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FREE | VOLUME SEVENTEEN, ISSUE THIRTEEN | JUNE 21 – JULY 4, 2018


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June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


In This Issue COVER STORY The face of Pride is the future 04 PRIDE A heritage of disagreement 06 Pride soars in Park Slope 13 Garden Party opens Pride Week 42

PRIDE HOP’s first human rights conference 17

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THEATER Our picks of the best for Pride Week 69 FILM Cecil Beaton’s genius and jealousies 70 OPERA Remember these three barihunks 90

Jesse Tyler Ferguson on “Log Cabin� 68

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GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

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COVER STORY

The Face of Pride is the Future Queerocracy is youth empowering themselves to transform their lives BY PAUL SCHINDLER

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a’asriel Bishop is a 22-year-old who came to New York from Guyana in 2016. Describing himself as “gender non-conforming or fluid,” he explained he saw no future for himself in his homeland. “Being queer and identifying as non-binary, people there are like, ‘We really don’t know what the fuck you are,’” Bishop told Gay City News this past week. “They thought I merited being beaten. I needed to get beaten.’” Since arriving in New York, Bishop has experienced periodic homelessness, which he survived in part by couch-surfing, sometimes with friends of his Guyanese family, but also with a stint in an adult homeless shelter maintained by the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS). But he only agreed to go into the shelter because he was there with his spouse. As a child, Bishop suffered abuse from members of his extended family, and he said it would be “very scary” for him go into a group home or a crisis shelter on his own. He does view supportive housing, where he could access social services, as a viable option. Come this summer, Bishop may be looking into that option. The marriage that afforded him comfort when the couple was in an adult shelter is breaking up, and his spouse, who is letting Bishop stay in the apartment they’ve shared in the Bronx, is leaving New York soon, and he said he has no way of getting his name on the lease. Bishop is looking for work and hopes to build on his experience in Guyana working as a ministry’s youth consultant. Over the past several months, he has gotten involved in grassroots activism as a member of Queerocracy, a youth organizing project of VOCAL-NY — a group focused on empowering low-income New Yorkers affected by HIV, hepatitis C, homelessness, the drug war, and mass incarceration. Bishop also became involved with the Youth Action Board, which advises the New York City Coalition for the Continuum of Care, a group made up of advocates, service providers, consumers, and government representatives who all work on combatting the city’s homelessness crisis. The YAB was recently approached by a representative of the city’s Unity Project, a multi-agency initiative announced last fall by First Lady Chirlane McCray to integrate efforts at addressing the needs of LGBTQ youth. Bishop was among the youth recruited by the Unity Project to do paid modeling for a public service campaign the city recently rolled out in the subway system to highlight the challenges queer youth face. He stayed in touch with the

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Jason Walker and Janae’ Sumter, the two VOCAL-NY coordinators of Queerocracy.

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Queerocracy members (front) Tobius Menendez; (second row) Jason Walker, Sydney Friedman, Janae’ Sumter, Ty Thomas, Daniela Arieta, (back row), Skye Adrian, Ja’asriel Bishop, and Latifah Blades.

Unity Project, telling them he’d like to get more involved in their efforts. As it turned out, the Unity Project was preparing for a major announcement — on May 30 — when McCray announced $9.5 million in new initiatives focused on queer youth. In terms of planning that package of initiatives, “the work was done, I was told,” Bishop recalled. He was invited, however, to stand on stage with McCray and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson in City Hall’s Blue Room and make the event’s opening remarks. The program outlined that day by McCray included expanding the hours of three youth drop-in centers to 24/ 7, several efforts aimed at encouraging greater family acceptance of queer youth, a confidential foster youth population survey that will include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and two new sites in Harlem and Central Brooklyn to facilitate PrEP access among

adolescents. And for the first time, the city committed to fund shelter beds for homeless young people 21 to 24 years old in LGBTQ-supportive facilities. Under current policy, residents at youth shelters age-out when they turn 21, and if they have not found permanent housing by then might have to face the adult shelter system, which many 21-year-olds, especially those who are LGBTQ, find dangerous. The “initial investment” in the 21 to 24-year-old beds was pegged at $1 million out of the $9.5 million, enough to fund just 20 beds. Several hours after the event, Bishop attended Queerocracy’s weekly Wednesday evening meeting at the LGBT Community Center. There, he came to see the event he had opened earlier in the day in a different light. “I found out the community was not engaged” in giving input into the Unity Project package. In fact, Queerocracy’s facilitators and its members were blindsided by the announcement, and several offered blunt assessments of what had transpired. “It’s quite clear and evident that many of the funding decisions and programs piloted by this project were not informed by the faces of the young people involved with” the subway public service campaign,” said Skye Adrian, a 22-yearold Jamaican-American gay man who has been part of Queerocracy since 2015 and is the cochair of the Continuum of Care’s YAB. Adrian does not question that the Unity Project has “the best intentions for the LGBTQ+ community and homeless youth at large,” but he nonetheless termed the use of young people in photographs but not in brainstorming sessions, “exploitation in its most pure form.” Others affiliated with Queerocracy offered much the same assessment. Jason Walker, a VOCAL-NY staff member for five years who coordinates the group’s HIV work and co-facilitates Queerocracy, said of the youths’ irritation with the Unity Project announcement, “You can find young people to be in media campaigns but not to give input.” Walker’s co-facilitator, Janae’ Sumter, said of McCray, “You are a queer black woman. Why aren’t you using that platform for us? She may have been sincere, but the way they went about it was wrong.” Queerocracy’s pique was not simply a quibble over process; at the group’s June 13 meeting, they offered a comprehensive critique of the Unity Project’s funding priorities. At the top of the list was the relatively modest allocation for new 21 to 24-year-old beds. Both advocates and the City Council, which earlier this year

QUEEROCRACY, continued on p.106

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


YOUTH

In Final Budget, City Ups Its Youth Shelter Commitment Mayor agrees to tripling initial offer of $1 million for homeless New Yorkers 21 to 24 BY PAUL SCHINDLER

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dvocates for homeless youth are praising a surprise breakthrough that came as Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council reached final agreement June 11 on an $89.2 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 — an increase in a new city commitment to fund shelter beds for homeless youth 21 to 24 years old from $1 million to $3 million. The money will fund 60 shelter beds — and the commitment represents the first time public money will provide youth shelter space for homeless New Yorkers after they reach age 21. Until now, youth sheltered in facilities funded by the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) aged out on their 21st birthday and needed to look to adult facilities if they did not yet have permanent housing. Many young people 21-24 — especially those who are LGBTQ — feel unwelcome and unsafe in the city’s adult shelter system. According to the de Blasio administration, the new shelter facilities will meet DYCD’s criteria for LGBTQ-affirming and supportive housing. “Twenty years ago, Ali Forney was murdered on the streets of New York City at the age of 22,” noted Carl Siciliano, the founding executive director of the Ali Forney Center that provides housing and other services to homeless LGBTQ youth. “Since that time we’ve made tremendous progress making New York City a safer place for LGBT youth. But a gaping hole had remained. LGBT youth between the ages of 21 and 24 did not have access to safe shelter and their lives were still in danger. I am absolutely jubilant at the decision to create 60 beds for 21 to 24-yearolds and am profoundly grateful to the de Blasio administration and to Speaker Johnson for at long last listening to the cries of homeless LGBT youth and their advocates. This is a happy day.” Beth Hofmeister, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Rights Project, said, “We thank the city for funding 60 beds that will be dedicated to young adults who wish to access youth-focused shelter and services. Since former Mayor Michael Bloomberg convened a special commission in 2010 to examine the city’s crisis in homeless youth, advocates organized as the Campaign for Youth Shelter have pressed him and later de Blasio to expand eligibility for youth shelters up to the age of 25. During the first four years of the de Blasio administration, the city dramatically stepped up its commitment to housing homeless youth, tripling the number of publicly funded shelter beds to 750, but it did not move on the 21 to 24-year-old age group. GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

NYC MEDIA

Speaker Corey Johnson after being introduced by First Lady Chirlane McCray at a May 30 City Hall event where the first million of an eventual $3 million commitment to youth shelters for those 21 to 24 was announced.

Then, in March of this year, the City Council unanimously voted to require DYCD to implement youth shelter services for this population. In an April 10 response to the mayor’s preliminary budget proposal, the Council called for the funding of 100 new shelter beds to meet the needs of homeless young people 21 to 24, which echoed the proposal made by the Coalition for Homeless Youth and other advocates. In a City Hall ceremony three weeks ago, First Lady Chirlane McCray announced $9.5 million in new initiatives focused on LGBTQ youth, including spending on family acceptance programs and PrEP outreach targeting adolescents. Only $1 million of that package, however, was devoted to shelter beds for 21 to 24-year-olds — enough for just 20 beds. Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who in February told DYCD officials, “I don’t really care what the amount of money is… when it comes to getting the requisite number of beds to homeless young people, we have to come up with the money,” nonetheless was upbeat in his comments at the May 30 City Hall event, saying that the $1 million and the overall $9.5 million package was “unbelievably moving and affirming to these young people, I believe, and to me.” Advocates were less enthusiastic. Siciliano said, “We have over 100 21 to 24-year-olds on our waiting list right now. I urge the city to add at least 100 beds in the coming budget.” He also pointed out that more than 20 beds — funded privately — already serve the 21 to 24-year-old population, so an expenditure of just $1 million might not create any new shelter opportunities but simply pay for existing ones in a different way. Making clear she wasn’t satisfied with what the city was calling an “initial investment” in sheltering 21 to 24-year-olds, Hofmeister, while acknowledging it is not clear exactly how many beds are needed, said, “We are definitely not there yet.” Some of the young people who joined McCray

on the stage for the May 30 event were also unhappy with what they viewed as an insufficient commitment to housing homeless young people up to the age of 25. Queerocracy, a youth-led grassroots advocacy and leadership initiative of VOCAL-NY, charged that its members “were not meaningfully engaged” in establishing the priorities for the package of initiatives announced on May 30. The group contacted McCray’s office outlining their concerns and asking for the opportunity for a sit-down. Less than two weeks later, the de Blasio administration had agreed to close half of the gap between the full $5 million ask and the initial $1 million city offer. In a written statement to Gay City News, McCray said, “I’m proud of our partnership with the City Council to expand on the investment we’ve made to make sure that homeless LGBTQ youth have more safe places to stay. With these two additional shelters for young people up to age 24, we are widening the safety net for our young people when they are in crisis.” Johnson, reflecting on the increased commitment to new shelter beds, said, “I have said throughout this budget process that I want to do the most for those who have the least, and I can’t think of a more deserving population than our runaway and homeless youth... These shelters will help these vulnerable young people, many of whom have been thrown out of their homes because they are LGBTQ. I am very proud of this budget, and very proud of this city’s commitment to the LGBTQ community.” Queens’ Daniel Dromm, the out gay Council Finance Committee chair who also heads up the LGBT Caucus, said, “Supporting runaway and homeless youth is a top priority for the Council, and this budget reflects that… The $3 million we secured will equip service providers with beds and other resources they need to care for these survivors. I am proud to have worked alongside Speaker Johnson to move our city forward in this manner.” “I think that Chirlane McCray and Speaker Corey Johnson’s announcement for an expansion on funding for youth beds is a great start in the best direction in restoring trust with our LGBTQ youth,” VOCAL-NY’s Queerocracy organizer Janae’ Sumter said in response to news of the increased funding. “As there is still work to do, we look forward to working with this administration in addressing the general issue of homelessness and understanding the importance of involving the voices of the community.” In a sure sign that only time will tell how far even this increased commitment goes toward erasing homelessness among the city’s young

SHELTER BEDS continued on p.61

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PRIDE

A Heritage of Disagreement Over 48 years, New York City’s Pride events often at the center of controversy

JIM O’CONNOR

Once in front of St. Pat’s, the 1994 alternative march sat-in on Fifth Avenue to protest the homophobia of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy.

JIM O’CONNOR

A crowd of 5,000 refused to join in the Stonewall 25 March up First Avenue past the United Nations and instead marched up Fifth Avenue from the Village past St. Patrick’s Cathedral which was guarded by a phalanx of top NYPD brass, including Commissioner William Bratton.

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

M

oments before Charlie Cochrane, an NYPD sergeant, spoke at a 1981 City Council hearing in support of legislation that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, he had to listen to a vice president from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association oppose the bill and assert that there were no gay cops in New York City. “I am very proud of being a New York policeman,” Cochrane, then 38, said at the hearing. “And I am equally proud to be gay.” Writing in a 2016 Gay City News article about Cochrane, Andy Humm, who was among the activists who fought for that legislation for 15 years, wrote, “Except for the bill’s final passage in 1986, there was never a more dramatic moment in the long history of that fight.” Cochrane, who died in 2008, was the subject of controversy again in 1982, but this time within the LGBTQ community after the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee (CSLDC), which was then the producer of the city’s annual Pride Parade and Rally, chose him as a speaker at the rally. “We didn’t know Charlie, who turned out to be a nice guy,” said David France, the documentary filmmaker, who was among the opponents of Cochrane’s appearance. “It was like a Black Lives Matter thing. It just didn’t make any sense that we would be celebrating a cop. We were just as often attacked by cops as we

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DUNCAN OSBORNE

Take Back Pride, founded by Jamie McGonnigal, debuted in that years Pride Parade.

were by homophobes.” France, who was representing a group called the Lavender Left, was joined by Gina Quattrocchi of the Coalition Against Racism, AntiSemitism, Sexism and Heterosexism, Ian Daniels of the Revolutionary Socialist League, and Lee Grimmet of Black and White Men Together. They were joined by Dykes Against Racism Everywhere. They were “members of a left-wing minority” in CSLDC, they wrote in a 1982 letter to Womanews, a newspaper, and they were “calling for a militant/ political contingent in this year’s lesbian and gay pride day march.” Republican Ronald Reagan had won his first term in the White House just 18 months before. There were “increased attacks” on the queer community, they wrote, that were part of a “general growing reactionary climate in this country” and they were “waging a fight within CSLDC to maintain the traditions of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion and to link the struggles of lesbian and gay men with those of other oppressed peoples.” Ultimately, Cochrane spoke at the rally. This was not the first dispute within the LGBTQ community over the parade, rally, or

festival nor would it be the last. The annual events have regularly been contested over their meaning, the route, or their content. It is accurate to say that arguing about New York City’s annual Pride events, which commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots that mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, is as much a part of the tradition as holding the events themselves. The first parade came in 1970 and was organized by Craig Rodwell, who opened the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop in 1967, the first gay bookstore, and Fred Sergeant. Gay Scene, a newspaper, wrote, “The entire event was orderly and there were no incidents and is believed to be the largest gay event in history.” Gay City News found no evidence that the 1971 and 1972 events were controversial, though Rodwell complained following the 1971 parade that getting groups to “swallow their personal organizational pride” and come together was difficult. The 1973 rally certainly was controversial. The modern understanding of a video showing Sylvia Rivera, who died in 2002, speaking at the rally, which was held in Washington Square Park, is that she was railing against the assimilationist gays in the audience who had denied Rivera a place in the community’s history. The story is more complex. That year, the parade began at Columbus Circle and traveled down Seventh Avenue to the park. Mama Jean DeVente, an activist, was the grand marshal. Apparently feeling slighted, Rivera took the banner for the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, a group that Rivera founded, and jumped into the parade ahead of DeVente. Two parade marshals were summoned

DISAGREEMENT, continued on p.22

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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PRIDE

Chelsea Angry Over New Pride Parade Route In meetings last week, residents complain they only recently learned of plan BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

N

ot a single marcher has set foot on any street or avenue to join New York City’s Pride Parade, but at least one Chelsea resident is threatening to sue the group that produces the annual event if it again attempts to stage the start of the parade in that neighborhood. “For the future, this is not going to happen,” said Kimon Retzos, a co-president of the West 15th Street 100 and 200 Block Association, during a June 13 meeting with Heritage of Pride (HOP), the group that produces the parade and related events, and representatives from City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s office. “We will get legal representation to stop this from happening.” For the first time, the 2018 march will be staged in Chelsea, with contingents lining up on the blocks from 15th Street to 19th Street between Seventh and Ninth Avenues. The march will head south on Seventh Avenue then east on Christopher and Eighth Streets then north on Fifth Avenue to end at 29th Street. With HOP expecting 43,000 marchers this year, Chelsea residents can expect the last contingent to leave the neighborhood at about 6:30 or 7 p.m. on June 24. HOP volunteers will arrive for setup as early as 5 a.m. that day, though HOP has said in earlier meetings that its volunteers begin work at 4:30 a.m., so the staging could last for 13 or 14 hours. Detective Mike Petrillo, a community affairs officer in the 10th precinct, which covers Chelsea, said that clean-up should be completed by 8:30 p.m. on that Sunday assuming that HOP’s time estimate for the last step-off is correct. Since the first march, which commemorates the 1969 Stonewall riots that mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, the route has gone from the West Village to Central Park or from Midtown to the West Village. The first parades were small with a few thousand marchers and

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DUNCAN OSBORNE

Pier 97 at West 57th Street and the Hudson River will be the site of Pride Island, HOP dances to be held on June 23 and June 24 to close out the city’s annual Pride Month.

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HOP’s march director Julian Sanjivan, Detective Carl Locke, the NYPD’s LGBTQ liaison, Patrol Borough Manhattan South Executive Officer James Kehoe, Patrol Services Bureau Executive Officer Fausto Pichardo, and Joseph Gallucci, the commanding officer of the NYPD’s citywide counterterrorism unit, at a June 5 town hall, the first of several meetings this month where HOP got blowback over its new parade route.

were less disruptive in a residential neighborhood. As the parade has grown larger, it has been staged in Midtown, which is not a residential neighborhood, and headed downtown. While the city has pressed all parades to limit their duration to no more than five hours, the Pride Parade has routinely run longer. It traditionally steps off at noon, and last year’s parade ended at 9:38 p.m. The parades in 2016 and 2015 were each about eight hours long. The route this year is a test for next year’s parade, which will

mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, and is expected to shave roughly 90 minutes off the run time. The Chelsea residents at the June 13 meeting were uniformly opposed to staging the parade in Chelsea and were particularly angered that they were told this would happen only recently. Bill Borock, president of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations, was first told of the plan in a May 22 email from Julian Sanjivan, HOP’s march director. Paul Groncki, president of the 100 West

16th Street Block Association, learned of the plan roughly two weeks before the June 13 meeting. Another resident, who left the meeting early, first heard of the plan by reading an article in Chelsea Now, a sister publication of Gay City News. HOP first began discussing a new route for the 2018 parade in December 2016. It had a series of meetings on the route with city agencies, including the NYPD, beginning in August 2017. Ultimately, HOP presented the NYPD with six routes and that agency had selected one by January 22 of this year. The new route is also controversial in the LGBTQ community. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is openly gay, was not informed of the route change until well after the decision was made, and he first learned about it by seeing a post on Facebook. Erik Bottcher, Johnson’s chief of staff, opened the meeting by saying of the new route, “We don’t like it.” Midway through the meeting, Bottcher took the floor again to note that there was press in the room and expand on his comments. “Last month, the speaker called the mayor’s office and said, ‘I want this route changed,’” Bottcher said and added that he then went to a meeting with the mayor’s office. “At the conclusion of that meeting, I made it clear that there is going to be a different process for picking the route next year.” Sanjivan apologized for the lack of communication at a contentious June 5 town hall on the route that was held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, and he apologized again at the June 13 meeting. “I apologize,” he said after making a PowerPoint presentation to the residents. “We could have done a better job communicating.” It appears that Community Board 4, which covers the neighborhoods from 59th Street to 14th Street on Manhattan’s West Side, is generally unhappy with HOP’s handling of the Pride Parade and

CHELSEA ANGRY, continued on p.31

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018

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CRIME

Abel Cedeno Denied Protection Order Bronx gay teen defendant seeks court intervention over threats from dead youth’s brother appearance there by Cedeno her office did not produce an assistant district attorney for a court appearance and the judge threw that case out. As this issue has heated up, Clark canceled a Bronx brunch with the Stonewall Democrats citing a conflict. Her office says that “when she cancelled the brunch, the DA said she would meet with them at her office. I do not believe they have called to schedule an appointment.” The LGBT Caucus of the New York City Council wrote to Clark, calling on her to help secure an order of protection for Cedeno and his family, who say they are being threatened by YGz 800 gang members — including Dennis — loyal to McCree. Cedeno and his family have been living at undisclosed locations due to the threats.

BY ANDY HUMM

A

bel Cedeno, the bullied Bronx gay teen charged with manslaughter in last September’s fatal stabbing of classmate Matthew McCree, is back in court on June 25. Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark is vigorously prosecuting him, but she is also responsible for prosecuting Kevon Dennis, McCree’s brother, who with co-defendant Jonathan Espinal is charged with armed robbery of witnesses to the classroom incident — allegedly stealing their cellphones at knifepoint, threatening students who saw what happened, and trying to compel them to tell them of Cedeno’s whereabouts. Clark has not brought charges of witness tampering against Dennis, and in another case where Dennis was accused of threatening Cedeno inside the courthouse after an

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ANDY HUMM

Abel Cedeno in court earlier this year, with his attorneys Christopher R. Lynn and Robert J. Feldman.

CEDENO, continued on p.96

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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Volume 2 | Issue 2

The Pulse of

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June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


PRIDE

Pride Soars in Park Slope Perfect summer day welcomes Brooklyn’s 22nd annual festivities

DONNA ACETO

Lyosha Gorshkov, co-president of RUSA LGBT and a founder of Brighton Beach Pride, was one of the parade’s grand marshals.

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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, with microphone, flanked by out gay Queens City Councilmember Daniel Dromm.

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Happy crowd members at the parade.

The Siren Women’s Motorcycle Club roars down Fifth Avenue.

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Activists call attention to the ongoing wave of murders and violence against transgender women, particular women of color.

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New York City Councilmembers led by Speaker Corey Johnson.

BY COLIN MIXSON

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alk about a proud day for Brooklynites! Thousands from the borough and beyond descended on Park Slope on June 9 to celebrate Kings County’s LGBTQ community at events culminating in an absolutely fabulous parade along Fifth Avenue — far superior to a certain other march staged across the East River, according to one attendee. “I love this one the best,” Park Sloper Judy Roy said of the annual Brooklyn Pride Parade. “It’s not as crazy as in Manhattan.” This year’s evening march featured four floats, 60 participating organizations, and roughly 800 people, all of whom proudly stepped behind the bike-riding dykes of the Siren Women’s Motorcycle Club, who led the rainbow-colored cavalcade as it proceeded along Fifth Avenue from Sterling Place to Ninth Street before a joyous crowd that didn’t disperse until after 9 p.m. “The parade went for almost an GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

DONNA ACETO

DONNA ACETO

Out gay Brooklyn Councilmember Carlos Menchaca.’

Youth from the Oasis NYC Latino LGBTS Wellness Center.

hour and a half,” said Jeanne Scarito, who also lives in Park Slope. “It was never like that.” The 22nd annual festivities kicked off earlier that day in Prospect Park, with a 5k run that awarded individual prizes to male, female, and transgender athletes, according to an organizer, who said no other race in the city hands out awards based on diverse gender identities. Some competitors wore rainbow tutus for the occasion “We’re probably the most colorful 5k as well,” said Brooklyn Pride co-chair Mickey Heller.

Following the race, proud revelers moved from the park to the pavement on Fifth Avenue, where representatives from a wide array of city agencies, health care providers, and community groups set up booths for a street fair between First and Ninth Streets that kicked off at 11 a.m. Gay City News was among those exhibiting — and the newspaper was treated to a customized shoutout from the acrobats from Cheer New York. Festival-goers strolled the fair collecting freebies and receiving

health screenings until 5 p.m., when vendors closed up shop to prepare for the evening parade beginning at 7:30 p.m. — leaving time for celebrants to patronize Fifth Avenue’s many stores, restaurants, and bars during what’s become one of the most profitable days of the year for local mom-andpop shops, according to a local business booster. “This event drives a lot of business,” said Mark Caserta, the head of the Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District. “After the fair breaks up, all the people need somewhere to go for two hours, and everything fills up really quickly.” And the 54-year-old Scarito — who came out as a lesbian when she was 16 — said watching events like Brooklyn Pride grow to become the festival it is today has given her plenty to be proud about. “We paved the way,” she said. “You couldn’t walk around the neighborhood, buy a magazine, tell your employer. Now, to watch these kids, I love it.”

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PRIDE

HOP Hosts Its Debut Human Rights Conference June 14 event is prelude to next year’s celebration of World Pride, Stonewall 50 BY MICHAEL LUONGO

H

eritage of Pride, the organization behind New York’s annual LGBTQ Pride Parade, hosted its first ever human rights conference on June 14. According to Eboni Munn, HOP’s communications manager, somewhere between 250 and 300 people participated in the daylong conference. Munn and others with HOP said the event was in some respects a trial run for next year’s 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, when New York will host World Pride which always includes a multi-day human rights conference. The conference was held at the State University of New York Global Center on East 55th Street and ended with a ceremony as the nearby Central Synagogue with a spoken word presentation by poet Timothy DuWhite and a conversation between LGBTQ activist and political commentator Aisha C. Moodie-Mills and the Union Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour, who works at the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. A broad range of panels examined topics including LGBTQ military issues, moderated by West Point graduate Sue Fulton, who fought for an end to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and now heads the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission; LGBTQ elders, presented by SAGE, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders; health issues, presented by Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and LGBTQ immigration and asylum policy and activism. One well attended afternoon panel was entitled “Global Human Rights of LGBTI People and the Role of the Private Sector,” presented by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and moderated by Fabrice Houdart, a human rights officer with the UNHCHR who works on LGBTQ issues worldwide. Mark Lane, director of corporate communications for Barclays, observed that many employees who join LGBTQ corporate groups might be full-time activists were they not in the corporate sector. “I choose to do my activism internally and make sure that Barclays uses the platform and rank that it has to create change in the UK,” Lane said. “We sponsor something like 20 Pride celebrations across the UK.” He offered the example of the Staley brothers — HIV activist Peter and his brother, Jes, Barclays’ CEO, who often work together on projects of importance to the queer community. Jessica Stern, executive director of OutrRght Action International, a group focused on global LGBTQ issues, was on the panel and cautioned that while corporate sponsorship is important, the total dollar numbers is actually very small, with companies often spending more on promotGayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

MICHAEL LUONGO

Poet Timothy DuWhite presented a spoken word performance at Midtown’s Central Synagogue.

MICHAEL LUONGO

The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour at a closing conversation at the Central Synagogue.

MICHAEL LUONGO

Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, and Fabrice Houdart from the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights at a panel on the role of the private sector in advancing the global rights agenda.

ing their LGBTQ work from a public relations standpoint than on the actual work. She added that companies often focus on issues seen as “politically palatable.” Stern urged those in attendance to think about “issues that are more controversial as well as work on true empowerment, on liberation, work on those members of our community that are most marginalized. That includes LGBTQI people of color and those targeted on the basis of gender non-conformity. As a community, if we don’t have diverse sources of funding, we are go-

ing to see more and more resources going into our community in a charity model and not in an empowerment model.” Stern’s comments resonated with Samy Nemir Olivares, founder of Latinx for Equality in America, also known as Queermisú. After the panel, he told Gay City News, “I came to this event because there is a lack of representation of Latinos and people of color in human rights spaces, particularly LGBTQ, and I wanted to learn more about

HUMAN RIGHTS, continued on p.59

17


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June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc




      



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19


CRIME

Defendant Points to Third Man in ‘93 Gay Murder Gordon Francis claims he fled armed intruder in James Hawkins’ Chelsea home BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

T

aking the stand in his own defense, the man who is accused of the brutal 1993 murder of James Hawkins testified that a third man armed with a knife entered Hawkins’ Chelsea home while he and Hawkins were partying there and that Hawkins was alive and uninjured when he fled the apartment. “He went into his pocket and he pulled out a knife, a pocketknife,” said Gordon Francis on the stand on June 19. “He demanded my money… He stabbed me in my hand.” The 60-year-old Francis is charged with a single count of second-degree murder in this case. He was arrested in 2012 after DNA evidence linked him to the crime scene. His 2014 trial ended in a mistrial. According to Francis, he was an escort in 1993 and had been hired by Hawkins, who was 54 at his death, about a half dozen times. They spoke by phone late in the afternoon on August 15, 1993, the day Hawkins was murdered.

James Hawkins was brutally murdered in his Chelsea apartment in 1993.

Hawkins asked that he come to his apartment and bring 10 dime bags of crack cocaine. Once there, Francis recalled that Hawkins gave him $100 for the cocaine and $100 for his services. Francis said he placed the $200 on a table next to the piano in Hawkins’ fourth floor apartment while he played the piano. The two men retired to the bedroom and

smoked the cocaine. A third man, who Francis said Hawkins knew, entered the apartment and demanded money. Francis said he gave the man the $7 he had in his pocket and was then stabbed. He then exited the bedroom, walking past the front door, to retrieve the $200 he had left on the table. Upon seeing that the third man was in the bedroom with his back toward him, Francis said he raced out of the apartment. Francis left a trail of his blood in the building’s stairwell and on a door at the building’s entrance. The building had an exterior front door and then a second door in a small foyer. The blood was on the inside of the second door. Hawkins’ murder was singularly savage. He was stabbed 25 times with multiple wounds to his lungs, his liver, and the sac that surrounds the heart, Dr. Michele Slone, the deputy chief medical examiner for Manhattan, testified on June 18. Slone did not perform the autopsy, but she reviewed records from that procedure. Slone reported that there were three to four liters of

1993 MURDER, continued on p.52

MILITARY

Another DOJ Loss on Transgender Military Ban Seattle federal court judge once again refuses to lift her injunction BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

U

S Senior District Judge Marsha J. Pechman in Seattle, on June 15, rejected another attempt by the Trump administration to get her to lift her preliminary injunction against its proposed ban on military service by transgender individuals while officials appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Pechman’s opinion emphatically rejects arguments the Justice Department has made all along. Donald Trump initiated his new policy with a series of tweets last July purporting to reverse President Barack Obama’s opening up of transgender service in July 2016. The policy was spelled out in a formal memorandum a month later, directing Defense Secretary James Mattis to plan for implementation by this March. Four lawsuits were filed by dif-

20

ferent groups of plaintiffs in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Seattle, and Riverside, California challenging the policy’s constitutionality. All four federal district judges found that the plaintiffs were likely to win on the merits and issued preliminary injunctions against implementation while the litigation proceeded. None was willing to stay their injunction pending appeal, and the DC and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeals also rejected motions to stay. At that point, the Justice Department temporarily desisted from further appeals. When Mattis submitted his implementation plan in February it differed in some particulars from Trump’s memo from last August, and so the president “withdrew” his order and authorized the Pentagon to move forward with its plan. The Justice Department then argued to Pechman that her preliminary injunction should be lifted, since

it was based on the Trump memorandum and not the Mattis plan. Pechman, however, concluded, in line with the plaintiffs’ arguments, that the new policy was just a slightly modified version of the Trump proposal, presenting the same constitutional flaws, so she refused to vacate her injunction. On April 30, the Justice Department filed a notice of appeal to the Ninth Circuit and filed a motion with Pechman seeking an expedited ruling on the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment so that it could be appealed. Pechman, noting that discovery was needed in the case to determine any disputed facts that require resolution, declined the government’s motion. Discovery, however, has been delayed by the Justice Department’s claim of executive privilege in the matter. The Ninth Circuit, meanwhile, has not responded to the Justice

Department’s request for a stay of Pechman’s order pending appeal. Pechman reiterated that she is not convinced by the argument that the Mattis plan represents a “new and different” policy, and she was also not persuaded by the Justice Department’s assertion that she or the Ninth Circuit “are highly likely to conclude that significant deference is appropriate” to the Executive Branch’s military decisionmaking. She pointed out that there are three other nationwide preliminary injunctions also in place. The Justice Department also argued that failure to let the government implement the ban “will irreparably harm the government (and the public) by compelling the military to adhere to a policy it has concluded poses substantial risks.” Here Pechman pointed to recent congressional testimony

TRANS SERVICE, continued on p.52

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


DUNCAN OSBORNE DUNCAN OSBORNE

Occupy Wall Street marches in the 2012 parade.

DISAGREEMENT, from p.6

— “whose clothing and throats Sylvia tore,” Michael Schiavi wrote in “Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo,” a biography of that central figure in LGBTQ history. Once at the park, Rivera stormed the stage and commandeered the microphone to deliver a loud, three-minute assault on the movement that was greeted with a mix of boos, cheers, and applause. Lee Brewster, a drag performer who marched with the Queens Liberation Front that year, suggested that another controversy explains Rivera’s conduct. Upon learning that drag performers would appear at the rally, the Lesbian Feminist Liberation (LFL) group wrote a critique of drag that Jean O’Leary, a former nun, read from the rally stage, also to boos, cheers, and applause, after Rivera spoke. “When men impersonate women for reasons of entertainment, of profit, they insult women,” O’Leary said, as seen in a video found on Vimeo. “We support the right of every person to dress in the way that she or he wishes, but we are opposed to the exploitation of women by men for entertainment or profit. Men have been telling us who we are all our lives.” An angry Brewster, who died in 2000, took the microphone and told the crowd, “You go to bars because of what drag queens did for you… and let these bitches tell us we’re offensive,” Schiavi wrote. Brewster threw his tiara into the crowd saying, “Gay liberation, screw you.” In a Drag magazine article about the 1973 march and rally titled “Drags & TV’s Join the March,” the

22

anonymous author speculates that “certain men-hating lesbian factions incited transvestite Sylvia Rivera to disrupt” the rally. The theory, which was not supported by any evidence, was that since political speeches were banned that year, once Rivera spoke, Russo, who was the emcee, was forced to allow O’Leary to read her statement. Rivera’s “takeover” involved “the cuting [sic] up of several committee members,” the article noted. “We don’t condone what Sylvia did, a violent takeover was uncalled for,” Brewster, the magazine’s publisher, said in the article. “When Miss O’Leary then took the stage and read her statement denying the cross dresser the right to employment as a cross dresser, she singled us out to spew her hatred and rhetoric on.” Misogyny in the LGBTQ rights movement continued to be an issue. LFL withheld its endorsement of the 1975 and 1976 marches because they were noted more for their “gaudy floats” than “Lesbian visibility.” LFL endorsed the 1977, 1978, and 1979 marches. Misogyny and other issues resulted in two rallies taking place in Central Park in 1980, following several years of emerging divisions. In 1979, the LGBTQ community held its first national March on Washington. The Northeast region organizers of that march had been active in the anti-war movement and were generally engaged with the American left. They also belonged to CSLDC and to a national network that was created postmarch to facilitate communications among groups. Some of those

A contingent in support of Chelsea Manning, then in military prison and still known as Bradley Manning, in the 2013 Pride Parade.

same members were also active in the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights (CLGR), formed in 1977 to pursue anti-discrimination legislation in New York City and the State Legislature. The Northeast region organizers were angered when New York City groups, including CSLDC, endorsed the national march only late in the process. When CLGR, which had over 30 member groups, organized a meeting of New York groups in the spring of 1980 to discuss state legislation, LFL and other members voiced unhappiness when they learned that David Thorstad and Bob Rhodes, two members of the North American Man/ Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which was founded in 1979, were CSLDC members and active at the gathering. Thorstad had been a member of CLGR beginning in 1978 but had stepped down in the spring of 1979. Misogyny and race also sparked disagreement at the 1980 meeting. “I find the attacks against LFL and CLGR quite illuminating,” Juanita Ramos, one of the Northeast region organizers, wrote in a 1980 open letter about the infighting laid bare by the 1979 March on Washington organizing and the 1980 conference. “Coming from predominantly white gay male groups these attacks signify to me the unwillingness of the white male gay movement in this city to surrender any of their power to those lesbians with whom they claim to be ‘willing’ to work. This is where the crux of the CLGR/ March on Washington controversy lies.” By the time of the 1980 Pride Rally, the CLGR faction, calling

themselves the Lesbian and Gay Pride March Organizing Committee, stood where that year’s march was entering Central Park and invited people to attend their alternative rally. Soon, CLGR had pulled out of CSLDC and the annual Pride organizing efforts. In a 1982 fundraising letter from Tony Gambino, CSLDC’s co-coordinator that year, to Long Island’s East End Gay Organization for Human Rights, Gambino wrote, “I am also aware that there has [sic] been some bad feelings between our two organizations stemming in part from the fiasco of the 1980 March and Rally. In the two years that I’ve been co-coordinator of CSLDC a lot of changes have been made… The principal change has been to bring in a great many new members (individuals and groups) who are considered ‘centrist’ or ‘mainstream.’ The radicals who once controlled CSLDC have either left or splinterized.” Gambino was soon out as well. In March 1984, the Manhattan Community Athletic Association, a bowling league, accused him of taking $2,838 in MCAA funds and giving it to CSLDC, the New York City News, an LGBTQ newspaper, reported that year. He also allegedly took $3,760 from the Stonewall Awards Foundation and gave it to CSLDC. By this point, all these organizations found themselves in some financial peril. “I remember going to a meeting in the Spring of ‘84 and we suddenly learned we had $19 in the bank,” said Matt Foreman, a longtime LGBTQ activist. “There was a

DISAGREEMENT, continued on p.23

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


DISAGREEMENT, from p.22

mad scramble to raise money.” The Gay Male S/ M Activists, which shut down in 2009, bailed out CSLDC with a $6,000 fundraiser. “That was enough to do what we had to do,” Foreman said. “I think we only had one portable toilet.” In 1985, Foreman and Candida Scott Piel, also a longtime LGBTQ activist, decided the community “needed a break from the old brand” and incorporated Heritage of Pride (HOP), which has produced New York City’s annual Pride Parade and related events since then. The festival, which was produced by a separate organization for years, was folded into HOP in 1992. Despite persistent rumors that the festival had some Mafia link, HOP learned that if it was mobbed up, it was among the least profitable mob ventures. “We always thought that it should be part of the parade,” Foreman said. “Basically, when Heritage of Pride took it over, it was barely making any money… That was a completely opaque, no board

of directors kind of organization.” HOP became the organization that it is today in 1986 and 1987. The pier dance, now called Pride Island, that closes out the weekend was added as were the Lavender Line on Fifth Avenue and the fireworks that come at the end of the dance. That era also saw the first major sponsors for the parade. The disputes slowed, but they did not stop. In 1994, the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Stonewall 25, which was not HOP, ran the parade and chose to put the march on First Avenue passing the United Nations building to reflect the international meaning of that year’s event. Some New Yorkers, who knew that CSLDC had fought for seven years to get a permit to march on Fifth Avenue and understood that route to represent the community achieving a certain status, organized an alternative march that began in the West Village and went up Fifth Avenue to Central Park where the 1994 rally took place. The NYPD declined to arrest the 5,000 people who participated

in the alternative march and let it proceed unobstructed by traffic or police. But William Bratton, the police commissioner then, and the NYPD made their views known by placing a phalanx of police officers in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, by then a target of LGBTQ anger over the Catholic Church’s stridently homophobic posture. Bratton was on the cathedral’s steps as the march went by as was John Miller, then the department’s chief spokesperson and now the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism. This year, the march route was changed to begin in Chelsea and travel south on Seventh Avenue, east on Christopher and Eighth Streets, then north on Fifth Avenue ending at 29th Street. The new route is controversial in the LGBTQ community and among Chelsea residents. The corporate presence in the march has been more visible, though community groups and non-profits have always constituted the great majority of the contingents in the parade. In 2010, Jamie McGonnigal founded Take

Back Pride, which was a “movement to put the politics back into the parade, the march back in the march,” he said then. That group marched that year. In 2018, complaints about the corporations and police in the parade and how the parade is policed took on a greater intensity as a group of activists with long ties to the LGBTQ and other movements organized as the Reclaim Pride Coalition. The Coalition asked that members of the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) march without uniforms and weapons, a request that was denied by GOAL and HOP, and that the police presence at the march be reduced, a request that was effectively denied. The Coalition has been permitted to organize a resistance contingent in this year’s parade. The complaints about that corporate presence in the parade have grown louder over time. Even Foreman has second thoughts. “We wanted to make it more joyous,” he said. “In hindsight, I’m not sure we were right… Now, I feel like there are too many floats, too many corporate floats.”

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GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

23


PRIDE

Remembering How Gay Lawyers Became Legal Failla Commission honors Lambda co-founder, pioneering out judge William J. Thom

ANDY HUMM

ANDY HUMM

Honoree William J. Thom (center), a founder of Lambda Legal and the first out gay elected judge in New York, with Matt Skinner, executive director of the Failla Commission, and Marcy Kahn, a justice in the Appellate Division and the Commission’s co-chair.

(Front row) Honoree William J. Thom with Arthur Leonard, a New York Law School professor and Gay City News contributor, (back row) Judge Daniel Anders of Philadelphia’s First Judicial District who is president of the International Association of LGBT Judges, marriage equality champion Evan Wolfson, Andrew Austin and his husband Michael Sonberg, a retired acting justice of the New York State Supreme Court.

BY ANDY HUMM

T

he panelists in the ornate rotunda of the New York County Supreme Court were out gay and lesbian legal scholars, advocates, and judges at the highest echelons of the courts. But at the forum sponsored by the Richard C. Failla LGBTQ Commission of the New York State Courts — named for the late first out gay elected judge in the state, who won election in 1988 — these accomplished people were remembering a time when being out was impossible in their profession and celebrating “July 3, 1973: The Day the Court of Appeals Made Pride Possible in New York.” Two historic decisions were handed down by New York’s highest court that day. Harris Kimball, an out gay lawyer who had been disbarred in Florida in the mid-1950s for a sodomy charge after a sting, was admitted to the New York bar despite being openly gay in a state that had a law against consensual gay sex until 1980. That same day, the court sided with William J. Thom, the co-founder of Lambda Legal, in approving its application for incorporation, overruling a lower court that deemed Lambda “neither benevolent nor charitable in ostensible purpose.” Thom, who was also the first out gay judge in New York — appointed to the bench by Mayor Ed Koch in 1984 — was introduced by Justice Marcy Kahn, the first out lesbian appointed to the State Supreme Court in 1994 who now sits on the Appellate Division, who praised him for his courage and thanked him for being a mentor to her when she first served on the bench in 1987. She recalled a time when “there were

24

ANDY HUMM

Court of Appeals Associate Justice Paul Feinman, the first openly LGBTQ member of the state’s highest bench.

no openly gay law students or lawyers, no public interest law firms committed to the rights of LGBT people.” Kahn said, “We live in challenging and troubling times and by remembering this history we will be better able to protect our rights going forward.” Thom said that when he “arrived in New York in the 1960s, being gay was officially a mental illness, in 49 of 50 states we were criminals, in the City of New York gay bars were illegal and only able to exist through the corruption of the police department.” He recalled “mass arrests and sweeps of gay people, lawyers jacking up fees to defend them, and sharing lists of their clients with police to shake them down some more. Our political clout was less than zero.

Elected officials wouldn’t let us in the door to discuss our issues,” and we were denied the “comfort” of religion or family support. Thom spoke of the early gay and lesbian groups from the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis in the 1950s to the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance in the post-Stonewall early 1970s and of his vision for “creating a vehicle” for fighting for gay rights in the courts. He picked the name “Lambda” because of the difficulties of getting a group with the word “gay” in it incorporated. He lost in the Appellate Division, earning a mention on the front page of the Law Journal that alerted his law firm colleagues to his homosexuality (though no one made an issue of it). An appeal was filed and Lambda won at the Court of Appeals 45 years ago. “Lambda is not just the preeminent gay rights legal group, but the preeminent rights organization period,” Thom said. Justice Rosalyn Richter, who was named to the Appellate Division in 2008 as one of two lesbians to break that barrier, spoke of coming out “in college in late 1974 during a wave of lesbian feminism… but [I] didn’t know any out gay lawyers.” She joined the Gay Academic Union “for professionals who were out” and Lesbian Feminist Liberation, but knew “no out professors at Barnard, one of the gayest places in America.” She was out in law school, “but it was less welcoming and there were no role models,” though she was grateful for “straight feminist professors” who were supportive. “I heard of Lambda in my third year of law school,” Richter said, and at 24 she became its

LAWYERS GET LEGAL, continued on p.92

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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25


NONDISCRIMINATION

Citing Baker’s “Win,” Arizona Court Rejects Stationary Store’s Opt-Out Claim State appeals panel finds no free speech, religious exercise basis for rejecting gay wedding business BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

T

he precedent established by a Supreme Court decision can often depend on how lower courts interpret it. The quick takeaway from this month’s Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling was that it was a “win” for baker Jack Phillips, since the court reversed the discrimination rulings against him by the Colorado Court of Appeals and that state’s Civil Rights Commission. But the nuances of that opinion go beyond what a superficial call of “win” or “loss” can capture, as the Arizona Court of Appeals demonstrated just days later in rejecting a claim that a company that designs artwork for weddings can refuse to provide goods for same-sex weddings. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the same anti-LGBTQ legal outfit that represented Phillips before the Supreme Court, represents Brush & Nib Studio, a Phoenix, Arizona company that sells both pre-fabricated and specially designed artwork. Because it provides retail goods and services to the public, it comes within the purview of Phoenix’s public accommodations antidiscrimination ordinance. Brush & Nib went to court without ever having received a request to produce invitations for a same-sex wedding. Instead, it owners concluded that because of their religious beliefs they would not provide such services and, represented by ADF, sued in the state trial court seeking a preliminary injunction to bar enforcement of the ordinance against them in case any such customers come knocking. As described in Judge Lawrence F. Winthrop’s opinion for the Court of Appeals, Brush & Nib’s owners “believe their customer-directed and designed wedding products ‘convey messages about a particular engaged couple, their upcoming marriage, their upcoming marriage ceremony, and the celebration of that marriage.’” Their suit asserted they “also strongly believe in an ordained marriage between one man and one woman, and argue that they cannot separate their religious beliefs from their work. As such, they believe being required to create customerspecific merchandise for same-sex weddings will violate their religious beliefs.” The owners not only sought assurance they could reject such business without risking legal liability, they also wanted to post a public statement explaining their religious beliefs, including a statement that they would not create any artwork that “promotes any marriage except marriage between one man and one woman.” To date, they have not posted that statement out

26

CALIFORNIA WESTERN SCHOOL OF LAW

Judge Lawrence F. Winthrop.

of concern they might violate the Phoenix ordinance. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Karen Mullins rejected their motion for preliminary injunction, finding that the business did not enjoy a constitutional exemption. The Court of Appeals, meanwhile, held up ruling on ADF’s appeal until the Supreme Court issued its Masterpiece Cakeshop decision on June 4, then quickly incorporated references to it into Winthrop’s opinion issued on June 7. Winthrop reviewed the unbroken string of state appellate court rulings from around the country that have rejected religious and free speech exemption claims in cases of this kind over the past several years, and he wrote, “In light of these cases and consistent with the United States Supreme Court’s decisions, we recognize that a law allowing Appellants to refuse service to customers based on sexual orientation would constitute a ‘grave and continuing harm’” — that last phrase drawn from the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling. Winthrop continued with a lengthy quote from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case: “Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth. For that reason the laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect them in the exercise of their civil rights. The exercise of their freedom on terms equal to others must be given great weight and respect by the courts. At the same time, the religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression… Nevertheless, while those religious and philosophical objections are protected, it is a general rule

that such objections do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.” That portion of Kennedy’s opinion then cited two Supreme Court cases, which Winthrop took note of, that evidently sent a strong message for lower courts. Newman versus Piggie Park Enterprises, from 1968, is a classic early decision under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, holding that a restaurant owner’s religious opposition to racial integration could not excuse him from serving people of color. In contrast, in Hurley v. Irish–American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, from 1995, the Supreme Court upheld that city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers’ First Amendment right to exclude a gay Irish group from marching under their own banner. There, the court found that the parade was not a business selling goods and services, but rather a nonprofit group organized for expressive activity whose organizers had a right to determine the content of their expression. In other words, states and municipalities can forbid businesses from discriminating against customers because of their sexual orientation, and businesses with religious objections will generally have to comply with the non-discrimination laws. The “win” for baker Jack Phillips involved something else entirely: the Supreme Court’s perception that Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission did not give Phillips a fair hearing based on the evidence of public statements by two of its members denigrating his religious beliefs. Kennedy found that a litigant’s dignity requires that a tribunal deciding his case be neutral and not overtly hostile to his religious beliefs, and that was the reason for reversing the Colorado state court and a state agency there. Kennedy’s discussion of the law itself, however, clearly pointed in the other direction, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg observed in her dissent. The Arizona Court of Appeals clearly got that message. Judge Winthrop rejected ADF’s free speech argument, writing, “Appellants argue that [the ordinance] compels them to speak in favor of same-sex marriages. We disagree. Although [it] may have an incidental impact on speech, its main purpose is to prohibit discrimination, and thus [it] regulates conduct, not speech.” Winthrop pointed to Rumsfeld v. FAIR, from

RELIGIOUS OPT-OUTS, continued on p.60

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018

27


CRIME

Scott Long Brutally Beaten In Oakland Long-time LGBTQ international human rights activists believes attack was random BY MICHAEL LUONGO

V

iolence is always badly timed, but this was oddly unfortunate, coming during a celebratory weekend. Scott Long had just marked his birthday, and his roommate, Samir Taha, would soon be doing the same. Instead, on Saturday, June 9, on his way home carrying a bag of party supplies, Long was attacked and beaten in Oakland, California. Long is known for his lengthy career as a human rights activist focused on LGBTQ issues, having worked with Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (now known as OutRight Action International), and other organizations. According to Long, the attack occurred at around 10:30 p.m. on 35th Avenue in the city’s Laurel neighborhood. Long was hit from behind with what he believes was a tire iron. Lucid and in good spirits when speaking with Gay City News, Long said, “Then he hit me with a second blow, right on the side of my head, which knocked my glasses off, and then he hit me at least two more times.” Of his attacker, Long said, “I only got an incomplete glimpse at him before I lost my glasses. He was white, possibly Latino,” of average height, in his 20s or early 30s, “wiry with black hair and a black T-shirt.” There was no clear motive for the attack. Long posted of the incident on his Facebook page, with many assuming it was a gay bashing or other hate crime, but Long does not know. “He was saying, ‘You something,’ but honestly my ears were ringing,” he recalled. “I don’t think it was ‘You faggot’ or something else offensive, but honestly, I couldn’t understand it. At least he ran off and I don’t know why.” Long also does not believe it was a robbery. “He didn’t reach for my wallet,” he said. Nor did the assailant try to take what he was carrying.

28

SAMIR TAHA

Scott Long recovering in the hospital after a brutal June 9 attack on him.

“I was going to have a surprise party for my roommate the next day, so I had a bag with two bottles of Champagne, which were broken. He didn’t grab at that.” Long also does not believe it was an attack related to the increasing tensions that gentrification in Oakland is causing between new and old residents. The incident caused severe damage to Long’s face, breaking his upper and lower jaws and knocking out his lower teeth, resulting in severe swelling. He was in the hospital for several days and underwent facial reconstructive surgery involving the placement of metal plates over the shattered jaw bones. Long reflected on the incident with a surprising sense of humor, saying, “I am just recuperating from that. The surgery went well. I seem to be doing well. My face isn’t going to be the same, but it wasn’t

that great a face to start with. Maybe some improvements might emerge.” For his work as a human rights activist, Long has been to numerous countries known for their violence, including Egypt and Iraq. That the attack occurred in the US has a certain irony. “Even though I have been in places of violence and counseled victims of violence, it is just very different when you are facing it yourself in that direct way,” he said, adding, “I think it’s right and it’s just that this should happen in Oakland. What someone who has been working internationally like me needs is a reminder — how brutal existence can be in the United States.” The attack, according to Long, is “a reminder of the place we live in and what it is really like. But it’s ironic that we need sometimes a bash in the head to be reminded,

because it is so easy to be ignorant here of the violence that is beneath the surface.” Comparing the US with the countries where he has worked, Long said, “Egypt can be a place where there is an enormous amount of state violence, but there is not much social violence. It would unlikely that some ordinary guy would just beat me on the streets.” He added, “I have been in countries where there is enormous social violence like Iraq, but I think what you see in the United States is that there is violence from society and violence from the state, and that’s a very dangerous conjunction.” It is for this reason that Long was reluctant to contact police. “I don’t want the police brought down on this guy or someone of color who was innocent,” he said. “And we only did call the police because I was thinking to myself, ‘He could easily beat somebody else with a tire iron on the head.’ I feel I am in a country where the level of state violence means that calling in the state after something like this is just inviting more violence, not a solution.” No fan of the police, Long said he also believes in abolishing prisons. Still, he added, despite his distrust of the police and what he believes is simply the random nature of the attack, “Someone who has been gay-bashed or is fleeing an abusive husband, I would never say to them don’t call the police. It’s not a prescription I can urge on other people. It’s a personal stance with me.” One important international LGBTQ fight Long was involved in was the 2001 Queen Nile Boat incident in which 52 Egyptian men were arrested and tortured. His long-time work in that country has led to speculation — which Long dismisses — that the attack was retribution. “It didn’t make sense,” Long said when friends brought this possibility up. “It restores some logic to it,

SCOTT LONG, continued on p.31

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


49 years after the Stonewall riots, New York University joins Greenwich Village in celebrating a turning point in LGBTQ+ civil rights.

We salute the leaders, friends, and allies, then and now, whose tireless advocacy continues to further equality, inclusion, and support for individuals from every community â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

in New York City and beyond.

30

June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


ä&#x2030;´

CHELSEA ANGRY, from p.8

related events. Johnson once chaired that board. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A lot of these same concerns were reflected last week at Community Board 4,â&#x20AC;? said Jeffrey LeFrancois, the 2nd vice chair on the board, at the meeting. Dina Homayuni, an HOP staffer, attended the June 14 meeting of the boardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Waterfront, Parks & Environment Committee to finalize plans for HOPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s June 23 and 24 dances, called Pride Island, that will be held on Pier 97, which is at the end of West 57th Street on the Hudson River. As a member of that committee began to question Homayuni about the march, Lowell Kern, a committee co-chair, cut her off, noting that HOP had been â&#x20AC;&#x153;beaten upâ&#x20AC;? enough at the prior weekâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s meeting and the night before. Kern had not attended the June 13 meeting, suggesting there is at least some conversation among residents and community

ä&#x2030;´

SCOTT LONG, from p.28

but I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s that.â&#x20AC;? He said while leaders like Russiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Vladimir Putin go after regime critics outside of the country, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current president of Egypt, is not known for launching attacks on human rights activists who are no longer in the country. Long had moved back from Egypt to the US in 2016. Within the past nine months, he began living in the Bay Area, settling into Oakland. He has been working on a manuscript for a book on the LGBTQ international human rights movement due out early next year with Pluto Press and thought the Bay Area would be a calmer place than New York to continue his work. The incident occurred only a few blocks from Longâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s apartment in Oakland. Long said soon after the attack, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I just sort of dimly realized that I had my phone on me, so I called my roommate.â&#x20AC;? Taha, originally from Egypt, commented that when he arrived, Long was â&#x20AC;&#x153;laying on the pavement bleeding so much. It was a terrifying scene.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;It seems to me to be something about the dangers of living in the USA,â&#x20AC;? Taha said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He just appeared GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018

board members outside of these meetings. In a March agreement between HOP and Community Board 4, HOP agreed to take a number of steps to mitigate the sound coming from the dance and to sell no more than 5,250 tickets to the event. The issue of when the June 24 dance will end was unresolved, with HOP saying 11 p.m. and the board asking for 10 p.m. At the June 14 meeting, Homayuni said the June 24 dance will be â&#x20AC;&#x153;completely done by 10:15â&#x20AC;? with the final 15 minutes for the fireworks display that ends Pride festivities. HOP sold out the June 24 dance well before the June 14 meeting, but as of June 15 it was still showing 11 p.m. as the end time for the dance. James Fallarino, HOPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s media director, did not respond to an email asking if ticketholders, who presumably purchased tickets to a dance ending at 11 p.m., had been informed of the change.

out of nowhere. It is mind-boggling the kind of cruelty it takes to inflict this kind of pain on another human being.â&#x20AC;? He added, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Scottâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work has helped so many people, and it is just horrifying to see someone who has done so much for other people go through this. Scott worked on Egypt when no one else was raising concerns about the LGBT question. Even mainstream human rights organizations shied away. It is different now but I have to say Scott had a part in that.â&#x20AC;? Americans, Long said, need to understand how violent their own country is, even in relation to hot spots in the news. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is an increasingly violent world,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Of course, you work in Egypt, you work in Iraq, there is danger all around you. You canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t discount that. But I think that for me this is real blunt as a reminder that violence is here among us. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all over. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all around. So we have to figure out our own ethical, our own political, our own moral response to that.â&#x20AC;? Taha and others are planning to hold a fundraiser in the near future for Longâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s medical expenses. More details are available at Longâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Facebook page at facebook.com/ scottlong1980.

Proudly Making a Difference, One Meal at a Time.     

                      

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31


TRAVEL

A Not So Gay Passage to India Golden Triangle reveals a family-based society bustling, welcoming, and discreet

PERRY BRASS

Cows, sacred to Shiva, are all over India, and feeding them is considered part of Hindu devotions.

PERRY BRASS

The Taj Mahal at dawn.

PERRY BRASS

Two women in a bazaar.

PERRY BRASS

PERRY BRASS

COURTESY OF PERRY BRASS

The author (right) and Hugh Young in front of the Emperor Humayun’s tomb, the precursor to the Taj Mahal and the first “garden tomb” in India.

Young Indian men are often publicly affectionate with each other, but displays of sexual affection, such as kissing, are very frowned upon among all adults.

BY PERRY BRASS

I

ndia had always been a distant dream of mine, starting decades ago when I met George Michell, an authority on Indian temples who encouraged me to make the trip. I never did. Not only was it far away, but hazardous, with everything from “Delhi belly” to malaria lurking there. Finally, at 70, I decided to do it. My husband Hugh Young admitted that the Taj Mahal was on his own bucket list. George offered to write an itinerary — 12 days in India. “Most tourists,” George said, “make the mistake of landing in a big Indian city, like Delhi or Mumbai, and spending their first three or four days in the middle of Third World squalor. They never get over it, and never want to come back.” Instead, for a trip starting on February 19, in Rajasthan’s dry cooler season, we would fly into Delhi and then immediately fly to Udaipur, a beautiful Mogul palace-city on a lake, about 400

32

HUGH YOUNG

The author, in a turban lent to him, with a group of tourists inside the great fort of Kumbalgarh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with some of the biggest walls outside the Great Wall of China. For many Indians, having your picture taken with a foreigner is considered good luck.

Young people in Delhi, outside Purana Qila, a large park dotted with Islamic tombs and monuments.

miles away. George referred me to a friend, Sarah Mahaffy from Quo Vadis Travel in London, who specializes in individualized tours of India. Sarah got back to me and we had a plan: we would do the famous Golden Triangle of Northern India — Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra, beginning in Udaipur, with a stop in Jodhpur. She sent me an itinerary along with extensive “Notes for

Travelers.” Basically: Don’t touch any water not in a bottle, even to brush your teeth. Stay away from anything that can’t be peeled, also from fish unless you are in a coastal area. And don’t go near dogs or monkeys. I thought the latter was ridiculous: how would I go near a monkey? Later, I learned monkeys were all over India, sometimes right in front

PERRY BRASS

Young Sikh men and boys during Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors, in early March, embraced widely in the Indian subcontinent. The colors of the turbans signify either the caste of the wearer or valued characteristics, with orange meaning courage and wisdom and pink favored for holidays.

of you. So don’t touch them. They can bite. Now came the hardest part, applying for an Indian visa. They are ridiculous, taking hours to apply for, and can be rejected by the consulate for any reason. India does offer an E-visa, but once there you can be required to stand in line for hours to convert to a regular one. Sarah suggested we get a “real” visa, since our connecting flight to Udaipur would not allow time for bureaucracy. You have to list a profession on the application. I decided to apply as a journalist but learned I’d need several letters of employment or accreditation. I also thought I should say Hugh and I were married, but the application demanded the names, birth dates, and countries of origin of both sets of our parents. When I complained to Sarah, she told me, “Don’t tell them you’re married. It will not work in India!” Finally, Sarah referred me to

INDIA, continued on p.33

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


INDIA, from p.32

Travisa in New York, an agency that guarantees your visas. They were encouraging, kindly, and charged us $430 per visa — although it’s a 10-year one. A whopping fee, but worth it. I decided while in India I should contact India’s still extremely marginalized LGBTQ movement. Homosexuality was recriminalized by the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party, known for Hindu fundamentalism, a few years ago, although there have been some strenuous attempts by the LGBQ movement there to reverse that. Years ago, for a site called Gay Today I‘d done an email interview with Ashok Kow Ravi, called the “Harry Hay of India.” For years, Ashok was virtually the only gay activist on the subcontinent. He is still alive, and I tried to re-contact him. My email bounced back. By chance, I connected with Richard Ammon, a California-based international liberationist, who gave me a list of activists and their email addresses. I emailed each, and got no replies. India is huge, but I was hoping there would be someone to meet in Delhi. I wrote to India’s national LGBTQ magazine, Pink Pages, telling about my plans. No reply. Later I began to understand that in India relationships were made personally, not through email or social media connections, important in the US. Though there’s a thriving queer movement in India, it cannot be experienced or engaged through a website. The flight to Delhi was 14 hours, but with the help of a Valium, I slept through most of it. In Udaipur, we were met by an agent for Quo Vadis and our driver, a wonderful young man named Satjiat who stayed with us for the entire trip. Our hotel in Udaipur, the Amet Haveli, was right on Lake Pichola, the town’s central body of water. Our room was huge, with lots of sitting areas and alcoves with views of the lake. In the morning, at breakfast, you could see young men from a nearby temple bathing in the waters. Haveli in Hindi means a princely home; many hotels in India have Haveli in their names — they were once the homes of princes who after Independence no longer had enough income to maintain them. On our first morning, our guide, GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

an older man named Mandu, took us to our first Hindu temple, crossing a short, cow-strewn bridge to get to it. India, even in small Udaipur, is overwhelming: the constant, crowded, inventive craziness of people moving about on scooters, some carrying three, four, even five people, bicycles, cars, trucks, women in brilliant saris, and cows everywhere. On the road, people greet you with “Namaste,” a great show of their friendliness mixed, as well, with a strange colonial formality. Mandu wanted to know if we were married men. Taking our cue from Sarah, we said we were both single — with no children. “Have you been friends with each other for a long time?,” he asked. I answered, “Thirty-seven years.” He nodded, as though a little light had flicked on in his brain. The temple, not a particularly big one but active, was amazing. You were not allowed to take pictures inside, and you left your shoes outside in the care of a shoe man, whom you tipped about 10 rupees, something like 14 cents. First you passed through a series of stone gates, then an outer room, and then into the inner temple, where dozens of worshippers were either seated on pillows on the floor, stood, or were perched on stone benches. A screen separated you from the god, Shiva, seen as either a statue or a lingam — a stone phallus, a major manifestation of him — and a priest who spoke directly to the god. Shiva also always has a stone bull, positioned for worshippers to approach. The bull is the messenger of the god, who also rides on it. If you whisper into the bull’s ear, Shiva will hear you. In the Hindu trinity, Brahma is the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer, but out of destruction always comes creation, so Shiva-worship is extremely common throughout India. There is constant singing, music, chanting; I noticed several worshippers were Westerners who, like hippies from another era, were in India for spiritual reasons. They were dressed in old-school Indianhippie style: loose, billowy pants or skirts, colorful vests, often gray ponytails on the men. Mandu told us that we needed to be quiet; this was a sacred space and people were

easily offended. The thick smell inside was of incense, flowers, and bodies — flowers being brought in as an offering, with many people outside selling them in small bouquets or garlands. When we left, Mandu passed a small stone urn holding a thick paste of vivid magenta pigment. He dipped his finger in it and put a small dot on each of our foreheads. “This is called a bindi,” he said. “It means you have performed a devotion today.” I noticed that several of the worshippers had other marks on their foreheads, some in yellow and green. He explained that these denote what branch of Hinduism you follow — meaning which god you particularly follow, such as the Shaivites, who follow Shiva, or the Vaishnavas who follow Vishna — or your caste. When I asked him what caste he was in, he told us that he was not in a caste at all. “I’m a Muslim.” Later in the afternoon we went to Jagmandir Island, once a pleasure island for the Mogul maharajas of Udaipur, where they entertained wives and friends during the summer heat. The island now has an upscale hotel, a posh restaurant, and a large area for weddings. The entire staff was being directed for a wedding we saw preparations for: hundreds of guests, a special kitchen set up, and a huge space for the wedding ritual itself. Weddings take place in special pavilions like this; afterwards the married couple go to a temple to make an offering and receive a blessing from the god. Mandu explained that weddings were the most important event in the Indian lifespan of both Hindus and Muslims: couples and their families go into debt for years to produce a lavish wedding beyond their means. He, like all the guides we had, had an arranged marriage. Arranged marriages are outside American cultural experience, but he explained, “They really do work. We have in India only a 15 percent divorce rate.” “Yes,” I joked. “And a lot of cheating around.” He looked stunned when I said that, then admitted, “Yes, there is some of that.” Later, we went to the great white City Palace which presided over one

side of the lake, and climbed up a ridge through a series of interior courtyards, public rooms, and private areas that ended in a parapet with views of the whole landscape. The palace was also a fort. In India, the terms “Palace” and “Fort” are close to interchangeable: through centuries of constant princely warfare, often over nothing more than who should receive homage from whom, or whose daughter or son was not considered marriage material by a neighboring king, all palaces had to be secured inside a fort. Since war, fighting, and hunting were the chief occupations of the state, Indian society was extremely male-dominated, both in the Muslim and Hindu spheres, and keeping women secluded, ignorant, and subservient was a preoccupation. I pointed this out to Mandu. “Yes,” he admitted. “But we have had two women presidents, and you have had none!” That evening I got to see India a bit closer at a folk dancing recital inside old Udaipur. Hugh was exhausted, and Mandu offered to escort me alone to the recital held in a community performance space. I arrived early and was treated very courteously. The space was outside, under an open sky, and as it got darker it became packed, mostly with young Indians excited about preserving their heritage. This was not Indian classical dancing with its intricate patterns of finger and foot movements, but robust village dancing, often on themes of courtship and marriage — done mostly by women in colorful, heavily embroidered silk and cotton costumes, flashing with gold and silver spangles. Music was live; the young audience clapped or snapped their fingers in time. The next day we drove out of town to the abandoned temple at Eklingji, started in the eighth century, completed in 11th and 12th centuries, and in operation until the 1600s, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also popular with young Indians. Mandu pointed out ancient erotic Kama Sutra sculptures on the outer façade, including a graphic one of a woman giving a man a “blowie,” while she is being entered from behind. He explained that the idea is that you “leave all

INDIA, continued on p.50

33


IMMIGRATION

Sessions’ New Asylum Posture & LGBTQ Refugees In hardline AG opinion, claims of domestic and gang violence back home challenged BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

A

ttorney General Jeff Sessions has issued an opinion toughening the standards for granting asylum to persons seeking to live in the US based on the claim they fled their home country because of persecution. The focus of Sessions’ June 11 opinion was cases where women seek asylum based on past abuse by their husbands or domestic partners — and such circumstances received most of the media attention — but, depending on how broadly his opinion is interpreted, it could potentially pose barriers to LGBTQ people, as well, particularly minors, fleeing actual or feared violence at the hands of their families and neighbors. Sessions’ decision was presented as part of President Donald Trump’s pledge to his political base that he would reduce immigration and sharply limit the number of people who can gain admission to live here based on refugee status. The statutes governing asylum claims give the attorney general (AG) significant authority to establish the legal interpretations and precedents applied by Immigration Judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals. IJ’s and the BIA fall under the Department of Justice, rather than within the independent Judicial Branch of the government, and Sessions’ opinion is binding on them. The federal courts within the Judicial Branch have a very limited role in reviewing refugee decisions — to correct clear legal errors. They do not have authority to reject the factual and legal conclusions of the IJ’s and the BIA unless there is clear error, not just a difference of opinion about what the evidence shows. Sessions’ opinion emphasized that the BIA itself is also very limited in reviewing IJ decisions, and must defer heavily to IJ rulings on the credibility of witnesses and findings of fact. The ultimate decision to grant asylum in any particular case, however, is up to the discretion GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

WHITEHOUSE.GOV

Attorney General Jeff Sessions with President Donald Trump at the White House last year on the day he was sworn in.

of the attorney general, who is not bound by the BIA’s decisions. Sessions’ action in the case before him not only overturned a BIA decision to grant a petitioner’s asylum bid, but also overruled a 2014 BIA decision that had been treated as precedent on the question of whether women who are victims of domestic violence are entitled to asylum in the US. The asylum statute explicitly protects people who have suffered persecution in their home country on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a “particular social group.” The statute does not define “particular social group,” and its meaning has been developed by the BIA and the courts over decades. The AG has authority to designate decisions by the BIA as a precedent, and past attorneys general have done so with cases that defined particular social groups entitled to protection. During the Clinton administration, Attorney General Janet Reno made an important advance by designating a 1990 BIA opinion that found that gay people could constitute a “particular social group” as a precedent. During the Obama administration, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security issued guidance documents broadening the recognition of the protected status for LGBTQ people, in line with policy statements coming

from the White House. Since then, there have been many refugee cases in which IJ’s, the BIA, and federal appeals courts have considered LGBTQ applicants to be members of a “particular social group.” Indeed, in recent years, the Ninth Court of Appeals has issued a series of decisions finding that transgender people in Mexico are a particular social group that is highly vulnerable to persecution, to the extent of being presumptively entitled to protection under the international Convention against Torture. The court has taken particular note of the history of Mexican police officers and soldiers sexually assaulting and severely beating transgender women. These Ninth Circuit opinions have routinely reversed rulings by the BIA and criticized both the Board and Immigration Judges for inappropriately relying on civil rights advances by the gay community in Mexico that have not necessarily benefited transgender people there, and for failing to consider sexual assaults by police and military personnel to be government actions. In his June 11 opinion, Sessions stated that an applicant for asylum has the burden to show “membership in a particular group, which is composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic, is defined with particularity, and is socially distinct within the society

in question; that her membership in that group is a central reason for her persecution; and that the alleged harm is inflicted by the government of her home country or by person that the government in unwilling or unable to control.” He also wrote, “When the applicant is the victim of private criminal activity, the analysis must also consider whether government protection is available, internal relocation is possible, and persecution exists countrywide.” For LGBTQ asylum applicants whose main persecutors are family members — parents, siblings, uncles, or cousins — or neighbors, fellow students, or co-workers, there have been some cases where IJ’s, the BIA, and the courts have accepted evidence that the government was unconcerned and would not provide protection. Such evidence usually takes the form of showing that the persecuted individual either unsuccessfully sought law enforcement help or was unable to in light of the welldocumented negative attitudes of law enforcement officers toward LGBTQ people. In some cases, however, the applicants have not been able to connect the necessary dots to make these showings and, even though having suffered severe persecution, were unable to win asylum. These cases can be difficult and complicated for many reasons, including language barriers, lack of documentary evidence, and a predisposition by many IJ’s and the BIA to be skeptical about the undocumented claims of applicant. That predisposition will be exacerbated by recent reports that the Justice Department is contemplating quotas for the IJ’s to speed up the hearing process. Another frequent problem is that individuals when first confronted by a government official upon entering the US, not being well informed about the evidentiary requirements, not assisted by a lawyer, and, in some cases, speaking a dialect in which avail-

ASYLUM, continued on p.38

37


ASYLUM, from p.37

able interpreters may not be fully conversant, may give a version of their story that varies — or seems to vary — from what they may state later in writing or as a hearing witness. IJ’s and the BIA frequently draw adverse conclusions about credibility based on such discrepancies. It doesn’t help their case that most applicants do not have legal representation, resulting in spectacles like young children representing themselves without adult assistance. Sessions’ decision sought to tighten up the requirements for qualifying as a member of a “particular social group.” Although he focused on a woman claiming asylum as a victim of domestic violence, some of his language suggested possible disagreement down the line with decisions that have granted asylum to LGBTQ people. The courts have been divided in their handling of domestic violence cases, noting that the law’s explicitly listed categories do not include sex so that women, as such, do not constitute a particular group “socially distinct within the society in question.” One of Sessions’ apparent goals in this decision is to try to bring some order to the case law by imposing a strict analytical test, under which women who suffer domestic violence are seen as individual victims rather than members of a particular social group. Evidence that a society has a “culture” of tolerating physical abuse of wives by their husbands did not strike him as a basis for concluding that women facing such abuse could be seen as a “social group.” Sessions also expressed his disapproval of decisions that have, in his view, too easily allowed applicants to assert, without adequate proof, that their home government is or would be indifferent to the harms they suffer. In the case he chose to review, a BIA decision from 2016, he noted evidence that the applicant had obtained court orders of protection and lived in a country, El Salvador, whose criminal laws address violence within families. A recent decision by the Philadelphia-based Third Circuit Court of Appeals denying refugee protection to a gay applicant from Honduras

38

illustrates some of these problems in an LGBTQ context. In MartinezAlmendares v. Attorney General, released on May 2, the three-judge panel went to some lengths to explain why it was rejecting the petitioner’s challenge to an IJ ruling denying relief upheld by the BIA. As in many such cases, the petitioner here did not have legal representation at any point in the process, including his appeal to the court. All but a very small proportion of refugee appeal cases are decided entirely based on written submissions to the court, which rarely provides petitioners the opportunity to present their cases orally in front of judges, and most opinions are not officially published. Some circuit courts have been so flooded with immigration appeals in recent years they have set up special procedures to expedite the cases. Selvin Martinez-Almendares tried to enter the US on October 8, 2015, when he was taken into custody by Customs and Border Patrol agents. He then sought to claim refugee status. Immigration Judge Silvia A. Arellano rejected his claims and the BIA affirmed her decision. Martinez-Almendares grew up in a small town where he was not out to anybody and feared a violent response from his father if he came out, but his mother had a close friend who was a gay man and — according to the hearing record before Arellano — lived openly in the town without any problem. Martinez-Almendares claimed that he knew only two gay men in Honduras — his mother’s friend and one other. Martinez-Almendares moved to a city where he worked for a transportation company. He was the victim of a robbery by an armed gang member at his workplace, but there was no evidence his sexual orientation had anything to do with it. Nor was he personally acquainted with any gay people who encountered difficulties in Honduras because of their sexual orientation. However, based on television reports about gay men being targeted for violent crimes and his belief the government would not protect gay people from gang violence, a pervasive problem in Honduras, MartinezAlmendares decided to leave for the US.

The court observed that he had not personally suffered any persecution in Honduras on account of his sexual orientation, so he was not qualified for asylum. The panel also found that the evidence Martinez-Almendares presented did not compel a conclusion that he would suffer such persecution, much less torture, because of his sexual orientation if he were returned to Honduras. The BIA pointed out that the example of his mother’s gay friend showed that he could live as a gay man in his hometown without fear of persecution. The court also noted that Honduras now bans sexual orientation discrimination by law. Martinez-Almendares’ argument boiled down to general evidence that Honduras was afflicted with out-of-control gang violence and there were media reports of gay men being victims of such violence, but the court did not see that as sufficient to meet the stringent standards for refugee relief, especially since the reports about gang violence were more generalized. Among other things, the court agreed with the BIA that MartinezAlmendares had failed to show that the violent gangs in Honduras would necessarily know he was gay or that they would single him out for persecution on that basis. The gangs went after everybody who might appear vulnerable, regardless of their sexual orientation, the panel concluded. It is clear from this case that the US refugee system is not set up to automatically grant refugee status to gay people from Honduras based solely on generalized reports about the dangerous situation there and its government’s flailing attempts to deal with it. As Sessions emphasized in his June 11 decision, evidence of individualized risk based on a listed characteristic or membership in a particular social group is the keystone of the refugee system. It is difficult, in many cases virtually impossible, for an asylum applicant — especially one held in detention under the Trump administration’s announced zero tolerance policy for unlawful entrants — to succeed without the assistance of a lawyer to assemble the necessary evidence and present his case to meet this standard. The court’s opinion anticipated many of the statements Sessions made in

his June 11 opinion to justify the conclusion that applicants whose claim for asylum rested on past persecution by their family members or criminal gangs should usually not be found qualified for US asylum. Although gang violence was not a focus of the decision Sessions was reviewing, he addressed it in his opinion. “Generally,” he wrote, “claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum. While I do not decide that violence inflicted by non-governmental actors may never serve as the basis for an asylum or withholding application based on membership in a particular social group, in practice such claims are unlikely to satisfy the statutory grounds for proving group persecution that the government is unable or unwilling to address. The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes — such as domestic violence or gang violence — or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim.” Taking a hardline position, Sessions wrote, “An alien may suffer threats and violence in a foreign country for any number of reasons relating to her social, economic, family, or other personal circumstances. Yet the asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune. It applies when persecution arises on account of membership in a protected group and the victim may not find protection except by taking refuge in another country.” It is worth underscoring that the treatment of LGBTQ people as a “protected group” currently relies on administrative interpretations subject to change by the antiLGBTQ Trump administration. Sessions’ Justice Department has already gone on record in amicus briefs and court arguments opposing attempts to establish protection against discrimination for LGBTQ people under federal sex discrimination laws, in a sharp reversal of positions taken by federal agencies under President Barack Obama. It would not be surprising were Sessions to overrule past BIA precedents extending protection to queer asylum applicants, as well. June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


REMEMBRANCE

Beit Simchat Torah Honors Connie Kurtz Surviving spouse Ruthie Berman surrounded by couple’s many New York friends BY ANDY HUMM

V

eteran lesbian activist Connie Kurtz, who died May 27 at age 81, got to speak at her own memorial service at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST) as her wife and partner of 44 years, Ruthie Berman, was surround by the love of their New York friends. The June 14 service was two days after the second anniversary of the Pulse massacre and the LGBTQ synagogue was draped in Gilbert Baker-made Rainbow Flags bearing names of the 49 killed at that Orlando Latinx LGBTQ club. A video of Kurtz’s impassioned speech two years ago in Florida, where she and Berman lived in recent years, spoke loudly to us today: “We cannot wait for the next tragedy to happen! We need to vote and register people. That’s how I mourn.” Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, who led this service as she did Kurtz’s funeral in West Palm Beach, said to Berman, “The last time I saw Connie she said to me, ‘Take care of Ruthie.’ In Connie’s memory, we are here to surround you with New York love. Connie is with us today.”

ANDY HUMM

Ruthie Berman with Ron Madson and Richard Dietz, co-plaintiffs with her and Connie Kurtz, in seeking domestic partner benefits from the city, at Kurtz’s June 14 memorial service at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.

Kleinbaum also said, “Eighty-one was too early. How does one sum up a force of nature? It was all love with Ruthie and Connie” — the couple embracing and holding dear Connie’s ultraorthodox son Moishe and her secular, anti-religious daughter Eileen from her previous marriage. “This is family values,” Kleinbaum said. Moishe Kurtz had spoken movingly at his

mother’s funeral, saying, “You honored everybody and that’s why everybody is honoring you… There’s not such far people like me and my mother, but we were so close!” Moishe gave his mother 12 grandchildren “who loved her.” Berman spoke to us mourners in New York, admitting to nervousness, saying, “I’m used to speaking to people I don’t know. I can tell them anything.” The 2002 documentary about the couple was called “Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House,” and Berman spoke of how Connie inhabited every one of them — from the kitchen (“a great cook who was a culinary Jew”) to the bathroom, where Connie did her art, to the living room, where the two relaxed and enjoyed music. “But the most important room was the bedroom,” Berman said. “In 44 years, we never went to sleep angry at each other.” She also said, “We loved our life of activism and coming out was our theme.” Among the mourners were Ron Madson and Richard Dietz, one of the two other couples who

CONNIE KURTZ, continued on p.110

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f it’s the Monday prior to the last Sunday in June, that means the LGBT Community Center is hosting its annual Garden Party kick-off to Pride Week. This year, the open-air tastings fest was held on Pier 84 at West 44th Street at the Hudson River. Though

42

fair skies held for most of the day, the appearance of lightning over the river meant — by Parks Department edict — that the fun had to be cut a bit short. Which was just as well, since by the time the crowd made it over to West Street the Heavens unleashed buckets of rain. Center executive director Glenn-

GARDEN PARTY, continued on p.43

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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GARDEN PARTY, from p.42

da Testone was host to the fun, and VIP appearances were made by City Human Rights Commission Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis as well as Governor Andrew Cuomoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s out gay counsel Alphonso David, who joined Judith Kasen-Windsor on the stage, just two days before what would have been Judithâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s late wife GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018

Edieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 89th birthday. Davidâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s boss declared Wednesday, June 20 â&#x20AC;&#x153;Edie Windsor Day in New York State,â&#x20AC;? in honor of the pioneering marriage equality litigant. Longtime activist Shep Wahnonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s colorful shirt (top left) reminded everybody that all this fun was brought to them by a group of angry West Village LGBTQ club-goers nearly 49 years ago.

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CIVIL RIGHTS

Protecting Trans People Without Saying So Obscure NYS appellate ruling buries the important precedent it sets BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

T

alk about hiding the ball! On June 6, a unanimous four-judge panel of the New York Appellate Division’s Second Department, based in Brooklyn, confirmed a State Division of Human Rights (SDHR) order that had adopted a decision by an administrative law judge ruling that a Port Jervis employer violated the law when it discharged a transgender employee. But nobody reading the court’s short memorandum opinion — or the short agency opinion and order — would have any idea the case involved a gender identity discrimination claim. Surprisingly — given the novelty of the legal issues involved — only the administrative law judge’s opinion, an internal agency document, communicates what the case is actually about. Erin Fuller, a transgender woman, was fired by Mark Rea, the owner of Advanced Recovery, on August 10, 2010, the day she presented her supervisor with a copy of a court order authorizing her change of name to Erin. Rea called Fuller into his office and, according to her, said in the supervisor’s presence, “Now I have a problem with your condition. I have to let you go.” Rea and other company officials were aware Fuller was transitioning, since the year before she presented them with a doctor’s letter explaining her gender dysphoria diagnosis and the steps she would be taking to transition. On at least one occasion Rea reacted adversely to Fuller’s mode of dress, but it wasn’t until he was presented with the legal name change that he apparently decided that he no longer wanted to retain Fuller, a good worker with the company for more than two years. When Fuller went back later to pick up her final paycheck, a supervisor told her that “he felt bad, but your job would be waiting for you as

44

long as you came in wearing normal clothes.” Attempting to escape possible liability, Rea and the company’s lawyer later came up with a termination letter that cited other reasons for firing Fuller and said nothing about her name change, mode of dress, or gender identity, but they never sent her that letter. It first surfaced as evidence at the SDHR law judge’s hearing on Fuller’s discrimination claim. The discharge came five years before Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the SDHR to adopt a policy under which gender identity discrimination claims would be deemed covered by the state’s ban on sex discrimination. Fuller filed her complaint with SDHR in 2010, checking the boxes for “sex” and “disability” as the unlawful grounds for her termination. After the company received the complaint, it apparently prompted local police to arrest Fuller for altering a medical prescription, a spurious charge based on her changing the pronouns on the note written by a doctor on a prescription form after she missed a few days of work due to hospital treatment. She didn’t immediately think to amend her discrimination claim to allege retaliation, unfortunately waiting until her hearing to raise the issue. The administrative law judge, Robert M. Vespoli, found she had waited too long to assert that claim. Attorneys Stephen Bergstein and Helen Ullrich of New Paltz, who represented Fuller throughout her case, persuaded Vespoli that she had a valid claim and that the reasons given by the employer for firing her were pretexts for discrimination. Relying on a scattering of trial court decisions holding that transgender people are protected from discrimination under state law,

SILENT WIN, continued on p.109

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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CRIME

 

          

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Longtime Gay Death Row Inmateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Appeal Denied Supreme Court declines to consider evidence of jurorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; bias BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

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he Supreme Court has denied a petition from South Dakota gay death row inmate Charles Russell Rhines, who challenges the fairness of his death sentence in light of evidence that some jurors took anti-gay stereotypes into account while determining his sentence. In line with normal practice, the Supreme Court merely listed the case as â&#x20AC;&#x153;certiorari deniedâ&#x20AC;? on June 18 without explanation. Rhines was convicted on murder and burglary charges in January 1993. His homosexuality featured in the testimony of several witnesses during the guilt phase of the trial. Rhines was charged with viciously hacking to death a man who blundered onto the crime scene where Rhines was committing a burglary. After Rhines was convicted, the court took evidence on the penalty phase, which included testimony by one of Rhinesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; sisters that he was gay and had â&#x20AC;&#x153;struggled with his sexual identity.â&#x20AC;? The jury began deliberating on the penalty on the afternoon of January 25, and sent out a lengthy note to the judge early on January 26: â&#x20AC;&#x153;In order to award the proper punishment we need a clear perspective on what â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Life in Prison Without Paroleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; really means. We know what the Death Penalty means, but we have no clue as to the reality of Life Without Parole. The questions we have are as follows: 1. Will Mr. Rhines ever be placed in a minimum security prison or be given work release. 2. Will Mr. Rhines be allowed to mix with the general inmate population. 3. Allowed to create a group of followers or admirers. 4. Will Mr. Rhines be allowed to discuss, describe or brag about his crime to other inmates, especially new

and or young men jailed for lesser crimes (ex: Drugs, DWI, assault, etc.). 5. Will Mr. Rhines be allowed to marry or have conjugal visits. 6. Will he be allowed to attend college. 7. Will Mr. Rhines be allowed to have or attain any of the common joys of life (ex TV, Radio, Music, Telephone or hobbies and other activities allowing him distraction from his punishment). 8. Will Mr. Rhines be jailed alone or will he have a cellmate. 9. What sort of free time will Mr. Rhines have (what would his daily routine be). We are sorry, Your Honor, if any of these questions are inappropriate but there seems to be a huge gulf between our two alternatives. On one hand there is Death, and on the other hand what is life in prison w/out parole.â&#x20AC;? The judge responded by telling the jury that â&#x20AC;&#x153;all the information I can give you is set forth in the jury instructionsâ&#x20AC;? and he refused a defense request to tell the jury not to base its decision â&#x20AC;&#x153;on speculation or guesswork.â&#x20AC;? Eight hours later, the jury returned a death sentence. Seizing on the questions in the jurorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; note to the judge, Rhines appealed his sentence, arguing that they acted under the influence of passion, prejudice, and other arbitrary factors, but the South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed his sentence, relying on jurorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; statements during the selection process that they could be fair and the courtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s view that none of the questions in the note reflected anti-gay bias. Still on death row a quarter century later, and having failed in every attempt so far to get postconviction relief from the state or federal courts, Rhines took new hope from a decision issued by the Supreme Court on March 6, 2017 in Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado. In

ä&#x2030;´

DEATH ROW, continued on p.109

June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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HEALTH

New Prevention Drive at the Village Apothecary Independent Bleecker Street pharmacy, long on AIDS frontline, part of PEP pilot program BY GABE HERMAN

T

he Village Apothecary, a proudly independent pharmacy, has been a West Village fi xture since opening 35 years ago. Which means it came of age just at the height of the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s HIV crisis. Now the pharmacy, at Bleecker and West 10th Streets, is aiming to build on that legacy as it expands to offer new health programs, remodels its store, and evolves with the times in other ways, as well. With a staff of about a dozen, several of them have become reliable faces in the neighborhood. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a definite connection,â&#x20AC;? said pharmacist Norman Saban, who remembers the exact day he started at the Apothecary: May 14, 1985 His early recollections of his time at the Village Apothecary include the hundreds of people who came to

GABE HERMAN CREDIT

The Village Apothecary is part of a state pilot program to get pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, into the hands of people with a potential recent exposure to HIV.

receive AZT, at the time a new drug that many other pharmacies didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t carry. He recalls the storeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s founder, Michael Konnon, hooking the pharmacy up early with the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which provided support for uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive people. ADAP remains the way many Village Apothecary customers pay for their anti-HIV drugs. Saban said he remembers open-

Village Apothecary staff members, from left, Arnel Molina, Shaili Patel, Norman Saban, Eric Lora, Alex Chavez, John Kaliabakos, and Himanshu Patel.

ing hundreds of boxes of AZT medication from ADAP every day in the â&#x20AC;&#x2122;80s. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was scary,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A lot of sick people.â&#x20AC;? In the decades since, the Village Apothecary has continued to provide medicine and personalized care to customers living with HIV and AIDS, often coordinating with local doctors and hospitals. For this and its general health services to the community, Mayor Bill de Blasio on January 18 this year issued an offi-

cial proclamation dubbing it â&#x20AC;&#x153;Village Apothecary Day.â&#x20AC;? The Apothecary has recently joined a new state initiative called PEP 4 HIV Prevention, a pilot effort to connect people who have had a potential recent exposure to the virus with preventive medication to avoid infection. The treatment must start within 72 hours of exposure, and involves a seven-day regiment. The pharmacy refers those custom-

ä&#x2030;´

APOTHECARY, continued on p.61

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INDIA, from p.33

of your sexual temptations outside and go inside the temple purified.” Other guides told me otherwise: that sex was simply another manifestation of the life force, like water, which was also always present in temples — either symbolically, through stone renderings of conch shells and waves, or literally, with statues of the gods offered water for washing every day and the spent water trickling through the temple grounds from decorated stone spouts. Afterward, we drove to a larger active temple. Here a number of young couples were entering barefoot after their marriage ceremonies. The women wore lots of gold jewelry and elaborate wedding saris shot with bright metallic threads, their hands and feet decorated with intricate henna designs. The men wore more dark formal suits, although some grooms, obviously poorer, wore only jeans and a jacket. Some brides were veiled. People bowed to the couples in acknowledgement of this extremely important ritual in their lives:

marriage, I understood, did not simply link two people of the opposite sex, but two families and their extended communities, now bound together permanently. At our next stop, Jodhpur, we stayed at the Raas Haveli Hotel, an extremely modern, designer creation built next to a mosque. We were awakened at 6 a.m. by the amplified sound of the muezzin calling worshippers to prayer. Our room was beautifully appointed but not sound-proof, so earplugs were placed on each side of our large double bed, one of two such beds in the room. Getting to the hotel was not easy, driving through enough traffic to make a New York rush hour look like a picnic. We were greeted with mint tea and cookies, and a bindi placed as a “welcome” on our foreheads. The Raas, several connected buildings on a steep rise, had a swimming pool, an extremely good restaurant, and a wonderfully attentive staff. A mark of India is how kind people are in any commercial situation; in a country of 1.3 billion, with a large unemployment rate, any job is considered a special

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lowed by Indians today. The sacraments begin at conception, rather than birth. After birth, the date of your conception is determined by a Brahman, who also decides your birth sign, very important for major life decisions, which is also linked to your conception. The next sacrament is when a Brahman assigns an alphabet letter to you, based on your astrological sign. The letter will be then given to an elder relative who alone will decide what your name will be. Hindus do not circumcise, but numerous other sacraments connect the child to family and community. A ceremony is held when the child is weaned off mother’s milk, when the child has their first solid meal, when the boy infant’s head is shaved or the girl’s hair is braided, and when the child is brought for their first real temple visit. There is also a sacrament when the young-adult male is brought into the temple to proclaim his virginity before marriage, a sacra-

calling, with many expected courtesies attached to it. Our guide in Jodhpur was a young, tall, beefy man named Goldie. He explained that “Goldie” was a nickname because as a large, very desired boy-child he was deemed in his family “the Golden One.” Our first stop was at the Royal Crematory, actually a series of small, marble, beautifully decorated monuments, or cenotaphs, near the Mehrangarh Fort, for the royal family of Jodhpur. Memory is important in India, where close to a million gods are worshipped and memories easily become myths. Goldie introduced himself to us as a Hindu of the Warrior Caste. “It is the second caste after the Brahmans, the priests,” he explained. He then told us about the “14 Sacraments of Hinduism, something even some Hindus don’t know about,” which were fascinating to me, if not a bit chilling because they locked you into a family structure that I, as a gay man, could easily imagine not wanting to be locked into — and which, I learned, were still very much fol-

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June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


INDIA, from p.50

ment of proclaiming a forthcoming marriage, and, of course, the wedding itself. At each sacrament, the whole family is brought in, including distant relatives and family friends. Finally, at death, the family assembles again: to wash the corpse and arrange the cremation, which must happen two days after death. The cremation happens outside, by a moving river. “When the body has been 80 percent consumed by firewood, the eldest son will be brought forth to do another sacrament — to smash the skull with a wooden pole, so that the soul will be released from the skull and can fly up to heaven,” Goldie explained. “A short time later, the ashes will be upturned into the river, to join the origin of all life, water.” I asked Goldie what happens when there’s no eldest son for this? “Then another relative is adopted to do it, and as a major heir, he is given a large part of the estate.” Listening to Goldie, I clearly understood something important about India: in this teeming, crowded country, family and the connections with it are the only protection you have. The Hindu sacraments make sure that you can never leave the family — which, again, must make life for many of today’s out gay Hindus… well, Hell itself, or a Hindu version of it. After Jodhpur we drove on to Jaipur, through a long, mostly listless expanse of flat countryside, avoiding the ever-present cows, packs of bony dogs, and people who simply wander onto the highway. Road rage, Satjiat informed us, is common in India. So is rape. “Women are safe in America,” he said. “But not India. We have a lot of rape. A woman is afraid to be alone here after dark.” In Jaipur, we stayed at the Samode Haveli, one of the great old British Raj-style hotels. We had another local guide, a late middleaged Muslim man named Hamdu, who took us through the Amber Fort, another huge edifice perched above a city. As part of a brigade of tourists, we rode up to the fort on the back of an elephant. Barely seated in a swaying howdah, I was terrified of falling off. This always GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

looked so much better in movies! (And with the trail up to the fortress thickly littered with elephant dung, you don’t want to know about the smell!) Hamdu, like most guides, asked if we were married. We answered no. “Do you have children?” I said no. “Then you are all alone,” he said emphatically. “No!” I countered. “Why would I be alone?” He realized he had gone too far, and apologized. I explained to him that in America, especially New York, being single does not at all mean you are alone. This came, strangely, as new information for him. I thought: Hadn’t any other American explained this to him before? India still wants to be its own world. It almost can be, it’s so big. It is forecast that in 10 years, its population will exceed China’s, where birth control and education have put a rein on overpopulation. Thirty percent of Indians are still illiterate; the vast majority live in villages where honor killings are still done to couples who marry outside their caste. At this point, Hugh and I experienced something I’d never had before: true culture shock. You feel exhausted by everything — the sheer strangeness of it all and the myriad contradictions of India, like seeing groups of young men holding hands on the street, but most people not touching at all, even when crammed onto scooters; the sheer sweetness of Indians, then the thought of honor killings, rape, and other violence. And the constant tipping: everyone wanted to be tipped for almost anything, so you had to make decisions all the time about when and how to do it. Finally, the strange combustibility of India’s almost routine seductiveness and as well as its homophobia… and then the hijras. Hijras are India’s transgender women; historically, many were eunuchs. We asked the guides about them; at first they pretended not to know, then admitted they did exist. “Often at weddings where they perform music, or ask for money in exchange for blessings,” we were told.

INDIA, continued on p.54

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liquid and coagulated blood in Hawkins’ chest indicating that he was alive for some time after being stabbed. “There was no injury that was immediately incompatible with life,” she said. “He was active long enough to bleed into his chest.” The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office was confronted with several obstacles in bringing this cold case to trial. The original investigative file at the 10th precinct, which is directly across 20th Street from the Hawkins’ apartment, was lost. Several pieces of physical evidence were stored in an NYPD warehouse that was flooded by Hurricane Sandy. Police and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules bar police from handling that evidence because it is tainted by toxic chemicals. The case relies on the testimony of a neighbor who heard the struggle in Hawkins’ apartment and then heard one person exit the building. Only Francis’ and Hawkins’ blood was found at the scene. An inmate at Rikers Island who was housed with Francis told jurors that Francis admitted to killing Hawkins. Prosecutors also played a recording of a call between Francis and his wife in which he said to her, “Don’t make me kill again” and “Don’t make me fuck you up.” After his 2012 arrest, he was placed in a car with Siobhan Berry, a detective in the prosecutor’s office, and spontaneously said, “That’s not me. The first I heard of it, 25 times. That’s not me. I have no remorse, no

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1993 MURDER, from p.20

TRANS SERVICE, from p.20

by the Army chief of staff, General Mark Milley, and the chief of naval operations, Admiral John Richardson, that there were no problems with transgender people serving, as thousands are now doing. Milley stated he “monitors very closely” the situation and had received “precisely zero”’ reports of problems. Similarly, Richardson said that in his experience “it’s steady as she goes.” Pechman found that staying her injunction would likely cause irreparable injury to the plaintiffs. She also held that “maintain-

remorse, only for myself.” In 1993, Francis did seek medical attention for his hand, but in the Bronx where he lived. He did not go to the 10th precinct after being attacked. The evidence is that Francis was told soon after August 15, 1993 that Hawkins had been murdered and he did not go to police then. “I don’t like investigation or the police or snitching,” he said when cross-examined by Coleen Balbert, the assistant district who is prosecuting the case along with Annie Siegel, also an assistant district attorney. Juries can respond positively to defendants who testify though it is impossible to measure the impact of such testimony until after a verdict. What may harm Francis’ credibility is that he had very specific memories of what occurred on August 15, 1993, but otherwise could not recall details of his other encounters with Hawkins or anyone else from that time. “You were able to remember with particularity the conversation you had with James Hawkins on August 15, 1993,” Balbert said as she pressed Francis on his recollections from 1993. As she continued to question him, moments later, Francis said ,“I really can’t remember. You want me to be specific, but I really can’t.” Francis insisted that police testimony of his earlier conflicting accounts of the 1993 events were lies and that he never admitted to the killing to the other Rikers Island inmate. Francis insisted they were never even housed together. “It’s a conspiracy,” he said as Balbert questioned him.

ing the injunction pending appeal advances the public’s interest in a strong national defense, as it allows skilled and qualified service members to continue to serve their country.” The plaintiffs in the Seattle case are represented by attorneys affiliated with Lambda Legal, OutserveSLDN, and Seattle local counsel Newman & Du Wors LLP. The State of Washington, co-plaintiff in the case, is represented by attorneys from Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago and the Washington Attorney General’s Office. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have filed amicus briefs on behalf of the plaintiffs. June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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INDIA, from p.51

I started to recognize them on the streets or coming out of shops, bigger than the average Indian woman, with a more aggressive walk or a slight shadow of beard. They were often at stalled traffic intersections, asking for money from motorists. I pointed them out to Hugh and was sorry that in the rush of our tour I never got to speak to one, but this would have probably required a guide or translator, as well, and the chances of all of that occurring were slim. Finally we got to Agra and the Taj Mahal. Our guide was a charming, youngish, 30-something Hindu Brahman who went by K-K, a stand-in for a much longer name. K-K was trained as an archeologist and was the most personable of our guides. At one point he said to us, “Ask me anything you like about India, anything at all.” I had to ask him, “I noticed that touching is difficult in India — you see young men and boys touching, even holding hands, but mostly people keep apart from each other. Especially on scooters — people riding on them don’t hold on to each other. Am I wrong about this?” “No,” he explained. “Touching here is very sensitive. You don’t see couples touching in public. It’s not something you do. You have to be careful whom you touch and when. It’s not like in America where everyone shakes hands and even hugs. We’re also very sensitive about GLBT issues, but you probably know that.” This was the first time anyone had brought that up, acknowledging that Hugh and I were a couple. It was also an acknowledgement that for straight couples to touch, much less kiss in public, was a sign of private sexuality that should not be demonstrated in the open in any form, probably out of an imposed modesty left over from the repressive centuries of the Raj. Boys touching was different; it was actually considered a repudiation of sexuality coming from their innate “innocence.” Some gay men might question this, but in the eyes of the Indian public, there was no question about it. K-K told us about himself. He had an arranged marriage and two kids, and money problems really bothered him. Even with fam-

ily ties, it was hard to hold on to the middle class in India. “You are so lucky to be born in the US,” he said. “You don’t know how lucky you are.” Hugh and I looked at each other. “Yes,” I said. “We do.” We were able to see the Taj Mahal, guided by K-K, before sunrise, the perfect time to see it. The first view of it, in semi-darkness, as the sun edged toward it, was like some floating moon turned to marble. It is at once arresting, exciting, and slightly unnerving: how can anything be so simple and beautiful? Its flawless whiteness with the Arabic lettering on it in black inlaid onyx, and then the flowers on it like embroidery in precious stones — real ones: lapis, tourmaline, rubies, and garnets, among others. The dome was perfect: exquisite proportions that mushroomed from a smaller base, so that it looked like a glowing paper lantern about to ascend into the soft dawn-gray. We entered, saw the tombs, the inner chambers, and finally the promenades around the central building, flanked by four slender minarets. The minarets were not perpendicular, but purposefully built at a slight angle away from the tomb, so that if the building were ever attacked by another rival prince, they would not collapse on it, harming it. How strange that this luminous monument to love, that of the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who had died bearing their 14th child, would be built so defensively, but there it was. India. Long-time activist and writer Perry Brass has published 19 books including “How Survive Your Own Gay Life,” “The Manly Art of Seduction,” “King of Angels,” a Southern-gay-Jewish coming-of-age novel, and “The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love.” He joined New York’s Gay Liberation Front right after Stonewall, and, in 1972, with two friends founded the Gay Men’s Health Project Clinic, which survives today as the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. Brass is currently working on “A Real Life,” a memoir about his first year away from home, at 17, when he hitchhiked to San Francisco, an adventure that he recalls was “like Mark Twain with drag queens.” He can be reached through perrybrass.com. June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018

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the work that the international organizations are doing and how can we elevate the work that Latinos are doing across the United States in topics like immigration, representation in media, and also leadership, as well as HIV. So, I think we have a lot to do to make sure that Latinos are represented in the work of LGBTQ organizations.â&#x20AC;? During his conference closing talk, the UNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gilmour spoke on a variety of human rights issues beyond LGBTQ topics, ranging from Gaza to the separation of children from immigrants at the US border, which he described as â&#x20AC;&#x153;despicable.â&#x20AC;? When asked about the increasing potency of nationalism worldwide and its impact on human rights, Gilmour said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are talking about places in Europe, Western Europe and Eastern Europe, and the United States. Now these countries are traditionally and claim to be attendant to human rights,â&#x20AC;? but are currently looking for scapegoats and blaming immigrants and other marginalized communities for their problems.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;The fact that Europe and the United States are seen as stepping back and being less vocal on rights, emboldens those countries â&#x20AC;&#x201D; I am talking about Russia, China, in the UN, and many others â&#x20AC;&#x201D; who are actually failing on human rights [and they] can point to the West and the hypocrisy of the West, saying, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;They do it as well.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? Despite the apparent backsliding across a spectrum of human rights issues, Gilmour said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;What I am hoping for comes out of this bad moment when it comes to human rights at a government level is that citizens will do more.â&#x20AC;? He said he would like to see more cooperation among LGBTQ, womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, and other human rights groups. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have to have far more alliances, so people donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just stand up and say I am going to be an LGBT activist, I am going to be a womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s activist, I am going to be a Black Lives Matter activist,â&#x20AC;? Gilmour said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They are all under threat, but they are not going to prevail if they just stay in their silos and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t crossfertilize and come together.â&#x20AC;?

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RELIGIOUS OPT-OUTS, from p.26

2006, where the Supreme Court rejected a free speech challenge by an organization of law schools to a federal law requiring them to host military recruiters even though the Defense Department at the time discriminated against gay people. The law schools claimed that complying with the law would violate their First Amendment rights, but the high court said that the challenged law did not limit what the schools could say, rather what they could do â&#x20AC;&#x201D; that is, conduct, not speech. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We find Rumsfeld controlling in this case,â&#x20AC;? wrote Winthrop. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Like Rumsfeld, [the ordinance] requires that places of public accommodation provide equal services if they want to operate their business. While such a requirement may impact speech, such as prohibiting places of public accommodation from posting signs that discriminate against customers, this impact is incidental to properly regulated conduct.â&#x20AC;? The court, further distinguishing this case from the Boston St. Patrickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Day ruling, found that Brush & Nibâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s creation of merchandise for same-sex weddings does not qualify as expressive conduct. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The items Appellants would produce for a same-sex or opposite-sex wedding would likely be indistinguishable to the public,â&#x20AC;? Winthrop wrote. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Take for instance an invitation to the marriage of Pat and Pat (whether created for Patrick and Patrick, or Patrick and Patricia), or Alex and Alex (whether created for Alexander and Alexander, or Alexander and Alexa). This invitation would not differ in creative expression. Further, it is unlikely that a general observer would attribute a companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s product or offer of services, in compliance with the law, as indicative of the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s speech or personal beliefs. The operation of a stationery store â&#x20AC;&#x201D; including the design and sale of customized wedding event merchandise â&#x20AC;&#x201D; is not expressive conduct, and thus, is not entitled to First Amendment free speech protection.â&#x20AC;? Turning to the free exercise of religion issue, the court rejected the argument that requiring the business to provide goods and services for same-sex weddings imposed a substantial burden on the business

ownersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; religious beliefs, despite the ownersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; claim that it could â&#x20AC;&#x153;decrease the satisfactionâ&#x20AC;? with which they practice their religion. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Appellants are not penalized for expressing their belief that their religion only recognizes the marriage of opposite sex couples,â&#x20AC;? wrote Winthrop. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Nor are Appellants penalized for refusing to create wedding-related merchandise as long as they equally refuse similar services to opposite-sex couples. [The ordinance] merely requires that, by operating a place of public accommodation, Appellants provide equal goods and services to customers regardless of sexual orientation.â&#x20AC;? Brush & Nibâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s owners could stop selling wedding-related goods altogether, but what they â&#x20AC;&#x153;cannot do is use their religion as a shield to discriminate against potential customers,â&#x20AC;? Winthrop wrote. The city of Phoenix, the court concluded, â&#x20AC;&#x153;has a compelling interest in preventing discrimination, and has done so here through the least restrictive means. When faced with similar contentions, other jurisdictions have overwhelmingly concluded that the government has a compelling interest in eradicating discrimination.â&#x20AC;? The court quoted from the Washington Supreme Courtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision in the Arleneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Flowers case a religious opt-out claim by a florist was rejected, but it could just as well have been quoting Justice Kennedyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s language in Masterpiece Cakeshop. A spokesperson for ADF promptly announced the group would seek review from the Arizona Supreme Court. Whether or not that court accepts the case for review, ADF must take that step prior to petitioning the US Supreme Court, where it is clearly determined to bring this issue once again. The group also represents Arleneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Flowers, whose petition to the Supreme Court is now pending, as well as a Minnesota videography company that, like Brush & Nibs, is affirmatively litigating to get an injunction to allow the company to expand into wedding videos without having to do them for same-sex weddings. A district courtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ruling against that company is now on appeal in the Eighth Circuit. One way or another, it seems likely that this issue will get back to the Supreme Court before too long. June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


SHELTER BEDS, from p.5

people under 25, however, the Legal Aid Society’s Hofmeister said, “We will continue to push this admin-

APOTHECARY, from p.48

ers to a local doctor for further consultation. John Kaliabakos, the director of the Village Apothecary’s pharmacy services, said that although people can already go to walk-in clinics for the same treatment, some might be more comfortable simply visiting their local pharmacy. Kaliabakos, who has been at the Apothecary for 25 years, said the program, with signs in the store windows, increases public awareness of PEP, or postexposure prophylaxis, which many people still don’t know about. The pilot program, run through the state Department of Health’s AIDS Institute, started a couple of months ago and will run through September. If it is judged a success, it will be continued and expanded. “It’s very early,” Kaliabakos of his experience with the pilot effort. “There have only been a very small amount of people that have come in for that. But even if you prevent one case, it’s a success.” He hopes the pilot program will show the same prevention benefits that the availability of clean syringes has had on injection drug users. The pharmacy has participated in the state’s Expanded Syringe Program since its start in 2000. Kaliabakos voiced pride in the Apothecary’s work in fighting HIV. “We’ve always been on the frontlines in the sense that we were one of the first places to stock AZT,” he noted. “As soon as a new HIV drug is available, we have it that same day. We’re coordinating with doctors that are always trying to get the newest thing out there, so any doctor that prescribes that knows that if there’s 30 HIV drugs out there, we have it on the shelf, no matter what. If it’s available, we have it. So in that sense, we always try to be ahead of the game.” The Apothecary worked with the nearby St. Vincent’s Hospital until it was shuttered eight years ago, and continues to coordinate with Bailey House, a nonprofit that has provided housing for people living with AIDS on Christopher Street for more than 30 years. GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

istration until every single young person experiencing homelessness that seeks refuge and support from the continuum of providers gets access to these specialized services.”

Kaliabakos noted that the pharmacy works with its customers to ensure that they have the medications they need and understand the schedule for taking them. They also have to deal with insurance companies’ complicated reimbursement policies. “A lot of our stuff is fighting with insurance companies for people, unfortunately,” he said. Kaliabakos said disputes come up regarding all types of medications, but noted that HIV drugs are among the most expensive medications the pharmacy handles. “We’ll try to either get them covered with supplemental ADAP, or we’ll try to deal with the manufacturers to get them coupons, or some kind of supplemental coverage,” he explained. “We try to take the cost out of the equation, to make sure they get what they need.” Vijay Desai has owned the Apothecary since 2012 and is intent on maintaining the shop’s values. “We want to keep that family, community-owned presence here in the Village,” he said. Desai discussed two recent initiatives — a new location on Eight Avenue at 24th Street, called the Chelsea Apothecary, and medication delivery anywhere in Manhattan below 110th Street. Despite soaring West Village rents that have left vacant storefronts on Bleecker Street, Desai said the Apothecary is in good shape thanks to great community support. “I’m feeling good about us,” he said, “but what’s going on around us is disturbing.” Recent renovations to the Village Apothecary — including a dark wood aesthetic inside, an expanded pharmacy area, and upgrades to all its systems — are nearly complete. Keeping the business open during construction was a challenge, Desai admitted. “It made it tough on us and also our customers,” he said. “But they’re so loyal to us that, we got to this point, we’re good. I’m very happy with how it’s looking, and I think it sets us up for the next 30 years of the Village.”

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COURTESY OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF NEW YORK CIT Y

Río Sofia.

BY RÍO SOFIA

I

’ve been medically transitioning over the past two and a half years and have been a patient at four different clinics in New York City that specifically offer transgender health care. Before finding Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC), my experience navigating all of these clinics had been one of antagonism. From being misgendered on a regular basis by hastily trained staff and given incorrect information about the effects of medicine I was taking, to never being able to get enough time or attention from my doctors, I never felt like I was actually being taken care of. No matter how many times I left one of these clinics feeling worse than I did coming in, I always left feeling shocked and confused. I couldn’t understand how even in such a liberal and metropolitan city like New York — and, no less, at clinics with health care programs supposedly tailored for people like me — I could have such a hard time getting decent health care. Even achieving simple tasks like getting my medication on time felt like taking on a parttime job and often involved having to jump through a series of bureaucratic hoops — only to end up getting them late anyway. Earlier this month, PPNYC honored legendary transgender activist and actress Laverne Cox at its gala. She spoke about how often trans women are left out of conversations about women’s health and how critical it is to alleviate the complex web of barri-

ers to care that so many trans people face in the US. This Pride Month and beyond, I’m hoping we can elevate the needs of my community. There are approximately 1.4 million self-identifying transgender individuals living in the US today, and more than 23,000 in New York. Transgender people often face discrimination and misunderstanding from health care providers along with the violence we face from the wider community. We often don’t have safe, affirming access to primary and preventive care. Mental health issues are common in the trans community, and we are more likely to be unemployed, homeless, and lack familial support. It’s not unusual for us to have to educate our own providers, or even be denied care outright as a result of our gender identity. Health care for trans women and gender non-conforming femmes from top to bottom is, to put it bluntly, a nightmare. Even as someone who navigates the health care system with an immense deal of privilege (I am a citizen, have insurance, live in New York City, am not low-income, and am HIV-negative), I still face insurmountable obstacles to accessing the health care I need. For example, the availability of the estrogen I take, estradiol valerate, has been horribly inconsistent over the past two years, at times being out of stock for several months at a time, due to a manufacturing dilemma I don’t even understand at this point. Since last year, my insurance stopped covering that medication. The lack of security I experience around my health

care means that I never know when I might be facing a new challenge that bars me from my medication. It’s often said that to be a trans woman in the US is to be in a constant state of hyper-vigilance; our relationship to our health care is no different. Things have improved tremendously for me since transitioning my health care to PPNYC last year. I know that no health care provider is perfect — however, speaking for myself I can say I have not had a single negative experience like the ones I had dealt with at other clinics. At PPNYC, I’ve never been misgendered or called by the wrong name. I’ve never felt rushed or ignored by the doctors I’ve seen, and when my medication is available I get it on time. My providers have even asked me questions about my reproductive desires, which for me was so remarkable because the reproductive rights of trans people are just blatantly disregarded by the entire health care system and reproductive health movement. Living in this political climate, it is hard for me to imagine transgender health care getting any better when so much is being taken away from us. The current crisis in transgender health care isn’t just about ability to pay. Solving these complex issues will require a redefining of how we conceive of “access” to include health care that is affirming, empowering, and allows us to be our most authentic selves. Our community has long been marginalized in the fight for health equity, and it’s high time we centered the experiences of transgender women and femmes in our conversations about what makes a just health care system. This is why I so ardently want to protect the relief Planned Parenthood has given me, not just for my sake but for trans communities around the country who all experience significant challenges accessing decent, affordable health care. I hope that as issues in transgender health care gain more visibility, we can see a much needed expansion in comprehensive training for doctors and health care professionals in how to provide women like me the full and compassionate healthcare we need to lead healthy lives. Río Sofia is transgender woman living in Brooklyn and a patient at Planned Parenthood of New York City. You can follow her @rioxofia on Instagram. June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad

State of the Queer Nation 2018: Choosing Hope BY KELLY COGSWELL

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’ve found them — out and proud young lesbians on Twitter. They’re influenced by queer theory, denounce transphobia, but embrace the word lesbian, too, no matter what their pronouns are. One posts a series of lesbian laments along the lines of, “Over a week into Pride Month and I still don’t have a girlfriend. Why?” Another jokes about going full lesbian in the morning as she walks down the street remembering a kiss. Sometimes they squee over Janelle Monáe, Hayley Kiyoko, and Kehlani — and other times comment on how few lines the women of color get in “Ocean’s 8.” For them the world goes on. Trump is banished to the margins. Not in an act of ignorance, but a kind of life-preserving resistance. We have to have hope after all. Why bother fighting for a future if there’s no laughter or no love in it? What a shock, what a delight to read their posts after the apocalyptical notes on Facebook from middle-aged queers like me, who occasionally polka-dot their des-

peration with videos of heroic Minnesotan raccoons. Not that the young ones aren’t occasionally frightened. Not that they don’t take to the streets sometimes. But for them, the daily news has a different resonance and weight. Or at least they hide their terror better. After all, they haven’t done this before. They woke with the 2014 murder by cop of Michael Brown, but were barely in diapers or not yet thought of in 1998 when the African-American man James Byrd was dragged behind a pickup truck, causing his decapitation. Or when the young, gay, and white Matthew Shepard was beaten and left bound to a fence. And retrovirals hit the scene transforming AIDS, which up until then left gay men skeletons and women, well, women don’t get AIDS. They just die from it. Perhaps they were in pre-school when the Supremes awarded George W. Bush the election, the planes struck the Twin Towers, and anybody at all could predict the surge of anti-immigrant, antiMuslim sentiment, the erosion of civil rights, and the destruction of American democracy.

By the time they hit high school, many of them found Gay and Straight Alliances or had vicarious support with “Glee.” Obama was president. Marriage was quickly on the table, though not buying a home. Their mix of whimsy, anger, lust is a great relief. After glancing at the headlines, catching the news, I’m slumped in the corner muttering, “We’re fucked, we’re fucked, we’re fucked.” We Americans slap immigrant children in cages, adults in prison camps, yank naturalized citizens from their homes. Since the Supremes declared open season on queers, “No Gays” signs have sprouted on businesses. I’m afraid HIV will be a death sentence again as Obamacare is slashed by a wannabe dictator president embracing killers and grifters, while our imperfect Democracy, which has allowed whatever progress we’ve made, is laying drunk in a ditch. The sun should topple from the sky in shame. The earth should swallow us all. But never does. I often feel exhausted and alone. Especially when the cynical left gleefully lectures us that America never was great. We’ve always destroyed families — except nice white ones. We’ve always been the absolute worst. Nothing really has changed.

They deny the groundbreaking catastrophe of Trump. And ignore as well the sea change that gave birth to these young dykes on Twitter, most of them young women of color. They deny history as much as the Bible-embracing a-historians of Fake News and Trump. By forgetting — despite this attempted counterrevolution — how much things have changed since the 1990s when Homophobia, Racism, Misogyny, all the Hates, really, hunted openly together like packs of conjoined wolves and activists acting up and fighting back and avenging would be careful to leave demos together, or at least in pairs because everybody had a friend that woke up in the hospital or not at all. I remember hiding my sexual identity, rarely seeing black people on TV except as pimps and hookers. I remember funerals, lots of funerals, and straight people on TV laughing as they said we should all die of AIDS. I remember how the first red ribbons were a big deal. And how girls in my generation were the first to regularly be told we could be doctors. We could be lawyers. Yes, things changed. Not enough. Not for everyone. But things change. There’s no stasis.

CHOOSING HOPE, continued on p.66

PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

Reclaim, Re-Read, Refresh & Regress BY ED SIKOV

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rom Medium.com, a handy place for writers to reach readers without having to go through such pesky, interfering people as editors (pace, Mr. Schindler, sir): “ACTIVISTS FROM RECLAIM PRIDE COALITION DELIVER DEMANDS REGARDING THE NYC PRIDE MARCH TO CITY OFFICIALS, HERITAGE OF PRIDE.” You know you’re in for it when writers push the caps lock key. (Hey, I’ve done it myself!) You also know trouble’s ahead when the word “demands” pops up; it sounds so authoritative, doesn’t it? So much more powerful than the polite but weak “requests.” The article appears to

GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

have been written collectively. So what’s their beef? (Where’s their beef?, one might also ask.) Well… “RPC seeks to forge a community response to the historic and ongoing problems with Heritage of Pride (HOP) and the Manhattan Pride March, which have spanned decades, and include corporate saturation, unnecessary restrictions, and excessive police presence, as well as new and unacceptable changes to the March made by HOP since last year.” The parade — which began as a march of angry protest to commemorate the Stonewall Riots but rather quickly turned into a festive gala with sponsored floats — is, in the eyes and hearts of Reclaim Pride, too corporate. Too police-y. The pa-

rade route has changed. Blah blah blah. If you had told the Stonewall rioters that by 2018, fewer than 50 years after they clobbered the cops, the police would have turned from adversaries to friends (sorry, radical wannabes, but they are), that stores on Fifth Avenue would have special Pride merchandizing in their windows, and that the whole thing would become saturated with corporate cash, they’d have been shocked and probably appalled. But to state the obvious, being out is no longer a radical statement. Sure, it still takes guts to come out to grandma. Trans folks still have it rough, to the point of being murdered. And the LGBTQ communities still face hostility from benight-

ed evangelicals, some key members of the Trump administration, the ascendant far right wing of the Republican Party (see below), and crackpots everywhere. And yet, in a country that is currently ripping migrant children away from their parents, getting all twisted about the Heritage of Pride Parade route is, in a word, pointless. Quotes without comment; a selection of headlines from this week’s media: “Melania Trump weighs in on her husband’s cruel policy. Where are you, Ivanka?” (The Washington Post). “Trump and the Baby Snatchers” (The New York Times).

FOUR R’S, continued on p.67

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PERSPECTIVE: Snide Lines

The Other Side Of Outrage: Mohammad Hamad And Hope BY SUSIE DAY

I

wanted to talk to Mohammad Hamad because, in the midst celebrating our Pride, it may be time to look at some of our prejudices. Mohammad, a 30-year-old Palestinian American, has been on the board of directors of Brooklyn Pride for the last three years. He founded Brooklyn Pride’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and teaches sociology at York College in Queens. He’s also part of an anti-“pinkwashing” campaign and works with the Boycott, Sanction, and Divest (BDS) movement. It’s important to listen to people like Mohammad because most queer communities hear almost nothing about or from Palestinian queers. And because of the deadly progress the Trump administration is making to suppress criticism of the Israeli government’s human rights abuses against Palestinians. I began by asking Mohammad about his Pride organizing. MOHAMMAD HAMAD: I think one of the biggest struggles is people of color feeling accepted in the gay community. To be honest with you, Pride’s a pretty white-dominated celebration. When you’re part of a committee, you want to make sure that every voice — Palestinian or non-Palestinian — is there. So I’m organizing while people are celebrating. I task myself with this. SUSIE DAY: Why are you involved in something you feel is so mainstream? MH: I actually started as a volunteer stage manager for the Brooklyn Parade. They liked my work and said, “How about joining the board?” Sometimes you just throw yourself into something, and that’s what happened here. SD: Do you bring BDS into this organizing? MH: Oh, god — into Pride? Listen, being Palestinian is problematic enough. My first two years organizing, I would avoid the word Palestinian. When I’d create my bio, I’d say, “LGBT rights” or “human rights in the Middle East.” I kept it vague. But people research me or find my social profile. They’ll see that I advocate for Palestinian human rights... The Brooklyn Pride board has faced some external pressure. There was a petition to remove me from the board. There was also a petition based on my Brooklyn Pride work to deport me from the country. But what motivates me to stay with Brooklyn Pride, aside from being a change-maker, is that people wait for it. It only happens once a year, right? It’s exciting to be a part of that, aside from all the craziness and politics involved. But I cannot separate my identity as a Palestinian

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COURTESY OF MOHAMMAD HAMAD

Mohammad Hamad.

from my LGBTQ identity, my queerness. SD: Jewish Voice for Peace — a part of Reclaim Pride — defines pinkwashing as a PR campaign, pitching Israel as the “Gay Mecca” for queers in the Middle East, to cover its apartheid regime. What draws you to confront this? MH: People who pinkwash don’t want to see that there’s a queer Palestinian voice. That debunks the myth that all Palestinians are homophobic, misogynist, anti-trans, right? It’s necessary to teach people about pinkwashing because in American societies, LGBTQ people often prioritize their sexual identity. If you don’t accept me as a gay or lesbian or trans person, then you don’t accept me at all, and the conversation’s over. That’s an easy marketing target for pinkwashing. SD: How does this relate to Palestine? MH: We’re now a stateless people. Even Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship live in an apartheid regime. The level of segregation Palestinians live under in Israel is harder than American apartheid. There are surveys comparing how Israeli Jews feel about Arabs today, and how whites felt about blacks during American apartheid. The racist sentiments are higher now in Palestine than they were here. So how does this relate to Palestine? Being active in the anti-pinkwashing campaign pressures the BDS movement to legitimize our queer identities. We’re at a point, particularly with the boycott movement, where we have to think about what Palestine will look like 10, 20 years from now. This work plays a role in state formation, of what we want our future to be. SD: You say that you, as a Palestinian in this country, are part of a diaspora. What’s that like?

MH: Most of my family lives in Palestine, some in Ramallah, some in Bethlehem. Living here, even for those out of touch, there’s a sense of guilt. I think Puerto Ricans may feel the same way, seeing how their families in Puerto Rico are treated by the US government. There’s a sense of guilt about the luxuries here. Most of my friends, my family are very connected to what’s happening in Palestine. They feel an obligation to support them in some way. Since the day my father came here, he supported his brother living there. It trickles into the family dynamic: “We have to make sacrifices because our folks in Palestine don’t have jobs; they don’t have money; we need to split what little we have.” I think that’s a common Palestinian story, sharing what you have with family abroad. My mother always calls her mother; I always ask about her mother. It’s a ripple effect, right? I have cousins on social media I keep in touch with. SD: Do you get back to Palestine often? MH: I don’t. The last time was 2013 in Bethlehem, when I visited for a couple of weeks. I don’t visit often because it’s a reckless process. You’re detained for at least eight to 10 hours. You wait and you literally see people clocking into work and clocking out. They separate each person and ask you questions about what family you have, what history. They ask for your social media. It’s a very harassing process. If I were to go back, they might not let me in because of BDS. Also I’m listed on Canary Mission, a blacklist of anyone who’s critical of Israel — activists, academics, artists, with bios based on whatever’s online, so they may be true or not. SD: Inside the United States, are you singled out from other Arabs as Palestinian? MH: Anti-Arab racism in the US is a big problem. We don’t live as whites do; we don’t have the same privileges. I grew up in a pretty racist neighborhood in Cleveland, and I think what adds to the racism is the hatred of Islam. My mom wears a scarf, so that’s automatically a stigma, compared to a non-veiling family who looks like maybe they’re Italian, you know? So I don’t think there’s a big difference between how Palestinians experience things and the way other Arabs do. It’s important to know that we’re all Arab, but Palestinians are different kinds of Arabs. I say that because Palestinians are facing a monster no other country in the Arab world is facing. We’re facing repression from inside, from the Palestinian Authority, which is linked to Israel, and repression from a brutal exterior. SD: What’s it like, living among other Arab nationalities here? MH: It’s good to have a community of people who understand you, right? Just going to a

MOHAMMAD HAMAD, continued on p.65

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


MOHAMMAD HAMAD, from p.64

mosque and talking to someone, it’s almost inevitable they’ll understand your struggle. Or if I go to a halal truck to get some food, the guy will ask me, “Enta Arabi?” — “Are you Arab?” I’ll say, “Yeah. Enta Arabi.” Usually the next question is “Where?” Then he’ll say, “Oh, Palestinian…” So there’s a sense of community, but when we talk about hegemonic governmental power structures and capitalism, it’s different. The Dubai businessman doesn’t give two shits about Palestinians. The Saudi Arabian government said, “Instead of Jerusalem, how about you choose Abu Dis as your capital?” This is from the quote-unquote “Cradle of Islam,” right? I went to the Arab Festival in New York, and people were screaming out their national identities” “EGYPT!” or “TUNISIA!” And the organizer went onstage and yelled, “We’re all ONE!” It was just fascinating to see how nationalism plays out, even where you’re all American. If your parents are Kuwaiti or Lebanese, it’s okay to celebrate that; those are your roots. But it’s also scary. People behave this way, I think, because they feel marginalized in American society. Same for other groups. I think some Jews feel marginalized and want to connect to something and find Israel. SD: Was there awareness at the Arab Festival about what’s happening in the Middle East? MH: I think people use celebration as a way to escape. To escape their reality, to escape restless trauma. There is trauma involved in watching your Palestinian people being killed in open fire, you know? Others feel the same, seeing what’s happening in Libya or in Yemen. You internalize what’s happening, because this is who you are, right? For others, celebration is a form of resistance. Even in Queens Pride, I’ve heard Guyanese people say, “Existence is Resistance — which is something Palestinians have always said. I thought to myself, “What the hell?” I’m not saying that Palestinians own the phrase, but it’s fascinating that Guyanese queers are saying that. And in the Caribbean Equality Project, they chant “Existence is Resistance.” GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

SD: What are you feeling now about Palestine? MH: I’m outraged when others are not. I’m outraged that American liberals, fighting against school shootings, gun violence, and the US gun culture, are not also advocating for Palestinian rights. When you see a 21-year-old medic [Razan al-Najjar] shot in the back with live ammunition, and you don’t think this is gun violence — I’m outraged. Liberals say, “They shouldn’t be at the border. It’s too dangerous.” Well, schools are also dangerous. Do we tell students, “Don’t go to school?” Palestinians are not performing resistance to show you they’re angry. They are resisting. That’s another disconnect between Palestinians in the diaspora and those living under occupation: We can’t tell them what to do. We can’t tell people living under state violence, “Don’t do that; these are the limits.” SD: What, then, can you in the diaspora do? MH: Israel’s passing laws on what can and cannot be videotaped, recorded, and photographed, so Palestinians in the US serve as messengers. We relay content. I sometimes feel it was an accident — a beautiful accident — that we found ourselves in the US, despite the struggle and the language barrier. Palestinians outside the diaspora [that is live in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza] cannot communicate as well as those who grow up here and know English better than Arabic. We’re able to translate emotions and stories and shape — or reshape — the narrative. SD: Is your family is safe in Palestine? MH: No. But they have normalized their home conditions, because that’s what human beings do. They adapt. When I talk to my family and I hear stories about how they have to wake up at 4 a.m. to get to work at 8 a.m., I’m always pushing back. I say, “This is not normal.” They say, “Well, what do you want me to do?” That’s a good point. What I think is important is to challenge the meaning of violence. Violence is not just shooting. The fact that my

MOHAMMAD HAMAD, continued on p.67

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR BY PAUL SCHINDLER Infants and children detained indefinitely, whether in cages or not. On Pride Sunday & Fourth of July, remember: The world will demand to know what we were doing while this was going on.

PERSPECTIVE: Supreme Cour t Insider

Masterpiece Cakeshop Ruling Not As Limited As Some Think BY RACHEL B. TIVEN

T

he United States Supreme Court offered dangerous encouragement this month to those scheming to undermine marriage equality and otherwise deny civil rights to LGBTQ people. The court issued what many are calling a “limited ruling” in the much-anticipated case of the Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Human Rights Commission. The ruling focused on the argument that certain members of the Commission had demonstrated bias against religion and thus deprived the baker of the impartial hearing he deserved. But that only makes the ruling slightly less troubling. There was no outright decision made about whether religious freedom entitled the baker to discriminate against LGBTQ customers. The Supreme Court did affirm that religious beliefs do not give a broad free pass to violate civil rights laws. And yet, whether intended or not, the court majority’s musings about potential exemptions invite both more discrimination and more lawsuits crafted to undermine mar-

CHOOSING HOPE, from p.63

Neither is history some convenient lyrical arc bending toward justice.

66

riage equality and civil rights protections more generally. Religious freedom under our Constitution has always meant the right to believe whatever you wish but not to act on your beliefs in ways that harm others. The Supreme Court should have simply applied that principle, as every one of a dozen state appeals courts has done in nearly identical cases. Instead, the high court described the issue as “difficult” and hypothesized numerous contexts in which religion- and speech-based exemptions might be warranted. In doing so, the Supreme Court has become an accomplice in Christian conservatives’ strategy to hollow out the right to equal marriage. This risks creating what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg memorably termed “skim-milk marriages.” The court’s previous marriage equality decisions were emphatic that LGBTQ couples’ marriages are equal in every respect to the marriages of different-sex couples. There is no such thing as “same-sex marriage,” there’s just marriage, and if you’re married, you are entitled to the same protection under the law as any other married couple, regardless of sex or race. That needs to mean equality when a couple enters a business that offers services

to everyone else. There’s nothing unfair about this. When you open a business, you have wide latitude in choosing what product to sell and how to run your store but you can’t choose your customers. You don’t have to like them, you don’t have to approve of them, and you certainly don’t have to invite them into your home. But you can’t reject them because of who they are, and you can’t be coy about your reason for doing so, pretending it’s not the customer you dislike, just the fact of their marriage. At least not until now. As Ginsburg said in her dissent, “Phillips declined to make a cake he found offensive, where the offensiveness of the product was determined solely by the identity of the customer requesting it.” Lambda Legal, together with the Family Equality Council and 11 other organizations, filed a friendof-court brief in the case, documenting the pervasiveness of the discrimination LGBTQ people already face. The brief detailed the everyday experiences of hundreds of LGBTQ individuals, spouses, parents and children who have contacted our organizations. We hear from people facing discrimination at every stage of life, from being rejected from a childbirth class because “the other couples wouldn’t feel comfortable with a lesbian couple here,” or having a pediatrician refuse to treat the child of gay parents, to more

quotidian rejections: at the post office, changing your name on a post office box, or being turned away by a tax preparer who wouldn’t do a married couple’s taxes. This month’s ruling was a step backward for LGBTQ rights, and for America at large, because it accepted the idea that discriminatory beliefs about a group of people deserve special respect and solicitude if they’re based in religion. It’s one thing to say such beliefs have firm constitutional protection. It’s quite another to say they deserve respect and kid-glove treatment by state civil rights enforcers. The lives and livelihoods of LGBTQ people and so many other minorities are at stake when we excuse prejudice of any kind. As movements striving for social justice in this country, we all have worked too hard and for too long for the court to defend the honor of discriminators and castigate those who call it out when religious liberty is misused as a tool of dominance and exclusion. We will continue to fight in every arena and in every court until LGBTQ people and people living with HIV have full equality under the law in every aspect of our lives. We will fiercely resist the coming effort that will seek to turn this ruling into a broad license to discriminate. We deserve no less.

Or toward Hell. It’s more like a mechanical bull, an electrocardiogram bouncing up and down, sometimes in slow motion, some-

times with a violent lurch. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. But I do know that we have changed things — for the better —

before. Why not believe what history tells us is possible? Why not embrace hope? It’s the only thing that will save us.

Rachel B. Tiven is the CEO of Lambda Legal.

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


MOHAMMAD HAMAD, from p.65

family must go through a checkpoint and then travel to another checkpoint and show this ID and then travel over here — this process drains you. Violence is not always life and death; it can be racist

FOUR R’S, from p.63

“Trump administration could be holding 30,000 border kids by August, officials say” (The Washington Examiner). “Trump migrant separation policy: Children ‘in cages’ in Texas” (BBC News). “DHS Secretary Nielsen slams ‘irresponsible’ media, says no ‘policy of separating families at the border’” (Fox News). Special Pride Segment: NBC has the hottest newscasters and commentators! A quick survey of the best-looking men on broadcast news reveals that NBC and its sister channel MSNBC win the cov-

structures that you have to navigate. They are just as intolerable. But on the other side of outrage is hope. I really do feel a sense of hope. Change takes time. And I know that, while oppression and violence prevail today, they cannot continue.

eted Media Circus’ Sexiest Men on the News Award. With Richard Engel and Ari Melber leading the pack (Melber has his own show on MSNBC, while Engel travels the globe for NBC), I cannot tear my eyes away from frequent MSNBC guest Jeremy Peters, a reporter for the New York Times. I’ve always been a sucker — yes, I mean it that way, too — for skinny, brainy guys like Peters. His Pulitzer Prize (for Breaking News Reporting) is just icing on the vealcake. Andrew Kaczynski reports on CNN.com that two Republican Senate candidates sought and received the support of an extreme anti-LGBTQ hate group laughably called Public Advocate of the United States. According to Kaczynski,

SD: If you had the attention of every person at Gay Pride, what one thing would you want to get across? MH: That’s a good one… Listen to Palestinian voices. Listen to marginalized people, both here

“Two Republican Senate nominees sought and received the support of an anti-LGBT group that links homosexuality to pedophilia and defends conversion therapy. North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer and Virginia’s Corey Stewart, who both won the Republican nomination in their respective states on Tuesday, filled out a ‘Senate Candidate Survey’ for the group Public Advocate of the United States. The survey asks eight questions about a candidate’s positions on LGBT issues, including whether a candidate would ‘oppose all efforts to make public restrooms and changing-rooms unsafe through so-called “Transgender Bathrooms” legislation and regulations — which have the effect of encouraging and protecting pedophiles.’ Another question asks if the candidate

and abroad. The struggle for justice should have no boundaries. When we realize that our queer struggles in our daily lives are connected to other people’s struggles around the world, we’ll see how these structures of oppression and domination are similar. It’s very macro.

agrees that public schools should be ‘prevented from brainwashing elementary school children with the Homosexual Agenda — such as California’s current policy speculating widely about the sexual activity of past presidents and figures?’” If you guessed that both Cramer and Stewart answered “Yes” to both of these bizarre and hateful questions, you would be correct. Kaczynski goes on to note, “The group’s founder and chief executive, Eugene Delgaudio, said in February he believes that former President Barack Obama was a ‘child molester’ and that ‘adult homosexuals want to recruit and brainwash children.’” Lovely. Follow @EdSikov on Facebook and Twitter.

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AUGUST 22 -- SEPTEMBER 3, 2018

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GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

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THEATER

When Empathy Falls Short Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jordan Harrison discuss new play exposing biases we didn’t know we had BY DAVID KENNERLEY he intrepid Playwrights Horizons has ventured into uncharted territory with “Log Cabin,” a visionary, caustic drama that raises prickly issues about gender, race, friendship, and plenty more. Just in time for LGBTQ Pride Month, the play, written by openly gay Jordan Harrison (“Marjorie Prime,” “Maple & Vine”), focuses on the T stripe of the community. Until very recently, transgender folks have been largely ignored by playwrights, and “Log Cabin” embodies one of the reasons why. They are a diverse, misunderstood group of people not easy to get a ready handle on, even by so-called liberals who should know better. The play, set in a stylish Brooklyn abode during the years leading up to the pivotal — many say apocalyptic — 2016 presidential election, examines the dynamics between a lesbian couple (played by Cindy Cheung and Dolly Wells) and a gay male couple (Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Phillip James Brannon), both in long-term, committed partnerships that later spawn offspring. But when a trans man (Ian Harvie) and his girlfriend (Talene Monahon) enter the mix, lives get strewn into disarray. The piece is directed by Pam MacKinnon, Tony winner for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” which also centers on an ugly clash of couples fueled by pentup rancor and booze. “Log Cabin” is wildly different in that it veers into satiric terrain, where infants are portrayed by adult actors and speak with the intelligence of a psychology professor. For his part, Ferguson was instantly drawn to the role of Ezra (the more outspoken half of the gay couple) and the timely, challenging nature of the play. Plus, he was thrilled it fit neatly into his short hiatus from filming “Modern Family.” “It’s in my wheelhouse, I know

LOG CABIN

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Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theater 416 W. 42nd St. Through Jul. 15 Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m. Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2:30 p.m. Sun. at 2:30 &7:30 p.m. $59-$99; playwrightshorizons.org One hr., 25 mins., with no intermission

JOAN MARCUS

Ian Harvie, Talene Monahon, Dolly Wells, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Phillip James Brannon in Jordan Harrison’s Log Cabin,” directed by Pam MacKinnon, at Playwrights Horizons through July 15.

JOAN MARCUS

Phillip James Brannon and Jesse Tyler Ferguson in “Log Cabin.”

how to play a gay man,” he said with a chuckle during a recent phone conversation. “I’ve been doing it my whole life. There’s something exciting about [playing Mitchell] on a TV show that’s so wholesome, but then playing someone with a more complicated, darker nature. He says a lot of things that are shock-

ing and polarizing. It’s a wildly different character.” Ferguson loves that the play takes audiences to uncomfortable places, but does so in a way that’s very smart and entertaining. In an interview soon after previews began, Harrison described how the play traces the breakdown

of empathy among various subgroups within the LGBTQ community. “After people get their own rights, they have a tendency to forget about the rights of those coming up behind them,” he observed. Ferguson certainly understands the value of empathy, having been a visible force in the fight for marriage equality nationwide. “After we won, we were patting each other on the back, it was a huge accomplishment that deserved celebration,” he recalled. “But the next day we had to get back to work to protect those rights. There are places in America where you can get married on Saturday and get fired from your job on Monday. I refuse to be one of those people getting into the lifeboat and ignoring those on the sinking ship.” Ferguson pointed out that his husband, Justin Mikita, is on the board of the Human Rights Campaign, which strives to address the needs of the trans community. But most of the board members do not know firsthand what it’s like to be trans, so it can be challenging. “I understand now what my parents went through when I came out,” Ferguson said. “They didn’t understand what it was like to be gay and, through my teenage angsty eyes, I got frustrated. But they tried their best. By acknowledging that struggle, we can find common language. This play addresses

LOG CABIN, continued on p.98

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


THEATER

Pride in the Theater Gay City News’ annual rundown of what you might want to see… and how to do so this early summer

JOAN MARCUS

HELEN MAYBANKS

James McArdle and Andrew Garfield in the Broadway revival of Tony Kushner’s“Angels in America,” at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Michael Benjamin Washington, Andrew Rannells, and Jim Parsons in the Broadway debut and 50th anniversary revival of Mart Crowley’s “The Boys in the Band,” directed by Joe Mantello, at the Booth Theatre through August 11.

JOAN MARCUS

CREDIT

Etai Benson and Ari’el Stachel in “The Band’s Visit,” at the Barrymore Theatre.

BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE ne of the great things about the current theater market is that if you want to see a show, you probably can. The total sold-out doesn’t exist, if you have the time or, more likely, the money. If you’ve decided that you want to add a show to your Pride celebration and haven’t planned ahead, in most cases it’s not too late to score good — or even great — seats. From direct sales online at established sites such as Telecharge and Ticketmaster (the latter does a brisk business in resale tickets, as do Stub Hub and Vivid Seats) to relative newcomers like the TodayTix app that offers rush tickets, discounts, and lotteries for hot shows, there are lot of resources, most as close as your smartphone. A little digging can often scare up some discounts as well at sites like TheaterMania. Each of these outlets has different features. For instance, TodayTix doesn’t let you pick your exact seat, just an area of the theater, while discounts from other sources do. When looking for discounts online, you can often see both discounted and full price tickets, so you can choose on the spot if you’re rather

O

GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

BRIGITTE LACOMBE

Hailey Kilgore in “Once on This Island,” at Circle in the Square.

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

splurge on the orchestra or save a bit in the rear side of the balcony. (My feeling is it’s almost always worth the splurge to sit closer.) Some shows like “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Hamilton” have daily lotteries, and there are lotteries for other shows through TodayTix. In those cases, if you’re paying between $10 and $30 for a ticket with a face price of $159 or much more, you’ll most likely be thrilled just to get in and not care so much about where you sit. Each lottery is structured somewhat differently, so check before you enter. Your odds of getting a lottery ticket will also change from show to show depending on number of entries and the stock of seats available. Even

three years into its run, your odds of getting “Hamilton” lottery ticket are about 1 in 10,000. No reason not to try, though. There are cancellation lines that form every day at the box offices for hot shows, but that can be a huge time commitment. TodayTix also offers same-day rush seats, but you need to be fast with your fingers the moment those go on sale to score them. If you really want to see “Hamilton” or “Dear Evan Hansen,” your best bets are either the lotteries or resellers. There are a lot of tickets available for “Hamilton” at Telecharge, but they’re all from resellers, and the prices range from about $1,400 in the orchestra down to $500. (Don’t get me wrong,

JOAN MARCUS

Erika Henningsen, Ashley Park, Taylor Louderman, and Kate Rockwell in Tina Fey, Jeff Richmond, and Nell Benjamin’s “Mean Girls,” at the August Wilson Theatre.

I adore “Hamilton,” but, personally, I’d rather spend the money on a flight to London.) Then, there’s my old friend, the TKTS booth, which has been around since 1973. The three locations — Times Square, Lincoln Center, and Metrotech in Downtown Brooklyn — sell day-of tickets for a 30 to 50 percent discount. Line up early for the best selection, and take advantage of the “Play Only” lines to cut your wait time significantly if you’re not looking to score tickets to a musical. Find all the details at tdf.org. TKTS also has an app that gives you, at times when the booth is closed, a sense of what’s been up recently, though the selection can change every day. If you’re feeling flush, premium seats are available for almost all the performances. Starting in 2001, when producers found they could get $480 for the best seats for “The Producers,” the system has caught on at virtually every theater. Premium seats for “Hello, Dolly!” with Bernadette Peters are topping out at about $300 (versus nearly $1,000 with Bette in the role). It’s called dynamic pricing, like the airlines use, and is based

THEATER PRIDE, continued on p.100

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FILM

Love’s Ingredients Ofir Raul Graizer’s poignant tale of a long triangle born of tragedy BY GARY M. KRAMER n out gay director Ofir Raul Graizer’s heartfelt drama, “The Cakemaker,” Tomas (Tim Kalkhof) is a German baker whose affair with married Israeli businessman Oren (Roy Miller) ends abruptly when Oren dies offscreen. Grieving, Tomas travels to Jerusalem where he takes a job working in the kosher café owned by Oren’s widow, Anat (Sarah Adler). She becomes close with Tomas without knowing he is gay or that he was her late husband’s lover. Their relationship is further complicated when Tomas, who is not Jewish, bakes pastries for the café, and Anat, who cares little about religious laws barring him from doing so, allows them to be sold. “The Cakemaker” shows how these lonely characters grieve,

THE CAKEMAKER

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Directed by Ofir Raul Graizer In English and German and Hebrew with English subtitles Strand Releasing Opens Jun. 29 Quad Cinema 34 W. 13th St. quadcinema.com

STRAND RELEASING

Tim Kalkhof (top) and Roy Miller in Ofir Raul Graizer’s “The Cakemaker,” which opens June 29 at the Quad.

bake, and skirt social customs in an effort to express themselves. Graizer chatted via Skype about his lovely, poignant film. GARY M. KRAMER: You have a background in gastronomy. There are so many wonderful scenes of food being made and consumed in

the film. There’s a sensuality even in how Tomas kneads the bread! Why is food so important to you and the characters? OFIR RAUL GRAIZER: For me, food is like an obsession. I love eating and cooking. But the real obsession for me is movies. I don’t want to have a restaurant. Food is

always something that I found to be important. Good food gives you pleasure — when you taste a really good pasta or tear open fresh bread — the feeling is divine. You eat something really good it makes you smile and happy. Cooking food involves a lot of giving, telling a story, and connecting to people. When I think about food and the meaning of it, it brings up ideas, memories,

INGREDIENTS, continued on p.78

A Life of Genius and Jealousies Cecil Beaton’s life explored, triumphs and troubles BY GARY M. KRAMER isa Immordino Vreeland’s “Love, Cecil” is an affectionate documentary portrait about the famous gay British author, designer, painter, and photographer Cecil Beaton (1904-1980). The film is a magnificent showcase for Beaton’s work as well as his thoughts about style and his impressions of people — he candidly refers to Katharine Hepburn as “a dried-up boot.” Through his copious diary entries (some of which are read aloud by out gay narrator Rupert Everett) as well as candid archival interviews with Beaton himself, the film presents a man who is absolutely captivating — even when he talks about his hat. “Love, Cecil” is a conventionallymade documentary in that it traces the life, education, relationships, and work of its subject. Immordino

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Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland Zeitgeist Films Opens Jun. 29 Film Society of Lincoln Center Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center 144 W. 65th St. filmlinc.org

ZEITGEIST FILMS

Selfies taken by Cecil Beaton in his late teens.

Vreeland features talking-head commentaries by many contemporaries who knew him. Beaton’s struggles and career highs and lows are addressed. And there are hundreds of fabulous images, film clips, scrapbooks, diaries, and illustrations that put his life and career in perspective. Immordino

Vreeland smartly juxtaposes images such as his sisters indulging in their brother’s penchant for dress up to show the Beaton’s genius in style, composition, and costume. Style was key to Beaton. His breathtaking portraits are, as observed at one point in the film,

“about the idea of the person, not the actual person.” The film uses the glorious photos Beaton took of everyone from Edith Sitwell and the Bright Young Things in the 1930s to Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 and Mick Jagger in the ‘60s to underscore this point and emphasize Beaton’s triumphs in capturing the essence of the new and modern. His portraits are legendary. Especially impressive are a series of

CECIL BEATON, continued on p.78

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


 







    













 

 

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When that Child Truly is a Surprise Andrew Fleming throws a kid in the mix of a long term gay relationship BY GARY M. KRAMER deal Home” is a diverting comedy by out gay writer/ director Andrew Fleming. Erasmus (Steve Coogan) is the egocentric host of a cable TV food show produced by his partner Paul (Paul Rudd). The bickering couple must figure out how to be good parents when Erasmus’ grandson Bill (Jack Gore) unexpectedly turns up on their doorstep. Will the gay couple fall for the son they always wished they never had? Will Bill prefer his two new dads to his real one? “Ideal Home” answers these questions and provides some belly laughs with deliciously bitchy dialogue and a series of comic twists. In a phone interview, Fleming explained that the film stemmed partly from his real life. “Paul and Erasmus were created for a script that didn’t come together,” he explained. “I was in a long term relationship and I was helping

IDEAL HOME

“I

Directed by Andrew Fleming Brainstorm Media Opens Jun. 29 Cinema Village 22 E. 12th St. cinemavillage.com

BRAINSTORM MEDIA

Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan in Andrew Fleming’s “Ideal Home,” which opens June 29 at Cinema Village.

raise my partner’s son. I didn’t know how to write that, so I injected Paul and Erasmus into our lives.” Fleming said that writing about things that happened to him, “like a diary or therapy,” made it more personal. He also wanted to make a mainstream film about a gay couple in a long-

term relationship because so few Hollywood movies are about that. “I made the movie because I don’t see myself in films,” he said. “There are a handful of gay relationship in the center of [Hollywood] movies. They tend to be tragic or romantic or serious in a way that I don’t recognize myself. I wanted to see something I could recognize. Most gay stories — and so few mainstream movies are about gay relationships — about the first brush of sex-

IDEAL HOME, continued on p.77

AIDS’ Political Lessons Pioneering 1985 drama “Buddies” explored what an epidemic could teach BY GARY M. KRAMER t has been 33 years since the initial release of “Buddies,” the first feature film to depict AIDS. On June 22, the Quad Cinema is giving moviegoers a week-long opportunity to see a new 2K restoration of this classic of independent queer cinema. The film was written and directed by Arthur J. Bressan, Jr., who himself died of AIDS in 1987, less than two years after “Buddies” premiered. The opening credit sequence features a printout of hundreds of names of people who died from AIDS, a canny political framing on the emerging epidemic. The storyline has 25-year-old typesetter David Bennett (David Schachter) volunteering to be a buddy for AIDS patient Robert Willow (Geoff Edholm). He arrives at Robert’s St. Matthew’s Hospital room wearing a surgical mask and other protective clothing as an ominous sign indicates “isolation measures” for AIDS patients. Robert is asleep when David arrives, and upon waking greets him with, “Who the fuck are you?” before shaking David’s gloved hand — an inaus-

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Directed by Arthur J. Bressan, Jr. Frameline Releasing Opens Jun. 22 Quad Cinema 34 W. 13th St. quadcinema.com

FRAMELINE RELEASING

David Schachter and Geoff Edholm in Arthur J. Bressan, Jr.’s “Buddies.”

picious start to what will become a very tender friendship. “Buddies” uses David as a device to draw viewers into the story. His naiveté about AIDS — he claims not to have known anyone with the disease — was certainly not unheard of back in 1985. As such, his character, who explains that he came out to his accepting parents and has

been in a monogamous relationship with Steve (David Rose) for five years, provides a good contrast for the 32-year-old Robert. The patient, who has been sick for about nine months when David arrives, is an activist from California, whose parents disowned him when he came out. Unlike David, Robert believes in visibility, a lesson he will impart to his buddy during their three-month friendship. Bressan is a bit didactic in his screenplay, which has the men debating opposing points of view about being gay, but their conversations are

BUDDIES, continued on p.79

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


FILM

Passing It On In “Araby,” a man’s solace comes in telling his story ARABY Directed by João Dumans and Affonso Uchôa In Portuguese with English subtitles Grasshopper Film Opens Jun. 22 Film Society of Lincoln Center Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center 144 W. 65th St. filmlinc.org GRASSHOPPER FILM

Aristides de Sousa in João Dumans and Affonso Uchôa’s “Araby,” which opens June 22 at Film Center of Lincoln Center.

BY STEVE ERICKSON man spends a decade of his life toiling from one dead-end job to another, getting treated like crap by his employers, gradually realizing that this is what being workingclass in Brazil (or anywhere) means, and turns his life’s struggles into something that can be transmitted to another person by keeping his diary. But it’s only entirely clear that this is the trajectory of Brazilian directors João Dumans and Affonso Uchôa’s “Araby” once it ends. This is a film about middle age, the road, and disillusionment, but it begins with youth. Its first 20 minutes focus on Andre (Murilo Caliari), a teenager who picks up the journal of Cristiano (Aristides de Sousa), a factory worker who has been seriously injured. But once he digs into it, the film belongs to Cristiano until the credits roll 70 minutes later. Given the amount of time that passes in Cristiano’s life as he relates it in his diary and the fact that even more time goes by before he meets Andre, most of “Araby” is probably set about 20-25 years in the past. But something about its sensibility evokes the Beat and hippie countercultures more than the present. This is enhanced by the use of folk/ country singer/ songwriters Jackson C. Frank and Townes Van Zandt on the soundtrack and the fact that characters

A

GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

pick up acoustic guitars onscreen as often as possible. Yet echoes from the mid-20th century go deeper. Cristiano’s attitude towards life seems reminiscent of Beat literature, especially in his embrace of male friendship and constant drifting. There’s none of Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs’ overt misogyny, but for long stretches, women disappear from “Araby.” Cristiano runs away from his girlfriend Ana after she delivers a monologue following her miscarriage, which ruins their relationship. Afterwards, he says, “We are the memory of a couple.” The directors have a close focus on working-class life we usually associate with neo-realism (or ‘60s Cinema Novo in Brazil), but they don’t rub the spectator’s face in grit. Even the long scenes of men picking tangerines and talking while sitting on crates are carefully blocked and framed. The lighting often looks natural, but it’s subtly stylized. Uchôa and Dumans’ shots are deliberately poised, while still grounded in a documentary reality. Their debut as a directorial team, “The Hidden Tiger,” depicted the lives of five young men in a hybrid of fiction and documentary. That was where they met de Sousa, who essentially played himself in that film, and the process of creating the character of Cristiano in “Araby” was a close collaboration with him. The directors acknowledge their film’s literary impulse. It’s inscribed into its very structure: a teenager

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ARABY, continued on p.79

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FILM

Four Approaches to “Marlina” Mouly Surya anticipates #MeToo feminism in Indonesian terms BY STEVE ERICKSON ntry Point No. 1: Global Cinema Reviewing director Mouly Surya’s “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts,” critic Peter Bradshaw very bluntly summed it up as “Leone meets Tarantino in Indonesia.” Put that simply, it sounds like a screenwriter’s pitch from Robert Altman’s “The Player,” though I can actually imagine the director approaching producers with that exact description of her film — which does sound quite viable commercially. Within the film’s first 15 minutes, I knew exactly what Bradshaw meant. Zeke Khaseli and Yudhi Arfani’s score self-consciously evokes Ennio Morricone’s music for Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns, especially when it cranks up the electric guitar and its percussion sounds like horses’ hooves. The narrative of the first act — in which Marlina (Marsha Timothy) defeats the men who invade her home, threaten to steal all she has, and abuse her sexually by killing them with poisoned soup — seems inspired by a subplot of Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” The Western genre as a whole seems to be a reference point: there are repeated scenes of Marlina on horseback. These are the most stylized images in the film, in which the cinematography flickers in and out as if the sun were keeping the camera from staying in focus. Surya seemed to shoot the film in the fall: most of the vegetation she shows is arid or dying. The dominant colors of “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” are yellow and brown. But the differences between Surya’s sensibility and that of Leone and, especially, Tarantino are telling, to the point where her film seems equal parts homage and critique. Unlike both of them, she doesn’t fetishize violence. Odd though it may sound given this film’s very title, she only seems interested in it as an element for her storytelling, not something to depict. A scene where Marlina murders a man with a machete while he is raping her is staged with almost no gore.

MARLINA THE MURDERER IN FOUR ACTS

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Entry Point Two: Indonesia Surya’s first two films, “Fiksi” and “What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love,” didn’t get US distribution, and I can’t even recall them playing New York. The original idea for this film came from Garin Nugroho, who has been called “Indonesia’s most revered director,” but even he is pretty far from a household name here. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-ma-

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Directed by Mouly Surya In Indonesian with English subtitles KimStim/ Icarus Films Opens Jun. 22 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com

KIMSTIM/ ICARUS FILMS

“Marlina the Murderer In Four Acts” director Mouly Surya on set.

jority country in the world, but most Americans associate Islam entirely with the Middle East. Westerners have been in control of the few images we have of Indonesia: the two films about the country that got anything approaching wide American distribution, the harrowing and scathing political documentary “The Act of Killing” and the ultra-violent action film “The Raid,” were made by Western directors. (To be fair, “The Act of Killing” director Joshua Oppenheimer says that he worked with an Indonesian collaborator whose name can’t be publicly used for fear of retribution.) It took four countries — Malaysia, Thailand, and France as well as Indonesia — to produce “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” and a partnership of two distributors to bring it to American theaters, despite its many Western points and general accessibility. It’s hardly arcane, but it’s genuinely different. If Americans knew more about Indonesia, we’d do a much better job of parsing out that difference. The other Indonesian-directed films I’ve seen lie far in the pasts of New Directors/ New Films and the New York Asian Film Festival. Entry Point Three: #SheToo “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” is the third film I’ve reviewed in two months by a female director about a woman trying to get justice for male violence against her. During that same period, Jennifer Fox’s “The Tale,” an autobiographical examination of a middle-aged filmmaker’s processing of her molestation at age 13, aired on HBO after getting the most praise of any film at Sundance last winter. Clearly, these kinds of stories are in the air now, although it’s

still too early for films consciously inspired by the #MeToo movement to have been completed. But Surya’s story is feminist in a very particular way. She films her star in much the same way Leone turned Clint Eastwood and Akira Kurosawa made Toshiro Mifune into icons, but with constant references to the demands of women’s bodies. Dialogue about pregnant women suggests they’re perceived as especially lustful. The spaghetti Western genre as a whole was partially an act of film criticism turned in a political direction; many of its writers and directors were Marxists working at the height of ‘60s rebellion. Leone’s films are undeniably sadistic, but they turn his enthusiasm for violence toward a radical critique of American lies and hypocrisy about our “taming of the land” and “spreading civilization.” If Tarantino were a sharper thinker, he could turn his similar tendency to make films based on other films toward the same kind of critique; so far, it’s only worked in “Django Unchained” (which borrows heavily from spaghetti Westerns, beginning with its title.) But Surya takes a mostly male genre mythos and claims it for women. Whatever the zeitgeist is a year from now, that will still stand beyond mere topicality. Entry Point Four: The Unique Parts Surya is refreshingly open to sheer weirdness and surrealism. Despite its narrative, “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” is often rather quiet, even hushed, especially after the first act. But Marlina starts being followed by the headless ghost of the man she killed. She also carries around his head. Even when she rides the bus, though other passengers find this notable, no one reports her to the police or tries to kick her off. Ultimately, “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” isn’t just a cool genre riff. It adds up to

MARLINA, continued on p.77

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


MARLINA, from p.76

something more than â&#x20AC;&#x153;Leone meets Tarantino in Indonesia.â&#x20AC;? Suryaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s direction and, after the first act, her pacing come closer to an arthouse tradition than a genre one. (One shot of a bus very slowly winding through a road in extreme long shot as we hear its passengersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; voices is far more reminiscent of Abbas Kiarostami than any images from a Western or conventional genre film.) This film is clearly trying to ap-

ä&#x2030;´

IDEAL HOME, from p.72

uality and romance, but not about 10 years down the line and the compromises and fights couples have staying in the relationship.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ideal Homeâ&#x20AC;? is full of arch, witty lines that portray two long-suffering partners. When Paul is asked if her would leave Erasmus, he responds, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Oh, I probably will, but part of me wants to stick around to watch him die.â&#x20AC;? Another comic moment has the couple explaining their porn collection to Melissa (Alison Pill), a child protective services agent. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a scene Fleming particularly enjoys. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is a gratuitous comedy scene in a film that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have too many of those,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Other jokes in the film move the story along. But that scene makes me laugh. I like to go too far and pull back from there. There are always jokes that go too far in everything Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve done. I like to push the envelope.â&#x20AC;? Fleming then got on a bit of a soapbox about how comedy is not taken seriously. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s harder to make jokes in a story about realistic characters,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This film in particular was re-learning that lesson. A few more scenes had a serious note. But you can make a joke about something serious and the serious point still lands. Invariably, I went with it. Laughing at a thing that is serious drives the point home.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ideal Homeâ&#x20AC;? at times makes its points about gay parenting through exaggeration â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a parent/ teacher conference about Billâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foul language in school addresses the inappropriate moments any parent â&#x20AC;&#x201D; gay or straight â&#x20AC;&#x201D; faces in their childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think my movie has a different GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018

WINNER!

peal to both Western and Asian audiences without compromising itself: a hybrid in a much different way than Leoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s English-dubbed films starring Eastwood were. Watching Suryaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s commanding framing of the rural landscape on my laptop, I realized how much I was missing out by not seeing it on the big screen. But can any Indonesian film â&#x20AC;&#x201D; no matter how beautiful â&#x20AC;&#x201D; play a theater for more than a week or two in an American culture that detests subtitles? Good luck to Surya and Marlina.

take â&#x20AC;&#x201D; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a less noble version of gay parenting,â&#x20AC;? Fleming said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Parenting is a messy business â&#x20AC;&#x201D; you do what you can and hope it works out. I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t realize that. Being a gay parent in this day and age is to jump through hoops. You must want it in a way that straight people donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t.â&#x20AC;? He referred back to his own experiences as the partner of a man with a son. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was around, and his mother was not,â&#x20AC;? Fleming explained. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I became [a father figure] by default to a certain degree. His father was the best parent Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve ever seen â&#x20AC;&#x201D; he was father and mother â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to this young man, who is the least neurotic, well turned out, happiest person I know because of his father. To be a good parent, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t matter if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re gay or straight.â&#x20AC;? Fleming doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t shy away from exploiting tropes that may seem like old gay stereotypes. Both Erasmus and Paul prefer wine to beer and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t understand sports. The filmmaker insisted that those are simply things reflective of his own life and of those of other gay men he knows. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have a picture of myself with Liza [Minnelli, as Paul and Erasmus do]. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not fake,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care about sports, I never did. I feel it makes me gayer. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s my truth and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sticking with it. Everything in the film is something that happened to me or somebody I know. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not clichĂŠ, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s real. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a litmus test. Some folks react to how gay Paul and Erasmus are in the film as if thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s problematic!â&#x20AC;? To that, critique Flemingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s response is simple and straightforward: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Does anyone get worked up about how straight someone is acting in a film?â&#x20AC;?

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GMK: The characters connect through food, but also sex. Can you talk about creating the film’s love triangle? ORG: I wanted to make the story between Tomas and Oren as a starting point because I’m gay. I’ve encountered similar stories in my life where a gay man has to — because of social or religious reasons — have a straight relationship. It’s banal, but it’s still relevant. I knew the story of a man who led a double life and died, and his wife didn’t know.

ing suit — as a symbol, substitute, or surrogate for the deceased. Can you discuss this expression of loss and remembrance of Oren through the clothes? ORG: Clothes are a tool when someone is dead or not there. You can smell and feel them. The cookies Tomas bakes are a way of tasting him. The idea with the bathing suit and the clothes is Tomas wanting to become Oren. The red suit is like blood, and I wanted something that is in Judaism — as women who have their periods must purify themselves in the mikvah — that this red suit is his “period” metaphorically. It keeps him unable to express his sexuality. I imagined him wearing it like a fetish object.

GMK: The film is about a gay man who becomes emotionally — and even physically — intimate with his lover’s widow. What observations do you have about their relationship? ORG: What happens between Tomas and Anat in the kitchen is about them having a very strong connection. It’s not about their sexuality. It’s about them feeling the presence of Oren in the kitchen with them.

GMK: There is also a palpable sense of loneliness for each character. Can you discuss that feeling your film provides? ORG: This is something that I brought from my own life. I’ve always been an outsider, searching for myself and looking for a place to go. I wander streets looking for something, yearning for something. All the characters in the film carry this melancholic sadness. They all lost Oren, someone they loved.

GMK: You deliberately use Oren’s clothing — especially his red bath-

GMK: There is a discussion of the café being kosher and Anat’s

refusal to adhere to all the religious guidelines. This is a metaphor for sexuality and other things in the film. Can you discuss your motivation or agenda in addressing these themes? ORG: The thing about sexual identity or norms — there’s a system. It has its own rules and you have to adjust to them if you want to be considered normal. In Jerusalem, you have to be a part of the system. You can be secular, but if you have a business you need to have a kosher certificate. What Tomas does when he comes to Jerusalem is that he shakes the system — he’s German, gay, and not Jewish. His food is non-kosher — which is dirty, spoiled, unclean. Social and religious laws are about control. It’s the same with sex. It has to be missionary, clean, and for a very specific purpose — to make babies. Tomas is shaking all this up. It’s not because he’s not Jewish. Anat is not religious and will do things her own way. She changes things so Tomas can work in her café, and she steps out of the system. Oren came from a religious family. He married a secular woman and raised a son in a secular way, but he is gay and found a job abroad in Berlin. He went as far as he could to fulfill his real desires.

ered Cecil in a dress and makeup. Immordino Vreeland’s film includes clips of Cecil in drag from his Bright Young Things days, as well as pointed remarks about him being “an outsider struggling to get in” to the upper-class world just outside his reach. That may be what sparked his interest in celebrity. His copious self-portraits, displayed throughout the film, hint at the loneliness he experienced throughout his life. One subtext of Immordino Vreeland’s film is that despite Beaton’s unerring ability to preserve a fleeting moment on film, he rarely received the depth of love he freely offered through his lens. “Love, Cecil” also suggests the artist may have been his own worst enemy. Case in point was a “thoughtless, arrogant” image Beaton published in “Vogue” that was found to have included a tiny anti-Semitic scrawl on its border. Its discovery caused the magazine

to pulp the issue and fire him. That self-destructive behavior and the shame he endured derailed his career for a year and a half before he redeemed himself during the war years. Beaton shot images such as an injured child for the cover of Life magazine to help convince America to back Britain’s war efforts. Other wartime photographs included homoerotic shots of airmen, soldiers, and other military men, and Immordino Vreeland includes several of those delicious images in the film. “Love, Cecil” also features some gossip. Truman Capote and Diana Vreeland (the director’s grandmother-in-law) are seen debating Beaton in one film clip. Another interview has Beaton admitting he was jealous of the success of Nöel Coward, and counts him along with Evelyn Waugh among his enemies. Beaton also didn’t like the Burtons (Liz and Dick), calling them vulgar. His exquisite costumes

INGREDIENTS, from p.70

family, emotions — so it’s through the food that I connect.

CECIL BEATON, from p.70

images he shot of Greta Garbo for Vogue. That photo shoot led to a disagreement between the actress and the photographer, resolved months later and rumored to include romantic fumblings. Garbo, “Love, Cecil” explains, was one of Beaton’s three great loves. The other two were men. One was Peter Watson, with whom Beaton had a “troubled affair” when both were young. Watson did not reciprocate Beaton’s feelings and he did not allow him to touch him. Watson preferred the affections of one of Beaton’s rivals. The artist’s other great love — reportedly the last in his life — was the strapping Olympic fencer Kin Hoitsma; but it did not last. In the film, Beaton describes himself as “a terrible homosexualist,” and his insecurities are addressed along with his complicated relationship with his father, who once discov-

78

GMK: You clue the audience in on the relationship between Tomas and Oren early on. Why did you reveal that and not have viewers make the discovery when Anat does? ORG: We wanted to show the beginning of the affair and then cut it in a cruel and ruthless way. Then begin a new story, and at its peak go back and remind the audience of the love story between the two men. Because of what we know about Anat and Tomas, that has a different meaning. This interests me in cinema — to create something and then break it apart to tell viewers something else. That makes you feel differently about what you saw before. GMK: Anat and Tomas both make bad decisions. How do you want audiences to react to them? ORG: The characters are in a situation where they are weak and naked and lonely and confused. They want to love and laugh and live. They make bad judgment and decisions. People are complex. I want to have compassion toward them and not judge them. That’s why they are… ambivalent. Tomas lies to Anat and manipulates her. He isn’t doing something nice, but he’s saving her and providing her comfort.

and production design for “My Fair Lady” won him two Oscars, but Immordino Vreeland’s film reveals that Beaton and director George Cukor, another gay man, did not get along at all. Beaton found Hollywood suffocating. These dishy moments are enjoyable and may get at the real Beaton. Tart remarks he makes about a weekend guest he loathed but embraced, about David Bailey’s 1971 documentary “Beaton by Bailey,” and about being knighted also point up his sour disposition. “Love, Cecil’ is certainly no hagiography, as Immordino Vreeland managed to celebrate its subject, warts and all. She uses Beaton’s remarkable, imaginative vision and images to show him living his truth by being himself. He may have been a vain, mercurial figure — someone who created a fantasy world to deal with the unhappy reality he found himself in — but there is no denying his exceptional talent. June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


ä&#x2030;´

BUDDIES, from p.72

never uninteresting. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more, they speak in terms both personal and political â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and these scenes are careful not to insult either the well-intentioned work of people like David or the more radical queer perspective that Robert represents. When David talks on the phone to his mother (Libby Saines), he articulates what heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s learned from getting to know Robert, showing how his experiences have helped him think and grow. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Buddiesâ&#x20AC;? features voice-over journal entries by David, who questions why he volunteered and considers how heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s changed. But better are the hospital bedside conversations David has with Robert about the fear, guilt, and regret both men face in the age of AIDS. A lovely mo-

ä&#x2030;´

ARABY, from p.75

reading another personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s diary, then dramatized. What weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re watching seems far more vivid than Andreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s imagination, yet on some level, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a merger between that and Cris-

ment has David asking Robert about how he would spend a single day if he were healthy. Robertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s answer is both poignant and political. Another exchange between the men â&#x20AC;&#x201D; in which David gives Robert pages from book of AIDS essays he is typesetting â&#x20AC;&#x201D; is important but heavy-handed. The text consists of anti-gay rhetoric and Bressan zooms in on the page so viewers can read it. Robert becomes incensed, coughing, shouting, and eventually requiring medical attention, a too on-the-nose response to homophobia. But even this scene is powerful. It emphasizes the attitudes that gay men â&#x20AC;&#x201D; as well as lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people â&#x20AC;&#x201D; faced back in that era. This episode provides a key contrast to David and Robertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s discussion of a pride parade they watch on a VCR in the hospi-

tal room. When David, who did not march, asks, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why should I want the world to see me?,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Robert emphasizes the importance of having a connection to the community. When David declines the opportunity to be interviewed by a newspaper reporter about being an AIDS buddy, Robert encourages him to change his mind, emphasizing the importance of having people with AIDS portrayed honestly. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Buddiesâ&#x20AC;? is honest and heartfelt, its greatest qualities. This largely realistic portrait depicts issues that were critical at the time. One touching scene has David collecting Robertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s things from his apartment. David looks at photos of Robert with his lover, Edward (Billy Lux) â&#x20AC;&#x201D; whom David resembles â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and reads Robertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s letters. David even imagines himself replacing Edward

in the photos, a fantasy suggesting the deep love that has developed between the two buddies. As groundbreaking and heartwarming as the film is, Schachterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lead performance is a stiff. The actor, whose only other film credit was in Bressanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s earlier film â&#x20AC;&#x153;Abuse,â&#x20AC;? lacks depth in conveying his emotions and is never as moving as his co-star. Edholm is stonger, especially as his character starts to feel and look worse. His big scene, where Robert exclaims, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to die!â&#x20AC;? does not feel mawkish; his anguish is real. Sadly, Edholm, too, succumbed to AIDS, in 1989. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Buddiesâ&#x20AC;? ends with an inspiring moment â&#x20AC;&#x201D; how could it not? But its greatest power is how Bressan humanizes people with AIDS and tells a story that people needed to see â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and still do.

tianoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s words. If thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one major weakness to â&#x20AC;&#x153;Araby,â&#x20AC;? itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s that the film doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really care about Andre. He is just a device to get Cristianoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s story going. As a result, the first 20 minutes of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Arabyâ&#x20AC;? seem rather indifferent; it didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really capture my

attention until Cristiano takes control of the story. The fact that this seems deliberate â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the filmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s title comes relatively late in it â&#x20AC;&#x201D; does not make the beginning of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Arabyâ&#x20AC;? any more compelling. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Arabyâ&#x20AC;? bites back at Brazilian

poverty and the power structures that keep it in place, gently and slowly but unmistakably. Even though Cristiano doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t succeed in changing the conditions in which he lives,

ä&#x2030;´

ARABY, continued on p.109



 

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BOOKS

The LGBTQ Community’s Betsy Ross Gayle Pitman, Holly Clifton-Brown bring Gilbert Baker’s story to children BY MICHAEL LUONGO une is the season of the rainbow, and now there’s a new book helping children better understand how this symbol became part of the LGBTQ civil rights movement. “Sewing the Rainbow,” written by Gayle Pitman, PhD, and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown, honors iconic Rainbow Flag creator Gilbert Baker who died early last year. The book takes readers from Gilbert’s Kansas childhood through his time in the army to his career as an artist and activist in San Francisco. Pitman is a professor of psychology and women’s studies at Sacramento City College. Her teaching and writing focus on gender and sexual orientation. Among other books, she is author of “This Day In June” (Magination Press, 2014), winner of the 2015 Stonewall Book Award. Gay City News spoke to Pitman about her newest book.

SEWING THE RAINBOW: THE STORY ABOUT GILBERT BAKER AND THE RAINBOW FLAG

J

MICAHEL LUONGO: What inspired you to create this book? GAYLE PITMAN: The inspiration for “Sewing The Rainbow” wasn’t so much a “what,” but more of a “who.” My friend Laurie McBride is a longtime LGBTQ+ activist in Sacramento. She knew lots of people active in the gay rights movement in the 1970s and 1980s, including Cleve Jones — the founder of the NAMES Project and the AIDS Quilt — and Gilbert Baker. After reading “This Day In June,” Laurie said to me, “Somebody needs to write a book about Gilbert.” That’s when the light bulb went on for me. Shortly afterwards, Laurie and I met, and she shared all sorts of stories with me about Gilbert. I really give Laurie all the credit for painting a picture of Gilbert’s creative and campy personality. He had a biting and edgy sense of humor, but he was also incredibly loving and generous. ML: Did you know Gilbert per-

80

By Gayle Pitman, PhD Illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown Magination Press $16.95; 32 pages COURTESY OF GILBERT BAKER ESTATE

MAGINATION PRESS

Gilbert Baker, smiling as he sews one of innumerable Rainbow Flags he stitched together for the world’s LGBTQ community.

A new children’s book by Gayle Pitman, PhD, and illustrator Holly Clifton-Brown offers children a lesson in Gilbert Baker’s impact on the world.

sonally? GP: I’d met Gilbert years before I even considered writing this book, but it was a brief introduction. Gilbert died merely weeks before Laurie’s comment to me, so I never had the opportunity to interview him personally. Thankfully, Gilbert had done numerous print, TV, and documentary interviews over the years. Also, Gilbert’s many surviving friends have been very generous with their time, and their personal anecdotes have given me a very rich sense of who Gilbert was.

Gilbert himself was from Kansas, and the symbolism of the rainbow certainly wasn’t lost on him. He, like many gay men, dreamed of living a beautiful life “somewhere over the rainbow,” and the rainbow flag reflects that.

ML: Rainbows are natural for kids’ books, but they have a new meaning with the LGBTQ movement. Can you comment on that contrast or happy coincidence? GP: I don’t think it’s a happy coincidence at all, actually. Rainbows have been a part of the LGBTQ+ movement for decades, and I credit Judy Garland and “The Wizard of Oz” for that. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Judy Garland was an icon in the gay community, and many gay men deeply connected with the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Judy died just days before the Stonewall riots took place, and some historians believe that the gay community’s angst over her accidental overdose added to the tension before the riots erupted.

ML: How long did it take you to put this book together, from concept to research to the illustrations and what to include and not include? GP: From start to finish, the book took about a little over a year to move from its idea stage in April 2017 to a completed manuscript to publication. The book was fasttracked so it would coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Rainbow Flag. What to include or not is also complicated, as writing children’s books is incredibly challenging. For starters, you have limited real estate. Publishers typically want authors to keep the word count below 1,000 words — and increasingly, publishers are aiming for 500 or 600 words. So authors have to make every word count. Also, when I write for children, I try to put myself into the mindset of a young child, rather than writing from an adult perspective. Nitty-gritty details often don’t interest young children, but they do hold interest for the adults who are

reading to them. Picture books for children lend themselves well to conversations and questions. Because picture books are interactive by design, parents and other adults can use the Note to Readers at the back of the book to fill in details if they feel like their child would be interested in them. ML: Were there any surprises for you in creating the book? GP: I was surprised how much of a footprint Gilbert has had on the LGBTQ+ community. Personally, I loved learning about the many costumes Gilbert created for people like José Sarria and other members of the Imperial Court, as well as for performers like Sylvester. Gilbert also created banners for protest marches throughout the 1970s. ML: Who is the market for the book — any particular age group? Similarly, what do you hope adults get from the book? GP: Technically, “Sewing the Rainbow” is for children between the ages of four and eight. However, I think people of any age can enjoy it and benefit from it. Even today, most schools don’t teach LGBTQ+ history, and as a result, those of us in the LGBTQ+ community are often disconnected from our historical and cultural roots. Books like “Sewing the Rainbow” can help fill in those informational gaps. June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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BOOKS

Book Expo America Storms NYC Pols, celebrities, children’s books, and the business of diversity

MICHAEL LUONGO

MICHAEL LUONGO

S.L. Huang spoke on a panel about gender and identity in science fiction and fantasy books.

Activist DeRay Mckesson was part of a discussion of “Can Free Speech be Saved?” hosted by PEN America.

MICHAEL LUONGO

Bernie Sanders addressed a topic on everyone’e mind: “Where We Go From Here.”

MICHAEL LUONGO

Chris Colfer promoted his “The Land of Stories” series of children’s books published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, a division of Hachette.

BY MICHAEL LUONGO here’s no book city like New York City as two major publishing industry events — Book Expo America and its sister gathering, BookCon, both at the Javits Convention Center — demonstrated again. Held May 30 to June 3, they represented the largest gathering of book industry experts and fans in the US and Canada. The Expo offered plenty of interest for the LGBTQ reader, from gay celebrities and celebrity allies to activists promoting free speech, signings by queer authors, and appearances by politicians who have aligned themselves both for and against the community. A variety of panels at the Book Expo were focused on diversity in the publishing world, touching on race, gender, sexuality, and mark-

T

82

ers of identity. A May 30 panel, Hiring for Diversity, focused on issues for small booksellers. Hannah Oliver Depp, of WORD Bookstores in New York and New Jersey, discussed how staff examine inventory, thinking of diverse customers, from African Americans to Latinos to LGBTQ people and others. Massachusetts native BrocheAroe Fabian of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina, talked about being a woman married to another woman in a conservative state. After the panel, Fabian told Gay City News that as LGBTQ bookstores closed across the country, independent retailers filled the gap. “That representation still needs to be there. I am out,” she said, adding that for young people, in particular, independent bookstores allow access to titles they might never be exposed to other-

MICHAEL LUONGO

Eileen Myles debuted her new book of poetry, “Evolution.”

wise. Depending on how discreetly LGBTQ books are shelved, a young person, she said, “could be looking at anything, and so if it is something they still need to be keeping secret they are safe.” The panel most directly focused on the queer community was Thursday’s “LGBTQ+ Authors on Gender and Identity In Science Fiction and Fantasy,” with Seth Dickinson, S.L. Huang, Charlie Jane Anders, and V.E. Schwab, moderated by Tor Books editor Emily Asher-Perrin. Huang spoke about how many people in the industry have challenged her use of women of color in powerful roles, as if that were not possible. Huang said, “I am a real person, what does that say about me and how I feel in society?,” she said, adding, “I have explored a lot of things in writing, my own gender journey. I process almost everything through fic-

tion.” Anders picked up on that theme, saying, “Part of what keeps me excited about writing is that I am always trying on stuff through my characters, different ways of being and different ways of expressing yourself. That’s an important part of the writing process for me.” The same day, PEN America, the free expression advocacy group, presented “Can Free Speech be Saved?” The panel included two well-known out gay speakers, civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas, along with Jill Abramson, who served as the first female executive editor of the New York Times. Katy Glenn Bass, PEN’s director of free expression policy and research, moder-

BOOK EXPO, continued on p.86

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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BOOK EXPO, from p.82

ated. After the panel, Mckesson spoke with Gay City News about intersectionality and how it is not always recognized in the queer gay community. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Part of it is the way we tell the stories and who tells the stories,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The second is that intersectionality is about identities and the public conversation about identities is still pretty new.â&#x20AC;? As an example, he said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;we are talking about the trans community in ways that we have never talked about before in public and that is new. I am a gay black man and we are talking about homophobia in black communities in public, and that is two years old.â&#x20AC;? The ongoing conversation, he said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;is leading into spaces where people realize they are implicated too.â&#x20AC;? Similarly, Vargas, who will have a new memoir out soon from HarperCollins called â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen,â&#x20AC;? said that he has had trouble getting LGBTQ American citizens to understand the plight of the undocumented. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A lot of it has to do with language,â&#x20AC;? he said, pointing out that many leaders within the undocumented movement are themselves members of the LGBTQ community, existing within two closets until recently. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have to say somewhere up in Heaven Harvey Milk is smiling and James Baldwin are looking down like, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;See, this is what intersectionality should look like,â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? Vargas said. Throughout Book Expo, LGBTQ authors and their books were featured in a variety of forums. This was especially true of childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and young adult books. Among those signing were Robb Pearlman, debuting the new â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pink is for Boys,â&#x20AC;? out this year from Hachette, about raising children in a genderneutral way. Gilbert Baker was also honored by a new childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s book by Gayle Pitman and Holly Clifton-Brown, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sewing the Rainbow,â&#x20AC;? from Magination Press. Carmen Maria Machado received an award from the American Booksellers Association, an organization promoting independent bookstores, for her 2017 book

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Her Body and Other Parties,â&#x20AC;? from Graywolf Press. In her acceptance speech, she described the book as a â&#x20AC;&#x153;weird queer, lesbian, feministâ&#x20AC;? work that people at first did not know what to make of. (She also received a Lammy a few days later.) At Book Expo, Machado told Gay City News the book took five years to write and that winning this award â&#x20AC;&#x153;is incredibly exciting, and I love indies because theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve done so much for this book and are such wonderful, essential places in our communities.â&#x20AC;? Eileen Myles debuted a new book of poetry, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Evolution,â&#x20AC;? from Grove Press. She told Gay City News, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I am happy to be here for a book of poetry, which I think doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get the attention it deserves at a place like this. I almost feel seditious being here.â&#x20AC;? Celebrities and politicians were also promoting books and making appearances. Among them was Chris Colfer of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Gleeâ&#x20AC;? fame, who was promoting his â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Land of Storiesâ&#x20AC;? series of childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s books published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul spoke of their work on a new novel based on the Broadway play â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dear Evan Hansen,â&#x20AC;? out this year from the same publisher. Megan Mullally (Karen on â&#x20AC;&#x153;Will & Graceâ&#x20AC;?) and her husband Nick Offerman read from their book â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Greatest Love Story Ever Toldâ&#x20AC;? out this year from Penguin Random House. Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer discussed his new book â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Briefing,â&#x20AC;? from Regnery Publishing, followed just minutes later by former Secretary of State John Kerry speaking about his new Simon & Schuster book, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Every Day is Extra.â&#x20AC;? The May 31 Book Expo keynote was delivered by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who was promoting his new book, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Where We Go From Here,â&#x20AC;? from St. Martinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Press. Sanders spoke of his support for LGBTQ and womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rights and other social justice causes, but emphasized that â&#x20AC;&#x153;change always comes through activism,â&#x20AC;? rather than from a single leader. Pounding on the podium, he said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;It makes no sense that because people love somebody of the same gender they continue to be discriminated against.â&#x20AC;? June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018

87


OPERA

Musical Mash-Ups and Magic MasterVoices combines Gluck and Matthew Aucoin; English Concert at Carnegie Hall BY ELI JACOBSON n May, MasterVoices presented two performances of “Orphic Moments,” a musical conflation of Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice” with Matthew Aucoin’s cantata “Orphic Moments” at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center. “Orphic Moments” is a 16-minute internal monologue for Orpheus spotlighting that crucial moment where he must choose whether to ignore the pleas of his despairing wife’s shade or look back at her and lose her forever. This pairing of 18th century opera and 21st century post-modernism was originally presented to full houses and critical acclaim in March 2016 at National Sawdust in Williamsburg, Brooklyn as a vehicle for countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who co-produced the event. The Aucoin cantata was presented first as a prologue followed by the Gluck opera (a feast was consumed in between the musical treats). For the MasterVoices presentation, the Aucoin cantata was interpolated into the penultimate scene of the Gluck opera (no dinner this time). The National Sawdust cast was reassembled, including Costanzo as Orfeo, Kiera Duffy as Euridice, Lauren Snouffer as Amore, with dancer Bobbi Jene Smith and violinist Keir GoGwilt joining them for the Aucoin interlude. (Smith replaced Duffy as a dancing but silent Eurydice while GoGwilt played his violin obbligatos onstage left.) Ted Sperling conducted the MasterVoices chorus and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. A minimalist staging by Zach Winokur with scenic elements by Douglas Fitch put the opera in contemporary dress evoking downtown hipsters attending a wedding in Provincetown. The chorus was in fantastic voice, and Sperling and the OSL displayed remarkable musical versatility. Sperling offered a clear, elegant reading of a streamlined Italian version of Gluck’s “Orfeo” then shifted gears effortlessly into a more layered, dissonant modernism for the Aucoin. Duffy’s lean but pure soprano brought urgency to Euridice’s plaints. Snouffer delighted as Amore, entering as a janitress sweeping away the debris from the aborted wedding feast, then stripping off her work uniform to reveal a snappy red pantsuit. Her scintillating soprano brought equal parts rose-colored vibrancy and soaring brilliance to Amor’s music. Costanzo’s voice proved as double-sided as the musical program. In the upper reaches, his countertenor has a seraphic purity that caresses the ear and provides balm to the soul. In the lower register, the tone loses the roundness

I

88

ERIN BAIANO

Anthony Roth Costanzo and Kiera Duffy as Orfeo and Euridice.

and float, becoming narrowly pointed and nasal. More insistent declamatory passages in the middle register sounded like a character voice countertenor singing the Sorceress in Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” or a buffo role in Monteverdi opera. This does not jibe with my prior experiences of Costanzo’s singing but his sensitivity to text and musical intelligence were consistent both in the Gluck and the Aucoin. Aucoin’s cantata set to an English text by the composer suggests that Orpheus deliberately chooses to lose Eurydice knowing that his loss as a man will make him a greater artist — his laments will stem from life experience. But the sudden jarring shift from Gluck’s clear 18th century classicism to Aucoin’s restless ostinatos, shifting harmonies, and darkly layered, often percussive chamber orchestra writing resulted in a “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore” moment of musical dislocation. (I find Berio’s completion of Puccini’s “Turandot” has a similar effect of jumping over centuries with discordant musical styles.) I feel that Gluck has dramatized that moment fully in his “Orfeo” — the interpolation of the Aucoin cantata kills the dramatic momentum making a concise opera unwieldy and diffuse. I think both pieces are served more effectively standing alone as integral works. The English Concert was at Carnegie Hall on March 25 with another edition of its annual Handel opera in concert series. This year, it was Handel’s first English success, “Rinaldo” (1711). In this “magic opera,” Handel recycled all of his best tunes from his early Italian career (and reputedly purloined tunes from other composers). “Rinaldo” was famously revived in the early 1980s for Marilyn Horne in the title role, providing a star-making breakthrough role for

a young Samuel Ramey as the villainous Argante. The Carnegie Hall concert presentation lacked that kind of larger-than-life star power and bravura vocalism. The magic was in the overall musical presentation and style, not in the onstage spectacle. Handelian Wizard-inChief Harry Bicket again showed a precise understanding of how Handel builds drama by contrasting musical modes — each da capo aria has its own stylistic profile that creates a specific mood that the next aria expands or contrasts. Recitatives carry the dramatic message, which the arias deepen and explore. Countertenor Iestyn Davies, fresh off of Broadway’s “Farinelli and the King,” was a plangent but unheroic Rinaldo. His tone is pure and elegiac with a soft center, decent but less than brilliant agility, and a weak lower register. This sound is perfect for adagios like “Cara Sposa” but the fireworks of “Or la tromba” failed to ignite. The original Rinaldo was Nicolini, an alto castrato with a voice that had a boy soprano’s high register but the depth, power, and range of an adult male. A female contralto like a Horne or Podles sang this repertory with more tonal thrust and dramatic power as well as greater variety in dynamics and vocal coloration. Davies has one vocal color — gentle, lyrical, and plaintive — that is well-suited to Purcell and certain Britten roles but sounds ineffectual in a bravura Handel hero. Joélle Harvey’s quicksilver, shimmering soprano proved beguiling in Almirena’s “Lascia ch’io pianga.” Bicket allowed Harvey to interpolate high notes and cadenzas that spotlighted her gleaming upper register in an otherwise medium tessitura role. Canadian coloratura Jane Archibald sang the fierce and wily sorceress Armida with a creamy tone that sailed into the high reaches with insolent ease and matched the harpsichord pyrotechnics in the Act II closer “Vo’ far Guerra.” As Argante, bassbaritone Luca Pisaroni didn’t erase memories of Ramey’s coloratura feats but did evoke him in stage charisma and tonal color. Sasha Cooke as Goffredo provided the rich vocal color lacking in the other countertenors onstage and sang with commendable legato line. Jakub Józef Orlinski sang Eustazio very musically but was more striking to the eye than the ear. James Hall (Davies’ alternate in “Farinelli and the King”) made appealing sounds as a “Christian Magician.” Bicket saw that Handel emerged as the star player here with his abundant musical invention placed front and center. June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

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OPERA

Remember These Three Barihunks Tobias Greenhalgh, Steven LaBrie, and Jarrett Ott enliven a Roven Records launch BY DAVID SHENGOLD emember,” a CD project of Roven Records, had a fun launch party at Carnegie/ Weill Hall on May 22. The stars of the fine CD and the concert are three veritable barihunks launched on fine careers — Tobias Greenhalgh, Steven LaBrie, and Jarrett Ott. LaBrie and Ott are that rare thing: out classical singers who are not countertenors. (Among the composers involved, Glen Roven himself, Jake Heggie, and Jennifer Higdon are also part of the community.) Happily, all three guys impressed with their voices and commitment as well as their looks. LaBrie tended to overproject; more dynamic shading would improve his ability to interpret songs with piano. He sounds more relaxed on the CD. Greenhalgh shone in John Adams’ memorable “Batter My Heart” and showed good Gallic style in four striking Paul Éluard settings by Roven. Ott stood out for his remarkably graceful tone production and his keen verbal delivery: a real Liedersinger. For me, Higdon’s setting of Whitman’s famous lament for Lincoln, in his rendition, earned pride of place both live and on the CD. A medley drawing on baritone operatic chestnuts seemed — in the context of a sophisticated industry crowd — a near-total misfire, especially as the only participant in good form was vibrant-voiced, wide-ranged Kyle Pfortmiller, who merits a starrier career. That’s true also of Amy Shoremount-Obra, who joined the bill as a “belle-itone”; though her shining, impressive soprano didn’t prove the best match to John Duke’s Emily Dickinson songs. She sounded more at home in Roven’s “The Promise”. The pianists, all impressive, included Adam Nielsen, Andrew Rosenblum, and Danny Zelibor.

“R

LaBrie reappeared June 2 in New Amsterdam Opera’s concert of Donizetti’s once-popular “La Favorita.” Keith Chambers’ organization, new to me, impressed with a fairly polished and full-out reading of the score in the West Park Sanctuary Theater’s notably good acoustics. Eve Queler was aptly in the house: perhaps New Amsterdam can harness her legacy of exploring recondite works in concert readings. “Favorita” — now usually played, though not here, in its musically superior and more logical original French version — has some splendid

90

JAMES GAVIN

Jarrett Ott, Steven LaBrie, and Tobias Greenhalgh at the May 22 launch party for “Remember” at Carnegie/ Weill Hall.

ensembles and a star baritone part that prefigure Verdi (particularly “Ernani”). LaBrie sang very well if without all the requisite elegance: he showed good line and made something of the text, but lacked a trill (so did nearly everyone else) and — again — was consistently at neartop volume, as if auditioning for Rigoletto at the Met. He should be at the Met — he’s certainly better than some of the Silvios, Enricos, and Belcores recently heard there. Near the end of Act Three, he showed he could modulate dynamics, to excellent effect. As Leonora, Catherine Martin, a fine artist, lived her role convincingly and sang committedly, even if with rather too angular a sound for this music. Kevin Thompson (Baldassare) brought pleasing bass resonance and projection, needing only to steady the very top and attend more to diction. Peter Scott Drackley, the Fernando, showed Italianate promise in a few places but encountered lots of static. Admittedly the character is a simple dupe, but the tenor showed no characterization whatsoever — concert opera is its own art form, as Martin’s fine performance showed. Meanwhile, watch for Chambers’ continuing explorations with New Amsterdam Opera. On June 5 the super-out conductor Michael Tilson Thomas made his first-ever appearance leading the wonderful Met Orchestra at Carnegie, a mere 49 years after his first Boston Symphony gig there. He started with the “Evocations” by American original Carl Ruggles, a very characteristic work sonorously and richly played. The evening’s guest soloist was South African

soprano Pretty Yende — lovely to see, with an essentially lovely sound, but also heavily promoted as a “backstory artist.” Hers is an inspiring story, and unlike some other musicians put forward by the industry she has genuine talent and charm. That does not make her a finished artist, as Mozart’s “Exsultate, jubilate” showed. Yende is essentially a lyric soprano with agility rather than a coloratura, and she had trouble with the first aria’s high cadenza and also with trills — none more than “indicated.” Pitch sometimes faded at the end of long lines. This music written for a male castrato tests many sopranos in the lowest sections and she proved no exception. That said, Yende did produce a largely beautiful stream of tone. Even with the orchestral forces cut way down, the motet sounded high caloric by contemporary standards. The partial standing ovation was as unmerited as was justified the full standing ovation for the evening’s main offering, the Mahler Fourth. In the finale, Yende did very well, channeling the child’s innocence but also manic imagination in sparkling sound. And like the Ruggles, this showed MTT on home turf: a detailed, well-paced, and not unduly schmaltzy take, with the gorgeous third movement treated aptly as the piece’s emotional heart. Concertmaster David Chan and the entire brass section had a field day. With his San Francisco Symphony, MTT led a splendid “Peter Grimes” in 2014 and tackles “Boris Godunov” later this month. Could he be the conductor to rescue these first-rate operas from the Met’s neglect? June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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91


LAWYERS GET LEGAL, from p.24

executive director and “only fulltime employee, fielding hysterical calls from clients” who were subject to discrimination and arrests in parks. She said the Court of Appeals striking down the state’s anti-sodomy law in 1980 aided by Lambda’s amicus “made a tremendous difference… altering the perception of the risk of being out.” “By being out,” Richter said, “we changed the world. We changed attitudes and hearts and minds. And don’t think it is over. It is just as important to be out, be involved, and speak up. Ask yourself: where would we be if Bill Thom and others had not been willing to put their names on a piece of paper with the word ‘gay’?” Judge Paul Feinman, the first out gay person on the Court of Appeals, expressed “grave concerns” about this fraught time. “Our adherence to rule of law advanced us to a more perfect union,” he reminded the audience. Feinman was at Columbia Law School from 1982 to 1985 when “the AIDS crisis was a full-blown horror,” but he sees it as a “critical moment in the history of the movement, bringing a sense of unity and purpose” in which “our lesbian sisters were there for us.” He started the LGBTQ group at the law school and worked in alliance with groups for Latinx and black law students. Feinman said, “I never dreamed of being a judge, no less on our

highest court,” but he was confirmed by the State Senate to that post one year ago. He reminded us that there are still “frightened people out there” among gay law students who we don’t see from our “New York bubble,” but also that we have the chance “to set an example for them.” Arthur Leonard, professor at New York Law School and longtime chronicler of LGBTQ legal developments for Gay City News and his own LGBT Law Notes, gave an entertaining and instructive talk on Harris Kimball’s case, which finally, in 1973, made it okay to be an openly gay lawyer. Kimball was a civil rights lawyer in Orlando, “which did not make him popular with the local bar association” in segregated Florida, so acting on rumors that he was homosexual, they got the police “to set a trap for him using a handsome man.” Kimball got a felony conviction and disbarment “for committing an act contrary to good morals.” Kimball tried to be readmitted in 1957 when the Florida Supreme Court reduced sodomy to a misdemeanor, but to no avail. He moved to New York where he did other work until deciding to return to law in the 1970s. After passing the state bar exam, he was ejected from the bar by the State Appellate Division’s Second Department because of his Florida disbarment. The Appellate Division said that that was not “necessarily a bar to admission, but we still had a law against gay sex in New York” and

he would be prone to break that as a gay man. The dissenters in that 3-2 decision, according to Leonard, said that “in 1972 he cannot be considered unfit merely because he was an avowed homosexual and the Court of Appeals agreed in 1973 aided by an amicus from [the Gay Activists Alliance] by E. Carrington Boggan. The court wrote, “While appellant’s status and past conduct may be now and has been in the past violative of accepted norms, they are not controlling, albeit relevant, in assessing character bearing on the right to practice law in this state.” Without using the word “gay” or “homosexual,” Leonard noted, the court opened the door to out gay lawyers. Rachel Tiven, Lambda’s current president, said they now have “more than 100 staff and six offices nationwide, including three dozen practicing lawyers.” She cited Lambda’s illustrious alumni — Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry who was on hand, Columbia law professor Suzanne Goldberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s counsel Alphonso David, and Judge Richter. Tiven expressed pride in how the group’s victory in Romer v. Evans in 1996 — challenging Colorado’s law forbidding state and local gay rights protections — set a precedent that “animus cannot be a legitimate reason for government actions.” The case, she noted, is cited in cases against Trump’s Muslim ban. Lambda, Tiven said, is focused on “protecting marriage equality”

especially from religious exemptions and worries that the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision “suggests that there is a different kind of marriage that LGBT people get — ‘gay marriage’ — when there is just marriage before the law for everyone.” The group’s second focus is on “expanding the reach of sex discrimination law” to encompass protection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. She is alarmed at Trump putting “judges who are so biased” on the federal bench but optimistic about the alliances Lambda has formed with the NAACP and MexicanAmerican legal defense groups as well as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Michael R. Sonberg, a retired acting justice of the New York Supreme Court, recounted how Thom came to be appointed by Koch in 1984 as the state’s first out gay judge and how the Gay Activists Alliance fought for incorporation from 1970 until 1973, winning when the Appellate Division finally ruled “the word ‘gay’ was not obscene or vulgar.” Sonberg marveled at how “we see kids coming out now as preteens,” but cautioned that coming out still often means “you realize you are different from everyone else in your family.” He added, “They need our love and support.” The LGBTQ legal community members’ nurturing of one another was on full display at this historic forum, showing how far their work has come within the lifetimes of its pioneers.

CITY COUNCIL CELEBRATES PRIDE DONNA ACETO

Four-fifths of the Council’s LGBT Caucus: Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, Jimmy Van Bramer and Daniel Dromm of Queens, and Speaker Corey Johnson of Manhattan. DONNA ACETO

Singer Beth Malone with honorees Mickalene Thomas, and Racquel Chevremont.

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

O

n June 12, the City Council’s five-member LGBT Caucus held its annual Pride Celebration, this

92

DONNA ACETO

DONNA ACETO

Honoree Enny Pichardo.

Honoree Peppermint Moore.

year honoring Enny Pichardo, an Emmy-nominated correspondent and producer at Univision, painter Mickalene Thomas and her partner, art collector and consultant Racquel Chevremont, and Pepper-

mint Moore, a trans activist who was a runner-up on the ninth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” NY1’s “On Stage” host Frank DiLella was the emcee and singer Beth Malone (“Angels in America”) performed.

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The evening’s emcee, Frank DiLella, who hosts “On Stage” on NY1.

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CEDENO, from p.10

Louna Dennis, McCree’s mother who is suing the city for $25 million for the death of her son, vehemently denies her sons have been gang members but both can be seen in Facebook posts making gang signs. In a response to the Caucus letter, Clark insisted in an April 26 letter to the councilmembers that she is prosecuting Cedeno “with the utmost integrity, diligence and fairness.” But she wrote that “a judge will determine whether an order of protection is appropriate” and that her office “does not have the authority” to issue one. Christopher R. Lynn, co-counsel for Cedeno, said, “Her office has the authority to ask for an order of protection and in the past 35 years each and every time I have heard a district attorney request one the judge has agreed without exception.” Patrice O’Shaughnessy, director of communications for the Bronx DA, wrote in an email on June 19, “We made the application for TOP (Temporary Order of Protection) for Abel Cedeno on May 21. Judge [George R.] Villegas denied the application for a TOP to be granted against Dennis because he didn’t make the threats. He did grant a TOP against codefendant Espinal (the uncle) because he actually made the threats. Tomorrow we will ask to extend the order.” A query about why no witness tampering charges were filed was not answered. O’Shaughnessy wrote she was still looking into the additional charge against Dennis at the courthouse. Lynn went to court on June 20 to ask Villegas for the third time to issue an order of protection for Cedeno and his family from Dennis. Villegas denied that order late Wednesday, claiming he did not have jurisdiction — even though the request was supported by assistant district attorney Theresa Gottlieb. Lynn’s co-counsel, Robert J. Feldman said, “If anything happens to Abel his blood will be on the hands of this court.” The judge, while refusing the formal order of protection then ordered everyone to stay away from Abel — an absurd edict if it were to

apply to his attorneys. Prior to Villegas denying the order of protection, Gottlieb told Lynn she had earlier asked for and was denied an order of protection for Cedeno from Dennis, since the summons for the courtroom incident had been dismissed and was sealed. She told Lynn “there’s nothing else we can do unless you want to raise it yourself and make your argument.” According to Lynn, “She’s correct Kevon was charged with being disorderly and that was dismissed but the court officer, Karen Burns, wrote an affidavit in which she swears Kevon attacked Abel, was stopped, and Kevon stated, ‘I could have gotten him.’” Lynn said that on May 13 Ariane Laboy, whom Cedeno is charged with assaulting in last September’s classroom melee, posted a direct threat against Cedeno’s life. Laboy posted on social media, “First nigga wanna violate matt now he coming for dat man. nigga is buggin not bumping lil tjay no moree.” According to Lynn’s experts on gangs, that translates to “Since Matt was killed I’ve been distraught; now I’m gonna kill (bump) the guy who killed Matt.” Laboy has an order of protection from Cedeno, but Cedeno can’t obtain one for himself or his family from either Laboy or Dennis. In response to Clark’s letter but prior to learning of the order of protection against Espinal, Councilmember Daniel Dromm, chair of the LGBT Caucus, told Gay City News, “The members of the LGBT Caucus urge the Bronx district attorney to ensure that true justice is served — and not to merely prosecute the case. While we understand the complexities of this case, providing Adel Cedeno with an order of protection seems to be the least the district attorney’s office and the criminal justice system can do to protect the integrity of the process. This seems to be a typical instance of anti-LGBT bullying. Abel’s physical safety should be protected while he awaits justice.” Lynn said that in court on June 20 Gottlieb greeted and spoke with Kevon Dennis’ mother, Louna. A prosecutor meeting with a family member of a defendant is something Lynn called “unprecedented.” June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc




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ä&#x2030;´

LOG CABIN, from p.68

that.â&#x20AC;? The play portrays trans issues in ways rarely, if ever, before seen onstage. During an ill-fated gathering of the three couples, a debate erupts over the term â&#x20AC;&#x153;cisâ&#x20AC;? that might make some cisgender folks squirm (I sure did). As Harrison tells it, he was inspired to write about trans rights when he started hearing snide comments that queer friends would make about trans people when they werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t in the room. There were frustrations with pronouns and confusion about changing rules of what was acceptable. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It reminds me of talk I remember hearing early in my life,â&#x20AC;? Harrison explained. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People would say, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Why did you have to ruin a perfectly good word like gay.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; In some ways we are becoming the previous generation.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;It felt strange to live my whole life without the term â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;cisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and then be told thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what I am,â&#x20AC;? Harrison continued. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That lumps me into a category with all the horrible people who made me feel different. It felt like some of my history had been eradicated. Obviously, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not the goal of the trans movement. We need to be aware of how we trigger each other. We need to honor each other.â&#x20AC;? These days, trans rights are under attack, such as the freedom to access appropriate bathrooms and the right to serve in the military. The play addresses the need to understand views from a trans personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perspective. Harrison cast Ian Harvie, who is transgender, in the role of a trans person. Was that a requirement for the role? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Frankly, at this point itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unimaginable not to cast a trans person in a trans role,â&#x20AC;? Harrison said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If the TV show â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Transparentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; [which originally starred Jeffrey Tambor] was recast today, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d be surprised if a cisgender person was chosen.â&#x20AC;? During the eye-opening first table read, Ferguson was grateful that Harvie was so open about his own struggle, even admitting to a couple of biases of his own. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We all carry biases and preconceived notions about other subcultures within the LGBT communi-

ty,â&#x20AC;? said Ferguson. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I found myself tip-toeing around questions with Ian. But then I realized, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want people to do that with me so why am I doing that with him? As long as weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re having a dialogue, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the most important thing. That fear of asking questions and fear of offending someone is when it can get harmful.â&#x20AC;? Harrison agrees, noting that Harvie is not only masterful in the role, he was a treasured trans voice in the rehearsal room. It was essential to have his perspective in the conversation. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more, he learned a bit of lingo, â&#x20AC;&#x153;deadnaming,â&#x20AC;? which refers to calling a trans person by their former name. The 41-year-old playwright has described â&#x20AC;&#x153;Log Cabinâ&#x20AC;? as a period piece, even though it takes place only a few years ago. He wrote the first draft right before the 2016 election, at the peak of the Obama administrationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s glory years. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Conversations early in the play reflect the new invigoration in 2012 that the world is starting to look brighter, with more states recognizing gay marriage,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There is a level of comfort and safety. At the end of the play, the fissures between the trans person and his friends are not so large, because thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a greater threat now lurking in the White House.â&#x20AC;? And then thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the playâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cryptic title. Although the characters are not exactly card-carrying Log Cabin Republicans, they do harbor conservative impulses that are exposed. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In a heated moment, Ezra says this country has gotten too liberal. I titled it â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Log Cabinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; because I want the idea to simmer as a possibility,â&#x20AC;? said Harrison. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They are still rooting for Hillary on election night, but there are different shades in liberalism. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an intentionally slanty title.â&#x20AC;? According to Harrison, Ezra is loosely modeled after himself, once a dorky queer kid slammed into lockers, an underdog. Now, he has entitlements that not everyone has and has gotten cocky. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I feel extremely fortunate to be played by an incredible actor like Jesse,â&#x20AC;? Harrison said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Not only is he extremely nimble with great comic chops, but he has an energizing effect on the company. He is a real morale builder, a burst of sunshine in the room. June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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THEATER PRIDE, from p.69

on what the market will bear. By the way, if you love musicals, you owe it to yourself to see Peters in this role. She’s luminous and hilarious. Tickets for “Dolly” are regularly at TKTS. I’ve always had good luck just walking up to the box office, even at the last minute. Buying a single ticket may yield better seats. If you are alone or you don’t insist on sitting with your friends, you may score some prize locations. I have over the years. You’ll also save on the “convenience fees,” which can add $20 or more to a ticket price. Some shows also have cancellation lines, but that’s a bit risky. I highly recommend that you go through a legitimate vendor, whether direct or a reseller. Be wary of people selling tickets on the street, particularly to hot shows — there have been counterfeits. That’s the how, now here’s the what. My recommendations and tips are based on what was available as of June 11. Things can — and will — change, but this will give you an idea of what you may be able to get. This list only includes shows from the current Broadway season, or current shows that opened after the season ended, from June 21-26, though you can even find tickets for long runs such as “The Lion King,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Beautiful,” “Chicago,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “The Play that Goes Wrong” at TKTS. Most shows play Tuesday through Saturday evenings with matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. GAY-THEMED PLAYS This has been a banner year for gay-themed shows. From the OffBroadway “Afterglow,” which isn’t much of a play but has handsome men engaged in lots of simulated sex, to the sublime Broadway revival of “Angels in America,” the shows have dealt with politics, relationships, and, of course, sex. Here are the three best bets if you want to see a gay-themed show. Angels in America You can’t spend a better day in the theater than with this powerful revival that will leave you intellectually and emotionally drained and uplifted. Marianne Elliot’s

100

production of Tony Kushner’s nowclassic, two-part masterpiece was imported from England, and it’s a must-see. It took Drama Desk and Tony Awards for play revival and for the shattering and glorious performances of Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane, but there isn’t a performance that isn’t stellar. Availability: Good for all performances at full price. You can now buy tickets for individual performances, letting you see Parts One and Two on your own schedule. If you have the time — and stamina — seeing both parts in one day is recommended. Often at TKTS. Best bets: Box office or TKTS. Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St. The Boys in the Band Fifty years on, and first seen a year before the Stonewall riots, this was one of the first mainstream presentations of gay men in popular culture. One can potentially argue with the dated language, but it’s really nothing more than an earlier version of today’s queer slang. The fight for identity, inclusion, community, and connection is as real today as it was then. While one can’t be arrested for being gay in 2018, the struggle isn’t over. What’s also significant with the 50th anniversary revival is that the nine-man cast is made up entirely of out gay actors, something that would have been unthinkable in 1968. The pared-down version clocks in at 100 minutes without intermission and, like “Angels,” is an important part of the gay theater canon. Availability: Premium seats only for all performances except some side orchestra on Monday night. Reseller prices range from $200 to more than $1,400 for first or second row in the orchestra. Best bets: Online or resellers. Surprisingly, we found a few discounts for some performances, but not many. Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St. Log Cabin This is the play that will keep you and your friends up all night talking about the issues it raises. It’s a fascinating exploration of the issues facing LGBTQ people in the current climate. In many ways, it’s a natural successor to “Boys” and “Angels,” and it resonates with the

questions about who gay, lesbian, and transgender people are in contemporary culture. Jesse Tyler Ferguson leads a stellar cast at Playwrights Horizons. Availability: Spotty for most performances. Best bets: Online and box office. Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd Street MUSICALS The Band’s Visit In a season of musicals based on movies or glorified children’s shows, this simple, heartfelt show reminds us of the inherent goodness of people. Itamar Moses’ Tonywinning book and David Yazbek’s sophisticated and deeply moving score create a show for grown-ups and a story of hope and humanity. Availability: Very good for side orchestra, premium seat central orchestra, and both front and rear mezzanine for all performances. However, with the show’s strong performance at the Tonys, including Best Musical, this may start selling fast. Best bets: Online or box office. Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St. Mean Girls Notwithstanding the implied dig above, sometimes a movie can inspire a delightful musical, especially when Tina Fey is doing the book-writing honors. This bright, funny musical based on the 2004 movie is consistently entertaining and full of life and features a brilliant young cast. Structurally, it really is an old-fashioned show, and that all works in its favor. Oh, and “fetch” still isn’t going to happen, but this show is a major hit. Availability: Spotty and only resale tickets in the rear orchestra and mezzanine, ranging from around $300 to more than $1,000. Best bets: Reseller or (best of all) buy tickets for later this year. August Wilson Theatre, 245 W. 52nd St. Carousel This difficult show has been given a glorious revival featuring spectacular choreography by Tonywinner Justin Peck. Jessie Mueller, Joshua Henry, and Renée Fleming lead the cast. But you don’t want to miss the star-making and Tony and Drama Desk-winning perfor-

mance of Lindsay Mendez as Carrie Pipperidge. The domestic violence has been softened from the 1945 original, but it’s still a challenging show that is also moving and wonderful. Availability: Good for all performances at all price points. Online discounts available. Best bets: Online discounts, online regular price seats, TKTS, and box office. Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St. My Fair Lady The sumptuous revival at Lincoln Center retains everything you love about this show, assuming you do, and adds a more Shavian depth that gives the show a new, contemporary feel that’s particularly relevant to current conversations about women in society. Of course, there are wonderful performances by Harry Hadden-Paton, Norbert Leo Butz, and Lauren Ambrose, and Catherine Zuber’s spectacular costumes to make this a ravishing revival. Availability: No tickets at the box office or online. Resellers only. The good news is that many resale tickets we found are only about 10-15 percent more than list price. Best bet: Resellers. Lincoln Center Theater, 150 W. 65th St. Frozen It’s the Disney film on stage. You don’t really need to know much more. If you’re a Disney fan, it’s a must-see. It’s wonderfully creative with lots of theatrical magic, which is exactly what you’d expect from Disney. Yes, “Let It Go” is belted out to end the first act and Caissie Levy blows the back wall off the theater. The big surprise is Patti Murin’s performance as Anna with a level of kooky comedy that’s endearing. Availability: Decent for all performances. Most are resale tickets, but not exorbitant, only about a 15 percent premium for many. Best bet: Online resellers. St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St. Summer: The Donna Summer Musical The only reason to see this is to revisit the music that defined disco. Don’t expect an accurate biog-

THEATER PRIDE, continued on p.101

June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


ä&#x2030;´

THEATER PRIDE, from p.100

raphy or even good fiction. Do expect some wonderful singing from LaChanze and Ariana DeBose. If you want to go back to the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;70s, you might enjoy this. Availability: Good in side orchestra, excellent in the mezzanine for all performances. Best bets: Online, box office, or TKTS. Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 W. 46th St. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical If you have a taste for silliness, then this is the show for you. The classic, whacked out Nickelodeon cartoon has been brought to the stage with a delightful score from a host of pop music icons. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just silly fun. Availability: Excellent for all performances. Plus, lots of discounts up to 40 percent. Best bets: Online discounts, TKTS. Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway at W. 47th St. Once on This Island The Tony for Best Revival came as a surprise to many, but that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mean it wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t well-deserved. The show is a gorgeous, Caribbean myth told with great passion and romance. This is a show that benefits from having been trimmed and performed in one act as it swirls you into the tale. The performance of Hailey Kilgore as the girl at the center of the tale is not to be missed. Availability: Good at all performances, though weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see what the Tony win does. The premium seats are only $40 more than full-price orchestra, and that may be worth it so you feel closer to the action. The show has been up at TKTS regularly, too. Best bets: Online, online discounts, TKTs. Circle in the Square Theatre, 1633 Broadway at 50th St. PLAYS Three Tall Women With Tony wins for Laurie Metcalf and Glenda Jackson, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s likely the few remaining tickets for the run that ends June 24 will be gone in a heartbeat â&#x20AC;&#x201D; even at $425. Joe Mantelloâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s production was the highlight of this past season. Searing, provocative, and perfectly acted by all â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the always wonderful Alison GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018

Pill is the third woman â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Edward Albeeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s meditation on the stages of a life and what it teaches us even as it takes everything from us will easily be one of my most treasured memories of many seasons. See it if you can. Availability: Premium seats at all performances, some rear mezzanine. This is a small theater and there is very little legroom in the mezzanine, but the play is only 100 minutes long. Best bets: Online, box office, resellers. John Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th St. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child This is really for Harry Potter fans. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a kind of fan fiction come to life. There are tons of illusions that do bring the magic of the world to life, and if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re immersed in Hogwarts lore youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll follow along pretty well. The producers exhort attendees to â&#x20AC;&#x153;keep the secrets.â&#x20AC;? One I will share: there are lots of parts that drag over the nearly six hours, and mere Muggles have no spell to fi x it. I have loved all things Potter and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m like a kid with stage illusions, but this would benefit from, yes, even more magic and less narrative sprawl â&#x20AC;&#x201D; or judicious editing. Availability: Fair at all prices, and there are a lot of prices, from about $80 up to $300 per part. They have a dedicated website for ticketing thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s frustrating to use. Once you pick a date, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re offered take-it-or-leave it options. If you leave it, you have to start over again, which means waiting for access at high traffic times. Early morning seems best. Best bets: Box office, where you can choose seats and the people are really helpful, or online. Lyric Theatre, 214 W. 43rd St. Obviously, a list like this isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t comprehensive. There are wonderful Off-Broadway shows to choose from, and there are free events like Shakespeare in the Park, where you can see â&#x20AC;&#x153;Othelloâ&#x20AC;? through June 24 (see publictheater.org for details). Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve opted to list the shows I get asked about most by friends and colleagues looking for suggestions of what to see. I hope you find something that will let you, to paraphrase Shakespeare, beguile your lazy time with some delight.

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ä&#x2030;´

QUEEROCRACY, from p.4

mandated that the Department of Youth and Community Development take action to provide housing to this group, had requested $5 million, enough for 100 beds. Queerocracy had plenty of company in this complaint. Widespread criticism from advocates and service providers gave Speaker Johnson leverage to push that spending commitment up from $1 million to $3 million in the budget agreement he announced with Mayor Bill de Blasio on June 11 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; splitting the difference between the administrationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s initial offer and what homeless youth advocates were seeking. The visibility Queerocracy brought to itself in the skirmish over the 21 to 24-year-old beds allocation gave it an entrĂŠe into the mayorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s inner circle, which held a meeting with the group and members of the Continuum of Care YAB (membership in the two overlap significantly) on June 18, where other significant concerns were aired. According to Walker, the meet-

COURTESY OF SKYE ADRIAN

Skye Adrian, a Queerocracy member who also co-chairs the Youth Action Board at the New York City Coalition for the Continuum of Care.

ing â&#x20AC;&#x153;was just the first conversation with the Unity Project. Our members expressed their frustrations and concerns, which were received well and they are open to discussing with us and creating ways to more meaningfully engage LGBTQ youth.â&#x20AC;? Adrian offered a more detailed summary of the meeting â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and a less diplomatic takeaway. Queerocracy members appreci-

ate the need to encourage greater family acceptance of queer youth, but Adrian pointed to statistics indicating that most homeless queer youth in New York migrated here from upstate, out of state, or from abroad. Efforts like this, he acknowledged, are constructive but they are â&#x20AC;&#x153;not the most important issue.â&#x20AC;? Two significant matters continued bothering Adrian even after

this weekâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sit-down with mayoral staff. The first relates to the target population for the new 21 to 24-year-old beds. As the city has dramatically increased the stock of emergency shelter beds for youth 20 and younger in recent years, there has been a concerted and successful drive to establish specific facilities for LGBTQ young people, who often face violence in more general and larger congregate settings. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It came to my attention that the proposed shelter beds are not specific to LGBTQ-identified young people but will be â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;inclusiveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; of that community,â&#x20AC;? Adrian said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The youth that were featured in this project all identify along the LGBTQ+ spectrum, so, therefore, it sends the wrong message that this program was specific to that community, when thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not the case.â&#x20AC;? He added, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Not cool!â&#x20AC;? Adrian was also disappointed regarding another one of Queerocracyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s goals â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the establishment of a youth jobs and skills-building initiative.

ä&#x2030;´

QUEEROCRACY, continued on p.107

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June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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QUEEROCRACY,, from p.106

â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was brought to my attention that the plan to pilot an Employment Initiative for young people was shut down by some â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;higher powerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; when the Unity Project was being created,â&#x20AC;? he said, adding, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have all intentions of finding out who.â&#x20AC;? Despite his blunt critique of the $9.5 million planâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s priorities, Adrian is an activist who stays the course, and in a follow-up email to Gay City News emphasized, â&#x20AC;&#x153;As it regards the Unity Project, there is room for growth and they did mention that they will make changes to accommodate our recommendationsâ&#x20AC;Ś We are working with Unity Project for the betterment of homeless youth.â&#x20AC;? The degree to which the Unity Projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s current plans differ from Queerocracyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s priorities means a busy and challenging agenda ahead, but in speaking to its members it quickly becomes clear that the groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s significance goes beyond its very substantial policy engagement. Tye Thomas is a 16-year-old gay Jamaican who came to the US at 14 to attend boarding school, but also to escape a family who did not understand him and a culture of violence that victimized him. He left school after one year, and has since been staying with different members of his extended family, first in Brooklyn and now in Queens. The trauma he suffered in Jamaica, however, has had lasting impact, making him worry about whether heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be able to stay where he is. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sometimes I have the feeling I am not worthy of a home,â&#x20AC;? he told Gay City News. When he happened upon a Queerocracy meeting at the Center several months ago â&#x20AC;&#x201D; he had been asking for referrals to food drop-in centers â&#x20AC;&#x201D; â&#x20AC;&#x153;I realized that this is something that relates to me and I need to be here.â&#x20AC;? Saying that as a homeless gay youth of color, he often feels unwelcome among white gay male crowds, Thomas said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I need a community. My queerness makes me want to be part of somethingâ&#x20AC;Ś I need that in my life. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been looking for it. I always felt apart.â&#x20AC;? Tobius Menendez, a 17-yearold gay man who grew up in the GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018

Bronx and on the Lower East Side, also talked about the community heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s found at Queerocracy. Coming out at 14, he said, his family was never hostile, but nor did they really understand. His experience with homelessness was a threemonth or so stint couch-surfacing; he now lives with a friend on the Lower East Side. Like Thomas, Menendez first came upon Queerocracy at the Center, where, he said, he and other queer youth go for â&#x20AC;&#x153;a place to feel better about themselves.â&#x20AC;? When he learned what Queerocracy is all about, he said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was interested.â&#x20AC;? Other youth, with no history of homelessness, have also been drawn to the group by the opportunity for community and contributing to LGBTQ empowerment. Daniela Arieta is a 20-year-old woman who lives with her family in Queens. Newly grappling with her same-sex attraction and with a longstanding desire to find an activist outlet, she was referred to Queerocracy by a friend and was immediately impressed with â&#x20AC;&#x153;the level of dedication. My peers are so driven. They have a level of empathy and also just a capacity to lead that few have, very few people have, that really was so inspiring to me.â&#x20AC;? Sydney Friedman, a 25-year-old queer woman who moved to BedStuy from Detroit in February in the hopes of finding work in the film industry (and prefers the personal pronouns they and them) said, as well, that â&#x20AC;&#x153;a sense of community is importantâ&#x20AC;? to them. â&#x20AC;&#x153;To get support and be supported is important for community,â&#x20AC;? they explained. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have connections to the political world, but I have a camera and I am a film editor and I can be helpful.â&#x20AC;? Like Arieta, Friedman was impressed from the start by the seriousness of Queerocracyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s efforts. â&#x20AC;&#x153;At my first meeting at Queerocracy, they knew what they wanted to accomplish and they accomplished it,â&#x20AC;? they said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;and that was a very refreshing thing to be a part of.â&#x20AC;? Similarly, MarĂ­a-Fernanda Snellings, a 24-year-old bisexual performance poet who moved to Upper Manhattan from Washington three years ago, said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The work

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QUEEROCRACY, continued on p.110

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June 21 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


SILENT WIN, from p.44

Vespoli concluded Fuller “states a claim pursuant to New York State’s Human Rights Law on the ground that the word ‘sex’ in the statute covers transsexuals.” Vespoli also found that Fuller’s gender dysphoria is a “disability,” for which she also enjoys nondiscrimination protection. New York State does not have the explicit exclusion of coverage for people with “gender identity disorders” that is in the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. In his opinion dated February 20, 2015, Vespoli rejected the employer’s evidence of other reasons for the discharge, finding that the proffered letter was created after the discharge for the purpose of litigation, that it had never been delivered to Fuller, and that the reasons it offered were pretexts for discrimination. He recommended awarding Fuller $14,560 in back pay and $30,000 for mental an-

DEATH ROW, from p.46

that case, the high court laid out a modification to the general rule against inquiring into a jury’s decision-making or allowing jurors to testify about how bias may have affected the process, finding that the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial requires an exception “where a juror makes a clear statement indicating that he or she relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defendant.” In his newest appeals, Rhines sought to introduce sworn affidavits from several jurors indicating that Rhines’ homosexuality appeared to contribute to the death penalty decision. According to his petition to the Supreme Court, one juror referred to Rhines as

ARABY, from p.79

he does turn himself into an artist of sorts, inspired by a theater group at one of the factories where he works. At the end of his diary entries, he seems to have reached the end of his rope. The filmmakers serve up infernal images of factory life a step away from Werner Herzog’s depiction of the post-Gulf GayCityNews.nyc | June 21 – July 4, 2018

guish caused by the discrimination. He also recommended imposing a civil penalty on the company of $20,000. Advanced Recovery’s appeal to the court did not explicitly contest the ruling that the state Human Rights Law covers the case, instead urging it to find that the ruling was not supported by substantial evidence of discrimination. Perhaps because the company did not raise the question whether the Human Rights Law bans discrimination because of gender identity, the Appellate Division’s ruling also did not mention that Fuller is a transgender woman and did not discuss the question whether the ban on discrimination based on disability applies here. Instead the court’s opinion stated merely that Fuller alleged “that the petitioners discriminated against her on the basis of sex and disability,” and the agency had ruled in her favor. The court

referred to the “substantial evidence in the record,” so it presumably examined that record and the panel surely knew that gender identity discrimination was an important issue in the case. Cursory research in published New York court opinions would show that there is no prior appellate ruling finding that a gender identity claim can be asserted under the Human Rights Law’s prohibited grounds of “sex” and “disability.” The court took its time on this case, waiting until June of this year to issue a ruling upholding an administrative decision that was issued in April 2015. Despite taking all that time, it produced an opinion that never mentions these details and does not expressly state agreement with the trial court rulings Vespoli specifically cited in support of his conclusions. The court’s failure to mention

“that SOB queer,” and that this made other jurors “fairly uncomfortable.” A juror swore, “One of the witnesses talked about how they walked in on Rhines fondling a man in a motel room bed. I got the sense it was a sexual assault situation and not a relationship between two men.” This juror continued that if sentenced to life in prison, Rhines might be “a sexual threat to other inmates and take advantage of other young men in or outside of prison.” One juror swore that the jury “also knew that he was a homosexual and thought that he shouldn’t be able to spend his life with men in prison.” A juror declared that “one juror made a comment that if he’s gay, we’d be sending him where he wants to go if we voted for [life without the possibility of parole].” Yet another

juror said, “There was lots of discussion of homosexuality. There was a lot of disgust. This is a farming community. There were lots of folks who were like, ‘Ew, I can’t believe that.’” Responding to the affidavits, the state got an investigator to interview nine of the jurors. Although they denied that they had based the death sentence on Rhines’ homosexuality, the interviews yielded more evidence tending to support Rhines’ contentions. One of the jurors “recalled a comment to the effect that Rhines might like life in the penitentiary with other men,” while another said that “one juror made a joke that Rhines might enjoy a life in prison where he would be among so many men.”

War Kuwaiti oil fires in his 1992 documentary “Lessons of Darkness.” The overtones of Christian depictions of Hell are obvious. Turning his life story into something akin to “On the Road” doesn’t save Cristiano, but it allows him to communicate to at least one person — living a much different kind of existence — who empathizes. Dumans and Uchôa don’t offer the

kind of faith that socialism would improve their characters’ prospects implicit in Ken Loach’s films about working-class life. Nevertheless, there’s a clear sense that something in Brazilian life must change coming from every frame of Cristiano’s story. And the directors prove they have a rare ability to make a flow of words really cinematic.

SILENT WIN, continued on p.110

DEATH ROW, continued on p.110

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CONNIE KURTZ, from p.41

joined Kurtz and Berman in suing the New York City Board of Education for domestic partner benefits, a six-year case finally settled by Mayor David Dinkins for all municipals employees in 1993. “Connie was a remarkably dedicated and energetic woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it,” Dietz said after the service. Michael Levine of CBST spoke of how Kurtz and Berman got involved in the synagogue after overhearing him talking about it in a Village diner. When, in 1974, he

SILENT WIN, from p.109

the doctrinal significance of its ruling may be explainable because the employer did not raise the issue on its appeal, but its omission renders the decision basically useless as an appellate precedent. The panel arguably failed to play its proper role in a system of judicial precedent to

DEATH ROW, from p.109

Rhines argued that when these sworn juror statements are viewed together with the questions posed by the note to the judge, it became clear his homosexuality was a factor in his death sentence, and that this violated his right to be tried by an unbiased jury. In Pena-Rodriguez, the high court had emphasized that race discrimi-

QUEEROCRACY, from p.107

at Queerocracy is extremely tangible.” Then referring to the example set by the group’s facilitators, she added, “I do my engage in my art. But here, I am learning from them, shadowing them. I come here to engage and be supported, because we are all trying to have the same wins.” The community that Queerocracy creates for its youth membership is probably not surprising given the perspective of its two facilitators. Sumter, who went to school at Atlanta’s Spelman College, was engaged there not only as an queer activist but also as a survivor of sexual assault. At Queero-

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heard a middle-aged Jewish woman saying, “So tell me about the gay synagogue,” he braced for an argument and instead got lifelong members and friends. “CBST would not be what it is today without you and Connie,” Levine said to Berman. Former State Senator Tom Duane, also addressing Berman, said, “Everything about you and Connie was out there, demanding to be seen.” Veteran activist Jackie Rudin said she met Kurtz and Berman in 1988 “and they were my most treasured role models.” She added,

“Connie’s eyes saw through to your soul… Her eyes told you everything was going to be all right.” Kleinbaum read a eulogy from Donald Goldmacher, producer of the documentary about “these two brave women,” who said he “had known Ruthie since I was eight years old. She became my second older sister.” He explained he made the movie to “combat the hate of the right-wing religious.” The last word belongs to Connie Kurtz, spoken after the Pulse horror: “I’m asking you to take your sorrow, your sadness, your scaredness and go out and introduce

yourself at someone who knows the importance of making sure that we vote for people who not only on the day of election will be there for us but will be there for us when they are in office… As a Jew — in case you didn’t know I was Jewish — when we needed to deal with the Holocaust, we said, ‘Never again!’ And to me it meant never again to anyone — to the short and the tall and the fat and the thin and the lesbian and the gay and the transgender and the bisexual and the black and the brown. Never again!” Amen.

produce a decision that can be referred to by later courts. The judges whose names appear on this uninformative opinion are Justices Mark C. Dillon, Ruth C. Balkin, Robert G. Miller, and Hector D. LaSalle. Cuomo’s 2015 directive on gender identity nondiscrimination, issued while this case was pending

before the Appellate Division, reinforced existing practice at the State Division of Human Rights, as the earlier opinions cited in Vespoli’s opinion show, but in the absence of an explicit appellate ruling, enacting the long-stalled Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) remains a critical need. Its recent defeat in a Senate committee after

renewed passage by the Assembly is more than merely a symbolic setback for the community. SDHR, which sought enforcement of its decision, was represented before the Appellate Division by Caroline J. Downey, Toni Ann Hollifield, and Michael K. Swirsky. Port Jervis lawyer James J. Herkenham represented the company.

nation raises particularly strong issues, and did not state that exceptions to the usual rule should be made for all possible kinds of bias. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion for the court stated that racial bias “implicates unique historical, constitutional, and institutional concerns and, if left unaddressed, would risk systemic injury to the administration of justice.” In an 5-3 vote, with the late Justice An-

tonin Scalia’s seat still vacant, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented. Rhines hoped to persuade the court to recognize a broader exception extending to sexual orientation. The lower courts were unwilling to take up the issue, seeing Pena-Rodriguez as a narrow exception to the general rule, based on the special concerns raised by race discrimina-

tion, but Rhines also encountered procedural hurdles blocking the courts from considering his new argument. The Supreme Court’s denial of review is not a ruling on the merits, and could well have been due to those same procedural complications. Still, lower courts may construe the court’s action as reinforcing the narrowness of the exception created in Pena-Rodriguez.

cracy, she said, the work is about “building community, realizing how much power we have as queer youth. Changing the narrative, opening it up.” And the eventual goal is using that empowerment to create change. “Whenever you make any major decisions about a community you need to involve them,” Bed-Stuy resident Sumter, who is 23 and identifies as queer, said. “I’ve been in that place where I was used for my face and not given a chance to give input.” For Walker — a 31-year-old queer man who was doing community organizing at 13 and worked with youth while in college in Louisville — his career’s focus grew

out of the trauma of getting an HIV diagnosis as he was finishing up school. He moved to New York to continue his social justice work, “but the only thing I knew at that time about HIV was that I had it.” In New York, Walker, who lives in Bed-Stuy, spent almost three months in a shelter maintained by the city’s HIV/ AIDS Services Administration. At VOCAL-NY, HIV policy became his primary focuses, working on successful campaigns for a 30 percent rent cap for HASA clients and for extending HASA’s services to all New Yorkers with HIV, to help positive people remain on treatment and asymptomatic. Walker explained that he always hoped that VOCAL-NY would move into youth organizing and that

Queerocracy, which VOCAL assumed leadership of several years ago, became that vehicle. In his mind, the group is really an extension of his HIV work. Providing safe housing and employment opportunities, he said, are the best ways to keep youth free from the need for survival sex that can lead to infection. “Organizing against the spread of the virus has taught me that the socio-political and economic factors are the true drivers of the epidemic and not behavior or even one’s identity,” Walker told Gay City News. “That shift in perspective has been the greatest form of healing and grounds me in the work to end the HIV epidemic both internally and externally.” June 21 – July 4, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


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