “theirs,” had sued their former employer, Fedcap Rehabilitation Services, and two of the company’s supervisors. Oetken gave the plaintiff 14 days from his April 27 ruling on FedCap’s motion to decide whether they intend to proceed with this suit using their real name. Doe alleges that the company and the named supervisors “discriminated against Doe based on Plaintiff’s disability (breast cancer, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder), sexual orientation (queer), and gender (gender non-conformity/ genderqueer/ transmasculine). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants retaliated against Plaintiff for exercising their rights under the Family Medical Leave Act. Plaintiff has since left Fedcap and found new employment.” When they filed the lawsuit, Doe moved to proceed under a pseudonym. The court initially granted the motion but without prejudice to the defendants’ right to seek lifting of the order, which they did. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that “all the parties” be named in the title of a complaint. The Second Circuit, which has appellate jurisdiction over cases filed in the Southern District of New York, has ruled that this requirement “serves the vital purpose of facilitating public scrutiny of judicial proceedings and therefore cannot be set aside lightly.” That court has commented, “When determining whether a plaintiff may be allowed to main-

COURTESY OF JUDGE J. PAUL OETKEN

US District Judge J. Paul Oetken.

tain an action under a pseudonym, the plaintiff’s interest in anonymity must be balanced against both the public interest in disclosure and any prejudice to the defendant.” The Second Circuit has identified a list of 10 different factors that courts might consider in conducting such a balancing test. The plaintiff identified four harms if their name were revealed in this litigation. Doe stated that their trans-masculinity is an “intimate detail” they don’t want to disclose through the public record; that “outing them” as transmasculine would compound the trauma they have already suffered from the defendants’ discrimination; that “genderqueer individuals suffer disproportionately from discrimination” and “outing” them in this way would place them “at further risk of discrimination by employees at their new job”; and, finally that, as a parent of school-age children, they are concerned that disclosing their identity may expose their children to bullying.

The defendants, in response, identified three types of prejudice to them if the plaintiff is allowed to proceed anonymously. First, the “nontrivial cost of sealing or redacting court filings”; second, that “anonymity might allow Plaintiff to make accusations that they would not have made if their identity were publicly known”; and third, that “anonymity creates an imbalance when it comes to settlement negotiations.” The reasoning behind the third factor is that the defendants, who are not anonymous, may feel public pressure to settle the case in order to avoid bad publicity, while an anonymous plaintiff might “hold out for a larger settlement because they face no such reputational risk.” Judge Oetken concluded that the case “presents no particularly strong public interest in revealing Plaintiff’s identity beyond the ‘universal public interest in access to the identities of litigants,’” which he remarks is “not trivial.” But the public interest would not be “especially harmed if Plaintiff proceeded pseudonymously.” He went on to observe, however, “The key issue here is the extent to which Plaintiff has already revealed their gender and sexual orientation to the general public. Defendants point to Plaintiff’s voluntary participation in a news story for a major news outlet. In the story, Plaintiff used their real name, identified as genderqueer, and revealed other details about their gender non-conformity. The article also featured a photograph of Plaintiff, and the picture specifically illustrated Plaintiff’s non-conformance with gender norms.” As a result, Fedcap and the supervisors named in the suit argued that Doe had already voluntarily disclosed “the sensitive issues they seek to keep secret in this case.” Doe disagrees, saying they have revealed their sexual orientation but not their gender identity, particularly their identity as “transmasculine,” which would be disclosed if they

ANONYMITY, continued on p.11

CIVIL LIBERTIES

Despite Acquittal, Man Assigned Sex Registry Status Judge points to “clear and convincing evidence” of crimes jury didn’t find BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

I 10

n a ruling that received surprised comment from the media, the New York Court of Appeals affirmed by a 6-1 vote a decision by Kings County Supreme Court

Justice Vincent Del Giudice to assign sufficient points under the state’s Sex Offender Registration Act to a man acquitted of all the felony sex crimes charges against him to place him in the category of a level 2 sex offender, which requires lifetime registration and other restrictions un-

der SORA. The defendant, Quinn Britton, then 44, was charged with first-degree rape, two counts of criminal sexual act in the first degree (felony

OFFENDER REGISTRY, continued on p.16

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


ANONYMITY, from p.10

have to proceed under their real name in this lawsuit. This argument did not persuade Oetken, who wrote, “But while that is true, the news story still shows that Plaintiff was comfortable with putting their gender-non-conformity in the public eye. The Court is mindful that coming out is a delicate process, and that LGBTQ individuals may feel comfortable disclosing one aspect of their identity but uncomfortable disclosing another. Nevertheless, Plaintiff’s very public coming out as genderqueer undermines their arguments about the harm that would be caused by disclosure of their trans-masculinity.” The court concluded that the issue was “whether the additional disclosure of Plaintiff’s identity as trans-masculine would so harm Plaintiff as to outweigh the significant prejudice to Defendants and the public interest in access to the identities of the litigants. Plaintiff has not met that significant burden.” Oetken suggested that Doe wants “what most employmentdiscrimination plaintiffs would like: to sue their former employer without future employers knowing about it,” but that is not how the civil litigation system is set up. “Defendants — including two individuals — stand publicly accused of discrimination and harassment, including detailed allegations of misconduct. Defendants do not have the option of proceeding pseudonymously,” Oetken wrote. “Allowing Plaintiff to proceed anonymously would put Defendants at a genuine disadvantage, particularly when it comes to

settlement leverage. Courts allow such an imbalance only in unique circumstances, and Plaintiff has not shown that this is one of those special cases.” While acknowledging that Doe’s disclosure of their trans-masculinity “would be difficult and uncomfortable,” wrote the judge, “this alone is not enough to demonstrate the exceptional circumstances required to proceed pseudonymously, especially in light of Plaintiff’s public identification as genderqueer.” During the early years of the AIDS epidemic, many federal courts granted motions for plaintiffs suing for AIDS-related discrimination to proceed as John Doe or Jane Doe, accepting the argument that requiring them to sue under their own names would have compounded the discrimination they had suffered, especially in light of the media interest in reporting about legal issues stemming from the epidemic. Today, when there is considerable litigation by transgender individuals, including high school students seeking appropriate restroom access, it is not unusual to find that the court will refer to plaintiffs by their initials, even though the plaintiffs — represented by public interest law firms — may have revealed their names and posed for photos to publicize their cases. But one suspects that Jaime Doe would have been allowed to proceed anonymously had they not already participated under their name in news stories about the case. Doe is represented by Brittany Alexandra Stevens and Marjorie Meritor of Phillips & Associates. Attorneys from the law firm of Epstein, Becker & Green represent the defendants.

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GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

11


HEALTH

A Healthcare Oasis in North Brooklyn Woodhull’s Pride Health Center offers services tailored to the LGBTQ community BY PAUL SCHINDLER

L

ast summer, when NYC Health + Hospitals/ Woodhull opened its Pride Health Center focused on the needs and disparities facing the LGBTQ community, it became the first facility focused on the specific needs of queer New Yorkers living in North Brooklyn. Woodhull, a public hospital that serves patients regardless of their ability to pay, is located on Flushing Avenue near the Broadway Triangle area that straddles Williamsburg and Bushwick. As both outside objective measures and Woodhull’s chief medical officer, Dr. Edward Fishkin, attest, the Pride Health Center did not emerge out of nowhere. Since 2014, Woodhull has been rated a Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality by the Human Rights Campaign, meaning it achieved a perfect 100 percent on the group’s semi-annual Healthcare Equality Index. That index looks at specific policies and practices regarding non-discrimination and staff training; patient services and support; employee benefits and policies; patient and community engagement; and responsible citizenship. Out of more than 1,600 health institutions ranked in 2018, only 418 were judged Leaders; and that number was smaller four years ago when Woodhull won its 100 percent rating.

DONNA ACETO

ED REED/ MAYOR’S OFFICE

Dr. Edward Fishkin, the chief medical officer at NYC Health + Hospitals/ Woodhull (left), receives a 2018 Gay City News Impact Award, presented by Brooklyn City Councilmember Stephen Levin on April 26 at the Grand Prospect Hall in Park Slope.

At the launch of Woodhull’s Pride Health Center last year, Dr. Edward Fishkin is joined by Assemblymember Maritza Davila, First Lady Chirlane McCray, Gregory Calliste, the hospital’s CEO, and patient Dovear Calhoun.

But, in Fishkin’s telling, fulfilling a public hospital’s mission to serve the “whole community” is a matter of constantly “peeling the onion” to better understand the needs of a particular part of the city. As the hospital focused on its delivery of services to LGBTQ patients, it recognized the disparities that queer North Brooklynites faced relative to their peers living in Manhattan. The density of primary care physicians in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn that Woodhull serves, Fishkin pointed out, is between one-tenth and one-twentieth of that on the Upper West and Upper East Sides. With fewer primary care options,

the chances of an LGBTQ person finding a doctor culturally attuned to their needs are dramatically reduced. Nor did North Brooklyn have any facility to rival the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center that for decades has provided LGBTQ care regardless of the ability to pay in Chelsea. The overall community needs assessment that Woodhull completed led Fishkin several years ago to propose an outpatient clinic specifically focused on the queer community. The idea, he

DR. FISHKIN, continued on p.39

MAY 20 MEANS AIDS WALK NEW YORK

A

n event that Gay Men’s Health Crisis has produced for more than 30 years is due to hit Central Park again on Sunday, May 20. In this event’s many years, just under 900,000 people have walked, raising more nearly $150 million to combat HIV and AIDS. Though GMHC is the primary beneficiary, dozens of other groups in the tri-state area that are members of the Community Partnership Program also receive funding from the annual 10k trek. Last year, roughly 20,000 participants raised about $4.6 million.

12

At this year’s event, sign-in begins at 8:30 a.m. in Central Park, and a 9:15 opening ceremony will feature Matt Bomer, Charlie Carver, Hunter Emery, Tan France, Annie Golden, Selinis Leyva, Rosie Perez, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Mercedes Ruehl, and Michael Urie, among many. The Post-Walk Show will include performances by the Pointer Sister, “American Idol” Frenchie Davis, and half a dozen stars of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” For complete information or to register, visit ny.aidswalk.net. — Paul Schindler

DONNA ACETO

Participants in last year’s AIDS Walk New York.

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM ARCHIV DER MAGNUS-HIRSCHFELD-GESELLSCHAFT E.V., BERLIN

An undated costume party at Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexual Research in Berlin.

HIRSCHFELD, from p.3

cratic Republic. Litwinschuh, a high-energy activist who got his start combating homophobia within the Catholic Church in Germany, said that the multimedia testimonies from Holocaust victims at Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education at the University of Southern California furnish a “good example” of a pedagogical approach appropriate for the LGBTQ community. He added, however, “We do not only want to present victim stories and not only be reduced to sexuality.” He stressed the importance of school curriculum pointing to rainbow families and not only persecuted gays. Litwinschuh explained that the Hirschfeld Foundation’s educational work has reached into Germany’s national pastime: soccer. Under the title “Soccer for Diversity,” the Hirschfeld Foundation will work to provide educational assistance on welcoming LGBTQ players to soccer association managers, trainers, and fans. Volker Beck, a Green Party politician who played a key role in the fight for equal marriage rights in Germany that succeeded last year, told Gay City News, “Hirschfeld built the first effective organization for the liberation of homosexuals from criminal liability. After the tragic failure of his predecessor, Karl-Heinrich Ulrichs, he laid the foundation for the later homosexual movements.” Ulrichs (1825 – 1895) was an openly gay writer who fought un-

14

successfully to decriminalize same-sex relations. Litwinschuh termed Hirschfeld and Ulrichs the two “great-grandfathers of the gay movement.” Proudly noting that he has a Hirschfeld business card, Beck said he admires his “pioneer spirit and also the talent of Hirschfeld to position our concerns via social democracy in the societal political discourse of his time.” Beck, who teaches religious studies at Ruhr-University Bochum, said Hirschfeld’s life is neatly captured by the famous Talmud statement: “It is upon us to begin the work, it is not upon us to complete it.” For today’s queer community, Beck said, “LGBT human rights must be a topic with all other human rights questions. The human rights of LGBTs are not issues from an orchid family of the human rights agenda that one can turn over to a few particular specialists. One must do more for the entire strengthening of the LGBT human rights defenders in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.” Hirschfeld himself thought not only locally but globally, as well, about LGBTQ rights. In 1930, he began a world tour to study human sexuality. “My field is the world and not only Germany and Europe,” said the sexologist. The world trip crisscrossed Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Ceylon, India, Egypt, then-British Mandate Palestine, and the US. “There are not two lands and two

Members of the National Socialist Students’ League parading in front of Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexual Research in Berlin on May 6, 1933, prior to their attacking it, looting and setting on fire its archives.

populations with a complete match of sexual characteristics,” he wrote at the time. Germany’s federal minister of justice and consumer protection, Dr. Katarina Barley, told Gay City News, “Magnus Hirschfeld stands for the courage and societal vision to develop and engage to fight for [LGBTQ rights]. His educational drive formed his life motto: ‘Through Science to Justice.’” She added, “Today our society needs people who leave the common pattern of thought and do not allow themselves to be frightened by resistance or rejection.” The German Justice Ministry is the principal funder of the Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation. Germany’s parliament — the Bundestag — enacted legislation to provide that funding. Ralf Dose, the head of the Magnus Hirschfeld Society in Germany, is arguably the world’s leading Hirschfeld scholar, and authored “Magnus Hirschfeld: The Origins of the Gay Liberation Movement.” Litwinschuh said the effort to breathe life and fire into Hirschfeld’s legacy owes a tremendous debt to Dose’s 30 years of scholarship about the sexologist. Dose told Gay City News, “I came out of the West Berlin gay movement and I began in 1982/ 1983 to focus my work more closely on Magnus Hirschfeld and the Institute of Sexual Science… It was always important for me that it did not only deal with Hirschfeld alone. In an institute and within a movement like the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, many people are active. Social and sexual reforms are never

the work of an isolated individual. The rediscovery of an entire network of social, political, personal, and sexual connections continues to fascinate me today.” Founded by Hirschfeld in 1897, the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee was and is widely considered the first world’s first LGBTQ organization. The Committee sought, with a petition campaign, to repeal Germany’s infamous paragraph 175 penalizing gay sexual behavior. Among the petition’s well-known signatories were Albert Einstein and the writers Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Leo Tolstoy. The May 14 remembrance for Hirschfeld will feature the talented singer and actress Vivian Kanner, who told Gay City News she considers it an honor to contribute a musical performance to the event. “Magnus Hirschfeld was an important personality of the last century and is for me to be mentioned in the same breath as Sigmund Freud,” she said. Kanner, who is a lesbian, warned about the failure to integrate refugees and migrants into German social mores. “It is due to massive immigration to Germany from different cultural circles, in which homosexuality is punished with the death penalty and Jews and Israel are viewed as the enemy... that on the German street there are once more attacks on homosexuals and Jews,” she said. Since 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has

HIRSCHFELD, continued on p.15

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


HIRSCHFELD, from p.14

admitted more than a million refugees and migrants from mainly Muslim-majority countries. The April attack by a Syrian refugee on an Israeli Arab because he wore a kippa on a Berlin street triggered headlines in the German and foreign media. But in 2016, in an incident largely ignored by even the German media, three young men from North Africa were arrested in the western German city of Dortmund for stoning two transgender women. Kanner said it is vital that “in German integration courses, the attendees are not only introduced to recycling and the need to avoid disturbing the peace, but it is of great importance to convey to them democratic, free, tolerant Western values.” The Hirschfeld Foundation sought as early as 2015 to draw attention to the problems facing LGBTQ refugees. That year, queer refugees from Syria, Lebanon, and Russia appeared at a Foundation fundraiser. In 2016, the Foundation launched its “Refugees and Queers” project to aid LGBTQ asylum seekers. A gay Syrian leads the project, said Litwinschuh, who pointed to data showing that 10 percent of the recent refugee population is LGBTQ. He stressed that more resources are needed to address their needs as well as the challenges of integrating the broader refugee population. “Many homosexuals have fears of non-integrated refugees,” he said. Lucie G. Veith, who campaigns to advance the rights and dignity of intersex people in Germany, told Gay City News, “As an intersexual-born person... this is what I have learned from Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld: educate and do not let up, because knowledge and persistence will defeat injustice and misuse of power.” Veith emphasized that “structural violence in medicine is not an unknown topic to most intersexual people.” The genitalia of intersex children are often destroyed through a so-called “normal sex” plastic surgery operation so that they conform to societal conventions, Vieth said, adding, “Discrimination because of sex has not been eliminated.” GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

Jan Feddersen, an author and an editor with the taz daily newspaper, told Gay City News, “Hirschfeld advocated politics that went beyond the sect-like LGBTI niches. He wanted to have success and not only in his community.” When asked to assess how much the German government has done to combat persecution of LGBTQ people, Feddersen, who is the chair of the Elberskirchen-Hirschfeld House Association, a public forum for queer research, learning, and culture in Berlin, said, “Not enough. But the government has already done a lot. The government opened a room at the embassy in Moscow for conversations with Russian LGBTI activists.” Feddersen’s organization also honors Johanna Elberskirchen (1864-1943), a German lesbian activist who campaigned for the rights of gays and lesbians. Feddersen views the ElberskirchenHirschfeld House as a “queer cultural house in the tradition of the Weimar Republic.” It was under the liberal, democratic order that Weimar struggled to maintain that German arts and culture experienced a rich renaissance. Dr. Norman Domeier, a historian at the University of Stuttgart who has written about homophobia in the German Empire that preceded the Weimar Republic, said that what the world now understands as the LGBTQ community, Hirschfeld “thought out. But Hirschfeld was not only a pioneer for the rights of disadvantaged groups, he wanted to also liberate heterosexuals who he saw as repressed by the moral spirit of the time.” Hirschfeld’s life spanned Imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic, and the first several years of the Nazi regime. At 150, the Einstein of Sex’s legacy still resonates among many in Germany today. The pressing question is whether the advances his early work made possible will spread beyond the borders of Western liberal democracies and achieve Hirschfeld’s vision of transforming the entire world.

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Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlinbased journalist who reports on the LGBTQ community in the Middle East and Europe. He is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Weinthal on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

15


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tim’s account. The only sexual acts to which the defendant clearly admitted were fondling and kissing the victim’s breasts, the subject of the misdemeanor charge. All of the other evidence presented at trial was circumstantial, there was no physical evidence of sexual assault, and the case came down to “she said, he said.� The jury struggled with the case, sending out three notes concerning deadlock — an inability to reach a verdict — but ultimately convicted on the misdemeanor charge and acquitted on the felony charges. At the subsequent sentencing and SORA hearing, Justice Del Giudice announced that based on the victim’s grand jury and trial testimony, he found “clear and convincing evidence� that the defendant engaged in the charged conduct for which he had been acquitted by the jury, and assigned 25 points on the SORA scale, which put Britton into the level 2 offender category, mandating lifetime registration and other restrictions. On appeal, Britton protested that the acquittal meant that the jury had chosen to credit his testimony

OFFENDER REGISTRY, from p.10

charges), and one count of second-degree sexual abuse (a misdemeanor charge). The charges, based largely on the testimony of Britton’s teenage niece, stemmed from a Thanksgiving 2011 visit by the victim and her mother to the victim’s grandmother, who is Britton’s mother. The claim is that the grandmother dosed off and the defendant invited the 13-year-old victim into his bedroom, where he induced her to undress, fondled and kissed her breasts, performed oral sex on her, had penetrative sex with her, and then had her perform oral sex on him. The victim’s older brother testified that she came to him upset the following month and told him about the incident, although her account on that occasion said that defendant “attempted� to have penetrative sex but could not because his penis “wouldn’t fit.� The police were notified, and a detective made notes of statements the victim made after waiving his Miranda rights, but there is no signed confession and the notes differ from the vic-

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and to reject that of the victim, so there could not be a finding of clear and convincing evidence that he committed the charged acts. The Appellate Division in Brooklyn, however, affirmed, noting that “clear and convincing evidence,� a civil standard of proof, is a less demanding standard than “proof beyond reasonable doubt� required for a criminal conviction, and that New York precedents allow judges to assign SORA points based on grand jury testimony and trial testimony that had not convinced the jury of criminal guilt. The Court of Appeals affirmed in a one-paragraph memorandum, stating “Contrary to defendant’s argument, his acquittal of charges at his criminal trial relating to such conduct does not foreclose the hearing court from finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that he engaged in such acts.� The court provided no further explanation, and did not respond to the lengthy dissenting opinion by Judge Jenny Rivera, who contended that the prosecution “failed� to meet the “heavy burden� of showing by “clear and convincing evidence� that the defendant had engaged in the felony conduct of which he was charged but not convicted. “Defendant’s trial turned on competing narratives of the complainant and the defendant as the People had no physical evidence or eyewitnesses to the crimes charged,� wrote Rivera. “Despite the acquittal of the felony charges, the SORA court assessed defendant points for having committed the specific conduct on which these charges were based. On the particular facts of this case, in which the only evidence of the conduct for which defendant was assessed these points was rejected by the jury, the SORA court erred in finding clear and convincing evidence of the alleged sexual contact. Therefore, I would reverse the order adjudicating defendant a risk level two offender, and dissent

from the majority’s contrary determination on this appeal.� In support of her dissent, Rivera noted that cases cited by the court in support of its decision were not really on point because they involved situations where the defendants entered guilty pleas and the record upon which the SORA court had to rely in assigning points was necessarily based on grand jury testimony and victim statements that were not made in court under oath and subject to cross-examination. This case is different; the victim’s testimony was subject to cross-examination and failed to persuade the jury. Underlying this odd situation is the absurd contention that requiring somebody to register for the Sex Offender Registry is not “punishment,� a position that the US Supreme Court has taken in cases rejecting constitutional challenges to state sex offender registration acts. Although New York’s SORA is not as draconian as some other states’ registration laws, since it doesn’t impose stringent residential and occupational restrictions, it still exposes a level 2 or 3 registrant to the risks inherent in having their name, photograph, and contact information posted on a website accessible to the public, making them targets for social ostracism, employment and housing discrimination, and even physical attacks, and requires them to notify local officials should they travel or move across state lines, potentially subjecting them to the more restrictive requirements imposed by other states. That a man could be subjected to such requirements after a jury acquitted him of the charges on which they are based is indeed startling, but the Supreme Court has rejected the argument that the Constitution requires more in the way of due process before people can be subjected to mandatory registration. Britton was represented on appeal by Denise A. Corsi.

For more news & events happening now visit www.GayCityNews.nyc May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


Events in planning

www.brooklynpride.org FB:BrooklynPrideInc

(watch for updated times, locations, and events not yet listed)

Monday, June 4, 6:30pm Borough President Honors Brooklyn Borough Hall - Brooklyn Heights 209 Joralemon Street

Wednesday, June 6, 7pm – 10pm Ice Cream Social Ample Hills Creamery - Gowanus 305 Nevins St. (at Union St.)

Thursday, June 7th, 7:00pm Brooklyn Pride Comedy Night Club Xstacy – Sunset Park 758 Fifth Ave (at 26th St.)

Friday, June 8th Pride Family Movie Night Under The Stars Field Behind Old Stone House – Park Slope 336 3rd Street (bet.4th & 5th Aves)

Thurs./Fri. June 7th & 8th, 4pm -8pm Brooklyn Pride 5K Run Packet Pickup Out of the Closet– Boerum Hill 475 Atlantic Ave. (bet. Nevins & 3rd Ave)

Friday, June 8th, 7pm – 10pm AHF Pride Party Location – TBD

Saturday, June 9th ALL DAY 10:00am – 5K Run Prospect Park West at 15th Street Still time to register before its sold out

11:00am – 5:00pm - MultiCultural Festival 5th Avenue from 1st Street to 9th Street

11:00am – 5:00pm - Entertainment Stages 5th Avenue at 1st Street and 9th Street Two stages of entertainment all day

11:00am – 5:00pm – Family Fun Zone Park at Old Stone House - 5th Ave- 3rd & 4th Sts Family activities, music, arts & crafts, face painting…

7:30pm – Twilight Brooklyn Pride Parade 5th Ave. from St. John’s Pl. - 9th St Reviewing Stand/MC at 3rd St Marchers, Floats, Music & More

GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

17


CENTER DINNER FÊTES EMMA GONZÁLEZ, RICKY MARTIN, ANNA WINTOUR

Anna Wintour faces the gala crowd.

Singer Ricky Martin, winner of the Trailblazer Award.

LGBT Community Center executive director Glennda Testone (center) with Center board member Lisa A. Linsky and Judith KasenWindsor.

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

A

Keiynan Lonsdale, winner of the Youth Advocacy Award.

Geena Rocero, winner of the Community Leader Award.

18

t its annual dinner gala, held on April 19 at Cipriani Wall Street, the LGBT Community Center honored a diverse group of honorees, including Emma González, the president of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Gay Straight Alliance in Parkland, Florida, and co-founder of the #NeverAgain movement, pop singer Ricky Martin, Dame Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast, Geena Rocero, a Filipina-American supermodel and transgender advocate, and Australian actor, dancer, and singer-songwriter Keiynan Lonsdale.

Anna Wintour, winner of the Visionary Award.

Keryn Lowry, Michael Adams, Cathy Hough, and former State Senator Tom Duane.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student activist Emma González, winner of the Community Impact Award.

Emma González with James Dale, who took his fight to have the Boy Scouts accept gay scoutmasters to the Supreme Court in 2000.

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


FAMILY PRIDE The Chapin School

DONNA ACETO

DONNA ACETO

Harris Lirtzman.

Charlie VĂĄsquez.

䉴

the LGBT & HIV Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, warned that just as the right wing took out after the LGBTQ community with ballot initiatives banning marriage by same-sex couples in the late 1990s and early part of this century, those forces are now targeting transgender rights in the same way. Despite a recent victory against such a referendum in Anchorage, Alaska, the community’s opponents are planning statewide ballot measures in places including Massachusetts and Montana. Showing that the community can win in those places, he said, is vital to blocking this tactic from being employed in state after state. LaLa Zannell, the lead organizer at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, thanked the organization — including its former and current executive directors, Sharon Stapel and Beverly Tillery — for giving her the chance to grow as an activist and public speaker. “When you invest in trans black women, this is what you get,� Zannell said, holding out her open arms to the crowd, which responded with thunderous applause. Telling the crowd that every trans man and woman’s story is not one of facing family rejection, she spoke of the love she’d always gotten from her mother. In the evening’s emotional highlight, Zannell then introduced her mother, who had traveled from Michigan to join her for the evening.

IMPACT AWARDS, from p.9

the AIDS Network, a hub of direct action efforts predating ACT UP’s launch in 1987. Lirtzman said he is proud to be part of the generation bridging the era of Harry Hay, the Mattachine Society, and Stonewall and younger people in last week’s audience who are “taking us places we never could have imagined 40 years ago.� Liz Margolies, the founder of the National LGBT Cancer Network, told the crowd she often faces people who assert that diseases don’t discriminate. Her response, she said, is to point out that social institutions and health care providers too often do. Jaffe Cohen and Danny McWilliams, two of the three original Funny Gay Males who formed the group in 1988 in response to the homophobia they encountered in New York comedy clubs appeared along with Eddie Sarfaty, who joined the group in 2001. The third original member, Bob Smith, died earlier this year (gaycitynews.nyc/palemist) after a battle of more than a decade with ALS. Smith’s partner, Michael Zam, who is a screenwriting partner with Cohen, appeared to accept a posthumous award on Smith’s behalf. Cohen reminded the crowd of the role humor plays in helping society to understand LGBTQ people and, and in that way, challenging homophobia. James Esseks, the director of GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

The Chapin School prepares a diverse and talented community of young women to thrive and lead in a global society through its dedication to academic excellence, personal integrity and community responsibility. Believing that an equitable, inclusive community is essential to learning, Chapin actively seeks families, faculty and staff who bring a range of experiences and backgrounds to our school. We hope you will visit www.chapin.edu or call our        about our program and our school, which educates        100 East End Avenue • New York, NY

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19


PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

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Men, Women, Dykes, and the Language of Hate

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couple weeks ago a man jumped in a van, drove down a sidewalk in Toronto, and killed as many women as he could. Pretty soon the news media was full of how this man was one of those men who goes online to rant with other men about how horrible women are and how they should pay with their lives for rejecting men like them. Almost every article, every thinkpiece, and interview was about these suffering men, troubled men, unwillingly chaste men, pitiful men, poor men, angry men, violent men. Men who had been disappointed. Men who had been rejected. Men who thought they deserved better. Men who were thrilled to see our blood on the streets. Men who thought there should be more. Men, men, men, men, men. I had to make a special effort to Google the names of the eight female dead and two dead men who got caught by mistake. #SayHerName Anne Marie D’Amico, 30, Dorothy

Sewell, 80, Renuka Amarasingha, 45, Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Forsyth, 94, Sohe Chung, 22, Andrea Bradden, 33, Geraldine Brady, 83, Ji Hun Kim, 22. The two men were Munir Najjar, 85, and Chul Min (Eddie) Kang, 45. #SayTheirNamesToo. It didn’t surprise me. After very briefly listening to women declare #PussyGrabsBack, and #MeToo, the press largely refocused their attention on man after man after man, dissecting ad barfium the impact of accusations on their careers, speculating on future revelations, past omissions, their complicit friends. Meanwhile, women themselves were increasingly sidelined, mentioned only occasionally as victims, their credibility examined as such, and rarely given air time as humans trying to find some way out of the terrifying status quo. There is only one time men seem to disappear. That’s when we start talking about “violence against women,” whose statistics are reported in grammatical constructions that are entirely passive, leaving the real subject, the real actors, unde-

Gay City News is a registered trademark of NYC Community Media, LLC. Jennifer Goodstein, CEO Fax: 212.229.2790; E-mail: jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

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20

LANGUAGE OF HATE, continued on p.21

PERSPECTIVE: Insider Trading

Can Ariel Palitz Trump Susan Stetzer, Teri Cude?

Rivendell Media / 212.242.6863 Gay City News, The Newspaper Serving Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender NYC, is published by NYC Community Media, LLC. Send all inquiries to: Gay City News, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Phone: 212.229.1890 Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents © 2017 Gay City News.

fined. All we learn is that X number of women report being harassed. X number of women are raped every year. X number killed by their domestic partners. No matter that, with very few exceptions, the unspoken subject is men. Men harass women. Men rape women. Men kill women. Subject verb object. Women don’t actually walk into doors. We don’t ever beat ourselves to death. Or lie down in front of vans of “involuntarily celibate” losers like Alek Minassian (key words I include only for search engines and algorithms, lest I be erased, too). We do not bare our pussies for you to grab uninvited. If Bill Cosby hadn’t assaulted a dyke who could prove she’d never been interested in him, the rapist would have gotten off. Because we all want it, you know. Or should. Even caught with his hand in the roofie jar, it’s never the man’s fault. It’s no one’s. Poor men faced with our less than human faces. Poor Junot Díaz. Poor David Foster Wallace. We turned you into monsters, no doubt, by refusing to grin like idiots when you commanded, “Smile.” By refusing to suck you off. If not your dick, your ego. As a dyke, I should by all rights

BY ALLEN ROSKOFF

F

or too long, self-serving members of two Lower Manhattan community boards have drained our city’s neighborhoods of their lifeblood and vitality through a sustained war on nightlife. Finally, we are beginning to turn the tide. A new Office of Nightlife created by City Council legislation and introduced by the well-regarded Brooklyn Councilmember Rafael Espinal, Jr., is now up and running. The woman chosen to head the office is Ariel Palitz. She has the motivation, the smarts, and the drive to bring nightlife back to our city. And most importantly, she is embracing the communities that have historically rallied around

nightlife as a means to express their identity and sense of belonging — including our LGBTQ community. Those of you old enough will remember the “good old days” when we had clubs and bars throughout the Village and the Lower East Side. Our community had The Saint on Second Avenue at Sixth Street, where gay men danced till noon, had a lively balcony, and yearly rented lockers for recreational substances. The local community board at that time did not care and thousands of gay men and their friends had unforgettable nights. But this was pre-Susan Stetzer, who serves as district manager of Community Board 3 and virtual dictator over the entire board. An anti-nightlife fanatic, Stetzer has created a situation where the members

of Community Board 3 work for her — not the other way around like at other community boards. Stetzer browbeats liquor license applicants to determine who can open nightlife establishments, where they can be located, and what conditions are necessary for their operation. Bar operators and prospective owners must grovel before the heavy-handed Stetzer for the opportunity to operate a business, and establishments are often not allowed to open within CB3’s district on the Lower East Side. Our community has suffered as the welcome mat has been removed. And then there is Community Board 2, which covers the Village, Meatpacking, SoHo, and NoHo. In order to prevent new bars from opening, this board — led by another antinightlife zealot, Teri Cude — invents onerous “stipulations” engineered to make even opening a proposed venue unprofitable and undesirable.

NIGHTLIFE, continued on p.22

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

White Christianist Hate of Marriage Becoming Iconic BY ED SIKOV

“O

pposition to same-sex marriage has decreased across a broad swath of religious groups in the United States, with white evangelical Christians one of the few movements for which a majority remains in opposition,” is the lede of a Newsweek.com article by Jason Le Miere about the gratifyingly unsurprising facts about American values in the year 2018. “Three years on from the Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, the findings from the Public Religion Research Institute’s 2017 American Values Atlas, published Tuesday, showed growing support for LGBTQ rights, including a majority of US Muslims backing same-sex marriage for the first time.” Say what? Yes, you read that correctly. That fact constitutes the article’s biggest — in fact, its only real surprise. Anyone with half a brain knew that the sky wasn’t going to fall if marriage equality became the law of the land, but Muslims have tended to get bad press in the US, especially since 9/11. We often assume that the murderous attitudes prevailing in Chechnya hold sway here as well. “Muslims, by a margin of 51 percent to 34 percent, favor same-

LANGUAGE OF HATE, from p.20

be considered a noncombatant, but am not. We’re just as often victims. More frequently perhaps, because the only word that comes from our mouths is an infuriating “no.” Though, like other women, nobody ever hears us. Even women. This straight girl I know, while

sex marriage, compared to just four years ago when a majority, 51 percent, were opposed. There were similar results for Black Protestants, with 54 percent opposing gay marriage in PRRI’s 2014 American Values Atlas, compared with 43 percent in the latest findings.” The next part will also come as no surprise: “Opposition to samesex marriage is now limited almost entirely to white conservative Christians,” who are clearly adept at throwing the first stone in absolute defiance of their Lord and Savior’s unambiguous teaching. “Fifty-eight percent of white evangelical Christians and 53 percent of Mormons — an overwhelming majority of whom are white — are opposed to allowing gay couples to marry. The group with the most opposition, though, is Jehovah’s Witnesses, a group which is 36 percent white, 32 percent Hispanic, and 27 percent Black in the US. Just 13 percent support the law.” Do these religious fanatics still go around ringing the doorbells of people who are already content with the religion they have or the lack thereof? If so, this just gives us all one more reason to slam the door in their faces. I’d suggest turning on the garden hose and drenching them, but, alas, most New Yorkers don’t have a garden hose at their disposal. What’s particularly satisfying

she was living in my house asked, “Why are you so angry all the time? Why do you have to keep talking about dykes?” Because you don’t. And if I don’t, who will? And who will listen, when even straight women aren’t heard? When at least half the queers consider dykes monstrous? As suspect. Two women off alone doing what?

about this newfound acceptance of same-sex marriage among American Muslims is that it proves that the vicious anti-gay violence and suppression that has engulfed Muslim nations like Chechnya and Indonesia is not intrinsic to the religion. This will come as no big whoop to most of this column’s readers. But one of you, no doubt, will be most dismayed. Read the comments sections on the online edition of the newspaper if you care to know more about this whole megillah. The word iconic has become iconic. And that’s not a Good Thing. I’ve recently been noticing that almost everything in the world has turned “iconic.” In the past few months, I’ve been roughly keeping track of just how often things that are merely familiar — and some that are not — have been described as “iconic.” They include (along with my judgments of whether or not they deserve the adjective) the Chrysler Building (unquestionably yay), the Eames Lounge Chair (yay — even if you’re not a mid-century design freak, you’d recognize its distinctive bent rosewood base and black upholstery), “public lands” at risk of being used for logging and fossil fuels exploitation (nay — too vague; if it had been specific, like Yellowstone National Park, it might merit a yay), and, most ridiculously, Birdwell Britches men’s board shorts (so totally nay that I’m embarrassed for the copywriter who thought to employ the word). Real iconic clothes include the Burberry’s raincoat Peter Sellers wears in the “Pink Panther” films,

And meanwhile, two men, eight women are dead, 14 hurt, erased just like that. As an example to the others. A terrorism that we refuse to name. I’ve had enough. I’m done. “You do not do, you do not do / Any more, black shoe.” I will become like Sylvia Plath. That pathetically female poet. Whose language like her body

Givenchy’s little black dress for Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and the pink pillbox hat Jackie Kennedy wore on the day of her husband’s assassination. When something is truly iconic, you can see it in your mind’s eye (or hear it in your mind’s ear in the case of music — say, the Beatles’ “Hey, Jude”) immediately upon hearing it mentioned. I’m sorry, but Birdwell Britches board shorts just don’t cut it. So I hereby propose a ban on the word. Listen to how often it’s used in print and on TV. I guarantee that you’ll be sick of it within, at most, two weeks. In one of those coincidences that borders — in however a small way — on the cosmic, here’s the Times’ Jesse Green opening his review of Ain Gordon’s “217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous,” a play about the psychiatrist who shocked the 1972 psychiatrists’ convention by appearing onstage in a rubber mask and enormous, ill-fitting tuxedo and, through a voice-distorting microphone, announced “I am a homosexual”: “The sailors don’t show up for Fleet Week until the end of the month, but right now we’ve got the shrinks. Yes, the American Psychiatric Association is in town; you may have noticed the gangs of tweedy, chin-stroking men and women wandering the side streets in search of discounted Eames Lounge Chairs.” They’re iconic, dontcha know? Follow @EdSikov on Twitter and Facebook

smashed up against glass walls until she smashed herself. I’d like to sometimes. There are so many straight people in the world. So many men. I get bruised so often when I speak. Kelly Cogswell is the author of ”Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.

For more news & events happening now visit www.GayCityNews.nyc GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

21


NIGHTLIFE, from p.20

And that’s just the businesses that want to get in. Existing venues are often harassed by this board, with the chief culprits being Cude, as well as State Liquor Authority Committee co-chairs Bob Ely and Carter Booth, who even venture to examine the venue’s business plans. These busybodies stifle innovation and creativity in a city once considered the capital of both, with Greenwich Village at its center. Rumor has it that Cude is planning to run for Margaret Chin’s seat on the City Council in 2021. She would use trumped-up antibar furor as a base to score points against an LGBTQ community that has largely been forced out of the cradle of our own movement. As a point of fact, if Stonewall had ever applied for a liquor license from Cude’s community board, there is no way it would have been allowed to open! The two boards alone cost the city millions of dollars and thousands of jobs by closing off entire neighborhoods to restaurants,

bars and clubs. They also cost us something even more important. They deny our LGBTQ community the right to gather and socialize; they deny us the right to operate businesses; and by their actions they take away from the city the tax revenue needed to pay for vital services for all of us. In one egregious example of homophobia in the past several years, a Community Board 2 member advocated against Boots and Saddle from opening on Seventh Avenue South because schoolchildren walking by may look in and see drag queens — in the Village of all places! In this toxic environment, the first word out of any applicant’s mouth is that they are not opening a disco or club, which these boards will not even consider allowing within their boundaries. These anti-nightlife warriors also work assiduously to harass our legally licensed community establishments. These city-living suburbanites want all the advantages and conveniences of urban living but also want the quiet and quaintness of the suburbs.

With our new nightlife mayor in place, we now have a powerful ally in the fight to preserve and expand nightlife options and rollback the suburbanization of our city. First, we need a district manager at Community Board 3 who serves the board and not herself. We need to remove all political party officials and political club presidents and officers who use the board to advance their careers and garner support of anti-nightlife block associations that think they live in the suburbs. We need new board members who have new perspectives and outlooks on the issues we face — not more “not in my backyard” fanatics who vote against any and all nightlife venues. On a more positive note, I commend Brooklyn Borough Eric Adams, who is a vocal champion of nightlife and has stood up to those whose opposition is often unwarranted, discriminatory, and irrational. And on a happy note, I can now report that Judith Clark is closer to being paroled. As many of you may know, I have been assisting Judith

in her bid for clemency for the past nine years. Acting Supreme Court Justice John Kelley ordered the New York State Parole Board to hold a new hearing within 60 days and to decide on granting parole within the following 30 days. Judith has spent 37 years at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for her part in the 1981 Brinks robbery. If Judith is paroled, it will be a major first step in the fight for clemency for many others who face long sentences even though they have been rehabilitated, expressed remorse, and pose no risk to society. It breaks my heart to see so many women (and men) like Judith who deserve a second chance and their freedom. For more information on this effort, visit Judithclark.org. Allen Roskoff, the president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic club, co-authored the first gay rights bill ever introduced in the United States. Upcoming: Judicial Politics… the importance of electing and elevating judges and the few bad apples who pervert the system and how the issue of abortion defined some really bad apples.

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May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


COMMUNITY

Lambda Legal Honors Evan Wolfson Marriage champion returns to where he began his long march BY PAUL SCHINDLER

E

van Wolfson, the nation’s key strategic thinker in the battle to win marriage equality as founder of Freedom to Marry, went home on April 30 to the legal advocacy group, Lambda Legal, where he worked on staff for 12 years and headed up its Marriage Project. In its annual national dinner at Chelsea Piers, the group recognized Wolfson with its Liberty Award. Speaking of himself as a part of the Lambda family 17 years after his departure from the group, Wolfson said he would love to spend time basking in warm memories of collaborative efforts. But, he said, “These are not ordinary times. Our country — indeed, liberal democracy worldwide — confronts an existential threat. And so tonight, instead, we must talk about what must be done.”

Hailing the victory of marriage equality nationwide and noting the “transformed” place of gay and transgender people in American life, Wolfson acknowledged that there remains major work in “guarding our gains and paving new ground.” But he said he is particularly proud that “Lambda — like other pillar organizations of our movement — has risen to the moment and the larger call.” In describing that larger call, Wolfson looked back to an earlier existential threat to America — the Civil War — and also summoned the words of the Great Depression and World War II leader, Franklin D. Roosevelt. LGBTQ leadership, he said, is standing “in solidarity with immigrants, with women, with people of color, with Muslims and Jews, with people who are ill, people who are poor, people who are struggling.” Then, directly addressing the question of what “we are called to

GETT Y IMAGES FOR LAMBDA LEGAL

Evan Wolfson, delivering remarks accepting Lambda Legal’s Liberty Award on April 30.

do,” Wolfson said, “We are called to defend, re-teach, reinvigorate, and live up to America’s promise. We are called to redouble our contributions, our conversations, our civic engagement. We are called to litigate and lobby. We are called to register and turn out voters. We are called to work to persuade the older and empower the younger. We are called to resist and reclaim power. We are called to take back Congress. Let me say it again, we must

take back Congress—– and state legislatures and the White House. We must get our country back on track.” Acknowledging that “no one of us can do it all,” Wolfson closed by arguing that “through constant endeavor, we do what is needed,” adding, “The history of America — indeed the history of our movement, the history of our own lifetimes — tell us that together we can meet the moment.”

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GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

23


TWO FIFTH AVENUE HONORS EDIE WINDSOR

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

I

n a ceremony with great warmth despite chilly temperatures, the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center installed a memorial plaque at Two Fifth Avenue to honor the late Edie Windsor, a longtime resident of the building whose 2013 victory at the US Supreme Court vanquished the federal Defense of

RECLAIM PRIDE, from p.5

in uniform in that city’s Pride Parade last year following protests by Toronto Black Lives Matter in 2016. GOAL responded by inviting some LGBTQ members of the Toronto police to march with them in New York City’s Pride March. Last year, Hoods4Justice said its protest was against the police and corporations in the parade. The crowd booed the protestors. It

CONSUMPTION SPACES, from p.7

a consortium of syringe exchanges that have found themselves treating overdoses and assisting clients who have injected in their facilities’ bathrooms. This consortium will be the contractor managing the overdose prevention centers, with Dr. Holly Hagan, an epidemiologist at NYU, overseeing the research effort. NYU has agreed to have its Institutional Review Board evaluate the study design. The mayor acted after the four city councilmembers where the initial four overdose prevention centers will be sited had already endorsed the idea. Johnson and Levin, in particular, had voiced considerable frustration with de Blasio’s slow pace of acting on the issue. In Upper Manhattan, the Washington Heights Corner Project has agreed to sign a contract with the

24

Sunnie Baron Freeman (right), Windsor’s cousin, Freeman’s son, Lewis, and Lewis’ wife Debbie.

Christine Quinn, Glennda Testone, Roberta Kaplan, Wendy Stark, and Judith Kasen-Windsor.

Marriage Act. Windsor’s surviving spouse, Judith KasenWindsor, played host to a roster of attendees and speakers that included the LGBT Community Center’s Glennda Testone, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center’s Wendy Stark, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Public Advocate Letitia James, attorney Roberta Kaplan, who represented Windsor in the DOMA case, SAGE’s

Michael Adams, the Hetrick-Martin Institute’s Thomas Krever, former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Larry Kramer, David Mixner, James Esseks, who heads the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, and the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Donna Lieberman. Windsor’s plaque took its place next to one honoring the feminist leader Bella Abzug, who died 20 years ago this spring.

is now saying that it acted at the request of Toronto Black Lives Matter. “The reason we were there that day we were asked by Toronto Black Lives Matter in solidarity to stop the Toronto police to march,” Michael Basillas said during the town hall. Tolan read a statement from one Hoods4Justice member who was arrested during the protest. That activist was at the town hall, but chose to remain anonymous.

“This activist said, ‘At times, communication may have been lacking as far as what was happening,’” Tolan said. “People on the sidelines didn’t understand that they were protesting police specifically and thought that they were protesting Pride in general.” Ken Kidd, who is active in Rise and Resist and previously in ACT UP and Queer Nation, was the lead organizer of last year’s resistance contingent. He has not participated

in this year’s organizing though he attended the town hall. Kidd said that the focus should be on the 2019 Pride march, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. “I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that we’re going to get a lot of the things that we are asking for in the next seven weeks,” Kidd said. “We have an opportunity right now for next year’s WorldPride event, in 2019, the 50th anniversary.”

consortium. Liz Evans, a founder of the Vancouver Needle Exchange in Canada that opened in 2003, is on staff there. Mark Levine, the chair of the City Council Health Committee and a supporter of SCS, represents the district that includes the Corner Project. St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction, where this writer was formerly chair of the board, participated in the Bronx Opioid Community Summit on April 21. At the meeting, Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, who represents the district where St. Ann’s is located, gave a moving talk about growing up in the Bronx where drug use was common and visible. He emphasized the opportunity to bring change to people’s lives through love and compassion. His remarks, which included his endorsement of Safer Consumption Spaces, drew a standing ovation. The other participating needle exchanges are run by Housing Works,

in Midtown West, in Johnson’s district, and VOCAL-NY, which has space within walking distance of Atlantic Avenue-Barclay Center subway complex. Levin is the councilmember for that district. In testimony before the Council’s Budget Committee in February, Dr. Mary Bassett, the city health commissioner, said the scientific evidence that these facilities stop fatal overdoses is “clear.” Drug users, especially those taking opioids, frequently overdose, but in Safer Consumption Spaces they receive assistance in breathing with doses of naloxone, a public health wonder drug. A plastic nozzle is used to squirt the medication into a user’s nostril and the opioid is inhibited and normal breathing is restored. In Safer Consumption Spaces worldwide — located in more than 100 cities — there have been no reported fatalities. In upstate Ithaca, Mayor Svante

Myrick and the City Council have already approved a Safer Consumption Space. Philadelphia and San Francisco are also moving forward on this approach, though no such facility is yet in operation in the US. According to Politico, the number of overdose deaths in New York City hit a record 1,441 in 2017, with 80 percent of them from opioids. Even as Housing Works’ King lauded de Blasio, he expressed frustration about how long it took to get to this day. “Housing Works is thrilled that Mayor de Blasio has stepped up to do the right thing, and given the skyrocketing rates of overdose in New York City, we only wish this administration’s support for an intervention that we have long known to save lives had come sooner,” he said in a written statement, adding, “One thing we have learned from years of fighting the AIDS epidemic is that harm reduction works.” May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERFORMANCE

The Illustrious Blacks Return to Joe’s Pub Afro-Futuristic pilots’ summer also to feature their second EP, g performance a Central Park SummerStage BY CHRISTOPHER MURRAY he performance duo The Illustrious Blacks is poppin’! Although the married gay couple, who individually go by their stage names Manchildblack and Monstah Black, have each been in the downtown nightlife and Brooklyn performance scenes for a while, suddenly they are everywhere doing everything. After last year’s release of their debut EP “NeoAfro Futuristic Psychedelic Surrealistic Hippy” on Concierge Records and that summer’s three-month residency of their live show “Hyperbolic” at Joe’s Pub, this year they’ve found a devoted following for their sold-out DJ-ing tribute nights like “Aretha vs. Chaka” at C’Mon Everybody,

THE ILLUSTRIOUS BLACKS

T

CHARLES MEACHAM

“Hyperbolic” Joe’s Pub Inside the Public Theater 425 Lafayette St. Btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. May 17 & Jun. 23 at 9:30 p.m. $15 at publictheater.org/en/ Programs--Events/Joes-Pub $20 at the door

The Illustrious Blacks appear at Joe’s Pub on May 18 and June 23.

the hip music venue on Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill. They will be back at Joe’s Pub this month and next with guest artists, as well as Bridget Barkan on vocals, Tendayi Kuumba and Johnnie Cruise Mercer on vocals

and dancing, and Farai Malianga and Jimmy Lopez on percussion. Coming up this summer, The Illustrious Blacks will be part of the line-up of high profile artists at Central Park’s SummerStage. They hope to complete work on

their second EP in June. They describe their ethos as fusing “music, dance, theater, and fashion as the main ingredients

ILLUSTRIOUS BLACKS, continued on p.26

THEATER

Hear Them Roar Three generations of strong women, fighting to fin nd common ground BY DAVID KENNERLEY nexpected Joy,” the latest original musical incubated by the esteemed York Theatre Company, has the distinction of having one foot planted in the past and one firmly in the present. It’s a delicate balancing act; despite sometimes being on shaky ground, this earnest, well-intentioned tuner lives up to its title. Indeed, the joyous moments, and there are several, help us forgive the flaws. Embracing the past, the play evokes the countercultural, free spirit of the 1960s, embodied by a singer-songwriter named Joy, who is as much a hippie in her golden years as she was a half-century ago. A resident of Cape Cod near Provincetown, she has clung to

“U

GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

UNEXPECTED JOY

CAROL ROSEGG

Courtney Balan, Celeste Rose, Luba Mason, and Allyson Kaye Daniel in Bill Russell and Janet Hood’s “Unexpected Joy,” directed by Amy Anders Corcoran at York Theatre at Saint Peter’s through May 27.

the ethos of peace, love, and living in the moment. She’s also hung on to unflattering fringed suede vests and floral midriff tops. Sadly, her middle-aged daughter, Rainbow, who insists on being called Rachel, rebels against her mother’s rebellion. Not only did she move to Oklahoma to marry a Bible-thumping televangelist who demonizes homosexuality and other so-called sins, but she sings faith-

based ditties on his wildly popular “Good News Hour.” Then there’s beautiful Tamara who — you guessed it — rejects her conservative mother and is drawn to her funky grandma, Joy. She hates that her mother sings songs along the lines of “Jesus Friended Me on Facebook.” Naturally, the sullen 18-year-old is no slouch in the vocal department herself. Complicating matters further is

York Theatre Company York Theatre at Saint Peter’s Citicorp Building 619 Lexington Ave. at E. 54th St. Through May 27 Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Thu., Sat.-Sun. at 2:30 p.m. $67.50-$72.50; students, $25 yorktheatre.org 90 mins., with no intermission

Lou, a defiant, black lesbian singer who happens to be engaged to Joy. Not that Joy bothered to tell Rachel or Tamara. There’s also a hokey plot thread (book by Bill Russell, Tony-nomi-

JOY, continued on p.33

25


MUSIC

Janelle Monáe Fleshes Herself Out “Dirty Computer” moves artist beyond her android conceit BY STEVE ERICKSON anelle Monáe’s first two major-label albums, 2010’s “The ArchAndroid” and 2013’s “The Electric Lady,” were part of a larger Afro-futurist conceptual project, along with their associated videos, in which she played an android named Cindi Mayweather. Without becoming a huge star, she has attracted an audience of outcasts much like David Bowie and Prince did in their day. Like them, she has played with ambiguous gender and sexuality, and this continued in the four singles and their videos she released in the run-up to her latest album, “Dirty Computer.” But in interviews, she had answered questions about her sexuality by using that framework to deflect, saying things like, “I only date androids” or, at most, “I’m very sexually free.” The lyrics and, even more, videos for recent singles like “Make Me Feel” and “Pynk” made it quite clear that she’s not heterosexual. To no one’s surprise, she came out as pansexual in an interview with Rolling Stone published April 26, the day before the release of “Dirty Computer.” Where Beyoncé repeated “Bow down, bitches!” on her song “Flawless” — even if she wants those “bitches” to take up feminism and support Black Lives Matter — Monáe addresses her audience as equals in an alienating society. The title track begins the album with a nod to her vulnerabilities, with Monáe describing herself as a “dirty computer, searching for someone to fix my drive.” The sci-fi references on “Dirty Computer” haven’t been thrown away, but this album ad-

JANELLE MONÁE

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ILLUSTRIOUS BLACKS, from p.25

to expand minds, shake booties, and encourage all to be bold, be brave, and be you!” They also said their mission is to create “intergalactic journeys in sound and performance in a world in which they thrive as Afro-Futuristic pilots.” They are big picture kind of

26

“Dirty Computer” Bad Boy/ Atlantic jmonae.com

JMONAE.COM

Janelle Monáe’s “Dirty Computer.”

dresses life in America 2018 in a very blunt manner. While the spoken word segments protesting racism and homophobia on the final song, “Americans,” get very heavyhanded, Monáe expresses her politics with a sense of humor and pleasure the rest of the time. Some of her lyrics recall Prince’s “1999” in their determination to party in the face of oppression, but Monáe has less fatalism and more interest in overt resistance. Prince worked on this album just before his death, Beach Boys songwriter Brian Wilson sings on the title track, and Stevie Wonder gets an unfortunately preachy 46-second spoken word interlude. The inspirations of Erykah Badu and the nowdefunct hip-hop duo Outkast also hang heavily over her music, and she collaborated with both in the past. In turn, she may have paved the way for forward-thinking female singers like Solange, Jhené Aiko, and Kelela. She also runs the indie label Wondaland and has acted in films like “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures.” The first three singles from “Dirty Computer” range from funk (“Make Me Feel,” which rewrites the guitar

guys, can you tell? They are also smart, sweet, neat, and replete with good energy. The Illustrious Blacks spoke to Gay City News recently about how they view their work. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY: Why are you called The Illustrious Blacks?

riff from Prince’s “Kiss”), hip-hop (“Django Jane”), and dance-pop (“Pynk,” which features backing vocals from indie artist Grimes). The album also repeatedly refers to African clicking languages. “Django Jane” shouts out Pussy Riot and sings the praises of black womanhood, especially Monáe’s, with pop culture references (“Jane Bond, never Jane Doe/ and I Django, never Sambo”) while still keeping up her sci-fi imagery (“Emoticons, Decepticons and Autobots, who twist the plot?… I made a fandroid out of your girlfriend”). However, even much of the latter refers to something specific in the real world: “We fem the future” is an allusion to her female mentorship organization, not a vague promise of a more female-friendly world to come. Monáe sings frankly about sex, even writing lyrics that obviously refer to her vagina and cunnilingus: “I got the juice between my thighs,” from “I Got the Juice,” and “pink like the tongue that goes down,” from “Pynk,” don’t leave much to the imagination. But “Screwed” acknowledges the way sex is often misused as a tool of power. She’s able to celebrate her command over her body and her desire for all genders without giving the impression she’s catering to straight male fantasies, unlike rappers like Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj. While I’m an enormous Bowie

MANCHILD BLACK: We were entering a party and a friend called out, “There they are, the illustrious Blacks!,” and it stuck. CM: And how do you define yourselves as artists? MONSTAH BLACK: We’re an electronic duo of recording and performance artists focusing on

fan, listening to his music always makes me feel like I’m connecting to a persona, not a person: the many creations that he chose to speak through, not David Jones. Monáe started off creating her own alter ego: Cindi Mayweather rather than Ziggy Stardust or Aladdin Sane. She accompanied the release of “Dirty Computer” with a 48-minute-long film where she plays a character named Jane57821 whose memories of liberated black female queer sexuality are being erased. Alas, it’s an extended excuse to link together the album’s music videos and only takes its narrative seriously in its final five minutes. Monáe hasn’t just come out of the closet (where making elaborate concept albums in character was convenient — her 2013 single “Q.U.E.E.N.” was originally going to be called “Q.U.E.E.R.” before she got cold feet), she’s talking about her own desires and politics directly rather than in coded form. I’m not naïve enough to think there was no commercial calculation in making a public declaration about her pansexuality the day before this album’s release, but the version of herself Monáe presents here is an approachable, three-dimensional human. In her own way, she’s even a patriot, declaring, “I’m not America’s nightmare / I’m an American dream” on “Crazy, Classic Life,” which also dismisses Trump by saying “we don’t even know the ruler, we don’t even know the fool.” “Dirty Computer” is a vision of a world where all kinds of outsiders can unite. “Dirty Computer: an emotion picture” is available at youtube.com/ watch?v=jdH2Sy-BlNE.

sound that is funky and has soul, and we also address current political issues in our songs. CM: Well, I have to ask, do you wear each other’s clothes? MB: We have, but that can be a point of contention. Generally,

ILLUSTRIOUS BLACKS, continued on p.31

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


FILM

A Bomer Bomb Outt gay actor is unconvinc unconvincing as a trans woman in “Anything” ANYTHING Directed by Timothy McNeil Paladin Opens May 11 Landmark at 57 West 657 W. 57th St. landmarktheatres.com

PALADIN

Matt Bomer and John Carroll Lynch in Timothy McNeil’s “Anything.”

BY GARY KRAMER he modest queer love story, “Anything,” written and directed by Timothy McNeil and based on his play, packs far too much drama into its 93 minutes. It would almost work better as a TV series or a miniseries (like “Tales of the City,” which it somewhat resembles), where its potentially interesting characters could be better developed. The fi lm opens in Crane, Mississippi, where Early Landry (John Carroll Lynch) is grieving over the death of his wife. After he tries to commit suicide, Early’s sister, Laurette (Maura Tierney), takes him to Los Angeles to live with her. Early soon decides to move away from the controlling Laurette and rents an apartment in Hollywood. The building is full of troubled characters, including his neighbor across the hall, Freda Von Rhenburg (Matt Bomer), a transgender sex worker. “Anything” starts going off the rails as soon as Freda sashays into the picture. It is not just because Bomer, with his effeminate voice, heavy lipstick, and slinky dresses, is awkward and unconvincing as Early’s love interest. The character is all stereotype.

T

GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

Freda wears garish animal print clothes and throws shade with other Santa Monica Boulevard sex workers. She talks big and dreams bigger, but copes with her despair by popping pills. One night, after Frieda is jumped, Early tends to her, cementing a friendship. They grow closer as Early reads letters from his late wife to Freda and describes the stars in the sky to her. Freda, meanwhile, tries to pull Early out of his funk. The relationship that develops between this odd couple feels absolutely synthetic. As the bond between them slowly becomes love, it is hard to care about them or see why they care about each other. Early may accept Freda for who she is, but the only honest moment between them is when Freda tells Early to “reinvent” himself. Mostly, their banter feels forced, especially when Freda peppers her speech with the expected sassy retorts, few of which land well. When a kiss fi nally happens, it lacks genuine passion. The sequence where Early spends a night helping Freda quit the pills she is addicted to is particularly cringe-inducing, as Lynch and Bomer fight and cuddle in inauthentic, even manipu-

lative moments. And when Early confesses to Freda the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death, it is meant to be powerful but ends up feeling strained. This torpid fi lm really hits its nadir when Early invites Laurette, her wheelchair-bound husband Ted (Christopher Thornton), and their teenage son, Jack (Tanner Buchanan) over for dinner to meet Freda, not informing them ahead of time that she is trans. As an intolerant Laurette calls

out the elephant in the room, the scene is awkward for both the characters and the audience. Hurt feelings and shaming take the place of any constructive resolution, and Laurette remains the villain because this love story needs conflict. The resulting split between Early and Freda is what makes them recognize how much they really mean to each other. The fi lm’s message about the healing power of love is presented clumsily, to be charitable. As flawed as McNeil’s fi lm is, Lynch makes Early’s grief palpable. Lynch conveys this effortlessly with his perpetual hangdog expression and resigned body language. He is the only reason to see “Anything.” In contrast, Bomer’s performance is simply distracting. The actor never disappears into the

ANYTHING, continued on p.28

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FILM

A Blunt Honesty Strong woman demonstrates an unapologetic feminism BY STEVE ERICKSON any films have been made by men about women who become avenging angels in response to male violence. Most are exploitative crap that voyeuristically focus on rape scenes. A few are genuinely great: Abel Ferrara’s “Ms. 45,” Takashi Miike’s “Audition,” and Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle.” French director Coralie Fargeat’s “Revenge” has obviously been influenced both by ‘70s horror cinema and the New French Extremity movement of the 2000s, particularly Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi’s “Baise-Moi.” But while “Baise-Moi” was shot in a style that looked like amateur porn — partially deliberately and because Trinh Thi and some of its performers had a background in adult film, and also because it was made on a tiny budget with cheap video cameras — “Revenge” could be called beautiful if the events it depicts weren’t so ugly. It announces the birth of a stunning new directorial voice. Jen (Matilda Lutz) is having a relationship with married millionaire Richard (Kevin Janssens). She takes advantage of the luxuries he’s able to give her, but things turn ugly when his two hunting buddies (Vincent Colombe and Guillaume Bouchède) show up unannounced, complete with guns and ammo draping their shirts. While she flirts with one of the men and then turns down his passes, he proceeds to rape her. The other man ignores her screams by turning up the sound of race cars on a TV. When Richard returns and learns what he has happened, he doesn’t care and, in fact, attempts to murder Jen. However, she proves stronger than anyone, including herself, expects. “Revenge” is never subtle. In fact, it wears its symbolism on its sleeve. Imagery doesn’t get more Freudian than an extreme close-up of a

REVENGE

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ANYTHING, from p.27

role; he just seems to be doing phony play-acting. Even if the out

28

Directed by Coralie Fargeat Shudder/ Neon In English and French with English subtitles Opens May 11 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com

man chewing a milk chocolate bar or a woman impaled on a branch. This extends to the Grand Guignol elements. By the end, the set is full of so much gore that it looks like a hose full of fake blood was sprayed through it. While clearly on the side of the angels, Fargeat also obviously gets a kick out of scenes such as one in which a man has to slice underneath his foot’s skin to get a sliver of glass out. Like many of the original New French Extremity films, “Revenge” restores pain and physicality to screen violence. If you think it goes too far, are American PG-13 films where dozens of people get shot bloodlessly and die offscreen really ethically superior? Fargeat may be a gorehound, but her excess is taken to the point where it becomes almost cartoonish without trivializing the pain Jen suffers. If the film has a serious flaw, it’s that Jen becomes a “strong woman” to a degree that has more to do with fictional tropes than real experience, but the exaggerations of “Revenge” are upfront and built into its narrative and visual style. Fargeat begins “Revenge” by de-

liberately objectifying Jen. She’s introduced to the audience with a lollipop in her mouth, looking much younger than she actually is. As she walks, the camera follows her from background, leering at her ass. Her wardrobe consists of skimpy Tshirts and bikini briefs. These are exactly the kind of clothes ignorant men think women should avoid to prevent rape. But when she turns from object to subject, she wears the exact same wardrobe; she doesn’t need to cover up to earn her dignity or physical strength. As she gets healthier, the camera adopts her point of view instead of mimicking the male gaze (which, in retrospect, is a deliberate and pointed choice). As much as the real-life counterparts of this film’s men, sexist cinema and ways of viewing women are its true targets. Fargeat also objectifies and sexualizes Richard. Janssens is handsome, physically fit, and the only actor in the cast who’s shown nude (including his penis.) While Jen’s rape isn’t depicted on-screen after its very beginnings and is mostly suggested through sound instead, Richard’s eventual fate emphasizes

the male body’s vulnerability in a way I haven’t seen since the lengthy fight scene in David Cronenberg’s “Eastern Promises” featuring a totally nude Viggo Mortensen. “Revenge” also has a lot to say about how wealth allows men to act as though both animals and women are only alive for their entertainment. The most impulsive and primitive part of the human mind is called “the reptile brain”; Jen associates her predators with lizards. For Richard and his friends, the concept of hunting extends well beyond shooting animals. Fargeat shows a dark wit in playing out the finale against a TV blaring a shopping channel that presents women as mindless bimbos. While “Revenge” drew rave reviews at its premiere as a midnight show at last fall’s Toronto Film Festival, I suspect its narrative and level of violence will draw criticisms that a truly feminist film would have found a peaceful way for Jen to escape and that this is just another exploitation movie. Well, the best “exploitation movies” of the 1970s talked about American society’s problems more bluntly and honestly than many of their contemporary Oscar-winning peers. Tell Fargeat she has no right to make a film this gory when men with nothing on their minds worth saying stop making equally violent films. Cinematically speaking, the likes of Eli Roth are getting their ass kicked at long last.

gay actor is up for the challenge of playing trans, viewers might prefer to imagine what a trans actress would do with the part.

“Anything” never achieves the humanity of the recent Oscarwinning fi lm “A Fantastic Woman,” which depicted a similar re-

lationship between an older man and a trans woman with dignity. McNeil’s fi lm might be ambitious, but it is not very good.

SHUDDER/ NEON

Matilda Lutz in Coralie Fargeat’s “Revenge,” which opens at the IFC Center on May 11.

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


Spring Blossoms Ode to the Quad, ladies’ season, puppet from Oz

QUADCINEMA.COM

Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo Jacques Demy’s “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.”

BY DAVID NOH n April 3, the Quad Cinema had a splashy celebration marking its one year anniversary since its big remodelling. If you haven’t been to the venerable movie house, founded in 1972, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. It’s been gleamingly overhauled into a state of the art venue, with an affordable wine bar, the seating is no longer the narrow, tortured affair it was in the past, and it has a brilliant repertory programmer in Christopher Wells. Recent retrospectives have included a blockbuster Barbra Streisand one last summer; a tribute to that great, undervalued actress, Geneviève Bujold, and one that just wrapped featuring the films of Alan Rudolph, who, like Frank Borzage, is a director deeply invested in romance among people who, at first blush, would seem to fall into the category of “loser.” In attendance at the party were Al Pacino (who also had a retrospective), film veterans Jonas Mekas and Sheila Nevins, a passel of press reps and critics, like my buddy Time magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek, the best-dressed film critic ever, and David Edelstein, and Charles S. Cohen, the producer/ real estate honcho who bought the Quad in 2014 and seems intent on keeping communal film culture alive here. With the recent loss of the Sunshine Cinema and — painfully — Lincoln Plaza Cinema, not to mention Film Forum closing for the summer for its own renovation, the

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GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

Quad will provide a fit haven for Manhattan’s cinephiles, especially in light of the upcoming “French Melodrama” series, presented by the Cinematheque Francaise from May 16 to 22. Familiar classics like Max Ophüls’ ravishing masterpiece “The Earrings of Madame De” (May 20, 4:50 p.m.; May 22, 9:05 p.m.) and Jacques Demy’s “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (May 17, 8:10 p.m.; May 20, 7 p.m.) will be screened, along with real rarities like Ophuls’ 1939 “Sans lendemain” (May 18, 7 p.m.; May 20, 1 p.m.), which, like his memorable “Letter from an Unknown Woman,” is exquisitely made, with a beautiful performance by the great Edwige Feuillère, as a topless cabaret dancer who pretends to be a great lady to deceive an old lover, that soap opera is transformed into art. Another legendary French actress, luminous Micheline Presle, stars in Abel Gance’s 1940 “Paradise Lost” (May 16, 6:40 p.m.; May 19, 3 p.m.), playing both a mother who died during childbirth and her own daughter, who must deal with the inappropriately young girlfriend of her widowed father (talented Fernand Gravet), who is a successful dress designer. The period costumes are by fabled designer Barbara Karinska — Balanchine rarely made a move without her — who was recently honored with a film about her (by Suzy Benzinger) at this year’s dependably wonderful Irene Sharaff Awards for costume and set design, held at the Edison Ballroom

BLOSSOMS, continued on p.32

JUMP, continued on p.29

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THEATER

Heroic Measures Eliza trumps Higgins and discovers herself; Harry Potter still has it BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE f you’re going to go to the trouble of mounting a sprawling, expensive production of a classic warhorse musical like “My Fair Lady,” you had better have something to say if you don’t want it to end up as a museum piece. Fortunately, director Bartlett Sher does, and the resulting production at Lincoln Center is refreshing, incisive, and sumptuously entertaining. Sher’s production reveals itself as an enduring Shavian work of social criticism — it’s based on Shaw’s play “Pygmalion”— rather than merely a framework for glittering renditions of 60-year-old standards like “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Get Me to the Church on Time,” and “Why Can’t the English?” As he did in his direction of “South Pacific” and “The King and I,” Sher emphasizes the characters and their humanity. And so, the story of elocutionist Henry Higgins who transforms the cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle into an apparent princess simply by changing her speech and behavior acquires an edge — and a poignancy — that make it relevant and novel, regardless of how familiar one might be with the show. With a slightly altered book, Sher puts the focus on class mobility and the inherent falsity of social structures — then determined by breeding, today more by economics. Sher’s Eliza is not just a puppet or an experimental subject. She has her own values and dignity, and the central conflict is not whether Higgins can pass her off as upper class but rather whether Eliza can survive when her identity is stripped away and a new one applied to her. That she does — and thrives — is more a tribute to her essential self than an ability to properly aspirate an “h.” As gorgeous as this production is with spectacular costumes by Catherine Zuber and sets by Michael Yeargan, and as lush as the

MY FAIR LADY

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Vivian Beaumont Theater Lincoln Center 150 W. 65th St. Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m. Wed., Fri.-Sat at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $97-$187; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 55 mins., with intermission JOAN MARCUS

Lauren Ambrose and Harry Hadden-Paton adden-Paton in Barlett Sher’s Sher s production of “My M Fair Lady” at Lincoln Center.

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD

MANUEL HARLAN

Jamie Parker and Sam Clemmett in J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany’s “Harry Potter and the Cursed,” directed by Tiffany, at the Lyric Theatre.

music sounds, what stands out is the way the characters inhabit their social strata and the conflict of their collision. The fact that Harry Hadden-Paton as Higgins and Lauren Ambrose as Eliza are close in age adds electricity to their sparring. Hadden-Patton’s comparative youth elevates Higgins from the traditional portrait of a pedantic curmudgeon to a passionate man eager to prove his theories. Love, when it comes, takes him by surprise, bursting his academic bubble. When his humanity forces him to challenge his ideas as so much sophistry, it’s touching and endearing. Hadden-Paton give a commanding performance. He sings well and is blithely unaware of his sex appeal, something not lost on Eliza. Ambrose inhabits Eliza with richness and depth, giving a subtle and complex performance and singing beautifully. We feel as much as

see that her transformation has on some level stripped her of her dignity and agency, and that’s Shaw’s most cutting criticism of women’s place in the class structure. In the final moments, though, Eliza shows us that the essence of the flower girl is the secret to her success. The supporting cast includes Norbert Leo Butz doing a fine turn as Eliza’s father Albert and Diana Rigg as Higgins’ mother. Allan Corduner is solid as Colonel Pickering, the man who humanizes Higgins — a bit. Jordan Donica is excellent as Freddy Eynsford-Hill, the kind of romantic gentleman that Shaw (and Higgins) deplore for adding nothing to the world. Donica sings “On the Street Where You Live” with wonderful passion, but Sher gives it a kind of irony that is very appropriate. This is no mere revival, it’s a savvy rethinking and if you think you don’t need to see another produc-

Lyric Theater 213 W. 42nd St. Part 1: Wed., Sat., Sun. at 2 p.m.; Thu. at 7:30 p.m. Part 2: Wed., Fri.-Sun. at 7:30 p.m. $20-$299 per part Harrypotter/ticketmaster.com Or 800-653-8000 Each part: two hrs., 45 min., with intermission

tion of “My Fair Lady,” you should think again. My grandmother who was born in 1890 remembered seeing Maude Adams in “Peter Pan” and the sensation created when Peter flew over a field of flowers — all of which were individual light bulbs. At the dawn of the 20th century, New York had never such stagecraft, and it created a sensation. “Harry Potter and the Cursed” child, a two-part extravaganza at the Lyric, where it will most likely play into the 22nd century, is causing a similar reaction, 113 years after Maude flew. “Harry Potter” is a triumph of jaw-dropping, breathtaking theatrical magic. You will believe that the world of Hogwarts is real.

HEROIC, continued on p.31

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


HEROIC, from p.30

ILLUSTRIOUS BLACKS, from p.26

we don’t wear the same size shoe and I like higher heels, but I think our first ever fight was when he asked to borrow a pair of my Levi’s. I thought it was a one-time wear agreement. CM: Your work really seems to connect self-liberation with social liberation. MB: I’m glad you are getting that because that is the purpose, it’s about expressing our liberation to inspirer others. MCB: About living in our truth. MB: And living in our yes. We have a single called “Blast Off” that addresses that explicitly: “People of the world, all the boys and the girls, if you’re Black or you are white, if you feel all right, bi or straight, trans or gay, don’t matter what your age, everybody let’s rage.”

CM: It can be complicated, being who you are. These days people are contending with the recognition that they carry multiple, even sometimes conflicting identities. As The Illustrious Blacks, you are drawing explicit and joyous attention to a Venn diagram at the intersection between Black and queer. Am I right? MCB: Yes, but we are at the intersections of a lot of things. Sometimes for us, well, I’ll speak for myself here, it gets tricky. You hear a lot of groups that we are a part having beefs with each other. MB: There are Black people who are completely antiLGBTQ and sections of the LGBTQ community that are completely racist. We never want to deny our own complexity. What we want to do is say, “Hey, here we are as Black men, as queer men, and as Black queer men. Being queer doesn’t make us any less Black or any less men.”

Pho PPh h o tto: too FrF r an aanc nncc ees esc sscc o S cca cav aavv uullllll o

Thank Heaven for the magic, because the play at the center of the experience, like the books that it’s based on, is overstuffed with plot and incident, and if you are not steeped in the mythos of Hogwarts or you haven’t seen all the movies, you may, in fact, be quite lost in the tale. Writing credits are shared by book author J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and director John Tiffany, and that may account for the lack of cohesion in the story. A lot of it feels forced. Characters appear, or are mentioned, with very little introduction, and while the Potter fans scream in delighted recognition at each nod and reference to plot points from the eight books in the series, including the one this is based on, there isn’t much of a dramatic arc to the piece. Not that they don’t try: Harry and his son Albus are locked in a kind of Oedipal drama, while dark forces may once again threaten the magical world. Beyond that, we’ve been expressly requested not to reveal the plot twists, which are legion. In fact, by the mid-point of the second play, twisting fatigue sets in, leaving one wishing that a spell be cast to move things along.

This is, of course, blasphemy to Potter fans who are besotted with every syllable of Rowling’s bloated prose, obvious characters, and conventional morality. Rowling, after all, is a purveyor of mass market fiction, so other than entertaining storylines it has never made literary pretensions. And while artistic and commercial success are not the same thing, the fans who will keep this running don’t make that distinction. It is thrilling, but in the way of a theme park ride, not like great theater. Still, for its sheer magnitude and ingenious staging, this show probably should not be missed. The cast, many of whom were imported from the London original company, give their all in countless different parts. Jamie Parker as Harry, Sam Clemmett as Albus, and Alex Price as Draco Malfoy are particularly good, especially when enlivening some of the more ponderous, talk-heaven scenes. The real wizards, though, are director Tiffany, set designer Christine Jones, movement director Steven Hoggett, lighting designer Neil Austin, and, especially, sound designer Gareth Fry. They bring this world to life so spectacularly that it’s an easy bet you’ll tell your grandchildren about this experience — if not take them to see it.

NOW ON BROADWAY

Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 W. 46th St. @ DonnaSummerBway • TheDonnaSummerMusical.com GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

31


BLOSSOMS, from p.29

on April 20. Jean Grèmillon’s 1937 ”Geule d’Amour” (May 17, 6:15 p.m.; May 18, 5 p.m.) reunites the iconic stars of the classic “Pepe le Moko”: fatalistic, world-weary Jean Gabin and the dazzlingly chic Mireille Balin in a real old-school star vehicle that again posits him as a man, in the French Foreign Legion, utterly obsessed with her, to the ruination of his life. What began as a rather haphazard theater season, with the weirdly shabby and sad “Prince of Broadway,” has finally morphed into something pretty special, mostly due to a bracingly strong female presence on the boards this year. Off the top, I can think of at least eight actresses who are currently giving performances that are each, in their way, spectacular. The big buzz was Glenda Jackson’s return in “Three Tall Women,” and, indeed, it was wonderful to see her again, her ferocious energy and daunting imperiousness gorgeously undiminished — and I’d forgotten how much I missed the uniquely authoritative sound of her voice (the best Elizabeth I, by far) — in Albee’s most personal and, I am beginning to think, best play. Inspired by his fraught relationship with his mother who was difficult, to put it mildly, with its scabrous honesty, riveting dialogue, and haunting moments of pure, poetical transcendence, it is nothing less than this playwright’s own “Long Day’s Journey into Night.” Backing her up with two fecund, incisive portrayals of their own are Laurie Metcalf — no surprise there — and Alison Pill, who did surprise me with a fierce elegance I never would have expected was in her. In the past, I always wondered why she was so the ingenue du jour, ubiquitously cast in all sorts of things and never bringing much beyond a smooth proficiency and dewy youth to the table. Perhaps being in the presence of such dynamic titanesses as Jackson and Metcalf forced her to up her game, and I now look forward to her future work after this definitive breakthrough. A similar thing happened with “Saint Joan,” for I was originally not looking forward to it, although it’s a great play and I’d never seen it staged. After an indifferent Juliet and two “I can’t believe she got

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LA CINEMATHEQUE FRANCAISE PRESENTS FRENCH MELODRAMA

QUADCINEMA.COM

Quad Cinema May 16-22 34 W. 13th St. quadcinema.com

The title puppet in “Randy Writes a Novel,” at the Clurman through June 18.

RANDY WRITES A NOVEL Harold Clurman Theatre 410 W. 42nd St. Through Jun. 18 Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $81.25; theatrerow.org/ clurmannowplaying/ One hr., 15 mins., no intermission

QUADCINEMA.COM

Fernand Gravet and Micheline Presle in Abel Gance’s “Paradise Lost.”

Tony-nominated for that” appearances — as a nosy maid, in “Stick Fly,” and as Nora’s daughter in that mystifyingly praised college skit entitled “A Doll’s House: Part 2” — I decided that Condola Rashad, who had been lovely in “Ruined,” was decidedly not the stuff that dreams are made of, let alone worthy of playing Juliet and Joan, two signal roles very few actresses ever get to play in a lifetime, save Katharine Cornell, once the unquestioned First Lady of the American stage. Well, slap me for a presumptuous ass, because she made an absolutely splendid Maid of Orleans. All the necessary elements were there, obviously carefully prepared — the stirring voice with just enough of an accent, the agile movement (without leaning too heavily into the realm of butch), the uncanny sense of timing for that Shavian verbiage, and, essentially, the alluring yet fanatical passion that led her gloriously into battle and, subsequently, to her doom. And then, obviously, all that preparation was forgotten enough to enable her to have the fluidity and inner freedom to deliver the goods. And — boy! — did she ever.

The success of the two triumphant classic musical revivals which both recently opened, is largely due to the ladies. In “Carousel,” it’s all about Jessie Mueller, who is heartbreakingly right as poor, dumb Julie Jordan, and theatrical treasure Lindsay Mendez, so blazingly good and downright lovable as Carrie Pipperidge that you almost go, “Audra who?” Like a lot of people, I wondered at director Bartlett Sher’s choice of Lauren Ambrose to play the coveted Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady.” Why her, when there’s Laura Benanti, Kelli O’Hara, Laura Osnes, and others who would be no-question perfect casting? However, within minutes of her entrance, I succumbed to her quite brilliantly detailed and inventively gestural performance, and was pleasantly surprised by her lovely, fluent soprano voice. Hers is undoubtedly the best acted I’ve seen since Wendy Hiller in the 1938 film “Pygmalion.” Nice touches abound, like her physical clumsiness in the Ascot scene in her new, unaccustomed finery (in the movie musical, Audrey Hepburn had the rather unlikely, imperturbable poise of a supermodel). I’m saving the very best for last: in the CSC production of Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke,”

Marin Ireland as Alma Winemiller is giving one of the greatest performances I have ever seen. I was never a huge fan of this most fragile of the playwright’s work — that eternal conflict between the spirit and the flesh is a hackneyed theme that I wish had been retired after “Rain,” the Hispanic characters are odious stereotypes, and Alma just seems to have victim stamped on her forehead from Scene I and usually comes across as more tiresome than tragic. Not in this production, at any rate, for Ireland’s miraculously gauged acting both transcends and transforms the material by virtue of her tenacious concentration, explosive energy, sudden seductive fire, and heartbreaking delicacy. Geraldine Page finally became a true star in the theater with this role, but, having seen the 1961 film of it, I judge Ireland’s the superior interpretation. Where Page brought a certain non-stop nagging neuroticism, as well as a helluva lot of ZaSu Pitts dither, Ireland manages to humanize the crazed old maid, on the deepest level: by giving her a profound inner-directedness. If she dithers at all, it’s always to make a point, and Williams’ long arias for her about the mostly petty little joys and sorrows in her horrendously sheltered, limited life are delivered with a desperate intensity, a slight but unseemly hysteria that is nothing short of electrifying. It’s the kind of performance that, while definitely bravura, is always in pure service to the text and makes an audience sit up and note, “What an actress!” You’d better believe it, and I want some deep-pocketed, discerning soul to give Ireland her own theater — like Eva Le Gallienne — so we can see what she would do with a Blanche DuBois, Hedda Gabler, Amanda Prynne, or Albee’s Martha. Any one of the above-mentioned shows are eminently worth catching if you can, for they are a definite reminder of exactly why so many of us moved here: instances of real artistry in a now concrete jungle of mass mediocrity, chain stores, and technological alienation. There’s artistry, too, in puppetry, as evinced by the currently running show “Randy Writes a

BLOSSOMS, continued on p.33

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


䉴

BLOSSOMS, from p.32

Novel,� at the Clurman Theatre. Randy is the puppet in question here, purple, with just a mouth and ping pong eyes, and definitely more for the adults than the kiddies with his often scatological humor, well-honed cynicism, and hysterical rants about myriad topics, from literary eminences, like Hemingway and Harper Lee, to Craigslist. He’s often quite hilarious, even while giving you more “a-ha� moments than La Winfrey ever dreamt of, and he’s the brainchild of Australian puppeteer Heath McIvor. I will probably get into trouble for mentioning McIvor, for, like Lady Bunny, he prefers to be known solely by his public persona (or masquerade, depending upon how you look at it). He requested that our scheduled interview be conducted solely with Randy, and not him at all. And that was how I found myself sitting in the front row of the Harold

䉴

JOY, from p.25

nated for “Side Show�) centering on a tribute concert that Joy is headlining in memory of her late husband, known as Jump (the musical duo was called “Jump & Joy�). Will Rachel agree to share the stage with these filthy heathens? Will Joy and Lou get married after all? Under the guidance of Amy Anders Corcoran, the friction among these four strong-willed women is the engine that drives “Unexpected Joy.� The themes couldn’t be more topical, aligning with the renewed women’s movement and the idea that it is possible to resist corrupting forces in positions of power. The individual performances grow stronger as the feminist-minded musical proceeds. Luba Mason is convincing as the pot-smoking, guitar-strumming granny who sings at womyn’s music fests and swings both ways. In response to Rachel’s accusations that her parents were selfish, drug-addled delinquents, Joy replies, “We were musicians!� Clear-voiced Courtney Balan (“Falsettos�) brings a tender gravity to Rachel, torn between her Christian ideology and her love of family. As the fierce “Lesbian Warrior� Lou, the talented Allyson Kaye Daniel injects a refreshing dose of realness to the proceedings. The GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

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Clurman Theatre, barking questions and observations to McIvor, lying prone on the stage, holding the chattering Randy aloft. Actually, it was pretty cool to watch the brilliant dexterity with which he manipulated this garrulous little bundle of fabric to be so very expressive. It was also kinda hot, too, for McIvor is a definite cutie in a lot of ways, and has a fetching treasure trail, exposed by his unconventional positioning for our chat. It was a unique experience, with certain tinges of the Michael Redgrave episode in “Dead of Night,� as it was often difficult to tell whose answer I was recording, Randy’s or McIvor’s. But I found both exceedingly charming and felt a certain dismay when Randy suddenly announced that, after this New York gig, he is retiring, forever. As I always say to my marionette friends, for they, after all, are French, “Qui sais?�

most impressive turn is delivered by the fresh-faced Celeste Rose, as the teenaged Tamara wise beyond her years. In its current form, however, the piece feels like a melodrama on the Lifetime network and it’s the musical numbers that elevate this endeavor. With a score by Janet Hood and lyrics by Russell, many of the songs — a vibrant mix of pop, folk rock, and blues — are wonderfully affecting. Fans of late 1960s soul artists like The 5th Dimension and Laura Nyro will feel right at home here. Although the play takes place on present-day Cape Cod, there is nothing in the barebones set to reflect this. A picture window overlooking some scrub pines would have done the trick. If “Unexpected Joy� is rough around the edges, its heart is in the right place. Not only does it deliver on its upbeat tagline “You can choose your family,� but suggests that maybe, at their core, Christians and agnostics, gays and straights, blacks and whites — and, dare I say, Republicans and Democrats? — aren’t so different after all. And for that matter, neither is the past and present, recalling that timeless adage, the more things change the more they stay the same.

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33


OPERA

Gounod, Rameau, and Strauss Bavarian State Opera’s “Der Rosenkavalier” proved a season highlight BY DAVID SHENGOLD artlett Sher’s supernumerary-loaded, sleepy staging of “Roméo et Juliette” sank fairly perilously April 23 under the indiscriminate, pace-deadening conducting of Plácido Domingo. There are reasons audiences want to hear Domingo’s compromised but still firm, energetic singing, but his conducting has always at best mediocre — an abuse of his industry influence — and it is scandalous that major companies continue to engage him in this capacity. The players reportedly did what they could to help, but it was not enough to enliven Gounod’s pretty but episodic score. Gounod does best by the lovers, but this night won’t pass into the history books. Bryan Hymel having withdrawn, the very plausible Charles Castronovo was announced. He fell ill, leaving the cover, South Korea’s Andrea Shin — who sang the dress rehearsal — to make his company debut in this long, difficult starring role. Given the pressure, Shin did a thoroughly professional and fairly decent job. Opaque initially, the voice gained some quality and projection, though rarely the needed airy quality at the top. Unlike Hymel and especially Castronovo, he doesn’t command French phrasing or diction with any distinction. Understandably, he proved somewhat bland interpretively, but he (and his Juliette, Ailyn Pérez) handled a tough situation with aplomb. Seven years ago in Philadelphia, the physically lovely Pérez offered a fine Juliette once she got past Act One’s coloratura hurdles. Here, the entrance and waltz song remained shrieky and awkward and — despite much warm, beautiful lyric tone — she seems to have moved beyond the role. Turns and corners — plus, too often, pitch — showed slippage. Perez has done Desdemona and has the “Ernani” Elvira slated, surely better turf for her at

B

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KEN HOWARD/ METROPOLITAN OPERA

Joshua Hopkins was outstanding in an otherwise disappointing “Roméo et Juliette” at the Met.

present. The evening offered only two outstanding performances: the lively, sexy, rich-voiced Mercutio of Joshua Hopkins and the musically and linguistically ideal Stephano of Karine Deshayes. Kwangchul Youn has a world-class bass but wobbled overmuch as Frere Laurent. A second debutant, Russia’s Bogdan Volkov (Tybalt), showed some promising tenor metal, though high notes tended to blare; he may well settle in usefully. Laurent Naouri’s vocally miscast Capulet — some hints of Gallic style aside — was a disaster. Juilliard’s visually and musically attractive staging of Rameau’s 1733 “Hippoltye et Aricie” (heard April 19) was welcome in many ways, but — as so often in Europe — played some irresponsible variants on a work nearly completely unknown to the audience. Stephen Wadsworth knows a lot about stylization and proved in many ways a good director for the piece. Yet he removed the prologue for the immortals Amour, Diane, and Jupiter and substituted a clever-clever spoken intervention showcasing Diane and the Athenian prince Thesee, suggesting “Hippolyte” as, primarily, a battle between the sexes. Wadsworth

had added a spoken prelude scene to his lovely “Xerxes” production, but did not cut music to showcase it. Why do so with Rameau, in a manner that obscured the structure and indeed the meaning of the piece? Wadsworth and the excellent conductor Stephen Stubbs — who coaxed alert, stimulating playing out of everybody but the horns — also changed Rameau’s choral ending, substituting a blissful orchestral piece from the muchlater “Boreades,” and furnishing a final tableau of — again — Diane and Thesee. Yes, in directing Shakespeare this kind of things is the norm; I don’t feel that staging works centered on musical scores is an equivalent activity. That debate continues. The other objectionable element Wadsworth deployed here — surprisingly, to me — was the anti-musical David McVicar-ish screams and grunts over Thesee’s scene in Hades. Why do so many directors feel that such a blatant “realistic” solecism suits the stylized musical worlds they’re staging? The show looked good. Fine work by costumer Sarah Cubbage, and lighting designer David Lander (who furnished aptly Claude Lorrainish tints) complemented Charlie Corcoran’s neoclassical sets.

But Wadsworth underused his expert choreographer, Zack Winokur; the movement component was fluid but minimal. The cast looked good, too: looks casting begins very early in students’ professional lives these days. Juilliard imported a guest artist, the tall, willowy Kyle Stegall to be a sightly Hippolyte. He sang stylishly but with disagreeably nasal timbre when any pressure was required. Onadek Winan (Aricie) also looked like a model, but her voice gave considerable pleasure. Phedre got a well-phrased, gorgeously gowned diva performance from strong-voiced mezzo Natalia Kutateladze. Kelsey Lauritano made an imposing, effective Diane, while Alex Rosen (Thesee) showed a fine bass continually stretched by high tessitura. Standouts in the good ensemble included Meghan Kasanders (the nurse Oenone), William Guanbo Su (Pluton), and Charles Sy (Arcas) — whose fine tenor I would have enjoyed in Hippolyte’s music. March 29 at Carnegie Hall witnessed a concert performance of “Der Rosenkavalier” by the Bavarian State Opera that will surely be remembered as one of the season’s highlights. The sensational — in places, almost sensual — orchestral playing under music director Kirill Petrenko may have alerted Met-centric New Yorkers that there are other fantastic orchestras in the world. Along with Dresden and Vienna, Munich has been centrally invested in Richard Strauss’ music for decades. They sound like it — the string sections and brass both outdid themselves. Some faulted Adrianne Pieczonka for not “doing a Schwarzkopf” and fussing over every syllable of the Feldmarschallin. I felt the out lesbian Canadian soprano offered the best work she’s done in New York, straightforward and sympathetic in interpretation and with

STRAUSS, continued on p.39

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

35


THEATER

Tennesee and Bill Color-blind casting enlivens portrait of an uneasy friendship BY DAVID NOH ennessee Williams and William Inge: both playwrights, both gay, and both also deeply neurotic, given to substance abuse, and dead too soon: Inge a suicide at 60, in 1973, by carbon monoxide; Williams choking to death — a flopridden, drug and alcohol-soaked decade later — at 71, on a bottle cap he was trying to remove with his teeth. Although a spiritual bond ran deep between them, theirs was a prickly, mercurial relationship that mirrored a lot of friendships between gay men, famous or not, with elements of deep affection and compatibility, as well as deep competition and resultant wariness and enmity. They met in 1944 in St. Louis, Williams’ hometown, where Inge was a local drama critic, and probably began a brief sexual affair, which became platonic. Williams’ star-making “The Glass Menagerie” was then in previews in Chicago, and Inge went up to see it, which inspired him to become a playwright himself. He would eventually show Williams his play, “Come Back, Little Sheba,” which so impressed Tennessee that he contacted his own agent, Audrey Wood, who took on Inge, with the result that it became his reputation-making hit in 1950, beginning a string of solid successes for him. “Picnic” won the Pulitzer prize in 1953, followed by “Bus Stop” and “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,” all of which were adapted for the screen. But after that, success eluded him, to hs suicidal despair, coupled with always deeply conflicted feelings about his sexuality (hidden yet discernible in all his work). Meanwhile, Williams — who became increasingly jealous of his erstwhile protégé — kept triumphing with those familiar titles that have, unlike Inge’s work, now become nighubiquitous each new theatrical season: “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “The Rose Tattoo,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Sweet Bird of Youth,” Orpheus Descending,” “The Night of the Iguana.” But, after that, and

THE GENTLEMAN CALLER

T

36

Abingdon Theatre Company Cherry Lane Theatre 38 Commerce St. Btwn. Barrow & Bedford Sts. Through May 26 Mon. at 7 p.m. Tue.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 3 p.m.

DAVID NOH

Daniel K. Isaac and Juan Francisco Villa star in Philip Dawkins’ “The Gentleman Caller,” directed by Tony Speciale, at the Cherry Lane through May 26.

beginning in 1963, with “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore,” failure became his daily portion, with flop after flop until his swan song, “Clothes for a Summer Hotel” in 1980. Following an earlier investigation into their relationship by Terry Teachout, just last year, playwright Philip Dawkins (“The Homosexuals,” “Charm”) has come up with another look at it, with his twohander, “The Gentleman Caller,” at the Cherry Lane Theater, directed by Tony Speciale. In a daring — and I think wonderfully refreshing — move, Williams is played by Juan Francisco Villa, who is of Colombian descemt, and Inge by Daniel K. Isaac, a Korean American. During rehearsals for the play, I snatched the opportunity to interview these two particularly brave actors. “Inge isn’t as well-known today, of course, as Williams is,” observed Isaac, who has one of the most

beautifully welcoming smiles in the world. “I think I was familiar with ‘Picnic,’ so yes, I had to do a lot of research. Philip turned me on to a couple of biographies about him, and I read each one of his Big Four plays in order. “One of my best friends was assistant to Philip when he did ‘Charm,’ and also Philip’s boyfriend watched me on this Showtime series I’m on, ‘Billions,’ with Paul Giamatti and Condola Rashad, who is just the best, so funny and generous. So I got recommended when there was an early reading of it, and I’ve been with it ever since. “I think it’s great that the Abingdon [Theatre Company] has taken a chance on two actors who would ordinarily never be considered for these roles. I was born in Los Angeles, went to the University of San Diego, and have had some luck in mostly film and TV, but theater is really my love. And, yes, for me to be cast in a popular series like ‘Bil-

lions’ is great, but we still have a long way to go before Asian faces are included as much as, say, Black or Latin, in projects that come up.” Isaac honors the pain which haunted Inge all his life, as he was never able to be as comfortable or forthcoming about his homosexulity as the flamboyant Williams. He knows some of that, first-hand: “I was raised the only child of a single mother, who is deeply religious, Evangelical. She has a major problem with my being queer, and we go through periods of not speaking. I know that what success I’ve had comes from the Asian actors who preceded me, like B.D. Wong and Francis Jue, and you [in my very brief acting career, lol!], and I am so grateful. “In the case of B.D., he actually fed me when I first arrived here, 10 years ago, at these dinner parties he would have at his place with his son. I actually brought my mother once so she could see what a happy and healthy gay family looked like. But afterwards, she expressed her disgust with everything and how bad she felt for the little boy in such a circumstance!” Ah, the perversity of a Korean family, sometimes! I turned to Villa, who is straight, but with his genial compassionate eyes, wide grin, and certain vocal inflections, is physically more Tennessee than any actor I’ve ever seen do him — and I’ve seen a few — to learn if he had an easier go of it. “I grew up on the Lower East Side, Loisada, baby, before gentri-

GENTLEMAN CALLER, continued on p.39

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


ADVERTORIAL

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GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 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

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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.

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38

May 10 – May 23, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


DR. FISHKIN, from p.12

said, was greeted enthusiastically by staff and given a major boost when Gregory Calliste was named the hospital’s CEO in 2016. In addition to drawing on internal expertise at Woodhull, Fishkin also brought in outside experts, such as Liz Margolies, a psychotherapist with decades of achievement in LGBTQ healthcare delivery, first as the coordinator of the Lesbian Cancer Initiative and more recently as founder of the National LGBT Cancer Network. The facility, which currently operates from 4 to 8 p.m. on Mondays and by appointment, aims to deliver “virtually everything” — from primary care and sexual health services, including gynecological care, to mental health and ophthalmological care — “under one roof.” The outpatient clinic is staffed by two nurse practitioners and can call on

GENTLEMAN CALLER, from p.36

fication, when white people were scared to go down there. Now they look at us like we don’t belong there anymore. My family really didn’t understand my desire to be an actor, or anything artistic. “I went upstate to Syracuse, and went to college at Le Moyne, a Jesuit school. Yeah, like Tennessee, I’m a recovering Catholic, still wrestling with my own demons! [Laughs.] I’d always gone to Catholic schools, which kept me off the streets. I was always kind of different, more artistic, but even in that macho world I grew up in, no one ever bothered me. I found out later that that was because I’m related to certain big members of the Colombian cocaine cartel, all dead now. So, yeah, it was very weird at times. “I’ve known Philip for 10 years, met him when I was living in Chicago, where I made many deep

STRAUSS, from p.34

nary a vocal issue in sight. Mezzo Angela Brower made an exuberant, light-voiced, and very musical Octavian; one missed the rich depths of a Troyanos or Garanca, but Brower did an excellent job in a tough role. After resolutely unmemorable work as Marzelline and Pamina, Hanna-Elisabeth Mueller GayCityNews.nyc | May 10 – May 23, 2018

two endocrinologists to serve the needs of transgender patients. Fishkin has a proven track record at Woodhull in delivering innovative community health services. Since 1995, his Colon Cancer Screening Program has quadrupled the number of colonoscopies for North Brooklyn residents, and his Attack Back Program focused on endemic asthma in the community has reduced adult and pediatric ER visits and hospitalizations for asthma by 70 percent. Fishkin is also engaged on the ground in the community, having led bike rides with local youth, teens, and their parents for the past 23 years to encourage physical fitness. With nearly a year under his belt with the Pride Health Center, he plans to engage local LGBTQ organizations to educate them about the health care opportunities at Woodhull. Hospital staff have been

in dialogue for months with the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, which recently opened its new home on Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Fishkin also hopes to expand the facility’s services to include adolescent and pediatric care. In its first year of operation, Woodhull’s Pride Health Center has served roughly six patients each Monday evening session. Most patients are seeking primary care, with many of them having earlier experienced doctors unaware of what their insurance options might be. About one third of all patients to date are HIV-positive, and many of them came from doctors who were unfamiliar with the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which provides needed anti-HIV medications to uninsured and underinsured New Yorkers with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid. Woodhull has been successful in

getting most of those patients lacking insurance coverage since their first visit. The bulk of the first year’s patients, Fishkin said, have been gay men, though he emphasized that the facility is prepared to provide the full range of services for transgender patients and, especially in light of the know-how Margolies provided in consulting on the effort, is also equipped to meet the unique needs of lesbian patients. Among those HIV-negative gay and bisexual men who have visited the Pride Health Center, he said, most have been “very receptive” to considering the use of PrEP, which when used daily reduces the risk of HIV infection to virtually zero. PrEP is among the behavioral interventions that advocates and the state and the city are relying on to achieve the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York by 2020.

friendships. I came back here and trained at Maggie Flanigan, Meisner technique. I got a show at the Public, but it wasn’t easy because I got rejected by all these MFA programs, and so I determined to just go for it myself. “I have so much admiration for the language and the richness of Williams’ work, but would never have allowed myself to actively pursue this role, no matter how much I wanted to do it. But it was Philip who contacted me because he said he saw something in my work that seemed to fit the part, and although it’s daunting to step into these particular shoes, he is always encouraging me to bring more of myself to it.” Oh, lest you think this play is merely a deary pas-de-deux pity party, the actors assured me that it also has more than its share of lively moments. And, obviously, neither of them is a fan of fake-sipping on

stage, for, as Isaac confided, with Vila’s fervent assent, “Ohmigod, we drink so much in this show. Both of us can’t wait to pee the second we get offstage!” I applaud that commitment to their craft, but, even more, the kind of self-determination expressed by both actors is what I believe will change the still very pale face of a business that is always desperately trying to appeal to the masses, who — hello?! — now are every shade of the human spectrum and obviously would support such representation, if there were more of it. To that end, I was downright thrilled to hear that Isaac is in very healthy development with his own series about an Asian family that will address his own experience, especially in light of the dubious future of the wonderful, but criminally neglected and un-awarded “Fresh Off the Boat,” on ABC. But let’s let Tennessee have the

final word on his eternal frenemy, Inge. Isaac told me that Williams spoke at Inge’s 1973 funeral, and indeed he was the first person the actress Barbara Baxley, closer to him than anyone, called when she discovered he had died: “Despite all of this ‘heavy’ material about his fate, Bill and his work were suffused with the light of humanity at its best. In each play, there would be one dark scene and it was always the most powerful scene. But he loved his characters, he wrote of them with a perfect ear for their homely speech, he saw them through their difficulties with the tenderness of a parent for suffering children, and they usually came out well... It is pleasant to believe that the work of an artist gives him a certain life after death, usually a thing for which he has paid an enormous price and from which I am afraid he can enjoy no personal satisfaction.”

(Sophie) showed here that she has a substantive talent — though not necessarily for Sophie, for which her high notes emerged too glaringly bright. I bet she’d make a fine Musetta or Violetta, though. The experienced Peter Rose acted Ochs with relish and complete detail, in places covering up vocal deficiencies. It sounded like Lawrence Brownlee enjoyed lavishing clear,

brilliant tone on the Italian Singer as much as the audience enjoyed his doing so. Not all was bliss. Markus Eiche acted Faninal with rare dramatic artistry but sang flat when he wasn’t singing sharp. The Marianne Leitmetzerin hacksawed through her ungrateful music and the Valzacchi and Annina were — as so often — hard to take. But

Peter Lobert’s Police Commissioner sounded first-rate and Kevin Conners made a good meal of both Major-Domos and the Innkeeper. In the end it was Petrenko and the orchestra’s night; one hopes they’ll be regular visitors. David Shengold (shengold@yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues.

39


Volume 2 | Issue 1

The Pulse of

Lenox Health Greenwich Village

Make no bones about it – prevention is key: 5 tips for maintaining strong and healthy bones Osteoporosis makes bones more susceptible to fractures and breaks. Bones naturally lose density with age, but you can still help keep them strong. May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, so it’s a great time to take action. 1. Boost calcium consumption. Calcium helps give bones their strength. Maintain the recommended daily intake of 1,0001,200 mg with good sources of calcium including low-fat dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables and soy products such as tofu. 2. Don’t forget about vitamin D. For best absorption, pair calciumrich foods with those high in vitamin D, such as salmon, milk and orange juice. Adequate sunlight also provides your body with vitamin D. 3. Pump up the protein. Protein is one of the essential building blocks of bones. Eat plenty of protein-rich foods like eggs, Greek yogurt, lean chicken, beans and nuts. 4. Cut back on the alcohol and avoid smoking. Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption restrict your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients, which can decrease bone density and increase the chance of fractures.

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Our advanced Imaging Center is dedicated to meeting the radiology needs of the entire Greenwich Village community. Learn more at Northwell.edu/LenoxHealthImaging or call (646) 846-1452.

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