Special Prosecutor for Cedeno? 06
Brooklyn’s Anti-Gay Council Survivor 09
A Sugar Plum Fairy Tale 26
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
VICTORY! LEGISLATURE APPROVES TRANS RIGHTS, BANS CONVERSION THERAPY Page 02 COURTESY OF NEW YORK STATE SENATE
Senator Brad Holyman is flanked by Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried, celebrating their victories on transgender rights and banning conversion therapy.
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FREE | VOLUME EIGHTEEN, ISSUE TWO | JANUARY 17 – JANUARY 30, 2019
Albany Approves Trans Rights, Ban on Conversion Therapy Senate majority leader terms action “great tribute to Dr. King on his birthday” BY PAUL SCHINDLER
n an historic day at the State Capitol in Albany, with many LGBTQ advocates on hand, both houses of the Legislature adopted two long-stalled civil rights bills — the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a transgender rights measure, and a ban on conversion therapy practiced on minors by licensed mental health professionals. In a fitting opening to the day’s session in the Senate, which had been the roadblock to both measures, Rabbi Yael Rapport from Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, Manhattan’s LGBTQ congregation, offered the invocation. The January 15 passage of GENDA caps a struggle dating back 16 years to when the state adopted a gay rights law with no provisions to bar discrimination based on gender identity and expression. At the time, leading advocacy groups, led by the now defunct Empire State Pride Agenda, argued the measure approved was the best that could be achieved with a Republican-led State Senate and a Republican governor, George Pataki. The transgender community was promised that a major push would be undertaken to add gender identity and expression as protected categories under the state’s human rights law, but GENDA did not even win approval in the overwhelmingly Democratic Assembly until 2008. The Senate, under Republican leadership for nearly the entire period since the gay rights law was enacted, steadfastly refused floor consideration of the bill, and it was only the Democrats’ resounding November election victory, giving them a 39-23 majority, that made victory possible this week. GENDA passed the Senate by a 42-19 margin, with three Republicans supporting the measure. Among the Democrats, only Brooklyn’s Simcha Felder, a social conservative who represents a large Orthodox Jewish constituency and is not formally part of the
COURTESY OF GABRIEL BL AU
Tanya Asapansa-Johnson Walker of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group, Housing Works’ Charles King, Jevon Martin, president of Black Trans Advocacy NYC, and Kiara James, also of NYTAG, celebrate the imprending passage of GENDA NDA in the State Capitol on Tuesday.
NEW YORK STATE SENATE
Senator Brad Hoylman delivering his floor remarks in favor of GENDA.
Majority Conference, voted no. The Assembly approved the measure in a lopsided vote. “It’s very exciting — it’s long overdue — after 17 years of fighting for GENDA, to finally see the day of light,” said Kiara St. James, the co-founder and executive director of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group, who was on hand for the Senate vote. “TGNC [transgender and gender nonconforming people] are now really able to actualize their lives in the same way cis[gender] folks have always taken for granted.” Juli Grey-Owens, executive director of Gender Equality New York, said the successful action on GENDA “signals a new day in
the acceptance of our community. There will no longer be any excuse for discriminating against those who are transgender and non-binary and, more importantly, leaders and allies can begin the process of creating opportunities which will achieve economic, educational, racial, and social equality for all gender-expansive New Yorkers.” Melissa Sklarz, a longtime trans activist, said, “This effort today is the results of hundreds of people educating New York on the needs of transgender people. This 20-year journey started with a meeting led by Sylvia Rivera in 1998, and trans people are grateful to all who have helped make this long awaited cul-
tural and political success.” In late 2015, while Sklarz was co-chair of the Pride Agenda board, Governor Andrew Cuomo used the occasion of that group’s annual dinner to announce that he had directed the New York State Division of Human Rights to interpret existing protections against sex discrimination to encompass bias based on gender identity and expression. Though the governor’s action accomplished much of what GENDA addresses, advocates and legislators remained committed to codifying those protections explicitly in state law. GENDA also brings gender identity and expression into the protected categories under the hate crimes law, something Cuomo’s executive order was unable to deliver. Gabriel Blau, one of the founders of Equality New York, a group that since 2016 has worked to forge a united voice for LGBTQ New Yorkers, noted that the effort to rally support for Senate candidates committed to passing GENDA relied in good measure on winning the trust of the trans community “thrown under the bus” when the gay rights law was enacted. “This is the culmination of two years of intense coalition building,” he said. “We’ve gotten here as a community.” By working in unity and insisting that any candidates endorsed by Equality New York demonstrate a vocal commitment to GENDA — as well as the conversion therapy ban — Blau said, the community raised “LGBTQ issues back to the top of the agenda in Albany, where they belong.” Celebrating the bill’s passage, Thomas Krever, CEO of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, said, “Our youth members deserve these protections. We are confident that this move opens the opportunity to thrive for more young transgender and gender non-conforming and non-binary New Yorkers.” In his remarks on the Senate floor, Manhattan Senator Brad
➤ VICTORY, continued on p.3
January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
➤ VICTORY,, from p.2 Hoylman, the bill’s sponsor and the chamber’s only out LGBTQ member, acknowledged that the omission of transgender rights from the 2002 gay right law “was no accident,” recalling that senators rejected former Senator Tom Duane’s floor amendment to add gender identity and expression to the bill. Noting that a national survey of transgender people reported that between 20 and 30 percent had faced discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations — and 59 percent avoid using public bathrooms out of fear for their safety — Hoylman spoke to the importance of the hate crimes provisions in GENDA, saying, “Transgender people are the number 1 target of violence in these United States.” Still, two of his new Democratic colleagues, Jessica Ramos from Queens and Julia Salazar of Brooklyn, while enthusiastically supporting GENDA, urged the Senate to look at amendments down the road to ensure that those hate
GayCityNews.nyc | January 17 - January 30, 2019
COURTESY OF GABRIEL BL AU
Equality New York’s Gabriel Blau, speaking after passage of GENDA and the conversion therapy ban, flanked by Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, and Manhattan Senator Liz Krueger.
crime provisions “are not weaponized against people of color,” in Ramos’ words. Bronx Democratic Senator Luis
R. Sepúlveda spoke movingly of having lost his gender non-conforming brother to AIDS in the 1990s. Senator Anna M. Kaplan of
Long Island, one of the first-term Democrats who defeated a Republican incumbent in November, argued, “In the past two years, the pace and intensity of attacks on the rights and existence of TGNC people has exploded, leading to a dramatic increase of anti-TGNC discrimination and violence. We should be doing everything we can to stand up and say that we reject hate and bias in New York, because no one should be subject to discrimination just for being their true, authentic selves.” Among opponents, only upstate Republican Fred Akshar spoke, raising the usual bathroom fears and warning the measure could “open the door to child predators.” Democrat James Skoufis, a former assemblymember from Orange County who last fall won a Senate seat previously in Republican hands, angrily belittled “the bizarro world” fantasies of transgender rights opponents who conjure dangers in bathrooms and locker rooms. Senator Andrea Stewart-Cous-
➤ VICTORY, continued on p.21
Mr. Chairman: Hoylman Delivers Quick LGBTQ Wins Judiciary Committee leader, only gay senator, lays out bold vision for new session BY PAUL SCHINDLER
hen Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman gaveled the Judiciary Committee into session on Monday morning, his colleagues addressed him with a title he’d never before had in his six years in office: Mr. Chairman. But the new Judiciary chair, who spent his first three terms in Albany in the minority, took pains last week to emphasize his respect for a colleague who has also taken on a new title in the wake of the dramatic shift in the Senate’s make-up since the November elections: Andrea Stewart-Cousins. On January 9, the six-term African-American incumbent from Westchester County was elected Senate majority leader, becoming the first woman in state history to head either chamber of the Legislature. In an interview with Gay City News the day before, Hoylman opened up by mentioning that when Nancy Pelosi returned to the post of House speaker earlier this month, every Democrat wore a blue button inscribed with the words “Madame Speaker.” “I took the liberty of making some buttons up over here on 38th Street that say ‘Madame Leader’ on them, in exactly the same typeface and in exactly the same color,” he explained. To be sure, Stewart-Cousins’ ascension is historic —especially in the Age of Trump and the #MeToo movement. In an Albany culture where final negotiations on the state budget — which now totals some $170 billion — have typically been dubbed “three men in a room,” there will now be two men and one woman. Two among the trio will be African-American, including Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie of the Bronx. Still, it is no small matter that the new chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee is the Senate’s only out LGBTQ member. And it is striking that on Tuesday the new Senate majority kept faith with the LGBTQ community that for years has turned out to push for Democratic candidates by passing two long-stalled pieces of legislation: the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a transgender civil rights measure aimed at correcting the omission of gender identity and expression from the 2002 gay rights law, and a ban on so-called conversion therapy practiced on minors by state-certified mental health professionals. The heavily Democratic Assembly had passed GENDA, sponsored by Manhattan’s Richard Gottfried, repeatedly for more than a decade, and it has also previously approved the conversion therapy ban, helmed by out lesbian Deborah Glick, also from Manhattan. Like the
MAT T TRACY
State Senate Judiciary Chair Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, the chamber’s only out LGBTQ member, speaking to Gay City News on January 8.
Senate, the Assembly also approved the two measures on Tuesday, and they now only await Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature. For Hoylman, who was the Senate sponsor of both bills, quick Senate action was a vindication of a critique of the former Republican majority he had made over and over again. Noting the “appropriate symbolism” of the impending votes, he said, “Our community has been shut out of the Senate for eight years, without a single LGBTQ bill considered on the floor. This is a dramatic change and a fitting one given that it’s the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.” He added, “It’s a sad statement about the Republicans and particularly Republicans in New York that LGBTQ issues have become partisan ones.” Asked last week whether with Republican dominance of the Senate now decisively broken — Democrats hold a 39-23 edge, not counting renegade Democrat Simcha Felder, a social conservative who represents large Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn — some GOP senators might join the majority on GENDA or the conversion therapy ban, Hoylman responded, “I welcome them. We don’t need them. That will be an interesting twist. Maybe with Republicans with such a diminished presence, some will feel liberated. That said, I don’t see many moderate Republicans left in the Senate.” The Senate vote tally on Tuesday included three Republican yes votes on GENDA, but 18 to ban conversion therapy. Despite the impending easy passage of two cherished LGBTQ legislative priorities, that was not the topic Hoylman led with in his inter-
view. Instead, he first mentioned the responsibility of his Judiciary Committee to push back against the “onslaught of recriminations and encroachment toward our judicial system from Trump and his cronies.” One key element there is “keeping ICE out of our state courts.” Not only have some undocumented immigrants been taken into federal custody while appearing, either as a defendant or a plaintiff, in state court, Hoylman said, but worse is the deterrent effect the threat of apprehension has on immigrants seeking justice. “Let’s say you’re in an abusive relationship,” he said. “You don’t have any choice but to stay in that untenable situation out of fear of being extradited.” Another key priority Hoylman mentioned was enactment of the Child Victims Act. Although there are currently some differences between the Senate and Assembly versions of this measure — which he said he and Assembly sponsor Linda Rosenthal are working to iron out — it basically aims to raise the statute of limitations in criminal cases for sexual abuse of a minor, allow survivors to make civil claims up to the age of 50, and create a one-time window for survivors to come forward about abuse suffered no matter how long ago. The Catholic Church has been among the most active institutions lobbying behind the scenes to forestall this legislation, despite the establishment of victims’ compensation funds by the New York Archdiocese and some others around the state. Last week, in a Daily News op-ed, Cardinal Timothy Dolan warned against any measure that would have the effect of “breaking” the Church. Asked about that warning, Hoylman responded, “There’s no example of a window period revival having that impact. No church body, to my knowledge, has involuntarily filed for bankruptcy. They’ve done that to protect their assets, but they haven’t done so because they ran out of money.” Senate Democrats, he said, are committed to taking action on the issue this session, with many newly elected members, especially from Long Island and the Hudson Valley, having won by emphasizing their support for the Child Victims Act and the opposition of their Republican opponents. Another issue on which Hoylman favors movement is enactment of the New York Health Act, creating a single-payer universal care system for the state. On this issue, too, he said, support among Senate Democrats is very high. At the same time, he acknowledged, study, edu-
➤ HOYLMAN, continued on p.5 January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
Trans Attorney to Lead LGBTQ Legal Professional Group Kristen Prata Browde is new board president at New York’s LeGaL
mendous value — particularly at a time when we are facing an attempt by the federal government to undo the legal progress we have secured. Together, we will fight for a New York that protects vulnerable and marginalized people.” Whether it is on the issue of school students accessing restrooms consistent with their gen-
der identity or transgender service members being able to serve openly in the military, the Trump administration has taken particular aim at the transgender community, undoing advances made in the later years of President Barack Obama’s administration. In October, news emerged that the US Department of Health and Services is considering
the adoption of a regulatory definition of “sex” as immutable and determined at birth, in a clear effort to deny transgender Americans access to services appropriate to their lives. “We have been battling nonstop to limit the damage to the cause of equality resulting from the current administration in Washington,” Browde said. “LeGaL is vital to that work, as is our collective visibility, and I’m unequivocally committed to carrying forth our message at every level. Furthering the outreach of LeGaL to the trans community and its vibrant and increasingly out and active bar is important work, especially given the current situation.” Her predecessor as board chair, Gennaro Savastano, said, “Kristen is exactly what we need. She is a devoted advocate and a force to be reckoned with. I’m inspired by her vision, and am confident that her many talents will nurture and grow our organization and community.” To learn more about LeGaL and its work, visit lgbtbarny.org.
Cuomo’s endorsement last month, will depend, Hoylman said, on the establishment of a regulatory regime and will also likely face questions, especially from suburban legislators, about the risks of driving under the influence. Hoylman is hopeful the Legislature will approve a bold congestion pricing plan, though he acknowledged that even some city legislators represent districts without a single subway station, complicating agreement on the details of any such scheme, especially regarding the use of the revenues it generates. And, he noted, estimates on what congestion pricing can generate range from $6 to $8 billion, while Andy Byford, president of the New York City Transit Authority, estimates that the subways and buses need a $40 billion investment. “Where’s the money going to come from?,” Hoylman said. “It’s not going to come off the backs of riders, if I can help it.”
Beyond GENDA and the conversion therapy ban, the new Judiciary chair has a host of other LGBTQfocused concerns. On health care, he wants to see wider available of PrEP and PEP — first, through a mandate that they be covered in all insurance plans, and later by being made available free of cost — a restoration of funding for the statewide network of LGBTQ-specific health and human services from the current level of $4.4 million to at least the pre-2008 recession level of $9 million, and greater resources for gender transition care and HIV and hepatitis C treatment in the state’s prisons. Hoylman also supports a strengthening of the anti-bullying Dignity for All Students Act, greater funding for homeless youth and the providers who serve them, an LGBTQ bill of rights for seniors in long-term care facilities, a nonbinary gender option on driver’s licenses, a ban on “gay panic” and
“trans panic” defenses in violent crime cases, and a restoration of the 53 state benefits currently denied former military service members discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. One other measure close to Hoylman’s heart is reform of gestational surrogacy laws that largely ban would-be parents from contracting with surrogates. He and his husband, David Sigal, were forced to work with surrogates out of state to parent their two daughters, and Hoylman said that opening up surrogacy options has a lot of support, especially among newer members. Still, he conceded more education is needed, particularly among officials “who have never thought about it.” His aim is to protect all parties in a surrogacy contract, ensuring each has legal representation and that the woman acting as surrogate has sole and absolute control over all decisions related to her health.
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
risten Prata Browde, a solo practitioner who specializes in family law and divorce, has been elected the board chair of LeGaL, the LGBT Bar of New York. Founded in 1978 by Arthur S. Leonard — now a New York Law School professor and Gay City News’ legal correspondent — LeGaL is among the nation’s oldest and largest bar associations in the LGBTQ legal community. Serving the New York metropolitan area, the group works to ensure the full equality of the LGBTQ community and promote the expertise of attorneys from the community. In a written statement, Eric Lesh, the group’s executive director, said, “I am so excited to work with Kristen to ensure that LeGaL serves the community by helping LGBTQ New Yorkers access the rights and resources they desperately need. Kristen’s fierce advocacy on behalf of the transgender people and the entire LGBT community is a tre-
➤ HOYLMAN, from p.4 cation, and hearings are needed — particularly since the issue has never received formal Senate investigation in the past. A favorable review of the legislation by the RAND Corporation last year, he said, addresses concerns some legislators and others have about cost, but Hoylman is not certain action can be completed in this session. Still, he said, a single-payer approach is not a question of “if, it’s when.” Hoylman is confident that after the budget, due by April 1, is enacted, the Legislature can act to not only renew rent stabilization laws, but to reverse the trend of recent years in which, according to a study by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, more than 400,000 units of affordable housing were lost between 2000 and 2012. Marijuana legalization, now squarely on the agenda given Governor Andrew GayCityNews.nyc | January 17 - January 30, 2019
DON POLL ARD/ COURTESY OF LEGAL
Attorney Kristen Prata Browde, the new board chair at LeGaL, at a 2017 Pride Sunday celebration with Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Abel Cedeno’s Attorneys Call for Special Prosecutor DA alleged to have taken “dive” in manslaughter case against bullied teen BY ANDY HUMM
ttorneys for Abel Cedeno, the bullied Bronx gay teen charged with manslaughter in a 2017 classroom fight that left Matthew McCree dead, called for a special prosecutor in the case after Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark “took a dive,” they said, by failing to pursue charges against Kevon Dennis, brother of the deceased, who allegedly threatened student witnesses at knifepoint immediately after the incident. The DA is pursuing charges against Jonathan Espinal, Dennis’ alleged accomplice and another relative of the deceased. The DA originally tried to charge Cedeno with second-degree murder, but the grand jury reduced the charge to manslaughter after it heard Cedeno’s testimony that he was defending himself. At Cedeno’s January 15 appearance, Christopher R. Lynn and Robert J. Feldman, co-counsels for Cedeno, were instructed by Judge Steven Hornstein, who is new on the case, to prepare written briefs on their motion as well as their desire to call as witnesses the 25 students who saw the classroom incident (none of whom has been identified to the defense or interviewed by the DA), an expert on gangs who they say will testify to the participation of McCree in gangs and how Cedeno’s knowledge of that played into his intense fear, and the police officer who arrested Dennis. Lynn and Feldman subpoenaed the city’s Department of Education for the names and addresses of the student witnesses, but no one from the department showed up to answer the subpoena in court. The failure of the DA to produce these witnesses is also part of their call for a special prosecutor. Lynn said that DA Clark told the Stonewall Democrats that “both the Dennis and Cedeno matters will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” But on October 30, 2018, Judge April Newbauer
Louna Dennis, the mother of Matthew McCree, who died in a fight in a Bronx high school in 2017, with her family’s attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, outside a Bronx Countyy courthouse on Januaryy 15.
Defendant Abel Cedeno and his mother, Luz Hernandez, at a 2018 hearing in the case.
dismissed the charges of armed robbery against Dennis for lack of evidence even though the criminal complaint against him says that he acted in concert with Espinal. Assistant District Attorney Nancy Borko regularly consults with Louna Dennis, McCree’s mother, and her attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, who is suing the city on her behalf for $25 million in the death of her son. At a press conference after the January 15 court date, Ms. Dennis was asked by this reporter how she felt about the dismissal of the charges against her son Kevon and Rubenstein would not let her answer, saying it “was not relevant” to the Cedeno case. She also would not say what her relationship to
Espinal is, though he is believed to be her brother-in-law. Dennis said she was “exhausted” from having to attend the numerous court appearances and Rubenstein complained about how slowly the case was moving, something that Lynn agreed with. Cedeno has been out on bail since November 2017 and is working to complete his high school education. His mother, Luz Hernandez, who was also present in court, told Gay City News, “We are praying for it to end and supporting each other” through it. Lynn objected to the DA handling the Cedeno and Dennis cases separately even though the Cedeno case gave rise to the Dennis matter
“according to the sworn criminal complaint.” Lynn wrote in an email, “16 month after the occurrence, the Bronx DA and the NYPD have not interviewed ANY of these kids [who witnessed the classroom incident].” He said that some of these witnesses “received a text message from McCree’s brother Kevon Dennis a few hours after the event to meet him (Dennis) at a specific location after school. The kids complied because they knew he was Matthew’s brother, they knew his reputation (on Facebook his moniker is Unruly Boss) and complied with the request.” Lynn added, “the students were robbed of their cell phones because of possible evidence of his brother Matthew’s stabbing” and that Dennis also sought Cedeno’s whereabouts. Cedeno has been living at an undisclosed location since getting out on bail and requires an NYPD escort to and from the courthouse at each appearance — at one of which Kevon Dennis threatened him in the lobby. Outside the courthouse on January 15, a female member of McCree’s family repeatedly shouted, “You’re a murderer!” at Cedeno as he was being escorted to a car. Patrice O’Shaughnessy, director of communications for the Bronx DA, wrote in response to defense calls for a special prosecutor, “We are working vigorously to prosecute this case. We are in the pretrial motion stage and will answer the defense motions through the court.” She also wrote, “We have no additional evidence to prove criminality against Dennis.” Lynn wrote “the Bronx DA rigged the matter by submitting a half-baked indictment — one that was eventually thrown out an not re-presented [to the Grand Jury]… They took a dive knowing that they had to indict Kevon, but setting it up to disappear. There is no other explanation.” The next court date for Cedeno is February 25 at 9:30 a.m. for more pre-trial motions. The actual trial has not yet begun.
January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
Gay Men Allege Violent Incident at Manhattan Eatery Seafood joint Catch NYC is no stranger to allegations of homophobia and racism BY MATT TRACY
wo gay men have accused a Manhattan seafood restaurant of violently removing them from the establishment in an assault that was so brutal that they were left with bruises, reports Eater New York. The men, Leo Porto and Felipe Rocha, alleged that this past September 8 they were dancing and kissing at Catch NYC in the Meatpacking District when a bouncer walked over and told them to stop or get out. When they kissed again, another bouncer physically separated them before a third bouncer grabbed them by the neck and forced them off the dance floor. “Before you know it, we’re being dragged out by the neck, both of us, in front of a huge crowd of maybe 100 people, and we’re screaming for help,” Porto said, according to Eater. The two men were then brought into an elevator, where five security guards were aggressive and continued to hold them by their necks, the men said. The pair filed a complaint with the law en-
Catch NYC, a Meatpacking District establishment, has drawn online criticism with charges of homophobia and racism and now faces allegations from two gay men that they were roughed up there this past September.
forcement bureau of the city’s Commission on Human Rights, according to Eater. The commission, which is responsible for upholding the city’s human rights law, declined to comment on the case. An NYPD spokesperson confirmed to Gay City News that a harassment complaint is on file alleging that a bouncer at Catch NYC pushed a 25-year-old male, but no injuries were reported. These allegations face a restaurant, located at
21 Ninth Avenue at West 13th Street, that often displays a rainbow flag in front of the building. Yet the establishment has been hit with a variety of allegations of homophobia and racism in online reviews. A man named Desmond H. said in a Yelp review that gay people should not spend their money at Catch NYC, a “place that disrespects you and has no problem putting their hands on you JUST because you’re GAY. I came here and the security guards roughed up my friends and now they have bruises all over their bodies.” Another reviewer on Yelp, Nova L., said in June of 2018 that a bouncer with tattoos all over his body “is a racist and discriminatory ass” who refused to grant Nova entry onto the rooftop of the restaurant but “proceeded to let others... who were all white women.” Sidney W. said in a 2017 review that a bouncer “allowed two caucasian women in but didn’t allow my African-American friend in under the same circumstances.” Catch NYC did not respond to requests for comment on the incident. Porto and Rocha could not be reached.
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GayCityNews.nyc | January 17 - January 30, 2019
In Audio, Bayard Rustin Talks About His Gay Identity Civil rights leader says his openness threatened his position as key Martin Luther King, Jr. aide BY MATT TRACY
ewly released audio of gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin reveals the extent to which he valued the intersection of his racial and his sexual identity — and how his life as an openly gay man nearly derailed his ability to fight for equality. Rustin, an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. who became more vocal on LGBTQ issues later in his life, said during an interview with the Washington Blade in the 1980s that he recalled a time in the 1940s when a mother warned her daughter not to touch him because he was black. He felt that it was important to educate the young child about race, and as a gay man he also realized that she needed to learn that gay people also existed. That attitude prompted him to be more open about his sexuality than was customary for public figures of his era. “It occurred to me shortly after that that it was an absolute necessity for me to declare my homosexuality, because if I didn’t, I was a part
NEW YORK WORLD -TELEGRAM AND THE SUN/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Bayard Rustin speaks with Carolyn Carter, Cecil Carter, Kurt Levister, and Kathy Ross before a demonstration in 1964
of the prejudice,” he said several years before he died at age 75 in 1987. “I was aiding and abetting the prejudice that was a part of the effort to destroy me.” An activist who believed in nonviolent resistance, Rustin spearheaded the organizing effort of the 1963 March on Washington and played a major role in the civil rights movement alongside King. But his sexual orientation wound up becoming a serious roadblock in his work. “At a given point, there was so much pressure on Dr. King about my being gay — and particularly because I would not deny it — that he
set up a committee to explore whether it would be dangerous for me to continue working with him,” Rustin recalled in the newly available audio, which will be aired on the Making Gay History podcast. Robt Seda-Schreiber of the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, which provides advocacy, education, and a safe space for LGBTQ and intersex people, said the newly surfaced clip “solidifies and spotlights the undeniable truth” of Rustin’s courage. “Too few folks nowadays are aware that Bayard Rustin planned the March, inspired the Freedom Riders, & brought non-violence to Dr. King himself, among many other extraordinary accomplishments,” Seda-Schreiber said in an email message. “This lack of recognition is directly related to him not hiding in the shadows at a time when it was de rigueur for one’s very survival.” Rustin’s surviving partner, Walter Naegle, provided the audio, according to NPR. Naegle, who lives in Chelsea, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rashawn Brazell’s Accused Killer Can’t Fire Lawyers Judge rejects Kwauhuru Govan’s complaints about attorneys in his conviction for separate murder BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
Brooklyn Supreme Court judge refused Kwauhuru Govan’s request for new attorneys as he heads to trial in the 2005 killing of Rashawn Brazell, an AfricanAmerican gay man. “Both Mr. Strauss and Mr. Horowitz have been zealous in their representation of you,” Judge Joanne Quinones told the 40-year-old Govan during a January 9 hearing as she denied his motion for new lawyers. Following last year’s guilty verdict and sentencing to 25-to-life in the 2004 killing of 17-year-old Sharabia Thomas, Govan filed a motion in December that asked for new lawyers in the Brazell case and accused his attorneys, Joshua Horowitz and Jonathan Strauss, of not sharing documents with him and
not consulting with him during the course of the Thomas case. Govan also charged that Strauss slept and played Sudoku during the trial. “I did not see Mr. Strauss fall asleep,” Quinones said. “At no point did Mr. Strauss appear to be sleeping. He was very alert.” The judge noted that Strauss handled much of the cross-examination of witnesses during the trial and that he frequently objected to questions. She said she had seen Horowitz consult with him before the start of each day’s proceedings during the first trial and following sidebar conferences during those proceedings. Strauss said he did not sleep or play games during the trial. Horowitz said all discovery materials had been turned over to Govan and that discussions and written communications with him were extensive. “Every piece of discovery was given to him,” Horowitz said. “Every
single piece of paper was given to Mr. Govan.” Since his arrest in 2016, Govan has maintained that he did not commit either murder and he appears to blame his lawyers for the guilty verdict and the 25-to-life sentence for kidnapping and killing Thomas. It is common for criminal defendants to blame their lawyers when they are convicted. “I’m sure it’s a big disappointment for him in a trial in which he maintains his innocence,” Horowitz said. Govan rejected his first attorney in 2017. Horowitz was appointed then and Strauss was added to the team later. The 2004 murder victim, Thomas, apparently fought with Govan before he strangled and beat her to death. His DNA was found under Thomas’ fingernails. Her dismembered body was discovered in two laundry bags in an alley in Brooklyn’s Bushwick
neighborhood. Both cases went unsolved for years, but in June 2016, the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Cold Case Unit matched that DNA to a sample of Govan’s DNA that was uploaded to a national database following his 2014 arrest for armed robbery in Florida. He was arrested in Florida after his release from prison and extradited to Brooklyn. After linking Govan to Thomas, police realized that Govan lived across the street from Brazell. Police found that a bag that belonged to Govan and that had Brazell’s blood on it was recovered in the Brooklyn subway station where parts of Brazell’s body were discovered in 2005. Brazell was 19 at his death. The Brazell case will be before Quinones for a pre-trial conference on February 6 with the trial expected to begin in the spring.
January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
Brooklyn Councilmember’s Quiet Anti-LGBTQ Crusade Chaim Deutsch has used his voice and his votes to oppose gay rights BY MATT TRACY
on’t let a sea of blue seats fool you: There are members of the New York City Council actively working against gay rights — including one in southern Brooklyn, where Councilmember Chaim Deutsch has long shown hostility toward LGBTQ causes. Deutsch, a Democrat who represents Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Trump Village, Manhattan Beach, Luna Park, Brightwater Towers, and Midwood, has spent years voting against LGBTQ rights and voicing comments about the community that would make most New Yorkers cringe. But much of it has gone unnoticed as he customarily remains publicly tight-lipped about his views. Deutsch’s anti-gay sentiments extend as far back as 2013 when he attacked Democratic primary opponent Theresa Scavo during a debate simply because she was backed by a gay-friendly group. “I have to say that, Theresa, you have the National Organization for Women’s endorsement, which, I don’t know how you could represent this community when they have an agenda with gays and lesbians,” he said as documented on a video posted on YouTube. Long after that debate, Deutsch continued to show he wanted no part in advancing LGBTQ rights. He was especially busy with his anti-gay votes in 2017. In April of that year, he voted against a resolution calling upon the Department of Education to provide curricular and other support to protect LGBTQ and gender nonconforming students, and to inform them that they have a right to convene and participate in gay-straight alliances. Two months later, Deutsch was the only councilmember to vote against Int. 1638, a law requiring the Department of Education to report on whether schools have gay-straight alliances and whether teachers and administrators have received trainings related to supGayCityNews.nyc | January 17 - January 30, 2019
JOHN MCCARTEN/ NYC COUNCIL VIA FLICKR
Councilmember Chaim Deutsch looks on during a General Welfare hearing in February of 2018.
porting LGBTQ students. Deutsch capped off his year of homophobia in November of 2017 when he voted against a no-brainer bill that would have banned the practice of so-called gay conversion therapy, which has been rejected by the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and other professional groups. The bill passed anyway, with Deutsch and former Brooklyn Councilmember David Greenfield being the only lawmakers opposing it. Bronx Councilmember Andy King abstained. Most recently, Deutsch avoided attending a hearing pertaining to LGBTQ rights for veterans — despite serving as the chair of the Veterans Committee on the City Council. He didn’t show up for a November hearing on Intro 479, which would require the city’s Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) to offer assistance to veterans discharged from the military due to their sexual orientation during the era of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The legislation would direct DVS to help the veterans upgrade their discharge status when possible. Even a mass shooting of gay folks wouldn’t get Deutsch to budge. According to journalist David King, who currently is managing editor of The Collaborative, an Albanybased publication, Deutsch was among three councilmembers who refused to participate when the City Council placed rainbow flags on their desks following the 2016 massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando where a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others.
Deutsch has, on multiple occasions, refused to publicly comment on his stance toward LGBTQ rights issues. Deutsch continued that trend this week when his office did not respond to an inquiry from Gay City News regarding his votes in opposition to LGBTQ rights, his comments during the 2013 debate, or his no-show at the hearing on legislation pertaining to discharged LGBTQ service members. The 49-year-old lawmaker was first elected in 2013 after narrowly defeating current 45th Assembly co-district leader Ari Kagan in a Democratic primary race. He cruised to re-election in 2017. Deutsch, an Orthodox Jew, represents a district that consists of a large Russian-speaking population as well as Orthodox communities, which traditionally have taken conservative stances on LGBTQ issues. Lyosha Gorshkov, who serves as the co-president of a southern Brooklyn-based Russian-speaking network called RUSA LGBT, said Deutsch told him that he voted against the ban on conversion therapy because he believed people should have a “choice.” “He said, ‘If a person wants to be cured from homosexuality, he should have an option to go with conversion therapy,’” Gorshkov recalled. “I said, ‘Excuse me?’” Gorshkov said he invited Deutsch to the annual Brighton Beach Pride celebration in the past, but he never showed up — and now he’s done trying to convince him. “I don’t have any confidence in
him,” Gorshkov said. “Now I’m not even going to bother to invite him anymore. If he doesn’t care about us, why should I?” The gay community in the district has become fed up with Deutsch, according to Gorshkov, who said “a lot of people are calling him an ignorant bigot.” Gorshkov added, “They’re not supporting him.” In his conversations with Deutsch, Gorshkov said the councilmember told him that he does “not support same-sex marriage because it’s against my religion,” but claimed he has no problem with gay people and took the stale I-have-gay-friends approach by saying “my best friend is Corey Johnson,” the out gay city council speaker. Johnson and Deutsch have appeared to be close allies, with the pair often pictured together on social media and praising one another. When asked, Johnson refused to directly address Deutsch’s stances on LGBTQ issues, instead telling Gay City News on Tuesday morning that, as speaker, “it is my job to collaborate with all councilmembers and demonstrate a good working relationship — whether we agree on everything or not.” He added that “it is my hope that all my colleagues” would treat everyone with respect. Other city councilmembers have also shied away from showing public resistance to Deutsch’s positions on gay rights or his past comments, despite often criticizing elected officials from other parts of the country for similar actions. The Brooklyn Community Pride Center, which does not endorse or oppose any elected officials, said in a statement that it finds Deutsch’s statements and political positions to be “troubling and out of step with our neighbors in Brooklyn.” “Councilmember Deutsch should join us in building a network of support for LGBTQ+ Brooklynites rather than engaging in dog-whistle politics to satisfy a minority of intolerant people,” the center said.
Anti-LGBTQ Baker Wins Round in His Latest Lawsuit Jack Phillips says Colorado ofﬁcials targeting him over cake celebrating gender transition BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
asterpiece Cakeshop baker Jack Phillips is back in court, this time suing officials of Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission and its Civil Rights Division and the state’s attorney general and governor to try to block the Commission from continuing a case against him for refusing to make a custom-designed cake celebrating the anniversary of a transgender attorney’s transition. On January 4, Senior US District Judge Wiley Y. Daniel largely rejected a motion by defendants to dismiss the case, although he narrowed its scope somewhat. For those coming in late to this ongoing drama: Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop were found by the Commission and the Colorado Court of Appeals to have violated the state’s public accommodations law when he refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple in 2012 because of his religious objection to same-sex marriage. The US Supreme Court reversed those decisions in a 7-2 ruling last June 4, based on the high court’s conclusion that the state had not afforded Phillips a “neutral” forum to consider his First Amendment defense. Part of the Court’s conclusion that the Commission was “hostile” to Phillips on religious grounds rested on its treatment of a provocateur named William Jack. While the discrimination claim by a gay couple was pending before the Commission, Jack approached three Colorado bakeries that custom-decorate cakes, asking them to make cakes for him that “conveyed disapproval of same-sex marriage, along with religious text,” quoting from Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s opinion for the Supreme Court. All the bakers turned him down, stating they “objected to those cakes’ messages and would not create them for anyone.” Jack filed discrimination charges against the bakeries, but after investigating his charges, the Colorado Civil Rights Division found no “probable cause” that the statute was violated, and the Commission affirmed that determination. The Supreme Court seized on the Commission’s response to Jack’s provocation, saying that its hostility was evident in “the difference in treatment between Phillips’ case and the cases of other bakers who objected to a requested cake on the basis of conscience and prevailed before the Commission.” The Civil Rights Division ruled in Phillips’ case that “any message the requested wedding cake would carry would be attributed to the customer, not the baker,” while “the Division did not address this point in any of the other cases with
Jack C. Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, wins the first round in his new litigation regarding his refusal to bake a cake commemorating a transgender woman’s transition.
respect to the cakes depicting anti-gay marriage symbolism.” Justice Kennedy also critically noted that “the Division found no violation of the Act in the other cases in part because each bakery was willing to sell other products to the prospective customers” but the “Commission dismissed Phillips’ willingness to sell birthday cakes, shower cakes, cookies, and brownies to gay and lesbian customers as irrelevant.” Autumn Scardina, a transgender attorney, apparently took a leaf from William Jack’s book. She phoned Masterpiece and inquired about getting a birthday cake with a blue exterior and a pink interior to “celebrate her transition from male to female.” Phillips turned down the order, stating he would not make a cake celebrating a gender transition for “any customer, no matter the customer’s protected characteristics.” His lawsuit alleges he “offered to create a different custom cake for Scardina or to sell her any of the pre-make items available,” but she declined that offer. Scardina filed a discrimination charge with the Division. Several weeks after the Supreme Court ruled on the first Masterpiece Cakeshop case, the Division issued a probable cause determination against Phillips for violating the public accommodations law by refusing Scardina’s cake order. While noting the religious reasons Phillips cited — his belief that a person’s sex is “an immutable God-given reality” — the Commission nonetheless concluded that “the refusal” was based on Scardina’s “transgender status.” On October 2, 2018, the Commission filed a formal complaint against Phillips based on the Division’s finding, and set the case for a hearing.
By then, Phillips had already filed a complaint in federal court, which the defendants promptly moved to dismiss. Phillips charges that the state is out to get him, characterizing its actions as “unconstitutional bullying.” Phillips claims that the state’s interpretation of the public accommodations law violates his First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion and freedom of speech. He also attacks the nondiscrimination law on several due process grounds, including the requirement that several members of the Commission be representatives from minority communities protected by it. He also asserted an equal protection claim, focused again on the differential treatment that the Commission accorded the bakers who had refused to make anti-marriage equality cakes for William Jack. In ruling on the motion to dismiss, Judge Daniel found that none of the doctrines developed to preempt federal lawsuits that interfere with state administrative proceedings apply in this case, and that Phillips had standing to bring this lawsuit, not only because of the case against him, but also because he wanted to post a policy statement on his website about why he would refuse to make a custom-cake but was inhibited from doing so because the public accommodations law states that businesses cannot publish discriminatory policies. Officials in both the Civil Rights Division and Commission are defendants in their official capacities in the suit, subject to injunctive action, but were dismissed in their individual capacities, since Daniel found they were acting as prosecutors and adjudicators with “absolute immunity for personal liability.” Governor John Hickenlooper was dismissed as a defendant entirely, since he played no direct role in enforcing the public accommodations law — and that relieved Jared Polis from becoming a defendant when he was sworn in as the nation’s first out gay governor four days later. The state attorney general, defending the Commission in court, remains a defendant. Phillips is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, the right-wing Christian litigation group that represented him in appealing the wedding cake decision to the Supreme Court. Not coincidentally, ADF also represents Harris Funeral Homes, seeking Supreme Court review of the Sixth Circuit’s decision that the business violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it fired a transgender funeral director, as well as anonymous plaintiffs who are asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Third Circuit’s decision rejecting a challenge to the Boyertown, Pennsylvania, school district’s transgender-affirmative facilities access policy. January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
New Congress Has Record High LGBTQ Roster An historic rainbow wave of 10 members cues a new era in US politics BY MATT TRACY
en LGBTQ members of Congress were sworn in on January 3, marking the largest class of out representatives and senators â€” and the most diverse overall â€” in American history. Eight of the elected LGBTQ politicians were ushered into the House of Representatives and two embarked on six-year terms in the Senate. All 10 are Democrats. The newcomers â€” at least in their current posts â€” include Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Congressmembers Angie Craig of Minnesota, Sharice Davids of Kansas, Katie Hill of California, and Chris Pappas of New Hampshire. Sinema had previously represented Arizona in the US House since 2012. Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin and Congressmembers Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, and Mark Takano of California are returning after winning reelection in November. This LGBTQ contingent is expected to lead the effort to prompt Congress to move on long-stalled legislation such as the Equality Act â€” a comprehensive civil rights measure first introduced in the current era in 2015, but based on an approach pioneered by two New York City House members, Ed Koch and Bella Abzug, in 1974. Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, said in a written statement that the new out representatives in this yearâ€™s Congress will â€œshape the debate on
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Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the first out bisexual senator, joins lesbian incumbent Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who won reelection in November.
equality legislation and issues moving forward.â€? Parkerâ€™s comments reflected the tougher terrain LGBTQ issues face in the Republican-led Senate compared to the newly Democratic House, where the Equality Act and other community initiatives enjoy strong support. â€œIn the US Senate, those opposed to the Equality Act will now need to look two openly LGBTQ senators in the eyes and tell them their lives are not worth protecting,â€? said Parker, who served as mayor of Houston from 2010-2016. â€œIn the US House, Speaker Pelosi will have eight LGBTQ representatives to consult about how various healthcare or criminal justice reform policies uniquely affect our community.â€? Baldwin is coming off her second Senate victory six years after she became the first out lesbian or gay US senator. A former member of the House of Representatives, she became the first out lesbian elected to Congress in 1998. Maloney, who represents the ! # & 4 & / .
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Hudson Valley north of the city, H won re-election to the House after w an unsuccessful bid to capture the a Democratic state attorney general D nomination this past September. n In 2012, he became the first openly gay ga member of Congress from New York. Yo Cicilline, who as the former mayor of Providence was the first out gay chief executive of a state capital, is entering his fifth term in the House of Representatives. Pocan continues to serve in the House of Representatives after succeeding Baldwin in 2012, when she left the House after winning her Senate seat. Takano, the first out gay member of Congress of Asian descent, easily cruised to re-election against Republican Aja Smith, by a 30-point margin. Takano ascended to the House of Representatives in 2012 after losing House campaigns in 1992 and 1994, when his sexuality was an issue. The crop of newcomers entering Congress represents a series of â€œfirsts.â€? Sinema became the first openly bisexual US senator after narrowly defeating Republican
challenger Martha McSally (though Arizona Governor Doug Ducey went on to appoint McSally to replace interim Senator Jon Kyl, who stepped in after John McCainâ€™s death in August). Sinema served in the House from 2013 until this past week. Craig defeated incumbent Congressmember Jason Lewis after losing to him in a close race in 2016. With her victory in 2018, she became the first out lesbian mother elected to Congress and the first LGBTQ member of Congress from Minnesota. Davids is the first out lesbian or gay member of Congress from Kansas and the first Native American person elected to Congress in US history. She toppled incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder in November. Hill, who is bisexual, knocked off another incumbent in Republican Steve Knight. At just 31 years of age, she is the youngest of the 10 LGBTQ members of Congress. Pappas rounded out the list of newcomers with his victory in New Hampshire. He made the jump from a state government position to become the first out gay member of Congress from New Hampshire.
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Fear and Self-Loathing BY ED SIKOV
rom the Moscow Times on January 11: “The Associated Press on Friday cited activist Igor Kochetkov as saying Chechnya has seen a spike in detentions of women and men suspected of being gay since December. His comments came on the back of an article by investigative outlet Novaya Gazeta — which first reported on a widespread crackdown on LGBT people in Chechnya in April 2017 — that gay women and men in the republic were once again facing persecution. The outlet said warnings were being posted on social media groups, citing one post which called on LGBT people to ‘flee the republic as soon as possible.’” The Moscow Times is the largest English-language newspaper in Russia, and they’re keeping up with this recently-renewed humanitarian crisis more quickly than any English-language newspaper in the United States. The New York Times got around to covering the story three days later. The AP story itself noted, ‘“Russian authorities kept denying that the killings and torture took place in the predominantly Muslim region where homosexuality is a taboo, even after one man came forward to talk about the time he spent in detention in Chechnya. Maxim Lapunov said he was detained by unidentified people on a street in the Chechen capital, Grozny, and kept in custody for two weeks, where he was repeatedly beaten. He was let go after he signed a statement acknowledging he was gay and was told he would be killed if he talked about his time in detention.” Maybe Rump could take up the matter on his next playdate with Vlad. “‘Hannity is a buffoon,’ Ben Holden said, perhaps a bit too loudly.” This is the marvelous opening line of a New York Times Magazine story by Benoit Denizet-Lewis on what passes for the gay right wing. “Holden was drinking disappointing sangria with a friend at the bar of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where he had come last February more out of curiosity than reverence for the president. He was in town for his first Conservative Political Action Confer-
ence (CPAC), an event that he took seriously enough to dress up for (dark suit, American-flag tie) but that he was also interested in for its anthropological weirdness. A 23-year-old student at Suffolk University in Boston who is gay and ‘leans conservative,’ Holden planned to take copious notes and write a gonzo-style journalistic piece about a political gathering known as much for its raucous parties as its provocative speakers.” The article didn’t exactly leave me quaking in fear. “Holden wasn’t the only young LGBT person in the Trump lobby that night. A few feet away, several conservative gay and bisexual journalists and activists reclined on couches. Among them was Charlie Nash, a tweed-wearing 21-year-old British reporter for Breitbart who described himself to me as a pagan, an absurdist, and a right-wing environmentalist.” Well, he certainly sounds absurd. “Next to Nash was Lucian Wintrich, the 30-year-old former White House correspondent for The Gateway Pundit, a conspiracy-peddling far-right website founded by another gay man, Jim Hoft, to ‘expose the wickedness of the left.’ Wintrich is perhaps best known for his Twinks4Trump photo series, in which he photographed lithe young men wearing Make America Great Again baseball caps.” Don’t get too excited, fellas. The photo series, titled “Make America Hairless Again,” features boys who are not lithe as much as they are emaciated, with poor posture and no testosterone. After a bizarre interlude in which a closeted fat man tries in vain to get Holden’s phone number and wins an arm wrestling match with Holden’s friend, Denizet-Lewis ramps up the, um, contradictions inherent to the gay right wing: “When not mocking gay conservatives, comedians — as well as many in the LGBT community — have delighted in the sex scandals of closeted gay Republican lawmakers across the country, who often voted against gay rights even as they solicited gay sex in restrooms, hired male escorts, or hooked up with men in their congressional offices. But gay Republicans have also long been seen by many in the LGBT community as no laughing matter…. The writer and sex-advice columnist Dan Savage,
who has publicly called gay Republicans ‘house faggots,’ told me that ‘the GOP continues to be an anti-queer political movement, and these useful idiots continue to let themselves be used by the party to inoculate itself against charges of homophobia and transphobia.’” I disagree with Savage on this point; most right wingers couldn’t care less about being called homophobic or transphobic — particularly transphobic. And I also take issue with the terminology; they aren’t afraid of us. They hate us. Denizet-Lewis continues: “Though LGBT activists have never had particularly nice things to say about gay Republicans, the rhetoric has been dialed up in the Trump era. Kevin Sessums, a magazine writer and author who prolifically rails against Trump and Republicans on his popular Facebook page, has called gay Trump supporters ‘Vichy gays’ for what he describes as their ‘collaboration with a fascist and deeply homophobic regime.’ Recently, when a gay and formerly liberal power couple from New York were profiled in The Times as Trump supporters, the reaction was fierce. ‘These people are vile, despicable gay men,’ the writer and gay activist Michelangelo Signorile wrote on Twitter.” It would have been sporting of Denizet-Lewis to point out that the pair only began to support Rump on election night itself, when it became clear that he’d won. And Signorile’s appraisal of them clearly doesn’t go far enough, though to be fair, the article he wrote on this “vile, despicable” duo paints a much more damning portrait than the two adjectives DenizetLewis pulls from a Twitter post. Andrew Sullivan makes his inevitable appearance. “‘Because they know that during this period of the Great Awokening [ho ho, how witty], opposing Trump is not enough to satisfy the far left,’ said Sullivan, who still considers himself center-right politically even though he has supported Democratic presidential candidates since 2000. ‘Anything less than completely accepting the far left’s worldview will get you attacked as racist, or misogynistic, or ableist, or whatever slur the mob settles on.’” Before we tire ourselves trying to figure out who this phantom “farleft… mob” might actually consist of, let’s pause to remember one of Sul-
➤ SELF-LOATHING, continued on p.13 January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
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A Congressional Breath of Fresh from Detroit BY ALLEN ROSKOFF
udos to newly elected Detroit Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for telling it like it is. Tlaib’s now famous “We’re gonna impeach the motherfucker!” induced Michael Moore to proclaim her a “breath of fresh air.” For the first time in American history we have elected a Muslim woman to Congress. In fact, we have two in the wake of the November election. What Tlaib said is simply what each and every one of us is thinking every day. Some members of Congress said they disapprove of her language. Perhaps they should stay home and listen to Mozart. Some of the people criticizing Tlaib also say we can’t have an intelligent discussion about impeachment until the Mueller report is concluded — a viewpoint that is as ridiculous as it is condescending. Sixty-six members of Congress voted to allow a vote for impeachment to move forward, including New York City’s Adriano Espaillat, Yvette Clark, Hakeem Jeffries, José Serrano, Eliot Engel, and Nydia Velázquez, as well as such progressive Congressional icons as Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Maxine Waters, Keith Ellison, and Al Green. These members of Congress had intelligent discussions and came to an intelligent conclusion. As a Michigan state senator, Tlaib worked aggressively in support of LGBTQ rights and, notably, reported no backlash from the Muslim community for her stance as a legislative ally. Former Bronx State Senator Jeff Klein, the erstwhile leader of the Independent Democratic Conference who was voted out of office last year, received a consolation prize recently by being hired by the Mercury Public Affairs, a firm with known Republican ties. As many will always remember, Klein and his cohorts sabotaged our chances of passing pro-gay and other progressive legislation. It’s no surprise he has now been made a partner in a firm founded by ex-Republican Governor George Pataki staffers. Another Bronx Democrat working for Mercury is former Borough President Fernando Ferrer. In 2001, when progressive Democrat and long time gay rights supporter Mark Green was running for mayor, Ferrer closed down the Bronx
➤ SELF-LOATHING, from p.12 livan’s most shining moments: in the 1980s, he wrote a sickening article for the New Republic about the then-current proliferation of apparently gay male imagery in underwear ads. He cleverly called it “The Ads Crisis.” The Ads Crisis! Isn’t that funny? The Ads Crisis! Many of us died laffin’. GayCityNews.nyc | January 17 - January 30, 2019
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Congressmember Rashida Tlaib, a Detroit Democrat, lit up the Internet with her frank words about Donald Trump.
County machine on Election Day — handing billionaire Republican Michael Bloomberg the mayoralty. Ferrer and Bloomberg celebrated over breakfast the following morning. As a result, Ferrer helped elect a mayor who appealed a State Supreme Court decision in favor of gay marriage. Klein, Ferrer, and the Pataki Republicans deserve one another. It’s better than having them in public office claiming support from our community only to sell us down the river. While on the subject of Bronx sleazeballs, Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz is facing a lawsuit alleging that one of his staffers blocked lowincome children of color from attending a Bronx public school in his district. Dinowitz said in a deposition he couldn’t remember ever hiring a black person while being an assemblymember. Will this kind of racist behavior stop the Bronx Boss Tweed crew from supporting Dinowitz in the future? Don’t bet on it. The presidential race is already taking off with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren being the first officially announce an exploratory committee, one step before an official announcement. Warren deserves and will garner significant LGBTQ support. Other candidates also see themselves as worthy of our support. I have yet to speak to anyone who supports Kirsten Gillibrand. A former conservative member of the House, Gillibrand has developed a cadre of wealthy gays who will carry her water.
“Considering how much criticism LGBT conservatives face from outside their ranks,” Denizet-Lewis continues, “I was surprised by how often I heard them disparage one another. The assimilationistminded Log Cabin Republicans, the Trump critics like Sullivan, the deliberately trollish Yiannopoulos acolytes, and the conservativeleaning college students coming of
Other than at gay fundraisers thrown for her by these wallet-stuffed Wall Street tycoons, who love access to power and the ability to land jobs for friends, she has rarely made herself available to our community. Grassroots gays are looking elsewhere — as they should be. Most of the people I know will not forgive Gillibrand for destroying the career and reputation of former Senator Al Franken. Franken may be guilty of being an asshole and of inappropriate behavior years ago, prior to being a forceful and effective member of Congress. But he was an effective fighter for women and the LGBTQ community, as well as a credible voice in the efforts to bring down Trump. Is society better off with Franken out of the Senate? Are women better off? Is our community? Of course not. Gillibrand savaged a dedicated public servant — all while Trump remains in the White House. People also see how she allowed the Clintons to campaign for her and support her earliest runs for office only to recently declare that Bill Clinton should have resigned from office over the Monica Lewinsky affair. With Gillibrand willing to change her mind in such drastic fashion, would you trust her with your wallet? Since 2010, I have been visiting the women’s Bedford Correctional Facility in the hopes of achieving clemency for inmates who have paid their debt to society. Governor Andrew Cuomo has the ability to grant clemency to anyone convicted of a crime. We had numerous meetings with the governor’s chief counsel, Alfonso David, the highest ranking out gay person and black man in Cuomo’s office. In 2015, Candles for Clemency had a meeting with David, along with formerly incarcerated people and family members of those currently in prison. David made a commitment the governor would issue clemencies on a quarterly basis. That never happened. Last month, the governor granted clemency to 29 people — only three currently serving time, all men. Most received pardons for drug-related and other minor crimes. Is that because Cuomo doesn’t consider compassionate clemency for elderly inmates a “progressive” cause? If so, David should do what former Defense Secretary James Mattis did when Trump ignored his advice: resign.
age in an era of greater social acceptance have seemingly little in common besides their sexual orientation — and their oft-stated distaste for identity politics. I routinely heard conservative gays criticize other conservative gays as ineffective, boring or empty vessels.” Okay, so they’re not entirely selfhating. No, they reserve at least some of their contempt for each
other. A charming bunch, aren’t they? Randy Rainbow does it again! For the latest in Mr. Rainbow’s series of song parodies, check out “There Is Nothin’ Like a Wall” on YouTube. Follow @Ed Sikov on Facebook and Twitter.
Pride Parade Will Repeat Last Year’s Route Heritage of Pride sticks with map that drew community, general public ﬂak BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
he organization that produces New York City’s annual Pride Parade and related events is seeking a city permit for the parade that uses the controversial route that was fi rst used in 2018 to reduce the parade’s running time, but failed to do that. “We are keeping the 2018 grandstand space,” said Zoe Gorringe, Heritage of Pride’s march coordinator, during a January 15 meeting of the HOP committee that organizes and executes the parade. “Right now we’re planning based on the 2018 route.” Last year’s march was staged in Chelsea with contingents gathering on the blocks from 15th Street to 19th Street and between Seventh and Ninth Avenues. Expecting a larger march this year for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, HOP is asking to add an additional three blocks in Chelsea heading north so the staging areas will be from 15th Street to 22nd Street if the group gets its permit, which is likely. The march route heads south on Seventh Avenue, with the grandstand in the small park at 12th Street, turns left on Christopher Street and past the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots that mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, then continues east on Eighth Street and then north on Fifth Avenue to end at 29th Street. The march, which occurs on the last Sunday in June and commemorates the Stonewall riots, was controversial last year because it was seen as largely unconnected from the community’s history except for going by the Stonewall Inn. Other than the 1994 march, which marked the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the march has typically begun or ended in the West Village, which was the center of LGBTQ life in New York City for decades. Both Chelsea residents and
Marchers in last year’s parade protesting the requirement for wristbands, which has been eliminated for 2019.
some LGBTQ community members were angered because HOP announced the new march route in spring 2018 after holding internal conversations and discussions about the route with city agencies for more than a year. The purpose of the new route was to reduce the march’s duration, which it did not do. The march begins at noon and the 2018 parade ended at 9:14 p.m., which was just 24 minutes shorter than the 2017 march. The parades in 2016 and 2015 were both over eight hours long. HOP fi led for its march permit in July 2018 and it has not yet received it. Like last year, it has also not discussed the expanded staging area with Chelsea residents, Community Board 4, which includes Chelsea, elected officials, or the wider LGBTQ community. “We understand the importance of this year’s march,” said Paul Groncki, the chair of the 100 West 16th St. Block Association. “We can’t believe that after last year’s test failed as far as the [LGBTQ] community is concerned that they’re going to try and do a bigger march with almost the same footprint, and I can’t believe that they haven’t come to the community to talk about this
Reclaim Pride Coalition member Ann Northrop with civil rights attorney Norman SIegel after meeting last year with parks department officials to apply for a permit for a Central Park rally to be held in conjunction with an alternative march this coming June.
yet again… It is incomprehensible to me that they can’t show us the same respect that they demand we show them.” The LGBTQ activists who were the most vocal opponents of the 2018 route and HOP’s engagement with the broader commu-
nity are seeking a permit for their own march on Sixth Avenue from the West Village to Central Park, where they will hold a rally on the Great Lawn. Activists met with the city parks department on December 13. That group, organized as the Reclaim Pride Coalition, sees itself as the authentic voice of the Stonewall riots, and their march and rally plans match what was done in 1970, the fi rst commemoration of the riots. Ann Northrop, a coalition member, declined to comment on HOP’s plans as the coalition has already gone its own way. Some LGBTQ community activists have been battling with HOP for several years over allowing a contingent of Gays Against Guns into the 2016 march to respond to the killings of 49 people in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub just weeks before and resistance contingents in the 2017 and 2018 marches to respond to Donald Trump winning the White House. Activists have also sought a reduced police and corporate presence in the parade. While the parade sponsors, which are typically large corporations, are a dominant presence with large floats and contingents, the great majority of contingents are small groups and non-profits. The complaints about the corporate presence are longstanding. To date in 2019, more than 285 groups have registered and 90 percent are non-profits, Gorringe said at the meeting, which was held at the LGBT Community Center. Four percent are universities, one percent are small businesses, and five percent are sponsors and corporations. Last year, activists objected to marchers being required to wear wristbands. That requirement has been dropped, which drew loud applause from the roughly 50 HOP volunteers and members at the meeting. Contingents are limited to 400 people, but that is a guideline, not a rule. “It’s not a hard and fast limit,” Gorringe said. “We’re not setting real hard lines in the sand.”
January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
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January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
Brazil’s New Prez Keeps His Anti-LGBTQ Promises Jair Bolsonaro wasting no time scaling back rights for marginalized communities BY MATT TRACY
ate can’t wait. President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil immediately launched his much-anticipated attacks against the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups with a series of executive orders during his first day in office. Within hours of becoming president on January 1, Bolsonaro, a self-declared homophobe, removed LGBTQ issues from consideration under the Ministry of Women, Family, and Human Rights, which is a unit within the president’s executive office that was formerly known as the Ministry of Human Rights. The new leader of that office, Damares Alves, signaled her plans to embrace Bolsonaro’s reactionary posture when she said during her swearing-in ceremony that “girls will be princesses and boys will be princes” while blasting the “ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers.” Bolsonaro also targeted Brazil’s
Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, moved quickly to keep faith with his promise to go after the LGBTQ and other marginalized communities.
native population by signing an executive order that makes it difficult for new land to be allocated for indigenous communities and descendants of slaves. While the Justice Ministry was previously responsible for allocating land to indigenous people, Bolsonaro shifted that power to the Agriculture Ministry amid outcry from agricultural business leaders protective of their economic interests, according to the Associated Press. Bolsonaro took to Twitter on Wednesday to justify the move in
a statement that downplayed the presence of indigenous people. “Less than one million people live in those places isolated from the real Brazil,” he tweeted on January 2. “They are exploited and manipulated by nonprofits. Together we will integrate those citizens and give value to all Brazilians.” Additionally, Luiz Henrique Mandetta of the Health Ministry indicated this week that healthcare funds for the indigenous population could be slashed. OutRight Action International, a global organization that addresses human rights for LGBTQ and intersex people, could not be reached for comment on the impact of Bolsonaro’s executive orders. Bolsonaro’s actions followed a presidential campaign during which he unleashed hateful rhetoric about indigenous people, minorities, LGBTQ people, and women en route to capturing the support of nearly 58 million voters. Among his campaign pledges included a commitment to promote “the true meaning of marriage as
a union between men and women,” sparking wide concern among the LGBTQ population about the fragility of marriage equality there. According to The New York Times, a number of same-sex couples have been rushing to the altar to tie the knot before Bolsonaro makes good on his pledge, although legal experts have predicted that Brazil’s Supreme Court would quickly strike down any legislation reversing marriage equality. Bolsonaro has fostered warm relations with President Donald Trump’s administration. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on January 2 that he had a “great” meeting with Bolsonaro and that he looks forward to reinforcing a “shared commitment” to “human rights.” In light of Bolsonaro’s executive actions and Trump’s documented hostility toward LGBTQ people, immigrants, women, and communities of color, it was not immediately clear which human rights “commitments” the two administrations shared.
Pakistan’s Trans Community Demands Protections Nondiscrimination measure passed last year has yet to be implemented into law BY MATT TRACY
akistan’s transgender community is calling on that nation’s government to implement a sweeping gender identity nondiscrimination bill that passed the National Assembly last May. Activists marched through the streets of Lahore, the nation’s second largest city, on December 30 and held a press conference to amplify their message in an effort to push the government to implement the Transgender Persons Act of 2018, according to the Express Tribune, a Pakistan-based newspaper. In a video posted on Periscope,
GayCityNews.nyc | January 17 - January 30, 2019
those who marched in the Pride Parade were seen holding signs that read “Trans Pride,” “I’m trans and against bullying,” “we are proud, we are transgender,” and “we are as normal as anyone else.” The transgender measure, hailed as a major step forward, offers a wide range of discrimination protections in education, employment, healthcare, and public accommodations and services. Public transportation rights are also protected, along with the right to rent or buy property and hold public office. The bill recognizes “his or her self-perceived gender identity” for identification purposes ranging from driver’s licenses to passports,
and requires the government to take specific steps to protect trans people by offering safe houses when necessary, providing separate living areas for prisoners, and more. Neeli Rana, a local leader, said the transgender community is thankful that the government passed the bill, but indicated that the issues facing transgender people are too urgent to wait any longer. “Transgender persons do not beg willingly,” she said. “It is also our right to protest and take to the streets. Now it is the government’s responsibility to implement this bill because in the past, women bill was passed but it has never been practically implemented.”
But the bill has led to a mixed reaction from the wider population in Pakistan, which is still heavily influenced by religion. According to the Tribune Express, at least one lawmaker opposed the bill after citing “un-Islamic clauses,” but other legislators were convinced that the bill was compatible with Islam and the nation’s constitution. Implementation of the measure would signal a major advance for transgender people, but basic civil rights are still lacking for the gay and lesbian community. Laws rooted in British colonial rule prohibit same-sex sexual activity, which is punishable by up to life in prison, according to the US State Department.
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January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
âž¤ VICTORY, from p.3 ins, the African-American majority leader from Yonkers, said passing GENDA on January 15 was â€œa great tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on his birthday.â€? On the Assembly side, Manhattanâ€™s Richard Gottfried, who has carried GENDA from the start, said, â€œThe Assembly has passed the bill 11 times, but the Senateâ€™s Republican majority refused to let the bill have a floor vote. Today, the new Democratic majority has joined us in protecting the rights of New Yorkers regardless of gender identity or expression. I look forward to Governor Cuomo signing GENDA into law.â€? The measure banning conversion therapy on minors caps a six-year effort that first bore fruit in the Assembly in 2014. In recent decades, all leading mental health professional organizations have reached the conclusion that conversion therapy â€” once dubbed reparative therapy â€” is not only ineffective in altering sexual orientation, but in fact can do significant psychological damage to
individuals subjected to it. California and New Jersey were the first states to ban the practice in 2012 and 2013. â€œConversion therapy is child abuse â€” plain and simpleâ€? Hoylman has said. â€œBeing gay is not an illness, andâ€Ś this debunked and harmful practice amounts to nothing less than consumer fraud.â€? Mathew Shurka, who was put into conversion therapy after coming out to his parents at age 16, has worked to end the practice through the Born Perfect campaign of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. â€œIâ€™ve worked alongside Senator Brad Hoylman since 2013 on this bill,â€? said Shurka, who estimates that 350,000 of the 700,000 Americans who have experienced conversion therapy were minors at the time. â€œHaving gone through conversion therapy for five years of my life, Iâ€™m thankful I did not choose to commit suicide, and in contrast I am here to witness our State Legislature vote into law this urgent bill. There is more work for us to be done, as we know conversion therapists work throughout
the state.â€? The conversion therapy ban was approved in the Senate by a 57-4 vote. Again Felder was the only no vote from among Democrats. The measure passed the Assembly in an overwhelming vote. Manhattanâ€™s Deborah Glick, the measureâ€™s Assembly sponsor and the Legislatureâ€™s only out lesbian, referred to conversion therapy as â€œcoercive and harmful,â€? adding, â€œOne canâ€™t â€˜changeâ€™ their sexual orientation. Being oneself â€” knowing who you are â€” should not be attacked by charlatans masquerading as mental health professionals. Our children must be protected from this discriminatory and damaging practice that pretends to be a legitimate mental health treatment.â€? Rod Townsend, president of the Stonewall Democrats of New York City, noted how this weekâ€™s votes signal the Senateâ€™s new progressive priorities. â€œAdvocates on these issues have been banging the drum for decades, and now we have a Senate majority that hears the rhythm,â€? he said. â€œGENDA and the conver-
sion therapy ban are hopefully the first of a decadeâ€™s worth of backlogged legislation that will form a steady drumbeat toward equality in the coming months as we approach the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.â€? Scott Klein, president of Brooklynâ€™s Lambda Independent Democrats, said, â€œLID and LGBTQ people across Brooklyn, New York City, and the state showed up in force to elect Democratic senators because we needed these critical protections to finally become law. Iâ€™m thrilled to see the entire Democratic Senate caucus back GENDA; they have heard our voices and responded, remarkably, within one week of taking office.â€? New York joins 20 other states and the District of Columbia in banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Bans on conversion therapy practiced on minors are in place in 14 other states as well as DC. Federal law provides no protections against sexual orientation or gender identity and expression discrimination and does not address conversion therapy.
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The Power and Perils of Representation Godard’s ambiguous study of image, often stripped of context BY STEVE ERICKSON ean-Luc Godard’s “The Image Book” is a demonstration of thinking through and about images and sounds that makes most other films now playing New York look awfully basic. A much condensed follow-up to Godard’s fourhour “Histoire(s) du Cinéma,” it shows the uselessness of labels like “documentary,” “avant-garde film,” and “essay-film” or even “post-cinema,” when faced with something that spans all four. Taken largely from clips of other films (including many of Godard’s own), “The Image Book” has a fivepart structure. Two of its five parts are upfront about their subject matter while the rest is more allusive: “Those Flowers Between the Rails, In the Confused Winds of Travels” concentrates on cinema’s
NICO CHAPIN/ COURTESY OF KINO LORBER
Godard critiques while also demonstrating the dizzying media landscape where images and representations are often presented absent their contextual meaning,
depiction of trains, while the closing “La Région Centrale,” which takes up more than a third of the film, tries to address the ways in which American and Europeans have stereotyped and demonized Arabs, mostly but not entirely
through movies, and how Arabs themselves have depicted each other. One of Godard’s most influential trademark aphorisms is “the best way to criticize a film is making one.” He began speaking about
the death of cinema in the ‘80s; some of his films of that decade, like “Passion” and “Rise and Fall of a Small Cinema Company,” are obsessed with that subject. And while “The Image Book” itself (and the fact that Americans are getting a chance to see it in theaters) shows that movies haven’t died, it’s a terminal reckoning with cinema that places old favorites like Nicholas Ray’s “Johnny Guitar” and Robert Aldrich’s “Kiss Me Deadly” in a montage next to news footage from Al Jazeera and Michael Bay clips. Godard deliberately chose visually degraded excerpts of the movies he uses. While he could’ve gotten much higher-quality copies, most look like fourth-generation VHS dubs. Further, he alters them with bleaching or color saturation to change the images even further.
➤ IMAGE, continued on p.23
Love and Death Italian Style Stars shined bright on Met’ss New Year’s Eve “Adriana Lecouvreur” BY ELI JACOBSON rancesco Cilea’s “Adriana Lecouvreur” (1902) has always been an opera that critics love to hate while singers, especially veteran divas, covet the musical and dramatic opportunities offered by the juicy leading roles. Like Puccini’s “Tosca”, Cilea’s opera allows a diva to play a diva. Here, the opera portrays the semi-historical life and death of an 18th century French tragic actress, Adrienne Lecouvreur, entangled in a doomed love triangle with a royal lover and deadly aristocratic rival. The opera is based on Scribe and Legouvé’s 1849 French boulevard melodrama “Adrienne Lecouvreur” fashioned as a vehicle for famed classical tragedienne Rachel Félix of the Comédie-Française. It offered Félix the opportunity to perform her favorite classical monologues by Corneille and Racine while essaying contemporary romantic melodrama. The confusing and highly artificial plot typifies the well-made play formula of Scribe — we have intercepted letters, disguises and mistaken
KEN HOWARD/ METROPOLITAN OPERA
Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczala, and Anita Rachvelishvili in Francesco Cilea’s “Adriana Lecouvreur.”
identity, dropped bracelets, secret passageways, double deceptions, and Adriana’s nosegay of violets that change hands twice and are returned to her as a poisoned instrument of death. All these contrivances are preserved in the opera’s libretto by Arturo Colautti. However, Cilea’s vibrantly lyrical music keeps our attention on the passionate romantic quadrangle among Adriana, Maurizio the Prince of Saxony, the wicked
Principessa di Bouillon, and the faithful stage manager Michonnet. Plot complications fall by the wayside as one good tune follows another. This New Year’s Eve, the Metropolitan Opera unveiled a new production of “Adriana” for its current reigning superstar diva, Anna Netrebko, surrounding her with the best cast money can buy. The right ingredients were assembled and the evening proved a feast of big beautiful voices, sizzling verismo passion served with sophisticated theatrical presentation, and lots of star charisma. Even the most snobbish musical curmudgeon had to concede this is a damn good show, if not exactly a profound musical masterpiece. There is room for musical entertainments in opera alongside musical genius. Over the last decade, Netrebko’s voice has gained in spinto resonance and weight in the middle register but has retained a lyrical radiance in the upper register from her youthful days as a lyric and coloratura soprano. Cilea provided an accommodatingly central tessit-
➤ ITALIAN STYLE, continued on p.23 January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
➤ IMAGE, from p.22 But the most innovative aspect of “The Image Book” is its sound. Godard delivers a voice-over for much of it, sometimes with other voices overdubbed simultaneously, jostling with each other at lesser volume. The voices pan from speaker to speaker. Sometimes, Godard speaks at a low but clearly audible level, suddenly making one realize how lazy the convention of loud documentary voice-overs is. The sound design evokes everything from dub reggae to ASMR videos. “The Image Book” is genuinely provocative at its most ambiguous. A ghostly reflection of the cattle cars that brought Holocaust victims to concentration camps is present in the film’s many images of trains, but this feels like a distant rhyme. Godard has used both on-screen text and literary quotations since the ‘60s — his 1990 film “Nouvelle Vague” was based on a script whose every line is a quote from a novel — but even after two
➤ ITALIAN STYLE, from p.22 ura for Adriana’s music, making it congenial for an aging soprano with a receding upper register — something Netrebko doesn’t have to worry about yet as her Aida last fall demonstrated. Adriana’s music does require a wide range of colors, subtle nuances, contrast in dynamics, and expressive Italian declamation within that limited vocal range. Adriana’s entrance aria “Io son l’umile ancella” began unpromisingly — Netrebko’s middle range sounded thick, chesty, and bottled up, and her diction was fuzzy with swallowed consonants. The floated high phrases were disconnected from the core of her voice. Her phrasing sounded disjointed with the varied sections of the aria lacking rhythmic flow. But in the ensuing duets with Michonnet and Maurizio, her voice began to cohere and reveal its many colors. In Act II’s jealousy duet, Netrebko matched Anita Rachvelishvili’s Principessa de Bouillon in firepower and temperament. Her Phèdre monologue in Act III was searing. I found Netrebko best in duets when she had another singer to work off GayCityNews.nyc | January 17 - January 30, 2019
viewings, I don’t know exactly what the title “The Image Book” means. I do suspect that Godard distrusts the way images have supplanted words while recognizing the extent to which his own work has contributed to this and his own aesthetic, including here, plays it out. Still, “La Région Centrale” engages in a very explicit political critique. On the soundtrack, Godard says “There is no doubt that the act of representation almost always involves violence toward the subject of representation.” Here, that means Arabs. He temporarily passes over the voice-over to the late Algerian scholar Noureddine Aba, and later tells a fictional narrative taken from a novel by French-Egyptian writer Albert Cossery, set in the imaginary emirate of Dofa. But when the politics of “The Image Book” get more specific, the fact that it’s built from brief quotes from unidentified sources (the credits do list all of them, which is rare for Godard, but they flash by very quickly) means that it muddles the issue of repre-
sentation that it brings up. Images of real and fictional violence, made by Americans, Europeans, and Middle Easterners, get jumbled together. Further, as well-intentioned as Godard is, he speaks about and depicts Arabs as if they only live in the Middle East: unless I missed something (which is quite possible), there are no images of Arabs in Europe here. Additionally, I only know about the references to Aba and Cossery through reading a review by critic Michael Sicinski. While watching “The Image Book” the first time, I had no idea where the Dofa narrative came from and thought Godard was probably quoting Arab-American scholar Edward Said for most of this section. Of course, Godard obviously wants an active spectator who’d research this film’s references after seeing it, but one would benefit from understanding them while watching “The Image Book” when it’s aiming for something beyond an elliptical montage of old movies.
Even in its flaws, “The Image Book” cuts deeply to what it feels like to live in 2019. At its weakest, it suffers from a soundbite sensibility. While I recognized most of its film clips, trying to make connections between them reproduces the feeling of seeing tweets that allude vaguely or sarcastically to an op-ed or news event and feeling lost in a world where context has vanished. Godard saw this media landscape and the dizzying mental state it inspires coming long before most filmmakers — or just most people — did. Like most major art, “The Image Book” is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s also deeply mysterious: anyone who claims mastery over it after one viewing is lying.
of. Her phrasing of the Act IV aria “Poveri Fiori” lacked grace and continuity. But I was moved to tears when she joined forces with tenor Piotr Beczala in the duet “No la mia fronte” later in that act. Netrebko and Beczala blended their voices and souls, listening to each other and shaping the music with sensitivity and insight. The two conveyed the need for forgiveness overcoming heartbreak. Gianandrea Noseda and a flawless Metropolitan Orchestra provided sensitive, heartfelt accompaniment from the pit. In that moment, Cilea’s opera sounded like profound music drama. Netrebko had many small moments of dramatic insight. What Netrebko has, overshadowing any flaws, is glamor and charisma of voice and personality — and in a star turn role like this that makes all the difference. But she was not the only star turn on that stage. Beczala’s lyric tenor also has gained some dark color in the middle register. His bright upper register rang out freely evoking the impulsive romantic ardor and careless bravado of Maurizio. Beczala cut a romantic figure onstage — a must for a man who has two
women fighting over him. As the jealous man-eating Principessa, Rachvelishvili reincarnated the fire-breathing, powerhouse mezzo diva of the golden age of Italian opera. The Georgian mezzo exulted in her vocal power and booming chest tones but was never vulgar or unmusical — acute dramatic and musical intelligence underpinned her every note and movement. I was most moved by the suppressed anguish of Ambrogio Maestri’s aging Michonnet, who realizes that his love for Adriana is impossible but refuses to impose his suffering on her, remaining a loyal friend. Maestri is another powerhouse singer but sang with restraint, emphasizing expression and text. Along with Maurizio Muraro as the Principe di Bouillon and Carlo Bosi as the meddling, unctuous Abbé di Chazeuil, Maestri made the busy dialogue bits sparkle with idiomatic Italian diction. Noseda conducted Cilea’s music with respect and serious attention to detail. He brought depth to the score’s purple passion movie music sections. A lighter touch was needed in those prancing stringdominated sections where Cilea attempts a pastiche of 18th century
baroque style with jejune results. David McVicar’s production originated at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2010 and has traveled widely since. McVicar adds a meta-theatrical framework, setting every scene either in a theater or on a set evoking a proscenium stage. The concept is that all these characters are playing roles, if not on the stage of the Comédie Française, then as actors on the stages of court life. The historically accurate sets designed by Charles Edwards are lavish and faithful in period detail as are Brigitte Reiffenstuel’s costumes. I liked the revolving theater set in Act I. But setting Adriana’s Act IV boudoir in front of the same huge theater set made it look like Adriana was reduced to living in the orchestra pit of the Comédie Française. It ruined the intimacy of the final scene. Otherwise, McVicar’s blocking of the soloists and chorus was deft. Andrew George’s Act III “Judgment of Paris” ballet was a witty baroque homage. The whole evening was characterized by precise yet loving attention to detail and respect for this (much maligned) opera. The stars were aligned properly — and this opera needs stars.
THE IMAGE BOOK | Directed by Jean-Luc Godard | In English and French, Arabic, and Italian with English subtitles | Kino Lorber | Opens Jan. 25 | IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St., ifccenter. com; Film Society of Lincoln Center, 144-165 W. 65th St., filmlinc.org
The Respite of Documentaries Some bravely honest cops and an an unabashed Quincy Jones BY DAVID NOH s American films dumb down ever more, with mindless action and endless Marvel comic book heroes swamping the screen, anyone with intelligence needs to gratefully look at documentaries for substance, i.e., real stories about real people. One of the most important films of the year — a must-see for everyone — is “Crime + Punishment”, currently available on Hulu, directed, shot, and edited by Korean-American Stephen Maing. He focuses on the NYPD 12, a group of incredibly brave cops who spoke up about the pernicious and racist quota system of arrests, now supposedly illegal, which, however, is still being covertly enforced. The department’s demands for a certain number of collars each month — with minority neighborhoods being targeted — has led to false arrests, police brutality, and even death, as in the case of choking victim Eric Garner. The doc’s central figure, Manny Gomez, who left the force over his disagreement with this policy, made it his mission to try and end it, incurring the wrath of seemingly the entire NYPD. He did break through to a few who’d shared his negative experience, like Edwin Raymond, a young cop and true individualist, who told me that his waist-length dreads alone had been written up four times. His superior officer confided in him that the fact that he was young, black, and outspoken resulted, early on, in a private departmental directive to “Fuck him up.” Maing’s thoughtful, powerful direction of this factual “Serpico” follow-up keeps you riveted throughout, as your anger mounts, seeing retired Police Commissioner William “Broken Windows” Bratton smugly turning his back on the problem over his two terms of service — with many other white, middle-aged cops in power following suit. Your heart particularly aches for two women involved here — single, pregnant cop Feli-
25 false arrests he’d already endured. This resulted in his yearlong incarceration at Rikers, as Gomez goes on a gripping quest to prove his innocence. His eventual release is triumphantly celebrated here, and it’s a testament to the young man that he refused all plea bargains, steadfastly maintaining his innocence, and emerged from the stir not hopelessly embittered but determined to get a college education. The fact that “Serpico” was made nearly 50 years ago and, of course, did not end cop corruption, is truly sobering, but when I met Gomez at a recent reception honoring the film, he told me that he personally receives a lot of support from police — as well as civilians — these days, adding, “But the fight goes on.”
Edwin Raymond in Stephen Maing’s “Crime + Punishment.”
Quincy Jones as seen in Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks’ “Quincy.”
cia Whitely, who, along with every hardship imaginable in her personal life, faces the additional pressures of being one of the 12, and her fellow single mom, Jessica
Perez. Her son, Pedro Hernandez, was arrested for a shooting he had nothing to do with apart from being unfortunately present at the incident, this being but one of the
I was only halfway through watching Netflix’s “Quincy” (which like “Crime + Punishment” has been short-listed for an Oscar nomination), when I realized that its subject, Quincy Jones, is truly a one-man total history of American music of the last century. It is one of the best, most incisive, and revealing music movies ever made. Incredible access was granted to its director, which is maybe not such a big surprise as she happens to be the daughter of its subject, Rashida (co-directing with Alan Hicks). Typically when a family member is at the helm of such an enterprise, the result, especially when its focus happens to be living, can be less than totally objective, even a total whitewash. That is anything but the case here, for the portrait — running two hours and change, and still too short in my book — is amazingly warts and all. Camera at the ready, daughter tracked her indefatigable 85-yearold Dad, who still maintains a punishing schedule: in the studio, performing all around the world, and even organizing, at President Barack Obama’s request, the Smithsonian’s National Museum
➤ QUINCY, continued on p.25
January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
➤ QUINCY, from p.24 of African-American History and Culture. He is first shown, out on the town, receiving the breathless accolades and endearments of a host of adoring A-listers from Gaga to Beyoncé to Willie Nelson, then climbing into a limo and telling Rashida, “I could party all day!” The screen next turns black, and it is subsequently revealed that he collapsed into a diabetic coma he was never supposed to recover from. But recover he does, lying inertly in a hospital bed, but sparking to life when a doctor tests him by asking who the president is. “Sarah Palin,” he replies, and this natural wit is only a part of what makes him such a monumentally compelling topic. Jones grew up hard on the South Side of Chicago, attacked by knives (one straight through his hand, which has a still extant scar) before he was 10, and, at seven, watching his mentally unstable mother being thrown into a straight-jacket and hauled away. A chance encounter with a piano he came across in a deserted basement had him childishly noodling away on it — and next sending this fireball into motion. After an apprenticeship as a gifted young trumpeter alongside giants he still reveres — including Duke Ellington and Count Basie — Jones became a conductor on his own and an arranger, working with Sinatra on “Fly Me to the Moon,” which both were honored to hear played on the lunar surface during that historic initial landing in 1969. He also became the first black Hollywood movie composer, in an ignorant age that had producers wondering if someone black could write appropriate music for white stars on the screen. His recording work continued, with the cream of talent’s crop, culminating in his collaboration with Michael Jackson, specifically on the album “Thriller,” the top-selling record of all time. (Although he’s earned $18 million in royalties since the singer’s death, he has sued the Jackson estate for the $30 million he was owed in total.) Jones’ partying took its toll, and he’s been on the wagon, heathkicking it since that coma, though he collapses once more in the film, GayCityNews.nyc | January 17 - January 30, 2019
onstage while on a European tour. Through it all, he emerges as a true living legend, but more downto-earth and authentically funny than you might think — someone you’d kill to just kick it with and hear all the stories because he knew everybody. He even admits to one thing he can’t do: “Marriage.” Still, he managed three wives, including Rashida’s mother Peggy Lipton, and a total of seven kids by five women. His lovers included Hazel Scott, Marpessa Dawn, Juliette Gréco, Freda Payne, Nastassja Kinski, a raft of Playboy models, and — would you believe it? — Ivanka Trump. He claims to currently having 22 girlfriends around the world who all know each other. In an interview with Vulture last year, his sublimely unfiltered words proved too revealing for many and he was forced into a public apology after an intervention by his five daughters. He may have said “Sorry,” but he never walked back anything he uttered — including his claim that buddy Marlon Brando had slept with Richard Pryor, James Baldwin, and Marvin Gaye: ““Brando used to go cha-cha dancing with us. He could dance his ass off. He was the most charming motherfucker you ever met. He’d fuck anything. Anything! He’d fuck a mailbox.” And Brando himself, in a 1976 interview in France, said, “Homosexuality is so much in fashion, it no longer makes news. Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences, and I am not ashamed.” And just because, I’ll quote what he said about our current First Family: “Trump and [his] uneducated rednecks. Trump is just telling them what they want to hear. I used to hang out with him. He’s a crazy motherfucker. Limited mentally — a megalomaniac, narcissistic. I can’t stand him. I used to date Ivanka, you know. Twelve years ago. Tommy Hilfiger, who was working with my daughter [model and designer] Kidada, said, ‘Ivanka wants to have dinner with you.’ I said, ‘No problem. She’s a fine motherfucker.’ She had the most beautiful legs I ever saw in my life. Wrong father, though.” Hey Rashida, let Daddy talk and keep that camera running. There’s a whole other doc you’ve got here!
Kevin Spacey and The Sugar Plum Fairy Memories of being a barely legal young man meeting an older, prowler r, eager p BY DAVID EHRENSTEIN oubtless you’ve been reading a lot about Kevin Spacey lately. The chickens — or in this case chickenhawks — have come home to roost for the two-time Academy Award-winning actor whose penchant for “barely legal” youths has been well-known for decades and completely tolerated by an entertainment industry that will stand for anything insofar as the person responsible has “market value” — something that may have slipped away for Spacey once and for all. But Spacey’s modus operandi — slipping his hand down the pants of lads he’s taken a fancy to reminded me of a sexual importunist who crossed my path 55 years ago. One afternoon in 1964, I was sitting downstairs at the Museum of Modern Art waiting for the doors to open for a film I was seeing. I can’t recall the title of the film, but I well recall the afternoon’s most consequential event. I met The Sugar Plum Fairy. I was perusing the latest issue of Sight & Sound and wasn’t waiting for anyone to join me. Lost in my magazine, I was somewhat surprised when a dashingly goodlooking and very well-dressed man in his late 20s or early 30s began to chat up my 17-year-old self. It was all casual and friendly at first, but in no time his tone changed as he asked me to forget about the movie and come back to his apartment. I wasn’t sexually inexperienced, but what action I’d enjoyed had always been with friends. Suddenly the prospect of having sex with a total stranger opened up to me. I was flattered, then intrigued, and at the last ever-so-slightly frightened. Happily, I had the excuse of the movie being something I wanted to see as reason to turn him down. He took it well. He did, though, hang about a bit, even going into the auditorium and sitting a row or so away, clearly in my line of sight,
The writer in 1964 at age 17.
in the hope I might change my mind. When he realized I wasn’t going to, he left. “You turned down The Plum!,” Dorothy Dean exclaimed with considerable astonishment when I told her about the incident a decade later. Dorothy, the most legendary of all fag hags (“Fruit fly — I prefer fruit fly,” she would say) in pre-Stonewall New York, a perpetual presence at Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory and the overseer of his table at Max’s Kansas City, had named my would-be seducer the Sugar Plum Fairy many years before. I discovered his connection to Dorothy the year after I met him, when I saw Warhol’s “My Hustler.” Written by Chuck Wein and starring Ed Hood, a blond number dubbed “Paul America,” Chuck’s writing pal Genevieve Charbon, and — ever so briefly— Dorothy. Its semi-action unfolds on Fire Island where Ed, having purchased the services of Paul through “DialA-Hustler,” observes him sunning himself on the beach while chatting to Genevieve and her pal, The Plum — whose real name was J. D. McDermott. Though Ed has paid for Paul’s services, J.D. contrives to win him away from Ed in a lengthy scene where J.D. and Paul, quite naked, primp in front of a bathroom mirror while sizing each oth-
er up both verbally and optically. The lines J.D. throws to Paul to reel him in bore a striking similarity to the ones he’d used on me the year before. Being a Warhol film, there’s no dramatic resolution, just Dorothy as a kind of Deus ex Machina. She enters the bathroom and makes a play for Paul to come with her instead of Ed or J.D. Outside of a brief turn as a cop (of all things) in “Vinyl” — Andy’s “sampling” of Anthony Burgess’ novel “A Clockwork Orange” made with the aid of Ronnie Tavel that same year (in which Edie Sedgwick makes her film debut) — that was it for The Plum’s movie career. He’d had a social career some years before when he was the kept boy of a closeted investment banker named Harvey Milk. As we all know Harvey, in the grand ‘60s tradition, turned on, tuned in, and dropped out, kicking over all traces of respectability, leaving New York and heading for San Francisco to achieve gay political immortality. The Plum didn’t end very well, defenestrating himself sometime in the ‘80s, we surmise. (Something of a Warhol tradition: vide Freddie Herko and Andrea Feldman.) He has, however stayed with us perpetuity thanks to the great Lou Reed: “Sugar Plum Fairy came and hit the streets Looking for soul food and a place to eat Went to the Apollo You should have seen him go go go They said, “Hey sugar, take a walk on the wild side” I said, “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side” alright, huh…” So now I know why The Plum chose me. He was a “dinge queen.” I seriously doubt that Kevin Spacey will be saluted in song. As for how he will end, his career has taken a header ever since October 29, 2017, when actor Anthony Rapp revealed that Spacey made something
more than a pass at him in 1986, when Rapp was 14 and Spacey 26. Rapp, long an out gay adult, had first shared this story in a 2001 interview with The Advocate, but Spacey’s name was redacted from publication to avoid legal disputes — a common practice throughout the media in those days. In response to Rapp’s second, public revelation, Spacey tweeted he did not remember the encounter, but that he owed the younger man “the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” As we quickly learned he has tons more to apologize for. To begin at the beginning of his sexual notoriety, I trust many will recall an incident during the shoot of “The Usual Suspects” in 1995: Spacey was called to the set and when he didn’t come right away, director Bryan Singer went to his trailer and found him doing the horizontal mambo with Singer’s boytoy du jour. The news of this went all over the net in nanoseconds. On Datalounge, the most delicious gay gossip site in cyberspace, it was under discussion for months afterwards. But what’s said in Datalounge stays in Datalounge, and Spacey’s performance in “The Usual Suspects” won him his first Oscar. A short time later, Singer, who loves to walk around LA, ran into me up on Sunset Boulevard across the street from the DGA Theater. I had never met him before, but he clearly knew who I was because he came up to me and said, “I want you to know Kevin and I are friends and the kid is no longer in my life.” Wow, the director reads Datalounge! Singer’s own dalliances with barely legal youths and his professional unreliability as a whole (he walks off sets whenever he feels like it) got him thrown off his most recent film, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” halfway through the shoot. Dexter Fletcher took over
➤ SUGAR PLUM FAIRY, continued on p.27
January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
➤ SUGAR PLUM FAIRY, from p.26 the reins, but only Singer was afforded official directorial credit. Still, Singer was conspicuous by his absence at this year’s Golden Globes when the film and its star, Rami Malek, won top prizes. Those who accepted the award for the film never uttered his name. Where Singer’s career goes from here on in is anyone’s guess. As for Spacey, he has legal matters on his plate rather than movie offers. After Rapp’s revelation, 15 others came forward alleging abuse, including journalist Heather Unruh, who said that Spacey sexually assaulted her son; Norwegian author Ari Behn; filmmaker Tony Montana; actor Robert Cavozos; actor Richard Dreyfuss’s son Harry; and eight crew members from Spacey’s former series “House of Cards.” In the midst of the allegations, filming was suspended on the series’ sixth and final season, which was then shortened from 13 episodes to eight, with Spacey removed from the cast and his role as executive producer. Meanwhile, The Guardian was contacted by “a number of people” who worked at the Old Vic — where Spacey was artistic director from 2003 to 2013 — and alleged he “groped and behaved in an inappropriate way with young men.” On November 16, 2017, the Old Vic confirmed it had received 20 testimonies of alleged inappropriate behavior by Spacey, with three persons stating they had contacted the police. The following month, Spacey’s “Usual Suspects” co-star Gabriel Byrne revealed that production on that film was shut down for two days because Spacey made un-
The Sugar Plum Fairy and Paul America in Andy Warhol’s “My Hustler.”
wanted sexual advances toward a younger actor. Spacey was originally cast as financier J. Paul Getty in Ridley Scott’s 2017 “All The Money in The World” about the kidnapping of Getty’s son, but because of the scandal was replaced by Christopher Plummer, even though Spacey had already filmed some of his scenes. That fall, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences reversed its decision to honor Spacey with its International Emmy Founders Award. Clearly, the jig was up. On November 1, 2017, Spacey stated he would be seeking “evaluation and treatment” for his behavior. By then he had officially come out, despite years of denying this truth and loudly proclaiming his love for his female personal assistant each time he won an Oscar. The charade had gone on for far too long, and everyone knew it — even before his most recent scandals broke. Who can forget “Kevin Spacey Has A Secret,” the 1997 Esquire cover story by Tom Junod. Written
on the occasion of Spacey starring in Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation of John Berendt’s novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” in which he played a gay man — a very suave one, quite unlike himself — Junod’s article hinted about Spacey’s gayness without coming out and declaring it. The day after Spacey said he was seeking help, his publicist, Staci Wolfe, and talent agency, CAA, ended their relationships with him. In July 2018, three more al-
legations of sexual assault against Spacey were revealed by Scotland Yard, bringing the total number of open investigations in the UK to six. In September 2018, a lawsuit filed at Los Angeles Superior Court claimed that Spacey sexually assaulted an unnamed masseur at a house in Malibu in October 2016. Last month, Spacey was charged with sexually assaulting former Boston news anchor Heather Unruh’s son in Nantucket in July 2016. On January 7, Spacey pleaded not guilty in that case. The case is going forward. Spacey isn’t. A Gore Vidal biopic, “Gore,” starring Spacey was set to be distributed by Netflix, but was canceled, and the company went on to sever all ties with him. Perhaps someone will want to triple feature it with Louis CK’s similarly canceled “I Love You Daddy” and Woody Allen’s discarded “A Rainy Day in New York.” The careers of all three of these once formidable performers appear as dead as The Sugar Plum Fairy. No one wants to take a walk on their wild sides.
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Kevin Hart Slams Closet Door Shut After forced apologies, controversial comedian rules out hosting gig rsial com BY MATT TRACY evin Hart is coming out — to tell you he won’t host the Oscars. The disgraced comedian concluded his self-inflicted month-long trail of homophobia on January 9 when he officially declared he would not host the Academy Awards next month — and he doesn’t want you to ask him about it, either. “I’m not hosting the Oscars this year,” Hart said on “Good Morning America.” “I want everyone to know I’m done with it. It’s a choice that I’ve personally made to say I’m not addressing it anymore.” Hart already backed out of his role as host of the annual event after he refused to apologize for homophobic comments dating back to 20092011, when he used gay slurs and threatened to use violence against his son for playing with dolls. He finally apologized after he was cornered by public outcry, but when fellow comedian Ellen DeGeneres prodded him to reconsider the hosting gig, he vowed to think it over. And although Hart put an end to speculation, it was never clear whether the Oscars organizers would have allowed him back in the fold.
“GOOD MORNING AMERICA”/ T WIT TER
Kevin Hart speaks to “Michael Strahan” on “Good Morning America” on January 9.
Hart, seemingly irritated, didn’t provide a direct answer when “Good Morning America” host and former Giants star Michael Strahan asked him if he understood how the comments could have impacted LGBTQ youth. “I have an understanding that I’ve addressed it, and I’ve said everything that I can possibly say,” Hart said in response. “So I’m over it.” Several days earlier, the comedian made a bizarre statement in the third person on his Sirius XM radio show when he said, “Once again, Kevin Hart apologizes for his remarks that hurt members of the LGBTQ community. I apologize.”
Almost every time Hart discusses his comments, he has tried to justify them or complain that he is being targeted. “We thought it was okay to talk like that, because that’s how we talked to one another,” he said. Hart has even turned the issue around by suggesting that those who take call him out are the ones who have an issue. “I love to love,” Hart said to Strahan. “If you don’t see that, then that means it’s a problem with you. I have nothing else to prove.” Hart’s handling of the situation strays from other cases of people offering sincere apologies before taking concrete action with the LGBTQ community. Former Knicks star Tim Hardaway, on a 2007 radio show, said, “I hate gay people,” but he apologized, went on to work with The Trevor Project, and was the first to sign a petition to legalize same-sex marriage in Florida. Responding to out gay CNN anchor Don Lemon’s suggestion that Hart could similarly become an ally to the community, the comedian said, “That’s not my life dream.” The Academy, which has not announced its alternative plans without Hart, did not reply to an inquiry from Gay City News.
Billy Porter Slams Kevin Hart, DL Hughley The “Pose” star said he is “done” one with the sta stars’ “toxic masculinity” BY MATT TRACY ose” star Billy Porter sent a stern message to Kevin Hart and DL Hughley after they showed insensitivity in the face of criticism over past homophobic comments: “Fuck you. We’re done.” Hart became embroiled in controversy last month after he initially refused to apologize for years-old homophobic comments, which led to his ousting as the host of the 2019 Oscars awards ceremony. He went on to apologize after stepping down from his hosting gig, but the damage had been done. Hughley, an actor and radio personality, stormed to Hart’s defense on Twitter. “A Comedian says something that offends people and refuses to apologize?” he asked. “What do I say? … Fuck em if they can’t take a joke!” After Hughley drew criticism from Indya Moore, a transgender black woman who also stars on “Pose,” he called her a “pussy.” Porter waited for the right opportunity to pounce on the Hughley and Hart for their com-
Broadway star Billy Porter (“Kinky Boot”) gives an award to Pride Media in October.
bination of homophobia and sexism, blasting them in a December interview with Consequence of Sound for thinking “they don’t need to apologize for shit and dig their heels in their toxic masculinity.” Porter, who recently earned a Golden Globes nomination for his role as Pray Tell in “Pose,” made it clear in his interview that he wanted to “get into this Kevin Hart thing for just a second.”
“But you want your rights!” Porter continued. “You want people to stop shooting your children in the back? But yet still, you turn around and oppress other people the same way you’re being oppressed.” The older homophobic comments at the heart of the issue stemmed from 2009-2011 when Hart called celebrities “gay” and “fag” in nowdeleted tweets and threatened to use violence against his son if he played with dolls. Hart noted in a tweet on December 7 — one day after he issued a non-apology on Instagram — that he was opting to step down from the Oscars “because I don’t want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists.” “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past,” he said. Porter has spent more than two decades in the entertainment industry as a stage performer, singer, and actor. In 2013, he earned a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical after he starred as Lola in “Kinky Boots.” January 17 - January 30, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc
Cuomo Lays Out His Pot Policy Governor details plan that would allow local opt-out BY NATHAN RILEY overnor Andrew Cuomo released his plan to revamp New York State’s medical marijuana program and create a regulatory system for the legal sale of marijuana to adults over 21. His legalization program was spelled out in budget bills that accompanied his jubilant January 15 State of the State Address, where he spoke of being “liberated” because he will be working with a Legislature where Democrats control both houses. His proposal calls for hemp, medical marijuana, and recreational marijuana to be regulated by a new Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which may be housed in the State Liquor Authority. Its actual spot in the bureaucratic chart will be decided between now and mid-March when
the budget is nailed down. Medical marijuana is currently regulated by the State Health Department and those responsibilities would be transferred to OCM. West Side Assemblymember Richard Gottfried was pleased that reforms in the medical marijuana program would be part of the legislation, including giving OCM authority to expand the list of diseases that can treated with pharmaceutical grade marijuana. The current providers of medical marijuana — corporations that produce product and sell it in company-owned dispensaries — will be able to seek entry into the recreational market. Their workers are members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which plays an active role in the legalization movement. In a written statement, the RWDSW’s out gay president, Stuart Appelbaum,
pledged to “ensure protections that guarantee the creation of jobs that provide good wages and benefits.” Cuomo boasted that marijuana legalization “will create the good union jobs that we need.” Medical marijuana providers occupy a special niche giving them retail control of their product. The rest of the adult-use system will separate corporate producers from the independent retail outlets that sell to the public. These may be the micro-businesses that drug reformers hope will provide economic opportunity to the communities that suffered under racially biased marijuana law enforcement. In a statement after the governor’s speech, Kassandra Frederique, the New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance, called for “repairing the damage done by marijuana prohibition,” adding that “legalization can be an eco-
nomic engine driving wealth and equity in marginalized communities and providing space for an alternative economic system.” In a memorandum accompanying his presentation, Cuomo promised “a robust social equity program” providing technical assistance, loans, and training to members of communities that have faced past over-policing, which may help them own retail pot stores. The bill would also seal certain criminal records for marijuanarelated arrests and stop police from making arrests for possession. And it will allow localities to opt out by prohibiting recreational marijuana sale. The New York Times reports the program would be fully operational by 2023, bringing in $300 million for a state traffic safety committee, small business development, and substance abuse services.
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TISH JAMES, NEW YORK’S NEW ATTORNEY GENERAL
Letitia James takes the oath of office from former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, while former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields holds the Bible for her.
James receives a congratulatory hug and kiss from gay activist Jay W. Walker.
Attorney General Letitia James addresses the crowd at John Jay College on January 6.
Brooklyn Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries, a member of the Democratic House leadership team.
DONNA ACETO DONNA ACETO
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
Singers from the Harlem School of the Arts.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader.
PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO
Former Obama administration Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
GayCityNews.nyc | January 17 - January 30, 2019
hough former Public Advocate Letitia James officially took office as New York’s attorney general on January 1, it was at an inauguration packed with political heavy hitters at John Jay College the following Sunday that the Brooklyn Democrat reveled in public celebration of her November victory. In a contest where just six months before everyone expected Eric Schneiderman to be seeking a third term — prior to his abrupt resignation in a sex scandal in May — James, who just one year earlier was elected to a second term as public advocate, won nearly 60 percent of the vote.
The Red Ribbon Dance troupe from the New York Chinese Cultural Center.
Hazel Dukes, the former national president of the NAACP.
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