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GILBERT BAKER’S MEMOIR RELEASED AT PRIDE’S 50TH Page 21 DONNA ACETO

Community activists, led by Steven Love Menendez, festooned Christopher Park with Rainbow Flags on May 31 in honor of Pride Month and the flag’s late creator, Gilbert Baker.

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FREE | VOLUME EIGHTEEN, ISSUE THIRTEEN | JUNE 20 – JUNE 26, 2019


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June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


In This Issue COVER STORY Rainbow Flag creator remembered 21

FROM THE EDITOR Why I support the Queer Liberation March 32

STONEWALL 25 The World Mural Project 04

POLITICS Gay, trans panic defense outlawed 08

An NYPD apology 14

MILITARY Evasions, lies in trans troop ban rollout 12

Exuberant strut of Brooklyn’s diversity 22 Listings for the home stretch 28

A Strange Loop 40

FILM David Hockney, “Before Stonewall,” “Queer Kino” 36-39

One of the Top 10 hospitals in the U.S. is here in Brooklyn

Brooklyn, NY

In 2018, the federal government listed Maimonides among the Top 10 health systems in the U.S. for survival rates. Get the facts at: Top10Hospital.org

GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

3


STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

Painting the Town Rainbow The World Mural Project brings queer public art across the city BY KELSY CHAUVIN

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ride comes in many colors. For 50 diverse international artists, those colors will be sprayed, brushed, and splashed across all five boroughs as part of the World Mural Project (worldpridemuralproject.org). The project is one of the cultural highlights of NYC Pride in this milestone year, when the community marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising. The commemoration also introduces WorldPride to the US for the very first time — a sort of Olympics of Pride that occurs every two years in different cities — and with it comes a wide array of concerts, rallies, parties, and ever more reasons to rejoice in all things queer. The World Mural Project is a WorldPride NYC/ Stonewall 50 highlight that stands apart from much of the revelry by bringing LGBTQ-inspired street art to 50 sites. Created uniquely by different artists painting in designated spaces, each mural portrays a story or visual that honors the LGBTQ community. The project also helps compensate for a notable lack of LGBTQ public art in New York City, which is limited to just a few pieces. Among them are George Segal’s 1980 “Gay Liberation” sculptures in Christopher Park and Jo Davidson’s 1923 statue of Gertrude Stein in Bryant Park. Of course, plenty of queer art can be viewed in collections and exhibitions — and year-round at Soho’s Leslie-Lohman Museum, and the city has just announced a West Village monument to longtime activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. For the mural project, the organizing team at NYC Pride sought to use art to reflect the community’s beauty, struggle, and strides. “Having WorldPride in the US for the first time, NYC Pride really wanted to provide not just events but a cultural experience for people coming here from around the world,” said Cathy Renna, an NYC

4

ANGIE LM

Sam Kirk and Jenny Q’s mural tribute to Victoria Cruz on Second Street at Avenue A.

PHIL DEMBINSKI

Artist Sam Kirk.

ANGIE LM

Jenny Q working on the Victoria Cruz mural.

Pride spokesperson. “The way to do that was to create a physical manifestation of all the diversity in our community, and have that not be just in one neighborhood or one borough — they’re all over. The wonderful thing is you can go to Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and see very diverse public artworks made by an extraordinary set of LGBTQ and allied artists.” To help recruit the 50 artists and secure the mural sites, NYC Pride worked with the LISA Project, a non-profit that began turning Little Italy into a mural-arts district back in 2012. Their work has now grown well beyond Mulberry Street

COURTESY OF BUFF MONSTER

Artist Buff Monster.

and was integral to organizing the World Mural Project. “The LISA project is really on the vanguard in working with muralists and urban artists,” said Renna. “They put the call out to the artist community, and they got tremendous response from individuals who are incredibly established in this medium.” Among them is local artist Buff Monster, whose murals are all over New York and other cities. His newest piece now adorns an enormous, 31-by-94-foot wall at 125 Chrystie Street, at Broome Street, in Chinatown. Titled “Rainbow Harmony,” his brightly colored characters and trademark one-eyed creatures rep-

resent the struggle and triumph of the LGBTQ community. As an ally, Buff Monster said he’s proud to show solidarity, along with a dose of optimism that can “fill a need for color and brightness” in an urban environment. At 152 East Second Street at Avenue A, Sam Kirk and Jenny Q, two women who are artists and partners, painted their tribute to Victoria Cruz on a 10-by-33-foot residential wall. Cruz is a Puerto Rican transgender woman who’s lived in New York since age four and devoted much of her life to activism dating back to the Stonewall

➤ WORLD MURAL PROJECT, continued on p.5 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


COURTESY OF SAM KIRK

A mural by Sam Kirk and Jenny Q at the Brooklyn Community Pride Center.

KELSY CHAUVIN

Indie184’s mural on a wall visible from the courtyard at Arlo Soho.

➤ WORLD MURAL PROJECT, from p.4 era. Now 72, she remains involved with the Anti-Violence Project and is part of David France’s Netflix documentary “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” which chronicles Johnson’s LGBTQ activism along with that of Cruz and Rivera. “In thinking about the concept initially,” Kirk explained. “I really wanted to pay tribute to somebody who has contributed to helping people over the years. And while I think it’s important to honor those who have passed, I also realize the importance of highlighting people who are alive today, so they get some acknowledgement for all they’ve done.” Kirk, who splits her time between New York and Chicago, said that she has yet to meet Cruz, but hopes she’ll consider coming from her Brooklyn home to view the mural. Kirk and Q’s piece portrays Cruz in full color, centered on a backdrop Transgender Flag colors, and a rich outer narrative. “The background will be covered with illustrations of moments, places, marches — and I’m including illustrations of Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera in the piece, with references to the organizations they created,” Kirk said, adding that the mural also represents “a celebration of the community, GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

to enjoy some happy moments too, and to show some of the reasons why so many people have done the work they’ve done.” Through June, the murals are steadily being painted at locations large and small, all listed on the project website — worldpridemuralproject.squarespace.com/locations — including walls inside the Arlo Hotel in Soho on Hudson Street at Broome and the Arlo NoMad on East 31st Street. Each work is expected to remain up at least through summer, though most will probably be around until the end of 2019 or beyond. Renna encourages New Yorkers and visitors to make a point of checking out these vivid displays and sharing selfies and other snaps across social media. “To me this is one of my favorite things happening for WorldPride,” said Renna. “These murals are longer lasting than any individual event, and they’re all over the city. Even if you’re not participating in Pride in some way, it’s going to be hard not to walk by a giant work of public art that lets you know something special is happening for WorldPride here in New York.” Check out what else is happening across New York in 2019 for WorldPride NYC and Stonewall 50 at: 2019-worldpride-stonewall50.nycpride.org.

COURTESY OF BUFF MONSTER

Buff Monster’s “Rainbow Harmony,” on Chrystie Street at Broome Street.

Proudly Celebrates LGBTQ Pride 2019!

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5


HUMAN RIGHTS

Questions Abound After Trans Woman’s Death at Rikers City offers little insight into what happened to 27-year-old Layleen Polanco BY MATT TRACY

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he LGBTQ community and the family of a transgender woman of color who died while being held alone in a “restrictive housing” jail cell at Rikers Island are demanding answers about the circumstances surrounding her death. According to a Department of Correction (DOC) spokesperson, an officer touring a housing area at the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island found Layleen Polanco, 27, unresponsive in her cell at around 2:40 p.m. on June 7. Efforts by emergency medical staff to save Polanco were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead one hour later. DOC officials say preliminary reports indicate that foul play was not a factor, but otherwise the agency and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) have not provided further details about what transpired the day Polanco died. “OCME is continuing to analyze the cause and manner of death in this case, and additional testing is ongoing,” Aja Worthy-Davis, OCME’s executive director for public affairs, said in a written statement. “Trauma was not found to contribute to this fatality. We are now performing additional toxicology and medical examinations to identify other possible factors.” The DOC referred questions about Polanco’s health to Correctional Health Services (CHS), which handles medical assessment and treatment at DOC facilities. Two CHS spokespersons refused to divulge any details about Polanco’s medical records, citing laws protecting the information. DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann said the agency is “conducting a full investigation as the safety and well-being of people in our custody is our top priority.” Raul A. Contreras, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said, “We’re working quickly to determine the cause of her tragic death” and that the mayor’s office “will communicate closely with Layleen’s family to ensure they receive the answers they deserve.” According to the DOC, Polanco was being held in custody for assault and possession of a controlled substance, but reporting by The City contradicted part of that, indicating that she was behind bars for sex work-related charges in addition to the drug charge. She was arrested in April for biting a cab driver and was ordered to be released a few days later, according to the publication, but she faced $500 bail for the aforementioned charges. The publication reported that the prostitu-

6

BRIAN BRIGANT TI/ COURTESY OF NYC ANTI-VIOLENCE PROJECT

“Pose” star Indya Moore speaks during a June 10 rally at Foley Square, where hundreds showed up to call for justice for Layleen Polanco.

tion charges stemmed from when she was issued a desk appearance ticket (DAT) and sent through the highly controversial diversion program, which is intended to serve as an alternative to incarceration by providing services to sex workers, but those who miss just one court date — as Polanco did — can end up behind bars for violating the terms of the program. “DATs and diversion courts and mandated services — all of these supposed reforms didn’t do anything for Layleen,” Jessica Peñaranda, a DecrimNY steering committee member, said in a written statement. “For Layleen, her missed sessions with the diversion court left her with a criminal record, but also was the reason why she had bail set on her case, and her pretrial incarceration at Rikers is what killed her. We urgently need to decriminalize sex work now — actually decriminalize sex work, not just more reforms that widen the net and tie people up in the criminal legal system — to protect our TGNC communities of color who rely on the sex trade to survive.” A DOC spokesperson said Polanco was being held in a transgender housing unit before she was moved to the restrictive housing unit. Polanco was in “restrictive housing” because, DOC officials alleged, she assaulted another inmate in custody. A DOC spokesperson disputed the notion that Polanco was in solitary confinement, which would warrant being locked up for 23 hours per day. Rather, he said, “restrictive

housing” allows seven hours outside of the cell per day for programming, services, and entertainment. But no matter how the DOC tries to frames the housing situation, Polanco was indeed restricted from contact with others for 16 hours per day. Her death adds to a growing number of trans women of color who have died nationwide this year — including multiple trans women who have died after stints in the custody of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The DOC is not known for its stellar reputation when it comes to treatment of trans people. The agency recently rejected a proposal from city councilmembers to establish a task force focused on policies surrounding transgender and gender nonconforming people in city jails, and Queens District Attorney candidate Tiffany Cabán, who has worked as a public defender, told Gay City News during an interview in April that she has had trans clients who were unable to afford bail, were placed in solitary for no other reason than their gender identity, and started growing facial hair — a clear sign that hormones were being withheld. LGBTQ advocates, Polanco’s family, and several elected officials have expressed outrage over Polanco’s death. Polanco’s family issued a public statement through their attorney and had stern words for the city for allowing her to

➤ LAYLEEN POLANCO, continued on p.10 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

7


POLITICS

On Albany’s Final Day, LGBTQ Movement, Drama State Legislature bans gay and trans panic defense, but other bills unresolved BY MATT TRACY

S

tate lawmakers passed multiple LGBTQ-related bills in the final hours of the legislative session on June 19, but a contentious piece of legislation legalizing gestational surrogacy appeared to stall in the lower chamber and the status of a separate measure aimed at protecting transgender women was unclear as of press time. Both houses most notably passed a law banning the use of so-called gay and trans panic defense, which will prevent defendants from using a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity as a mitigating factor in committing a violent crime. Meanwhile, the State Legislature also restored state benefits for service members who were discharged from the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and passed a law stipulating that survivors of sexual assault receive access to Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection. Those bills were already expected to pass, but the more controversial gestational surrogacy bill faltered in the Assembly amid reservations voiced most audibly by out lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick of Manhattan. The lawmaker, who has been in office since 1991, told the New York Times that gestational surrogacy is “pregnancy for a fee, and I find that commodification of women troubling.” It remained unclear whether lawmakers would approve a bill to repeal the loitering for the purposes of prostitution law — which disproportionately affects transgender women of color — before departing Albany. The push to repeal the loitering law, dubbed “walking while trans,” has been led by DecrimNY and legislators including out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, Senators Jessica Ramos and Julia Salazar of Queens and Brooklyn, respectively, and Manhattan Assemblymembers Dick Gottfried and Dan Quart. The wider movement to decriminalize sex work gained considerable momentum locally in the months since DecrimNY formed earlier this year, but advocates appeared to be running out of time to repeal the loitering law this session. Still, local politicians outside of the State Legislature spoke up in favor of the measure during the final hours of the legislative session. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance both endorsed the effort to repeal the loitering law, while out gay City Council Speaker Corey Johnson of Manhattan and another out gay councilmember, Daniel Dromm of Queens, also urged state lawmakers to take action and

8

DONNA ACETO

At the end of a productive session for LGBTQ rights measures, State Senator Brad Hoylman succeeded in outlawing the gay and panic defense, but was uncertain he would win on gestational surrogacy.

GAY CIT Y NEW FILE PHOTO

On the session’s final day, advocates put enormous pressure on Assemblymember Deborah Glick to relent in her resistance to a gestational surrogacy meaasure.

strike the loitering law from the books. All things considered, Holyman and his colleagues wrapped up the session having achieved major legislative gains on LGBTQ rights. Armed with a new Democratic majority in the Senate, Hoylman helped spearhead efforts to pass the Gender Expression NonDiscrimination Act (GENDA) and a ban on gay conversion therapy earlier in the year before focusing on the most recent LGBTQ rights bills this month. “For decades, LGBTQ New Yorkers fought for basic recognition that they mattered under New York law,” Hoylman said in a written statement. “This session, we’ve made it clear that they do. We banned the barbaric practice of conversion therapy, and with GENDA now the law of the land the full force of law stands behind transgender and gender-non-conforming New Yorkers.” Hoylman also said, “In banning the gay and trans panic defense, New York is sending a message to prosecutors, to defense attorneys, juries and judges that a victim’s LGBTQ identity can’t be weaponized. On the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, it’s long past time we do so.” Out gay Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell of Manhattan, who led the panic defense legislation in the lower house and worked alongside Holyman on the issue, celebrated its passage while still acknowledging concerns from defense attorneys who argued that the bill would limit their clients’ ability to argue their innocence. “Sexual orientation and gender identity should never be used as excuses for violence and the very nature of gay and trans panic defenses ground themselves in bigotry, hatred, or fear toward the LGBTQ community,” said O’Donnell, a former public defender. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who held multiple events during which he called on lawmakers to pass a ban on gay and trans panic defense and legalize gestational surrogacy, said in a written statement that the passage of the panic defense bill represents “an important win for LGBTQ people everywhere and it is made all the more meaningful as we approach the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, which set in motion the modern day LGBTQ rights movement.” “This year as part of our Justice Agenda we set out to build on these historic achievements by banning the so-called gay and trans panic legal defense, which essentially codified homophobia and transphobia into state law,” Cuomo said on June 19. “With the enactment of this measure we are sending a noxious legal defense strategy to the dustbin of history where it belongs.” June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


East Midtown Welcomes the LGBTQ+ Community as We Celebrate WorldPride 2019! Throughout June, the East Midtown Partnership has planned a wide array of activities that will make East Midtown Manhattan your destination of choice for WorldPride 2019 festivities, including:

AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT DISPLAYS 18 Quilt panels will be on display at 9 unique locations

LGBTQ+ BLOCK PARTY WITH SUNY Join us on the afternoon of Friday, June 21, on East 55th Street between Lexington Avenue and Park Avenue, when we partner with the State University of New York for an afternoon of festivities, including food, music, and a Drag Fashion Show!

EAST MIDTOWN GIVES BACK TO THE TREVOR PROJECT Throughout June, almost twenty East Midtown businesses will         Trevor Project.

Visit us at www.EastMidtown.org/Pride for details

East Midtown Partnership • 875 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022 • 212-813-0030

GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

9


CRIME

Gay Couple’s Anniversary Ends in Tragedy Stray bullet kills man walking his dog in early morning hours BY MATT TRACY

A

gay man who just finished celebrating his anniversary with his husband was walking his dog in the Hamilton Heights section of Manhattan early in the morning on June 10 when he was shot and killed by a rifle-wielding man who was trying to shoot somebody else. Winston McKay, 40, was shot in the leg in front of 501 West 146th Street near Amsterdam Avenue shortly after 2 a.m. before he was transported by EMS to Harlem Hospital, where he died, according to the NYPD. Cops said the tragedy unfolded when the shooter, who is still on the loose, pointed his weapon at an unidentified 26-year-old man and threatened to shoot him. The 26-year-old started to walk away, prompting the shooter to fire at him, but he missed — and instead hit McKay, striking an artery in his leg. Video surveillance footage provided by the NYPD shows the shooter aiming his gun at the scene of the incident. McKay’s husband, Terry Solomon, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on June 13. Solomon told the Daily News that he and his husband had invited friends and loved ones to their anniversary celebration at Donnellan Square, a park across from where they lived together. They spent $2,000 on a feast that featured chicken, fish, peas and rice, corn, and strawberry shortcake, according to

➤ LAYLEEN POLANCO, from p.6 die while in government custody. “As we gather to mourn this tremendous loss, we are left shocked and outraged by the stony silence from the Department of Correction, mayor’s office, NYPD, and city government,” the family stated. “Just days ago, Mayor de Blasio dedicated a monument to two pioneering transgender activists, telling the trans community that ‘we are sending a clear message: We see you... and we will protect you.’ The city failed to protect Layleen, and now it is trying to sweep her death under the rug. We will not allow it.” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who in the past several years has made it a point to highlight the marginalization of transgender women of color, is calling for immediate action. “I’m extremely saddened by the death of Layleen, and I offer my prayers for peace and comfort to her friends and family,” Williams told Gay City News in a written statement on June 11. “Layleen is not the first transgender woman to lose her life in the walls of prison, and if we

10

NYPD

Surveillance video released by the NYPD of the man who fatally shot Winston McKay pointing his rifle at his intended victim, a 26-year-old man who was not identified. NYPD

the Daily News. Solomon quickly hurried to the scene after receiving a phone call, and according to reports cops initially were skeptical that he was McKay’s husband. By the time he arrived, an ambulance had already taken off with McKay’s body. Solomon waited for hours at the hospital to see his husband’s body, but authorities would not allow it due to the criminal investigation. The couple met nearly two decades ago when they made eye contact in a subway station. McKay turned around to follow Solomon onto the train and their relationship blossomed from

do nothing, she will not be the last. I stand with Layleen’s friends and family in demanding answers, and I will continue to use my position as public advocate to upend a system that could allow this woman — confined in solitary — to lose her life, alone.” Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, said in a tweet on June 10 that Polanco’s family deserves to know what happened to her. “I have met with trans constituents who were put in Rikers,” she wrote. “These women told me about being misgendered upon arrest (even post-surgery) and forced in cells with men, putting them in extreme risk. It’s hard to get treatments, too. Layleen’s family deserves to know what happened to her.” The Legal Aid Society, which provides legal assistance to those who are living in poverty and represented Polanco, released a statement calling for a full probe into the circumstances surrounding her death. “Ms. Polanco’s passing is a tragic reminder of the heightened risk and physical and emo-

The man pictured, identified as Eric Bautista, allegedly gunned down a gay man who had just finished celebrating his anniversary.

there. Cops say an investigation is ongoing and authorities are continuing to search for the killer. The suspect, identified as Eric Bautista, 20, is described as a male with braids, roughly 5’8” to 5’10”, and was last seen wearing a red hoodie, a blue jacket, gray sweatpants, and black and white sneakers. Anyone with information about this crime or this suspect is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers line at 800-577-TIPS.

tional torture that transgender people — especially those from communities of color — face in the criminal legal system, particularly while in custody,” the organization said in a written statement. “Her heartbreaking and untimely death warrants a swift, complete, independent, and transparent investigation from the City. We join New Yorkers in demanding justice for Ms. Polanco, her family, and for her community.” Hundreds of people gathered in Foley Square downtown on June 10 to call for justice at a rally led by trans women of color, including “Pose” star Indya Moore. Ten trans women spoke along with members of Polanco’s family. Polanco, whose Facebook page states she was from Yonkers but lived in New York City, was a member of the local ballroom scene, according to Moore, who said they both were members of the house of Xtravaganza. “I grew up looking to Layleen as my goal,” Moore said in a tweet on June 8. “She was one of the most beautiful women I ever seen who was trans. She and so many other girls were an example to me.” June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


POLITICS

#WalkAway Leader Sues LGBT Center Gay Trump fan claims discrimination, defamation because of nixed town hall BY MATT TRACY

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ess than three months after the out gay leader of the #WalkAway movement told Gay City News he was “going to actively pursue any legal action” against the LGBT Community Center for canceling his group’s planned event there in March, he followed through and sued the venue for discrimination and defamation to the tune of $20 million. Brandon Straka, who is the face of the movement to encourage Democrats to ditch the party, filed the suit on Friday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, according to the New York Post. “I am taking a stand on my own behalf and on behalf of all people in this country who are under attack for what they believe,” Straka told Gay City News in an email on June 17. The scrapped “town hall” event was set to feature Straka along with Blaire White, Mike Harlow, and Rob Smith, all of whom are involved in the #WalkAway movement. But hundreds of people signed a letter calling on the event to be canceled, sparking a wave of backlash that culminated with the Center pulling the event at the last minute. The Center said in a public statement after nixing the event that it reserves the right to cancel any event that promotes discriminatory speech or bigotry or negatively impacts other groups or people. “Permitting this event to proceed would make many of our community members feel unsafe,” the Center said at the time the event was canceled. White has caught considerable flak for divisive rhetoric, including a YouTube video in which she went after other transgender women who she said “lie” to men they date about their gender identity and where she said the answer to the “migrant crisis” is to “gas em.” Straka, who bailed on the March interview with Gay City News after struggling to respond to questions

GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

T WIT TER/ BRANDON STRAK A

The out gay leader of the #WalkAway movement, Brandon Straka, says it’s time to “forgive the past” — but he isn’t forgiving the LGBT Center for canceling his town hall. He’s suing for $20 million.

about his lack of voting in recent elections and changes to his voter registration, told Gay City News on June 17 that he did not “want” to sue the Center, but was left with two choices. The first, he said, was to “Allow The Center, the progressive activists mob who attacked us, and the liberal/ LGBT media to have the final word in this situation — labeling me, my fellow panelists, and my organization racists, bigots, homophobic/ transphobic, a hate group, and a danger to the community.” Those labels, he added, will follow him and his organization for the rest of his life because they will reside on the Internet and in media archives. He said his second choice was to “Take a stand and take back the narrative of who I really am and what #WalkAway really is.” “Every day in this country, good people who are not racists, who are not bigots, who are not homophobic, who are not bad people — people who support our president or the conservative movement — are verbally and physically attacked, are intimidated into silence, and have their jobs and relationships and

livelihoods put in danger,” Straka continued. “Why? Because they have a political position that is not accepted by the controlled media norm or the narrative that societal bullies deem approved. I grew up enduring homophobia, violence, and bullying — and now, I see the LGBT community misusing their newly acquired power and position to engage in these very same behaviors to silence people.” In his long email response to Gay City News, Straka said he hopes the lawsuit brings “raised awareness for who and what I am, what #WalkAway is, and what our message and mission is all about, and to show LGBT Americans that we are living in the most luxurious time ever in our existence.” “It is time for us to forgive the past, embrace the future, embrace our American privilege — and come together to provide aid to ACTUAL oppressed and victimized LGBT people around the world,” he said. Straka’s call for forgiveness apparently excluded the Center. A spokesperson for the Center brushed off Straka’s multi-million dollar lawsuit, telling Gay City News that it “lacks merit and we stand by our original statement.”

Straka is not only targeting the Center. The Trump supporter also issued a thinly veiled threat on Twitter June 16 to the wider community of “leftists,” saying, “Your reign of terror is coming to a close.” “There WILL be consequences for your actions,” Straka wrote. “If you continue to label all those in political disagreement with you Nazis, white supremacists, racists, & ruin people’s lives — you better have your checkbook handy.” Straka, like others involved in the #WalkAway movement, left the Democratic party in the time following Trump’s election, despite the growing list of actions the president has taken against the LGBTQ community during his time in office. He rips those who consider his movement to have roots in racism, but on multiple occasions he has dedicated tweets to praising white men. In one tweet, he said, “Thank you straight, white men for all you do and all the shit you put up with!” In another, he said used a heart emoji to express his love for white men before adding, “In a time where liberal hatred of whiteness and maleness is considered a badge of honor — let it be known that we have nothing but love and open arms for our white heterosexual brothers.” He also retweeted a Twitter post on June 14 from controversial conservative journalist Chadwick Moore, who criticized the City of New York because “taxpayerfunded Gay Pride advertisements explicitly don’t include any white people.” “This is intentional,” Moore complained. “Gay white men founded that Mattachine Society and rioted at Stonewall. LGBT is now-Marxism, not ‘gay rights.’” In the meantime, Straka appears to have set his sights on other cities to host the town hall. On June 15 he announced in a tweet that a #WalkAway town hall will be held in Chicago on June 29. It is not clear where in Chicago that event is slated to take place.

11


MILITARY

Trans Vets Rip Trump’s Comments on Military Ban President doubles down on new policy banning thousands from the military BY MATT TRACY

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resident Donald Trump used a June 5 interview with Piers Morgan of “Good Morning Britain” to stigmatize transgender service members and make false, incoherent, and generalized statements about healthcare costs associated with them. Trans vets are not having it. The president sat down with Morgan during his trip to Europe and defended his discriminatory decision to ban transgender service members from the military, saying that “they take massive amounts of drugs” while suggesting trans people are going into the military to pay for their surgical procedures. During his rambling statements, he also falsely said people are not allowed to take drugs in the military. “We’d actually have to break rules and regulations in order

THE WHITE HOUSE/ SHEAL AH CRAIGHEAD/FLICKR

Transgender military veterans soundly debunked comments made by President Trump during an interview with Piers Morgan.

to have that,” he asserted about trans service members taking

medications. “It is what it is… The operation is $200,000, $250,000,

the recovery period is long, and they have to take large amounts of drugs after that … You can’t do that.” Then, referring to the policy banning transgender service members that went into effect on April 12, Trump continued, “So I said yeah, when it came time to make a decision, and because of the drugs, and also because of the cost of the operation.” The president’s answers during the interview were so unhinged that even the Department of Defense had to begin cleaning up his mess in the aftermath. The DoD refuted Trump’s claims in a statement to Gay City News on June 6, stating that the military “covers all approved medically necessary treatments and prescription medications.” Furthermore, the department asserted that those who were di-

➤ VETS RIP TRUMP, continued on p.13

Trans Ban Rollout Marked By Secrecy, Chaos Some branches refuse to reveal discharges, others admit not keeping track of them BY MATT TRACY

U

S military branches are either withholding details about how many service members have been discharged as part of the April 12 ban on transgender troops or denying any discharges have taken place, based on interviews with spokespersons representing each of them. And there are signs of serious dysfunction in the way the policy has been carried out, including apparent misrepresentation of it by the Pentagon itself. Representatives from multiple military branches told Gay City News that the discharge of transgender service members is not tracked at all, reflecting a level of disorganization reminiscent of the Trump administration’s fam-

12

ily separation policy in which government officials failed to reunite families after ripping them apart at the border. A spokesperson for the Department of Defense initially told Gay City News that the military would provide the number of service members discharged as part of the policy. But when the branches were contacted individually, the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines offered a variety of responses, with two essentially dead-ending the discussion by making clear they would not be providing transparency in the way they are carrying out the ban first announced by President Donald Trump in a July 2017 tweet. After a protracted legal battle that is not definitively concluded, the new policy was finally implemented this year.

Trump, who has stacked the federal courts with far-right justices at every turn, appeared to land a victory in the ongoing fight on June 14 when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said a lower court ruling against Trump’s ban did not take into consideration the difference between the ban proposed by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the original ban announced by Trump in 2017. The military has insisted that the new policy does not constitute a blanket ban on transgender service members because certain service members are exempt from the policy — a key piece of the administration’s effort to uphold the ban in court. That narrative has widely been rejected because transgender troops with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria would be presumptively

disqualified for service unless they were already serving and willing and able to serve in their biological gender at birth. No matter how the policy is spun by the military — and a Pentagon spokesperson repeatedly insisted that trans folks, under certain circumstances, could serve in their true gender identity — transgender folks are effectively banned from the military. Inquiries sent to the military specifically asked how many people have been discharged as part of “the policy,” but multiple branches of the military did not answer that question, instead turning to their narrative that the military does not ban people on the basis of gender identity alone.

➤ TRANS BAN ROLLOUT, continued on p.26 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


VETS RIP TRUMP, from p.12

agnosed with gender dysphoria prior to April 12 are “generally exempt” from the ban and they “may serve in their preferred gender and will continue to receive all medically necessary treatment.” Trump’s out-of-touch statements also created the false impression that all transgender people undergo surgery and receive the same form of healthcare. That kind of rhetoric not unexpectedly drew swift condemnation from trans people who have served in the military. Camden Ador, a trans Navy veteran who lives in Queens, stressed that treatment related to hormone imbalances is by no means unique to trans people. While trans folks will commonly meet with endocrinologists as they seek to undergo hormone replacement therapy, there are cisgender people receiving similar treatment. “I can almost guarantee that there are cisgender service members who are getting treatment for these imbalances,”Ador told Gay City News in a written statement.

“They receive the same ‘drugs’ that transgender people are prescribed when they begin HRT (hormone replacement therapy). Thus, this claim by President Trump is unfounded and based in bigotry, as most of us have already come to realize.” Ador also debunked Trump’s claims that surgery can cost $250,000, saying that his own top surgery slated for August costs $11,000. Doctors told him that recovery time is expected to be between four and six weeks, which shoots holes all over Trump’s claim that the “recovery period is long.” “The frustrating part about this all is so many people just take what he says as truth,” Ador added. “There are so many areas of this country where Americans have never even met a transgender person and don’t fi nd it necessary to educate themselves. Instead, they hear what the president claims, and they don’t question it at all.” Shawn Skelly, a Brooklyn-born, Suffolk County-raised retired Navy commander, former direc-

tor of the executive secretariat in the Department of Transportation under President Barack Obama, and co-founder of a new advocacy organization known as Out In National Security, spoke of the bigger picture — that Trump’s comments as well as the ban simply fit in line with the president’s longer-term goal of targeting the trans community. “It’s the most prominent part of a broader administration campaign to drive transgender people out of the mainstream of American society through the deliberate removal of legal recognition and protections of every sort,” she said. The president has indeed mounted a multi-pronged effort to strip trans people and the wider LGBTQ community of their rights. Among numerous other actions, the administration is giving healthcare providers the right to refuse care or discriminate against trans patients, is fighting the citizenship of the children of bi-national LGBTQ parents, is trying to give shelters and other facilities the ability to ban trans

people from staying there, and has stripped protections from transgender students to use bathroom facilities consistent with their gender identity. And while that anti-LGBTQ campaign seems coordinated, Trump’s raw, unfiltered words during the interview with Morgan also revealed an especially intimate view of the president’s perspective on these issues — a perspective that is as out-oftouch as it is harmful. Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann, who serves as the president of SPART*A — a group focused on trans military veterans — said Trump’s false statements about medical care showed his “lack of understanding regarding transgender service members.” Kristen Rouse, the out lesbian founder of a veterans advocacy group known as NYC Veterans Alliance, echoed those sentiments. “The president’s comments only continue to spread misinformation and prejudice about those who have served and are serving with honor and dignity in our nation’s military,” Rouse said.

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CIVIL RIGHTS

Half-Century Later, NYPD Apologizes for Stonewall Commissioner addresses raid targeting blackmail ring that sparked a revolution BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

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ew York City’s police commissioner opened the city’s Pride Month by apologizing for the police raid on the Stonewall Inn in 1969 that was intended to shut down a blackmail ring that was victimizing gay men and operating out of the bar. “I’m not an expert on what occurred at Stonewall,” Commissioner James O’Neill said at a June 6 community briefing held at police headquarters in Lower Manhattan. “But I do know that the actions taken by the NYPD were wrong. The actions were discriminatory and oppressive and for that, I apologize.” The 1969 raid spawned rioting that continued for two or three nights. That event is seen as marking the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. Some historians see the riots as a turning point in the movement. The raid was led by Seymour Pine, a deputy inspector in the NYPD’s public morals division, who had been instructed to break up the blackmail ring and shut the bar down. While conceding that the police were “prejudiced” against LGBTQ people, Pine said during a 2004 discussion at the New York Historical Society that the target of the raid was organized crime. “We weren’t concerned about gays,” said Pine who died in 2010. “We were concerned about the Mafia.” The Stonewall Inn was operated by the Genovese crime family. It is likely that every afterhours club in the West Village and throughout the city at that time was controlled by the Genovese, Gambino, or Columbo crime families. Those criminal organizations were allied with police in local precincts. Beginning in 1970, the Knapp Commission explored police corruption in a range of industries. For its investigation into bars and clubs, it focused on the 19th Precinct, which covers the Upper East Side, and the 6th Precinct, which covers the West Village. In the 6th Precinct, the commission looked largely at police corruption in LGBTQ clubs and bars. The raid faced resistance from the crowd outside that trapped Pine and his squad in the bar and from police most likely from the 6th Precinct. When they radioed for assistance, a voice was heard over the radio saying, “Disregard that call.” David Carter, who authored “Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution,” a 2004 book and the definitive account of the riots, asked Pine at the 2004 event if the voice saying, “Disregard that call” belonged to a 6th Precinct officer. Pine declined to answer, leaving unan-

14

DUNCAN OSBORNE

NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio at a June 4 press conference.

swered whether Pine’s raid on the bar upset cops involved with the blackmail scheme. While the police clearly misjudged how the community would react to the raid, the best evidence is that the police were trying to assist gay men who were being blackmailed or at least shut down a blackmail operation. “I have no doubt about it,” Carter told Gay City News. “That’s what I wrote in my book and I have a good amount of evidence to support that conclusion… The evidence is very strong. The purpose was to shut down the Inn and a blackmail operation that was targeting gay men.” Ed Murphy, who was gay, was employed at the Stonewall in 1969. Earlier in the ‘60s, Murphy was arrested for participating in a national blackmail ring that targeted gay men and used operatives who pretended to be police officers. That history was described in a 2012 article on Slate.com. O’Neill’s apology was certainly well received by the audience at the briefing and media reports suggest that those not attending welcomed it as well. An exception is the Reclaim Pride Coalition, which is producing an alternative Queer Liberation March on June 30. Calling the apology “empty” and “given under pressure,” RCP said in a statement that “the NYPD continues to be an oppressive force in our communities even on the day of Pride.” The June 6 event was intended to brief the LGBTQ community on safety issues that could impact this year’s 50th commemoration of the Stonewall riots and the WorldPride events that

will take place in the city. The audience of several hundred saw a video that is shown to police officers instructing them about this year’s Pride events. In addition to the commissioner, speakers included Chief Rodney Harrison, who runs the Patrol Services Bureau, Deputy Inspector Mark Molinari, the commanding officer of the Hate Crimes Task Force, Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who heads Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism, and Ravi Satkalmi, the deputy director of intelligence analysis. Satkalmi announced that he is “a proud member of the LGBTQ community,” which drew loud applause. While the presentations, Satkalmi’s in particular, were ominous in alluding safety risks, the speakers said that the NYPD has no evidence of any specific threat targeting this year’s Pride events. The city has seen a 64 percent increase in hate crimes, with 184 in the first five months of 2019 versus 112 in the first five months of 2018, with most of that increase due to hate crimes targeting Jewish people and institutions. Most of the crimes are minor. “By and large what we see across the city is, as you describe, either criminal mischief, property damage, or graffiti,” said Dermot Shea, the chief of detectives, during a June 4 press conference on crime statistics. “That makes up the vast majority, and we treat them as seriously as we would an assault, quite frankly, because of the message of hate that it sends to all of the residents of the city so we will be clear: we will continue to aggressively investigate these crimes.” June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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15


INTERNATIONAL

Botswana Sodomy Law Struck Down High Court nixes colonial era ban in lengthy opinion stressing privacy, dignity BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

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he High Court of Botswana, in a unanimous three-judge ruling on June 11, struck down three provisions of the nation’s penal code that made soliciting or engaging in gay sex a crime, finding that those prohibitions violated the Constitution. The ruling came just weeks after a unanimous panel of the Kenyan High Court upheld that nation’s sodomy ban. Botswana, a republic of 2.3 million people that is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and is centrally situated immediately north of South Africa, won its independence in 1965 and adopted a constitution with broad human rights protections. The government can challenge the decision to the Court of Appeal, a constitutional bench made up mainly of judges from other Commonwealth countries, but there were no immediate press reports about any such intention. Last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi delivered a speech “publicly signaling his support for samesex relations” and arguing that LGBTQ citizens “deserved to have their rights respected,” according to The Economist. The case did not arise as a challenge to a sodomy prosecution, but rather from the efforts of a 24-year-old gay student at the University of Botswana, Letsweletse Motshdiemang, who, represented by three attorneys, argued that the sodomy ban violated his constitutional rights. Motshdiemang’s action, in publicly stating that he is in a sexual relationship with another man, took courage given the criminal penalty for sodomy of up to seven years in jail. After he filed his lawsuit, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana, better known as LEGABIBO, was allowed to participate as a friend of the court and supplied expert testimony in support of the suit. In a few introductory sentences to his very lengthy opinion, Judge Michael Leburu, wrote, “What regulatory joy and solace is derived by the law, when it proscribes and criminalizes such conduct of two consenting adults, expressing and professing love to each other, within their secluded sphere, bedroom, confines, and/ or precinct? Is this not a question of over-regulation of human conduct and expression, which has a tendency and effect of impairing and infringing upon constitutionally ordained, promised, and entrenched fundamental human rights? Our bill of rights, as entrenched and enshrined in our Supreme Law (the Constitution), is a manifestum of progressive, long lasting, and enduring rights, which yearn for judicial recognition and protection. Any limitation in the enjoyment

16

MARK MACKENZIE/ FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE/ GOV.UK

The Botswana government could yet appeal the sodomy ruling, but last year President Mokgweetsi Masisi signaled support for LGBTQ rights.

of such rights, therefore, ought to be reasonably justifiable within our hallowed democratic dispensation that subscribes to the rule of law, which recognizes and protects both the majority and minority rights and interests.” A roadblock to Motshdiemang’s lawsuit was a 2003 decision by the Court of Appeal that involved a gay man’s sodomy conviction. That court found that Botswana was not ready to accept homosexuality. The new decision rejects that conclusion, largely on the ground of changing public opinion and a variety of constitutional arguments not presented in the older case. Leburu’s opinion emphasizes that the sodomy prohibition was not of African origin, but rather imported under British rule and merely carried forward into the independent nation’s laws. He noted, however, that Britain itself decriminalized gay sex in 1967, a development followed by former British colonies including South Africa and the US. “The repeal of the sodomy laws was greatly influenced, in large measure, by the inherent recognition of such laws as being discriminatory, invasive of personal dignity, privacy, autonomy, liberty, and, lastly, the absence of compelling public interest to intrude and regulate private sexual expression and intimacy between consenting adults,” Leburu wrote. Significant judicial decisions coming from Commonwealth nations often quote court opinions from other member nations, and Leburu’s

opinion is strewn with such quotations, including from the recent Supreme Court of India ruling striking down that nation’s sodomy law, which had also been imposed during British colonial rule. The opinion also refers to the US Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down state sodomy laws, and similar rulings out of South Africa and Canada. Leburu’s opinion embraces the court’s role in developing constitutional interpretation for changing times and in acknowledging the nation’s obligations under international treaties. He found support for Motshdiemang’s suit in the nation’s constitutional guarantee of the right to privacy and identified the guarantees of liberty, equality, and dignity as a “triumvirate” that “forms the core values of our fundamental rights.” “Sexual orientation is innate to a human being,” Leburu wrote. “It is not a fashion statement or posture. It is an important attribute of one’s personality and identity; hence all and sundry are entitled to complete autonomy over the most intimate decisions relating to personal life, including the choice of a partner. The right to liberty therefore encompasses the right to sexual autonomy.” Leburu rejected the government’s argument that because the law was gender-neutral and

➤ BOTSWANA, continued on p.25 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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17


LEGAL

Gay Wedding Religious Opt-Out Issue Ducked Again Supreme Court sends cake case back to Washington State high court BY PAUL SCHINDLER

T

he US Supreme Court has, for the third time, essentially kicked the can down the road on the question of businesses claiming religious exemptions from providing goods and services for samesex weddings. On June 17, the high court sent a gay wedding cake case — in which Rachel and Laurel BowmanCryer had prevailed over Melissa and Aaron Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, who declined to make a cake for the lesbian couple’s

2013 wedding — back to the Oregon Court of Appeals for reconsideration in light of the 2018 Supreme Court ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In that Colorado case, the Supreme Court found in favor of baker Jack Phillips, but critically not on his underlying claim that he enjoyed free exercise of religion and free speech exemptions from the state’s nondiscrimination law. Instead, in an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court found that the Commission had not given Phillips a respectful, neutral forum to consider his religious freedom

claim. Though Kennedy pointed to several factors raising concerns about the neutrality of the forum the baker faced, he focused particularly on comments made by some Commission members during a public hearing suggesting hostility to his religious beliefs. In the Oregon case, the Kleins were penalized $135,000 for their refusal to serve the BowmanCryers. Last fall, the Kleins filed a petition for Supreme Court review, arguing that the Oregon Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the Bowman-Cryers violated their constitutional rights of free exercise of reli-

gion and freedom of speech. They also claimed they did not discriminate against the lesbian couple because of their sexual orientation — which is illegal under Oregon law — arguing they would refuse to make a same-sex wedding cake regardless of the sexual orientation of the would-be customer. Perhaps of greatest significance, however, was the Kleins’ request that the Supreme Court reconsider its 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, where it ruled that the First Amendment’s Free

➤ RELIGIOUS OPT-OUTS, continued on p.19

Florist Loses Again at Washington High Court Unanimous bench finds SCOTUS Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling irrelevant BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

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he nine-member Washington State Supreme Court refused on June 6 to back down from its earlier decision that Barronelle Stutzman and her business, Arlene’s Flowers, violated the state’s anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws in February 2013 when she told Robert Ingersoll she would not provide floral arrangements for his wedding to Curt Freed. The court held that Stutzman had no religious-based constitutional privilege to violate the state’s anti-discrimination law, which includes sexual orientation protections in public accommodations. Stutzman quickly announced she would attempt to appeal the new ruling to the US Supreme Court, which for several months has been pondering whether to grant review in a gay wedding cake case from Oregon. The Washington court originally ruled on this case in February 2017, but Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the anti-LGBTQ litigation group representing Arlene’s Flowers, petitioned the US

18

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF WASHINGTON

For the second time, the Washington Supreme Court has ruled that the discrimination claims brought by Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, as well as by the state attorney general, against Arlene’s Flowers for its owner, Barronelle Stutzman, refusing to provide flowers for the two men’s 2013 wedding are valid.

Supreme Court to review the case, arguing the state violated Stutzman’s First Amendment free exercise of religion and free speech rights. That petition reached the Supreme Court while it was considering baker Jack Phillips’ appeal in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In the Colorado case, the high court, in an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, found that the Commission had not given Phillips a respectful, neutral forum to consider his religious freedom claim.

Reversing both the Commission’s findings and a ruling from the Colorado Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court focused particularly on comments made by some Commission members during a public hearing suggesting hostility to Phillips’ religious beliefs. The court did not, however, rule directly on the baker’s contention that he enjoyed free exercise of religion and free speech exemptions from the state’s nondiscrimination law. On June 6 of last year, two days after the Masterpiece decision was announced, ADF supplemented its

petition to the US Supreme Court, arguing that Stutzman’s case should be sent back to the Washington high court for “reconsideration” in light of Masterpiece. ADF asserted that Stutzman, like Phillips, had been subjected to a “hostile” forum. The Supreme Court granted ADF’s request. Exactly one year later, the Washington court produced a lengthy decision upholding its earlier ruling. The Washington State attorney general learned about Stutzman denying flowers for the IngersollFreed wedding in 2013 after Freed’s indignant Facebook post about it went viral. The AG’s office tried to get Stutzman to sign a statement pledging not to discriminate against customers based on their sexual orientation, but she refused. She has consistently argued that her actions were not based on Ingersoll’s sexual orientation — she had happily sold him flowers in the past — but rather on her religious belief that marriage was only between a man and a woman. After the attorney general filed suit against Stutzman, Ingersoll and Freed filed their own lawsuit,

➤ WEDDING FLORIST, continued on p.27 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


COURTESY OF L AMBDA LEGAL

Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer and their children.

RELIGIOUS OPT-OUTS, from p.18

Exercise Clause does not exempt people with religious objections from complying with state laws of general application not specifically targeting religious practices. For the time being, at least, none of these issues will go before the high court. Instead, the Oregon Court of Appeals is being asked to con-

sider whether the Kleins were denied a neutral forum in asserting their religious and free speech claims. If the action by the Washington State Supreme Court earlier this month is any predictor, the Kleins may be disappointed in going back to their state’s courts. On June 6, the Washington court refused to back down from its earlier decision that Barronelle Stutzman and her busi-

ness, Arlene’s Flowers, violated the state’s antidiscrimination and consumer protection laws in February 2013 when she told Robert Ingersoll she would not provide floral arrangements for his wedding to Curt Freed. Stutzman’s appeal of the Washington Supreme Court’s 2017 ruling against her to the US Supreme was pending while the high court considered the Masterpiece Cake case. Two days after the Masterpiece decision was handed down in June 2018, Alliance Defending Freedom, the anti-LGBTQ litigation group represeing Stutzman, supplemented its petition to argue that, like Phillips in Colorado, she had been subjected to a “hostile” forum and her case should be sent back to the Washington Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court agreed, but Stutzman this month lost again in the Washington court. Whether the Oregon Court of Appeals comes to any different conclusion in the Kleins’ appeal is, of course, unknown, but it would be surprising if it found that its earlier decision had been tainted by unfairness. For now, then, the Supreme Court appears reticent to take on the underlying issue presented by Phillips, Stutzman, and Melissa and Aaron Klein. Though how the individual justices voted in sending the case back to the Washington Supreme Court is unknown, at least five voted affirmatively. Those five did not take the opportunity to bring the case directly before the high court for resolution at this stage.

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19


STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

Celebrating WorldPride In East Midtown Manhattan neighborhood partnership finds innovative ways to mark Stonewall 50 BY PAUL SCHINDLER

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he East Midtown Partnership, a group that since 2002 has worked to improve the quality of life and promote commercial activity in a swath of Manhattan from East 49th Street to East 63rd Street, is celebrating WorldPride 2019 and the 50th anniversary of Stonewall with three major initiatives — a display of panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt at nine locations, the commitment by 18 area businesses to donate a portion of proceeds to the Trevor Project, the non-profit that combats suicide among LGBTQ young people, and a June 21 street fair held in conjunction with SUNY Pride. The Quilt was launched in 1987

as an effort by the surviving loved ones of people lost to AIDS to memorialize their lives. That fall, 1,900 Quilt panels were displayed on the National Mall in conjunction with the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Though the Quilt, the responsibility of the NAMES Project Foundation and thought to be the largest ongoing art project in human history, has been displayed in numerous venues since then, the 50,000 panels honoring 105,000 lives lost to AIDS are now too numerous to display together in any one place. To recognize the tradition of remembering the names of those lost in the HIV epidemic, the East Midtown Partnership, during the month of June, is displaying pan-

RON JAUTZ

East Midtown Partnership AIDS Quilt panels on display in the lobby of the New York Marriott on Lexington Avenue.

RON JAUTZ

An AIDS Quilt panel on display at the A&D Building on East 58th Street.

RON JAUTZ

An AIDS Quilt panel on display in the lobby of 875 Third Avenue as part of the East Midtown Partnership WorldPride commemoration.

RON JAUTZ

An AIDS Quilt panel at the Ikea Planning Studio on Third Avenue.

20

els from the Quilt at nine locations in the district, including the Central Synagogue on East 55th Street and the Marriott New York East Side on Lexington Avenue, where the Partnership hosted a Pride reception on June 12. The Partnership also worked with 18 businesses on the East Side — including retail establishments, salons, and restaurants — each of which has selected one item for which it will donate 25 percent of all sales receipts in June to the Trevor Project. Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Awardwinning short film “Trevor” about what happens when a 13-year-old boy’s crush on a male classmate is discovered, the Trevor Project is the nation’s leading group providing crisis intervention and sui-

cide prevention services to LGBTQ young people up to 25. On June 21, the Partnership joins with the Pride group from the State University of New York for a WorldPride block party on East 55th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. In addition to SUNY students, winners from the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Annual Drag Queen and King Pageant will be on hand to perform. The afternoon event, from noon to 4 p.m., will also feature DJ Zeke Thomas, a photo booth, snacks and coffee from neighborhood eateries, and tabling by LGBTQ organizations. For complete information on the East Midtown Partnership’s WorldPride events, visit eastmidtown. org/world-pride-2019. June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

Rainbow Flag Creator Remembered Gilbert Baker’s memoir released as 50 years of Pride celebrated

DONNA ACETO

Christopher Park, across the street from the Stonewall Inn and home to the Stonewall National Monument, is festooned with Rainbow Flags.

DONNA ACETO

Steven Love Menendez took the lead in organizing the Rainbow Flag decoration of Christopher Park for the second year running.

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

A

s global attention focuses on New York with the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and the WorldPride celebrations scheduled to coincide, the creator of the Rainbow Flag is finally getting his say with the posthumous release of Gilbert Baker’s “Rainbow Warrior: My Life in Color.” The publication early this month by Chicago Review Press, with a foreword by “Milk” screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, was a labor of love by Charley Beal, manager of the Gilbert Baker Estate, and his colleague there Jay Blotcher. Several events, both literary and activist, have taken place in recent weeks to honor the memory of Baker, who died at age 65 in March 2017, as well as the book’s launch. On May 31, for the second year in a row, Steven Love Menendez led a group of activists, joined by Jamie Adams, the out lesbian park ranger that oversees the Stonewall National Monument, in decorating the wrought iron fence around Christopher Park, the site of the Monument, with a blizzard of Rainbow Flags. The following day, Beal was on hand to oversee the hoist of a new, larger Rainbow Flag — one made by the flag manufacturing company Baker started — on the pole at GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

DONNA ACETO

Jamie Adams, the out lesbian ranger for the Stonewall National Monument, part of the National Park Service, which this year paid for the Rainbow Flags used to decorate the park.

Christopher Park. On June 4, the Strand Bookstore on Broadway in the Village played host to a launch party for “Rainbow Warrior,” which featured a panel including playwright and actor Charles Busch and activists Ann Northrop, Ken Kidd, Jay Walker, and Melissa Sklarz. On the evening of June 18, the Stonewall Inn was the site of a second panel about the book, this one including Stonewall owner Stacy Lentz, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah Senior Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, filmmaker and activist Brendan Fay, with fellow activists Lidell Jackson and Cathy MarinoThomas. RAINBOW WARRIOR: MY LIFE IN COLOR | By Gilbert Baker | Chicago Review Press | $26.99 | 256 page

DONNA ACETO

Charles Busch, Ken Kidd, Melissa Sklarz, and Ann Northrop on the Strand Bookstore book launch panel.

DONNA ACETO

A larger Rainbow Flag now flies over Christopher Park and the Stonewall National Monument.

DONNA ACETO

Charley Beal readies the new, larger Rainbow Flag at Christopher Park.

21


STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

An Exuberant Strut of Brooklyn’s Diversity Pride was all about love, acceptance, and smiles in Park Slope BY PAUL SCHINDLER

I

t was a Saturday evening love fest in Brooklyn. In a June 8 twilight parade down Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue that drew thousands and lasted for hours, the crowd — both activists and elected officials marching and spectators lining the sidewalk for the event’s 15-block stretch — emphasized over and over again that love, acceptance, and diversity were the key words defining LGBTQ Pride in the city’s most populous borough. And if the evening was centered on queer pride, it was also a celebration of pride in the special qualities of Brooklyn and of New York City as whole. For spectator Rosin Kaplan, who grew up in Park Slope, moved elsewhere, including San Francisco and, most recently for five years, New Orleans, moving back to the Flatbush side of Prospect Park three years ago was a welcome coming home. “I would say one of the reasons I’m back in New York is that I didn’t want to have any more anxiety about being gay,” Kaplan said. “After so many years of being stressed about it as an adult, it’s really nice to be older and be like really gay in a really gay city. I mean this city is so gay. It’s so relaxing. It’s normal here to be gay.” Kaplan and her business partner in a T-shirt company, Sasha Rose, who was visiting for 10 days from New Orleans, had spent the afternoon vending their T-shirts at the Pride Festival, and said they were ready to sleep once the parade wrapped up. “We want to be ready to go to Riis Beach tomorrow and be gay there,” Kaplan said. Jeremy Aviles, who was visiting from Orlando, Florida, with a friend, also voiced wonder at the exuberance he came upon at Brooklyn Pride. “It’s amazing, it’s wild for sure, and it’s all about love from what I’m seeing,” he said. Becca Farsace and Allison Talum are a couple who just moved in together in an apartment around the corner from Fifth Avenue after each lived in a different part of the borough. “This is our first time coming,” Farsace said of Brooklyn Pride. “We’re new to the neighborhood but not to Brooklyn. I really dig the community here and it feels smaller and not as commercialized.” Both she and Talum pointed to the large number of families in attendance with their small children. “One thing that’s great is that Park Slope is a real family sort of neighborhood, and I really appreciate that everybody is bringing their kids

22

DONNA ACETO

Drag artist Desmond Is Amazing, one of the parade’s grand marshals.

DONNA ACETO

The Dykes on Bikes had their traditional lead position in the parade.

out and seeing the community for what it is, a very loving and accepting neighborhood,” Talum said. City Comptroller Scott Stringer, marching with his wife and two young boys, also pointed to the joys families can find at Brooklyn Pride. “Since Max and Miles were literally born they’ve been going to Pride in Manhattan, but this is the first time they’ve been out at night at Brooklyn Pride,” the comptroller said. “So it’s learning experience, it’s a teaching moment, but it’s great to march with your family… It’s why we raise kids in the city because they get the education of a lifetime, the way I did. And

they’re going to be better for it. Borough President Eric Adams said the Brooklyn event perfectly captures a half century of LGBTQ traditions that have grown up since the Stonewall riots in 1969. “It actually says that the spirit of Harvey Milk, who died in San Francisco, continues to cascade here in Brooklyn with a large parade,” Adams said, before boasting, “It proves that Brooklyn is ground zero for Gay Pride.” Carlos Menchaca, the first out gay member of the City Council elected from Brooklyn, also

➤ BROOKLYN PRIDE, continued on p.23 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ BROOKLYN PRIDE, from p.22 hailed the spirit of the Park Slope celebration. “Everyone feels welcome,” he declared, before turning to one of the evening’s political implications — that he and his four gay Council colleagues all face term limits in 2021. Activists several weeks ago announced an effort, dubbed LGBTQ in 2021, to ensure that queer representation on the Council will not vanish as a result of these term limits. Menchaca was joined in the parade by nearly a dozen of his Council colleagues, including out gay Speaker Corey Johnson from Manhattan and Daniel Dromm from Queens. Jared Arader, who is president of the borough’s LGBTQ Lambda Independent Democrats, echoed Menchaca’s emphasis on the 2021 elections, saying of his club’s participation in the parade, “This is our opportunity to show Brooklyn’s LGBTQ community that that we are engaged in local politics, we care about local politics. We care about representation, and we have

GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

to make sure that the rest of the city know that just because marriage got done, just because GENDA [the Gender Expression NonDiscrimination Act] got done, we’re not done.” The club, Arader said, has grown during the Trump era surge of activism on the left. As important, he said, Lambda is growing beyond its historic roots in affluent, predominately white neighborhoods like Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights and drawing in increased numbers of transgender members and people of color. “We’re marching in Park Slope right now because that’s been the traditional heart of Brooklyn’s community but we’re moving out, moving from Park Slope to where we belong,” he said. Other elected officials marching in the Brooklyn parade spoke to more global political issues, as well. Menchaca repeated his criticism of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent broadening of the range of criminal offenses on which he would work with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Though Menchaca got blowback from sever-

al of his Council colleagues because the incremental offenses included some sex crimes, the councilmember insisted, “It’s about trust, and the one thing you can’t legislate is trust and when you send a signal as the mayor of New York that you’re okay cooperating with ICE for any reason whatsoever then it sends a signal that you’re not important and that’s the wrong message and that you can’t get back.” Jumaane Williams, a former Brooklyn councilmember who earlier this year won the race to succeed State Attorney General Letitia James as the city’s public advocate, said of his new post, “I think it’s a pretty cool one. I get to be an activist. I get to be an organizer. I get to hold government accountable on behalf of groups as I’ve tried to do for the past 10 years.” Asked about his travels in recent weeks, not only to Albany but to other upstate cities as well, Williams explained that he is looking to organize unified support statewide for a tenant protection bill that he described as “the best combination of upstate and downstate legislation I’ve seen in a long time.”

Speaking about her new post, James said, “I think given the fierce urgency of now, given the politics of our nation, as we see an increase in hate crimes, as we see an administration that unfortunately is targeting marginalized populations, I am so honored to be the attorney general of the State of New York to show the way for the nation in seeking justice and equality for the nation.” Turning out for Pride, she said, is a way to send a message to President Donald Trump so “that knows there’s more of us than of them.” Vowing to keep pressure up on the administration in Washington, James said, “Nobody is above the law.” Adams, the borough president, also took aim at Trump. “Without a doubt, the energy and spirit that is coming out of Washington, DC, has really made those who are anti-all-groups comfortable in being anti,” he said. “This is a spirit we have not seen in a long time. But we’re not going to allow it to suffocate us, we’re going to continue to breath and keep our belief in diversity.”

23


INTERNATIONAL

Ecuador’s High Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage Nation becomes fifth in South American to allow LGBTQ folks to wed BY MATT TRACY

I

n a narrow 5-4 ruling, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court on June 12 approved same-sex marriage and directed the nation’s congress to pass a law providing gay and lesbian couples with full marriage rights. The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit lodged by multiple same-sex couples who sought equality under the law in a nation that had only provided LGBTQ folks with civil union rights, which lacked certain protections afforded to married different-sex couples. It is not immediately clear how long couples will need to wait before marrying. Ecuadorianbased constitutional attorney Salim Zaidán told CNN that couples would be able to marry once the court informs local government offices of the ruling, which is required within 10 days. The congress, known as the National Assembly in Ecuador, will subsequently need to pass a law amending the marriage law. The ruling, which came in the midst of Pride Month and celebrations of the 50th anniversa-

24

HEROINAEC/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A couple celebrates a civil union in Ecuador, where gay and lesbian couples will now be able to enjoy full marriage rights.

ry of the Stonewall uprising, marked the second major development in LGBTQ rights globally in the last week, after Botswana scrapped

its sodomy law. Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson, who has focused on campaigning for same-sex marriage rights internationally after playing a key role in that effort in the US, told Gay City News in a written statement that the ruling in Ecuador “represents another strong victory for the rule of law in Latin America, and, most importantly for love and families, as well as equality and freedom.” “It’s time for all loving and committed couples in Ecuador, and across the entire region, to have the freedom to marry,” he said. Ecuador is now the 27th nation in the world to outright approve same-sex marriage. Ecuador joins Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay as the South American nations having legalized same-sex marriage. Marriage rights are also seen in the Falkland Islands as well as the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which are British territories off the coast of South America, though there are questions about whether the South

➤ ECUADOR MARRIAGE, continued on p.25

June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ ECUADOR MARRIAGE, from p.24 Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands have enforced those rights. In nearby Latin America and the Caribbean, same-sex couples in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have been able to get married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, while residents of islands overseen by the Netherlands — Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eu-

➤ BOTSWANA, from p.16 prohibited everybody from engaging in anal sex it was not discriminatory. Referring to arguments presented by LEGABIBO, he wrote that “the nub and substance of the amicus case is that the provisions are discriminatory in effect, by denying him sexual expression and gratification, in the only way available to him, even if that way is denied to all.” Significantly, in light of the legal debate currently simmering here in the US, Leburu wrote “the

GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

statius, and Sint Maarten — all recognize same-sex marriages performed in the Netherlands, though such marriages are only performed in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba. Same-sex marriage is also legal in French territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon. In Mexico, same-sex marriage is legal in 17 states as well as Mexico City, and is recognized everywhere

in that nation. In January of last year, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights recommended that Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Suriname legalize same-sex marriage. The high court in Costa Rica last year threw out that nation’s same-sex marriage ban and full marriage equality will be effective there no

later than next spring. Elsewhere in the world, a yearslong battle over marriage equality in Taiwan culminated in May when the legislature there passed a law giving couples the right to marry. Taiwan’s path to marriage equality resembled the same process underway in Ecuador: The nation’s high court struck down the ban on same-sex marriage and gave lawmakers two years to create a law allowing same-sex couples to marry.

word ‘sex’ in Section 3 of the Constitution should be generously and purposively interpreted to include ‘sexual orientation.’” Sex is a protected class under discrimination provisions of the Botswana Constitution, just as it is under the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the US. In order to “buttress and fortify” his conclusion on this point, Leburu noted that in 2010 “our Parliament… in its graceful and usual wisdom,” outlawed employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Regarding moral objections to

sodomy, Leburu wrote, “such justification does not pass constitutional muster. The test of what is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society is an objective one. There is nothing reasonable and justifiable by discriminating against fellow members of our diversified society. The State has failed to single out the objective that is intended to be satisfied by the impugned provisions.” The courtroom in Gabarone, the nation’s capital, was crowded with LGBTQ activists when Leburu announced the court’s decision, and

an exuberant celebration ensued. Among those congratulating Botswana was the US Department of State. Using the Trump administration’s preferred mode of communicating momentous statements, department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus tweeted: “We are pleased by #Botswana’s High Court decision to decriminalize same-sex relationships –— an historic moment in protecting human rights for all. Congrats to the brave people who worked for this outcome. We hope other countries follow Botswana’s example.”

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➤ TRANS BAN ROLLOUT, from p.12

        

             

                                      

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

A spokesperson for the Army initially said, “DOD policy prohibits involuntary separation solely on the basis of gender identity.� But when pressed again to answer how many people have been discharged as part of the policy, a spokesperson claimed, “There have been no discharges.� Navy spokesperson Samuel R. Boyle said the Navy “does not track those numbers because of privacy concerns,� while Air Force spokesperson Nicholas J. Mercurio said, “The Air Force does not refer members for separation proceedings based solely on their identity as transgender and as such does not track transgender identity among discharged members.� A spokesperson for the Marines said, “Zero Marines have been separated under the Department of Defense policy on military service by transgender persons and persons with gender dysphoria.� The Marines echoed the same message as other branches, saying they do not “separate transgender service members solely because they are transgender.� However, their spokesperson elaborated more than any of the other branches. “If someone received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria on or after April 12, 2019, and gender transition is medically necessary, they may be separated,� Major Craig Thomas of the Marine Corps said. “Depending on any conditions adversely affecting performance, they could be directed to the DoD/ Veteran Affairs Integrated Disability Evaluation System or they could be separated for a condition not a disability.� The Coast Guard acknowledged requests for comment and spent days saying they were gathering information regarding discharges, but did not provide a formal response by press time. The claim by the Marines and the Army that there have been no discharges is difficult to square with assertions by the Air Force and the Navy that no tally is being made, suggesting either a lack of candor or glaring inconsistencies in the way the policy is being enforced. And it difficult to reconcile these responses with assertions by President Donald Trump

that banning transgender troops was an economic decision for a military that enjoys a whopping $686 billion budget. If the president’s claim were true, the Pentagon would presumably be keen to track the progress in ridding the military of these expensive transgender troops. In defending the new policy in an interview earlier this month with Piers Morgan of “Good Morning Britain,â€? Trump made numerous false statements. The president said trans troops “take massive amounts of drugsâ€? and he incorrectly stated that people are not allowed to take any drugs while serving in the military. “We’d actually have to break rules and regulations in order to have that,â€? he asserted when discussing trans service members taking medications. “It is what it is‌ The operation is $200,000, $250,000, the recovery period is long, and they have to take large amounts of drugs after that‌ You can’t do that.â€? Department of Defense spokesperson Jessica Maxwell told Gay City News on June 6 that individuals who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria prior to April 12 are “generally exemptâ€? from the new policy and that those people “may serve in their preferred gender and will continue to receive all medically necessary treatment.â€? When Maxwell was asked about language in the new policy that states that “unless exempt,â€? current serving personnel with a gender dysphoria diagnosis must serve in their “biological sex,â€? she responded, “The word ‘exempt’ is key here. So if someone already had a care plan in place, such as the need for hormones, that person would be exempt from the new/ 2018 policy.â€? That distinction has never before been made clear or explained by the Pentagon, and is difficult to square with another point she made next. Maxwell continued, “Service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria who are not exempt from the new policy may consult with a military medical provider and receive mental health counseling. If gender transition treatment is required, the service member will be evaluated for potential discharge, but all medically necessary care will be provided in the meantime.â€? June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ WEDDING FLORIST, from p.18 represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, and the cases were consolidated. Stutzman lost in Superior Court in February 2015 and two years later at the State Supreme Court. In this new case, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud, writing for the unanimous state high court, explained that their understanding of the Masterpiece Cake decision is that disputes such as this, in the US Supreme Court’s words, “must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.� Under this standard, wrote McCloud, there was no basis for the Washington court to change its opinion. “We have painstakingly reviewed the record for any sign of intolerance on behalf of this court or the Benton County Superior Court,� she wrote. “After this review, we are confident that the two courts gave full and fair consideration to

this dispute and avoided animus toward religion.â€? The Washington court rejected ADF’s efforts to add to the record with claims about religious hostility having motivated the state attorney general to take up the case in the first place. That, McCloud wrote, was outside “the Supreme Court’s explicit mandate to ‘further consider’ our original judgment ‘in light of Masterpiece Cakeshop.’â€? ADF was trying to make something of an unrelated incident that occurred while the Arlene’s Flowers case was pending, when it was reported that a cafĂŠ owner in Seattle had “expelled a group of Christian customers visiting his shopâ€? but that despite publicity about the incident the attorney general had not taken any action against that owner. ADF noted that Justice Kennedy, in concluding that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission betrayed hostility to religion, relied in part on its refusal to proceed against several bakers who would not make cakes inscribed with anti-gay symbolism ordered by a provocateur. The Washington court agreed

with Ingersoll and Freed that the attorney general’s posture toward the coffee shop incident was irrelevant. The Supreme Court was concerned about the fairness of the hearing Phillips got before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, not on any decision as to whether a case should be brought in the first place. “As discussed above,� wrote McCloud, ‘the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop held that the adjudicatory body tasked with deciding a particular case must remain neutral.� The Washington attorney general’s office was a party to the Arlene’s Flowers case, it was not the adjudicator. “Courts are wary to question a prosecutor’s decision of which claims to pursue and thus generally ‘presume that prosecutors have properly discharged their official duties,’� McCloud wrote. The court also pointed out that the consolidated case involved plaintiffs Ingersoll and Freed, in addition to the attorney general representing the State of Washington. Most of the court’s opinion, how-

ever, was devoted to restating its 2017 legal analysis, finding that the First Amendment and Washington state constitutional provisions did not provide a shield for Stutzman against the discrimination charges. The state has a compelling interest to prevent discrimination by businesses, McCloud reiterated. “Discrimination based on samesex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,� she concluded. “We therefore hold that the conduct for which Stutzman was cited and fined in this case — refusing her commercially marketed wedding floral services to Ingersoll and Freed because theirs would be a same-sex wedding — constitutes sexual orientation discrimination.� Even if the state’s nondiscrimination law “substantially burdens Stutzman’s religious free exercise,� that did not violate the First Amendment “because it is a neutral, generally applicable law that serves our state government’s compelling interest in eradicating discrimination in public accommodations.

    

  

  



   

     

     

        

     

   

  

GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

27


STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

Heading into WorldPride’s Home Stretch! Stay busy all week long at LGBTQ happenings around town BY MATT TRACY

T

he city’s month-long celebration of WorldPride festivities continues through the end of June and culminates with the annual Pride March on June 30. There are numerous other events to check out during the week and into the weekend leading up to the final Sunday of the month, from family movie nights to the Dyke March and rooftop receptions. Below, see a wide range of LGBTQ-related events to attend between June 21 and June 30. Chelsea Challenge Hockey Tournament When: Fri., Jun. 21–Sun., Jun. 23 Where: Sky Rink at 61 Chelsea Piers and RWJ Barnabas Ice House at Prudential Center at 25 Lafayette St. in Newark. The New York City Gay Hockey Association is hosting the 19th Chelsea Challenge — an international adult LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly ice hockey tournament at Chelsea Piers and the Prudential Center. Games start on Friday evening. Find out more at nycgha.org/cc.

NYC PRIDE

The Chelsea Challenge hockey tournament is a fun, international event for LGBTQ hockey players.

Family Movie Night When: Fri., Jun. 21, 6:30 p.m.–10 p.m. Where: Hudson River Park’s Pier 45 at W. 10th St. Family movie night will feature “Coco,” Disney/ Pixar’s tale of a young musician, Miguel, who heads to the land of his ancestors — and then meets a friend who helps him find out about his family’s stories and traditions. Everyone in the family is invited — and it’s free! Find out more at tinyurl.com/y32jm4qt. 1 Bronx Pride March and Festival When: Sun., Jun. 23 Where: There will be a rally and march at 161st St. and Grand Concourse followed by a festival at 149th St. and Third Ave. The Bronx celebrates WorldPride on Jun. 23 at the 1 Bronx Pride Festival after the march. Honey Davenport of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and actor/ model Chavis Aron will be present along with other performers. Find out more at tinyurl. com/y2y59hbs.

NYC PRIDE

Bring the whole family outdoors to the movies on June 21.

Folsom Street East When: Sun., Jun. 23, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Where: 27th St. and 10th Ave. Head to the Folsom Street East Street Festival to celebrate S.L.U.T.S. (Sex, Love, Unity, Trust, and Safety) in your favorite leather, fetish, or kinky gear. The festival will close out NYC Fetish Weekend and proceeds will go to the New

28

York City Anti-Violence Project and the Tyler Clementi Foundation. Learn more information at tinyurl.com/y2okosng. The Garden Party When: Mon., Jun. 24, 6 p.m.–10 p.m. Where: Pier 97 at Hudson River Park at W. 59th

St. The LGBT Community Center is partnering with restaurants and chiefs at Garden Party to help kick off WorldPride. Eat food and dance while the sun sets at this official WorldPride event.

➤ STONEWALL 50 LISTINGS, continued on p.29 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


UNION SQUARE 33 East 17th Street (212) 253-0810

TUESDAY, JUNE 25TH, 7PM

The History of the LGBTQ+ Movement and the Stonewall Uprising Panel Event & Signing ONE BRONX FESTIVAL

WorldPride festivities will be in full swing in the Bronx on Sunday, June 23 with a rally, march, and festival.

featuring Bill Goldstein with Jason Baumann, Mason Funk, Charles Kaiser & Christopher Measom

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26TH, 7PM

Drag: Combing Through the Big Wigs of Show Business Panel Event & Signing featuring Frank DeCaro in discussion with Lady Bunny, John “Lypsinka” Epperson, Miss Peggy Lee & Brini Maxwell

SATURDAY, JUNE 29TH, 11AM Pride Storytime & Photo Op

featuring Maiden & Princess and Prince & Knight read by Frankie Grande NYC PRIDE

The National Center for Transgender Equality is hosting a rooftop reception for Pride — and there’s an open bar.

➤ STONEWALL 50 LISTINGS, from p.28 Proceeds support The Center. Visit gaycenter.org/gardenparty to find out more information. Black Flame When: Mon., Jun. 24, 8 p.m. Where: Mood Ring at 1260 Myrtle Ave., btwn. Hart & Cedar Sts., Bushwick This free spotlight on black queer comedians, hosted by Solange Azor, Walter Kelly, and Mila Myles, is a perfect way to kick off the busiest Pride week of the year. Coming Out: Youth Discussion When: Wed., Jun. 26, 4 p.m.–6 GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

p.m. Where: Queens LGBT Center at 37-18 Northern Blvd., Suite 107, Long Island City 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.

UPPER WEST SIDE

2289 Broadway at 82nd Street (212) 362-8835

TUESDAY, JUNE 25TH, 7PM

The History of LGBTQ+ Literature in YA Panel Event & Signing featuring Kacen Callender, Mark Oshiro & Robin Talley moderated by David Levithan

WorldPride Opening Ceremony When: Wed., June 26 at 7 p.m. Where: Barclays Center, 620 At-

➤ STONEWALL 50 LISTINGS, continued on p.30 29


LGBT COMMUNIT Y CENTER

At the LGBT Community Center’s annual Garden Party on Monday, June 24, folks can eat food and dance on the pier to the setting sun.

➤ STONEWALL 50 LISTINGS, from p.29 lantic Ave. at Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn The Stonewall 50 celebration starts with a giant benefit concert, emceed by Whoopi Goldberg, and featuring performances by Cyndi Lauper, Chaka Khan, Ciara, Todrick Hall, and more. The show benefits the Ali Forney Center, Immigration Equality, and SAGE, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders. Buy tickets at tinyurl. com/y4sqm95b. WorldPride Trans Equality Rooftop Reception When: Thurs., June 27, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Where: Rooftop93 Bar & Lounge, 93 Bowery near Hester St., 18th fl. The National Center for Transgender Equality and the NCTE Action Fund is hosting a special trans equality rooftop celebration featuring an open bar. The event presents an opportunity for folks to socialize with leaders in the movement. NCTE’s executive director, Mara Keisling, will deliver remarks. Find out more and buy tickets at tinyurl.com/yxth3e82. Solidarity WorldPride When: Thu., Jun. 27-Sat., Jun. 29 Where: Thursday’s event takes place at 3 Dollar Bill at 260 Meserole St., btwn. Bushwick Pl. and Waterbury Sts., Williamsburg. Three days of Solidarity Pride events kick off at this erotic gay dance party. Hustlaball will feature DJs Steven Redant, Chris Bekke, and Justin Dawson. Plus, there will be a vintage analog sound system and state-of-the-art bespoke lights. Festivities continue throughout the weekend. D3 Diesel will be on Friday, while Underworld Afterhours and Brut will headline festivities on Saturday. Buy weekend passes or individual event tickets at solidaritypride.com. Stonewall 50 Commemoration When: Fri., Jun. 28, 6 p.m.–9 p.m. Where: Christopher St. and Waverly Pl. Community activists, organizers, politicians,

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DONNA ACETO

Anne Maguire and Jo Macellaro of Revolting Lesbians are seen here in last year’s Dyke March.

and others will join forces 50 years after 500 people gathered at Washington Square Park for a Gay Power demonstration. This event is free and open to the public. Pride Soup! Queer on the Pier When: Fri., Jun. 28, 9 p.m. Where: Watermark Bar at 78 South St., Pier 15 The “queerest party of the year” features 2,000 LGBTQ folks in attendance to celebrate WorldPride. Gender capitalist, model, and actor Rain Dove Devin-Norelle host performers Nina Sky and Laith Ashley, with DJ Amber Valentine, DJ MaryMac, and DJ AVG JO-NYC also on hand. Buy tickets at tinyurl.com/y4br49oq.

Mr. Noir WorldPride Edition When: Fri., Jun. 28, 11 p.m. Where: Boxers Hells Kitchen, 742 Ninth Ave. at W. 50th St. Get ready for a fun night of hip hop, R&B, reggae, soca, Afrobeat, and house music on two different levels at Boxers Hell’s Kitchen. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at tinyurl.com/ y5w7t9gf. Harlem Pride When: Sat., Jun. 29 from noon–6 p.m. Where: 12th Ave. at W. 135th St. Celebrate the 10th anniversary of Harlem Pride during the main event of the month-long festivi-

➤ STONEWALL 50 LISTINGS, continued on p.31 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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A group of men are seen enjoying last year’s edition of the Garden Party, which is on June 24 this year.

➤ STONEWALL 50 LISTINGS, from p.30 ties that make up Harlem Pride in June. There will be two stages and live entertainment for this free, family-friendly afternoon. Dyke March When: Sat., June 29th at 5 p.m. Where: Bryant Park Since 1993, the annual Dyke March has highlighted lesbian rights and has served as a demonstration of the First Amendment right to protest. It does not allow permits or sponsors. Those who identify as dykes are welcome to march, while allies are asked to support from sidewalks or at the end of GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

the march at Washington Square Park. The march steps off at Brant Park and proceeds down Fifth Ave. to Washington Square Park. Learn more at nycdykemarch.com. Queer Liberation March When: Sun., Jun. 30, 9:30 a.m. Where: Sheridan Square The Queer Liberation March highlights marginalized people in the LGBTQ community to honor the Stonewall Rebellion and retraces the original Christopher Street Liberation Day March of 1970. The march, which allows no corporate floats or police officers, steps off

➤ STONEWALL 50 LISTINGS, continued on p.35

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31


PERSPECTIVE: LET TER FROM THE EDITOR

PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER Victoria Schneps-Yunis CEO & CO-PUBLISHER Joshua Schneps FOUNDING EDITOR IN-CHIEF & ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Paul Schindler editor@gaycitynews.com DIGITAL EDITOR Matt Tracy matt@gaycitynews.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Duncan Osborne CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Donna Aceto (Photography) Christopher Byrne (Theater), Susie Day (Perspective), Brian McCormick (Dance)

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32

Why I Support the Queer Liberation March BY PAUL SCHINDLER

B

uilding a coalition, like building a community, is about addition, not subtraction. It’s about multiplying, not dividing. I support the Queer Liberation March — planned under the auspices of the Reclaim Pride Coalition and scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Pride Sunday — not because it is the alternative to the traditional LGBTQ Pride Parade produced by Heritage of Pride/ NYC Pride. I support the Queer Liberation March because at this moment in our history — as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, an event where the LGBTQ community said in no uncertain terms, “Enough is enough,” and as we look toward a presidential election next year that this nation and our community cannot afford to lose — it is absolutely critical that we demonstrate that we take politics and our civic responsibilities dead serious. The lead-up to our community having two different marches on the same day to mark Pride has been fraught with tension, acrimony, and division. For years, as the annual parade became bigger and bigger and Pride grew more commercially attractive to American business, complaints mounted steadily about the corporatization of the event. These complaints have emerged at Prides everywhere around the nation, and they are both stylistic and substantive. Financial institutions, airlines, and retailers mounting floats accompanied by identically T-shirted contingents of marchers don’t necessarily make for the most compelling parade visuals — and the effect often doesn’t seem very queer. More importantly, the corporate presence often means Pride crowds are cheering for businesses whose interests on a range of matters are at odds with the community’s broadly progressive agenda on issues such as economic inequality, criminal justice reform, gun violence, and climate sustainability. Those concerns become exacerbat-

ed when the community learns that corporate sponsors can buy positions in the parade in order to avoid the hours-long wait to step off while also getting their message into the event’s three-hour broadcast window. All that said, there is no denying that the annual Pride Parade is a genuine crowd-pleaser, easily drawing millions of spectators. I have little doubt but that for many LGBTQ people it is the biggest and most personally resonant queer celebration in which they participate in any given year. And putting on a party like that is expensive. Gay City News has run stories where community members and activists have raised serious questions — that deserve responses — about decisions made by the essentially allvolunteer Heritage of Pride staff. But whatever the right or wrong of any specific decision HOP has made over the years, the undeniable fact is that to stage an event on the scale of the annual Pride Parade is inevitably going to require significant corporate support. It also bears remembering that for all the prominence corporations have in the parade most of the contingents are smaller, community-based groups — from colleges, high schools, religious bodies, ethnic affinity groups, activist organizations, service providers, and advocacy non-profits. Every year, the parade provides each of those groups, larger and smaller, the opportunity to put their message out to an enormous audience. That has to make a difference for them. And year after year, I have witnessed the jubilation and enthusiasm that many of those marchers make manifest, no matter how many hours they stood on a side street waiting to step off. Among the many thousands of committed activists, advocates, and community leaders who will once again this year march in the big parade, I would not for a moment suggest that their fidelity to our community’s cause is any less true than that of anyone who will join the Queer Liberation March. We will accomplish nothing on June 30 — and we set ourselves up

badly for the unity required over the next 18 months — if anyone adopts a more-activist-than-thou pose. But each of us needs to find the lane that suits us. For me, at this juncture, being queer on Pride Sunday means sending an unmistakable message that our community will not remain silent in the face of the abomination that is the Trump presidency. I endorse the Queer Liberation March with an abiding commitment to intersectional politics. That’s not the same, however, as saying that I support every issue that everyone else participating that day will rally around. This city, this state, and this nation need to fundamentally reform our criminal justice system and root out the racism and classism that too long have been at its foundation. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that rhetoric that has stigmatized the Gay Officers Action League has not been wrong-headed. In the past, I have been critical of decisions made by the LGBT Community Center — specifically over its barring, a number of years back, meetings focused on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t taken aback by Reclaim Pride’s intemperate letter, lacking in logic and substantiation, condemning the Center for a grab bag of perceived sins. And — while I’m on the matter of Israel and Palestine — I will admit to taking a keen interest in that question, but hope that disagreements on that painful topic will not mar what could be a magnificent moment of unity and purpose on June 30. Many people will take an important stand by participating in the larger LGBTQ Pride Parade that day. But after all the bickering of the past few years, I think it’s a salutary outcome that there will be two marches this year. One will no doubt be dwarfed by the other. But the Queer Liberation March promises to provide a unique opportunity for some thousands of queer New Yorkers to connect back to the spirit of 1969 and commit to carrying it forward into 2020. June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: Guest Op Ed

We Need to Disarm the Hate BY JUMAANE WILLIAMS

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hree years ago on June 12, Omar Mateen entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and killed 49 people as they celebrated, many of them members of the LGBTQ community in the midst of Pride month. Less than a year ago, 11 Jewish worshippers were killed in a Pennsylvania synagogue. Just under three months ago, a gunman murdered 51 at their mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Mass shootings are a plague, in our country and around the world, but the infection is not random — it is targeted. Those targets are being placed on the most marginalized communities in our society, and as we mark the anniversary of the tragedy at Pulse and the triumph at Stonewall 50 years ago, it is time to confront gun violence as an issue of civil and human rights which acutely threatens the LGBTQ community. Hate crimes, bias-motivated violence, have risen sharply in recent years, with the FBI finding a 17 percent increase from 2016 to 2017. Of those measured, more than 17 percent of attacks were targeted because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Transgender women of color are being killed in hate crimes at higher rates than nearly any other group of people in this country. This violence is not all in mass shootings like Pulse, but in personalized prejudice that

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Public Advocate Jumaane Williams marching in the June 8 Brooklyn LGBTQ Pride Parade.

leads to individual attacks that break hearts, but not news. Much of this violence involves a weapon, and while LGBTQ individuals are significantly less likely to use a gun themselves than the general population, they are more likely to face the violence that comes from our cultural obsession with firearms. Often included in the statistics but left out of the conversation around gun violence are the 20,000 suicides by gunshot each year in America. LGBTQ individuals attempt suicide at significantly higher rates than the general population, though with many suffering in silence data can be difficult to collect in this area. These tragic deaths come as a result of the re-

sources our system fails to provide and the hatred our society keeps in abundant supply. Here, the mental health crisis and failures to secure and expand LGBTQ rights trigger tragedy with the accessibility of guns in our country. Confronting the gun violence epidemic and the hate that fuels it are inextricably linked. Broadly, gun violence is driven along two tracks — supply and demand. The supply is the amount of guns entering communities — an area where the federal government is firmly committed to inaction, but state by state some progress is being made. Civil rights groups have continued to demand change, including Gays Against Guns, who have increased calls for common

sense gun reforms, but conservative governance on the federal level makes it as opposed to gun safety legislation as it is to antidiscrimination laws. The demand refers to the penchant for violence in communities — which, in reference to attacks on the LGBTQ community, is an issue of festering bigotry that leads to open attacks. Legislation and government alone will not solve this, although increases in funding for and operations of programs and people on the ground are essential. It is also an issue of solidarity. When attacks are launched against the marginalized — because of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and more, we have an intersectional obligation to stand together in condemnation of hate and support of each others’ communities. You cannot hate neatly, and so we all must come together, all historically marginalized communities, to defend each other — because if they come for one in the morning, they come for the rest at night. We need to show our city and nation that neither hate nor fear is welcome here, and that we stand united against bigotry in all its forms —because of race, color, creed, or community, because of who you worship or who you love. This month, as we celebrate Pride and mourn Pulse, we are called to increase our unified efforts to combat the prejudice and the plague that spreads with each shooting. New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams previously served as a New York City Council member from Brooklyn.

PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

Please, Readers, Find the Humor Here BY ED SIKOV

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hen hummers don’t help. Sometimes a headline tells you all you need to know: “Accused NJ Pastor Extracted Evil Spirits From Young Men Through Oral Sex.” That’s really the gist of the story, but I think my readers deserve more details, and I’m only GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

too happy to provide them. “Several young men are speaking out about a Presbyterian minister in New Jersey who used Native American exorcism rituals, gemstones, and even oral sex to extract ‘evil spirits’ from men undergoing crises in their lives,” the Bridgewater Courier News reports. (The story was picked up by Towleroad, which wrote the headline at the top here and is where it

came to my attention.) According to the Courier News, “The so-called healing acts, which date to 1999, were allegedly performed by the Rev. Dr. William Weaver, a prominent Presbyterian minister who served as pastor at Linden Presbyterian Church for 39 years, one of two Presbyterian churches in Linden, a city with a population of over 40,000. He also held several public roles, includ-

ing chaplain for a county police department.” The good pastor also used feathers, buckeyes, coins, and Ziploc bags, into which he spat pieces of metal that he claimed were evidence of the evil spirits that were plaguing the victims and that he averred to have internally extracted from the cum he’d

➤ FIND THE HUMOR, continued on p.34 33


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swallowed. Now before we get carried away with this story’s inherent amusement value — and I do think the story has it in spades — the damage done to Weaver’s victims is real and very disturbing, even excruciating. No blowjob is worth it. One of men Weaver prayed — excuse me, preyed — upon, William Weist, said in a written impact statement he sent to Presbytery officials and was provided to the Courier News, that Weaver was able to take advantage of him because he “was at such a low point in his life…. ‘I felt so small and worthless, like a piece of trash in the street. I just couldn’t face what had happened to me.’” Here’s another funny one, in a sick sort of way: “Tennessee Deputy, Pastor Calls For Execution Of LGBTQ People.” So reads the headline of a story in HuffPo by Sebastian Murdock. The subhead is, shall we say, equally arresting: “‘Have a trial for them, and if they are convicted then they are to be put to death,’ detective and pastor Grayson Fritts said during a sermon.” Seriously, where do they get these names? If you were to write a broad parody of Appalachian hillbillies, you couldn’t do much better than Grayson Fritts. My question is: convicted of what? As far as I know , there are no sodomy laws left on the books in this country, so Fritts’ little murderous fantasy couldn’t be enacted in real life. “Knox County Sheriff’s deputy Grayson Fritts is no longer on active duty,” Murdock reports. “On Wednesday, video surfaced of a hate-filled sermon he gave to his congregation on June 2 at All Scripture Baptist Church in Knoxville that called for the execution of anyone found to be LGBTQ, Knox News first reported.” Naturally — or maybe it should be unnaturally — Fritts employed the standard metaphor when describing his project: “‘I’m sick of sodomy getting crammed down our throats,’ Fritts said during his sermon.” Do straight people always lack creativity? Once, just once, I’d like to hear some benighted het complaining about

having sodomy shoved up his ass. Why is it always crammed down their throats? “‘Send the police in 2019 out to these LGBT freaks and arrest them,’ Fritts continued [forgetting the final Q]. ‘Have a trial for them, and if they are convicted then they are to be put to death. Do you understand that? It’s a capital crime to be carried out by our government.’” He apparently means that the punishment is to be carried out by our government, not the crime. Murdock continues by quoting various government officials distancing themselves from this crackpot, but he has the good sense to close with the crackpot: “Meanwhile, Fritts defended his comments in another sermon on Wednesday night, saying he wasn’t calling on civilians to commit violence, but that it was instead the ‘government’s responsibility.’ “‘I’m not calling anybody in here to arms,’ he said. ‘I’m not calling anyone here to violence. I’m saying it’s the government’s responsibility, is what I said.’” In what might be considered a touch of irony, Fritts has been placed on sick leave. From Business Insider: “Pete Buttigieg, a breakout 2020 Democratic candidate, said that it’s ‘statistically almost certain’ the US has had a gay president in the past. “Speaking to Axios on HBO on Sunday, Buttigieg defended himself against critics who say he would be too young, liberal, or gay to be elected commander-inchief. “‘People will elect the person who will make the best president,’ he said [displaying a singular lack of awareness of current events]. ‘And we have had excellent presidents who have been young. We have had excellent presidents who have been liberal. I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay — we just didn’t know which ones.’” Oh Lord, please don’t make it Millard Fillmore. I just couldn’t live with the knowledge that the nation’s first gay president was named Millard Fillmore. Follow @edsikov on Twitter and Facebook. June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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A couple is seen enjoying Pride festivities in 2017.

➤ STONEWALL 50 LISTINGS, from p.31 from Sheridan Square at 9:30 a.m., proceeds up Sixth Avenue, and concludes at Central Park’s Great Lawn at W. 85th St. at 1 p.m. Supporters can join the march at the midpoint gathering at Bryant Park at 11 a.m. Small buses and wheelchairs will be provided for those who need assistance, and other accessibility services will be available. Contact access@reclaimpridenyc. org for access needs. Find out more at reclaimpridenyc.org. Folks are welcome to join the march at any time and pre-registration is not required. WorldPride March When: Noon Where: 26th St. and Fifth Ave. The bigger annual Pride March is transformed into a special international edition this year as New York plays host to WorldPride. Grand marshals this year will be the cast of “Pose,� UK Black Pride leader Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, the Gay Liberation Front, the Trevor Project, and Trans Flag creator Monica Helms. The march will step off at 26th St. and Fifth Ave., shift west on Eighth and Christopher Sts. past the Stonewall Inn, then move north on Seventh Avenue to the dispersal area. GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

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FILM

Hockney as You’ve Never Seen Him “A Bigger Splash” from 1974 illuminates his life and art BY ANDY HUMM he newly restored “A Bigger Splash” is an intimate portrait of David Hockney and his friends and lovers in the early 1970s, almost each frame a vibrant picture of a time, place, and sensibility in the arts. The Swinging Sixties had just washed over into the second wave of liberation in London and New York and in Hockney himself — opening the way to explicit depictions of gay life and love. This is not a documentary, but Jack Hazan constructs his story from film shot from 1971 to ’73, during which time most of Hockney and company seem to have lost all self-consciousness in front of his camera. (Hockney said he doesn’t remember being filmed taking a shower.) Hazan captures everything from

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David Hockney at work on his iconic “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures).”

mundane activities such as shaving to bursts of creativity in the art studio and in bed. Hockney is seen on the couch being casually affectionate with a paramour. His friend Mo McDermott leaves the bed of a male lover and there is no attempt to hide his nakedness as he shuffles into the kitchen. And Hock-

ney’s lover and muse Peter Schlesinger — dressed like Tadzio from “Death in Venice” in one scene by his side at a fashion show — pops up with no warning making love to another young man in one of the most erotic scenes in cinema history. It is both beautiful and real. But the centerpiece of the film is

Hockney’s creation of what turned out to be his most famous painting, “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures),” the enigmatic image of a young man swimming underwater in a pool at gay director Tony Richardson’s villa near Saint-Tropez with a fully dressed Schlesinger standing near the edge looking down at him. We see Hockney destroying an earlier version and feverishly working for a few weeks on the one we know — taking photos of Schlesinger in Kensington Gardens as the model for the image in the finished work. Already an established artist by this time — and unapologetic about his gay imagery — Hockney sold this work in 1972 for $18,000 (more than $110,000 in today’s dollars). Owned by David Geffen at one time, it resold for $90.3 million in 2018 to an anony-

➤ DAVID HOCKNEY, continued on p.37

A Look Back at a Look Back 1984’s “Before Stonewall” eyes queer life in earlier decades BY GARY M. KRAMER s we look back on history this month and mark Stonewall’s 50th anniversary, the newly restored 1984 documentary, “Before Stonewall” chronicles “the making of the gay and lesbian community.” The film, directed by Greta Schiller, co-directed by Robert Rosenberg, and executive produced by John Scagliotti, traces LGBTQ visibility and identity as well as homophobia in America up to the landmark riots. Through film clips, photographs, and interviews with prominent members of the queer community — Harry Hay, Barbara Gittings, Allen Ginsberg, among others — as well as everyday gay and lesbian folks, “Before Stonewall,” narrated by novelist Rita Mae Brown, shows how the queer community evolved, sometimes in secret. The filmmakers play up and break down stereotypes, describe activist efforts and same sex-affections and attractions, and document queer rebellion and civil disobedience and the way social attitudes changed decade by decade — or how they needed to change. The result is

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Audre Lorde (right) with a friend in New York City in the 1950s.

an empowering history lesson. Gay City News chatted with Schiller and Rosenberg in a recent phone call about their film. GARY M. KRAMER: “Before Stonewall” provides a history lesson of queer life through the lens of art, culture, politics, and society. Can you talk about the decade-by-decade approach to show LGBTQ visibility?

ROBERT ROSENBERG: We were focusing on the 20th century, based on the research John D’Emilio and Allan Bérubé’s [who later wrote “Coming Out Under Fire” about gay soldiers in World War II] did. It made sense to look at pre-World War II, Word War II and the ‘50s, and then the ‘60s leading up the riots as the climax. It’s three acts. But we veer away from that with the butch/ femme culture section that is not geared to any year. We went back and forth, but we were talking about each decade to bring the audience along and see how these radical queer activists didn’t just spring to life in whole cloth — it was the political, social, and culture changes that led to the Stonewall riots. KRAMER: Can you talk about incorporating the film clips, photographs, and other materials you use to illustrate each time period? GRETA SCHILLER: We had the idea to make the film about the homophile movement, but it became very clear once we got funding that we wanted to go from turn of the century to the

➤ BEFORE STONEWALL, continued on p.37 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ DAVID HOCKNEY, from p.36 mous bidder, setting the record for a living artist that was just broken by less than a million more by Jeff Koons. “A Bigger Splash� the painting, by the way, is a 1967 work of water splashing out of an LA pool in a simpler but no less iconic composition. No starving artist, Hockney is able to pick up and move to New York, Paris, or California as the spirit moves him, sometimes to the consternation of friends. Some dramatic tension is introduced by interactions with John Kasmin, owner of the eponymous gallery that sells Hockney’s work, who is impatient for new, promised canvases that Hockney has not delivered. We also see famous designers Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell —immortalized as a couple with their cat in one of Hockney’s largescale portraits — at work and at play. Knowing as we do now that these scenes are just before their divorce adds bittersweet notes. (Clark went on to have relationships with men — a tempestuous one with Nicholas Balaban that collapsed in 1983 and one with a subsequent mad lover who killed him in 1996.) Some of the film’s sequences are surreal, especially Schlesinger swimming and then walking nude to the house of an older woman subject of Hockney’s, Betty Freeman, and a gay couple dining in-

➤ BEFORE STONEWALL, from p.36 riots — that’s when homosexuals began to have a cultural identity. There wasn’t any archive to look up gay life in the ‘50s, so the research director, Andrea Weiss, came up with strategies, spending hours in the National Archives. She would pore over material. One example she gave, of the men exercising in World War II — who’s to say the men filming them weren’t gay? It was so homoerotic! So instead of looking at gay bar raids, Andrea looked for undesirables, drag queens, perverts, and police raids. She joked she was a missing persons bureau organizing things. She also had to convince folks that their snapshots were history to let GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

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Peter Schlesinger, a lover and muse to David Hockney.

side. And Hockney’s interactions with out gay curator Henry Gledzhaler — later Ed Koch’s Cultural Affairs commissioner — in the bath and elsewhere have a touch of fantasy as well. There are also scenes of naked young men joyously cavorting in and around a pool and that sequence of Hockney showering. Hockney went into a depression after the film’s release but later came to appreciate it. His career was further boosted by the movie. And our appreciation for him as an artist and person is enhanced as well. “I paint what I like when I like and where I like,� Hockney says. What a life. A BIGGER SPLASH | Directed by Jack Hazan | Opens Jun. 21 | Metrograph, 7 Ludlow St., btwn. Canal & Hester Sts.; metrograph.com The trailer for “A Bigger Splash is at youtu.be/JTjY4PAzEpg.

us use an image. ROSENBERG: There were some community-based LGBTQ archives. They didn’t have movie images, but they did have lots of photos and activist magazine covers. The more personal fill-in stuff we got from the community, but the movie images were difficult. SCHILLER: Vito Russo, who found every queer representation in Hollywood film, was tight with Andrea and gave her the nightclub [film] clip with the swishing guys and the lavender cowboys scene.

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FILM

Precocious Early German Queer Cinema Quad Cinema hosts vintage gay fi lms from fr the ‘70s & ‘80s BY GARY M. KRAMER s part of the Quad Cinema’s WorldPride Month programming, filmmaker Wieland Speck has curated “Queer Kino,” a program — with support from the Goethe-Institut — of nine classic queer German films from the 1970s and 1980s. Here is a rundown of some key films to seek out during this week-long engagement. Speck’s noteworthy 1985 feature directorial debut, “Westler” (June 24 at 6:45 p.m.), is a bittersweet romance between the handsome West Berliner Felix (Sigurd Rachman) and the adorable East Berliner Thomas (Rainer Strecker). The guys meet when Felix takes his American friend, Bruce (Andy Lucas), through the checkpoint to East Berlin. (Speck shot the footage in East Berlin illegally with a Super-8 camera). Soon, Felix returns to visit Thomas, and they seal their relationship with a kiss. The connection and longing the guys feel are heartwarming, and their sexuality does not seem an issue for either of them. However, the Wall — a symbol of communism, authoritarian politics, and the difficulties of being openly gay — is. As Felix continues to visit Thomas, he is placed under greater scrutiny at the checkpoints, being strip-searched in one humiliating scene. One evening, Felix must end a night of passion early because of the curfew. How these lovers grapple with being so close, physically and emotionally, and yet separated by an imposed boundary forms the dramatic tension in the film. Eventually, Thomas hopes to escape East Germany. “Westler” may feel dated, but it provides a valuable glimpse into the queer bars and drag shows the characters attend that provide them with a sense of community. And there is a surreal flashback to Thomas’s military service — a fascinating and highly homoerotic sequence. Speck’s film is a touching love story that documents an

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder (right) in his “Fox and His Friends,” from 1975. 5.

important era in German history. One of the highlights of “Queer Kino” is the opportunity to see the late writer/ director Frank Ripploh’s outstanding 1980 feature “Taxi zum Klo” (June 21 at 10:30 p.m.; June 27 at 4:40 p.m.). The film depicts the life of Frank (Ripploh), a self-described “normal, jaded, neurotic, polymorphously perverse” 30-year-old gay teacher. It features many explicit scenes, including a glory hole sequence and a tryst involving water sports, as well as Frank enjoying an S&M spanking, performing and receiving fellatio, and even getting a rectal exam. The raunchy scenes are all presented candidly, but they are actually quite tender and sweet. Ripploh’s purpose is to depict his gay life explicit and realistically in order to normalize it. The film is episodic as it chronicles Frank’s various sexual encounters until he meets Bernd (Bernd Broaderup), who provides the possibility of a stable relationship. However, Bernd is a homebody who wants to live in the country, while Frank is perpetually horny and restless, seeing the city as his sexual playground. Ripploh’s performance is extraordinary. For him, the personal is political, and he is refreshingly unabashed about it — especially when he dons drag and enters his classroom in a powerful, anarchic scene. The filmmaker does not shy

EVERET T COLLECTION VIA QUAD CINEMA

Brad Davis in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Querelle,” based on the Jean Genet novel.

away from presenting copious nudity and sex and the many erotic moments reinforce Frank’s comfort in his own skin and as a gay man. “Taxi zum Klo” is naughty and shameless. It demands to be seen. Another excellent film about a gay teacher is “Coming Out” (June 24 at 8:40 p.m.), director Heiner Carow’s sensitive 1989 story, set in East Berlin, which opens with Philipp (Matthias Freihof) meeting and dating Tanja (Dagmar Manzel). When Tanja introduces him to her old friend Jakob (Axel Wandtke), Philipp is practically hypnotized; Jakob and Philipp were once classmates who shared a special bond. Suddenly, Philipp recognizes his undeniable same-sex longings and heads to a gay bar.

Philipp’s struggle with his sexuality is palpable. Freihof conveys his character’s fear, shame, loneliness, and despair well. And when he connects with Matthias (Dirk Kummer) a young man one night, “Coming Out” becomes incredibly poignant. When Philipp says, “I’ve never slept with a man before,” his emotions are heartrending and liberating at the same time. Freihof’s expressions in this scene show how much relief, joy, and pain Philipp feels. It is as great a moment as his speech to his mother asking if he has to justify his sexuality. The film also features considerable dramatic tension as a love triangle develops among Philipp, Tanja, and Matthias. “Coming Out” shows just how tricky it is for Philipp to navigate the emotions he is grappling with. This film is as courageous as its protagonist. No queer German film series could exist without a contribution from the King of Queer German Cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder. “Queer Kino” offer two of his films, “Fox and His Friends,” (June 22 at 4:40 p.m.), from 1975, in which the director plays Franz (aka Fox), a working-class man who wins the lottery and soon falls in love with the more cultured Eugen (Peter Chatel). With his windfall, Franz helps Eugen’s father Wolf’s (Adrian Hoven) company get out of debt, buys an apartment, fancy clothes, and furnishings for him and Eugen to share, and splurges for a Moroccan vacation. But despite being warned by his friends about being exploited, Franz insists he is happy — until he admits he is not. Fassbinder’s morality tale is a stinging social commentary on classism and racism, brilliantly realized. The bold visuals capture the sense of claustrophobia that stifles Franz’s freedom and self-expression. There are several awkward dinner scenes with Eugen’s parents that emphasize how uncouth Franz is. The love and sex are downplayed, perhaps indicating how little of each exists between

➤ QUEER KINO, continued on p.39 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ BEFORE STONEWALL, from p.37 ‘30s, as well as “Howl� in the ‘50s. What can you say about the suppression of queer culture? ROSENBERG: One of the challenges was a lawsuit about being able send [queer] material through the mail. Allen Ginsberg won a similar lawsuit. SCHILLER: I remember talking to Barbara Grier who was active in The Ladder. She told a story about how hard it was to get women to have their photo on the cover or inside their magazine. Communists were also closeted at the time; people outside the party didn’t know they were in the party, even though they were leaders. Homosexuals, same thing. They were closeted but out. It’s a weird thing. ROSENBERG: Lorraine Hansberry wrote for The Ladder under a pseudonym. For the majority of people, it was repressive and dangerous. We need to remember that and honor that as well. KRAMER: What were your criteria for whom to interview — the film features a mix of well-known and unknown people? How did you find them and get them to agree to discuss their lives and work? ROSENBERG: I contacted lots of people asking if they you knew people over 70. That’s how I found Ted Rolfs, who makes the comment, “From Stonehenge to Stonewall.�

➤ QUEER KINO, from p.38 the men. “Fox and His Friendsâ€? is brilliantly acted by Fassbinder, who makes his character’s pathos quite moving. The series also includes Fassbinder’s last film, 1982’s “Querelleâ€? (June 22 at 9: 15 p.m.). This hothouse drama, based on a Jean Genet novel, drips with eroticism from its first shot of the sweaty, shirtless title character (Brad Davis). Fassbinder’s camera fetishizes Davis, clad in his tight, white sailor’s uniform, in a way that makes him irresistible. When Querelle enters a bar cum brothel, he cheats at a game of dice, inducing Nono (GĂźnther Kaufmann) to sodomize him. As Querelle becomes sexually intimate with several other men, he continuously denies his homosexuality (as do most of the film’s GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

He volunteered at the San Francisco Community Center. He was a real find and not on the radar of historians. JosÊ Sarria, Harry Hay, and Audre Lorde, we sought out. SCHILLER: When we started the project, we put ads in print media and sent out press releases. We wanted people to be geographically dispersed as well: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and New York. We had local researchers. We’d put a call out that we were looking for this or that and we’d pre-interview folks so we could find the best people to represent a story from each decade. Donna — who talks about her girlfriend being put in a mental institution — we were in her house and she was flirting like crazy with Andrea. Andrea used her charm to get Donna to let us use her photographs. We had to seduce people to be on camera. KRAMER: What are your thoughts on how things have changed in the 35 years since you made the film? ROSENBERG: Ironically, I think that that moment in 1983, making the film, is now a historical moment for millennials — it’s before they were born. BEFORE STONEWALL | Directed by Greta Schiller; co-directed by Robert Rosenberg | First Run Features | Opens Jun. 21| Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th St.; quadcinema.com

other male characters). Fassbinder’s film addresses issues of masculinity and sexuality in intriguing ways here. An act of violence — Querelle murders a sailor — is steeped in erotic gestures. A scene where Querelle, covered in coal dust, talks with the Lieutenant Seblon (Franco Nero), who desires him, is achingly seductive. And there are phallic and other erotic images throughout the film, including the designs on the brothel’s windows. But for all the atmosphere, the emotions seem lacking. “Querelle� is not Fassbinder’s best film, but it is certainly one of his queerest, and it yields tremendous visual delights. QUEER KINO | Jun. 21-27 | Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th St.; quadcinema.com

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39


THEATER

Claiming Identity Queer black dramatist’s musical on a queer black k dramatis dramatist

JOAN MARCUS

Larry Owens (center, front, in red jacket and cap) with James Jackson, Jr., John-Michael Lyles, Jason Veasey, Antwayn Hopper, John-Andrew Morrison, abd L. Morgan Lee in Michael R. Jackson’s “A Strange Loop,” directed by Stephen Brackett, at Playwrights Horizons through July 7.

BY DAVID KENNERLEY t the top of “A Strange Loop,” the brash, 25-yearyoung protagonist called Usher announces that the show will portray what it’s like to “travel the world in a fat black queer body” as he obsesses over the latest draft of his self-referential musical (titled “A Strange Loop”). “There will be butt-fucking,” he warns. Or is it a promise?

A

Over the next hour and 45 minutes, the valiant Usher, who happens to work as an usher at “The Lion King” on Broadway dealing with white “asshole tourists,” takes us through the process, plagued by self-doubt, at times self-hatred. Under the direction of Stephen Brackett (“Be More Chill”), Usher’s interior dialogue is brilliantly realized by a chorus of “thoughts,” a spirited group of six black queer actors who articulate his hopes and

fears. One thought is called his “Daily Self-Loathing,” another is his “Financial Faggotry,” while another is “Supervisor of Sexual Ambivalence.” They all talk like Wendy Williams. These thoughts also take the form of his God-fearing folks back home in Detroit, who have no clue what it takes to get a play produced in New York. They beg him to write a “nice, clean, Tyler Perry-like gospel play.” What unfolds onstage

JOAN MARCUS

Antwayn Hopper and Larry Owens (front) in “A Strange Loop.”

certainly has elements of a gospel musical populated by zany, stereotypical Tyler Perry characters, but it’s anything but nice and clean. “A Strange Loop,” courtesy of Playwrights Horizons in association with Page 73, is sprung from the slightly demented, possibly genius mind of Michael R. Jackson, who wrote the book, music, and lyrics. It’s a safe bet that much of

➤ A STRANGE LOOP, continued on p.41

Making Your Connection Terrence McNally’s classic play about sex being the easy part BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE ex is easy. Establishing — more accurately, negotiating — real, human connection can be treacherous. Finding a safe haven in the heart of another person in a cold world is the central narrative of Terrence McNally’s “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.” Although the play is more than 30 years old, the timelessness of that

S 40

theme is what makes the magnificent production now on Broadway heartbreakingly contemporary. When sex is easily available at a click or a swipe and engaged in with no strings attached, what used to be the consummation of a courtship is reduced to a physical and inherently unromantic and isolating commodity. “Frankie & Johnny” begins with sex. Noisy, enthusiastic sex that rocks the sofa bed in a down-at-

heels New York apartment. It’s the kind of first date romp where sex doesn’t mean much more than the release of pent up energy with another willing player. The pair met at the diner where they work. Frankie is an actress/ waitress and Johnny is the new short order cook. A movie date turned into an invitation to come in. Yet when intercourse ends in hilarity as Frankie tumbles to the floor and Johnny recounts a tale of an ill-timed fart

in a past, teenage tryst, they find they are actually with another real person. It’s a beautiful moment. What’s so moving about this production — certainly compared to others I’ve seen, including the 1987 original — is how fragile this Frankie and Johnny are as they negotiate getting to know each other. The dichotomy between the ease with which they jumped into

➤ FRANKIE AND JOHNNY, continued on p.43 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


A STRANGE LOOP, from p.40

the material is drawn from personal experience. The sharp, witty musical number, “Exile in Gayville,” recounts Usher’s attempts to find sex via hookup apps like Scruff and Grindr. “Looking? Into? Hung?” is the refrain. Sadly, he is cruelly rebuffed. “Too fat. Too black. Yr dick 2 small,” the white guys yell in unison. As Usher, Larry Owens perfectly captures the ambivalence of a marginalized black playwright in a predominantly white man’s game. Sure, Usher can be a smart aleck, but Owens lends a vulnerability that keeps us rooting for the dramatist, even as his life and the musical itself whirl out of control. The play’s title is not easy to pin down. On one level of course, “A Strange Loop” refers to this circular musical about a musical. Yet it also refers to the cognitive phenomenon of self-perception where, despite appearing to moving forward, we unexpectedly find ourselves right back where we started. Usher navigates multiple strange loops in trying to make his dream a re-

JOAN MARCUS

Larry Owens in “A Strange Loop.”

ality and claim his identity. These loops involve prejudice against African Americans, gay men, and even overweight people. Setbacks abound. “Strange Loop” is also the title of a song by Liz Phair, one of Usher’s favorite singers. When he channels his “inner white girl” to write musical numbers, he’s drawing strength from her. If Jackson’s goal is to employ his

ferocious voice to shake up complacent theatergoers accustomed to a steady diet of musicals based on popular movies like “Tootsie,” “Mean Girls,” and “The Lion King,” he has succeeded all too well. For me, about two-thirds in, he crosses the line from provocative to punishing. The relentless barbed dialogue about gay sex (“bareback and felching,” “filthy little sissy”) and race (“nigguh,” “dumb mon-

key”) becomes overwhelming. A meth-fueled hookup with master/ slave overtones appears to border on rape. During a spirited gospel number, Usher in pastor mode beckons the audience to clap along to the chant “AIDS is God’s punishment.” Some people did, but I refused to play along. When Usher sang, “Where are my boundaries?” I began to wonder the same about Jackson. Early on in “A Strange Loop,” the thoughts declare, “No one cares about a writer who is struggling to write. They’ll say it’s way too repetitious. And so overly ambitious.” I do care about the struggling writer onstage. Very much. But by the end of this astonishing yet challenging endeavor, I found myself in agreement: too repetitious and overly ambitious. A STRANGE LOOP | Playwrights Horizons, Mainstage Theater, 416 W. 42nd St. | Through Jul. 7: Tue.Wed. at 7 p.m.; Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sun. at 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. at 2:30 p.m. | $49-$89 at playwrightshorizons.org | One hr., 45 mins., with no intermission

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41


THEATER

Party Favors Immersive political drama about bout powe power, graft, voter manipulation BY DAVID KENNERLEY n “Convention,” Danny Rocco’s raucous, wildly ambitious fact-based drama, a certain American political party sells its own soul to back an ill-equipped candidate as special interests consolidate power. Members are willing to compromise their core values and cement ties with big business through fearmongering and voter manipulation. Essentially, a presidential election is rigged. No, I’m not talking about the Republicans and the 2016 election. It’s the Democrats and the year is 1944. That’s when FDR was up for reelection for an unprecedented fourth term. The liberal, savvy champion of the New Deal was respected by both parties, and since nobody wanted to switch out the commander-in-chief during a calamitous world war, his victory was in the bag. The hitch— and it’s a big one — is that FDR was gravely ill, a secret kept from the general public, and his running mate would surely become president. So the real contest was for the vice president portion of the ticket, played out behind the scenes at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. But the process was far from democratic. Incumbent Vice President Henry Wallace, the presumed nominee going into the convention, was hugely popular and embodied the party’s core liberal values. Problem was, a cadre of powerful Democrats, which eventually included FDR, believed he was too progressive. Not only was Wallace pro-labor and anti-segregation, he was branded a commie sympathizer because he was chummy with Russia. So the Democratic elite handpicked the moderate senator from Missouri, Harry Truman, and rammed him down their collective throats. Nothing short of a coup. When Rocco conceived of the play, he recognized the inherent drama of the story, but also the potential snooze factor. Nobody goes to the theater for a complex history

I

42

AHRON R. FOSTER

AHRON R. FOSTER Claire Mikelle Anderson as Vice President Henry Wallace in Danny Rocco’s “Convention,” directed by Shannon Fillion, at the Irondale in Fort Greene through June 29.

lesson. What better way to engage audience members than to thrust them in the middle of the action? The piece attempts to replicate an actual convention by being staged in a cavernous space, the Irondale theater in a former Brooklyn church gymnasium, where theatergoers are seated among the delegates. You may find yourself rubbing elbows with one of the 40 cast members dressed in period costumes, designed by Jen Raskopf. While the primary focus is the podium onstage, many overlapping mini-dramas unfold throughout the auditorium. Right in front of me, for example, was Helen Douglas (an excellent Lizzie Stewart), a delegate from California who argues passionately in favor of Wallace, while former Governor Culbert Olson (Greg Hudson) stands by her side in solidarity. Over the course of the proceedings, however, Olson begins to waver, then shifts his allegiance to Truman. Turns out he was promised a plum ambassadorship to Mexico for his support. (Six years later, Helen Gahagan Douglas, wife of actor Melvyn Douglas and a member of the US House, would lose her Sen-

ate bid to a fellow House member, Richard Nixon, who smeared her as the “pink lady.”) Elsewhere, DNC Chairman Robert Hannegan (Ashley Alvarez) argues for Truman. “If Wallace becomes president, we are in deep trouble” he says. His DNC co-chair, Samuel Jackson (Kathleen Littlefield), objects to the vote manipulation scheme. “Why not let the convention do its thing?” he implores. Fat chance. Frances Perkins (Ginnie House), US labor secretary and a diehard liberal, vows to do her level best to make sure Wallace prevails, “and not some whipping boy who will cave to big business.” She beseeches her fractious party to be “on the right side of history.” At its best, “Convention” delivers more than two hours of enthralling, controlled chaos. Under the direction of Shannon Fillion, the convention hall comes alive with bickering and backbiting and bombast. The level of fraud is astonishing. Ushers and guards are paid off. Even reporter Jack Bell (an appropriately smarmy Catherine Pulley) of the Associated Press is in on it, blackmailing delegates by threat-

ening to publish damaging personal secrets if they don’t vote for Truman. At one point, the Truman camp temporarily (and illegally) shuts down the convention, effectively derailing Wallace’s nomination. In a decidedly queer twist, Rocco prescribed that the cast be diverse and partly gender nonconforming. For instance, Wallace is played by a woman (Claire Mikelle Anderson), Bess Truman by a man (Daniel John Serpati), and Truman by an African-American man (Charles Everett). A refreshing break from the expected phalanx of white, middle-aged white men, this makes for some piquant samesex pairings. Not that there aren’t glitches. In part due to the vastness of the venue, it can be difficult to hear key dialogue, not only originating from a far corner but even from the podium with a microphone. For sure, some of this is by design to recreate the spontaneous mayhem of a convention, but it is challenging nonetheless. The gender-bending conceit makes it even trickier to keep track of who’s who. As to be expected from such a massive ensemble, performances range from superb to subpar. Less than three months into his fourth term, FDR died of a stroke and Truman became president. We can only speculate how the course of history might have changed — evading the Cold War with Russia, perhaps? — if the process weren’t rigged and Wallace had landed in the Oval Office instead. And while pundits and citizens alike declaim that the current situation in the White House is appalling if not downright untenable, this bold, thrilling “Convention” reminds us that dirty politics can come from either side of the aisle and is as American as apple pie. CONVENTION | Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford St. at Lafayette Ave., Fort Greene | Through Jun. 29: Mon., Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sat. at 3 p.m. | $18 at irondale.org | Two hrs., 10 mins., with intermission June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


DEEN VAN MEER

Michael Shannon and Audra McDonald in Terrence McNally’s “Frankie and Johnny in the Clare de Lune,� directed by Arin Arbus at the Broadhurst through August 25.

➤ FRANKIE AND JOHNNY, from p.40 the sack and the almost unsurmountable challenge of being emotionally naked with one another is the core of the play. Frankie sees herself as damaged goods, barely healed from an abusive relationship — terrified and resistant to anything more than sex, which provides physical release, an illusion of connection while leaving the heart protected. Johnny, who endured a stint in prison, is likewise a product of failed relationships and tired of looking for a partner. He falls in love with Frankie desperately and quickly because he instinctively knows she’s exactly what he wants, and his willingness to take the chance on the unknown is at odds with Frankie’s desire to run away. Johnny’s argument, one that gives the production much of its contemporary appeal, is that waiting for perfection is based in fear. Without risk — even the risk of more pain — the play argues, we are, to a certain extent, already dead, and that resonates today in a world where hookups, sex buddies and ghosting all keep people at a distance from one another. The play is simple and beautifully orchestrated, and like Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,� which feature early in the play, each variation on the theme of love and connection that unfolds through the scenes brings us closer to each character as they slowly and gracefully reveal their naked souls. The final image of Frankie and Johnny together expresses an intimacy far more powerful and telling than the GayCityNews.nyc | June 20 - June 26, 2019

carnality that opened the play. Director Arin Arbus beautifully brings the piece to life. It doesn’t hurt that Audra McDonald is playing Frankie and Michael Shannon is Johnny. McDonald is in top form, giving Frankie a richness and complexity that is consistently fascinating and touches something in each of us. Shannon is equally nuanced in his performance, though it is much more outwardly focused. The clarity of his choices as an actor reveal Johnny’s internal conflicts, making him sympathetic, appealing, and sexy. His neverwavering belief in the possibility of connection with Frankie drives much of the play. The inspired set by Riccardo Hernåndez underscores that this is just one story in a city of millions, and Natasha Katz’s lighting is both functional and evocative, perfectly matched to the piece. After two hours with these broken, searching characters, it’s impossible to leave the theater without being deeply touched. All of us have some of Frankie and Johnny competing within us. For all our poses, we want what they want. Give us each some moonlight and the willingness to take a chance and who knows what can happen? FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE | Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St. | Through Aug. 25: Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m.; Wed., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. | $49-$159 at telecharge.com or 212-239-6200 | Two hrs., 15 mins,, with intermission

        

             

                                      

FAMILY PRIDE SECTION TO ADVERTISE CONTACT: GAYLE H. GREENBERG 718-260-4585 GGREENBERG@SCHNEPSMEDIA.COM GAYCITYNEWS.NYC 43


Pride 50 Doings “Galas,” Leslie-Lohman’s an s haven, Cady C Huffman BY DAVID NOH hen playwright/actor Charles Ludlam died at age 43 in 1987, a unique, important creative light was extinguished. One of the most striking achievements of his too-brief career was “Galas,” his satirical take on the life of the ultimate opera diva, Maria Callas. I saw it in its original iteration on Sheridan Square in his namesake theater and recall howling with laughter over his hysterical entrance from a cardboard train, carrying a birdcage (as one does), and then fussing over that ultimate opera diva prop, a pet dog, which, hilariously, was nothing more than a vintage fur piece. You would barely know that, however, such was this also master puppeteer’s skill at making a found object come to vivid canine life. Lending him side-splittingly funny support was Ludlam’s partner in love and work, Everett Quinton, as his insanely protective maid, Bruna (think a Sicilian Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers in “Rebecca”). Well, Ludlam is sadly gone, but Quinton is joyfully very much with us, and it was at the request of Mark Erson, the Lutheran pastor of St. John’s and artistic director of Theatre at St. John’s on Christopher Street, that Quinton is reviving the play, now starring in the title role, which should be choice. St. John’s is my neighborhood church and I have long been impressed by the intriguingly wide range of activities, apart from worship and memorial services, going on there. Founded in 1855, in a landmark building that dates back to 1821, the church chose as its ninth pastor Erson, who is proudly gay and committed to serving his entire community, bringing the arts to his parish and beyond, and, always and hopefully, building a bigger congregation at this most beautiful and welcoming historical space. Born on Staten Island to a Lutheran minister, Erson’s was a winding path on the way to the ministry, encompassing careers as an actor, producer, and playwright, before entering the General Theological Seminary here in New York, in 2005. “I am happily married to my high school sweetheart, Scott Jordan,” Erson told me as we sat down at Cowgirl Hall of Fame in the West Village. “When we met, no one was out, and I could hardly believe my luck — he was so handsome, funny, and kind! It took a while, but I always knew I wanted to marry him. He’s a great partner and an immense help to me here. “I guess I always basically knew I was gay, and I was given this position with the hope that, as an out gay pastor, I would be able to

W

44

THEO COTE

Everett Quinton, Mark Erson, and Géraldine Dulex in the first-ever revival of Charles Ludlam’s “Galas,” atTheatre at St. John’s through June 28.

theater groups who are able to develop and perform their work here.” pe As a lifetime theater geek, Erson adored the A work of Ludlam, himself a longtime Village w resident, and in addition to producing “Gar las,” he is also acting in it, playing the Arisl totle Onassis character. He welcomes all to t come see the play and also become involved c in his vibrant church and its fundraising aci tivities. “We got funds to put up a new, attract tive fence, and now want to raise money for a t new more appropriately period front door.” n

CADYHUFFMAN.COM

Cady Huffman is “Miss Peggy Lee” at the Green Room 42 on July 24 and 31.

really reach out to our community, as well as people in the arts, so many of whom live around here. We have, at this moment, a wide range of different programs, from our well-attended AA meetings and AIDS and gay youth outreach programs to a number of different

Cady Huffman is one of the best-loved C performers in the business for, besides her per huge Tony-willing talent, there is the fact of her hug unfailingly real and warm lovability — rare, indeed, one that I associate with such priceless, essential showstoppers as Joan Blondell and early Ginger Rogers (before she got too selfimportant). It’s always salutary when an actress stretches herself and this she is doing with a bright new show she’s been developing with Will Nunziata, “Miss Peggy Lee: In her Own Words and Music.” One of the last century’s most beloved songstresses, Lee is not as well known as the prolific songwriter she was, penning more than 100 tunes, including her signature “Fever,” “Its a Good Day,” “Mañana” and those featured in

➤ PRIDE 50 DOINGS continued on p.45 June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


STARTS FRIDAY, JUNE 21

QUAD CINEMA 34 W. 13TH ST. Visit QuadCinema.com for showtimes

MEET FILMMAKERS OPENING WEEKEND! Friday 6:30; Saturday 7:05; Sunday 2:50 shows THE NEW YORK TIMES

On June 13, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art hosted a lively book launch and discussion of “Pride: Fifty Years of Parades and Protests From the Photo Archives of The New York Times,� which featured four of the newspaper’s staffers involved in creating the volume.

➤ PRIDE 50 DOINGS, from p.44 the movie “Lady and the Tramp.� Huffman, a lifelong fan, had a picture of Lee on her wall for years and is bringing a new and very deep understanding of the complexities of the singer. “I can relate to her in so many ways, some which even surprised me,� she told me. “And I feel re-

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ally good about this show which, I must emphasize, is not a strict impersonation of her. Peggy has brought out something new in me, and I’m so excited to show it and share it.� As the show is still in a workshop phase, I was forbidden to review it. But I caught it and can

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June 20 - June 26, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


䉴

PRIDE 50 DOINGS, from p.45

assure you, it’s both moving and a lot of fun, and Huffman’s “Feverâ€? absolutely slayed the audience. After a sold-out run, it will return to the Green Room 42, July 24 and July 31 at 7 p.m. The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is really the only major Manhattan space to celebrate queer art, and the Leslie-Lohman Foundation, like Pride itself, is celebrating 50 years. In observance of that, there are three celebratory shows: “Being Seen Makes a Movement Possible, 2019â€? (Joan E. Biren’s photos of the LGBQT movement over the past 40 years mounted on the building’s façade, through May 2020), “Y ‘all Better Quiet Downâ€? (art and memorabilia either taken from or directly inspired by queer liberation, through July 21), and “Art After Stonewall: 1969-1989â€? (dominated by David Hockney’s dazzling life-size portrait of Divine, through July 21). In observance of the book “Pride: Fifty Years of Parades and Protests From the Photo Archives of The New York Times,â€? the museum hosted a lively event on June 13 featuring Times staffers David Kaufman, who wrote the text, photo editor Cecilia Bohan, senior photographer Sara Krulwich, and photographer James Estrin, in conversation with Nelson Santos, Leslie-Lohman’s interim director of curatorial programs. Bohan was especially eloquent detailing the hunt through the Times morgue for pertinent gay images, which were not always easy to find, given the Times’ long-held indifference to anything queer. The Stonewall Uprising itself yielded only four shots from a staff photographer, shot from a car. The newspaper went through

a 360-degree change with the 1992 appointment of a new publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., who made it clear that the bad old policy of The Times, which even eschewed the very word “gay,� was a thing of the past, ushering in a new era of full coverage, including queer weddings. Feisty, diminutive, out lesbian Krulwich’s first reaction to an early iteration of “Pride� was, “What is this, a book full of smiling people?,� and exhorted a deeper delving for images of more range. “I always liked to get as full and inclusive a shot as I could,� she remarked, “to show the wonderful diversity of the crowd during Pride.� To achieve this, Krulwich would find a strategic spot on the parade route where she knew there would be a momentary pause in the marching, and ask the nearest store, pharmacy, whatever for the loan of a ladder, which she would have hauled out into the middle of Fifth Avenue and then climb it and snap all that ebullient, diverse humanity. GALAS | Theatre at St. Johns in Association with Yorick Theater Company | 81 Christopher St., btwn. Seventh Ave. S. & Bleecker St. | Jun. 16-17, 19-22, 25-26, 28 at 8 p.m. | $25 at galas.brownpapertickets.com CADY HUFFMAN | “Miss Peggy Lee� | The Green Room 42 | 570 10th Ave. at 42nd St., inside Yotel, fourth fl. | Jul. 24 & 31 at 7 p.m. | $37.50-$77.50 at ci.ovationtix. com/34878/production/1010064 THE LESLIE-LOHMAN MUSEUM OF GAY AND LESBIAN ART | 26 Wooster St., btwn. Grand & Canal Sts. | Wed., Fri.-Sun., noon-6 p.m.; Thu., noon-8 p.m.; closed Pride Sunday | leslielohman.org

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COMMUNITY

A Solemn Commemoration of the Pulse Tragedy Gays Against Guns, AVP, Voices4 gather to remember the Orlando victims PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

O

n the evening of June 12, Gays Against Guns, joined by activists from the New York City AntiViolence Project and Voices4, held a silent vigil outside the Stonewall Inn and across the street at Christopher Park, the site of the federal Stonewall National Monument, to mark the third anniversary of the gun massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub that killed 49 and injured another 53 people. In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen entered the club, which was hosting its regular Latinx night, and opened fire. When police were finally able to move in on the crime scene, the shooter killed himself. New York’s queer community mobilized immediately in reaction to the shootings, hosting a pair of impromptu major vigils later that same day, and the following evening a more formal vigil was held that drew leading elected officials. Gays Against Guns emerged in

DONNA ACETO

The Gays Against Guns’ Human Beings protesters carry placards remembering the 49 slain at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016.

DONNA ACETO DONNA ACETO

➤ PULSE ANNIVERSARY, continued on p.49

DONNA ACETO

A demonstrator asks, “When is enough enough?�

The June 12 evening demonstration in front of the Stonewall Inn.

Deonka Deidra Drayton, who died at 32 at the Pulse nightclub, is remembered.

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DONNA ACETO

Eliel Cruz, communications director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project. DONNA ACETO

Gays Against Guns stalwart Cathy Marino-Thomas addresses the crowd outside the Stonewall.

➤ PULSE ANNIVERSARY, from p.48 the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, and within two weeks had a contingent in the LGBTQ Pride March, which included their haunting Human Beings contingent that march anonymously draped in white veils and holding placards honoring gun violence victims. Since 2016, GAG has staged innumerable direct action demonstrations targeting the National Rife Association, gun manufacturers, investors in those businesses, and politicians — here and in Washington — who support the NRA and its gun-madness agenda.

DONNA ACETO

GAG’s Human Beings approach Christopher Park and the Stonewall Inn.

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