John Grant’s Synth-Pop Turn 20
Midnight Crooning on Stonewall’s Eve 26
National Coming Out Day 36
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S E R V I N G G AY, L E S B I A N , B I A N D T R A N S G E N D E R N E W Y O R K
DOES PATH TO DEM STATE SENATE GO THROUGH BROOKLYN? Page 04
DANIEL J. MARINO
State Senate District 22 Democratic nominee Andrew Gounardes © GAY CITY NEWS 2018 | SCHNEPS COMMUNITY NEWS GROUP, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
FREE | VOLUME SEVENTEEN, ISSUE TWENTY ONE | OCTOBER 11 – OCTOBER 24, 2018
In This Issue COVER STORY Does path to Dem State Senate go through Brooklyn? 04
POLITICS Queens lesbian activist was Jeff Flake’s confronter 12
EDUCATION No First Amendment shield for anti-gay prof 06
For Brett Kavanaugh: beer & sympathy 16
City schools up their LGBTQ commitment 10
PERSPECTIVE Randy Rainbow rules on otherwise grim week 17
REMEMBRANCE Miss Colombia mourned in Queens 08
WHAT’S DOIN’ IN THE GAY CITY Prime listings 28
NewFest at 30 22
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GayCityNews.nyc | October 11 - October 24, 2018
Does Path to Dem State Senate Go Through Brooklyn? Andrew Gounardes is mobilizing LGBTQ forces to topple Marty Golden BY PAUL SCHINDLER
hen Mayor Michael Bloomberg was running for a third term in 2009, Gay City News asked him why as a committed supporter of marriage equality he was also a big booster of the State Senate Republican campaign committee. The mayor argued his financial support for the GOP gave him unique sway in pressing the case for equal rights to skeptical listeners — and he specifically mentioned the handful of Republican state senators who represent New York City districts, including Marty Golden from District 22 in South Brooklyn. A call to Golden’s office at that time to learn whether the senator had ever heard the mayor out on the issue was not returned. Even without an answer, though, it was hard to imagine Bloomberg making much headway with Golden, who was among five GOP senators who the year before were represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based anti-LGBTQ litigation group, in an unsuccessful challenge to then-Governor David Paterson’s directive that legal precedent required the state to recognize valid same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, even if gay and lesbian couples could not yet marry here. When the first marriage vote took place in the Senate in December 2009, the measure lost badly, garnering no Republican votes. Eighteen months later, when marriage equality triumphed, with the help of four Republican senators, Golden was not among that group — none of whom, in fact, were from the city. For most New Yorkers, the spectacular victory for gay and lesbian couples in June 2011 settled the question. Polling support for the new law shot up dramatically, and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who staked a lot of his early political capital on a win, was widely seen as a canny politician. Yet a full four years later, when the Supreme
State Senate hopeful Andrew Gounardes claiming victory in the Democratic primary on September 13.
Court finally settled the issue on a nationwide basis — and active resistance seemed limited to backwater communities in places like Alabama and Kentucky — Golden didn’t sound like he’d yet been sold. On Facebook, noting that the timing of the Supreme Court ruling roughly coincided with the State of Oregon legalizing marijuana, Golden, pointing to the biblical passage used more than any other to condemn homosexuality, wrote, “It all makes sense now. Gay marriage and marijuana being legalized on the same day. Leviticus 20:13 — ‘if a man lays with another man he should be stoned.’ We’ve just been interpreting it wrong all these years.” An advisor apparently prevailed on the senator to remove the offensive joke from his page. This is the Marty Golden who has represented Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine
Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend, and parts of Sheepshead Bay, Borough Park, and Midwood for eight terms since his election in 2002. His reelections have been easy work for him — he ran unopposed in some years — which may seem an anomaly in a district where the most recent figures from the State Board of Elections give Democrats a registration edge of 83,244 to 35,786 over Republicans. Some of those Democrats, however, are conservative, as evidenced by Donald Trump’s narrow 2016 win in the district. And with incumbency traditionally bestowing advantages through the delivery of basic government services, regardless of party affiliation, it’s not hard to see how a senator with more than a decade and a half under his belt can rest easy in his belief he knows his voters. Andrew Gounardes, the Democratic nominee who faces Golden
on November 6, believes the incumbent might just be wrong this year. In fact, the Democrat told Gay City News that a big reason why 2018 may reverse the district’s history going back 16 years is the “watershed year” that was 2016. “Politics has changed,” Gounardes said. “People are engaging at a level they haven’t before, and not only at the national level but also locally.” Gounardes, who has served Borough President Eric Adams as counsel after doing constituent work in then-City Councilmember Vincent Gentile’s office, came into the race this year knowing what he was up against. Six years ago, at the age of 26, he also took on Golden and lost by about 10,000, though he noted that few observers expected him to get more than 30 percent of the vote. He exceeded 42 percent. “I am a better candidate this year,” said Gounardes. “I’ve done a better job of uniting different groups.” Most voters, of course, look to their legislative representatives to address bread and butter issues of immediate concern to their lives and their neighborhoods. So, it’s not surprising that in response to a questionnaire from Brooklyn’s Lambda Independent Democrats, an LGBTQ club, he cited as his three top priorities ensuring that speed cameras are located in every school zone (an issue Golden has stumbled badly on), securing funding for smaller classroom sizes and to retain the best teachers, and improving subway service. In some press interviews, Gounardes has argued that he is not running an “ideological” campaign and that none of his positions are out of the “mainstream” for New York. Yet, his race is not only important in taking on an entrenched incumbent but also in giving the Democrats a better shot at flipping control of the Senate, where they nominally have a 32-31 edge, but are stymied by socially conserva-
➤ STATE SENATE, continued on p.5 October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
➤ STATE SENATE, from p.4 tive Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder’s continuing to caucus with the Republicans. And, as Democrats hammer over and over, control of the Senate is the key to breaking the logjam on a host of progressive issues — from women’s reproductive freedom to protection of immigrants, universal health care, criminal justice reform, debt-free college education, and, at long last, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. “I make no bones that I am very progressive but I spend a lot of time talking about hyperlocal issues,” Gounardes explained. “I am pragmatic. And, health care for all is a bread and butter issue. Housing availability is a bread and butter issue.” It is the chance for Democrats to finally seize the mantle in the State Senate that has focused so much attention on the District 22 race, which is widely seen as the only competitive contest in the five boroughs. If district residents are awakened to the stakes in a State Senate race, so too are progres-
sives across the city. And LGBTQ groups are a big part of that push. All three gay clubs that are active in Brooklyn — Lambda, the Stonewall Democrats of New York City, and the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club — are enthusiastically behind Gounardes, which is hardly surprising since his candidate questionnaire responses showed support for the full range of community goals in Albany, from GENDA to banning so-called conversion therapy imposed on minors, legalizing gestational surrogacy contracts for would-be gay parents, providing greater support for homeless youth, funding LGBTQappropriate senior housing, barring religious groups from using public school facilities for worship services, and ending the AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020. Jared Arader, vice president at Lambda, said the club has known Gounardes at least as far back as 2010, when he worked with its members in organizing protests outside Golden’s office over his no vote on marriage. The issues at stake, Arader said, are ones “that members of our community will
feel and that will have an impact on our lives.” Rod Townsend, president of Stonewall, said, “We are urging our members to get down to Bay Ridge — by subway, ferry, however. Marty Golden is a prime example of why the Senate needs to be flipped.” Jim Owles’ president Allen Roskoff, who termed Gounardes “a great guy” who will be a “terrific senator,” held back nothing in his assessment of the incumbent, saying, “Marty Golden is a dangerous demagogue who does our communities great harm. He’s horrendous for the LGBT community, women, immigrants, people of color, the poor, and for the criminal justice system.” Gounardes boasted of a volunteer operation that had his office flooded with up to 75 people this past weekend, enabling the campaign to knock on 10,000 doors in the district. This Saturday, October 13, Lambda and Stonewall are hosting an LGBTQ Day of Action for Gounardes, and the following Friday evening, October 19, leading gay and lesbian elected officials including Council Speak-
er Corey Johnson and Brooklyn Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, Senator Brad Hoylman, and Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Daniel O’Donnell are hosting a fundraiser for him in tandem with the gay clubs at Club Cumming in the East Village. The money from that event, coming on the heels of a fundraiser Governor Andrew Cuomo held for him this week, will come in handy. Gounardes has lagged behind Golden considerably all year in funds raised and on hand. But the Democrat is confident of his ground game for Election Day, noting that while the greater the turnout in a district with a 2-1 Democratic advantage the better he should do, his campaign is not counting on a Blue Wave. In addition to volunteers, he pointed to unions — from building trades to teachers — who are supporting him after years of being in Golden’s corner. The sharp increase in voter registration in the district and in turnout in this year’s Democratic primary, however, are certainly welcome signs, Gounardes acknowledged.
OTHER STATE SENATE RACES TO WATCH District
James Gaughran Anna Kaplan
Carl Marcellino (incumbent) Elaine Phillips (incumbent) Jeff Pravato
39 (Open Seat) 43 (Open Seat) 45
John Brooks (incumbent) Todd Kaminsky (incumbent) James Skoufis
Francis Becker, Jr. Tom Basile
53 (Open Seat) 55
Northeast Corner East of Syracuse Rochester Area
Betty Little (incumbent) Janet Burman
GayCityNews.nyc | October 11 - October 24, 2018
Rich Funke (incumbent) Joe Robach (incumbent) Christopher L. Jacobs (incumbent)
No First Amendment Shield for Homophobic Prof US court says political scientist also not protected for sexist, racist, Islamophobic comments ARTHUR S. LEONARD
uling on motions in a tenured professor’s lawsuit against a state university that suspended him based on student complaints about his statements and conduct in class, a federal court has ruled he is not protected by the First Amendment for his alleged behavior. Senior District Judge James T. Moody’s September 28 opinion also dismissed due process claims made by Jean Poulard, who has taught political science at Indiana University Northwest Campus (IUN) for more than 30 years, gaining tenure in 1990, but did not block him from proceeding on breach of contract allegations. The case dates to 2015, when Gianluca Di Muzio, who then chaired the political science department, informed the university director of affirmative action, Ida Gillis, about concerns raised in one student’s spring semester course evaluation. The student alleged that Poulard would “frequently voice his racist and sexist views” and that he was “obscenely flirtatious with his female students, often saying perverted things.” Di Muzio, at that time, mentioned he had personally observed Poulard kissing students on the hand and cheek. Gillis and Di Muzio then looked back over several years of student evaluations, uncovering a variety of incendiary classroom comments attributed to Poulard, among them a student writing, “I took great offense when he stated how wrong and disgusting it is to be gay and how terrible and messed up a child with same sex-parents is going to be in the head.” There was also a statement that “black people were destroying Chicago and his solution to crime would be a weekly hanging.” When confronted with these statements in a disciplinary proceeding, Poulard denied making some of them, softened others (such as claiming he spoke in favor of capital punishment, not weekly hangings), but did not deny hugging and kissing students or his comments about gay people and gay parents. Gillis wrote a report, supplemented by Di Muzio’s complaint, which was presented to Mark McPhail, the university’s vice chancellor for academic affairs, who concluded Poulard had violated IUN’s Sexual Misconduct Code and Code of Academic Ethics. Poulard was suspended for a month without pay, had a letter of reprimand placed in his personnel file, and was required to complete sexual misconduct training. Poulard brought a lawsuit in state court — which IUN was able to have removed to federal court — claiming breach of his tenured employment contract as well as violations of his con-
Jean Poulard, a longtime political science professor at Indiana University Northwest Campus, has failed in his First Amendment and due process claims regarding the disciplinary action he received over inflammatory classroom statements.
stitutional rights to due process and freedom of speech. Judge Moody found that there were disputes over material facts regarding the breach of contract claim, so he allowed that claim to proceed. However, he rejected the due process claim, finding that the procedures leading up to the vice chancellor’s ruling comported with standards of fairness.
“I took great offense when he stated how wrong and disgusting it is to be gay and how terrible and messed up a child with same sexparents is going to be in the head.” Regarding Poulard’s First Amendment claim — and particularly the comments about gays and gay parents — Moody found no First Amendment protection for the professor. Although some of his statements, for example, “regarding gays, Muslims, and African Americans and
crime, could potentially be matters of public concern,” wrote Moody, that was only one factor in applying the balancing test required under the Supreme Court’s 1968 Pickering precedent regarding public employee speech. Moody looked specifically at Piggee v. Carl Sandburg College, a 2006 case decided under Pickering by the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, whose rulings are binding on the Indiana district court. In Piggee, the judge wrote, “Applying a balancing test, the Seventh Circuit found that the instructor’s interest in making comments regarding religion and homosexuality were not protected when balanced against the school’s interest in the instructor’s adherence to the subject matter of the course she was hired to teach (which in that case was cosmetology).” In the IUN case, Moody continued, Vice Chancellor McPhail “specifically restricted plaintiff’s speech out of concern for ‘developing among students respect for others and their opinions.’ The court agrees with McPhail that IUN had strong interests in restricting plaintiff’s statements in order to preserve respect for the student body, harmony among the IUN population, and to prevent the exclusion and isolation of the minorities targeted by plaintiff’s speech. McPhail also concluded that the statements were not germane to the topic of the class.” Poulard had argued his comments were germane because it was a political science course, but Moody disagreed. “It is true that the teacher in Piggee taught cosmetology which was even further off topic from the instructor’s speech,” Moody explained. “However, here, plaintiff’s course was a course involving Latin American politics, an issue that was not addressed in any of the statements at issue. Second, the court recognizes that faculty members have some right to engage in academic debates, pursuits, and inquiries. And being a political science course should give professors some leeway to delve into topical or hot-button social and political issues. However, statements about gays being ‘disgusting,’ criticizing religious (Muslim) clothing, and asserting that African Americans should be ‘hung,’ are not topical statements and do not invoke hotbutton issues. They sound much more like harassing statements that IUN has a strong interest in eliminating in order to foster an inclusive learning environment for all students, including gays, Muslims, and African Americans.” Under the balancing test prescribed by the Supreme Court’s Pickering ruling, then, “the interests of IUN outweigh Poulard’s interests.” Moody was appointed to the district court by President Ronald Reagan. October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
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GayCityNews.nyc | October 11 - October 24, 2018
Miss Colombia Mourned in Jackson Heights Colorful ﬁgure in Queens LGBTQ community found dead in waters near Jacob Riis BY PAUL SCHINDLER
esidents of Queens are reacting with shock and grief at the news that Miss Colombia, a colorfully attired Jackson Heights personality who was a fixture at LGBTQ Pride celebrations and other gatherings, was found dead in the waters off Jacob Riis Park in the early morning hours of October 4. The NYPD found no immediate signs of foul play and the investigation is ongoing pending the results of an autopsy. Miss Colombia, aka Osvaldo Gomez, preferred male pronouns and was an attorney in his native Medellín, Colombia, arriving in the US in the 1970s fleeing persecution in his homeland, he stated in 2015 in the video documentary series “No Your City.” He was 64. At an evening vigil on October 5 in Jackson Heights, out gay City Councilmember Daniel Dromm of Jackson Height said Miss Colombia “was an iconic figure in the LGBT community and beyond. She was beloved by all who saw her in the streets, at parades, and in the neighborhood wearing her colorful outfits and a bird on her shoulder. Her cheerfulness and ability to bring a smile to the faces of all
COURTESY OF COUNCILMEMBER DROMM’S OFFICE
Councilmember Daniel Dromm with Eddy Gomez, Miss Colombia’s sister, at an October 5 vigil for the popular figure in Queens’ LGBTQ community who was found dead last week. DONNA ACETO
Miss Colombia in the 2009 LGBTQ Pride Parade in Manhattan.
who met her will be missed by all New Yorkers. I remember marching with Miss Colombia at the first Queens Pride Parade and at other parades across the city, including the India Day Parade and the Chinese New Year Parade, among others. While life did not always treat Miss Colombia with all the respect she was due, New Yorkers will remember Miss Colombia as a hero to everyone. May Miss Colombia rest in peace.” Dromm was joined at the vigil by Eddy Gomez, Miss Colombia’s sister, transgender activist Appolonia Cruz, longtime gay leader Brendan Fay, Catalina Cruz and Jessica Ra-
mos, Democratic nominees for, respectivesly, the State Assembly and Senate, and members of Make the Road NY, the Caribbean Equality Project, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Dromm’s Council colleague from Queens Francisco Moya of Corona, in a written statement, said, “Miss Colombia brought life and character to Jackson Heights. This city is a little less colorful and a little less brilliant without her here. Miss Colombia knew who she was and had the courage to be exactly that, every day. We should all be so brave. Rest in peace, Miss Colombia, an institution of Jackson Heights, a treasure of Queens.” Out gay Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer of Sunnyside tweeted,
“Miss Colombia was not only at all parades in #JacksonHeights & a beloved figure. About 15 years ago I was at a @Mets game at #SheaStadium & there was Miss Colombia walking around defiant & proud! #QueensValues” In a tweet from Tokyo, Panti Bliss, the Irish LGBTQ activist, performer, and drag queen who has traveled to Queens several times for Pride and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, wrote, “R.I.P. Miss Colombia. I trust there’s a comfortable spot in a colorful celestial menagerie somewhere with her name on it.” At the October 5 vigil, David Gonzalez urged attendees to be on the lookout for his brother Peter, a friend of Miss Colombia’s who is missing and has autism.
would introduce such legislation for same-sex couples. The country’s constitutional court ruled in September that gay couples must have equal rights. And the European Court of Justice ruled in June that a Romanian man had the right to a spousal visa for his American husband. Even though the referendum failed, it managed to stir up Romanian haters including the Romanian Orthodox Church and more fringe groups and individuals, who sent out fliers saying gay people target orphan children and promote “gender confusion and early
NEWS, IN BRIEF BY ANDY HUMM
uge Win in Romania Even though three million Romanians signed a petition to get a ban on same-sex marriage into the constitution, a referendum from the religious right — aided by Americans including the National Organization for Marriage and anti-gay Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis — failed on October 6-7, when only 20 percent of eligible voters participated. The constitution can only be changed by a referendum where at least 30 percent
show up. Opponents of the amendment successfully pursued a strategy of urging voters to stay home. The government’s unusual step of holding the referendum over two days instead of one still did not bring out enough people to enact the amendment — even though polls show that 90 percent of Romanians oppose same-sex marriage. Just not enough to take time on a weekend to prevent it. After the failed vote, Vlad Siski, head of the LGBTQ group Mozaiq, called for the passage of civil partnership legislation and a few days later the ruling party said that they
A Busy October Calendar for LGBT Communities October is LGBTQ History Month, full of special days to make our communities more whole. October 11 is the 30th National Coming Out Day, founded on the first anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for LGBTQ Rights that was held in the midst of the worst days of the AIDS crisis. October 17 is International Pronouns Day to underscore that
➤ NEWS, IN BRIEF, continued on p.9 October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
➤ NEWS, IN BRIEF, from p.8 people — especially those who are gender non-conforming people — should be respected for the pronouns by which they prefer to be identified. October 18 is Spirit Day, where we are called on to wear purple in solidarity with LGBTQ youth and against bullying, especially in schools. October 19 is LGBTQ Center Awareness Day created by Center Link at lgbtcenters.org to promote the network of community centers that serve 42,000 people weekly nationwide. And October 28 is the ninth anniversary of the signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, when we had a president who cared about fighting bias crime. Shepard died 20 years ago, on October 12, 1998.
JOHN MCCARTEN/ NEW YORK CIT Y COUNCIL
Mayor Bill de Blasio, at the Edie Windsor SAGE Center in Chelsea on October 9, signing legislation to add a third gender option for New York City birth certificates, accompanied by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and First Lady Chirlane McCray.
signed legislation to give a third gender option on New York City birth certificates, allowing people who identify as non-binary or gender-nonconforming to mark an X rather than an M or F. The legislation also eliminates the requirement in changing a gender designation on a birth certificate that a physician or health care provider attest to the individual’s gender change. People born in New York City can now submit their own affidavit affirming their
De Blasio Signs Gender Marker Reform At an October 9 ceremony at the Edie Windsor SAGE Center in Chelsea, Mayor Bill de Blasio
gender identity. “For too long, older transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people have lived in the shadows, unable to live their lives openly and authentically, suffering widespread discrimination, high rates of violence, significant social isolation, and mounting health care barriers,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “We are exceptionally proud and honored to host Mayor Bill de Blasio as he signs this groundbreaking legislation.”
CNN Reporter Called Out for Anti-Gay Tweets Can’t fault CNN for liberal bias. They hired Kaitlyn Collins as a White House correspondent in 2017 — directly from her serving in the same post for the right-wing Daily Caller website that was founded by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. Now the 26-year-old Collins is in trouble for a 2011 tweet calling someone a “fag” and another pondering, “Idk [I don’t know] if I wanna room with a lesbian” as a student at the University of Alabama. The Log Cabin Republicans tweeted out screen shots of the offending messages. Collins responded, “It was immature but it doesn’t represent the way I feel at all.” But as an entertainment reporter in 2014 at the Daily Caller she did not abandon her biased ways, writing a derisive column mocking the short stature and appearance of US Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. Collins was suspended by the White House in July for shouting questions at the president and not
➤ NEWS, IN BRIEF, continued on p.32
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City Schools Up Resources on LGBTQ Issues Councilmembers praise DOE’s enhanced commitment to diversity, anti-bullying BY ANDY HUMM
he New York City Department of Education is stepping up efforts to combat the isolation of LGBTQ youth and educate all students on queer issues, including lessons that integrate historic figures from the community such as the late Stonewall participant Marsha P. Johnson and authors like James Baldwin. The DOE has developed a “Toolkit for Educators” called “Understanding LGBTQ+ Identity”that features videos from WNET-TV’s “First Person” LGBTQ series, a teacher’s guide, an early grades guide, a GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) checklist, and a handout on “LGBTQ Supports in Schools” that aims to make students aware of the resources available to them and the policies meant to protect them from bullying and harassment. The DOE says it is committed to “develop supportive policies that affirm and validate LGBTQ students, families, and staff members.” The brochure also lists “key dates” throughout the school year dedicated to such things a bisex-
Councilmember Daniel Dromm.
ual visibility, LGBTQ History Month (October), intersex awareness, transgender awareness, World AIDS Day (December 1), a gender and sexuality alliance summit (January 28), National Condom Day (February 14), Harvey Milk Day (May 22), the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion (June 28), and more. It lists 20 community resources for LGBTQ youth and their families. Out gay City Council Speaker Corey Johnson of Chelsea credits his out colleague Queens’
Daniel Dromm for developing this initiative and securing the funding from the DOE when he served as Education Committee chair last year. (Dromm now chairs the Finance Committee.) Dromm, who also chairs the Council’s LGBT Caucus, told Gay City News, “Having been a teacher during the battle over the Children of the Rainbow Curriculum, which was designed to teach tolerance of all of New York City’s diverse communities including gay and lesbian people, I am heartened by this progress. Seeing LGBTpositive programs in our New York City public schools shows just how far we have come over the last 27 years. Teaching LGBT history, learning about LGBT authors, and anti-bullying programming help all students succeed — not just LGBT students. Learning about LGBT history demonstrates to students how we as a society have advanced from the battle to adopt the Rainbow Curriculum to achieving marriage equality. I am proud of the work that the New York Department of Education is doing under Jared Fox, the LGBT community liaison, and will continue to partner with them to make our schools more welcoming and inclusive places.”
EDIE WINDSOR WAY IN PHILLY
The street sign at South 13th and Locust in Philadelphia denoting Edie Windsor Way.
Edie Windsor’s cousin Sunnie Baron Freeman and her surviving spouse, Judith Kasen-Windsor.
Judith Kasen-Windsor with Gays Against Guns members Brendan Fay, Jen Shoemaker, Brigid Mary McGinn, Virginia Vitzthum, Sean Robertson, Jay Walker, Jackie Marino-Thomas, and Mari Gustafson.
BY ANDY HUMM
known as “Edie Windsor Way.” Windsor, who died at 88 last year on September 12, was the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor that in 2013 won federal rights for legally married same-sex couples, overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. It won her back hundreds of thousands in estate taxes that she had
to pay after the death of her wife, Thea Spyer. Windsor later married Judith Kasen-Windsor, who was in Philadelphia for the ceremony, along with other New Yorkers including a contingent from Gays Against Guns. Windsor’s cousin, Philadelphia resident Sunnie Baron Freeman, whom Edie always called “Baby,” was also on hand.
hiladelphia, the childhood hometown of the late lesbian activist Edie Windsor, named a street for her in an October 7 ceremony. As of 2 p.m. on Sunday, the corner of Locust Street and South 13th Street near 1301 Locust became
Edie Windsor in September 2016.
October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
S P O T L I G H T O N E D U C AT I O N
Make the City Your Classroom The Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) is ranked among the top ﬁve community colleges in the nation, according to Community College Week and the U.S. Department of Education. With nine locations in the heart of Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, BMCC personiﬁes the excitement and culture of New York City. BMCC attracts ambitious individuals of every age who are seeking intellectual enrichment and a supportive environment to start their college career. Students beneﬁt from leading associate degree programs in STEM, business management, criminal justice, liberal arts and nursing, in addition to career-focused continuing education. BMCC offers ﬂexible day, evening, weekend and online classes as well as support services including academic advisement, tutoring, child care, ﬁnancial beneﬁts, counseling and mentoring to help students bal-
ance college life with family and professional obligations. BMCC has forged transfer agreements with top colleges, and maintains unique partnerships with surrounding businesses to offer students a range of opportunities and resources. The BMCC value is an affordable, high-quality education that pays off. Grad-
uates are reaching greater levels; prepared for what comes next and creating a clear path to their dreams. Attend the Open House on October 27 to discover all the exciting opportunities at BMCC. Visit www.bmcc.cuny.edu/ cng Start Here. Go Anywhere.
MAKE THE CITY YOUR CLASSROOM
OPEN HOUSE SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2018
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GayCityNews.nyc | October 11 - October 24, 2018
Queens Lesbian Activist Confronts Jeff Flake Ana María Archila, sexual abuse survivor, presses GOP senator on Kavanuagh BY PAUL SCHINDLER
n Astoria lesbian activist long involved in the fight for immigrant rights and the empowerment of New York City lower-income communities was one of two women who confronted Senator Jeff Flake on Friday morning, September 28 just moments after the Arizona Republican, a member of the Judiciary Committee, announced he would vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Ana María Archila, who is the co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, which works with grassroots organizations and labor unions across a broad range of progressive issues, had traveled to the US Capitol on a number of occasions `to protest the Kavanaugh appointment. As the Judiciary Committee was preparing on the morning of the 28th to vote on advancing Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate, Archila and another activist, Maria Gallagher of Westchester County, whom she had just met, spied Flake as he was approaching an Capitol elevator. They scurried after him. As Archila held her foot in the elevator’s door, Gallagher, a sexual assault survivor, said to Flake, “Look at me when I’m talking to you. You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter. That what happened to me doesn’t matter. That you’re going to let people who do those things into power.” Archila, who several days earlier, while standing outside Flake’s office, had for the first time publicly told the story of her own sexual assault as a five-year-old child, said to the senator, “You are allowing someone who is unwilling to take responsibly for his actions to sit in the highest court of country. Do you think he is able to hold the pain of this country and repair it? That is the work of justice.” The exchange was captured and broadcast by CNN. In an interview with the Washington Post, Archila said she had never before told her parents the story of her abuse, fearing they would “feel that they had failed in taking care of me.” She said she texted her father that day to alert him, “You’re going to hear something that we haven’t talked about, and I want you to know that I’m okay.” Several hours after Flake’s encounter with the women, he, alone among the 11 Republicans on the 21-member Judiciary Committee, made his vote to advance the Kavanaugh nomination conditional on the FBI reopening its background investigation into the nominee to take account of sexual abuse allegations made by three women. The committee’s vote came just one day after dramatic testimony by Dr.
Ana María Archila at the 2017 Gay City News Impact Awards.
Christine Blasey Ford, the first of his accusers, and an angry rebuttal by the judge. Interviewed that evening by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Archila said of her decision to speak publicly about her abuse as a child, “It was an incredibly painful moment. I did it because I feel this country needs to hear these stories. I did it in solidarity with Dr. Ford. And I did it to protect my children.”
“I did it in solidarity with Dr. Ford. And I did it to protect my children.” Though Flake “wanted those elevator doors to close and that conversation to end,” Archila told Cooper, “I saw in his face that he could not escape the emotions.” Describing Kavanaugh as a danger to “our country… to the rights of women to choose what we do with our bodies, [and]… to our health care,” Archila said, “The way that justice works is that we recognize harm, we take responsibility for that harm, and only then can we begin to repair it. And I don’t think Brett Kavanaugh is able to take responsibility for his actions, therefore he should not have the pow-
er to take responsibility for the actions of the country.” Disclaiming any direct credit for Flake’s move on the Judiciary Committee, Archila said: “If it had been just one story, my story and Maria’s story, it would not have made a difference.” It was Blasey Ford’s testimony, backed by thousands of stories, she said, that made the impression on Flake. Prior to assuming the leadership at the Center for Popular Democracy, Archila was co-executive director of its sister organization, Make the Road New York, which works on behalf of and to empower its more than 16,000 working class immigrants, most of them Latinx. Herself an immigrant from Colombia, Archila, in a 2013 Gay City News op-ed, argued that the needs of LGBTQ immigrants must be addressed in any acceptable immigration reform effort. Archila was a 2017 Gay City News Impact Award recipient. The FBI’s reopened investigation left many supporters of Blasey Ford and two other women dissatisfied with its limited scope. When the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh on October 6 on a 50-48 vote, Flake and all but two Republicans — Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who opposed the nominee, and Montana’s Steve Daines, a supporter who was absent — voting for him. Only one Democrat, West Viriginia’s Joe Manchin, voted in favor of Kavanaugh. October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
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CO MM I T T E E
GMHC HONORS COREY JOHNSON, JOAN TISCH, PHILL WILSON
Council Speaker Corey Johnson was awarded the Larry Kramer Activism Award.
Broadway star Javier Muñoz presented Speaker Johson with his award.
PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO
GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie.
t a gala dinner with 400 guests at the Plaza Hotel on October 9, Gay Men’s Health Crisis raised more than $600,000 to support its programs and client services. The evening’s honorees included long-time trustee Joan H. Tisch (in memoriam), City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Phill Wilson, the president of the Black AIDS Institute, and Pride Media, publisher of OUT and The Advocate, and its CEO Nathan Coyle.
Larry Mass, a co-founder of GMHC, who in early 1981 wrote the first news stories about AIDS in the New York Native.
Honoree Phill Wilson.
DONNA ACETO DONNA ACETO
Actor Julianne Moore offered a tribute to the Time’s Up Movement.
Broadway star Billy Porter (“Kinky Boot”) presented the award to Pride Media.
Michael Douglas presented Jonathan Tisch with a community service award in memory of his late mother, Joan H. Tisch.
October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
Wisconsin Must Cover Employee Transition Costs US court says barring coverage for transgender public employees is sex discrimination BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
federal court has ruled that Wisconsin’s refusal to cover the costs of “surgery and sex hormones associated with gender reassignment” for its transgender state employees violates the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and in the Affordable Care Act, as well as the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. District Judge William M. Conley had previously awarded a preliminary injunction to transgender Medicaid participants who were seeking similar coverage under that program, having concluded they were likely to prevail on the merits of their claims. In this new decision on September 18, in a case brought by Alina Boyden and Shannon Andrews, both employees of the University of Wisconsin, Conley granted their motion for sum-
T WIT TER.COM
Alina Boyden, one of two successful transgender state employees in Wisconsin who challenged that state’s ban on covering the costs of gender reassignment surgery and related treatments for its public employees.
mary judgment, so this is a final ruling on liability. There could still be a trial on damages if the state doesn’t settle. Coverage for gender transition hormones and surgery have been excluded from the uniform benefits offered Wisconsin public employees since 1994, when the state concluded that insurance companies generally view them as “experimental and not medically necessary.” In this case, however, the state argued this exclusion is not total, since hormone treatment for gender dysphoria is covered “unless specifically made a course of treatment leading to or involving gender conforming surgery.” The two sides in the lawsuit, however, disagreed about how this is interpreted and applied in practice. “There is no dispute that mental health counseling as a stand-alone treatment for gender dysphoria is cov-
➤ TRANSITION, continued on p.19
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PERSPECTIVE: Snide Lines
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BY SUSIE DAY
ear Brett, Now that you’re a confirmed Supreme Court justice, it must be a huge relief to realize that whatever you did or did not do to Christine Blasey Ford never really mattered. Thing is, I actually do believe Christine Blasey Ford. But I’m not sure that makes me, as a woman, any safer. People like me believed Anita Hill, and where did that get us? Hardly anybody in power noticed there was a systemic problem, and sexual harassment never went away. So Brett, what with your ascension to the US Supreme Court and all, I have decided that, in order for people like me to survive, we have to believe you, too. Ergo. I hear you, Brett. There, there. Do you want my hankie? I’m using empathy now — how’m I doing? I hear, Brett, that you feel rejected by us liberal haters, who don’t understand the good that all your harddrinking, serious puking, and ruthless genital thrusting have wrought on society. You feel that you’ve been asked to bear shame for your actions, and to reject your deeply felt identity as a bully. But I get you, Brett — bullies are people, too. Yes, inside every inebriated, pussygrabbing, belligerent Beltway thug is a terrified, whinging child, whose deepest desire is not to be humiliated by some emotionally abusive Father Figure. “Golly,” you shudder to yourself, “what if, because of this confirmation kerfuffle, President Trump secretly sees me now as some sort of girly-man, being gang-banged in a torn nightgown by a bunch of fakenews feminists? After all, he saw me… crying.” I’m guessing, Brett, that you feel violated. Your social station, however, demands that you keep your feelings private. You see, despite the advantages of coming from the haute bourgeoisie, Brett, life, in some ways, has been harder for you than for most of us peasants. As a white, heterosexual, upper class male, you’re expected to shoulder heavy societal responsibilities. Think of Oedipus, for example. If his father had been some lower middle class drugstore clerk instead of
Brett Kavanaugh, on his climb up the ladder, aboard Marine One during George W. Bush’s administration.
a king, do you think Oedipus would have gouged out his own eyes after he realized he’d just had sex with his mother? No. The neighborhood would have hushed it up, and everybody would have gone on calling everybody else and their dog “motherfucker” anyway. Like Oedipus, you belong to the eye-gouging class. It’s been rough, hasn’t it, Brett? You’ve been forced to give up yin for yang, to chug that beer and grope those snatches and snap those locker-room towels until your buddies gouged out those favors that helped you up that ladder so you could arrive at the top of our judicial system, where they were already expecting you. Clearly, it’s acceptable for aspiring prep school rapists to be welcomed at most levels of our government. And I admit how most of us uptight losers never noticed when you were appointed White House staff secretary or circuit judge for the DC Court of Appeals. It was only when you were about to get a lifetime appointment on the US Supreme Court that we got mad. You’ve got a right to your feelings, Brett. So you go on, follow your dream! Dance, Brett! Yes, dance on that great glass roof of society — all the while
laughing down at the struggling women below who stupidly think it’s a ceiling. The Supreme Court should not be closed to you, simply because you got roaring drunk and tried to rip the clothes off a 15-year-old girl, while your friends laughingly egged you on. Heck, your federal Father Figure has done way worse. I can hear him right now, advising you: “Next time some rude elevator screamers accuse you of sex crimes, don’t get mad! Just say some undocumented Mexicans did it — too much cerveza. That way, you won’t raise the liberal stink you did by saying, ‘That never happened.’” Remember to take care of Number One, Brett Kavanaugh. There’s too much on your plate for you to internalize the fact that women and queers and children of all genders, classes, and every race face sexual harassment, humiliation, rape, even death, from men — especially men who want to be just like you. #MeToo is an amazing movement. But below the #MeToo media conversations, God-knows-what continues to go on. Given the gathering rage in our boys-against-girls zeitgeist — when boys like you feel violated while girls like Christine Blasey Ford speak their truth — I wonder how bad it may have gotten for sex workers who hook up with johns like you and Donald Trump. How much spite and anger they’ll have to soak up, and in what form. My dad, who grew up on the streets of Tulsa, naturally assumed that every woman would be raped at least once in the course of her life. At the dinner table he told me, “When it happens to you, scream. Scream your head off.” I recently came across the obituary of Freddie Oversteegen, a Dutch woman, who died early this September, at 92. In the 1940s, Freddie, with her sister Truus and their friend Hannie Schaft, was part of an underground cell that killed occupying Nazi troops. As nubile, seductive teenagers, they met German soldiers in bars, then lured them into the woods, where the soldiers were executed. Thankfully, Brett, that will never happen to you. Given the nature of your current Father Figure and our current Fatherland, you won’t be one of those soldiers. You’ll be one of the men sending in the troops. October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
Randy Rainbow Rules BY ED SIKOV
nly Randy Rainbow got me through the soulcrushing absurdity of last week. Mr. Rainbow’s hilarious reimagining of the title song from “Camelot” made more sense than anything Congress did — or did not do — regarding now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a title that makes about as much sense as Justice Clarence Thomas. I encourage you to see it at youtube. com/watch?v=6gG0-6Ntx7w. And that is all I’m going to say about the Kavanaugh disgrace. During the presidential election of 2016, I found comfort by obsessively checking fivethirtyeight.com, the statistician Nate Silver’s website on which he makes political forecasts. News flash: Hillary was supposed to win. So I’ve given up on Nate Silver. As the great orator George W. Bush memorably said, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, won’t get fooled again.” There is no comfort to be found. So… It’s time for another stroll down Crackpot Alley! We must find amusement wherever we can. Me? I always like to see what our nutsy-cuckoo-crazy antagonists are up to. We start off with one Dr. Jeff Mirus. Dr. Mirus, his biography notes, earned a PhD in history from Princeton, after which he evidently became a full-time whack job. Here’s a sample of his recent “work” as seen on the website CatholicCulture.org: “I would like to clear away three other fallacies which lie at the root of this challenge, a challenge which is more emotional than analytical, and more culturally-conditioned than genuinely emotional. [What?] “Fallacy 1: Unprovable Assumptions: When we see gay men in what we might call committed equal relationships, this tells us nothing about other manifestations of their fundamentally disordered affectivity, manifestations which may be deliberately kept dark. This is true of any situation, of course, but it is far more significant when we are dealing with people who are delibGayCityNews.nyc | October 11 - October 24, 2018
Continuing his long string of brilliant satirical musical theater send-ups, Randy Rainbow takes on the Brett Kavanaugh mess to tune of “Camelot.”
erately indulging a truly disordered affectivity of any kind, especially in a culture which condemns as deeply unfair the restriction of consensual fulfillment of any form of sexual desire. (In any case, it is fair to say at least that a strong connection between homosexuality and pedophilia has been recognized for millennia.)” Brilliant! When in doubt, cite the Dark Ages and other high points of the Cenozoic Era as models of human achievement. What is this person talking about? I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m bored with him and ready to move along to another deadbeat on Crackpot Alley. Oh, here’s something promising: “Court dismisses Satanists’ case against pro-life laws” on LifeSiteNews, always a good go-to site if you’re looking for sick fun: “Satanists who argued Missouri’s abortion laws interfere with their constitutional freedom of religion saw their case thrown out by the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week. “The lawsuit brought by the Satanic Temple and an anonymous woman, referred to only as Mary
Doe and described as a member of the Satanic Temple in court documents, was dismissed by the court because Doe lacked constitutional standing. ‘After becoming pregnant, she sought an abortion in St. Louis, Missouri,’ wrote the circuit court judges in their decision. ‘She complied with certain state-mandated procedures, which the complaint alleges constituted direct and unwelcome personal contact with religion, in violation of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses. After receiving the abortion, she filed this lawsuit in federal court seeking a series of declarations, an injunction, and attorneys’ fees and costs,’ reads the decision. “In their unanimous ruling, the judges tossed out the lawsuit — upholding a lower court’s decision — because Doe was not pregnant when she filed it.” I don’t know about you, but I was disappointed in this story. For some reason I expect more red meat in a piece about a Satanic temple in St. Louis. Don’t you? I’m not giving up on LifeSiteNews, though, and neither should you. And… bingo!: “22-year-old
with same sex attraction begs Synod: Don’t change Church teaching on homosexuality.” As though the essential point of the article was to prove that lesbians can be as bonkers as anyone else, the reporter, John-Henry Westen, writes: “Avera Maria Santo, a 22-year-old woman who experiences same-sex attractions, wrote a powerful open letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church about the topic of homosexuality, which is being discussed at the Youth Synod currently underway in Rome. LifeSiteNews has learned that the letter is circulating among the Synod Fathers. “‘As someone who has not only grown up in the Church, but has also come to love her and her teachings for myself, I would hate to see her teachings altered in any way, especially in a way that could cause such a grave amount of damage,’ she writes. “Santo, a member of the Catholic group Courage, says she was ‘devastated’ when she learned of the agenda of some to try to change the Church’s teaching on the matter at the Synod. Pleading with the bishops, she writes, ‘Keep the Church’s teachings on homosexuality good, true, and beautiful.’ She admits that at first she didn’t like what she heard when she learned the Church’s teaching, but it was what she ‘needed to hear.’ Being in a same sex relationship, she notes, ‘could ultimately block me from spending my eternity with my one true love, Jesus.’” I’m sorry, but the last sentence is just plain creepy. I suspect that Jesus might want a say in the matter. And that whole Bride of Christ business never made any sense to me. The idea of hundreds of thousands of virginal nuns having lurid, late-night fantasies about their bridegroom is not something I care to think about. For no reason at all, this reminds me of my old pal Michael’s story of life as a teacher in the New York City public school system, specifically as a history teacher at a high school with a large Latino population. He called me one day and, in weary tones, announced, “Today I actually found myself writing a note to the principal saying, ‘And then Jesus told me to go fuck myself.’” Follow @EdSikov on Twitter and Facebook.
PERSPECTIVE: Insider Trading
A Second Look at Brooklyn Now BY ALLEN ROSKOFF
wo big victories shook Brooklyn on Primary Day last month: Julia Salazar’s win over longtime State Senator Erik Martin Dilan and Zellnor Myrie’s takedown of IDC Senator Jesse Hamilton. In her thrilling win, Salazar was buoyed by grassroots energy and the strong support of the Democratic Socialists of America. This victory for the left came in spite of vicious media attacks and a calculated smear campaign. Salazar, an unabashed progressive, will be a consistent voice for the LGBTQ community and a welcome advocate for tenants. Myrie’s victory was no less satisfying, coming as it did over Hamilton — an elected official whose solution to tragedies in our community was to hold prayer vigils, the go-to answer for those with no other solution to offer. Hamilton also reportedly made an horrendous anti-trans statement, saying, “I’m Not For That Third Gender Shit,” according to a Facebook posting by a Prospect Lefferts Garden resident who pressed him at a subway station about his position on the long-stalled Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. In total, six of the eight members of the IDC went down on Primary Day. That’s an amazing accomplishment by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, one attributable to the efforts of Cynthia Nixon, Jumaane Williams, and Zephyr Teachout, who motivated progressive voters statewide. Even though these three candidates did not win their races for statewide office, they put those at the top of the ticket in November on notice that progressives are mobilized and ready to hold them accountable. Sadly, Brooklyn has seen only one out member of our community elected to government office: City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. On this score, Brooklyn falls short of Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx — and ties the far more conservative and considerably less populated Staten Island. The smartest political gay in Brooklyn is Alan Fleishman.
COURTESY OF CARLOS MENCHACA
City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, the only out LGBTQ elected official in Brooklyn.
Dogged and well informed, Fleishman was the borough’s first out gay elected Democratic Party official, having served as district leader. The straight version of Fleishman is former Councilmember Lew Fidler, who still spends a great deal of his time helping to secure housing for homeless LGBTQ youth. In addition to Menchaca, Brooklyn’s Council delegation includes other notable friends of the community. Rafael Espinal is a terrific guy who showed leadership in creating the Office of the Nightlife Mayor. The concept is a great idea but has fizzled into a big disappointment — due to no fault on Espinal’s part, but rather to the mayor’s office and to Julie Menin, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Other consistently good councilmembers include Laurie Cumbo, Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Jumaane Williams, Steve Levin, Antonio Reynoso, and Justin Brannan. Robert Cornegy and Brad Lander are disliked by their colleagues, and I share their distrust. My favorite Brooklyn state legislators are Assemblymembers Jo Anne Simon, Rodneyse Bichotte, and Robert Carroll, while Peter Abbate and Charles Barron con-
sistently prove themselves to be on the wrong side of our issues. Then there’s Helene Weinstein, to whom I wouldn’t give the time of day. I’ll get criticized if I say why, but it’s hardly a secret. Our State Senate foes are Simcha Felder and the IDC’s Diane Savino, who represents parts of both Brooklyn and Staten Island. She was a strong voice for marriage equality years ago, but her alliance with the Republicans in recent years prevented passage of pro-LGBTQ and abortion rights legislation. Borough President Eric Adams, a former police officer, has been terrific on criminal justice and attended a rally and vigil at the Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Westchester home protesting the his refusal to grant clemency to elderly inmates in state prisons. Adams is also great on all things LGBTQ. On the issue of clemency, Judith Clark — incarcerated since 1983 for her role in a 1981 Brink’s robbery in which a security guard and two Rockland County police officers were killed —is still in prison. In 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo granted her clemency making her eligible for parole, and
State Supreme Court Justice John Kelley recently ordered the State Parole Board to give her a new hearing. However, Acting State Attorney General Barbara Underwood has appealed Kelley’s order, and framed the case as though Clark was actually at the scene of the shootings. It’s clear that Underwood doesn’t give a damn about mass incarceration or about the lives of elderly incarcerated women — Clark turns 69 next month. For now, justice and compassion will have to be found outside the office of the state attorney general. Out gay Bronx City Councilmember Ritchie Torres has been criticized for having endorsed Letitia James for state attorney general and then weeks later flipping his support to Zephyr Teachout. I commend Torres for not playing politics and acknowledging that the situation changed — as did his judgment on who merited the post. Torres decided that James’ decision to attach herself to Cuomo and accept his fundraising on her behalf raised serious questions about her independence. We faced the exact same issue at the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club. After having endorsed James, several members wanted a reconsideration — which under the club’s constitution required a vote by two thirds of members. Opposition to reconsideration was spearheaded by Aaron Soriano, an employee of the State Democratic Party and, therefore, Andrew Cuomo. Reconsideration lost by one vote and the club stuck with its early endorsement of James. Club founders, including myself, and outside progressive allies were quite disappointed and saw this as an abandonment of the club’s progressive mandate. On primary day, I voted for Teachout, sharing Torres’ concerns about James’ independence. For nine years, James has made commitments to visiting elderly women inmates at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, where Clark is held. Advocacy from elected officials is needed for these women to have a chance to secure compassionate parole. James has consistently failed to honor her commitments to make the trip to Bedford Hills. Next Up: The Borough of Queens October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
➤ TRANSITION, from p.15 ered, whereas hormone therapy involving gender reassignment surgery is not covered; and there is no dispute that the surgery itself is not covered,” Conley wrote. Also excluded from coverage are “treatment, services, and supplies for cosmetic purposes,” with the state explaining that “psychological reasons do not represent a medical/ surgical necessity.” During the Obama administration, the Department of Health and Human Services took the position that the Affordable Care Act’s ban on sex discrimination in insurance benefits would include gender identity discrimination, and it looked like Wisconsin might change its position in January 2017 to coincide with a new coverage requirement from HHS. Meanwhile, however, Wisconsin had joined a lawsuit in the federal district court for the Northern District of Texas — a judicial venue of choice for social conservatives — asserting that interpreting the ACA to cover gender identity discrimination was “unlawful.” That
court issued a nationwide injunction on December 31, 2017, blocking HHS from enforcing its gender identity discrimination policy. By then, Wisconsin’s Republican administration had already pulled back from its original plan to rescind the 1994 exclusion. For Judge Conley, however, this political by-play was essentially irrelevant to his ruling. In reviewing the reasons articulated by members of the board overseeing public employee health coverage, he essentially embraced one member’s testimony that he supported ending the 1994 policy because he “viewed the exclusion as discriminatory and supports the right of transgender individuals to get the healthcare they need” and that “it’s not costly to add it to the group plan.” Wisconsin is within the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction, whose rulings are binding on Conley. In making his ruling, Conley noted the Seventh Circuit’s championing of LGBTQ rights in two 2017 decisions. In Hively, the appeals court held that discrimination based on
sexual orientation is prohibited by Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination in employment. In Whitaker, the court ruled that discrimination based on gender identity is prohibited by Title IX’s ban on sex discrimination in public schools. Putting them together, Conley found it easy to conclude that gender identity discrimination violates Title VII as well, despite a 1984 Seventh Circuit decision ruling out such claims — one that the circuit has never explicitly overruled. The 1994 exclusion, Conley wrote, “implicates sex stereotyping by limiting the availability of medical transitioning, if not rendering it economically infeasible, thus requiring transgender individuals to maintain the physical characteristics of their natal sex. In other words, the Exclusion entrenches the belief that transgender individuals must preserve the genitalia and other physical attributes of their natal sex over not just personal preference, but specific medical and psychological recommendations to the contrary.” The State of Wisconsin’s “assertion that the Exclusion does not
restrict transgender individuals from living their gender identity is entirely disingenuous, at least for some portion of that population who will suffer from profound and debilitating gender dysphoria without the necessary medical transition,” Conley added. Because Conley found that the exclusion is a form of sex discrimination, the 1994 policy is subject to “heightened judicial scrutiny” under the Equal Protection Clause, throwing the burden on the government to show that it substantially advances important state interests. Here, too, the state fell short. The record shows no evidence that the oversight board voted to back away from eliminating the 1994 exclusion out of cost or efficacy reasons, which is what the state asserted, Conley found. Plaintiffs Boyden and Andrews are represented by John Anthony Knight of the ACLU Foundation in Chicago, Laurence J. Dupuis of the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation in Milwaukee, and local counsel Michael Godbe and Nicholas E. Fairweather of Hawks Quindel in Madison.
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Behind the Synth, John Grant’s Soul Gay singer/ songwriter’s new album lays artifice on too strong BY STEVE ERICKSON ver the course of four solo albums — following a long run with the Denver band the Czars and a break from music — gay singer/ songwriter John Grant has gone from folk/ rock to synth-pop. This evolution says something about the fashions of our times: look at Mitski and St. Vincent embracing electronics and largely dropping electric guitar on their latest albums. In 2014, Grant released a live album backed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, but his latest album, “Love Is Magic,” features all-electronic instrumentation apart from the contributions of bassist Paul Alexander. Throughout it, he seems torn between an attraction to bugged-out weirdness and a more conventional sensibility that uses irony and sarcasm as lyrical devices but really stands for something both personal and political. “Love Is Magic” puts its oddest foot forward. The first song, “Metamorphosis,” begins with a rapid-fire run-down of social ills in an arch, affected accent over synth-pop gone very haywire. Halfway through, the music slows down considerably and Grant’s vocals sound far more natural, before returning to its original style for the song’s final minute. It’s the weakest point on “Love Is Magic,” with an aura of forced quirkiness. Picture Sparks and The Residents joining forces to revamp Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” The production on this album is deliberately artificial and rather cold. The booming drum machine never makes the slightest attempt to sound like live percussion. Keyboardist Benge (Ben Edwards), who combines vintage analog and digital synthesizers, brings together clear chords and melodies reminiscent of Kraftwerk — the first two minutes of “Tempest” suggest a rewrite of “The Robots” before the song gets noisier — with odder sounds bubbling deeper in the
John Grant’s fourth solo album is “Love Is Magic.”
soundscape. In the US, Grant has a cult audience, but his 2015 album “Grey Tickles, Black Pressure” hit the British and Irish top five. (Sinéad O’Connor sang backing vocals on it.) His memoir is on the way from Little, Brown. Now 50, he’s survived HIV, a religious background that instilled homophobia in him (“Jesus Hates Faggots,” from his first solo album, addresses this), and substance abuse; he was a teenager when the sounds “Love Is Magic” draws on were new. But this album goes beyond mere nostalgia for The Human League and Gary Numan or the bland indie/ dance synthesis of groups like Chvrches and Bob Moses. Relying on synthesizers and drum machines for backing allows
Grant to escape the expectation that he’s talking directly about his own life, even when he’s drawing on his experiences for material. The music video for the title track puts a different spin on the concept that “love is magic” by focusing on women playing with their dogs. Grant returns to his mannered mode with spoken vocals aimed at an annoying would-be lover on “Diet Gum.” He sounds like he’s imitating a cross between a stereotypical 1980s Valley Girl and an equally stereotypical mean-spirited gay bar denizen, with references to leisure suits and “Seinfeld.” If Frank Zappa had been more gayand disco-friendly, I could picture him dabbling in something like this, although the song’s chorus takes us back to the robotic feel of
late ‘70s Kraftwerk: “I manipulate, that’s what I do.” “Smug Cunt” is more succinct and enjoyable in directing the anger of its title at a man who “thinks he’s a stud” while being an entitled creep who’s complicit in violence. If Grant were writing hip-hop lyrics, he’d be great at battle rhymes. He has a knack for the turn of an insulting phrase, such as “a patheticness of fuckwits.” “Love Is Magic” suggests that Grant plays to his strengths when he uses synthesizers to remain a relatively conventional, if left-field singer/ songwriter. Songs like “Preppy Boy” and “Is He Strange” are frank about his desire for men. The lyrics of “The Common Snipe” offer facts about the bird named in its title, but they build up to a metaphor about the difficulties of love. (It provides some context for the album cover, which depicts Grant with his head in a birdcage and his chest covered by a feathered shirt.) On “Touch and Go,” Grant drops any shields of irony and persona to celebrate Chelsea Manning’s whistleblowing and resistance against transphobia. “What they think is patriotic barely passes for robotic/ and not one of them could last three minutes in your shoes,” he opines. “Love Is Magic” would be a stronger album if it omitted “Diet Gum” and “Metamorphosis.” It’s hard to remember that Grant’s first solo album featured backing from the Americana band Midlake, which Wikipedia labels “soft rock.” At heart, he’s not that different from singer/ songwriters like Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman or their closest contemporary equivalent, Father John Misty, with the major difference that he’s writing from a gay perspective and acutely aware of his position as an outsider. The weirder aspects of “Love Is Magic” seem central to its aesthetic without genuinely adding much to it; the album’s best at its most sincere. JOHN GRANT | “Love Is Magic” | Partisan Records | Drops Oct. 12 | partisanrecords.com October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
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NewFest 30 Opens Strong With “1985” Queer film annual offers indie delights, hyped disappointments BY GARY M. KRAMER ewFest, New York’s LGBT Film Festival screens at area venues October 24-30. This year’s edition features nearly 150 shorts, documentaries, and features from around the world. Most notable is the inclusion of “Rafiki,” from Kenya, about two teenagers in love that was banned there for “promoting lesbianism” — but unavailable for screening. Here are a dozen highlights — and, unfortunately, low points — from this year’s program. The festival opens with Yen Tan’s elegiac drama “1985” (Oct. 24, 7 p.m.; SVA Theatre, 333 W. 23rd St.) about Adrian (out gay actor Cory Michael Smith), a closeted gay man returning home to Texas for Christmas with his conservative family. This moving film is comprised of a series of conversations where Adrian alternately reveals or conceals his sexuality. His interactions with his parents (Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis), younger brother (Aidan Langford), and best friend Carly (Jamie Chung) are all heartfelt and affecting. The best film at NewFest previewed here is “Mario” (Oct. 26, 9 p.m.; SVA Theatre), a Swiss drama set in the world of soccer. Buoyed by a fantastic performance by Max Hubacher, in the title role as the team captain, this film shows the pressures queer athletes face and the compromises they sometimes make when it comes to personal and professional happiness. Mario is a striker who is looking to go pro. When a new player, Leon (Aaron Altaras), joins the team, the guys’ competitive nature soon turns to friendship as they become roommates and eventually lovers. But when rumors about their relationship get out to the team, Mario and Leon are each forced to decide if they want to be open or live a double life. “Mario” may cover familiar coming out territory but the film is incredibly poignant as the men consider the consequences of their decisions. Hubacher gives a
COURTESY OF NEWFEST
Cory Michael Smith in Yen Tan’s “1985,” which opens NewFest on October 24 at 7 p.m. at SVA Theatre.
COURTESY OF NEWFEST
Montgomery Clift in Robert Clift and Hillary Demmon’s “Making Montgomery Clift,” which screens October 30 at the SVA Theatre.
remarkable performance that captures the anxiety and rush of first love and of coming to terms with one’s sexuality. Don’t miss it. Closing night is the New York premiere of “Making Montgomery Clift” (Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m.; SVA Theatre), a tantalizing documentary by Robert Clift (Monty’s youngest nephew) and Hillary Demmon. The
film showcases fabulous film clips and home movies, as well as both video and audio interviews that investigate the actor’s life, sexuality, and career. Jack Larson’s (Jimmy Olsen on TV’s “Superman”) story about a kiss is terrific, as are details about Clift’s insistence on working outside the studio system so he could play parts he wanted
to — even if it meant turning down some juicy roles. This commitment to his craft, including rewriting his lines, is what comes across best, as a key sequence from “Judgment at Nuremberg” shows. But too much of “Making Montgomery Clift” gets lost in the weeds as the Clift family tries to correct various biographers’ errors. A bit about the actor’s arrest with a “boy” is carefully parsed, and other revisions, such as Clift’s trouble with John Huston, feel belabored. This documentary will certainly be of interest to fans of the actor, but it could have been far better. NewFest also provides moviegoers with one of the first opportunities to see “Boy Erased” (Oct. 25, 8 p.m.; SVA Theatre), writer/ director Joel Edgerton’s highly anticipated film based on Garrard Conley’s memoir about his experiences in a so-called gay conversion therapy program. Unfortunately, this well-meaning drama may disappoint queer viewers. The film feels pitched less to the LGBTQ people than to their parents who need to hear its message of love and acceptance and understand the horrors of gay conversion therapy. Another frustrating entry is Ondi Timoner’s ambitious but flawed biopic “Mapplethorpe” (Oct. 27, 8:30 p.m.; SVA Theatre). Opening in 1969, Robert Mapplethorpe (Matt Smith) meets Patti Smith (Marianne Rendón), and they move in together. The pair struggle as artists, and he soon starts exploring his sexuality with men. When Sam Wagstaff (out gay actor John Benjamin Hickey) praises Mapplethorpe’s images and helps him sell his erotic photographs, the film hits its stride. However, like Sam and Robert’s romantic relationship, this bliss is short lived. Too much of Timoner’s film is skin deep and didactic. “Mapplethorpe” never lets its subject fully come to life and Smith is unconvincing in the title role, despite his physical resemblance to the artist. The festival offers some gems
➤ NEWFEST, continued on p.23 October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
COURTESY OF NEWFEST
Jon Norman Schneider (forefront) in H. P. Mendoza’s “Bitter Melon,” screening October 28 at Cinépolis Chelsea.
➤ NEWFEST, from p.22 with its smaller, indie films. Writer/ director H. P. Mendoza’s “Bitter Melon” (Oct. 28, 7 p.m.; Cinépolis Chelsea, 260 W. 23rd St.) efficiently introduces the members of a Filipino-American family as the gay Declan (Jon Norman Schneider) and ex-addict Moe (Brian Rivera) return home to San Francisco for what may be “the worst Christmas ever.” It is back home where Declan and Moe realize their brother Troy (Patrick Epino) is abusing his wife Shelly (Theresa Navarro) in the home of their mother, Prisa (Josephine de Jesus). While this plot sounds heavy — it is — Mendoza has a light touch, even if the film strains credulity as the family members consider a drastic solution. While addressing the roots of abuse in the family, Mendoza adroitly sneaks in other messages, such as thoughtful discussions of both racism and effeminacy in the gay community. The cast is uniformly strong with Schneider particularly appealing as Declan, the perhaps-not-so-moral center of the family. Another Asian-themed film about family, “For Izzy” (Oct. 27, 9:45 p.m.; Cinépolis Chelsea) is a sweet romantic drama that revolves around Dede (Michelle Ang), a lesbian trying to recover from her drug addiction and her recent breakup with her girlfriend. She moves into a house in Los Angeles with her mother Anna (Elizabeth Sung). After Anna falls for their neighbor, Peter (Jim Lau), Dede befriends Peter’s daughter Laura (Jennifer Soo), who is on the autism spectrum. When an incident in Griffith Park drives GayCityNews.nyc | October 11 - October 24, 2018
COURTESY OF NEWFEST
Michelle Ang in “For Izzy,” which screens October 27 at Cinépolis Chelsea.
a wedge between the two families, Dede escapes to San Francisco to regroup. It sounds soapy, but “For Izzy” is a rewarding feel-good outing, with the protagonists learning to care for one another, flaws and all. Two New York-set films yield mixed results. The amateurish horror-comedy “Killer Unicorn” (Oct. 29, 9 p.m.; SVA Theatre) has Brooklynite Danny (Alejandro La Rosa) being targeted by the title character (Dennis Budesheim), who is murdering drag queens and Danny’s queer friends. The film is meant to be campy — with most characters too self-absorbed to heed the warning that they are in danger — but it comes off as shrill. Likewise, the gore, while hardly realistic — one character is choked by the severed arm of the man who was fisting him — is never as clever as it thinks it is or wants to be. Unfortunately, “Killer Unicorn” is a draining experience.
The documentary “I Hate New York” (Oct. 25, 9:30 p.m.; Cinépolis Chelsea), by director Gustavo Sánchez, profiles several transgender activists and artists who live life on their own terms. Amanda Lepore shows off her apartment and discusses her surgeries that helped her create who she wants to be. Sophia Lamar is a Cuban refugee trying to make it in New York. Chloe Dzubilo performs with the band the Transisters and dates Tara, a singer. There is considerable footage of the New York underground scene and discussions of gender issues, but the portraits are only intermittently engaging. The low-budget and low-impact “Devil’s Path” (Oct. 27, 7 p.m., Oct. 28, 4:30 p.m.; Cinépolis Chelsea), by out gay director Matthew Montgomery, is uneven. This thriller takes place entirely in the California woods where men go to cruise — and some go missing. Noah (Stephen Twardokus, who co-wrote the
film with Montgomery) is looking for his missing brother when he befriends Patrick (JD Scalzo), who is just looking for sex. The men end up being chased through the woods by two men after Noah suffers a head injury. As they flee, the guys bond but also fight with each other. Secrets and lies are told, a knife is drawn, and bodies eventually pile up. While the premise has promise, “Devil’s Path” unfolds far too slowly to generate much tension, and some of the plot twists are unsurprising. Montgomery, an actor making his feature directorial debut, has the ability to tell a story, but he needs to rely less on using the soundtrack to convey emotion. It wouldn’t be a gay film festival without a hustler drama. In writer/ director Jonah Greenstein’s curious “Daddy” (Oct. 28, 9:30 p.m., Oct. 29, 9 p.m.; Cinépolis Chelsea), Joseph (Alexander Horner) is a homeless gay guy who tricks with older men for money and shelter. The film artfully depicts Joseph’s trysts with anxious men, and there is considerable nudity in the awkward, largely unsexy encounters. If there is also little in the way of character development, that somehow feels deliberate. Viewers can decide if Joseph is making an authentic emotional connection with William (Thomas Jay Ryan). If “Daddy” seems to be saying nothing new about hustling, Horner’s blank, affectless portrayal may be its too subtle point. Another film with considerable nudity is “Hard Paint” (Oct. 28, 6:45 p.m.; Cinépolis Chelsea), an engrossing Brazilian import about Pedro (Shico Menegat) who makes webcam videos in which he paints his naked body for viewers. When another webcam boy, Leo (Bruno Fernandes), apes Pedro’s act, the pair team up and start appearing together. They also have a very intense, erotic relationship on and off camera. This, film written and directed by Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon, is sexy, but there’s also a deep melancholy to it as the guys’ romance plays out. As Leo, Fernandes is irresistible, while Menegat is appropriately fragile as Pedro. NEWFEST NEW YORK’S LGBT FILM FESTIVAL | October 24-30 | Cinépolis Chelsea, 260 W. 23rd St.; SVA Theatre, 333 W. 23rd St.; other venues | newfest.org
Human Comedy Three divergent takes on the nature of being alive BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE hat is the role of faith in the modern secular world or for those who find no solace in an abstract, invisible god in times of trial and tragedy? And what does suffering mean, anyway? Can tribulation make us better people or is it simply meaningless physical, emotional, or existential torment? These dark questions are at the center of Craig Lucas’ powerful new play “I Was Most Alive With You,” now at Playwrights Horizons. Inspired by the Bible’s Book of Job, the play is a kind of parable that tells the story of Knox, a deaf gay Jewish recovering addict and alcoholic who sees his life as perfect until tragedy strikes. He falls in love with Farhad, a deaf Muslim active addict, and their relationship is complicated, but love blinds Knox to the danger. After a contentious family Thanksgiving, tragedy befalls Knox, potentially destroying his life. Yet it is not only Knox who suffers. His adoptive father, Ash, also in recovery, is an aging TV writer whose show is failing. Ash’s wife, the ironically named Pleasant, struggles with her own bitterness, alcoholism, and jealousy of Ash’s writing partner, Astrid, whose love for Ash remains unrequited. Meanwhile Ash’s mother, Knox’s beloved grandmother, reveals her own dire medical and financial troubles. It’s a great deal of plot to be sure, but Lucas makes it work because the scope and lyricism of the writing and performances make this a play about ideas, rather than incident. The spoken language is as powerful as the signing by the deaf actors, and there is a cast of “shadow characters” on a balcony above the main action who sign all the spoken parts. We’re asked to consider on a very elemental level how we make it through life. Of all living things, only humans have the capacity to consider the meaning of existence. Is there a god, and if so what is it? Is it, as in Alcoholics Anonymous, defined by each individual? If not,
Gunnar Montana in “Kink Haüs,” at La MaMa through October 14.
Russell Harvard and Tad Cooley in Craig Lucas’ “I Was Most Alive With You,” directed by Tyne Rafaeli, at Playwrights Horizons through October 14.
then what? Seeking the answer is a constant source of both joy and pain, and to hide from the question is to be not fully alive. The irony in the play is that just when the characters seem to have it together, they are knocked off balance. The central drama here is the struggle to regain equilibrium… if possible. Tyne Rafaeli’s, fluid, heartfelt direction is ideal for the play’s expansive emotional scope. The company is equally extraordinary. Michael Gaston as Ash, Lois Smith as his mother, and Marianna Bassham as Astrid inhabit their roles with compelling humanity. Lisa Emery as Pleasant and Tad Cooley as Farhad play the slow reveals of their sympathetic characters beauti-
fully. As Knox, Russell Harvard is profoundly moving. At one point in the play, Knox cries out, as Job did, to see God. Yet, as in the Bible, God, if he is there, does not respond directly. Knox, like the rest of the characters must learn that it is “thine own right hand that can save thee.” And acknowledge their powerlessness and limitations — and, in that way, find acceptance and, finally, hope. Tackling issues of gender, male entitlement, women’s agency, power, and legitimacy couldn’t be more timely. But playwright Theresa Rebeck has cannily reached back to 1899 to show how timeless these issues are. Her subject is the
then-world-famous actress Sarah Bernhardt’s quest to play Hamlet. At age 55, Bernhardt was highly successful, owned a thriving theater, and could play any role she chose. Yet she constantly comes up against men who want her to behave in a more feminine way that respects social constructs and flatter their self-images. Bernhardt refuses, and therein lies a play. Rebeck’s “Bernhardt/ Hamlet,” getting a sumptuous production at Roundabout, is a swirling backstage comedy set in Bernhardt’s rehearsals for a production of “Hamlet.” To believe the men in her orbit — including playwright Edmond Rostand and actor Constant Coquelin — all of Paris is scandalized by a woman taking on Shakespeare’s most famous role. Scandal, though, is nothing new to Bernhardt. More importantly, she’s not playing a power game. She is instead seeking nothing less than the soul of Hamlet, which proves elusive. If he is male with all the attendant advantages, why does he take no action? Is a mature woman more temperamentally suited to the depressed Dane than a young man? Frustrated, Bernhardt enlists Rostand, depicted as her lover, to rewrite the play. We never do see the rewrite, which proves a daunting challenge for Rostand, but we experience some of the original Shakespeare in the rehearsal process. The scenes, particularly when Barnhardt as Hamlet interacts with his father’s ghost, find a nuanced interpretation, with the audience discovering colors in a woman playing a man not previously apparent. This is the subtle politics Rebeck is practicing, and it’s very effective. Unfortunately, the play goes off the rails in the second act. We’ve suddenly shifted gears with the introduction of Bernhardt’s son, who comes in response to her letter saying she is broke. There’s also a visit from Rostand’s wife, who begs
➤ HUMAN COMEDY, continued on p.25 October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
âž¤ HUMAN COMEDY, from p.24 Bernhardt to release him from his â€œHamletâ€? responsibilities, if not his amorous ones, so he can write â€œCyrano de Bergerac.â€? The play devolves into a series of vignettes, and what started out as a serious dramatic journey becomes a more superficial character study, interesting but dramatically unsatisfying. Showing Bernhardt to be a mere mortal has merits, but clouds the drama. Still, with Janet McTeer as Bernhardt, itâ€™s impossible to go too far wrong. She is a luminous actress â€” one imagines as close to Bernhardt as possible in pure star power. She is alternately witty, self-involved, tormented, and angry. McTeer is ably supported by Dylan Baker giving a wonderfully full and varied performance as Coquelin and Jason Butler Harner as Rostand. Under the wonderfully calibrated direction of Moritz von Stuelpnagel and on the gorgeous revolving sets by Beowulf Boritt, the show is a feast of theatricality. Much as one might wish for more, we can make do.
draw is not a novel idea, but when presented with such passion and electric artistry it is an original, immediate, and visceral experience. Donâ€™t worry about what it is; just go. I WAS MOST ALIVE WITH YOU | Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St. | Through Oct. 14: Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m.; Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. at 2:30 p.m.; Sun. at 7:30 p.m. | $59-$99 at ticketcentral.com or 212279-4200 | Two hrs., 15 mins., with intermission
Janet McTeer in Theresa Rebeckâ€™s â€œBernhardt/ Hamlet,â€? directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, at Roundabout through November 11.
In his published materials, the performance artist Gunnar Montana says his work â€œrefuses to be defined.â€? That makes it a little tough on a critic. That said, his piece â€œKink HaĂźs,â€? at La MaMa for a few more performances, should not be missed. Exploring a full range of erotic encounters, including fetishism, S&M, and sexual role-playing, the piece is largely danced â€” and
quite beautifully at that. The juxtaposition of elegant, classic forms â€” including ballet and modern dance, as well as non-traditional movement â€” perfectly executed by a gorgeous company, and the dark, erotic, and sometimes emotionally violent subject matter creates its own form that doesnâ€™t require definition. Performance touching on the taboo and dangerous as a
BERNHARDT/ HAMLET | American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St.| Through Nov. 11: Tue.-Fri. at 7 p.m.; Sat. at 8 p.m.; Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. | $59-$252 at roundabouttheatre.org or 212-7191300 | Two hrs., 20 mins., with intermission KINK HAĂœS | La MaMa, 66 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. | Through Oct. 14: Thu.-Sun. at 8 p.m.; Fri. at 10 p.m. | $30; $25 for students & seniors at lamama.org or 212-352-3101 | Fifty-five mins., no intermission
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GayCityNews.nyc | October 11 - October 24, 2018
E M 6
A Not-So-Fine Romance A taboo love affair and an illicit show,, on the cusp p of the Stonewall uprising sing BY DAVID KENNERLEY idnight at The Never Get” is a tale about resilience, both onstage and off. The plucky musical, about a forbidden romance between two male musicians on the cusp of the Stonewall uprising, was born at Don’t Tell Mama, then reshaped for a sold-out run at the 2016 New York Musical Festival, and the following year caused a sensation during its six-week run in Provincetown. And now, it’s found a home OffBroadway at the York Theatre Company, New York’s premier incubator of musicals. Although this engaging, historically minded piece has come a long way, it’s still not quite there yet. It’s no surprise this tuner was born in a piano bar. Featuring 13 original songs by the gifted Mark Sonnenblick (he also wrote the book), it feels like a cabaret show with a narrative woven in between musical numbers. The piece mainly takes place in a Greenwich Village nightclub circa 1968. The minimal set is little more than a grand piano, a five-piece band, and a large sign announcing the joint’s name, “The Never Get,” in red light bulbs. We witness Trevor Copeland, a spritely singer, flirting with pianist/ songwriter Arthur Brightman at the Checkerboard (the
Jeremy Cohen and Sam Bolen in Mark Sonnenblick’s “Midnight at The Never Get,” directed by Max Friedman, at The York Theatre Company at Saint Peter’s through November 4.
script is peppered with references to real downtown haunts like Bon Soir, Julius’, the Blue Angel, the Village Vanguard, and of course, Stonewall). Before long the boys, in their mid-20s, become partners in love and in business, with Trevor crooning the ditties that Arthur writes. Sure it was the turbulent 1960s, but Trevor and Arthur were lost in time. Instead of rock and roll, folk, or protest anthems, they preferred music from a romantic era a couple of decades back, and the numbers are impressive clones of classics by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and
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Irving Berlin. The pair prefer jackets and ties to fringed vests and love beads. Not that they don’t have a gimmick. Arthur writes tender ballads with his lover in mind, and Trevor sings them with masculine pronouns intact. Despite detractors who can’t stand the idea of a man professing devotion to another man, their show, at The Never Get, naturally, garners quite a following. Trevor describes their act as “Songs, jokes, elegance — Judy at Carnegie! But gay. Well, more gay.” The threat of arrest or worse is real, but the duo is willing to risk it all. But how long can they continue to make beautiful music together before something gives? Sam Bolen, who’s been with the show from the start (in fact, he came up with the premise), lends a boundless energy to Trevor, delivering dance moves and “torchy little numbers” with panache. Despite being saddled behind the piano for much of the proceedings, Jeremy Cohen is superb as the temperamental Arthur. His voice is actually stronger than Bolen’s — a disconnect, since Arthur is the songwriter and Trevor is supposed
to be the shining star. Under the direction of Max Friedman, “Midnight at The Never Get” achieves some deeply affecting moments, like when Arthur, out of personal conviction, refuses to change the pronouns and loses a record deal with Columbia. But toward the end, the show, stuffed with too many muddled ideas, comes apart at the seams. The structure, whereby the story is mostly told in flashback, as Trevor yearns to be reunited with his long lost lover in the hereafter, proves too flimsy. The climax is unsatisfying. Despite the glitches, what comes through loud and clear is the magical — albeit doomed — love affair between two queer pioneers, unafraid to make a tuneful bid for gay rights every bit as potent as a protest march down Christopher Street. MIDNIGHT AT THE NEVER GET | The York Theatre Company at Saint Peter’s | 619 Lexington Ave., enter on E. 54th St. | Through Nov. 4: Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Thu., Sat.-Sun. at 2:30 p.m. | $67.50-$72.50 at YorkTheatre.org | Ninety mins., no intermission October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
Not Quite Ready for Their Close Up Met’s “Samson et Dalila” is no DeMille spectacle
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Roberto Alagna and Eliina Garanca in Saint-Saëns’s “Samson et Dalila.”
BY ELI JACOBSON he Metropolitan Opera opened the 2018-2019 season on September 24 with a high-powered new production of Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Samson et Dalila.” The promise of the Met debut of Tony awardwinning Broadway director Darko Tresnjak (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Murder”) and the reteaming of Roberto Alagna and Elina Garanca (who sizzled in the 2009 premiere of “Carmen”) failed to deliver on opening night. Garanca’s Dalila struck critical observers as chilly and small of voice. Alagna, suffering from a cold, lost his voice completely in Act III. Sir Mark Elder’s lead-footed conducting threw a wet blanket over the proceedings. Tresnjak’s production was denounced as vulgar and trivial. Seen on October 1, a few of these issues seemed to be sorting themselves out but basic problems
GayCityNews.nyc | October 11 - October 24, 2018
remain. Alagna in Act I initially sounded vocally recovered from his indisposition — his bright tenor had regained the clarity, ring, and focus it lacked on opening night. As always, his native French diction and dramatically incisive declamation of text give great pleasure. Alagna still presents a handsome stage presence and moves well. Unfortunately, in Act II, the high B-flat that Samson delivers in response to Dalila’s “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” splayed due to phlegm (though Alagna stubbornly held on to the note attempting to steady and focus it) and Samson’s final “Trahison!” was equally strained. He canceled Act III, hastening the Met debut of Lithuanian tenor Kristian Benedikt. The understudy sang with a sturdy and secure tone that lacked tonal glamor but rose to all the climaxes with confidence. He was rewarded for his efforts with an enthusiastic
➤ SAMSON ET DALILA, continued on p.31
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WHAT’S DOIN’ IN THE GAY CITY A Sharon Needles Halloween Sharon Needles, the spooktacular winner of Season Four of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” returns with her annual fright fest, “The Sharon Needles Halloween Special,” a potpourri of horror, live music, and creepy comedy. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Laurie Beechman Theatre inside West Beth Cafe 407 W. 42nd St. 212-352–3101 SpinCycleNYC.com Fri., Oct. 12, 7 p.m. Sat., Oct. 13, 10 p.m. $24-$45
Queer We Are The Urban Queer Orchestra opens its 2018-1019 season with a concert featuring Beethoven’s “Leonore Overture,” a world premiere of Gerald Busby’s “Three Bagatelles for Orchestra,” and Brahms’ “Piano Concerto No. 1” with guest soloist Michael Sheppard. A preconcert talk opens the afternoon at 3:15 p.m. Church of the Holy Apostles 296 Ninth Ave. at W. 28th St. 646-233–4113 queerurbanorchestra.org Sun., Oct. 14, 4–6 p.m. $25; $20 by Oct. 12 $15 for students &seniors For KT Sullivan, Mark Nadler, It’s ALMOST Like Being in Love KT Sullivan, artistic director of the Mabel Mercer Foundation since 2012, and singer, pianist, tapdancer, and comedian Mark Nadler reunite to celebrate the Alan Jay Lerner centenary with their new show, “Almost Like Being In Love,” featuring songs including “If Ever I Would Leave You,” “Gigi,” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” Writing in the New York Times, Stephen Holden has described the duo as “ferociously entertaining.” Green Room 42 in the Yotel 570 Tenth Ave. at W. 42nd St., fourth fl. Thegreenroom42.com Sun., Oct. 14, 9:30 p.m. $20-$40, with no food/ drink minimum We Are Not Invisible The Gay Latino Collective hosts a panel of experts on the housing needs of LGBTQ seniors to discuss what some of the challenges look
like, how policymakers here in New York City are responding, and what more needs to be done moving forward. The panel includes Michael Adams, the CEO of SAGE, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, Karen Haycox, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York City, Paul Nagle, executive director of the Stonewall Community Development Corporation, a non-profit that takes an evidence-based approach to developing and implementing innovative responses to the growing crisis in LGBTQ-friendly senior housing, and Bronx City Councilmember Ritchie Torres, chair of the Council’s Oversight and Investigations Committee and previously the chair of the Committee on Public Housing. Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. leslielohman.org Wed., Oct. 17, 7–9 p.m. Bindlestiff Cirkus Open Stage Variety Show Bindlestiff Cirkus co-founder Keith Nelson hosts an evening of uncompromising theatrical experience that includes aerial artists, wire walkers, sword swallowers, Kung Fu jugglers, clown bands, trained rats, a heavy metal magician, a cougar contortionist, and a cowboy from the Bronx. The show runs two hours. If you’re interested in appearing on stage, email Nelson at email email@example.com and write “Open Variety” in the subject line. Dixon Place
COURTESY OF LESLIE LOHMAN MUSEUM OF GAY AND LESBIAN ART
The Bindlestiff Cirkus.
“Rubbish and Dreams.”
161A Christie St., btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts. 212-219–0736 dixonplace.org Fri., Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m. Suggested donation of $10
impromptu performance wearing elaborate costumes made from street trash, food waste, and stolen objects. His work was decidedly anti-institutional and he disrupted the business of art in the 1970s. For these reasons, he was soon written out of history, and no substantive piece of writing on his practice has been published for 40 years. This exhibition draws on a number of private archives in telling Varble’s story for the first time. Two public programs are being held in conjunction with this exhibition. On Oct. 19, 1-5 p.m., the Performance Studies Studio at NYU hosts “Symposium: Queer New York and Urban Performance.” And, on October 29 at 7 p.m., the Museum of Modern Art New York hosts “An Evening of Video by Stephen Varble,” with “Rubbish and Dreams” curator David Getsy in conversation with Stuart Comer. The exhibition runs through Jan. 27, 2019. Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. leslielohman.org Through Jan. 27, 2019 Wed., Fri.-Sun., noon-6 p.m. Thu., noon-8 p.m. Suggested donation of $9
Kweendom Three-Year Anniversary Bobby Hankinson (Awkward Sex and the City) hosts a special night of comedy, characters, and storytelling sure to make Mike Pence uncomfortable. It’s not just gay, it’s GAAAAAYYYYY. Gay like The B-52s are gay. Gay like “Hocus Pocus” is gay. Gay like “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” is gay. The evening features Aaron Jackson (The Opposition), Sydnee Washington (The Unofficial Expert), Rebecca Shortall (BBC), Andrés Govea (Brooklyn Comedy Festival), and Dylan Adler (SUP Comedy). This third anniversary show offers free cupcakes! Come for the laughs, stay for the fresh faces in your Grindr grid. The show is free, but this month the party will collect donations for the New York City Anti-Violence Project, with a match for the first $100. Pete’s Candy Store 709 Lorimer St. at Richardson St. Williamsburg Fri., Oct. 19, 7 p.m. firstname.lastname@example.org Free Rubbish and Dreams “Rubbish and Dreams: The Genderqueer Performance Art of Stephen Varble” is an exhibition focusing on this performance artist who became iconic in 1970s New York for his disruptive interventions into galleries, public spaces, and financial institutions. Varble would engage in unauthorized and
America’s Favorite All-Boy Band (AFAB) at The Tank What’s that sound? It’s America’s Favorite All-Boy Band’s (aka AFAB) fresh off their latest “world tour” with their brand new show, “Back in the USSA.” This totally legitimate and not-at-all-fake celebrity boy band features the talents of ev-
➤ WHAT’S DOIN’, continued on p.29 October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
âž¤ WHATâ€™S DOINâ€™, from p.28
ebrate its 20th anniversary with a special concert featuring returning guest singer-songwriter Natalia Zukerman, whose father, the classical violinist Pinchas Zukerman, is the son of a Polish-born klezmer player. Isle of Klezbos and Zukerman first melded musical minds earlier this year, exploring poignant Yiddish roots and hidden gems from vintage soundtracks, personal histories, vivid resistance narratives, and soulful sounds of liberation. The sextetâ€™s latest repertoire also features original klezmer bugalu (boogaloo), lesser-known bawdy traditionals, and luscious retakes on irresistible Eastern European swing and tango. Zukerman brings vibrant stories and tunes from her powerful multi-media performance, â€œThe Women Who Rode Away,â€? including lush arrangements with backing Klezbos bandmates. Joeâ€™s Pub 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Joespub.org Thu., Oct. 25, 7 p.m. $20
eryoneâ€™s favorite nerdy guy Spencer Murray (aka Andi Lee Carter), the slightly-aging rocker Anson Reign (aka Donnie Cianciotto), lover boy Dante Flores (aka AC Dumlao), goofball Chance Burgure (aka Graham Garlington), shy guy Jayke Malone (aka Meaghan Johnson), bad boy Aiden Abbett (aka Milo Jordan), hipster Gavin Miles (aka Jacob Michael), and the jock with no last name Luke (aka Tonilyn A. Sideco). When asked, â€œDoesnâ€™t AFAB also stand for Assigned Female At Birth?,â€? the bandâ€™s manager, Ms. Bradlee Waldroop, responded, â€œThat is totally irrelevant!â€? and then spilled her coffee. The Tank 312 W. 36th St. 212-563â€“6269 thetanknyc.org email@example.com Mon., Oct. 22, 7 p.m. $14 Isle of Klezbos Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary Isle of Klezbos, the swinging allwomenâ€™s klezmer sextet, will cel-
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GayCityNews.nyc | October 11 - October 24, 2018
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The Deal of the Art In celebrity painters, sculptors, Nathaniel Kahn finds America BY STEVE ERICKSON irector Nathaniel Kahn’s documentary “The Price of Everything” focuses tightly on the art world, but in depicting a world where everything is commodified and painters who aren’t hardcore careerists watch others make money from their work without benefiting themselves, it says a great deal about the state of American culture in 2018. An art historian approaches a Jeff Koons sculpture placed outdoors in a museum and complains that it represents “a glittering compromise with commerce,” feeling particularly repulsed by its slickness. But while the glitter only shines for those of us who are as wealthy as Koons, compromise with commerce defines American life right now. “The Price of Everything” isn’t interested in demonizing anyone as an individual, but it’s very clear about what artists it values and which ones it doesn’t. Koons comes off as a fairly charming and articulate person, though the film points out his background as a Wall Street salesman, complete with clips of “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Kahn makes a case for Koons’ work as the voice of neoliberalism’s emptiness. It’s probably no coincidence that the name of one of the painters he does celebrate — who rejected the temptation of success in the 1970s by departing from his formula of dot-based art and compares his ambitions to those of Mozart and Beethoven — is Larry Poons, which rhymes with Koons. People who know nothing about art history and its context commonly dismiss the whole of abstract art, write off Cubism as ugly, or claim they could make the equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting themselves. Given how critical “The Price of Everything” is toward the world of art fairs and auctions where paintings sell to private collectors for millions, often disappearing into rich people’s houses and away from public view,
HBO DOCUMENTARY FILMS
Art collector Stefan Edlis in front of artist Urs Fischer’s “Dried” collage (left) and “Untitled (Candle)” sculpture, both part of his collection, in Nathaniel Kahn’s “The Price of Everything.”
it would have been facile for Kahn to fall into a similar trap. In fact, he doesn’t really engage with the aesthetics or the historical place of Koons and other artists the film criticizes, like Damien Hirst. One could say that by not actually working directly on his own paintings and having a team paint them according to his instructions, Koons is debunking the myth of the male genius that contributed to Pollock’s self-destruction. But “The Price of Everything” offers lots of first-hand evidence that he’s just offering a middlebrow celebration of American vulgarity to millionaires. Kahn has more interest in praising artists like Njideka Akunyili Crosby, a Nigerian-born woman who only received her MFA from Yale seven years ago. But even if she talks about working at a relatively slow pace because she wants to have time to experience enough life to inspire her paintings, she’s part of the art world’s games. He shows one of her paintings selling
at an auction, with the price gradually going up to $900,000. He cuts to Crosby watching the auction on her laptop, looking blank and then laughing. She reveals that the person who bought the painting from her paid a relatively low price and then flipped it at a high profit, without her direct benefit. Crosby seems to have a healthy attitude about this — she doesn’t feel ripped off, saying she’s more concerned about protecting her longterm future. But still, rich white people are making more money off her work inspired by African life than she is right now. Although Kahn’s voice can be heard talking to his subjects, he says that “The Price of Everything” is “composed not of interviews, but of scenes — encounters — through which we explored a world vastly more puzzling and contradictory than I ever imagined.” Poons comes as close as one can to living off the grid while still participating in the art world, but he’s now
elderly and his deafness suggests growing frailty. Most of the other artists depicted in “The Price of Everything” are up for competition, but resigned to the cruelty of the marketplace (as well as its sexism and racism). This describes every aspect of American life, except that this film respects the potential for beauty and social reflection contained in art. It’s also generous enough to end with the image of a mirrored ball created by Koons. I don’t think the source matters as much as the resonance of this work as a metaphor. To pick a quote from one of the film’s earliest moments, “You only protect things that are valuable.” Kahn’s “The Price of Everything” has a lot to tell us about how that value gets determined. THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING | Directed by Nathaniel Kahn | HBO Documentary Films | Opens Oct. 19 | The Quad, 34 W. 13th St. | quadcinema.com October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
➤ SAMSON ET DALILA, from p.27 ovation at the final curtain call. Dalila’s contralto tessitura proved uncongenial to Garanca’s sinuous, refined mezzo-soprano. Dalila does a lot of her heavy vamping in the lowest register, where Garanca’s high mezzo-soprano loses power and resonance. Her voice gains in size and overtones in the upper register, resulting in several exultant high climaxes in the arias and duets. Garanca’s dry smallish tone and cool, calculating persona resulted in a Dalila who despite great personal beauty failed to produce much heat or even warmth. In fact, the sexual chemistry that Alagna and Garanca displayed in “Carmen” less than a decade ago was largely absent. That may be due to Tresnjak’s generalized, workmanlike direction, which failed to illuminate interpersonal relationships. Alagna’s Samson brooded and pleaded more like the generic lovelorn romantic hero than a biblical prophet in spiritual crisis. Garanca’s Dalila did evince some conflicted feelings and remorse witnessing Samson’s abuse at the hands of the Philis-
GayCityNews.nyc | October 11 - October 24, 2018
tines. The lower voices failed to impress: Laurent Naouri as the High Priest of Dagon provided incisive diction and characterization but his bassbaritone sounds worn and gnarled. Dmitry Belosselskiy’s bass faded into nothing on the lowest notes of the Old Hebrew’s music, and Elchin Azizov blustered noisily to middling effect as Abimélech. Donald Palumbo’s chorus sounded marvelous whether portraying pious Hebrews or decadent Philistines. No one was aided by Elder’s insipid conducting. The first act in particular lacked any kind of rhythmic pulse and Elder’s slow tempos hampered his vocally challenged mezzo and tenor. In Act III, the maestro roused himself from his torpor to deliver an exciting, flashy “Bacchanale.” Tresnjak’s traditional production is an updated tribute to Cecil B. DeMille and the Hollywood technicolor costume spectacular genre of the 1950s. Alexander Dodge’s towering sets resembled an upscale resort hotel in Dubai while Linda Cho’s costumes piled on the glitz — yards of gold lamé and shimmering gauze drapery all covered with
feathers and jewels. Garanca was done up in full harem girl drag in homage to Hedy Lamarr. Donald Holder’s lighting spilled garish blue, pink, and lavender hues all over the stage. The production style is flashy and fun, and the towering statue of Dagon in Act III is an eye-popper. DeMille would not have approved of the homoerotic go-go boy writhing around the Dagon statue that Austin McCormick of Company XIV choreographed for Act III’s orgy (Saint-Saëns would have appreciated it much more). DeMille, however, didn’t cop out in providing some special effects for the fall of the temple of Dagon. There were no temple pillars for Samson to be chained to and pull down. A mere puff of stage smoke and a flash of white light while the chorus and principals froze onstage provided a lame climax for the evening. In several ways DeMille and Saint-Saëns are a match made in heaven: Both men were attracted equally to religion and sex. Both men used biblical stories to peddle spectacle and sensuality to bourgeois audiences while adding a pious moral at the end to make it all
“classy” and uplifting. Saint-Saëns’ music goes from Bach oratorio in Act I to gaudy French grand opéra exoticism, with echoes of Meyerbeer and Offenbach in Acts II and III. The element of kitsch binds SaintSaëns and DeMille together. Tresnjak’s “Samson et Dalila” production embraces kitsch without shame, irony, or condescension. Critics and intellectuals bristle at unironic kitsch and flashy spectacle but most audience members don’t have such scruples as SaintSaëns and DeMille well understood. But what kitsch spectacle needs is charismatic performers who devour the stage — Garanca and Alagna were carefully picking away at their parts rather than devouring them and the stage whole. I hope later performances will provide lustier vocalism and zippier conducting because this “Samson” has most other elements necessary for a colorful, splashy grand opera spectacle. The Saturday, October 20 matinee performance of “Samson et Dalila” will be transmitted at 12:55 p.m. EDT worldwide as part of the Met’s Live in HD series.
NEWS, IN BRIEF âž¤ NEWS, IN BRIEF, from p.9 leaving when told to â€” earning a statement of solidarity from the president of Fox News. Collins was trying to ask Trump if he felt betrayed by Michael Cohen, his former lawyer who is now cooperating with federal prosecutors.
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Susan Collins Dumped US Senator Susan Collinsâ€™ defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh got her removed as an honorary co-sponsor of the International Human Rights Art Festival set for New Yorkâ€™s Wild Project November 12-18. The festival posted, â€œHer lack of candor, empathy, her reliance on â€˜junk scienceâ€™ to ignore Dr. [Christine Blasey] Fordâ€™s claim, and her insincerity has led us to believe that we do not want her name attached to an event that includes such a sincere and passionate collection of artists, activists, performers and speakers.â€? Those festival participants had hit organizers with an â€œoutpouring of indignationâ€? over Collins inclusion. The festival includes an LGBTQ improv, â€œThank You for Coming Out,â€? on Sunday, November 18 at 6 p.m. The Wild Project is at 195 E. Third Street, between Avenues A and B. For more information, visit ihraf.org. Homophobe Close to Winning Presidency of Brazil Right wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro won 46 percent in the first round of voting for president of Brazil, short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff on October 28. Bolsonaro will face off against SĂŁo Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad of the Workersâ€™ Party, who got 29 percent in a country beset by a bad economy and political corruption. Leftist former President Luiz InĂĄcio Lula da Silva of Haddadâ€™s party was barred from running by the Superior Electoral Court. Bolsonaro has been a member of Congress for seven terms and is most famous for his anti-LGBTQ, anti-women, and racist remarks that earned him federal hate crimes charges. He is a former captain in the army, is assembling top military leaders in his circle, and wants to use the military to â€œpurge
a corrupt ruling elite,â€? the New York Times reported. He is backed, as Trump was, by a burgeoning evangelical population in Brazil. The first round voting pulled out 80 percent of eligible Brazilians. Out gay journalist Glenn Greenwald, an American who lives in Brazil, called Bolsonaro â€œthe most misogynistic, hateful elected official in the democratic world.â€? This leader of the Social Liberal Party (!) has five children, first four boys and then â€œin a moment of weakness,â€? he said, a daughter. He called a female member of Congress â€œnot worthy of being raped.â€? Bolsonaro said he was â€œincapable of loving a gay sonâ€? and would prefer such a son â€œdie in an accidentâ€? â€” though he also said he would try to â€œtake a whipâ€? and change him. He has threatened to â€œbeatâ€? gay men if he sees them kissing publicly and attributes what he says is a rise in homosexuality to drugs and women working outside the home. Trans Student Excluded During Shelter Drill A middle school in Stafford County, Virginia, had a lockdown drills that students do to prepare for an active shooter. The students all went to their respective boysâ€™ and girlsâ€™ locker rooms, but staff couldnâ€™t decide where a transgender girl should go so she was kept out of both â€” left in a hallway with a teacher. Stafford Equality, the local LGBTQ group, wrote on Facebook, â€œDuring an event that prepares children to survive an attack by actual assailants, she was treated as if she was so much of a danger to peers that she was left exposed and vulnerable.â€? The group went to an October 9 school board meeting to support the girl, whom they describe as â€œa model studentâ€? â€” not that it should matter. A school spokesperson said theyâ€™re reviewing how this was handled. Saint John Paul IIâ€™s Halo Tarnished The fight between the far right Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ˛ and Pope Francis, whom Vigano accuses of covering up sexual abuse committed by Washington
âž¤ NEWS, IN BRIEF, continued on p.34 October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
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NEWS, IN BRIEF âž¤ NEWS, IN BRIEF, from p.32 Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, is heating up and lots of reputations are being sullied. While Francis would not respond to the charge, his aide Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, is hitting back hard, calling ViganĂ˛â€™s charges â€œfalseâ€? and â€œabhorrentâ€? and producing documentation that Pope John Paul II, now a canonized saint in the Catholic Church, received information about McCarrickâ€™s sexual misconduct with seminarians in 2000 and yet elevated him to cardinal in 2001â€”long before Francis became pope. Responding to ViganĂ˛â€™s charge that the cover-up was due to a cabal of gay people and gay sympathizers in the Vatican, Ouellet wrote that despite the fact that there are some who engage in behavior â€œcontrary to the values of the gospel,â€? that does not justify declaring a whole group of people, including the current pope, â€œunworthy and complicit.â€? Oullett charged that Vi-
ganĂ˛, an ally of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, both more conservative than the current pontiff, was engaged in a â€œpolitical plotâ€? to harm Francis and â€œthe communion of the Church.â€? Homeland Security: Protecting Us from Gay Singers The Gay Menâ€™s Chorus of Mexico City was detained at Houstonâ€™s Hobby Airport on October 7 as they tried to enter the US on a trip to Los Angeles to perform with that cityâ€™s Gay Menâ€™s Chorus. A Homeland Security officer found sheet music in their luggage and inferred that they were performers in the US without the proper work permits. The chorus, however, is a non-profit group and all its members are volunteers. Agency officials got their backs up when they found that one of the chorusâ€™ members, Jorge Gutierrez, a university professor of literature, had the same name as someone who had once stolen a truck. The executive director of the Los Angeles chorus explained to Homeland Security that the group
ple, but, like the US, has no federal LGBTQ rights law. Tokyoâ€™s action may spur the national government to enact one.
was being welcomed to an event sponsored by William Shatner, Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris, and Mayor Eric Garcetti and that sending them back to Mexico would trigger â€œan international incident.â€? The intervention succeeded and the show in Los Angeles went on.
The Perils of Coming Out in Zimbabwe Dr. Neal Hovelmeier, a veteran teacher at the elite St. Johnâ€™s College Prep School in Zimbabwe, opened up about being a gay man at a school assembly on how to combat homophobic bullying. He did so in part because a newspaper intended to print that he was homosexual. According to the BBC, â€œHe wrote that former students had confided to him that they had felt intimidated and ostracized at the school amidst a homophobic atmosphere.â€? While school administrators supported him, parents threatened to sue if he were not dismissed. In the face of death threats, Hovelmeier resigned. Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zim-
Tokyo Enacts LGBT Rights Law The Metropolitan Government of Tokyo passed a bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity on October 5 â€” moved by the coming of the Summer Olympics to the capital in 2020. Human Rights Watch worked with the government to comply with the Olympic Charterâ€™s human rights provisions. The International Olympic Committee in 2014 adopted a policy of only holding games in cities that ban such discrimination. The Japanese government in recent years has committed to outreach efforts on LGBTQ issues in schools and taking positive steps to protect and recognize queer peo-
âž¤ NEWS, IN BRIEF, continued on p.39
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October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
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PERSPECTIVE: National Coming Out Day
Out for The Holidays BY DEAN WRZESZCZ
yelled, I screamed, and after punching pillows to exhaustion, I slumped down into the empty chair next to me in tears. It was the mid-’80s; Gestalt therapy was big. My therapist took in a deep breath, leaned back in his chair, and crossed his legs. “Congratulations! You had a breakthrough today.” I lifted my head from the beaten pillow and laughed. “I think you mean breakdown.” “Not at all! You finally admitted you have been resenting your mother and sister for stopping you from coming out to your father.” It had been more than a year since that phone call when I fought with them about coming out to my dad by bringing my boyfriend, Allen, home for Christmas. “Jesus Christ, Dean,” my mom said. “Do you want your father to have another stroke?” I heard the voice of my sister Vicky rise in the background. “Let me talk to him!” I was about to get tag-teamed. “I can’t believe you!” she said. “Are you telling me even you don’t get it? You, of all people?” “This isn’t about me. It’s about you thinking only about yourself. It’s just selfish.” “Does he know about you and your girlfriend?” I asked her. “No, he doesn’t, and I don’t need him to.” Only a few months would pass before my sister’s girlfriend would sit down with my mom and make the announcement herself: “Vicky and I are lovers.” After that bombshell delivery, I was told my mom got up, grabbed a broom, and started sweeping the front porch as she muttered, “Jesus Christ, now I’ve got two of ‘em.” When my sister returned the phone to my mother, I said, “Okay, you guys win. Here’s the deal. If Allen can’t come, then I’m not coming home for Christmas. I will not have the man I live with and love be alone during the holidays.” That was the first year I did not
COURTESY OF DEAN WRZESZCZ
Dean Wrzeszcz, the young gay actor in the New York of the 1980s.
open presents with my parents. Allen and I stayed in New York, bought a tree too large for our studio apartment, decorated it with a few sets of string lights, and scattered it with red bows we made from a spool of felt ribbon. We made our own Christmas together.
Dean,” my mom said. “Do you want your father to have another stroke?” We broke up more than a year later. Although he was gone, the need to tell my dad about myself
was still present. And by coincidence, I thought that television could do the job for me. I called my mom. “I want to speak with Dad,” I told her. “Al, your son wants to talk to you!” “Dean?” He sounded cheerful. “Dad, there’s a really good movie on tonight.” “Yeah, I know! Dirty Dozen II. Can’t wait!” I looked at the newspaper’s TV listings to check for myself. A madefor-TV sequel of the 1967 film was playing on another channel at the same time. Stiff competition. How could I ask my dad, a World War II fanatic — not to mention a veteran of that war — to forego a film about an attempt to assassinate Hitler? But I went for it. “Actually, it’s another movie I had in mind. It’s called ‘Consent-
ing Adult,’ and it’s a special film. It would mean a lot to me if you watched it.” Then I let it go. My mom called me the next day. “Your father and I watched that movie,” she said to me. I was more than surprised. “Well?” “Well, sometime after Martin Sheen died of a heart attack and Marlo Thomas told her son that she loved him, I looked at your father and said, ‘You know, Dean’s that way. Gay.’” “What did he say?” “He said, ‘Ya know, I thought he might be. When he said he was moving to New York to be an actor, I thought that it was also partly to find himself.’“ I was struck by my mom’s forthcoming description of his reaction, considering her certainty of his having a conniption. But it was consistent with my dad’s live-and-let-live belief system. She had only projected her hang-ups about homosexuality onto him. No strokes, no heart attacks, no wondering about where he had gone wrong. Most importantly, total acceptance. The next time I was home visiting, Dad and I were watching an old black-and-white movie starring Marilyn Monroe. “Dean, let me ask you something. Are you saying that [pointing to her curvaceous beauty] doesn’t do anything for you?” I laughed. His inquiry was genuine; his innocence, disarming. “Let me put it this way. I appreciate she’s a beautiful woman. I mean, I’m not blind. But no, she doesn’t excite me the way you are talking about.” “Huh.” Later, we were watching a Wimbledon match together. He was a big fan. “Go, Martina! Go, Martina!” he shouted at the screen. I turned to him and said, “You do know, dad, that she’s a total lesbian.” Without skipping a beat, his eyes darted at me for a nanosecond only to reply, “She can’t help it!” He turned back to the game and reprised his chant. “Go, Martina! Go, Martina! A smile ran across my heart as I shouted, “Go, Martina! Go, Martina!” October 11 - October 24, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
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NEWS, IN BRIEF
Longtime AIDS activist Larry Kramer said the latest HIV data paint an “appalling” picture.
Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan successfully sued to open up civil partnerships in Britain to different-sex couples.
➤ NEWS, IN BRIEF, from p.34 babwe from independence in 1980 until 2017, made homophobic attacks a staple of his presidency, saying in 1995 that “there is no question ever of allowing these people to behave worse than dogs and pigs” and threatening gay people with arrest and violence. While the new regime takes a somewhat softer tone, a recent survey found that half of Zimbabwean gay men have been assaulted and 64 percent disowned by their families. While lesbian sex is not criminalized the way gay male sex is, 27 percent of lesbians also say they have been disowned. Taiwan Votes on Same-Sex Marriage November 24 Opponents of gay marriage have gotten enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot for November 24 in Taiwan. Since the Constitutional Court ruled that the country must equalize rights for same-sex couples, a proposal from right wing forces in Taiwan proposed establishing civil unions instead of marriage for gay couples. Signatures for an LGBTQ proposal to open marriage to gay and lesbian couples are still under review. Should the civil union proposal prevail, a new court challenge could be made arguing that civil unions do not in practice accord equal rights to gay couples. GayCityNews.nyc | October 11 - October 24, 2018
The South Rising Again — in HIV Infections The latest data on HIV from the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention found that nine out of the top 10 states in new infections are in the South. The CDC also noted that the number of men who have sex with men (MSM) ages 13-29 diagnosed with HIV rose three percent annually between 2008 and 2016. In this group, 49 percent of the diagnoses are African American, 25 percent Latino, and 14 percent white. Veteran AIDS activist Larry Kramer called the statistics “appalling.” The CDC is urging all sexually active MSM to get tested at least once a year and get prompt treatment if positive. The uninfected have the option of taking PrEP (Truvada) to prevent HIV infection. New York City’s data is more encouraging. There were just 2,279 new HIV diagnoses in 2016, down from 6,000 in 2000. Elsewhere, China is seeing a 14 percent surge in HIV diagnoses. PrEP #FAIL Truvada used as PrEP to prevent HIV infection has proven enormously effective. But a new report from San Francisco found a PrEP-adherent man who contracted a drug-resistant strain of HIV. It was the sixth known such seroconversion among those who adhere to treatment, the San
Francisco Department of Health reported. Straight Civil Partnerships in the UK? Yes, You May Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the British government will comply with a Supreme Court ruling in April that extends civil partnerships to non-gay couples in England and Wales. Civil partnerships were devised for gay couples in 2004 under Labour PM Tony Blair. The government under Conservative PM David Cameron opened marriage to gay couples in 2013 while keeping civil partnerships as an option for them as well. Different-sex couples continued to be barred from them. Veteran gay activist Peter Tatchell led an Equal Love campaign to make civil partnerships open to all. Plaintiffs Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan sued for the right to one and prevailed at the high court this year. “Marriage comes with historical, religious, and gendered connotations — this offers a blank canvas,” Steinfeld told the BBC. A Conservative member of Parliament is proposing that elderly siblings who live together for mutual support be allowed into civil partnerships as well — giving them the chance to avoid estate taxes and hold onto their homes when one of them dies. Some US states and corporations ended recognition of domestic partnerships once marriage became available. New York City, where the majority of domestic partners are in heterosexual couples, has retained them.
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October 11, 2018