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US House Passes Equality Act 05

Homophobes Who Fight Abortion 08

Joe Borelli Is Whose Advocate? 14

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May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


In This Issue COVER STORY It wouldn’t be Pride without Queens 20

INTERNATIONAL Taiwan first in Asia with marriage equality 16

POLITICS Replenishing the Council LGBTQ caucus in 2021 04

THEATER Alice Ripley astounds in “The Pink Unicorn” 34

REMEMBRANCE Andy Vélez, AIDS warrior, dies at 80 06 HEALTH Taking on Big Pharma in court 10

BOOKS Publishing Triangle honors new writers and a life’s work 36 MUSIC Nico Muhly, composer never at rest 42

COMMUNITY PRIDE GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

Now, Tyler’s Tale is Queer 38

CENTER 3


POLITICS

New Push to Keep LGBTQ Voice on Council With all five incumbents facing 2021 term limits, recruitment drive launched BY PAUL SCHINDLER & MATT TRACY

R

ecognizing that all five gay members of the City Council face term limits at the end of 2021, a group of queer political leaders, including some of the current councilmembers, gathered at City Hall on May 22 to announce an initiative to ensure that the Council will continue to have LGBTQ members after the citywide elections two years from now. The effort, dubbed LGBTQ in 2021, brings together leaders of the city’s queer political clubs and other activists to scout for talented and well-connected local activists interested in seeking Council seats. The 2021 primary election takes place in June and in the vast majority of districts winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to victory in November. It’s not only the LGBTQ caucus on the Council that faces term limits — 35 of the 51 seats will be open contests in 2021. “It’s so important that the New York City Council looks like the city it represents, which is why I’m proud to be part of this grassroots effort,” said out gay Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a likely mayoral candidate who represents the West Side of Manhattan from Greenwich Village north through Hell’s Kitchen. “I want more women, more people of color, and more LGBTQ New Yorkers running for office and this is how we reach that goal.” Then, in reference to the activists pushing the LGBTQ in 2021 effort, he added, “This is a diverse and powerful coalition, so I know we’re going to help make history.” Since the 1991 city election, when Tom Duane and Antonio Pagán were elected to represent adjoining Lower Manhattan districts, the Council has always had at least two LGBTQ members. The queer caucus reached its largest size ever during the last term, when it had seven members — Manhattan’s Rosie Mendez and the Bronx’s Jimmy Vacca, in addition to its current roster of Johnson, Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, and Brooklyn’s Carlos Menchaca. The caucus has produced two of the three most recent speakers — Johnson and Christine Quinn, who previously represented Johnson’s district. Melissa Sklarz, a longtime transgender political activist who last year ran a race for the State Assembly that came up short, explained that the new initiative will focus on the nuts and bolts of recruiting candidates and priming them for success. “We will teach them how to run for office,” she said. “The format. The process. Getting on the ballot is difficult. Raising money is difficult. We

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MAT T TRACY

At the May 22 City Hall event announcing LGBTQ in 2021, (at center) Council Speaker Corey Johnson is joined by Harlem activist Carmen Neely and Queens Councilmember Daniel Dromm.

will work with them to help them reach outside their own personal network.” Sklarz said the effort grew out of conversations begun by Rod Townsend, president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, Allen Roskoff, who heads the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, and longtime political and campaign operative Mark Benoit, among others. According to Carmen Neely, a Harlem community leader who helped found New York City Pride and Power, a citywide coalition of black and Latinx LGBTQ activists, the 2021 initiative blossomed over the past two months to include as many as 30 people, representing not only her group, Stonewall, and Jim Owles, but also the Lesbian Gay Democratic Club of Queens, Brooklyn’s Lambda Independent Democrats (LID), the LGBT Democrats of Color, the New York Transgender Advocacy Group, Queeramisú — LGBTQ Leaders for Progress, and the Black and Latino LGBTQ Coalition. Neely noted that the activists involved represent all five boroughs and are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender identity. The new initiative will not seek non-profit status, instead remaining an informal coalition, and it will not make endorsements or give financial support to candidates. Noting that 2021 could produce “an embarrassment of riches,” Sklarz said that should more than one LGBTQ candidate surface in a single district, the group would be open and available to assisting both. Since 1991, the Washington-based LGBTQ Victory Fund has provided training, endorsements, and donations to out candidates, but it does not have the reach to do the sort of on-theground candidate recruitment and grooming that LGBTQ in 2021 is talking about. In announcing the effort, the organizers cred-

ited the work of 21 in 21, which aims to increase the representation of women on the Council. That group’s co-founders, former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and former Queens Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, endorsed LGBTQ in 2021, and Crowley was on hand for the City Hall event. Dromm, who represents Jackson Heights and Elmhurst and chairs the LGBTQ Caucus, said, “The LGBTQ rights movement has benefited greatly from the efforts of New York City’s LGBTQ lawmakers. That momentum must continue in 2021 and in the years ahead.” In a written statement, Jared Arader, LID’s president, noted that Menchaca is the only out LGBTQ candidate ever elected to office in Brooklyn. “Brooklyn has a vibrant LGBT community but currently only one openly LGBTQ legislator, and he will leave office in 2021 due to term limits,” he said. “Representation matters — and that’s why we need to work together to ensure we have a voice in the table.” Torres, who is looking at a race for an open congressional seat in the Bronx next year, took the opportunity to poke a Council rival who is also looking at that seat. “Progress doesn’t happen by accident,” he said. “It is not handed to us on a silver platter. We have to recruit candidates, raise funds, knock on doors, and win elections. Even in a post-Obergefell world of marriage equality, there continue to be places in New York City where even homophobes can be and have been elected to the City Council. I’m going to be provocative for a moment. Homophobic antics of Ruben Diaz, Sr., are a cautionary tale of what happens when we as a community take for granted the inevitability of progress. We cannot afford to be complacent. We have to organize.” May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


POLITICS

Equality Act Passes US House of Representatives Long-stalled LGBTQ rights bill clears lower chamber, but faces uphill Senate battle BY MATT TRACY

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n an historic step forward for LGBTQ rights, the House of Representatives on May 17 easily passed the Equality Act, a measure that would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act and related federal laws to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill passed with 236 votes in favor — including eight Republicans — and 173 votes against, marking the first time it cleared either chamber of Congress since its original introduction in 2015. Every no vote was cast by a Republican. The measure now advances to the GOP-controlled Senate, where it is expected to stall, and President Donald Trump has already signaled his opposition. But advocates hope its passage in the lower chamber can inject momentum into the future prospects for a bill that is widely supported by Americans nationwide. “Equal treatment under the law and a commitment to fairness and equality are founding values of our country,” said David Cicilline, an out gay Rhode Island Democratic congressmember who carried the bill in the House. “Discrimination of any kind is wrong, and no one should ever be treated as less than equal because of who they are or who they love.” The Equality Act would enshrine protections for millions of Americans who live in the more than twodozen states where it is still legal to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and it would cover a wide range of areas: housing, employment, public education, public accommodations, federal funding, credit, and in the jury system. Republican congressmembers who voted in favor of the bill were Susan Brooks of Indiana, Mario Díaz-Balart of Florida, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Will Hurd of Texas, Greg Walden of Oregon, and three lawmakers from upstate New York: John Katko, who repreGayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

T WIT TER/ DAVID CICILLINE

Out gay Congressmember David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat and the lead sponsor of the Equality Act, speaks outside of the US Capitol on May 17 before voting on the bill.

HOUSE.GOV

The floor of the US House of Representatives following the passage of the Equality Act.

sents the Finger Lakes region encompassing Syracuse; Tom Reed, whose wide-ranging district covers the progressive area of Ithaca and extends to the western border of the state; and Elise Stefanik of northern New York along the Canadian border. Seven Democrats and 16 Republicans did not cast a vote. Congressmember Max Rose, who represents Staten Island and a slice of southwestern Brooklyn, cosponsored the bill but was unable to vote because he had to return to New York for a funeral. A spokesperson for Rose told Gay City News that the congressmember plans to note in the Congressional Record that he would have voted yes. Every other member of the New York City delegation voted in support of the bill. During a debate ahead of the vote, Democrats delivered strong and sometimes emotional speeches in favor of the bill, while several

Republicans employed oft-used tactics in opposition to it, saying it would harm religious freedom and women’s rights. In an example of the nonsensical rhetoric spewed by the GOP’s conservative wing, Representative Tom McClintock of California — who was born in White Plains, New York — said the bill would destroy “safe spaces for women,” an apparent reference to baseless hysteria driving the opposition to the right of people to use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity. He added that it would target “women-owned businesses.” Republican Congressmember Ross Spano of Florida argued that the bill would be an attack on freedom and that it would expose religious groups to future lawsuits. A broad coalition of Democrats vociferously defended the Equality Act. Out gay Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin said the bill would allow him to move with his husband anywhere in the country,

while longtime civil rights leader John Lewis of Georgia said it would help pave the way to “end discrimination in this country and set our people free.” Brooklyn and Queens Representative Hakeem Jeffries said, “If you truly believe in liberty and justice for all, support the Equality Act... Love does not discriminate and neither should the law.” GOP members of the House also made one last-ditch effort to stifle the vote by unsuccessfully calling for a “motion to recommit,” which would give lawmakers one last chance to amend the bill before it a final vote. Lawmakers then proceeded to the final vote. The final vote on the Equality Act came roughly two weeks after the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill in a party line vote. Republicans obstructed the committee at the time by forcing the clerk to read the entire 27-page bill before the vote. Republicans used hearings ahead of that vote to unleash homophobic and transphobic rhetoric laced with false conspiracy theories about how the bill would, in the words of Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, “be used as a sword to strike down our religious freedoms.” The Equality Act had its earliest expression in New York City, where Congressmembers Ed Koch and Bella Abzug joined forces in 1974 to propose a similar amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the House of Representatives. That bill only included protections on the basis of sexual orientation, sex, and marital status. A far narrower measure, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), cleared the House of Representatives and the Senate in separate years but never passed both houses in the same session of Congress. That measure faced intense debate over the decision to include protections for transgender and gender non-conforming people, with the House version dropping those protections but the Senate in a later session incorporating them.

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REMEMBRANCE

Andy Vélez, AIDS Warrior, Dead at 80 Committed activist was also a psychotherapist, book publisher, arts writer BY JAY BLOTCHER

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ndy Vélez, an internationally prominent AIDS activist whose three decades of advocacy work resulted in improved drug access and civil rights for people living with HIV, especially in the Latinx community, died on May 14 at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. He was 80. His sons, Ben and Abe Vélez, said the cause of death was complications from a severe fall in his Greenwich Village building last month. Despite other health challenges, Vélez had remained active in the AIDS and social justice communities until his recent accident, taking part in ACT UP and Rise and Resist protests. Vélez joined ACT UP in 1987, its first year of activity, and played a prominent role in its most noteworthy demonstrations over the past 32 years. Vélez was born on March 9, 1939 in the Bronx to Ramon Vélez and the former Dorothy Solomon. The family soon relocated to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where they lived several years before returning to the Bronx. Graduating from high school at 16 in 1955, Vélez attended City College for a brief time, but interrupted his studies when he left home. Years later, after attending night school, he earned his bachelor’s degree. Vélez went on to receive a master’s degree in psychoanalysis in 1976 and worked with the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies under Dr. Phyllis Meadow in the Village. He maintained his own therapy practice for two decades. Vélez had initially explored psychoanalysis for personal reasons, suspecting that he was gay. In 1964, he was entrapped by an undercover policeman in a Park Avenue South bar. Vélez spent the night in the Tombs in Lower Manhattan, a traumatizing experience that would provide the impetus for his activism. The arrest, which resulted in a suspended sentence of six months, caused him to lose his job at the Housing Authority. With the assistance of a progressive attorney, however, Vélez had his conviction overturned. Psychotherapy was only one of Vélez’s professional pursuits. He had initially hoped to become an actor, and he appeared in several Off-Broadway productions in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. During 16 years in book publishing beginning in 1969, he worked his way up to become president of the prominent Frederick Ungar Publishing, managing the company until it was sold in 1985. Notable among his literary projects was a 1984 collaboration with Marlene Dietrich in updating her 1962 bestseller “Marlene Dietrich’s ABC.”

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BILL BY TSURA / THE AIDS ACTIVIST PROJECT

Andy Vélez, 1939-2019.

BILL BY TSURA

Andy Vélez (front) with three ACT UP New York comrades — Jim Aquino, Jay Blotcher, and Kevin Robert Frost — during their trip to the 1994 International Conference on AIDS in Yokohoma, Japan.

After a marriage to a woman that ended in divorce, Vélez began to make active connections within the LGBTQ community. For three years in the mid-1980s, he served as a leader for the Gay Circles Consciousness Raising Group. One evening in 1987, after his group’s meeting ended, Vélez walked through the first gathering of what became the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power at the LGBT Community Center. He was intrigued by what he witnessed and quickly became involved in several ACT UP committees, including the Media Committee and Actions Committee. In high-profile demonstrations and civil disobedience actions, Vélez threw himself into the group’s signature street theater activism — at one point, chaining himself in the office of a pharmaceutical company; at another, covering himself in fake blood to symbolize the lives lost to AIDS because of government negligence.

Vélez especially found his niche with the ACT UP’s Latino Caucus, which focused on the raging but neglected epidemic in the Latinx community. He and his colleagues traveled to Puerto Rico to help organize a local ACT UP chapter there. In 1990, he was also a founding member of Queer Nation in New York. Vélez was involved in many AIDS educational and service organizations over the years, serving as an administrator and bilingual educator for AIDSMEDS.com for more than a decade. He also wrote about the epidemic for numerous community publications, including POZ, Body Positive, and SIDA Ahora, and for 10 years he moderated the POZ Forum. With the Treatment Action Group, Vélez took part in aggressive and effective drug access efforts, and he worked in an HIV clinical trial unit, alerting affected communities to their vulnerability to tuberculosis. Vélez was a prominent advocate on the international AIDS scene for more than two decades, working with the organizers of International Conferences on AIDS to guarantee the active participation of people with HIV and serving as the official liaison to the activist community. He was also a consultant to the Latino Commission on AIDS and did guest speaking on HIV/ AIDS at high schools and colleges across America. From the 1990s through the 2010s, Vélez returned to his first love of theater by covering that scene for several LGBTQ magazines, as well as by conducting interviews with musical greats for All About Jazz and the New York City Jazz Record. He also penned liner notes for the CD reissues of several Broadway musical classics, such as “Finian’s Rainbow,” “The Pajama Game,” and “Saratoga,” as well as for vocal collections by legends such as Doris Day, Fred Astaire, Ella Fitzgerald, and Artie Shaw. In courses on musical theater that he taught at the New School in the 1990s, he hosted in-class guests including Barbara Cook, Sheldon Harnick, Elaine Stritch, and John Kander and Fred Ebb. Years ago, when asked how he would like to be remembered, Vélez replied, “As someone who was able to help.” In addition to his sons Ben and Abe, both of Brooklyn, Vélez is survived by his daughterin-law Sarah, his granddaughter, his younger brother Gene of Alamo, California, as well as thousands of comrades in the global AIDS and LGBTQ activist communities. Funeral services will be private. A public memorial service will be held this summer. Donations in Vélez’s memory may be made to ACT UP New York, Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS, and the Latino Commission on AIDS. Andy Vélez, presente y pa’lante! May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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POLITICS

Anti-Abortion Homophobes Resurgent Under Trump Right-wing wave underscores dual threat facing reproductive, LGBTQ rights

DONNA ACETO

Activists joined Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and other groups in Foley Square on May 21 to protest the growing number of extreme abortion laws sweeping states across the US.

DONNA ACETO

Members of Revolting Lesbians were among the demonstrators at the May 21 pro-choice rally in Manhattan.

BY MATT TRACY

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anet Porter, a longtime anti-abortion and antiLGBTQ activist who is a chief architect of “heartbeat bill” abortion restrictions, is one of countless far-right leaders who have become emboldened by the appointment of conservative judges, a complicit Trump administration, and a group of state legislatures willing to implement harsh laws. She and many other conservatives also have a larger vision: That the chipping away of abortion rights could help prompt the Supreme Court to do away with Roe v. Wade altogether. Some harbor the dream they could take things a step further and jeopardize Obergefell v. Hodges — the 2015 decision that gave the US marriage equality. Whether the latter is even a possibility is less certain, but the close ties between anti-abortion activism and anti-LGBTQ activism are evident in the way conservatives have simultaneously targeted the rights of women and LGBTQ Americans. The parallels between the efforts to eradicate both are further demonstrated in the way the Trump administration is targeting both in the same breath by implementing rules that allow health care providers to discriminate under the guise of religious liberty. Porter is the founder of an anti-

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DONNA ACETO

Activists on May 21 pointed to the tragic legacy of pre-Roe coat hanger abortions.

abortion and anti-LGBTQ nonprofit known as Faith 2 Action, which is one of many groups that align their efforts against queer and reproductive rights. Some other leading groups with that shared goal include Focus on the Family, the Heritage Foundation, and Alliance Defending Freedom. Porter first made a splash on the nation’s legislative scene in 2011 when she helped write a proposed ban on any abortions in Ohio after six weeks. That bill was defeated in the State Senate and even opposed by Ohio Right to Life, but Porter persisted — and her thinking was a harbinger of things to come. She aligned herself with racist and anti-LGBTQ pols like former Ar-

kansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Minnesota Congressmmember Michele Bachmann, and Iowa Representative Steve King, according to The Guardian — and more recently, she served as a spokesperson for Roy Moore during his US Senate bid in Alabama that ultimately failed after he was embroiled in controversy over multiple allegations of sexual assault of teenagers. Porter’s 2011 bill lit a spark that in time spread around the nation. No matter how extreme her views or her work, some of the most powerful people in the Trump White House have listened to her. Porter pitched her Ohio bill to deeply conservative Vice President Mike

Pence in 2017, and now versions of that bill have been proposed in nearly a dozen states. Porter’s cause won a boost from President Donald Trump’s appointment of a pair of conservative Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, giving state lawmakers the confidence to pass far-right laws they believe will be upheld by the nation’s highest court. The governors of Kentucky, Ohio, Mississippi, and Georgia have signed heartbeat bills, while Alabama fueled particular outrage by approving a law that makes it a felony to perform any abortion at all — except when a pregnant woman’s health is at “serious” risk. Porter makes clear she believes the Supreme Court will side with the heartbeat bills, which ban abortion once a fetus’ heartbeat can be detected, often as early as six or seven weeks after conception. Her organization’s website contains a highlighted sentence stating, “With the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, experts agree we now have the votes to uphold the HeartBeat Bill on the United States Supreme Court. Even more pro-life judges will likely be appointed to US Supreme Court in the next two years.” During an interview with the Guardian, Porter went even further, predicting that the time is

➤ ABORTION BANS, continued on p.9 May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ ABORTION BANS, from p.8 nearing for a thorough reconsideration of Roe v. Wade by the high court. “[This is] an easy thing for the Supreme Court to embrace,” Porter said. “All they have to do is move the marker from the unscientific marker to the scientific marker of heartbeat, which is inches away from our goal of when our lives begin at conception.” Porter is not alone in her strategy to bait the Supreme Court into reviewing Roe v. Wade. As state legislatures move to implement heartbeat and other extreme bills, their lawmakers are telling constituents what their long game is. According to the Wetumpka Herald, during a recent town hall meeting, Alabama State Senator Clyde Chambliss said that the measure adopted there “is a direct plan to challenge Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court. I would like for you all to pray for that.” Even as state legislators rush to embrace harsh anti-choice measure, many of them are simultaneously pushing homophobic and

DONNA ACETO

In Foley Square, women pointed out that they should have control over their own bodies. DONNA ACETO

transphobic bills. Tennessee state lawmakers tried shoving six antiLGBTQ bills through the State Legislature there this year. One of those bills — targeting transgender access to public bathroom consistent with gender identity — passed, and the others could be revisited soon. In Texas, a “Save Chick-fil-A bill” that would ban the government from taking “adverse action”

against businesses or people due to “religious beliefs” or “moral convictions” is regaining momentum — again under the cloak of “religious freedom.” From Porter’s perspective, regarding marriage equality, Obergefell had not “settled the issue any more than Roe v Wade settled the issue of abortion,” The Guardian reported. For now, the new abortion

A demonstrator affiliated with the American Civil Liberties Union was among those on hand in Foley Square May 21.

laws are on hold while courts review them. A federal judge in the Southern District of Mississippi is hearing arguments on that state’s heartbeat bill, while the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is mounting a challenge in the Buckeye State. Further legal challenges are expected.

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GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

9


HEALTH

Activists Go After Pharma Giants in Court Suit charges drug company agreements mean combo therapies are never fully generic BY NATHAN RILEY

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n a class action lawsuit filed May 14, AIDS activists and union health plans are accusing four pharmaceutical companies of illegally rigging the chemical composition of HIV combination drugs to always include drugs under patent that cost much more than generic alternatives. Treatment for HIV infection involves a cocktail of various drugs combined into a single full dose pill allowing the patient to take just one pill instead of two or three. The allegation in the lawsuit is that the four pharmaceutical defendants have entered into joint development agreements under which they pledge to never sell combinations medications in which all the ingredients are generics. As a result of these illegal agreements, the suit contends, each combination treat-

DONNA ACETO

Peter Staley at Gay Men’s Health Crisis’ 35th anniversary gala in March 2017, where he was among the honorees.

ment can be sold at a more expensive patent-protected brand name price. Gilead, Bristol Meyer Squibb (BMS), Johnson & Johnson, and

Japan Tobacco are accused of sharing drugs in the full dose combinations so that a drug from BMS with an expired patent might be combined with a drug from Gilead that is still under patent. BMS is then able to sell the combination at the high brand name price rather than at the much cheaper rate for generics. Agreement to use drugs from different companies and combine them is perfectly legal and makes it easier for patients to access the best treatments with the least onerous dosage regimen, but the pharmaceutical companies’ cooperation in a common “no generic restraint” plan is “unlawful,” according to the lawsuit. Among the charges in the voluminous, 136-page lawsuit is that, absent these agreements, generic combination treatments would have been available on the mar-

ket by December 2017. Since every state requires that unless a doctor provides specific no generic substitution instructions, the pharmacist must provide the cheaper generic alternative, HIV treatment costs would have declined significantly. The labor union and HIV activist plaintiffs are bringing the lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of California. The union plaintiffs are the Fort Lauderdale Fraternal Lodge of Police 31 and the Service Employees International Union Local One Health Fund. They are joined by individuals — some with with a long history of AIDS activism — who are themselves consumers of HIV treatment. The veteran activists include Peter Staley and Gregg Gonsalves, both ACT UP alums whose treat-

➤ PHARMA FIGHT, continued on p.53

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May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


HUMAN RIGHTS

OutRight Action Gala Highlights Trans Lives Zimbabwean activist Rikki Nathanson, “Transparent” cast honored BY ANDY HUMM

O

utRight Action International, championing the rights of LGBTQ and intersex people around the globe since 1990, raised trans visibility high at its annual awards gala on May 7, honoring Zimbabwean trans activist Rikki Nathanson and TV’s “Transparent,” as well as lesbian business leader and activist Beth A. Brooke-Marciniak. “I thought I was femme queer,” OutRight’s executive director Jessica Stern said at the Chelsea Piers event, “but only to feel butch after following [the cast of] ‘Transparent’ and Rikki Nathanson.” Nathanson, honored with the Felipa de Souza Award (named for a 16th century Brazilian woman persecuted during the Portuguese Inquisition for acknowledging her relationship with another woman), shared her harrowing story of being arrested in 2014 for using a women’s restroom in her hometown of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe — surrounded by police, carted off to jail, forced to strip naked, mocked by officials as “a poor excuse for a woman,” and held for three days. She not only successfully pursued acquittal, but sued the government of then-President Robert Mugabe for violating her constitutional rights. In 2015, Nathanson founded Trans* Research, Education, Advocacy & Training, or TREAT. “Zimbabwe is a beautiful country,” Nathanson said, “but it is steeped in transphobia, homophobia, and corruption.” In a horrifying backlash against her pursuing her own defense, her home was broken into and she was beaten in her bed. When she later attended a conference in the US, her home was invaded again so she applied for asylum here and it was granted — miraculously given the hostility of the Trump administration to asylum-seekers in general and transgender people specifically. Unlike too many other asylum seekers, however, Nathanson’s GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

BRAD HAMILTON PHOTOGRAPHY

Zimbabwean transgender activist Rikki Nathanson, OutRight Action International’s Felipa de Souza Award honoree, addresses the May 7 Chelsea Piers gala.

BRAD HAMILTON PHOTOGRAPHY

“Transparent” co-stars Zackary Drucker, Gaby Hoffmann, Alexandra Billings, and Trace Lysette with Zimbabwean activist Rikki Nathanson.

persecution back home was amply documented. “In these are dark times,” she said, “we still cling to that sliver of hope and knowledge that we the LGBTQI community are resilient, tough, and smart…. We not only survive, but grow and even flourish in our fabulousness.” Nathanson is already hard at work in DC as the HIV prevention and outreach coordinator for

Casa Ruby, which serves homeless transgender youth. “Transparent,” the groundbreaking Amazon Prime series that began in 2014, was honored with the OutSpoken Award for its “heart, humor, and acceptance” as well its “queer actors and crew,” said OutRight board member Suzanne Rotondo. Cast member Tracee Lysette raised a few eyebrows and even

more consciousness when she said, “I was a sex worker just a few blocks south of here and took the money from turning tricks to invest in acting class.” Of “Transparent,” she said, “We are witnessing herstory… the first trans story built with trans people at every stage of development.” Alexandra Billings, also from the show, introduced herself as “a 57-year-old, mixed race, bi queer trans lesbian.” A survivor living with HIV for more than three decades, she recalled the pain and neglect she encountered during the earliest decades of the epidemic and said, “All of us stand on the shoulders of the human beings we have lost.” Honoree Beth A. Brooke Marciniak, global vice chair for public policy at the accounting firm EY with responsibility for its operations in 150 countries, talked about coming out eight years ago and said, “No one of us is as good as all of us” and that learning to be “partners is a 21st century skill.” She stressed the need for businesses abroad to promote cultures of tolerance “within their four walls” to affect the often homophobic cultures that their employees go back home to in the evening. OutRight’s Stern wrapped up the evening with a stirring call to action, saying that the right wing is not going away. “We cannot let them out-spend and out-organize us,” she said. “This is why OutRight matters. Outright is a powerful antidote to all those who support hate.” Stern called for “solidarity” with LGBTQ communities around the world, which “starts with listening to each other and supporting each other. It means if you’re American, you must think internationally. It means if you live with privilege, you must think of others.” Then, she added, “Everyone can be an activist.” The OutRight gala took place just 10 days before the world marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

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IMPORTANT FACTS FOR BIKTARVY® This is only a brief summary of important information about BIKTARVY and does not replace talking to your healthcare provider about your condition and your treatment.

MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BIKTARVY

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF BIKTARVY

BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including:

BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including: ` Those in the “Most Important Information About BIKTARVY” section. ` Changes in your immune system. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms after you start taking BIKTARVY. ` Kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood and urine tests to check your kidneys. If you develop new or worse kidney problems, they may tell you to stop taking BIKTARVY. ` Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat. ` Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain. ` The most common side effects of BIKTARVY in clinical studies were diarrhea (6%), nausea (6%), and headache (5%).

` Worsening of Hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you

have both HIV-1 and HBV, your HBV may suddenly get worse if you stop taking BIKTARVY. Do not stop taking BIKTARVY without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to check your health regularly for several months.

ABOUT BIKTARVY BIKTARVY is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults. It can either be used in people who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before, or people who are replacing their current HIV-1 medicines and whose healthcare provider determines they meet certain requirements. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS. HIV-1 is the virus that causes AIDS. Do NOT take BIKTARVY if you also take a medicine that contains: ` dofetilide ` rifampin ` any other medicines to treat HIV-1

BEFORE TAKING BIKTARVY Tell your healthcare provider if you: ` Have or have had any kidney or liver problems,

These are not all the possible side effects of BIKTARVY. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new symptoms while taking BIKTARVY.

including hepatitis infection. ` Have any other health problems. ` Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if BIKTARVY can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while taking BIKTARVY. ` Are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.FDA.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088. Your healthcare provider will need to do tests to monitor your health before and during treatment with BIKTARVY.

HOW TO TAKE BIKTARVY

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take:

Take BIKTARVY 1 time each day with or without food.

` Keep a list that includes all prescription and over-the-

GET MORE INFORMATION

counter medicines, antacids, laxatives, vitamins, and herbal supplements, and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist.

` This is only a brief summary of important information

about BIKTARVY. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn more.

` BIKTARVY and other medicines may affect each other.

Ask your healthcare provider and pharmacist about medicines that interact with BIKTARVY, and ask if it is safe to take BIKTARVY with all your other medicines.

Get HIV support by downloading a free app at

MyDailyCharge.com

12

(bik-TAR-vee)

` Go to BIKTARVY.com or call 1-800-GILEAD-5. ` If you need help paying for your medicine,

visit BIKTARVY.com for program information.

BIKTARVY, the BIKTARVY Logo, DAILY CHARGE, the DAILY CHARGE Logo, KEEP EMPOWERING, LOVE WHAT’S INSIDE, GILEAD, and the GILEAD Logo are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. Version date: December 2018 © 2019 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. BVYC0102 01/19

May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


KEEP EMPOWERING. Because HIV doesn’t change who you are. BIKTARVY® is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in certain adults. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS.

Ask your healthcare provider if BIKTARVY is right for you. To learn more, visit BIKTARVY.com.

Please see Important Facts about BIKTARVY, including important warnings, on the previous page and visit BIKTARVY.com.

GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

13


POLITICS

Joe Borelli’s Consistent Record of Transphobia Can an anti-LGBTQ pol ever be considered the people’s public advocate? BY MATT TRACY

T

he New York City public advocate is supposed to be the elected official who stands up for the

people. But the candidate vying for that gig on the Republican side, City Councilmember Joe Borelli of Staten Island, has done quite the opposite: He has voted against numerous LGBTQ-related bills dating back to his time as a state assemblymember — and he has a particular propensity to vote against measures related to transgender and gender non-conforming people. Whether the Staten Island Republican — currently the Council’s minority whip (in the tiny threemember GOP caucus) — has a realistic chance of unseating current Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who ascended to the post after staving off competition in a crowded special election in February, is a story for another day. But Borelli is seeking to become an advocate for people despite having voted against their rights time and

JOHN MCCARTEN/ NEW YORK CIT Y COUNCIL

Staten Island Councilmember Joe Borelli said Republicans are “sick� of hearing their party is too straight, yet he doesn’t miss opportunities to cast antiLGBTQ votes.

again. One of the earliest and most glaring stains on his LGBTQ voting record came in 2013 when he was an assemblymember from the 62nd District. He voted against the Gender Expression Non-Discrim-

     

 

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ination Act (GENDA), which was signed into law this year and added gender identity and expression as a protected class in the state’s human rights and hate crimes laws. At the time of that vote, similar transgender protections had already existed in city law for more than a decade. Borelli has carried his transphobia with him to the City Council, too — and it’s become an annual thing for him to vote against the rights of trans and gender nonconforming people. Most recently, Borelli voted last year against Int. 0954, a bill that gives people the opportunity to change the sex designation on their birth certificates to conform to their gender identity. The list goes on: In 2017, he voted against a bill that would require the mayor’s office to review whether official forms administered by city agencies should be updated to include questions about gender pronouns. He also voted against a resolution calling on the state Department of Education to create a task force dedicated to exploring the cultural relevance of “standards in core content that challenges racism, ableism, and sexism, and is LGB and TGNC-affirming.�

In 2016, he voted against a bill to require any single-occupancy bathrooms in public settings to be available to people of any gender. Borelli did not respond to requests for comment on this story and did not answer questions about why he has repeatedly voted against transgender rights. His opponent, incumbent Democrat Williams, has his own spotty history on queer issues: He once was against same-sex marriage, though he now fully supports marriage equality, and he abstained from a 2014 measure allowing folks to change the gender designation on their birth certificate. But he has since come around to embrace LGBTQ rights and has most notably been a vocal advocate for transgender women of color. Borelli has not been an advocate on those issues. Instead, he has used his platform as an elected official to go on radio shows to, among other things, dismiss concerns of the LGBTQ community. He went on Kevin McCullough’s show on AM970 Radio to discuss the Chick-fil-A owners’ family foundation donations to homophobes,

➤ JOE BORELLI, continued on p.15 May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ JOE BORELLI, from p.14 terming boycott calls against the fast food chain “faux outrage of the left� and adding that people should “eat whatever delicious sandwich you want.� While he was voting against LGBTQ bills, Borelli penned a piece for The Hill last year in which he drilled the message that out gay Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell’s confirmation fight “changed the perception on what was once considered conservative doctrine� and that “gay conservatives have become more visible and vocal within the Republican movement over the last 20 years.� But his examples of LGBTQ conservatives curiously focused on celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner and PayPal founder Peter Thiel — perhaps because of the lack of queer Republican public officials. Regardless, he went on to say that the GOP is “sick of the unrelenting inaccurate attacks from the left that their party is too white, too male, too straight.� Is the Republican Party too straight? Not one of the 10 LGBTQ members of Congress is a Republican. Is the Republican Party too white? Ninety percent of nonwhite members of Congress are Democrats, while just 10 percent are Republicans. Is the Republican Party too male? There are 108 women in Congress on the Democratic side compared to 23 women on the Republican side. Such remarks aren’t necessarily surprising: Borelli has for years aligned himself with the homophobic and transphobic leader of his party, President Donald Trump. Borelli served as co-chair of Trump’s 2016 election campaign in New York and continues to stand

by the president, who just signaled his opposition to the Equality Act — a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill that would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act and related federal laws to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — and has also banned transgender people from serving in the military. Trump has also moved forward with multiple rules to give healthcare providers the ability to discriminate against LGBTQ people, rolled back protections for transgender students, violated both immigration law and the 2015 marriage equality ruling by denying citizenship to foreign-born kids of gay parents who are American, given adoption agencies the ability to discriminate against same-sex parents, and nixed LGBTQ protections from trade deals. The list goes on and on. The party’s anti-LGBTQ positions are by no means limited to Trump and his administration, either, despite Borelli’s insistence that “there seems to be a larger presence of openly gay Republicans than ever before� and that “no one in the party really seems to mind.� Just this month, Republicans railed against queer rights during hearings on the Equality Act and every single GOP member present for the House Judiciary Committee vote on May 1 opposed the bill. Out gay Councilmember Ritchie Torres recently told Gay City News that homophobic Bronx Councilmember Ruben Diaz, Sr., a Democrat, is running for Congress in the wrong party — that he belongs in the Republican Party. New Yorkers might consider a similar question about Borelli come November: Is he running in the wrong race?

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15


Lessons Learned While On The Beat By Eric L. Adams

Teaching the Value of a Dollar at an Early Age As a child, I knew lean times – times when I had to forego things my classmates had and could afford. At one time or another I’ve heard “sorry, but those sneakers are just too expensive, and we can’t afford to buy those right now.” “I made so many mistakes as a young man because I never had a background in basic financial education, and I wasted so much money. I believe we need financial education taught to every young New Yorker so they can have an early start on establishing a bright financial future. Teaching these ‘soft skills’ is foundational, like ensuring the gears of a machine are properly oiled, to closing the inequality gap and helping create self-sufficient families. Recently, I put my support behind S.2452/A.1357, legislation that would establish a financial education curriculum in grades 9 through 12 across New York State. At least five states currently require a personal finance course to graduate high school, including Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia; in September, New Jersey will require all middle schools to offer financial education. Since arriving at Brooklyn Borough Hall, I’ve committed to improving the financial literacy of all Brooklynites, including an understanding of how money works, how one earns and manages it, and how to invest or donate to help others in need. Partnering with organizations in the financial services, grassroots, and small business communities, my administration has organized and supported hundreds of free educational opportunities across the borough since 2014, which have taught nearly 4,500 residents the necessary skills to make wise everyday financial decisions. I declare every April to be Financial Education Empowerment Month in Brooklyn, highlighting the importance for families to make smart budgeting decisions, avoid financial scams, and monitor their expenses. Still, these efforts are no substitute for classroom instruction at an early age, helping young men and women avoid the pitfalls that can handicap their opportunities. It is of the utmost urgency that our children and grandchildren learn to navigate the world of personal finance at an early age.

16

INTERNATIONAL

Taiwan Legalizes Marriage Equality Nation is Asia’s first to reach this milestone, even with adoption, immigration limitations

Eric L. Adams Implementing a financial education curriculum has been demonstrated to improve students’ credit scores and increase savings rates. This is particularly impactful when we consider the number of millennials who are concerned about their finances. A 2016 survey from Bank of America found that only 16 percent of Americans between ages 18 to 26 are very optimistic about their financial future, which for many includes part of the trillions of dollars in student debt that our nation’s borrowers carry. Perhaps even more alarming, a 2018 report by Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households indicated that a full forty percent of American households did not have enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense. Many more families are struggling on top of that when we note differences in education levels, race, ethnicity and geography. As borough president, I realize that Brooklyn cannot thrive if its families can’t survive on their finances. All Brooklyn families also want their children to thrive, and be assured their children will be able to survive and overcome challenges that they may face in the future, by getting a head-start on financial literacy. That’s why a holistic 21st century education needs to include financial education. Eric L. Adams is borough president of Brooklyn. He served 22 years in the New York City Police Department (NYPD), retiring at the rank of captain, as well as represented District 20 in the New York State Senate from 2006 until his election as borough president in 2013.

T WIT TER/ TSAI ING-WEN

Taiwan’s LGBTQ community overcame fierce opposition from conservative groups and achieved marriage equality on May 17 in the nation’s legislature.

BY MATT TRACY

L

awmakers in Taiwan on May 17 voted to approve same-sex marriage rights, making the island nation the first country in Asia to win marriage equality. The legislature, led by the Democratic Progressive Party under President Tsai Ing-Wen, voted in favor of a bill proposed by the government — one of three different but related pieces of legislation that were under consideration — that gave same-sex couples the right to marry. Taiwain’s Constitutional Court struck down the ban on marriage equality two years ago and gave lawmakers until May 24 of this year to pass a law allowing same-sex couples to marry. During that two-year timeframe, however, religious conservative groups such as the homophobic US-based National Organization for Marriage infiltrated the na-

tion by pumping millions of dollars into ad campaigns opposing the effort to legalize marriage by same-sex couples. That propaganda push appeared to have made a difference last year when voters approved referenda defining marriage between a man and a woman and scaling back LGBTQ education in schools. But activists and LGBTQ groups such as Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, as well as American groups including Freedom to Marry, the Human Rights Campaign, and others, pushed back by mobilizing folks in Taiwan and raising money through fundraisers, including one held at the Stonewall Inn last November. Activists on the ground viewed the bill that passed as the most desirable one for the LGBTQ community, even as it came with notable caveats — couples are only

➤ TAIWAN, continued on p.17 May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ TAIWAN, from p.16 able to adopt the biological children of their spouse and cannot co-adopt — but the alternative bills only provided rights for civil union partnerships. Jennifer Lu, the chief coordinator of Marriage Equality Taiwan, told Gay City News that the LGBTQ community on the island is feeling a sense of relief after three decades of advocacy on the issue. Lu played a major leadership role in campaigning for marriage equality and appeared at the Stonewall Inn event last year via video. “This moment marks the legal recognition of LGBT rights and represents a historical milestone of the LGBT movement in Taiwan,� Lu said just hours after the vote took place. “The fight for equality does not stop here. We will continue to fight against bullying, discrimination, and defend gender equality education.� Lu further praised the President Tsai Ing-wen, who had stood up for marriage rights despite weathering a rough political climate last

year when she resigned from her post as the leader of the DPP after suffering significant losses in the midterm election. “Throughout her campaign, President Tsai embraced marriage equality and promised that her administration would be a leader in making it a reality,� she said. “Today we offer our special thanks to her for keeping that promise.� Taiwanese-American activist Lance Chen-Hayes, who spoke at the Stonewall Inn fundraiser last November, conceded that “it’s not a perfect bill� and will present not only adoption-related limitations for LGBTQ folks but will lead to challenges in immigration rights. At the same time, he stressed that its passage marks an important step forward for LGBTQ rights in Taiwan and around the world. “It’s time to celebrate this historical moment,� Chen-Hayes told Gay City News. “Taiwain is the democracy beacon in Asia and we will continue to fight for equal rights in other areas for all LGBTQ folks.� Couples will be able to begin getting married on May 24.

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17


AIDS WALK RAISES OVER $4 MILLION PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

I

n its 34th annual AIDS Walk beginning and ending in Central Park on May 19, Gay Men’s Health Crisis raised more than $4 million to support living-saving services there and at other HIV/ AIDS organizations in the tristate area. More than 15,000 participants either walked the 10k route through the Upper West Side or ran five miles within the park. Over the course of its 34 years, AIDS Walk has raised more than $160 million. “As we enter the presidential election season, we need to stay focused on how to elevate the issue of ending HIV and AIDS at all levels of government — and hold candidates and elected officials accountable for working with us toward our shared goal of ending the HIV/ AIDS epidemic,” said GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie.

“Pose” star Billy Porter, a Tony Award-winner for “Kinky Boots,” entertained the crowd.

Broadway’s Frenchie Davis was among the performers.

DONNA ACETO

Some of the 15,000 participants in GMHC’s AIDS Walk New York on May 19 who raised more than $4 million.

A handsome group of AIDS Walkers strike a pose.

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May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

19


PRIDE

It Wouldn’t Be Pride Without Queens Nation’s most diverse county offers something for everyone LGBTQ Tickets are $15 in advance at lasreinas.ticketleap.com/queenspride2019 and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Queens Pride.

BY MATT TRACY PHOTOS BY DONNA ACETO

A

n official partner of WorldPride, the 27th annual Queens Pride festivities are kicking into gear ahead of the borough’s June 2 parade and festival. Pride season in Queens launched on May 17 with a successful kickoff event at Katch Astoria, but there is plenty more to do in the weeks ahead. We’ve got you covered with a slate of Pride-related events in the borough. LGBTQ Youth Prom When: Thu., May 30 from 5-8 p.m. Where: New York Hall of Science at 47-01 111th St. in Corona. Transportation will be provided to and from the 7 train at the 111th St. station. Under the theme “Honor the past, defend the future,” Queens Pride’s LGBTQ Youth Prom offers an opportunity for those between the ages of 14 and 20 to enjoy an evening of food, music, DJs, giveaways, make-up by MAC, live performances, and a photo booth. Those who are 21 years or older can sign up to volunteer at the event. Find out more information and register at queenspride.org/ prom2019. Pre-Pride Breakfast When: Sun., Jun. 2 from 10 a.m.11:30 a.m. Where: The Jewish Center of Jackson Heights at 37-06 77th St. Join Councilmember Daniel Dromm for a breakfast fundraiser before you march in the Pride Parade. Attendees can march with Dromm’s contingent in the Pride parade following the breakfast. Find out more information or RSVP at danieldrommevents@ gmail.com. Suggested donation is $50 and checks can be made payable to Friends of Daniel Dromm, P.O. Box 55, Jackson Heights, NY 11372.

20

CUNY Pridefest at Queens College When: Thu., Jun. 13. Pride-goers are asked to arrive at 11:30 a.m. before the program begins at 12 p.m. Where: The Quad at Queens College located at 65-30 Kissena Blvd. in Flushing. CUNY is celebrating Stonewall 50 in Queens with drag performances, live bands, dancers, DJ music, a Pride march, food vendors, an LGBTQ community expo. To learn more information or reserve a table at the expo, visit tinyurl.com/ y24xtmxg.

Parade and Festival When: Sun., June. 2. Parade begins at 12 p.m.; festival starts at 1:30 p.m., ends at 6 p.m. Where: (Parade): Group check-in is at 37th Ave. at the corner of 89th St., where the parade begins. The parade travels west until it ends at 75th St. and 37th Ave. The reviewing stand is at 37th between 79th and 80th Sts. Where: (Festival): 75th St. and 37th Ave. Don’t miss Queens Pride’s main event! Begin your afternoon at the annual parade before heading to a fun-filled festival headlined by Kristine W and hosted by Dominique Jackson of “Pose.” The grand marshals for Queens Pride are HIV/ AIDS advocates Candy Samples and Jess Pasackow; the Queens Pride Lions Club, an LGBTQ group dedicated to community service in the borough; and Mirror Beauty Cooperative LLC, a worker cooperative led by trans Latina women providing cosmetology services.

Those who participate in the parade will be eligible to receive the Queenie Award 2019, which is a series of honors for the best drag performance, best use of color, best sound, best representation, and a final award that marks “Simply the Best Award.” The festival will feature singers, comedians, drag acts, and dance groups. There will also be vendors, food options, and community and social booths. Visit queenspride.org to register and find out more information. Queens Pride After-Party When: Sun., Jun. 2; happy hour is from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Where: Kabu Lounge at 8509 Northern Blvd. between 85th and 86th Sts. in Jackson Heights. LasReinas Entertainment’s after-party will feature $7 shots, $7 house drinks, and $20 for a bucket of five beers. The event will be hosted by Cynthia Russo— KrashNYC & Lexie Peterss and there will be live performances. There will be free giveaways.

Celebration of the LGBTQ Civil Rights Movement in Queens When: Sat., Jun. 22 from 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Where: Queens Museum at the New York City Building in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Head to Queens Museum for storytelling, art-making, and performances highlighting the work of LGBTQ activists in Queens. The packed afternoon features a variety of options for events, including drag queen story hour, LGBTQ youth activities, short film screenings, workshops honoring black and indigenous ancestors, plays, community building, and more. Find out more specific information at tinyurl.com/yx8h4wby/. Coming Out: Youth Discussion When: Wed., Jun. 26 from 4 p.m.–6 p.m. Where: Queens LGBT Center at 37-18 Northern Blvd., Suite #107 Queens Join the Queens LGBT Center for a discussion on celebrating Pride, navigating the coming out process, and understanding safety and acceptance. This event is for all LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 21. Pizza and refreshments will be served. For more information, visit tinyurl.com/y2b35mp5. May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


Happy Pride from Michael Serao of First Central Savings Bank You know how the wind blows a boat straight across the lake…but when a trained sailor controls that wind, they can move their boat straight into it successfully? Michael Serao has done the same thing at First Central Savings Bank, or as the community knows it, FCSB, a savings bank growing by leaps and bounds, headquartered in Glen Cove. As Executive Vice-President Chief Administrative Officer, Serao has brought FCSB into the 21st century. Through his advocacy as a game-changing player of the nonprofit sector and a prolific LGBTQ activist, Serao has ignited change in the banking world for LGBTQ clients. Inspiring FCSB’s branding to a new level, Serao galvanized the troops to make banking easier for the LGBTQ community, including establishing safe spaces in every branch. “The beauty of standing up for rights is that others see you standing and then stand up as well,” said Serao.

TAKING A PUBLIC STAND ON PRIDE Mr. Serao leads the philanthropic mission of FCSB, securing over $250,000 for nonprofit organizations which include support of LGBTQ communities, racial equality, protecting the environment, and access to education. Some of these organizations include: The Long Island Crisis Center’s Pride for Youth – an award winning program which serves as a leading advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) young people through age 30 in Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties -- The NYC Children's Theatre, The Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens, The Freeport Educational Foundation, The Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC) and The American-Italian Cancer Foundation, plus many more. “We want an institution where people feel comfortable, and in fact are excited to go there,” said Serao. “That’s why we’re pushing ahead to accompany our vision by taking a public stand in support of Pride and Equality."

EMBRACING THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY FCSB began embracing Pride when Serao came on board. He regards FCSB’s approach to the LGBTQ community as a cornerstone of its business strategy and not a way of cultivating a particular community or building the FCSB brand. “Embracing Pride is good for the bottom line, but it’s also the right thing to do,” said Serao, who brings 19 years of banking experience to FCSB. FCSB’s new branding was not an advertising campaign. The new slogan, “Banking

Michael Serao and his husband, Dr. Fidel Abreu. Executive Vice President Michael Serao (second from left) with First Central Savings Bank staff. the way it used to be, only better,” aligned with how the bank originally began doing business—making life simple by providing good old-fashioned, personal service with a smile. Under Serao’s leadership, FCSB recommitted to its roots as a community bank in that they make their decisions locally and have a vested interest in the people and businesses they serve.

OUT OF THE BRANCHES AND INTO THE COMMUNITY FCSB changed the way business gets done. Business Development Officers (BDOs) were hired to generate new deposits and loan growth. The BDOs went into the community and joined nonprofit organizations to expand their reach and acquire new customers as well as identify and capitalize on new business opportunities. “We can make it work,” became a reality. The BDO’s mission reflected the bank’s commitment to enriching communities, driving local economic growth, and cultivating lasting relationships by putting the best interests of their clients first. Through active engagement with local organizations, the BDOs learned first-hand about the credit needs of nonprofit organizations, the people they serve, and the surrounding communities. As part of the response to community needs, FCSB began hosting free financial literacy classes offering well-rounded education on critical personal finance knowledge and business development services particularly for small business owners. Inside the branch network, Serao recruited new staff for their excellent customer service skills. “Tellers” became “Universal Bankers” trained to handle all account activity, a one-stop shop for all customer needs. Customers realized it was a great way to take advantage of higher yields with products tailored to their unique needs. News of the changes

spread like wildfire. With the increase in foot traffic combined with the BDO team bringing in new business, the bank’s deposits kicked into high-gear, giving the institution the ability to fund new loans. Under Serao’s guidance, FCSB has improved the ease of doing business with RDC or Remote Deposit Capture by developing an attractive package of incentives for small business owners. Our RDC team goes directly into your business to onboard the new technology and businesses love the minimal interruption to their operations. Serao knew that customers prefer some physical interaction with branches so they remodeled the branch network with new paint, new furniture, new technology, and so much more. The benefits were immediate: stronger community partnerships, and a sense of ownership of branches that never existed. Under his plan, senior management began a consistent message to each employee to reinforce the brand, and then employees championed this message to customers. Serao feels the brand strengthens the institution’s goals by communicating one basic idea—personal service—to all employees. Expanding mobile and online banking while still maintaining phone and branch channels offers the access and convenience that is key to making the customer’s life easier. While FCSB’s footprint has certainly grown, they take pride in playing an active role within the local communities they serve by knowing their customers and understanding their unique needs. And the bank is still growing.

PHILANTHROPIC GIVING AND AWARDS Mr. Serao believes in the power of giving back. In 2018, he personally donated over $100,000 in charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations, including

$10,000 to the Long Island Crisis Center. He has worked actively in the LGBTQ community as a former member of OUT Astoria and former President of the Western Queens LGBT Democratic Club. "In 2018, Serao was nominated to The Long Island Press Power List as a “Rainmaker” for his activism in business and“Person of the Year” by the Long Island Crisis Center for his philanthropic commitment to the LGBTQ community. He supports services for children with Autism through Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) as well as senior citizens with disabilities. Mr. Serao is the Founder & CEO of Serao Enterprises and is also the President and co-owner of Guy Lombardo Properties, a multi-million dollar real estate company along with his husband, Dr. Fidel Abreu. Honors include: HX Magazine Businessman of the Year, Business Leadership Award from the Powhattan Democratic Club, and Man of the Year from the LIC Kiwanis. In 2014, the Huffington Post called him "The Banker Everyone Loves.” Mr. Serao is the Chairman of SHAREing & CAREing, Board Member for QSAC and Chair of the HR & Finance Committee, the former Board Director for the Kiwanis Club of Astoria/LIC, and previously served as an Advisory Board Member to The Immaculate Conception School in Queens. Mr. Serao is a graduate of Queensborough Community College and New York University. He now resides in Hewlett Harbor with his husband, Dr. Fidel Abreu, and their three dogs Bernie, CoCo, and Martin. Dr. Fidel Abreu is the founder of Fidel Abreu, DDS PLLC, a full service dental spa that provides a safe space for LGBTQ people and free services for victims of domestic violence. Mr. Serao accepts there is ceaseless speculation on the future of brick and mortar branches dominating headlines in 2019. “But for all the heated debate,” he said, “rest assured FCSB will remain hot for all community members.”

www.firstcentralsavings.com

GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

21


PRIDE

Next Up for Pride: Brooklyn Borough’s LGBTQ-themed events include bike rides, 5K run, music, and more BY MATT TRACY PHOTOS BY DONNA ACETO

H

ow do you celebrate Pride? No matter what you like to do, Brooklyn seems to have something for you. The city’s most populous borough boasts a broad range of Priderelated festivities during the time leading up to and after the twilight Pride parade on June 8. Check out some of the upcoming events for Pride in Brooklyn: Community Bike Rides: Pride Ride When: Sat., Jun. 1 at 10:45 a.m. Where: 1368 Fulton St. at Marcy Ave. Hop on your bike and enjoy a Pride ride through Brooklyn! Through a partnership program involving the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, CitiBike, and other organizations, folks who do not have a bike can ride one for free. Riders must be 16 years or older. RSVP at tinyurl.com/yy5ue8hu. Curator Tour: On the (Queer) Waterfront When: Sun, June 2 from 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Where: Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont St. at Clinton St. Curator Hugh Ryan (author of “When Brooklyn Was Queer”) offers a private tour of the first exhibition focusing on LGBTQ history in Brooklyn. Ryan will share stories he unearthed in his years-long pursuit of queer history in the borough. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at tinyurl.com/y5awpaj4. For more information, call

the Brooklyn Historical Society’s visitor services desk at 718-2224111, ext. 250. PRIDE DAY: Brooklyn’s Pride celebration encompasses much more than just a parade. Participate in a series of events leading up to the 7:30 p.m. parade on June 8: 5k Pride Run When: Sat., Jun. 8 at 10 a.m. Where: Bartel-Pritchard Sq. near 15th St. & Prospect Park West Kick off your Saturday morning with a 5k Pride Run through Prospect Park! Every runner in the race will receive a Brooklyn Pride Run Tshirt and a custom engraved Pride Run medal after finishing. Prizes will be awarded to winners of their respective age groups. Participants are encouraged to register under their respective gender identity. Registration costs $40. To find out more information and register, visit tinyurl.com/yyrpbgg9. Multicultural Festival When: Sat., Jun. 8 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Where: Fifth Ave. between First and Ninth Sts. Community organizations and

businesses will line the streets of Brooklyn throughout the day for this festival before the Pride Parade. There will be stages and entertainment. To find out more information about registration, visit tinyurl.com/yyrpbgg9. Twilight Parade When: Sat., Jun. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Where: Parade starts at Lincoln P. and ends at Ninth St. and Fifth Ave. Cap off your day with a special celebration at the 23rd annual Twilight Pride Parade — the only nighttime parade in the entire city. Brooklyn Pride’s website, Brooklynpride.org, notes that the registration deadline is coming soon. Find out more at tinyurl.com/yyrpbgg9. House of Yes Pride Celebration When: Sat., Jun. 8 at 10 p.m. Where: 2 Wyckoff Ave. near Jefferson St. Dance, theater, and performance venue House of Yes is celebrating Brooklyn Pride on June 8 when Whitney Day and DJ Mora-

22

bito headline an evening of love, music, freedom, and equality. There are numerous other Priderelated events on tap at the venue throughout the month of June. To find out more information, visit its website at houseofyes.org. Drag and Comedy in Greenpoint When: Sun., Jun. 9 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Where: 113 Franklin St. between Kent St. and Greenpoint Ave. Head on over to Threes Brewing in Greenpoint to watch drag queen host Ducky Sheaboi and six others take on WorldPride with a night of burlesque, comedy, drag, and dance. Plus, there will be a costume contest. May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

23


PRIDE

Brighton Beach Celebrates Pride Immigration issues highlight LGBTQ community’s annual march in southern Brooklyn BY MATT TRACY

T

hey barreled down the Riegelmann Boardwalk chanting, “Hey ho, hey ho, homophobia has got to go,� and “We’re here! We’re queer! Immigrants are welcome here!� With a strong focus on the intersection of LGBTQ and immigration issues, a vibrant group of local queer residents combined with allied organizations from around the city gathered on May 19 to commemorate the third annual Brighton Beach Pride celebration on a windy but sunny Sunday afternoon in southern Brooklyn. The event was led by RUSA LGBT — a network of Russian-speaking people, their friends and loved ones — and featured activists, representatives from several city agencies, folks from Queens Pride and the Reclaim Pride Coalition, and others who traveled from near and far. Attendees were there to stand in solidarity with a marginalized LGBTQ community often plagued by immigration woes and homophobia in a part of Brooklyn still known to be rife with conservative viewpoints. Participants included those who fled their Russian and Eastern European homelands where LGBTQ people regularly face social stigma and persecution. Marchers, holding Rainbow and Transgender Flags along with signs highlighting the abuse of LGBTQ people in the Russian region of Chechnya, stepped off at the Ruby Jacobs Club Walk and proceeded east on the boardwalk until they stopped to hold a rally at the boardwalk and Brighton 15th Street.

MAT T TRACY

Marchers head east on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in support of LGBTQ rights at the third annual Brighton Beach Pride on May 19.

MAT T TRACY

RUSA LGBT co-president Lyosha Gorshkov speaks to the crowd at a rally following the Brighton Beach Pride march.

Some onlookers sitting on benches or walking the boardwalk watched with a seeming indifference or surprise, while others clapped enthusiastically and snapped photos. When the march reached the rally locale, Lyosha Gorshkov, the copresident of RUSA LGBT who was driven out of Russia by persecution and gained asylum in the US, got the diverse crowd fired up with sentiments voiced in both English

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and Russian expressing gratitude to those who overcame the trauma of homophobia back in their home countries and are willing to stand proud in their new land. Participants held signs in support of Black Lives Matter as well as trans and immigration rights as other speakers stepped up to tell their asylum stories and provide folks with information on how to receive immigration assistance. Matthew McMorrow, an out gay senior advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio, emphasized to the crowd that the city supports the entire LGBTQ community in southern Brooklyn. “As we prepare to welcome the world to commemorate Stonewall, we have a message we will take to the world — that queer immigrants are welcome here always, every day,� McMorrow said. “I want you to know that the City of New York has your backs.�

The city’s Commission on Human Rights, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and the NYPD Community Affairs Unit were among the city agencies in attendance. Notably absent, however, were elected officials. Gorshkov said he invited City Councilmember Chaim Deutsch, who represents the area, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries, as well as de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo. “The elected officials pay no attention to our concerns,� Gorshkov told Gay City News. “What we need to do more is to encourage other people to stand up for themselves because that’s the main thing. They’re still traumatized, still afraid to walk around the neighborhood in Brighton Beach.� Gorshkov was particularly upset that Deutsch, who unleashed a homophobic attack on an opponent during a debate in his first campaign for City Council and has repeatedly voted against LGBTQ rights, still refuses to attend Brighton Beach Pride — especially at a time when the vulnerable community is fighting for acceptance. “Deutsch told me plainly that he does not support same-sex marriage and he is not going to attend Brighton Beach Pride,� Gorshkov said. “I sent him a lot of invitations and he dismissed them. He still supports conversion therapy.� Still, Gorshkov was glad to see the mayor’s office, the Human Rights Commission, and other representatives from city government in attendance, as well as several advocacy groups. Like the Reclaim Pride Coalition, RUSA LGBT’s growing grassroots support has been fueled in part by it refocusing its Pride celebration on critical issues facing the community rather than allowing a large corporate presence to overshadow the event. “It feels amazing because I feel like every single year we’ve had more and more people,� he said. “We have a lot of Brighton Beach residents here and they would like to come back. That means we are doing something that’s very important.�

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May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

25


MARRIAGE EQUALITY

US Fights Citizenship of Gay Couple’s Son Pompeo appeals ruling that bi-national family’s kids are American

ASHLI SHAPIRO/ IMMIGRATION EQUALIT Y

Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks with their two children, Ethan and Aiden, and the family’s dog.

BY MATT TRACY

M FAMILY PRIDE SECTION TO ADVERTISE CONTACT: GAYLE H. GREENBERG 718-260-4585 GGREENBERG@SCHNEPSMEDIA.COM GAYCITYNEWS.NYC 26

ore than a year after the US State Department shrugged off existing same-sex marriage and immigration laws and rejected citizenship for a child of two gay dads, the agency is now appealing a federal judge’s ruling that the child is an American citizen. As it turns out, the State Department has stuck to its posture in this kind of case for years — dating back before the Trump administration. Israeli citizen Elad DvashBanks and American citizen Andrew Dvash-Banks were married in Canada in 2010 and had two sons via surrogates there in 2016 before moving to California. Andrew is the biological father of Aid-

en and Elad is the biological father of Ethan, but both fathers are legal parents of both kids. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) stipulates that the children — born in Canada — should both be American citizens because at least one of their parents is an American citizen. Yet, the Rex Tillerson-led State Department argued otherwise, saying that Ethan — the boy whose biological father is not an American citizen — is also not American. In deciding the question of US citizenship for the two Canadian-born children, the State Department went so far as to order DNA tests on both of the boys. The State Department conclusion would leave young Ethan as the only member of the Dvash-

➤ BI-NATIONAL FAMILY, continued on p.31 May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ BI-NATIONAL FAMILY, from p.26 Banks not eligible for permant residency in the US; his father qualifies as the spouse of an American citizen. Andrew and Elad, represented by the LGBTQ-focused legal group Immigration Equality, decided in January 2018 to challenge that finding in federal court in the Central District of California. The court ruled in February of this year that the boy is a “US citizen at birth� and gave the State Department — now headed up by Mike Pompeo — 60 days to appeal. On the 60th day, the Trump administration moved forward with an appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, despite that court having twice ruled that the INA should be interpreted that there need not need be a biological link between children and their legal parents in order for them to be recognized as US citizens as long as one parent is an American citizen. “They’re disappointed,� Kristen Thompson, the communications director for Immigration Equality, told Gay City News on May 10. “They were hoping for closure, and we’re upset that they have to continue this legal battle.� In the meantime, the ruling stands and the boy is being recognized as an American citizen with a valid US passport. Thompson noted that it could be a year until oral arguments are heard in the Trump administration’s appeal. Immigration Equality has seen numerous cases of the same nature involving surrogate children of bi-national LGBTQ parents who have been unfairly targeted by the State Department. The organization is also representing a married lesbian couple whose children have not been recognized by the State Department after they were born outside of the US. In that family’s case, one parent is an American citizen and the other is Italian. The family filed a complaint against the State Department and they had a status hearing before the DC Circuit judge on May 15. Thompson said the State Department’s insistence in interpreting the INA law to require a biological connection is not unique to the Trump administration — she noted that the Obama administraGayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

tion employed the same approach — but it is unclear whether the State Department is pursuing the denial of citizenship for such children more vigorously. “In the last couple of years, we’ve gotten dozens of inquiries,� Thompson said. “I think we’ve gotten three or four calls in the last couple of weeks.� Pompeo, in appealing the district court ruling regarding the two gay dads, is building on his record of anti-gay intolerance dating back years as a Republican US House member from Kansas in voicing homophobic attitudes toward same-sex marriage, LGBTQ service members, and gay families. Pompeo, in his first race for the House in 2010, said, “We cannot use the military to promote social ideas that do not reflect the values of our nation,� he blasted the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling as a “shocking abuse of power,� and, in the most relevant measure of his views on gay families, in 2014, he said, “If you’re asking for what is ideal, I think it’s being raised by a man and a woman.� Now, as secretary of state, he’s using his powerful role to put those beliefs into action, effectively keeping bi-national LGBTQ families in legal limbo after they thought existing laws protected them. “Since the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell, more couples are able to get married and they’re finding themselves in situations where they have kids and have to deal with this,� Thompson said “The policy disproportionately affects same-sex couples.� Out gay West Side State Senator Brad Hoylman, who is the father of two children born through surrogacy and is working to liberalize surrogacy law in New York, where surrogacy carried out for pay is currently illegal, said. “It’s outrageous that the Trump administration is trying to attack LGBTQ families. I absolutely consider my kids to be equal. The fact that our government would try to prove otherwise is ludicrous to the extreme. It’s really alarming that the State Department doesn’t have anything better to do with its resources than to attack this loving family. It undermines the notion that you don’t have to share all the same biology to be siblings.�

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BY ED SIKOV

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re you aware that one of the alleged young killers at the STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado is a transgender boy? If so, you’ve had to do some digging to find out about his morphing gender because the mainstream media has left the issue mostly unspoken, leaving it to the crank right to trumpet. I frankly don’t remember where I got wind of it. The New York Times and the Washington Post appear not to have mentioned it; CNN reported it but failed to use the term transgender, as did NBC, which said only that the shooter in question “prefers male pronouns.” But the crank right was all over it: the Washington Examiner, CBN (Christian Broadcasting News), Breitbart, SNN (Satan News Network)… okay, I made that one up, but the others are all too real. And in case you’re wondering, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. My first research stop was Snopes. com to check whether this was yet another float in the parade of media misinformation of the type that Snopes debunks. Snopes’ headline and subhead present the problem in a nutshell: “Was the ‘Media Silent’ About a ‘Democrat Transgender’ Colorado Shooting Suspect? It’s unknown whether the political leanings or purported gender identity of either suspect is relevant to the crime.” I’m wading into some turbulent water here, but I say but the answer is unequivocally yes. Of course one of the shooters’ gender identity - or as Snopes delicately puts it, “purported gender identity” — is relevant to the crime. Everything about the shooters is relevant to the crime. Well, maybe not everything. As Snopes’ reporter, Bethania Palma, wrote on the website, “So far, authorities have disclosed no motive for the attack, but that didn’t stop some people from assigning one that fit their narrative. For example, the following meme circulated on Facebook in the aftermath of what was the second deadly school shooting in the US over seven days: “Colorado school shooter was a democrat transgender Anti-Christian drug user.” Note the, um, idiosyn-

cratic capitalization. Note also that the suspect in question, Alec McKinney, is only 16 years old and therefore couldn’t register as a Democrat, a Republican, a Green, or an Independent because he’s too young to vote. “Although the claim that the ‘media is silent’ is a common conspiratorial trope,” Palma continues, “it is often misleading. In fact, the news media indeed reported the details contained in the above meme. One day after the shooting, Denver station KMGH-TV first reported one of the shooting suspects ‘is a transgender male who was in the midst of transitioning from female to male.’ Subsequently, publications that sent journalists to the suspects’ court appearances reported that McKinney was born female with the official name ‘Maya,’ but prefers the use of male pronouns and goes by the name ‘Alec.’ Right-wing websites such as Breitbart and the Daily Caller also reported that the older suspect, [Devon] Erickson, was registered to vote as a Democrat.” Palma continues: “News reports also indicated at least one of the suspects may have used drugs, while the New York Post reported that ‘what appears to be’ Erickson’s Facebook page included a 2014 post in which he allegedly wrote about hating ‘All these Christians who hate gays.’” I will leave to you the task of sorting out which facts belong to which shooter — it’s a mess — and return to the subject at hand, namely: is it relevant to note in reporting this crime that one of the suspects is transgender? I say it is. To deliberately leave out this information is to reinforce the idea that being transgender is something to be hushed up — ignored at best and at worst deliberately elided. Most news consumers are not so stupid as to need to have their news content-filtered for them. And so what if they are? It’s not the job of journalists to decide whether or not to report a major news story. It’s their job to report it as thoroughly and as free of bias as possible. To strip Alec McKinney of his gender is to render him less than fully human. Palma goes on: “Whether any of the information about Erickson or McKinney is relevant to the crime is unknown, however. Authorities

have not made public a motive for the shooting, said Deputy Cocha Heyden, spokesperson for the Douglas County sheriff. Heyden declined to state whether media reports about the gender identity of the younger suspect were accurate. Andrew Patrick, spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), told us that focusing on alleged political leanings of the suspects, their gender identity, and their purported views about Christians appears to be a distraction from the issue at hand — that shooters with murderous intent were able to access firearms.” I disagree. Yes, obviously the shooters were able to access firearms. That goes without saying. It was, after all, a shooting! Beyond that, gender identity is far from “a distraction.” The real question here is not even whether or not one of the shooters’ gender is relevant to the news story, but rather whether or not this basic fact of McKinney’s life should be hidden from the public. For what purpose would a media outlet deliberately conceal it? Vicarious or projected shame? Fear of guilt by association — in other words, the ridiculous implication that all transgender people are murderers waiting to find just the right person to kill? Nobody knows yet if Alec McKinney was bullied because of his gender identity (except, of course, for McKinney himself), and it would be premature to speculate on that subject. But that doesn’t mean that his gender identity should be kept out of the story merely because some nutty fascist somewhere might get the impression that all transgender people are crazy enough to shoot up a school. Words and phrases that must die right now: Meme. Trope. Iconic. Game changer. And the worst of all: You got this. That one was memorably employed by the former Beverly Hills 90210 star Shannen Doherty as her parting words to her late costar Luke Perry. Exactly what did Perry get? Death. Yeah, Luke – your iconic performance on the iconic series was a game-changing trope. Now you’re dead. You got this. Follow @edsikov on Facebook and Twitter. May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


PRIDE

Reclaim Pride Announces March Route, Rally Details As with Stonewall 25, this year to see two 1969 commemorations on June’s last Sunday BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

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he coalition that is producing the Queer Liberation March and Rally on June 30 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots officially announced its route and rally site at a press conference held across the street from the Stonewall Inn, where the 1969 riots that mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement occurred. “It was a life-changing event for me,” said Ellen Shumsky, a former member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), referring to the 1970 march that first commemorated the riots with a march in New York City. Shumsky had earlier joined marches for other radical causes. The 1970 march was her first LGBTQ march. “I realized I had been marching in a closet,” she said at the May 14 press conference. “This was the first march where I could step out and be proud.” The members of the Reclaim Pride Coalition, which is producing the march and rally, decided last year to move forward with their own events after becoming increasingly unsatisfied with the tenor of the march produced by Heritage of Pride (HOP), the group that organizes New York City’s annual Pride Parade and related events. Some members of the Coalition began agitating for a separate march in 2017 and again in 2018 when some of them battled with HOP over allowing resistance contingents in the march in those years. In 2019, they want to send their own message in their own march. The Reclaim Pride and HOP events will take place on the same day, though the Reclaim Pride march will begin hours earlier than HOP’s. Activists are offended by what they see as the “over-policing” and “selling off” of the annual event, as Colin Ashley, a Coalition member, said at the press conference. While community groups and non-profits comprise the majority of continGayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

DONNA ACETO

Ellen Shumsky, a former member of the Gay Liberation Front who participated in the first march commemorating the 1969 Stonewall riots, in June of 1970.

DONNA ACETO

Colin Ashley, a member of the Reclaim Pride Coalition, points out the route of the march from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park.

gents in HOP’s march, the sponsors that deliver significant funding for the event are a dominant presence with large floats and contingents. The Coalition march will step off from Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue at 9:30 a.m. It will head north on the avenue then turn east on 10th Street and travel north on Sixth Avenue to Central Park for the rally on the Great Lawn. Marchers will pause at Bryant Park at 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue at roughly 11 a.m. for stragglers who could not make the earlier start time. “I’ve supported it since I learned about it,” said Fred Sargeant who organized the 1970 march with the late Craig Rodwell, then his partner. “I think it’s good idea to return the march to its old route, eliminate

the barricades, and get the people back into the march.” The 1970 march stepped off from the West Village and traveled up Sixth Avenue to Central Park for a “gay-in” on the Sheep Meadow. HOP’s march, which always begins at noon, will be staged in the blocks above 26th Street and east and west of Fifth Avenue. The march will head south on Fifth Avenue, west on Eighth and Christopher Streets past the Stonewall Inn and north on Seventh Avenue to disperse in the blocks above 24th Street. GLF is one of five grand marshals in HOP’s march and members of that group will likely be participating in both events. “I think the people at HOP have done a job over the years that cer-

tainly can be commended, but it has gotten away from what it needs to be,” Sargeant told Gay City News from his home in Vermont. Reclaim Pride has nearly fulfilled its $150,000 budget and is close to acquiring the eight permits it needs to stage its rally in Central Park. It will not have a permit for its march. “We have an agreement,” said Norman Siegel, the civil rights attorney who represented the Coalition in its months-long negotiations with the NYPD and the city parks department. “That’s sufficient under the First Amendment.” This will be the second time that there will be two marches on the last Sunday in June commemorating the 1969 Stonewall riots. In 1994, at the 25th anniversary, a group called Gay & Lesbian Americans (GLA) sued the city to win a permit to march up Fifth Avenue to Central Park for that year’s rally. The larger march that year was produced by Stonewall 25, not HOP, and it traveled on First Avenue by the United Nations building to reflect the international scope of the anniversary. Like the Coalition, GLA, which was represented by Siegel, wanted to send its own message with its own march. GLA lost its court battle, but still marched on Fifth Avenue. The police closed the avenue, but William Bratton, then the police commissioner, stood on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral as the march went by to make clear where his sympathies lay. Cardinal John O’Connor, who headed the Archdiocese of New York from 1984 until 2000, was a frequent opponent of the LGBTQ community and commented from the pulpit in that cathedral. Before HOP’s route was shortened, it was common for marchers to jeer or chant “Shame” as they went by the cathedral. “The Reclaim Pride Coalition wants to make sure that what happens at Stonewall 50 remembers the spirit of what happened here 50 years ago,” Siegel said at the press conference. “I am proud to be the attorney for the rebels.”

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THEATER

Torn Between Faith and Facts Alice Ripley as a Christian widow with a trans teen BY DAVID KENNERLEY o all you theater geeks out there, I want to let you in on a secret. Head on over to the charming Little Church Around the Corner on East 29th Street, climb up a narrow, creaky staircase, and you’ll discover a theater tucked under the eaves of the 1849 Neo-Gothic structure. The space, longtime headquarters of the Episcopal Actors’ Guild, is filled with books and cases crammed with faded photos and other mementoes of acting greats (John Gielgud’s cane from the 1971 Broadway production of “Home,” for example), in addition to a modest stage and 27 folding chairs. This storied church, also known as the Church of the Transfiguration, has long been a safe haven for social outcasts, welcoming blacks, gays, and yes, even actors, when no one else would have them. So

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JA ZELLE ARTISTRY

Alice Ripley in Elise Forier Edie’s “The Pink Unicorn,” directed by Amy Jones, at the the Episcopal Actors’ Guild through June 2.

it makes brilliant sense as the backdrop for “The Pink Unicorn,” an extraordinary, spellbinding solo show about a middle-aged Christian woman in Texas named

Trisha learning to accept her 14-year-old daughter, Jolene, who suddenly went “all genderqueer on me.” Truth be told, she wished to God Jolene were normal. The actor who portrays Trisha is none other than the über-talented Alice Ripley. That’s right, the Best Actress Tony winner for “Next to Normal,” also Tony nominated for originating the role of conjoined twin Violet Hilton in “Side Show,” has carved out time from her hectic schedule to play to a house about the size of your living room. And what a performance! Ripley fully disappears into the role of the valiant, albeit conflicted widow (her husband died in a car wreck a while back) torn between her trans child and the local Presbyterian community bent on erasing anyone different from their own kind. Ripley lends a tender grace that makes the God-fearing, diversityaverse Trisha vulnerable and ap-

pealing, even to the staunchest atheist Yankee. Unlike many solo shows that feature mannered impersonations of a host of characters, Ripley is always simply Trisha, clad in an ill-fitting, lilac-hued cardigan she probably knitted herself. Sure, she quotes her daughter or mother or pastor from time to time, but at most she alters her voice, as anyone would when telling a story. Her Texas twang feels so authentic I googled Ripley to see if she grew up in the Deep South (nope, she was born in California and attended high school and college in Ohio). “I have seen her vargina,” she says, adding an “r” where there shouldn’t be one. “There’s nothing ‘boy’ about it.” Under the thoughtful direction of Amy Jones, Ripley moves naturally around the stage, sometimes

➤ PINK UNICORN, continued on p.35

Power Plays Two shows examine lust for power, its bloody consequences BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE here is no compelling need to brush up your Shakespeare before seeing “Gary,” the new Taylor Mac comedy at the Booth. It’s subtitled “A Sequel to Titus Andronicus,” but all you need to know about the Bard’s first epic tragedy is that it’s set in ancient Rome, rife with political intrigue, where everyone is excessively rotten to everyone else, and virtually all of them meet blooddrenched, violent ends. And so, the curtain rises on “Gary,” where the bodies, abstract dummies created by set designer Santo Loquasto and costume designer Ann Roth, are stacked to the rafters and there’s blood everywhere. To clean up this mess we have Gary — a clown who aspires to becoming a fool, the difference being that clowns are merely ridiculous while fools speak truth to power — and Janice, a maid adept at cleaning up this kind of mess. Over the course of the 90-minute show, the two discourse on the state of the world, mixing high-brow philosophy with

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Nathan Lane and Kristine Nielsen in Taylor Mac’s “Gary: “A Sequel to Titus Andronicus,” directed by George W. Woolfe at the Booth through August 4.

low-brow comedy as they prepare the bodies for disposal. At one point, a survivor, Carol, emerges from the heaps of bodies and vainly tries to save what she can of the order that was wiped out in the waves of gore. Not much else happens. This is not a plot-driven piece, but an artful meditation on the state of mankind framed in a graphic, Grand Guignol puppet show, of sorts. The piece is fast-paced and chaotic, yet under the pointed direction of George C. Wolfe, it’s exciting and theatrical. Ideas and thoughts fly about with the same abandon as blood and body parts in a kind of philosophical steeplechase. Mac’s play and the production jump between the absurdity of Ionesco, the existentialism of Genet, the Dadaism of Tristan Tzara, and the mordant political commentary of Shaw. The melding of these styles and the constant changes make this remarkably funny and intellectually riveting, animated by over-the-top production.

➤ POWER LUST, continued on p.35 May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ PINK UNICORN, from p.34 clutching her pocketbook appliqued with cheery butterflies. The only hint of a set is a couple of banners meant to evoke stained glass windows, a table, and a bench. Trisha’s account of her stunned reaction to Jolene’s announcement is especially affecting. “How on God’s green earth can you be both a boy and a girl,” she wondered. Crisis of faith notwithstanding, she was supportive, wanting her daughter to embrace who she is and be fulfilled. She made an allout effort to call Jolene by the preferred name, “Jo,” and pronoun, “they.” Trisha’s pigheaded mother, however, advised her to “smack that child upside her head.” Against all odds, Trisha found herself leading the charge when the principal denied Jo’s application to start a Gay-Straight Alliance in the Sparkton, Texas, high school. She wisely partnered with the ACLU to fight the bigots. Despite being shunned by her friends and receiving death threats for supporting her “freak of nature” daughter, she soldiered on. If the monologue feels didactic at times, expounding in copious detail on the nature of transgenderism, it is no less engaging. The exceedingly insightful playwright, Elise Forier Edie, has a keen ear for the colorful language of the South. “Gender is on a scale, just like autism,” Trisha explains. “Only at one end is Marilyn Monroe, and on

➤ POWER LUST, from p.34 The cast is perfect. Nathan Lane is Gary, and his inherent genius as a comic actor is often tempered with monologues about the nature of life and power as well as Gary’s striving to find meaning in life, after having escaped the noose. (The minor character that Gary is based on in Shakespeare’s play is hung.) Kristine Nielsen as Janice is a similarly gifted comedienne, and as with Lane, she elevates her penchant for broad comedy with a dark exploration of what it means to be the workaday person “dressed in a little brief authority” (as Shakespeare writes in “Measure for Measure”) tasked with cleaning up the messes of others. Julie White as Carol, based on a GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

the other end is Charles Bronson, and everyone else in the world just lands somewhere in between.” Lesbians figure prominently in the story; Trisha could not have organized a successful demonstration without them. Curiously, the only gay male mentioned is a friend of Jo’s who is “a little slip of a thing, just gayer than Christmas.” During Trisha’s elaborate account of the hordes of housewives and college students and doctors who attended the protest, she neglects to mention gay men. Watching “The Pink Unicorn,” I was convinced it was a bio-drama based on actual events. It feels so specific, so real. Yet Edie, who played the part of Trisha in earlier productions, insists it is not one woman’s story, but a pastiche of many true stories, some ripped from the pages of headlines, some from her own life (she has a transgender child). “All the events in this play happened to somebody,” Edie said in a press statement. “And I really do wish we could find a way to talk about it. I really do wish we could live in a world where diverse people, with all their different points of view, could walk and talk together.” Amen to that. THE PINK UNICORN | Out of the Box Theatrics | Episcopal Actors’ Guild, 1 E. 29th St. | Through Jun. 2: Wed.-Sat. at 7 p.m.; Sat. at 2 p.m. | $29.50-$99 at ootbtheatrics.com | Niney mins.; no intermission

midwife who appears briefly in “Titus,” is frantic to save the baby who appears to be the last living member of the old order. Or is she just trying to save herself from the consequences of letting her charge die, which begs the question of who we are when social structures are wiped away? Mac’s allegory is simplistic and bleak, but juxtaposed against the daring theatricality, it’s consistently exciting. Mac takes aim at almost every aspect of civilization and points out both our foolishness and the inevitable fact that, literally and metaphorically, everyone ends in mincemeat. As the song goes, that’s entertainment.

➤ POWER LUST, continued on p.39

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35


BOOKS

Queer Lit’s Urgent Necessity Celebrated Publishing Triangle honors new writers and a life’s work BY KATHLEEN WARNOCK here was a time a few years ago when the question “Do we need queer literature?” was seriously discussed. It is not a debate that comes up much nowadays. The winners at the 31st annual Publishing Triangle Awards, held April 25 at the New School Auditorium — from the Emerging Writer recipient to the Lifetime Achievement honoree — all spoke about how essential it is for the queer literary community to speak out, loudly and passionately. “Once more, the queer people of the world, indeed all of humanity, are under the threat of totalitarianism,” Jaime Manrique said in his acceptance speech for the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement. “That’s why we as writers must endeavor to write with our fi ngers and our minds afire. For wherever we fi nd racism, homophobia, and misogyny entrenched, we must march toward that evil structure and tear it down.” Manrique was honored for his distinguished career as a writer of fiction, poetry, and prose in both English and Spanish, which continues. His novel, “Like This Afternoon Forever,” about two Catholic priests in Colombia who fall in love, will be published June 4. Peter Cameron presented the award. “All my dawns are resting on one trigger fi nger…” was the heart-stopping line of poetry that Teresa DeCrescenzo quoted when she presented the Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award to “Living Queer Black poet from Chicago” Julian Randall. When he was growing up, “to imagine I might be queer was a truly unapproachable thought,” Randall recalled. “To be queer is to be joined in the work of imagining such a thing.” The Publishing Triangle, whose mission is “to further the publication of books and other materials written by LGBT authors or with

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TRACY KETCHER

“Like This Afternoon Forever,” the latest novel from Jaime Manrique, honored with the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement, will be released on June 4.

TRACY KETCHER

Chicago poet Julian Randall was recognized with the Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award.

LGBT themes,” presents three honorary and seven competitive

awards for new work each year. The honorary Leadership Award

was presented to Paul Willis, longtime literary enabler and founder of the annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans. Willis started S&S in 2003 “as an innovative way to reach the community with information about HIV/ AIDS, particularly disseminating prevention messages via the writers, thinkers, and spokespeople of the LGBT community.” S&S has become an essential event for queer writers, readers, and allies each March, drawing participants from the US and Europe, and literary icons from Andrew Holloran and Dorothy Allison to Jewelle Gomez, among many others, for panels, workshops, readings, and friendship. Willis spoke of the writers who have “found their tribe, and return each year to a place where people feel such connection.” He also talked about being attacked in his home city and losing an eye in the hate crime. His tribe, he said, gathered around him to help him recover and continue. Willis urged the audience of LGBTQ writers and readers to join the congregants “in the sultry streets of the French Quarter,” and know they will be welcome. Willis’s award was presented by Thomas Keith. Nearly 30 books were fi nalists for the prizes in Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Trans & Gender-Variant Literature, and the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction. Jill Dearman and John Loughery presented the Non-Fiction Awards. The Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Non-Fiction went to “Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry,” by Imani Perry. Imani Ford accepted the award for Perry, reading a message from the author: “I want to accept this award in honor of Nigel Shelby, a 15-year-old child who died by suicide exactly a week ago, in Huntsville Alabama. Nigel identified as gay, was bullied at school,

➤ PUBLISHING TRIANGLE, continued on p.37 May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


TRACY KETCHER

Margaree Little won the Audre Lorde Award for her first poetry collection, “Rest.”

➤ PUBLISHING TRIANGLE, from p.36 struggled with depression, and was mistreated by a society that deemed him unacceptable, when in fact he was so beautiful that he shines luminously in every image that has circulated of him online. Seeing his face makes me smile and weep at once. Nigel was from the town my grandparents were from before moving to Birmingham.” The Randy Shilts Award for Gay Non-Fiction went to “How to Write an Autobiographical Novel,” by Alexander Chee, who noted that the Publishing Triangle names the agent, the editor, and the publishing house when presenting the awards, saying that doing so “meant naming those who supported us. Because there were those who did not.” Chase Berggrun presented the award for Trans & Gender-Variant Literature to “Some Animal,” by Ely Shipley. Stephen Motika accepted the award on behalf of Shipley, who sent thanks “to all the trans ancestors.” The Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction was presented by Stephen Greco and literary agent Malaga Baldi, and it went to John R. Gordon’s “Drapetomania.” The title is taken from a pseudoscience mental illness diagnosis ofGayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

fered by 19th century American physician Samuel A. Cartwright to explain enslaved Africans fleeing their captivity. Gordon’s novel, a narrative of two enslaved men, lovers who are separated, was the work of many years. Martin Hyatt, the 2007 winner, presented the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award to “The House of Impossible Beauties,” by Joseph Cassara, a novel inspired by the drag and ball scene in Harlem in the 1980s. Jerome Murphy and Christina Quintana presented the Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry, with Quintana reading the Audre Lorde poem “Movement Song,” and Murphy reading Gunn’s “Considering the Snail.” Margaree Little won the Audre Lorde Award for her first poetry collection, “Rest.” “Not Here,” by Hieu Minh Nguyen won the Thom Gunn Prize, which was accepted by Julian Randall, who told the crowd, “He wants to thank queerness and his publisher. He loves all of you very much!” As Randall said in his own acceptance speech for the Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award, “For all of those who are waiting for the books that they need us to write, we are coming. We are writing as fast as we can.”

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37


MUSIC

And Now the Tale is Queer Tyler, the Creator travels a long road from his roots BY STEVE ERICKSON 011: Tyler, the Creator’s debut album “Goblin” becomes the most controversial hip-hop album since Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP,” thanks to lyrics like “I raped a pregnant bitch and had a threesome” and its use of “faggot” and other anti-gay slurs 212 times (according to The Guardian). But the shock value worked, with “Goblin” hitting #5 on the Billboard top 200 and eventually going gold. 2019: His new album “IGOR” is his second in a row to feature lyrics suggesting he’s queer, with lyrics tracking a path from infatuation to breakup in a relationship with a closeted man. It follows his work on the soundtrack of the 2018 film “The Grinch.” Other members of his former crew Odd Future, like singer Frank Ocean and the Internet singer Syd and guitarist Steve Lacy, have come out as LGBTQ. So Tyler, the Creator has ended up in a much different place than he started out from. When he released “Flower Boy” in 2017, its warm, melodic sound was a surprise, but lyrics like “This next line will have them going like whoa/ I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004,” and the extended metaphor for an agonized life in the closet on “Garden Shed” marked a bigger change of direction from his early music. “IGOR” returns to the sound of his third album, “Cherry Bomb,” with a far more polished and coherent aesthetic. He pitchshifts his vocals in every direction and feeds synthesizers through distortion, but he’s gone past the punk-rap aesthetic of his first few albums. On Twitter shortly before the release of “IGOR,” Tyler told his fans that “it’s not a rap album.” It departs from narrow definitions of hip-hop, with him singing more than he raps. The inclusion of spoken-word commentary from Jerrod Carmichael and tendency to base some of the songs on fragmentary, repeated lyrics evokes Blood Orange’s “Negro Swan” and

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“IGOR” is the second album from Tyler, the Creator with lyrics suggesting he’s queer.

Solange’s “When I Get Home” (She sings on “I Think.”) “Gone, Gone/ Thank You” ventures into psychedelic pop. Other songs suggest N.E.R.D. and late Outkast’s mix of soul, rock, and hip-hop. Tyler still hasn’t made any unambiguous declarations about his sexuality outside his lyrics. Given his history, “Flower Boy” drew accusations of queer-baiting and suggestions he was adopting a new persona to get publicity. But a video produced by the website Genius showing the history of gay references in his lyrics shows the ironic ambiguity of his early lyrics’ homophobia, which now seems like it was a cover for a real attraction to men. “IGOR” follows the story of a love affair with a partner who’s in a relationship with a woman. “Running Out of Time” suggests that that partner is not accepting their sexuality: “Take your mask off, I need her out of the picture/ Stop

SAM ROCK

“IGOR” is a long way from Tyler, the Creator’s controversial 2011 release “Goblin.”

lyin’ to yourself, I know the real you.” “New Magic Wand” expresses his jealousy toward that woman. “Boy With a Gun” finally makes it clear that the object of this narrator’s desire is a man. They can’t make it work and break up in the album’s last third, as suggested by the final two song titles: “I

Don’t Love You Anymore” and “Are We Still Friends?” and the difference in tone between the former’s low-fi collage, with a cheap drum machine loud in the mix, and the latter’s tentatively upbeat, jazzy soul. Tyler isn’t a technically skilled singer, but his production on “IGOR” spans genres ably. You can trace the distorted electronics and Neptunes influence here back to his earliest music, but the bratty aesthetic of “Goblin” and his 2009 mixtape “Bastard” is long gone. Where he was once content to throw together grating combinations of minor-key piano chords and off-key synthesizers, “IGOR” continues the tunefulness of “Flower Boy,” although it also keeps up his practice of reinventing his sound with each album. His ability to make an album that feels so personal while opening itself to a lengthy roster of guests, some of whom are buried in the mix, feels new. The love story “IGOR” tells certainly sounds heartfelt. It’s anyone’s guess whether it’s autobiographical. This is an album that uses other people’s voices and constantly overdubs, speeds up, and slows down Tyler’s own voice to tell that story. From the start, he’s expressed a sensibility that avoids sincerity and earnestness. “Goblin” came across as trolling, and it succeeded in putting him and Odd Future on the map. (Even their most offensive moments seem relatively harmless compared to the SoundCloud rappers who followed in their wake, living out their violent and misogynist lyrics.) But even the ugliest emotions expressed in the lyrics of “IGOR” seem far removed from the creepy tales of violent misogyny on “Goblin.” It’s possible for growth to take place in unexpected places and acceptance of one’s sexuality to emerge from unpromising ground. TYLER, THE CREATOR | “IGOR” | Columbia Records | columbiarecords.com May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ POWER LUST, from p.35 While ostensibly chronicling the final night before and day of the 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary, Lucas Hnath’s play, “Hillary and Clinton” is, like “Gary,” allegorical rather than literal. Good thing, too. It’s not without abiding affection for the actual Hillary Clinton and daily chagrin that she’s not president that I say the Clintonian narrative has been done to death in all media and is not crying out to be dramatized — at least at this moment. Instead, playwright Hnath has used these characters — Hillary, Bill, Barack, and Mark, Hillary’s campaign manager — in what amounts to an exploration of women and power and the inescapable role gender plays in how that is perceived, managed, and expressed. Political marriage as metaphor is an interesting concept, but the shifting power in a marriage is territory Hnath explored more successfully in “A Doll’s House, Part 2.” Hillary and Bill could be any couple in crisis, trying to figure out how to move ahead with their lives

JULIETA CERVANTES

Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in Lucas Hnath’s “Hillary and Clinton,” at the Golden Theatre through July 21.

and how to renegotiate a relationship when the dynamics change. (One partner running for president will do that, evidently.) At the same time, they remain inextricably tied to — and dependent upon — one another, as they bruise one another in battle and yet care deeply for one another, which to an outside observer might border on the perverse. The inclusion of Barack and Mark is essentially and expository

tool and steal focus from the relationship of Bill and Hillary without adding much. If the depiction of an intimate, internecine battle seems familiar, it should. This is the marital minefield Edward Albee charted in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Hnath, though, lacks the sophistication of Albee either in character development or language and is assuming the presumed biases of the Broadway audience to be sympathetic toward Hillary from the outset, rather than truly earning it by virtue of what is presented on stage. As a result, for all its good intentions, the play ends up being thin and facile, only skating on the surface of the timely issues raised John Lithgow plays Bill Clinton with an easy charm balanced by a competitive streak and considerable concern that his wife may ultimately outshine him. Laurie Metcalf is Hillary and is, as always, a force on stage, but she doesn’t seem to be used to her full capacity here. Her performance seems ungrounded as she complains about not being acknowledged for her achievements or she chafes at

the issue of her “likeability.” This is where the issue of gender might have been more effectively explored rather than simply stated. Since Hnath is not trying to create a literal portrayal of Hillary, a bit more dramatic license might have delivered a more developed character. Metcalf, reportedly, will be playing Martha in “…Virginia Woof” next season with Eddie Izzard. Based on that material alone, that should deliver the excitement and substance missing from “Hillary and Clinton.” GARY: A SEQUEL TO TITUS ANDRONICUS | Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St. | Through Aug. 4: Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m.; Wed., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun 3 p.m. | $39-$275 at telecharge.com or 212-239-6200 | Ninety mins, no intermission HILLARY AND CLINTON | Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th St. | Through Jul. 21: Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m.; Wed., Fri., Sat. at 8 p.m. | Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m. | Sun. at 3 p.m. | $39-$159 at telecharge.com or 212-239-6200 | One hrs., 25 mins., no intermission

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THE HILARIOUS MUSICAL COMEDY RETURNS TO THE YORK

“FLAT-OUT HILARIOUS!”

BOOK BY JOSEPH

STEIN • MUSIC AND LYRICS BY STAN DANIELS • BASED ON THE PLAY BY JOSEPH STEIN FROM THE NOVEL BY CARL REINER RENO • CHOREOGRAPHED BY JENNIFER PAULSON-LEE • DIRECTION AND MUSICAL STAGING BY STUART ROSS PRESENTED IN ASSOCIATION WITH RIKI KANE LARIMER AND KEYLIGHT PRODUCTIONS

MUSIC DIRECTION BY PHIL

GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

39


OPERA

Schemers and Lovers “Rigoletto” goes Vegas; lesbian “Patience and Sarah” revived BY DAVID SHENGOLD y comparison to this year’s utterly misfired “Traviata”, Michael Mayer’s Rat Pack-era, Vegas-set “Rigoletto” (April 26) seemed less offensive — though still there are aspects of the visually neon-lurid story that make no sense. If “the Duke” is a famous headliner, how do Sparafucile and Maddalena not recognize him? Has no one at the hotel or church wondered why the teenage Gilda is not attending school? Does the titular jester-as-Rodney-Dangerfield really believe in curses? In their blatancy, Christine Jones’ sets and Susan Hilferty’s costumes become wearisome. Truly obnoxious — and, like the frequent yellings from the stage, profoundly unmusical — are the slangy, wannabe snarky Met titles, designed for those who can’t or won’t listen to the music. Is that Peter Gelb’s target audience? That said, the Met is doing something right: a youth-aimed “party night” got hundreds of younger people in to see (maybe even to hear?) Verdi’s wonderful score, and they seemed to be having an excellent time. Surely everyone enjoyed the evening’s soprano and tenor. Gilda can be a striking, highwire Met debut role. Gianna d’Angelo, Mariella Devia, June Anderson, and Sumi Jo all pulled it off, and so, splendidly, did Italian-born Rosa Feola, after doing the part in Naples, Munich, Chicago, Zurich, and elsewhere. Feola made the naive girl both appealingly vulnerable and understandably chafing at her father’s evasions and restrictions. She made much of the text and sang in a limpid, well-projected lyric-coloratura that could ride the orchestra when necessary. Brava! She seems like a major addition to the company roster. Matthew Polenzani’s Duke is less the boy band idol (over)played by Vittorio Grigolo than a slightly aging roué trying to re-spark his youth. His cocaine-fueled Act Two cabaletta was one place where Mayer’s ideas worked. Polenzani sang beautifully, with wonderful phrasing and expertly layered dynamics allowing him a wide expressive range. With his somewhat blunt voice, short on legato in top phrases, George Gagnidze isn’t a great Rigoletto, but by current standards he’s quite good; certainly preferable in terms of pitch to Zeljko Lucic. He gave the role in Mayer’s concept a good shot and sang movingly in quieter passages. The end — with Rigoletto comforting Gilda, who’s dying Tarantino-style in a car trunk —just didn’t come off emotionally. Well as Feola sang here, both artists seemed uncomfortable. Emotion got sacrificed for a cool image.

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KEN HOWARD/ MET OPERA

Rosa Feola as Gilda in Michael Mayer’s Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi’s “Rigoletto.”

ANDREW OUSLEY

Katarina Wilson as the cross-dressed butch frontierswoman Sarah in the Hunter Opera Theater production of Paula M. Kimper and Wende Persons’ “Patience and Sarah.”

Low F’s in place, buzzy-timbred debuting bass Dimitry Ivashchenko made a decent enough Sparafucile; for once, one missed the sleazier Stefan Kocan, in the one Met role he’s done superbly. Romanian mezzo Ramona Zaharia (Maddalena) both sounded and looked

duly sexy. In Stefan Szkafarowsky, we heard a veteran, loud but vocally grizzled Monterone. The bass would be effective in many character roles but — though few opera companies seem to grasp it — this isn’t that kind of assignment. As with Paolo Albani in “Simon Bccanegra,” Monterone needs someone who might plausibly also sing the opera’s title role. Plus, the “sight gag” styling of the enraged count as an Arab sheikh — only in New York! — and the idea that one presumably helping to bankroll the casino would be shot amidst a crowd of witnesses are among the sillier aspects of Mayer’s shallow staging. Disturbingly, few of the comprimarios were satisfactory; the mysteriously omnipresent Eduardo Valdes sounded downright unpleasant as Borsa, and Jeongcheol Cha, though he acted thoughtfully, was too tonally diffuse as Marullo. Only Samantha Hankey’s Marilyn-lookalike Countess Ceprano really distinguished herself vocally. Like many “legit theater” imports, Mayer doesn’t know how to deploy an operatic chorus, and though they sang well, their scenes fell flat dramatically. Nicola Luisotti conducted squarely; several times key soloists seemed not in synch with the pit. On May 9, Hunter Opera Theater, in association with American Opera Projects’ ongoing off-Broadway festival of stagings, gamely mounted 1998’s “Patience and Sarah,” the first explicitly lesbian-themed opera. With very tuneful tonal music by Paula M. Kimper and a solid libretto by Wende Persons constructed from short scenes, the opera follows the popular 1971 historical novel by Alma Routsong (writing as Isabel Miller). Based on pioneering early 19th century Connecticut watercolorist Mary Ann Wilson, the economically comfortable Patience White takes up, despite familial opposition, with the working class, somewhat scandalous Sarah Dowling, raised as a boy — but not before Sarah, as “Sam,” wins the attentions of a roving book peddler, the married gay former parson Daniel Peel. Eventually the women head west to find freedom together — even winning a blessing from Patience’s straitlaced brother Edward. It’s a same-sex wish fulfillment story that must have been very welcome in the days of death-curtailed lesbian narratives such as 1967s “The Fox” and remains entertaining today. I missed the opera’s premiere staging and was happy to encounter it now, well led by David Fulmer if somewhat summarily directed by Susan Gonzalez in creative projected folkish

➤ SCHEMERS AND LOVERS, continued on p.44 May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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MUSIC

The Composer Never at Rest Nico Muhly sampler: erudition, opinion, just a dash of swish BY CHRISTOPHER MURRAY ast Village-based classical composer Nico Muhly thinks fast, talks fast, and, more than anything else, works fast — and he is almost always working. He may not always have a keyboard with him, but he goes nowhere without his iMac, upon which he can compose and notate, and be in almost simultaneous contact with his many collaborators around the globe. Known for composition of opera (“Two Boys” and “Marni,” both at the Met), dramatic scores (“Joshua” and the Academy Award-winning “The Reader”), and the score for the Starz Channel reboot of “Howards End”), he’s also made nifty forays into queer pop — for example, his collaborations with fellow queer music world darlings like Brooklyn’s Sufjan Stevens, the trans chamber pop vocalist and artist Anohni, and British transplant to Manhattan composer Thomas Bartlett. Muhly, at 37, is indisputably one of the most in-demand composers of classical music around, so much so that London’s Daily Telegraph famously called him “the hottest composer on the planet.” I met Muhly near Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia on a recent Saturday afternoon. That evening, the Philly Orchestra, under the direction of music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, was performing the East Coast premiere of “Register,” an 18-minute concerto for organ and symphony commissioned in partnership with the Los Angeles Orchestra. British organist James McVinnie was playing the 7,000 pipes of the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ. Muhly and I sat in the not-yet-open dining room at his hotel and spoke — about some of his upcoming projects, whether or not he is a “gay” composer, and even about the upcoming Stonewall 50th anniversary celebrations and what they might mean to an artist who was born 54 days after The New York Times July 3, 1981 headline “Rare Cancer Seen In 41 Homosexuals” announced the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. What’s Nico Muhly’s music like? His work may be written for electric violin, as I heard at Carnegie Hall a few years ago, or for counter-tenor; it can be sacred music, as was his first composition at age 12 for the organ at his church, or written for Bjork or the Brooklyn-based indie rock band Grizzly Bear. About the eclecticism of his work, he has said, “It’s essentially like being from somewhere. I feel like I’m very proudly from the classical tradition. It’s like being from Nebraska.

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42

HEIDI SOL ANDER

Nico Muhly is gifted, prolific, and much in demand.

Like you are from there if you’re from there. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a productive life somewhere else. The notion of your genre being something that you have to actively perform I think is pretty vile.” Muhly was commissioned to write music for a new version of Thomas Mann’s homo-tragic novella “Death In Venice,” directed by Ivo van Hove in a Dutch-language co-production by the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. The piece is being performed at venues in Europe through July 4. A huge fan of the Benjamin Britten opera version from 1973, Muhly commented on the use of the phrase “musical theatre piece” in the new production’s press materials. “Honestly, I’m not sure those terms translate so well from the Dutch,” he said. “People hear ‘musical theatre’ and think of something that has a can-can line. There’s music by Anton Webern, Arnold Schoenberg, and Richard Strauss, and my music is part of this wider eco-system.” How does he feel about “Death In Venice” as a gay text? “It’s one of those things where it registers with me as both ‘yes, it is’ and ‘no, it’s not,’” Muhly responded. “There’s so many of these age-inappropriate love stories in heterosexual literature. I don’t necessarily need to identify it as explicitly homosexual to distinguish it from

other things that address that specific kind of — this is exactly the wrong kind of word, but — yearning.” Does he consider himself a gay artist? “I have so many bad ways to answer this,” he said. “It doesn’t weigh on me, but I think that’s generational. A lot of those battles got fought and a lot of my generation was born into the clear.” “But,” Muhly insisted, “don’t print that without adding” that his experience of freedom to roam beyond the fences of a particular identification is “only because of the situational specificity of being a white, middle-class guy.” To wit, privileged. “To what extent should identity be reflected in art?” Muhly continued rhetorically. “Well, the world is not waiting for the opinion of white, middle-class men about such things. I don’t need to plant that flag.” So, what does the big Stonewall 50 anniversary mean to him? “Well, there’s the way that you learn about it that’s like ‘Whoo, Pride!,’ and there’s the way that you learn about it that’s hyper-political.” He noted that he had been asked to work on a project related to the Stonewall anniversary, but declined, feeling that “it wasn’t my project to tell.” Still, a year from now, during Pride Month

➤ NICO MUHLY, continued on p.43 May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


Feeding Your Pride Since 1985

HEIDI SOL ANDER

Nico Muhly recently shared his thoughts on a wide range of topics, including his views on being a gay artist.

➤ NICO MUHLY, from p.42 2020, Muhly’s “Concerto for Two Pianosâ€? will be performed at the New York Philharmonic alongside iconic gay composer Aaron Copland’s “Third Symphonyâ€? (with its famous finale, “Fanfare for the Common Manâ€?) and conducted by music director Jaap van Zweden. As a gay man who grew up in a world where HIV was always a reality, I asked what the impact of the epidemic had been on his life and upbringing. He responded in terms of the gay works of art that defined both the AIDS era and, concurrently, his own adolescence. “It changed so quickly in the last couple years in terms of how people speak about HIV,â€? he said. “For me, in terms of sex ed in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, it felt a lot like, ‘If you are gay and have sex, you will get AIDS and die.’ I’m not saying anyone actually said those words, but‌â€? That was the context in which his gay psyche was formed, he was saying. “Things like ‘Angels in America,’ the movie ‘Philadelphia,’ John Paul Corigliano’s ‘First Symphony’â€? GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

[which was inspired by the AIDS epidemic and written to honor the composer’s friends who had died] — “all these things arrived in my field of vision in my early teen-aged years,â€? Muhly said. “But now, with things like PrEP, the conversation has really, truly changed.â€? I said it sounded as if Muhly didn’t want to overplay the “being a gay composer or a gay artist or even a gay personâ€? thing because he didn’t want to disrespect the people who are fighting their battles for social justice right now. “That is literally what I’m saying. That’s pretty explicit. I don’t want to be like—â€? and then he shifted into his Missy Thing lisping voice, “‘I too have suffered!’ The universe I inhabit is incredibly comfortable in terms of being gay.â€? To that point, later that night, I watched as Muhly sat eight rows in front of me in the orchestra next to his partner, the political consultant Ben Wyskida, and listened to his concerto “Register.â€? When it finished, he bounded to the stage to grasp hands and take bows with, on his left, the organist McVinnie, and on his right, conductor NĂŠzet-SĂŠguin, both good gay pals of his.

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FILM

Misadventures in Cloning A soccer Olympic god makes for a strange bedfellow BY GARY M. KRAMER he incredibly inventive Portuguese film “Diamantino” opens with a disclaimer that “the story, all names, characters, and incidents seen here are fictitious,” including “actual persons (living or deceased), places, products, genetic procedures, or giant puppies.” Written and directed by Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt, this amusing satire could not possibly be real — even if it draws inspiration from Portuguese soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s life: the film is too batshit crazy, but in the best possible way. “Diamantino” is campy and silly one minute and shooting barbed political flak at the European Union the next. The filmmakers play with gender and sexuality, genetics, cloning, body altering, African refugees, the World Cup, and, as promised, giant fluffy puppies. The title character (Carloto Cotta) is a hotshot player for Portugal’s national soccer team. When he’s on the pitch, Diamantino gets into the zone by imagining the puppies — a technique that has led to his success. But during a World Cup game, the puppies disappear and Diamantino misses a crucial penalty kick. His teary response to letting the country down is mocked and becomes a meme. In a live TV interview, he announces he plans to quit soccer and adopt an African refugee. A scene where he first encounters a “fugee” is awkwardly hilarious. Enter Aisha (Cleo Tavares), a Portuguese secret service agent whose lover and colleague, Lucia (Maria Leite), hopes to uncover evidence of Diamantino’s money laundering. Aisha goes undercover as a male African refugee orphan named Rahim to investigate Diamantino. Many of the film’s comic moments have Diamantino interacting with Rahim, sharing his favorite foods (bongo juice and Nutella crepes) or cuddling with him in bed, which are made up with sheets that features Diamantino on them. When Aisha privately laughs at his “father” who acts like a child, it is infectious. But what is weirder is what happens next. “Diamantino” features a subplot involving the soccer player’s evil and greedy twin sisters, Sonia (Anabela Moreira) and Natasha

T

➤ SCHEMERS AND LOVERS, from p.40 designs by Monica Duncan and Lara Odell. Kimper’s vocal writing may not challenge the ear but the harmonic patterns and tessitura are not simple.

44

KINO LORBER

Carloto Cotta as Diamantino, the soccer star only at home amidst his giant fluffy puppies.

(Margarida Moreira) who secretly enroll him in a genetic experiment for boatloads of money. Diamantino is evaluated by Dr. Lamborghini (Carla Maciel), who discovers he is only using 10% of his brain function, which makes him not very smart, but extremely compassionate and childlike. The plan is to clone Diamantino and create an invincible soccer team. Aisha takes an interest, hoping to break the case wide open. Of course, chaos ensues. Abrantes and Schmidt ably juggle all these plots and characters and subterfuges to create an irresistible, frothy comedy. The fi lm pokes fun at the EU secession as a right-wing group employs Diamantino for a political ad campaign. There are jokes that involve Lucia, who dresses up as a scooter-riding nun, getting jealous when she pays visits to “Rahim” and discovers Aisha in bed with Diamantino. And there is a wild, physical side effect to the genetic treatments that causes the macho soccer star some embarrassment. The film mocks gender and sexuality in playful ways. (It would destroy the film’s humor to reveal more). “Diamantino” also benefits from Cotta’s remarkably shrewd and unselfconscious performance. He is very much in on the joke, milking his every expression for comic gold. Cotta plays Diamantino as delightfully clueless and charming; he always full of conviction. A scene where Diamantino blows Rahim a kiss and bounces the “kiss” all over his body like a

Katherine Robinson’s fine ”juicy lyric” soprano, sounding careerdestined, handled Patience’s music quite beautifully. Convincingly baby butch despite rather feminine make-up for a would-be 1820s farmhand, Katarina Wilson (Sar-

soccer ball, is enchanting. Likewise, his “performance” in the political ads is quite funny. Moreover, the directors fetishize the attractive actor throughout. Cotta often appears shirtless, or in skimpy briefs—especially when he is being genetically tested and tied up against a wall in a Christ-like pose. The eye-candy is certainly pleasing to watch but it also makes a point: Diamantino is compared to an Olympic God—he is dubbed Zeus on the field—and given wealth and opportunity because of his singular talent and (tele)genetics. The ideas about cloning such perfection are clever, given how imperfect Diamantino is. However, as good as the parts are, they ultimately, may be greater than the whole. “Diamantino” start out as a comedy about a soccer player under criminal investigation but ends up with nude lovers frolicking on a beach. It is not the constantly shifting narrative that is a problem, but by the fi nale, viewers may be exhausted from having almost too much to process here. Nevertheless, “Diamantino” is a fun, thrilling ride. DIAMANTINO | Directed by Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt | IN Portuguese with English subtitles | Kino Lorber | Opens May 24 at Metrograph, 7 Ludlow St., btwn. Canal & Hester Sts.; |metrograph.com | May 31 at BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Ave. at St. Felix St., Brooklyn; bam.org

ah) fielded a sparky high mezzo with a tight vibrato that helped it carry. Clarity of words wasn’t the performance’s strong suit; for once I wished for surtitles. The other student singers showed commitment and still-developing talents,

with mezzo Paula Aboite (as Sarah’s mother) a standout for characterful timbre and verbal clarity. Brandon Snook, a professional, deployed a useful tenor with skill and variety as Edward. Aptly, cast and creators were warmly received. May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


THEATER

Runnin’ Wilde Queer pop culture musical returns to Bushwick

TED ALCORN

Mark Mauriello reprises his role as Oscar Wilde in the nightclub musical “Oscar at the Crown,” which is currently in an open-ended run in Bushwick.

BY BILL ROUNDY scar is getting Wilder. An immersive nightclub musical about Oscar Wilde, which ran for three sold-out weeks earlier this year, has returned to Bushwick for an open-ended run. The second coming of “Oscar at the Crown,” which starts previews at 3 Dollar Bill, offers even more thrills than the first, said its creator and star. “It’s bigger, better, faster — all of that!” laughed Mark Mauriello. “We’ve been able to level up the aesthetic of the costumes, the set piece. We’ve built ourselves into the space.” The musical is set in a dystopian bunker, where hunted queer outcasts gather to celebrate pop culture and the life and death of Victorian playwright Oscar Wilde. The new version keeps all those elements, but the cast size has grown from 12 to 14, while various plot elements have been sharpened, said its director. “The shape and feel of the show is consistent,” said Shira Milikowsky, a Cobble Hill resident. “We’ve done

O

GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

a lot of streamlining and a lot of clarifiction.” The extra time to inhabit their characters has also helped the actors perfect their roles, said Milikowsky “Everything gets deeper, the timing is sharper, and the jokes get funnier,” she said. With a run projected to last at least until the end of the summer, Mauriello said he is excited to bring the show to even more crowds of Wilde fans, theater-goers, and party people. “We were so thrilled that people came to the show for all different reasons,” said the Bushwick performer. “It felt sexy and exciting, but wasn’t exclusionary — everyone could come and enjoy and party in whatever way they wanted to. What I’m most proud of that we had this beautifully diverse crowd coming together.” OSCAR AT THE CROWN | 3 Dollar Bill, 260 Meserole St. btwn. Bushwick Pl. & Waterbury St., Bushwick | Fri.-Sun. at 8 p.m. | $45-$79 at oscaratthecrown.com or 718-366– 3031

45


OPERA

Finding Your Voice in a New Key “As One,” the recent opera phenom, at Merkin Hall four nights American Opera Projects for four performances at Merkin Hall until June 6. I spoke to the creators and the performers about fi nding your own voice and identity.

BY ELI JACOBSON

I

n recent years, a number of contemporary American operas have overcome the usual fate of new operas — one or maybe two productions and then oblivion. Jake Heggie’s “Dead Man Walking” is produced every season in multiple regional theaters and André Previn’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” has been produced often in the US. And both have had European productions. But neither of these operas had the meteoric rise of “As One” — a chamber opera for two singers and a string quartet about the journey of a transgender woman from male to female through 15 songs. The opera came from an idea by lesbian composer Laura Kaminsky who sought out the trans fi lmmaker Kimberly Reed (“Prodigal Sons,” “Dark Money”) and out gay librettist Mark Campbell (“Silent Night”) to collaborate on the project. The work premiered at BAM in 2014 in a production sponsored by American Opera Projects. But “As One” didn’t stop there — it has become the most produced new American opera this decade. In the five years since its premiere, there have been more than two dozen productions across the country — with performances in San Antonio, Kansas City, Anchorage, Boise, Hawaii, Newfoundland, Canada, and Berlin, among others. There are at least 10 productions coming up. One factor in the popularity of “As One” is not only the hot-button topic but the simplicity and portability of the piece. All that’s needed is a baritone and mezzosoprano to play the “before” and “after” incarnations of the protagonist Hannah, a string quartet, and Kimberly Reed’s fi lm that provides the visual background. It can play any type of space and has been performed in concert. The work returns to New York City on May 30 in a co-production by New York City Opera and

46

L AURAK AMINSK Y.COM

The “As One” creative team of librettist and filmmaker Kimberly Reed, librettist Mark Campbell, and composer Laura Kaminsky.

ELI JACOBSON: In the past decade, the transgender community has emerged as a politically and socially active force insisting on defi ning themselves and not being defi ned by heteronormative society, the medical profession, religious organizations, or politicians. Before fi nding one’s social and political voice, it’s necessary to fi nd your own true identity and individual voice. “As One” seems to be about the journey to discover one’s own true voice through song. Can you share something from your own life where you discovered your own voice — either as a performer, creator, musician. or human being? LAURA KAMINSKY (composer): There are so many. First, realizing I was gay. And then being able to fi nally own it for the fi rst time. I just said it. Out loud. To myself… Joy! MARK CAMPBELL (librettist): In the song “To know,” Kim and I tried the capture that moment in LGBTQ lives when we discover in our young lives that we are not alone on this planet. I drafted that aria based on my own experience when I fi rst saw another gay person on television and found out, as the song says, “there are others.”

DOROTHY SHI

Michael Kelly, Hannah Before in the New York City Opera/ American Opera Projects production of “As One.”

MICHAEL KELLY (baritone, “Hannah Before”): As a human being, my journey as a gay man was certainly the biggest transformative experience of my life. And although coming out as gay is not the same as the discovery of one’s gender, I believe there are many parallels. Through the process of learning the role of Hannah Before and discovering her fears and struggles in arriving at a place of self-love and accep-

➤ AS ONE, continued on p.48 May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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47


➤ AS ONE, from p.46

cially to trans people of color who are the most targeted statistically. [The alternate NYCO cast features two artists of color, Briana Elyse Hunter and Jorell Williams, performing “Hannah.”] In my view, this is a great effort to show the general public how much we are all just human. In my creative life it has bled over so much. I fi nally feel as though I can sing the way I want to and be a part of productions like this that encourage compassion and empathy, which is what I think is most lacking in the world today.

tance, I can say that this was certainly how I felt about my sexuality. And just like Hannah in “As One,” it wasn’t until I fully accepted myself and my place in the world without looking for the approval of others, that was the moment I flourished. People saw me differently, and the ways in which I was hiding from the world, and even from myself, were no longer necessary. My confidence in myself allowed me to speak my truth in all situations, and I learned to stop fearing the consequences. There’s something about being who you are meant to be that sets you free. I think anyone can resonate with that feeling, and Hannah’s story is a universal one of acceptance and discovery of self. There isn’t a soul on the planet that can’t empathize with that. BLYTHE GAISSERT (mezzosoprano, “Hannah After”): I feel that it was actually working on the development of “As One” in its workshop days that showed me both who I am and want to be as a performer and also as a human. Meeting fi rst Kimberly Reed and then others in the trans community over the past five years, I have seen what all of these amazing people have been through to just be themselves, and it has in-

CARLI K ADEL / SAN DIEGO OPERA

Blythe Gaissert is Hannah After in the New York City Opera/ American Opera Projects production of “As One.”

spired me to live more authentically as well. The two things that really strike me with each performance of the piece is that the general public, no matter their age or background, is so incredibly moved by the piece and shocked at the parallels to their own lives and feelings. The other part of this is the reaction from the trans community. I’ve

met people all over the country that are so moved by hearing so many elements of their own story being told in this way. It is very true that this story is defi nitely not every trans story, and is overall a very positive one for our character Hannah. But the creators wanted a positive story, representative of many feelings and events that are something most people can identify with. While giving a happy ending to inspire those that are still on their journey, they give a big nod to the violence and atrocities that are committed against the trans community as well — espe-

KIMBERLY REED (librettist, storyteller, filmmaker): Though life is full of quick realizations and little epiphanies — even sometimes when one goes looking for them — one of the main realizations in my life came on a retreat to solitude like Hannah experiences toward the end of “As One.” It happened over a year instead of a few days, but like Hannah After in “As One,” I did go to Norway looking for northern lights that failed to appear, though other lights went off for me. This retreat allowed me to return to my normal world with the courage and conviction to go through with my transition, and is the closest thing I know to fi nding my voice. AS ONE | Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center, 129 W. 67th St. | May 30, Jun. 4 & 6 at 8 p.m.; Jun. 1 at 9 p.m. (Jorell Williams and Briana Elyse Hunter perform Hannah Before and After on Jun. 1 & 4 | $30-$95 at tickets.kaufmanmusiccenter.org or 212-501-3330

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49


WOMEN OF WALL STREET

LADIES’ NIGHT: The 2019 Women of Wall Street posed with Schneps Media President and Publisher Victoria Schneps-Yunis in Manhattan on May 7.

Photo by Corazon Aguirre

Finance’s leading ladies are honored at first-ever Women of Wall Street Awards Schneps Media celebrates the female leaders who are changing the industry

T

hey’re the trailblazers of Wall Street. Schneps Media praised banking and finance’s passionate, ambitious, and brilliant women for their influence in the field at the inaugural Women of Wall Street Awards on May 7. The night featured a speakers panel that included honorees; emcee Cheryl Casone, host of FBN:am on Fox Business Network; and Elizabeth St.Onge, partner at Oliver Wyman. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (a founding member of the “Men Who Get It” club) also gave remarks. The 26 awards honorees were recognized not only for their successes, but also for their empowerment of the next generation of female financial leaders. The event raised $1,200 for the nonprofit Girls Who Invest, founded in 2015 by honoree Seema Hingorani. The organization is dedicated to inspiring and empowering young women to pursue investment careers in the as-

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set-management industry — a field challenged by a lack of diversity. The night also addressed the issue of gender parity in the banking and finance industry. With many firms making significant investments in programs or benefits for women, but not seeing results, there’s a clear need for the culture to change, speak-

ers said. Participants highlighted the day-to-day culture, unconscious biases, and micro-aggressions that are much harder to address but are required in order to move the needle. Schneps Media is thankful to the celebration’s generous sponsors for helping bring this important topic to the forefront while championing the women

who dedicate themselves to supporting, empowering, and promoting more women in the industry. A special thanks to Citigroup, MHR Fund, JPMorgan Chase, Investors Bank and Flushing Bank. If you would like to nominate a deserving woman for the 2020 Women of Wall Street Awards, please visit www.schnepsevents.com/wows2020.

REAL TALK: (Above) The speakers panel included, from left, Cheryl Casone, host of FBN:am on Fox Business Network; Women of Wall Street honoree Susan Kendall; Elizabeth St.-Onge, partner at Oliver Wyman, and honPhotos by Corazone Aguirre oree Seema Hingorani. (Right) Emcee Cheryl Cassone led the night’s festivities. May 23 - June 5, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


AWARDS RISING STAR AWARD

Samantha Saperstein.

Lauren Simmons.

Maggie Arvedlund.

Fradel Barber.

Cindy Class.

Alisa Morris accepts on behalf of Patricia Cummings.

Cynthia DiBartolo.

Chele Chiavaci Farley.

Emily Fine, right, smiles with Schneps Media President and Publisher Victoria Schneps-Yunis.

Camille Forde.

Erica Frontiero.

Joelle Gonzalez.

Alissa Grad.

Seema Hingorani.

Susan Kendall.

Tamara Lashchyk.

Lisa Lewin.

Quinnie Lin.

Vanessa Lindley.

Deborah Montaperto.

Jane Newton celebrates with her mother.

Judy Ng.

Gianni Latange on behalf of Nathalie Molina Nino.

Ana Oliveira.

Victoria Pellegrino.

Photos by Caroline Ourso

TRAILBLAZER AWARD

GayCityNews.nyc | May 23 - June 5, 2019

51


HISTORY

City to Consider Six LGBTQ Landmarks Community Center, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin residences among sites under consideration BY MATT TRACY

S

ix places known for playing key roles in New York City’s LGBTQ history will be considered for designation as city landmarks. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) on May 14 calendared a June 4 hearing to discuss whether to landmark the LGBT Community Center at 208 West 13th Street, the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse at 99 Wooster Street, James Baldwin’s residence at 137 West 71st Street, Caffe Cino at 31 Cornelia Street, the Women’s Liberation Center at 243 West 20th Street, and Audre Lorde’s residence at 207 St. Paul’s Avenue on Staten Island. The hearing will be followed by an LPC vote, after which the sites, if approved, would immediately become landmarked. An LPC spokesperson told Gay City News that it remains unclear exactly when a vote would take place. If the city opts to landmark the sites, the locations would be the first LGBTQ-related sites to be designated since the Stonewall Inn — the first queer landmark in the city — was en-

NYC LGBT HISTORIC SITES PROJECT

The former site of the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, at 99 Wooster Street in Soho, could be landmarked as the result of action by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission.

shrined in 2015. The Center, which now hosts more than 15,000 events and activities a year, was founded in 1983 as the Lesbian and Gay Community

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Services Center and in its early years quickly became a resourceful hub for queer health and social services while simultaneously serving as a meeting place where activists like Larry Kramer founded advocacy groups such as ACT UP. Baldwin’s residence near Lincoln Square was his final home from 1965 to 1987. While Baldwin’s sexuality has been a topic of discussion in and of itself, the African-American novelist and writer was known as a pioneer in his work for touching on the intersection of race, sexuality, and class in ways that were largely unheard of in the public dialogue of his time. The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) Firehouse was short-lived — it was GAA’s headquarters from 1971 to 1974 — but those years were a period during which the LGBTQ community utilized the space for some of the earliest postStonewall political activism and social gatherings. The building’s interior fell victim to arson in 1974 and was vacated by the group. Caffe Cino in Greenwich Village became

➤ LGBTQ LANDMARKING, continued on p.53

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➤ PHARMA FIGHT, from p.10 ment activism there led them to become founders of the Treatment Action Group, which has pressed drug companies and the government to fast track effective medicines based on the best science. Staley was among the organizers of the 1991 action in which activists wrapped the Washington-area home of fiercely anti-gay North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms in a giant condom. Gonsalves is today on the faculty of the Yale School of Public Health.

➤ LGBTQ LANDMARKING, from p.52 known as an incubator for openly queer theater, playwrights, and actors from 1958 to 1968 when LGBTQ topics were not otherwise widely embraced on stage. According to NYCLGBTSites.org, the late playwright William M. Hoffman — whose “As Is” was one of the first Broadway productions dealing with AIDS — said in 2009 that he “never certainly would have written about gay subjects that freely”

Among the younger plaintiffs, Brenda Goodrow, according to a press release issued when the suit was filed, “is new to activism but not to HIV. She was born HIV-positive in 1996 and kept her HIV status a secret until the age of 21, when she recognized the power a personal story can have in the ongoing fight to de-stigmatize HIV.” Jason L. Walker is the HIV/ AIDS campaign coordinator at VOCAL New York, where he works to organize low-income people living with HIV, especially LGBTQ youth who are positive or at risk for infection.

Despite the collective activism of the six individual plaintiffs, the basis of their legal claim is the money they have spent for medicines at what they allege were illegally and “artificially inflated prices.” The lawsuit seeks “class certification” for all the other similarly situated HIV medication consumers. The case also involves the cost of Truvada, the active ingredient in PrEP, a medication that prevents HIV infection and is a key component of New York’s plan to end the epidemic. Gilead charges $24,000 a year for this medication, but its

true cost, according the lawsuit, should be “a fraction of that — less than $7,000 a year after multiple generics enter the market.” Gilead was under fire on another front this week, after recent published reports that the federal government in fact owns the patent on Truvada, on which Gilead was the lead private research partner. On May 16, the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing titled “HIV Prevention Drug: Billions in Corporate Profits after Millions in Taxpayer Investments.”

if it were not for Caffe Chino. “That was the kind of empowerment that the place gave us,” he added. Lorde moved into her Staten Island home in 1972 and lived there with her two children and her partner, Frances Clayton, for 15 years. An English professor at John Jay College, Lorde penned a diverse collection of work ranging from poetry to non-fiction and academic papers. She also was a voice for the community and spoke at the 1979 National March on Wash-

ington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Lorde died in 1992. The Women’s Liberation Center was a meeting and social gathering space for women’s groups, including lesbian organizations. Like the Community Center, it became ground zero for queer activism: The Lesbian Feminist Liberation held its meetings there beginning in 1973, while the Lesbian Switchboard, which provided evening counseling for callers, used the space from 1972 to 1987.

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, praised the LPC’s action. “All the threads of the rich tapestry of our city’s history deserve to be recognized and preserved,” he said. “On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which also occurred in Greenwich Village, we should be reflecting back upon that history of progress and honoring the people and places which made it possible.”

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