PLUS: Adoption Update
Find out whatâ€™s new with the Ham Family
Welcome to the Wild West! The 32nd annual Arizona Gay Rodeo is set to kick up some dust
LGBTQ NEWS, VIEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT | VOL. 28, #6 | ISSUE 690 | MARCH 2017 | COMPLIMENTARY
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inside this issue Issue 690 | Vol. 28, #6 | March 2017
features NEWS 8 Letter From The Editor 12 News Briefs 16 Datebook 20 one•n•ten raises the bar with annual brunch 21 HRC AZ gala blends celebration with determination 23 AZ EOY celebrates 10th anniversary 25 Arizona LGBT+ History Project hosts spring event PREVIEWS AND REVIEWS 44 Without Reservations
46 At The Box Office 48 Opening Nights
Welcome to the Wild West The 32nd annual Arizona Gay Rodeo welcomes participants and spectators from near and far.
Buck Off World champion bull rider Mandy Shipskey evens the playing field in rodeo’s ultimate event.
50 Recordings 51 Between The Covers COMMUNITY 52 Farewell Column 54 Talking Bodies 56 All Over The Map ON THE COVER The 32nd annual Arizona Gay Rodeo will take place at the Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds in Laveen, Ariz., Feb. 17-19.
PLUS: Adoption Update
Find out what’s new with the Ham Family
All in the Family These days the Ham family – Steven, Roger and their 15 adopted children – are celebrating progress and togetherness.
Opening Doors Find out how the efforts of one Phoenix resident are supporting LGBTQ unity for hundreds in China.
Welcome to the Wild West! The 32nd annual Arizona Gay Rodeo is set to kick up some dust
LGBTQ NEWS, VIEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT | VOL. 28, #6 | ISSUE 690 | MARCH 2017 | COMPLIMENTARY
inside this issue
echomag.com web exclusives PHOTO GALLERIES Did the Echo cameras catch you out and about at this month’s events? Find out at echomag.com/ gallery/2017-photos. COMMUNITY CALENDAR
On Christopher Street: Transgender Stories Photographer Mark Seliger’s compliation of “freedom of expression and gender identity” captured in Manhattan’s West Village. echomag.com/on-christopher-street
Woof! Find out what Johnny Skandros, creator of the Scruff app, had to say ahead of his Feb. 26 visit to Charlie’s. echomag.com/johnny-scruff
From pageants to advocacy, this is where the community goes to find out what’s going on in the gayborhood. echomag.com/ community-calendar COMMUNITY DIRECTORY Looking for a local group to join? Have a group that’s seeking new members? Either way, this is the place to connect. echomag.com/ community-directory MARKETING SOLUTIONS
Photo by Tony Contini.
2017 Cactus Open The Cactus Tennis Alliance’s annual tournament took place Feb. 11-13 and the Echo cameras were there for the action. echomag.com/gallery
Photo by nightfuse.com.
Find out why Echo is the publication your future clients are already reading. echomag.com/ marketing-solutions
Hit Me With Your Best Shot For all the Out & About photos in this issue – and more – visit Echo’s online photo gallery. echomag.com/gallery
letter from the editor By KJ Philp
LGBTQ NEWS, VIEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT PUBLISHER: Bill Orovan ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER: Bill Gemmill
f 80-degree temperatures are making their annual debut in the weather forecast and your calendar is suddenly filling up with engagements of every flavor, chances are that #Gaypril2017 is upon us. As you might remember, “Gaypril” is our term of endearment for the glorious whirlwind of events that descend on the Valley each spring – staring with our coverage of the Arizona Gay Rodeo and concluding with our announcement of the 2017 Readers’ Choice Award winners in the May issue. First up is rodeo weekend, which takes place Feb. 17-19 at the Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds in Laveen, Ariz. We have all the information you’ll need in “Welcome to the Wild West” on page 30. And, ahead of this year’s International Gay Rodeosanctioned competition, we caught up with champion bull rider and trainer Mandy Shipskey, to find out more about the rodeo way of life in “Buck Off” on page 32. If you’re more “brunch fabulous” than “ride ‘em cowboy,” we’ve got you covered. Flip to page 20 to find out why one•n•ten’s Fresh Brunch is the place to be Feb. 19. Event organizers share all the details on this eighth annual event in “Love Empowers.” And there’s still more celebrating to do before February comes to an end. With the theme “Equality forward, equality for all,” HRC Arizona’s annual gala is set for Feb. 25. We have everything you need to know ahead of this evening in “Joy and Defiance” on page 21. It truly wouldn’t be Gaypril without the excellence and decadence that pageant season brings to the
community. So, without further ado, we have a sneak peek at the 2017 Arizona Entertainer of the Year pageant, which will take place March 4 and 5, on page 23. And don’t forget to mark your calendars for the first official Phoenix Pride event of the year: the Miss and Mister Phoenix Pride Pageant will take place March 19 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Tempe. For more community happenings, turn to “Datebook” on page 16. There’s one last thing that comes with Gaypril each spring, and that is the Echo Readers’ Choice Awards! Don’t forget that we need you to nominate your favorites in all 28 categories once a day through Feb. 28. The top five nominees in each category will move on to the voting phase, which runs March 6-April 7. For information on what we’re doing differently this year, as well as rules and important dates, visit “Your Community, Your Voice” at echomag.com/erca-2017. We look forward to finding out who your favorites are for 2017! That’s it from me, but the truth is that there are more incredible events going on than we could ever possibly cover in a single issue. If you’re looking for additional ways to get involved, you’ll find them on Echo’s Community Calendar at echomag.com/communitycalendar. Happy Gaypril!
KJ Philp is the managing editor of Echo Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a job to advertise? Need to rent a property? Looking to build your client base? Post an ad in Echo at echomag.com/classifieds. MARCH 2017
MANAGING EDITOR: KJ Philp CONTRIBUTORS: Anthony Costello Tia Norris Hans Pedersen Tamara Juarez Laura Latzko Terri Schlichenmeyer Art Martori Richard Schultz Liz Massey Michael J. Tucker Rachel Verbits Devin Millington Megan Wadding Melissa Myers ART DEPARTMENT SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Jake Rojas PHOTOGRAPHY: LaQuan Photography, nightfuse.com and Tony Contini ADVERTISING DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING: Ashlee James ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVES: Gregg Edelman Randy Robinson NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE: Rivendell Media, 212-242-6863
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“When we’re recruiting new employees, they want to know about pay and benefits, but they also want to know that they will live in a community that is open and welcoming. Senate Bill 1320 and corresponding House Bill 2364 are critical in our efforts to recruit and retain the best talent possible right here in Arizona.”
Ashton Skinner, ONE Community’s Transgender & Millennial Outreach Coordinator, speaks on the importance of anti-discrimination legislation at the State Capitol Jan. 30. Photo by Olivia Demetros.
AZ legislators introduce bills to protect veterans, LGBTQ individuals Two Arizona lawmakers introduced legislation Jan. 30 that would update the state’s existing nondiscrimination laws to include protections for veterans and LGBTQ individuals. “In most parts of Arizona, it is legal to fire someone from their job, evict them from their home or deny them public services, such as at a restaurant, store or hospital, simply because of their veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Senator Katie Hobbs, Legislative District 24, and bill sponsor. “As Arizonans, we believe that everyone should treated equally under the law; that’s why we need this important update.” Arizona law currently provides nondiscrimination protections in housing,
SB 1320 - employment; housing; public accommodations; antidiscrimination, introduced by Senator Hobbs, Legislative District 24. This bill would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status. SB 1320 has been assigned to the Senate Rules committee and Commerce & Public Safety Committee. Anyone interested in supporting this bill is invited to call or email the following individuals: • Rules Committee Sen. Steve Yarbrough, Chairman, Legislative District 17 602-926-5863 | firstname.lastname@example.org Sen. Kimberly Yee, Vice-Chairman, 12
employment and public services for a variety of classifications, including race, skin color, religion, disability, sex and more. Senate Bill 1320 introduced by Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs and House Bill 2364 introduced by House Minority Leader Rebecca Rios will simply add veteran status, sexual orientation and gender identity to that list. The business community is strongly in favor of the legislation. More than 2,100 businesses have already voiced their support. “In an increasingly globalized economy, we’re not only having to compete with other states, but other countries for top talent,” said Katee Van Horn, GoDaddy’s diversity and engagement vice president.
Businesses across the country are increasingly considering nondiscrimination protections when deciding where to do business. In the past two years, both CNBC and Forbes Magazine have added LGBTQ rights as a priority criteria in their annual best states for business lists. And national organizations like the NCAA announced that they will consider LGBTQ rights when awarding cities with championship games going forward. “Banning discrimination isn’t only the right thing to do, but it will help Arizona’s bottom line,” said Angela Hughey, ONE Community co-founder and President. “Businesses want to work in states and communities where their employees, customers and families will be treated fairly, where they won’t have to worry about being fired, kicked out of their homes or denied services simply because of who they are. An update to our nondiscrimination policies will help us all to prosper together.” Faith leaders are also supporting the measure. “My faith teaches us that we are all God’s children, and that we should treat others the way we want to be treated. The legislation will simply update Arizona’s existing laws to ensure that our veterans and LGBT[Q] citizens are all treated equally and fairly,” said Rev. Troy Mendez, Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. Courtesy of ONE Community.
Legislative District 20
Public Safety Committee.
602-926-3024 | email@example.com
Anyone interested in supporting this bill is invited to call or email the following individuals:
• Commerce & Public Safety Sen. Steve Smith, Chairman, Legislative District 11 602-926-5685 | firstname.lastname@example.org Sen. Warren Petersen, Vice-Chairman, Legislative District 12
• Rules Committee Rep. Phil Lovas, Chairman, Legislative District 22 602-926-3297 | email@example.com
602-926-4136 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Paul Boyer, Vice-Chairman, Legislative District 20
HB 2364 - employment; housing; public accommodations; antidiscrimination, introduced by Representative Rios, Legislative District 27.
602-926-4173 | email@example.com
This bill would also ban discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
602-926-5735 | firstname.lastname@example.org
HB 2364 has been assigned to the House Rules committee and Judiciary &
• Judiciary & Public Safety Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, Chairman, Legislative District 12 Rep. Anthony Kern, Vice-Chairman, Legislative District 20 602-926-3102 | email@example.com Courtesy of Equality Arizona. news
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OUT & ABOUT Desperado LGBT Film Festival Jan. 28 at Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix. Photos by KJ Philp.
For more Echo photos visit echomag.com/gallery.
datebook feb. 17
Join cowboys from all over the United States as they kick off rodeo weekend at the Arizona Gay Rodeo Pool Party from 1 to 5 p.m. at Hotel 502, 502 W. Camelback Roads, in Phoenix. charliesphoenix.com/events
Models appearing in the 2017 “Cowboy HeART” charity calendar will be available to sign autograph during homorodeo.com’s Meet-and-Greets from 9 p.m. to midnight at Pat O’s Bunkhouse Saloon, 4428 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix. homorodeo.com
As part of the Arizona Gay Rodeo weekend, Country Idol 2017 finalists will take the stage at 8 p.m. at the Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds, 7611 S. 29th Ave., in Laveen, Ariz. agra-phx.com
The 32nd annual Arizona Gay Rodeo, which will include two full days of an International Gay Rodeo Association-sanctioned cowboy competition and three nights of entertainment, will take place at the Coronoa Ranch and Rodeo Grounds, 7611 S. 29th Ave., in Laveen, Ariz. (See story, page 30.) agra-phx.com
Ernesto Ortiz and Gene Moore present The Blue Friday Comedy Show - Diva Edition 2.0, featuring 10 performers and hostess Afeelya Bunz, will take place at 10:30 p.m. at Cruising’ 7th, 3702 N. Seventh St., In Phoenix.
trucks, a classic car show and artisan marketplace, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Seventh Avenue (between Indian School Road and Campbell Avenue). m7streetfair.com
cruisin7th.com march 4-5
THROUGH FEB. 20
As part of the nomination phase for the 2017 Echo Readers’ Choice Awards you’re invited to nominate your local favorites in all 28 categories. surveymonkey.com/r/erca2017 feb. 19
The 2017 Arizona Entertainer of the Year Pageant will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the crowning of new titleholders during the twonight event at Aqua Nightclub, 1730 E. McDowell Road, in Phoenix. (See story, page 23.) azeoy2017.brownpapertickets.com
Safe Out and the LGBTQ Consortium invite you to the second annual Consortium Cares Resource Fair from noon to 4 p.m. at Burton Bar Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., in Phoenix. lgbtqconsortium.com march 19
The 2017 Miss and Mister Phoenix Pride Pageant will take place at 6 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Tempe, 2100 S. Priest Drive. phoenixpride.org/events/pageant-royalty march 19
The eighth annual Fresh Brunch, one•n•ten’s signature fundraising event, will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, 2400 E. Missouri Ave., in Phoenix. (See story, page 20.) onenten.org/fresh-brunch feb. 25
hrcazgala.org march 4
The Seventh Avenue Merchant Association presents the 15th annual Melrose Street Fair, featuring live music, vendors, food MARCH 2017
Solo Entertainment Productions presents Prom Night: A Night with the Hollywood Stars from 6 p.m. to midnight at the Wyndham Garden Phoenix Midtown, 3600 N. Second Ave., in Phoenix. squareup.com/store/arizonadrag march 11
HRC Arizona’s 13th annual gala, including reception, silent auction and dinner, will begin at 5 p.m. at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 100 N. First St., in Phoenix. (See story, page 21.)
The Arizona LGBT+ History Project invites community members to join them for an evening of archives and a discussion on preserving our history from 6 to 9 p.m. March 11 at Crescent Crown Distributing, 1640 W. Broadway Road. arizonalgbthistory.org
The 14th annual Möda Provocateūr, a runway fashion show benefiting the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, will take place from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave., in Tucson. saafmoda.org mark our calendars To have your event considered for Echo’s print and online calendars, submit your event details to echomag. com/communitycalendar. All submissions are subject to Echo’s discretion. events
OUT & ABOUT Echo Magazine Advertiser Appreciation Party Feb. 9 at Symphony Hall, Phoenix. Photos by nightfuse.com.
For more Echo photos visit echomag.com/gallery.
Invest in yourself. Ride on down to find free resources at our LGBTQ Resource Fair! Saturday, March 11 12pm 4pm Burton Barr Central Library, MACH1 This program is funded through
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“I believe events like this are important, first and foremost, in raising awareness of the services, progress and needs of the organization. This event allows the community to engage with [one•n•ten] and actively be a part of helping make a difference – whether that’s through monetary donations, spreading the word to friends, family and colleagues or connecting with one•n•ten staff, volunteers and supporters.” Rhette Baughman, plans to attend for the first time with a corporate sponsor
“Last year … was a well-run event and the youth who joined the program on stage to demonstrate their part in the success of one•n•ten's programs moved me. It is a testimony to our philanthropic nature and the importance of all of us, regardless of party lines, to act and uplift our LGBTQ youth.” Rick McCartney, InMedia Company president and CEO
“The entire day is a celebration of the great
Love Empowers one•n•ten raises the bar with eighth annual Fresh Brunch By Megan Wadding
little love goes a long way when it comes to the issues facing today’s LGBTQ youth. Which is why one•n•ten’s eighth annual Fresh Brunch will take place under the theme “love empowers.” Celebrating its 24th year in the Valley, one•n•ten remains focused on growing and strengthening the love and support felt through its programs, serving LGBTQ youth and young adults ages 14 to 24. According to Nate Rhoton, director of finance and operations at one•n•ten, Fresh Brunch was created to “inform the public of our mission and invite them to be a part of it through contributing financially to the cause.” This year’s Fresh Brunch, a primary fundraiser for one•n•ten’s various programming, is set for Feb. 19 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. “We are very excited to be taking advantage of the historic and beautiful Arizona Biltmore lawn this year with the Bank of America Squaw Peak Patio Soiree after the brunch,” said Travis Shumake, development director at one•n•ten. The event will begin with a welcome drink courtesy of Tito’s Vodka during the social hour, which begins at 10 a.m. “[After the social hour] we head into the Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom for a jam-
packed program … and then out to the Biltmore’s iconic patio for our first ever Bank of America Squaw Peak Patio Soiree to conclude the event with a string quartet and fireside socializing,” Shumake said. Instead of having a silent auction this year, Shumake said guests will be able to purchase a $100 raffle ticket for a threenight trip to Las Vegas that includes two front-row seats to see Jennifer Lopez in concert. The value of the tickets exceed $4,500. A new addition to the event this year will be stories of the youth on display throughout the venue. Each of the lifesized cutouts each will feature a quote or art, further familiarizing attendees with the youth being served by one•n•ten. “These cutouts feature their stories and the impact one•n•ten has had on their lives,” Shumake explained. “Each youth cutout is an expression of the individual youth’s story.” The event program, Rhoton, said, will be hosted by several of the one•n•ten youth, staff members and board members, in order to “fully showcase the cause, mission and those delivering the services.” Entertainment this year, according Rhoton explained, will be provided by the youth of one•n•ten, “auction-tainer” Letitia Frye and a few other surprise entertainers.
community support for one•n•ten. [It is so great to see] our community come together to help better serve our youth. We have an obligation in the community to help our LGBTQ youth lead better lives. Fresh Brunch is only one of so many ways that you can give to one•n•ten, [which] offers opportunities for volunteering and mentoring throughout the year. We need our community’s time, talent and ongoing investment to ensure our youth have the bright future they deserve.” Carmen Jandacek, one•n•ten's Board Chair
As a result of all these changes and additions, event organizers are expecting attendance to be even higher than last year’s event, which raised more than $200,000 toward services provided by the nonprofit. “[We are expecting] 1,200 of the Valley’s most interesting people, including elected officials, business leaders, government officials, teachers, professionals and most importantly, 80-100 of our youth attend through tables sponsored by companies and donors,” Rhoton said. As for attire, Rhoton described the dress code is “brunch fabulous,” which could be a “springy dress, pant suit or jeans and a blazer. You will see a little of everything. It’s all about what makes you feel great and like yourself.” one•n•ten’s eighth annual Fresh Brunch Feb. 19 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. (doors open at 10 a.m.) Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa, Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom 2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix onenten.ejoinme.org/fresh Megan Wadding is a freelance writer and travel addict with a degree in journalism. Follow her on Twitter at @MeganWadding. news
P Matt Dallas HRC Arizona's 2017 Visibility Award Recipient. Read Echo's interview with Dallas at echomag.com/the-adoption-option.
Meet The Winners Virginia Korte
Joy and Defiance HRC Arizona to blend celebration with determination at annual gala By Liz Massey
t might seem counterintuitive to follow up an election marked by the loss of LGBTQ-supportive officials at all levels with a festive gathering, but that's exactly what the Human Rights Campaign’s Arizona affiliate (HRC-AZ) is doing with its 2017 gala. The event, which is presented by PetSmart, will take place Feb. 25 at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel under the theme “Equality forward, equality for all.” According to Deanna Jordan, event co-chair, the dual celebration/inspiration focus seemed the best way to respond to the electoral devastation. “We will be learning how to keep our focus on equality and on keeping the wins that the LGBT[Q] community has won over the past eight years,” she said. “The HRC Arizona gala will be a night to stand firm for the progress we've made on equal rights, while garnering the support we need to fight back against any attacks we see on LGBTQ rights and protections.” Here are several pieces of key information about the HRC Arizona gala, to help you “connect the dots” between the celebratory and more solemn aspects of the event.
Playing into the mission. According to co-chair Greg Linneman, HRC-AZ hopes to draw 600 supporters to the event and raise about $187,000, which helps fund a staff person in the state’s field office and underwrite programs provided locally.
giant, will receive an award recognizing its advocacy on behalf of queer members of the Hispanic/Latinx community.
Bidding on equality. One of the mainstays of this black-tie gala is the silent auction, which will offer guests the chance to bid on a collection of items ranging from weekend getaways and spa packages to autographed collector’s items and artwork of all kinds, and much more.
In 1996, Korte was named to the board of directors of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, and in 2002, she was hired as president and CEO. She left the chamber in 2008 to serve as president and CEO of Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services until 2014. She currently serves as a member of the board for Arizona Town Hall and Business United for Scottsdale Schools. Korte is being honored at the gala for her support of efforts to pass an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination city statute in Scottsdale that protects all city residents in the workplace. Source: City of Scottsdale website.
Variations on a theme. HRC Arizona has captured the mixed nature of the present moment with their theme, “Equality forward, equality for all.” “Following the 2016 elections, the Human Rights Campaign continues to fight earnestly against any roll back of the progress we've made on equal rights for the LGBTQ community,” Jordan explained. “We'll defy any instance of hate from the Trump Administration and defy any treatment of our community as if we're less than other people. We're going to continue to stand strong for our basic rights as citizens.” While Linneman and Jordan said they were not at liberty reveal all the details of the evening, Linneman said, “We are trying to make things more exciting and have a ‘wow’ feeling this year.”
A place to get involved.
And the winners are ...
One of the most important aspects of the gala, Jordan said, is that it serves to educate attendees about the programs operated by the group and offers ways to become involved.
Scottsdale Councilwoman Virginia Korte will be recognized at the event for her support of a LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in that city. Orgullo|Pride@UCI, the LGBTQ employee group for the Spanish-language television
“Come and learn about all the ways you can engage and help make a change,” she said. “More than that, come for the laughs, the tears, the journey and the goals. You can make a difference [by] volunteering your time, money and voice.”
Virginia Korte began her second term on the Scottsdale City Council in January 2017. She has an extensive background in business and nonprofit management as well as community service. In 1981 she joined her family business (Ray Korte Chevrolet) to work with and learn from her father. After selling the dealership in 1998, Korte was hired as a biology professor at Scottsdale Community College and became their first Center for Native & Urban Wildlife executive director, serving until 2002.
Orgullo|Pride@UCI Orgullo|Pride@UCI is an employee impact group for LGBTQ employees and their allies at Univision Communications, Inc. (UCI). The group organizes LGBTQ employees and allies to champion the community both within the company and within the Hispanic/Latinx community at large. UCI employees participated in a number of pride festivals and parades throughout the United States in 2016, including Phoenix Pride. Source: corporate.univision.com
HRC Arizona Gala, presented by PetSmart Feb. 25 5 p.m., VIP reception; 6 p.m., general reception and dinner Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel 100 N. First St., Phoenix. hrcazgala.org Liz Massey has been involved in LGBTQ community-building activities in Kansas City and the Valley of the Sun, and is a former managing editor of Echo Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. EchoMag.com
FESTIVAL AND PARADE APRIL 1ST & 2ND, 2017 PHOENIXPRIDE.ORG
Meet the Contestants This year, 17 contestants in four divisions qualified for Arizona EOY pageant during preliminaries in Scottsdale, Phoenix and Tucson.
Arizona EOY F.I. contestants: Celebrity Starr Cheyenne Sia Desoto Deora Michelle LeBlanc Isis D. Frost Masquerade Patricia Mason Renee Fontaine Vivika D’Angelo Steele
Arizona EOY Femme contestants: Krysta Klitz Miranda Casada Dita Dame Tora
Mr. Arizona EOY contestants:
State-level pageant celebrates 10th anniversary by honoring its past By Laura Latzko
ince 2008, the Arizona Entertainer of the Year (EOY) had offered statelevel platform for a wide variety of entertainers to showcase their talents. Throughout the past decade, the pageant system has expanded to include all performers. This year, Arizona EOY will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the crowning of new titleholders in the categories of drag queen, drag king, male entertainer and femme March 4 and 5 at Aqua Nightclub in Phoenix. This pageant system started with just one category for female impersonators (F.I.) – the Miss Arizona EOY, which Barbra Seville won in 2008. Bruce Williams, also known as drag performer Jalissa Aundrea Michaels, founded the pageant system and stayed on as promoter until 2013. At that point, Richard Van Stone and Kevin Hilzendeger were co-promoters with the regional Southwest EOY system (which they still own), but they stepped up to take over the statewide EOY system in 2014. Leading up to this milestone, event organizers remember Williams, who passed away in December 2016. “[Bruce] was the founder of most of the pageantry in Arizona,” Van Stone said. “He was everyone's mommy and helped give a lot of great entertainers the chance to showcase their talents at the national level. He was also a great mentor to Kevin and myself.” news
The pageant will also honor EOYs 2016 national titleholders Alexis Gabrielle Sherrington (F.I.), Bella Nicole Harlow (femme), Preston Dickerson (king) and Rolly Villaverde (Mr.). This year’s pageant also marks the five-year anniversary of Sasha Bratz, Miss Arizona EOY 2012, and according to Van Stone, “she has a special production number, it’s going to be fun.” Bratz, who started out as a dancer and choreographer and has been performing in drag for more than a decade, said winning the title of Miss Arizona EOY was a meaningful experience for her. “To me, it was more than just a crown,” Bratz said. “It’s who I am. I’m an entertainer and I want people to remember me as an entertainer.” From the moment they stepped into this role, Van Stone and Hilzendeger have tried to create a culture of family within the Arizona EOY system. “The one thing that everyone says at nationals is that we’re one giant team,” Van Stone said. “We’re all competing for ourselves, but we’re all one unified team supporting each other.” What Van Stone values most about the Arizona EOY family is that the system allows contestants to showcase their unique talents, personalities and stories. “EOY doesn’t have any one thing they look for,” Van Stone said. “I tell my contestants, ‘They want you to be the best version of you that you can be.’”
Matt Finish Luisifer Aaron Tarango de Lizaldi
Mr. Arizona King contestants: Jayden White Romeo White
This year’s contestants, many of whom are new to the system, will bring a diverse range of talent to the stage, and attendees can expect to see everything from burlesque dancers and singers to comedians and rappers. “It is a full spectrum of entertainment, which [is what] I think EOY is about,” Van Stone said. “Everyone is so unique and so talented this year, I have no idea who is going to win.” Throughout the past 10 years, Van Stone said the Arizona EOY system has become better known locally and also developed a reputation in the national system. “At nationals, people respect [contestants] from Arizona because they can see we are becoming a powerhouse in entertaining,” he said. The top two contestants from the each division will advance to the national EOY pageant, which takes place each July in Louisville, Ky. Arizona Entertainer of the Year Pageant March 4-5 at 6 p.m. (doors open at 5 p.m.) Aqua Nightclub 1730 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix azeoy2017.brownpapertickets.com Laura Latzko is a Phoenix-area freelance writer, originally from Michigan, who holds a bachelor’s degree in English and communication studies from Hollins University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. EchoMag.com
out & about 307 Lounge Plaque Dedication Jan. 27 at iluminate Apartments, Phoenix. Photos by Bill Gemmill.
For more Echo photos visit echomag.com/gallery.
Taking Pride in the Past
Arizona LGBT+ History Project to present archive additions at spring event By Tamara Juarez
ust in time for Pride season, the Arizona LGBT+ History Project is back with another event. The partnership, formed by Phoenix Pride, Arizona State University Libraries and “hip historian” Marshall Shore, began formally preserving Arizona’s LGBT+ history through a unique collection of photographs, artwork, clothes, publications and other memorabilia ahead of last summer’s “LGBT History in Arizona, 1696-2014” at ASU. The project’s latest event, will take place March 11 at Crescent Crown Distributing in Mesa, will exhibit new additions to its archive and host an open discussion about how to gather and save pieces of history. “It’s going to be a really fun night,” said Shore, lead researcher and project manager. “Those who attend will get the opportunity to meet a great group of people and learn about Arizona’s LGBT[Q] history, which a lot of members in our community don’t know much about.” The event will feature performances by the Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus and local storyteller Nate Romero, a presentation by Shore, who will discuss the project’s most exciting discoveries and food and refreshments will be provided throughout the evening. “The purpose of this event is to educate and share stories,” Shore said. The southwest has a long and rich history, but until recently, Arizona’s LGBTQ milestones have been largely undocumented, so not many people know that the community has roots dating back more than 50 years. “When you think of LGBT[Q] history, you probably think of Stonewall in New York City or landmark building in Hollywood. You think of those larger cities as having a LGBT[Q] history, but now with the
societal shift of having gay marriage, more people are wondering what was life like before, and that is what’s we’re trying to accomplish with this project … we’re trying to preserve history to know what life in Arizona was like back in the day.” Throughout the past two years, project organizers and volunteers collaborated to digitize information and increase access to the project’s archives, so residents can browse through documents or make donations to the project. Soon, the archive will begin to include recordings of oral history from LGBTQ citizens from around the state. These digital archives can be viewed at azarchivesonline.org (search LGBT). Through this project and series of events, Phoenix Pride’s executive director Justin Owen hopes to see an increase of involvement and interaction among LGBTQ members of all ages as they work to preserve their community’s history. “Younger generations need to understand where we came from and how [we] got here, because understanding and treasuring our past is just as important as embracing our future, and our past tells us the struggles we’ve been through and how hard people have worked to get to where we are today.” Unlike other subjects, Owen explained, LGBTQ history is trickier to document, because it is commonly unrecognized or ignored by familial, institutional and faith-based sources. Frequently, it is up to individual cities to track down their own history. “You don’t see a lot of straight parents teaching their LGBT[Q] children, because they don’t have the context ... they don’t teach LGBT[Q] history in school ... and there aren’t many churches talking about LGBT[Q] issues,” he said, “so if you look at the three primary areas people
learn about history, LGBT[Q] issues are not covered.” Nancy Godoy-Powell, an archivist with ASU Libraries, said she currently working to bridge this disconnect by creating a comprehensive and easy-touse online resource that serves as the main repository for LGBTQ archives in Central Arizona. “LGBT[Q] history is under-documented in Arizona, and we’re dedicated to fixing this problem, because multiple perspectives are needed in order to get a balanced understanding of Arizona history,” she said. “We want to preserve their stories and make that knowledge accessible to future generations.” Since the project was launched in 2015, it’s received hundreds of donations and is expected to increase alongside Arizona’s growing LGBTQ population. This event is free and open to the entire community; however, registration is required and can be completed at arizonalgbthistory.org. Arizona LGBT+ History Project 6-9 p.m. March 11 Crescent Crown Distributing 1640 W. Broadway Road arizonalgbthistory.org Tamara Juarez s a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. During her spare time she loves to read, hike and make bad puns. EchoMag.com
out & about After Orlando Jan. 29 at Phoenix Theatre. Photos by Bill Gemmill.
For more Echo photos visit echomag.com/gallery.
out & about Womenâ€™s March, Phoenix Jan. 21 at the State Capitol. Photos by Tony Contini.
For more Echo photos visit echomag.com/gallery.
WHO | Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce WHEN | Friday, April 14th, 7:30am Shotgun Start WHERE | Arizona Grand Resort Golf Course
8000 S. ARIZONA GRAND PARKWAY, PHOENIX, AZ 85044
HOW | Register online at PhoenixGayChamber.org
Welcome to the Wild West The 32nd annual Arizona Gay Rodeo welcomes participants and spectators from near and far By Tamara Juarez
rab your cowboy hat, your chaps, some sunscreen and your ice-cold beverage of choice and get to the 32nd annual Arizona Gay Rodeo, which will be heating up the Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds from Feb. 17 to 19. This year’s competition, which is part of the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) circuit, will include such classic events as bull riding, team roping, chute dogging and pole bending, as well as a new ranch-style bronc riding competition. And then there’s the camp events (you know, the ones that make it a gay rodeo), which include steer decorating, goat dressing and the wild drag race. “There should be something for everybody,” said Ron Trusley, Arizona Gay Rodeo Association (AGRA) president. “This year we’re looking to have a little more entertainment outside the arena for people and families that may be there with their kids. We’ll have mechanical bulls and ongoing performances all day inside the pavilion.” Additionally, Trusley shared, attendees can expect dancing, food, music and shows by the state’s most 30
popular drag kings and queens. Rodeo weekend will kick off Feb. 17 with Sophia Sinclair’s Hootenanny Jamboree – complete with the annual pie-eating contest and chili cook-off – and the 2017 Country Idol finale, which will feature live performances by each of the karaoke contest’s finalists, and the official welcome of the 2017 AGRA royalty. The following day, Feb. 18, will feature a wide variety of entertainment, including Las Vegas performer Kenneth Blake and such Phoenix drag legends as Pussy LeHoot, Tyra Myra and Miss Gay Arizona America 2016 Savannah Stevens. Stevens, a Reba McEntire and Cher impersonator of 15 years, will take the stage twice: first in the Miss Gay Arizona America Show, at 5:30 p.m. and second in Divas Live!, at 7 p.m., in which Blake will also perform as Madonna and Dolly Parton. “I love the Arizona Gay Rodeo,” Stevens said. “I’m looking forward to seeing all of my friends and making new ones while enjoying all the activities the association has to offer.”
The ever-poised, award-winning drag queen added that she is ready to give her audience a show they won’t soon forget. “I consider myself a professional and well-rounded entertainer and [attendees can expect] drag, dance and comedy acts,” she said. The rodeo entertainment lineup, which will take place inside the dance hall, will also include appearances by the Heatwave Dance Troupe, Tradiciones Dance Company, Desafio Latino con Gipsy and Nikki Starr’s Royal Court. While the rodeo entertainment won’t kick off until 2 p.m. Feb. 18 and 3 p.m. Feb. 19, the gates will open at 9 a.m. both days and people of all ages, sexual orientations and gender identities are welcome. Trusley, who got involved with the association after joining a squaredancing group called the Midnight Ramblers, said that the Arizona Gay Rodeo has made an active effort to be as inclusive and welcoming towards all communities, “[Arizona Gay Rodeo] Association’s feature story
2017 Arizona Gay Rodeo Schedule of Events Feb. 15 (Wed) 9:30pm Mini Rodeo at Charlie’s
Feb. 16 (Thurs) Photos by Bill Gemmill.
Noon | RV Park Opens Afternoon | Horse Check-In
Feb. 17 (Fri) 9 a.m. | Vendor Set-up 9 a.m.-4 p.m. | Rodeo School 1-5 p.m. | Rodeo Pool Party at Hotel 502 3 p.m. | Bar Opens 6 p.m. | Rodeo Registration Starts 7 p.m. | Sophia Sinclair’s Hootenanny Jamboree Begins 7 p.m. | V.I.P. Chili Cook-Off Begins 8 p.m. | 2017 Country Idol Finale 9 p.m. | Rodeo Registration Ends
mission is to promote the countrywestern lifestyle and to be an open association for anybody, gay or nongay,” he said. “I like being with people of other associations and different states that come here to compete, and to see the camaraderie between all the contestants, officials, staff and attendees.” The gay rodeo is always on the lookout for new members and contestants. To increase community involvement, the Arizona Gay Rodeo has added several events throughout the past few years, including a chili cook-off contest, Country Idol, a karaoke competition and rodeo school, the opportunity to train alongside professional cowboys and cowgirls with years of experience handling ranch animals. As a nonprofit organization, AGRA uses most of it’s the funds raise throughout rodeo weekend to help fund future rodeos and local charities. According to Richie Josef, the rodeo’s marketing director, AGRA may donate to up to five nonprofits this year, compared to only one during previous years. “This three-day event is geared more toward the LGBT[Q] community, and it just really shows the loyalty feature story
Feb. 18 (Sat)
of residents and families from around the state,” Josef said. “Our association makes rodeo more inviting for all communities, and it’s something that is very different, especially for people who have never attended a rodeo. The Arizona Gay Rodeo is definitely something they’ll remember.”
9 a.m. | Gates Open 9:30 a.m. | First-Time Contestants Meeting 10 a.m. | Bar Opens 10 a.m. | Rodeo Begins noon-4 p.m. | Mechanical Bull Rides 1 p.m. | Grand Entry 2 p.m. | Dance Hall Entertainment Begins 5:30 p.m. | Miss Gay Arizona America Revue Show 7 p.m. | Diva’s Live! feat. Kenneth Blake 8 p.m. | Jessica’s Wild Round-Up
Feb. 19 (Sun) 9 a.m. | Gates and Bar Open 10 a.m. | Rodeo Begins 1 p.m. | Grand Entry 3 p.m. | Dance Hall Entertainment Begins 8 p.m. Awards Ceremony
Feb. 20 (Mon) 11 a.m. TGIO Survivors Brunch at Charlie’s 1 p.m. TGIO Pussy LeHoot Show at Charlie’s 7 p.m. Volunteer Thank You Party at Charlie’s
The 32nd annual Arizona Gay Rodeo Coronoa Ranch and Rodeo Grounds 7611 S. 29th Ave., Laveen Admission: $15, single day; $25, weekend passes (Friday events are free of charge) 480-577-5976 agra-phx.com Tamara Juarez s a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. During her spare time she loves to read, hike and make bad puns. EchoMag.com
World champion bull rider evens the playing field in rodeo’s ultimate event By Tamara Juarez
n professional bull riding, six seconds can mark the difference between getting a paycheck or needing a medic after stepping out of the arena. One wrong move, or slip of the hand, and a person can find themselves face-toface with a 2,000-pound beast with a very short temper. Anything can happen after the bucking chute opens, and it takes focus, balance and plenty of courage to ride a kicking animal without letting fear overwhelm the senses. Texas cowgirl Mandy Shipskey, 36, is one of these fearless bull riders, and she has two world championship buckles and a long list of scars to prove it. “Bull riding is a whole technique, so you don’t just jump on a bull and hope to God you’ll ride it,” Shipskey said. “You have to train so your body knows how to react.” Shipskey, who has been riding bulls for 20 years, said that it’s a combination of training and having the right mindset that makes a champion bull rider. “… I’ve already got a certain mindset that I go into. I try to believe that I’m going to ride the best bull there and win 32
the competition, so I can get my mind and body ready,” she said. “If you think you’re going to get hurt, you probably will, but if you go in there thinking, ‘I’m a badass’ then you’re probably going to ride the crap out of him.” Shipskey is the founder of an allwomen’s bull riding group based in Texas and a recurring contestant with the International Gay Rodeo Association. This February, she will be participating in the 32nd annual Arizona Gay Rodeo as a competitor and instructor for pre-event classes, which encourage rodeo involvement and teach people how to ride and train different ranch animals. “I’m in charge of recruiting more riders,” she said. “I got the association to add ranch-style bronc riding this year, and since some people don’t know anything about that event, we’re going to have a school day before the show to teach people how it’s done and how to saddle on the horse. Hopefully, we’ll get new members from that.” As an LGBTQ ally, Shipskey believes in promoting inclusion and a strong sense of community in rodeo, and was ecstatic to find an association that welcomed all
minority groups, including her rare team of female bull riders. “I instantly fell in love with this association, the stock and the people,” she said. “They treat you like they’ve known you their whole life, and after me and a couple of my girls went to three of their rodeos, we got hooked. There is just so much family and love no matter if you’re gay or straight, a man or a woman, or purple or pink.” The Arizona Gay Rodeo will take place from Feb. 17 to 19 at the Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds. This year’s program will include goat dressing, chute dogging, team roping, steer decorating and other classic events. According to Ron Trusley, president of the Arizona Gay Rodeo Association, Shipskey’s group adds a unique element to the gay rodeo, where men, woman and nonbinary individuals complete in one arena. “Over the years, the number of female contestants has declined,” he said. “But bull riding brings a lot of excitement, so it’s really great to have women in this event, because you don’t see them too often or hear much about them. Watching them compete and feature story
knowing they have as much of a chance as a male competitor to win is really exciting.” Shipskey and her team of 15 bull riders met about a year ago over social media, after a member of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo challenged her to round up a group of woman to compete at that year’s bull riding competition. To her surprise, 30 women contacted her from all over the country. “When they asked me, I didn’t know any girls who rode anymore, but I told them I would dang sure get it together, because it was my dream to ride at the Fort Worth Stock Show – I grew up with it.” After the stock show, Shipskey was approached by numerous stock contractors and producers, including nationally renowned cowboy Wade Earp of the International Gay Rodeo Association, requesting her group’s appearance at their rodeos. Since then, the women’s bull riding group has participated in approximately 15 to 20 rodeos. Phoenix native and former Cardinal’s cheerleader Esperanza Martinez found Shipskey over Facebook and now trains as her mentee. “Mandy is amazing. She’s helped a lot of girls with their mental game and taught me that, as woman bull rider, I shouldn’t care about what others think,
and that I have nothing to prove,” she said. “That what I love about this sport. It’s not about looks. It’s not about who you know. It’s just you and that animal. You’re not even worried about your own competitors.” Martinez, who has been riding bulls for two years, said she is excited to ride in front of her family and friends, and share one of her greatest passions with spectators at the Arizona Gay Rodeo. “I always tell people, ‘you have to try it,’ because it’s not something you can explain with words. You just have to try it,” she said. “You’re riding something with a mind of its own, so each time it’s like your first time except you’re not as nervous, because you enjoy it and have fun.” Bull riding takes hours of training and preparation, and as the Arizona Gay Rodeo nears, Martinez, Shipskey and the rest of their team will call upon their hours of training as they get into the competitive state of mind. “I have a lot of really good girls who are super talented, so the audience can expect a great show,” Shipskey concluded. Arizona Gay Rodeo events begin at 10 a.m. Feb. 18 and 19. The 2017 awards ceremony will take place at 8 p.m. Feb. 19. For more information, Mandy Shipskey can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/mandy.shipskey.
Mandy Shipskey (center).
Tamara Juarez s a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. During her spare time she loves to read, hike and make bad puns.
Photos courtesy of facebook.com/mandy.shipskey. feature story
All in the Family
The Ham family, now 15 children strong, celebrates progress and togetherness By Liz Massey
he 17 members of the Ham family are no strangers to the spotlight. They’ve shared their story with the Arizona Republic, they’re the recipients of the ONE Community’s inaugural Change Agent Award and, yes, you’ve gotten to know them through several stories in the pages of Echo Magazine over the years.
We last sat down with the thenDelightful Dozen for the June 2010 issue (see story at echomag.com/ the-delightful-dozen). But the family made headlines again last year with the adoption of their 15th child, a 4-year-old name Amaya May. While super dads Steven and Roger Ham, a gay couple who has gone from zero to 15 children throughout the past 13 years, might seem like the ultimate examples of how the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality empowered families headed by same-sex partners, they don’t see it that way. 36
According to Steven, they are both just grateful for the way in which their lives have been simplified once their relationship received legal recognition. He added that, because they have never left anything to chance in that area, they were already covered by all available legal protections before the decision was handed down. “We didn’t let [the lack of marriage equality] impact us,” Steven said. We always found loopholes to ensure if something happened to one of us, the other person would be protected as the children’s guardian … We went to the extreme to take care of ourselves legally.” But that’s not all that’s changed with the growing brood since the last time Echo checked in on them. Steven and Roger have adopted three additional children (Bella, Julian and Amaya), their two oldest kids (Vanessa
and Michael) have left the nest to attend college, the Hams have moved to a commodious house in the West Valley and the men have come full circle in their journey as adoptive gay dads by mentoring other LGBTQ parents who are new to the foster/adoption system in Arizona.
Growing the Family Tree By Three In 2010, Steven and Roger reported to Echo that they had closed out their foster care license and that their family was “complete.” But, as has happened numerous times over the course of their journey as parents, they learned of feature story
Photos by Fernando Hernández.
Meet The Ham Family Vanessa, 21, is a college student who is interested in modeling and acting (not pictured). Michael,19, is a college student at the University of Arizona, enjoys playing football (not pictured). Isabel (A), 19, works for a local school district. Elizabeth (B), 18, is a high school senior who participates in track. Andrew (C), 17, is a high school sophomore who enjoys football and track. Madison (D), 14, is an eighth grader w ho plays basketball. Jackson (E), 14, an eighth grader who plays football and basketball.
relatives of their current family members who were in need, and they took action to bring new children into the family. In the case of Julian and Bella, who were the 13th and 14th children to join the family, the dads were watching the local news one night – about four years ago – after their children had gone to bed. They saw a report about two foster parents in Prescott who had been arrested after a teacher had reported that their 4-year-old foster daughter was covered in bruises. The Hams knew that their daughter feature story
Logan (F), 12, is a sixth grader who participates in football. Marcus (G), 11, is a fifth grader who participates in cross country and football. Ambrose (H), 10, is a fourth grader who is involved in cross country, dance, and cheerleading. Cooper (I), 9, is a fourth grader who enjoys football and video games. Bella (J), 8, is a second grader who participates in cheerleading. Olivia (K), 7, a second grader who participates in cheerleading and gymnastics. Julian, (L), 6, is a first grader who enjoys football. Amaya (M), 5, a kindergartener who participates in cheerleading.
Ambrose, then 6, had two younger halfsiblings in foster care in Prescott. Steven said he and his husband just “had a gut feeling” that the two children on the news report were related to Ambrose. They emailed Ambrose’s former caseworker at the Department of Child Safety early the next morning. She confirmed that the children were indeed Ambrose’s halfbrother and half-sister, and asked if Steven and Roger would consider taking them. After a brief family conference to affirm that the family wanted to grow by two
members, Roger drove to Prescott later that day and picked the children up. They were formally adopted by in May 2013. More than a year later, Amaya (halfsiblings to Julian, Bella and Ambrose) entered the picture when her mother asked Steven and Roger to take care of her daughter for three days. The days stretched into weeks, then months, and Steven obtained legal guardianship while the mother continued pleading for additional time away from her child. After Amaya had lived with the Hams for a year, her mother attempted to revoke the legal guardianship arrangement and regain custody. Roger and Steven had said “never again” to adoption after Julian and Bella, but when they found out that Amaya would not be returning to her mother after a judge-mandated investigation, they reconsidered once again. Amaya was adopted by Steven and Roger last August in a process that was, compared to all their previous adoptions, a breeze. “We were both on the home study, and both on her birth certificate after the adoption,” Steven said. “There were also no additional costs to this adoption [beyond what an opposite-sex couple would pay]. It was amazing.” EchoMag.com
The Rules of the House To keep such a large family running smoothly, Steven and Roger have continued to employ the rules that they began laying down when they adopted their first child, Michael, in 2003. Each child goes to preschool or public school during the day; each one participates in an extracurricular activity; and each child has chores to complete at home. Children must earn A’s and B’s in school to gain access to their electronic devices. When a child contacts Steven or Roger on those devices, he or she must use full sentences in their communication – such abbreviations as LOL or TTYL are not acceptable. Steven regularly checks his older children’s Facebook, Kik and other social media accounts to ensure they’re using the platforms appropriately. Those rules may seem stringent compared to some families, but Steven said that for most of their children, this is all they have known, and it just seems normal to them. “If you asked our kids about the rules in our house, they’d tell you it’s basically ‘treat others as you want to be treated,’” Steven asserted. Attorney Janet Story, who has represented the couple seven times for adoption issues since 2007, described Steven and Roger’s parenting approach as, “Laid back, calm, firm, but loving,” adding that it’s “what you see is what you get with them.” While some of the older children have displayed moments of typical teenage rebellion, now that Vanessa and Michael are in college, they have told Steven and Roger that they appreciate why their dads run the family the way they do. “Vanessa was very rebellious at times – we’d tell her to be home at 8, and she’d be home at 10,” Steven recalled. “But by us being so strict, the kids have had a sense of responsibility placed in them. It’s worth it. When Vanessa calls us from college and tells us, ‘Now I understand why you were so strict with us,’ it feels good.”
These dads also caution would-be parents against making hasty judgments about a potential foster or adoptive child. “Whatever you read about the kid, it always looks worse on paper than in reality,” Steven asserted. “Our kids are not perfect by any means, but given what some of them have been through, they’re doing great.” Roger seconded his husband’s assessment. “We’ve been blessed with our kids,” he said. “They’re great – we’ve been very lucky.”
“I Just Love My Kids” As the newest little Ham settles into her “forever family,” Steven and Roger continue to attend to the day-to-day details of managing such a large and lively brood. With a 16-year span between Amaya (now 5) and 21-year-old Vanessa, the men, currently 47 and 53, will be hands-on dads for some time to come. Despite the fact that none of their children are related biologically to either one of them, Steven and Roger say they are amused by how many of the kids have picked up their quirks, things like Steven’s sarcastic sense of humor. They’re also happy that, with so many different biological families represented in their clan, all of the kids have bonded so well.
Both Roger and Steven grew up in large families themselves (Steven the youngest of 14 children and Roger is the youngest of 12). And when asked why they chose parenting through fostering/adoption, they simply said “to give back to society.”
Fostering A New Generation of LGBTQ Families Even with seven of their 15 children still under the age of 12, Steven and Roger are already sharing what they’ve learned as parents with LGBTQ community members who are new to foster/adoptive parenting.
And when you think of it, that’s possibly the most significant thing to come out of Steven and Roger’s journey as fathers, regardless of precisely how marriage equality has made that path easier.
While both dads acknowledge that the system in Arizona has become much more accepting of same-sex couples since they began their family in 2003, they emphasize resilience and perseverance as essential traits for queer parents to manifest.
As Story put it, “[Steven and Roger] always acted as a two-parent family – it just took awhile for the law to catch up to their reality.”
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“They fight with each other, and get on each other’s nerves,” Steven said, “but they’ve also always got someone to play with. It’s neat to see them bond … if someone gets hurt, they’re all right there to help. And if one of them has trouble with a bully, their sisters and brothers are right there with them.”
“I just love my kids,” Steven said. “I enjoy every second I have with them. The opportunity to teach, influence, love and give back to the world [through parenting] is just amazing.”
“Don’t give up, don’t take ‘no’ for an answer and fight for what you believe in,” Steven advised. “If we’d hadn’t done that, we would have adopted one child, or maybe not even that one child.”
Residential • Commercial Historic Home Specialists Licensed • Bonded • Insured
Liz Massey has been involved in LGBTQ community-building activities in Kansas City and the Valley of the Sun, and is a former managing editor of Echo Magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com.
See our boot at Pride!
Grow Your Family with Arizona’s Children Association Learn more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent... Join us for an orientation! 1st Wednesday of every month at 6pm at Arizona’s Children Association (711 E. Missouri Avenue, Phoenix) Single, married, or in a committed relationship - everyone is welcome!
877.543.7633 Arizona Department of Child Safety LGBTQFosterAdopt@ArizonasChildren.org
Every child deserves a forever family!
OpenDoors Shanghai members in the city’s art district.
The efforts of one Phoenix resident are supporting LGBTQ unity for hundreds in China By Art Martori
hen I finally catch up with Andrew Shainker, the 30-year-old is relaxing on the patio of The Main Ingredient in midtown Phoenix, after a lengthy trip to Iceland with a stop in Denmark. It’s my first time meeting Shainker face to face, despite numerous emails sent during layovers at airport terminals and a slew of missed phone calls. In his lifetime, Shainker has visited about 40 foreign countries and plans hit the prestigious “100-before-40” benchmark. Shainker is articulate and sincere, and tends to slip in humorous asides now and again – evidence of his experience as a 5th and 6th grade teacher, with some nights dedicated to performing standup comedy. He once described himself as a “multipotentialite,” or someone who has many creative outlets but lacks that one true calling which focuses all their energy. Perhaps it was this, paired with an insatiable wanderlust, that led to the founding of OpenDoors AZ in December of 2010, a group that exists on the social network meetup.com. It offers LGBTQ individuals a way to connect through activities more meaningful than pickups in the bar scene. “My introduction to the LGBT[Q] community was through the bar scene at the age of 18. I remember I would see the same people, know their names but not know really anything significant about their lives,” Shainker said. “I wanted a 40
group where men and women could talk about what it really means to be gay. The fears we face. Our hopes and dreams, and most importantly how do we form meaningful connections that go further than a business networking opportunity or a one night stand.” While Shainker admits the Arizona chapter has seen “limited success” – if you call more than 4,000 likes on Facebook, more than 1,300 members on meetup.com and 300 events a year limited – he’s proud to have established thriving groups in the Chinese cities of Hangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. While his stateside efforts are more of a social endeavor, Shainker described how the Chinese gatherings serve as profound outlets in a country where LGBTQ rights and acceptance are limited compared with the United States.
Living Your Own Life In China, LGBTQ people face challenges the U.S. community has already overcome or never experienced at all. For example, in the People’s Republic of China marriage has been legally defined as a union between a man in a woman since 1980. In other areas, such as Hong Kong, there are limited protections, but there still hasn’t been an outright acceptance like the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision. In fact, as recently as 2016 there have been reports of coercive conversion therapy – such as a claim by a gay man in Henan province who said a hospital forcibly administered medicine and other treatments in order to
“cure” his homosexuality. Still, many LGBTQ people in China say the hardest thing is facing their families, as there is always the hope that men and women will produce offspring in order to carry on the family line. Meanwhile, the country’s infamous family-planning policy only exacerbates stigma, as it raises expectations for children that only couples are permitted to have. For Raymond Phang, a 28-year-old marketing professional and director of Shanghai PRIDE, coming out to his family was the most difficult part of his LGBTQ experience, even though his native Shanghai is a friendlier city in that regard. “In a typical Chinese family, parents would want their child to have kids, and if the child is LGBT[Q], it often draws attention of being abnormal, unfit,” Phang explained. “Shanghai in general is very vibrant and acceptive compared to other cities in China. It is an international city which brings together people from all walks of life. There are LGBTQ bars and lounges, also clubs. Many places are LGBTQ friendly, too. “But many of my friends don’t have this privilege. [They face] pressure from family, discrimination at the workplace and challenges in self-acceptance.” Joshua Euten, an American 34-year-old athletic trainer at an international school in Shanghai, said that in the short time feature story
OpenDoors Beijing members celebrate the group’s one year anniversary.
OpenDoors AZ members at a meetup in Phoenix.
“We feel so comfortable being on a Grindr screen, but this idea of stepping out of our comfort zone and meeting a bunch of strangers is intimidating and takes great courage.” Andrew Shainker
he’s been an expatriate he’s witnessed the enormous family pressure that children in China face. “There is such a cultural issue with Chinese individuals being true to themselves. They are taught at an early age, and then throughout growing up, that their parents make the decisions for the kids, so there is no real individuality allowed,” Euten explained. “Kids must do what their parents chose for them and they must take care of their parents later in life. I find this to be very straining for many of my Chinese friends who are in the LGBT[Q] community. It hurts my heart to see that they can’t live their own life because they feel an obligation to do what their family says they must.”
Believing in Greatness Shainker describes OpenDoors AZ as more of a social group, but it does serve a higher purpose. Recently, he started asking members to pay $20 annually to participate, with proceeds going to support cohorts in China. It’s been rough, he admited. For starters, Shainker said, he’s already spent several thousand dollars of his own teachers’ salary to promote the Open Doors groups. Meetup.com also charges a $10 monthly fee for each group, further feature story
Andrew Shainker in Costa Rica. Photos courtesyof OpenDoors.
raising overhead. So far, Shainker said, he’s raised a total of some $1,200 to support Open Doors in China. “Paying $20 a year for a group in Arizona that helps a group in China feels like a scam,” Shainker said, imagining how his potential new members might see the group. “This idea people are paying for friendship has not set well with many. We feel so comfortable being on a Grindr screen, but this idea of stepping out of our comfort zone and meeting a bunch of strangers is intimidating and takes great courage.” Still, Shainker remains undeterred. His Chinese groups each have hundreds of members, he said, and continue to grow. In fact, he’s even begun to delegate some responsibility to members living in China, while he acts in more of an executive role from the U.S. (or whichever country, depending on the day). “I’d like to really spend my energy in
the coming year focusing on strategic planning and allowing others to step up as organizers of our weekly events,” he explained. “That leadership role of organizing events has given many – including myself – the confidence to step up in the business world, to start new projects and to believe in greatness. “I know in my gut that to really make OpenDoors an international name takes funding, resources and great risk,” Shainker said. “I won’t know if I have made the right decision until it’s all over.” For more information on OpenDoors AZ, visit meetup.com/opendoorsaz or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about the OpenDoors global community, visit opendoorscommunity.com.
Art Martori is a Phoenix-based freelance writer who contributes to various newspapers and magazines. EchoMag.com
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MATCH Cuisine & Cocktails Story and photos by Rachel Verbits
owntown Phoenix is in the middle of a renaissance. Almost everywhere you look, there’s a new neighborhood, a new bar or a new attraction. Here at Echo, we’re always looking for the latest and greatest, which is how we discovered FOUND:RE, downtown’s newest boutique hotel that opened last October. Standing tall on the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Portland Street, FOUND:RE seems like any other unassuming hotel. One step inside this “105-room art and lifestyle hotel,” however, and you’ll discover a blend of artistry and innovation. As a nod to local artists, the hotel lobby doubles as a gallery with paintings, sculptures and light installations on display. OK, so FOUND:RE may have their finger on the pulse of Phoenix’s art scene, but we discovered they’re creating their own art just feet away from the entrance in the hotel’s restaurant, MATCH Cuisine & Cocktails.
Serving up globally inspired street food and creative cocktails, MATCH is truly one of the most eclectic places I’ve encountered in a long time, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Executive chef Akos Szabo has designed the menus here to be a creative exploration of flavors from all around the world for a globalmeets-local dining experience. Starting off with a cocktail is a must, and MATCH’s offerings are incredibly unique. The cocktail menu here lets patrons know that they’re in for a “globe-trotting expedition through the various drinking cultures of the world,” and don’t expect to recognize all of the ingredients in these concoctions – unless, of course, you truly are an experienced world traveler. Not to worry, though; the staff is more than ready to help you along this journey by offering advice based on your tastes. One of their signature drinks, the Caipirinha do Dia, is crafted with cachaça
Caipirinha do Dia.
(a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice) sugar and seasonal fruit. Boasting the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil, this light, sweet and deliciously fruity cocktail served as the perfect first stop on any palate’s passport. You’ll find that the other cocktails – inspired by Peru, Hong Kong, French Imperialism and a famous Arabic greeting – will tempt your taste buds as well. As the menu states, MATCH is all about breaking guests out of their comfort zones and introducing them to unique flavors and experiences. Entrees include woodfired pizzas, soups, salads and sides. I’m always looking for something
Left to right: Jamaican patties, Korean BBQ ribs and baked gnocchi and meatballs.
MATCH Cuisine & Cocktails 1100 N. Central Ave., Phoenix Reservations: 602-875-8000 matchphx.com Dinning room hours: 6-10:30 a.m., breakfast; 11 a.m.-2 p.m., lunch; 5-11 p.m., dinner; 10:20 a.m.-4:20 p.m., Brunch (Sat & Sun) Bar & lounge and pool deck hours differ slightly. Rachel Verbits is a published writer and a selfproclaimed foodie who spends her time exploring all the amazing eats Arizona has to offer.
different (be it a flavor, a dish or an entire dining experience), and I found that when I discovered Match’s eclectic social plate offerings. These tapas-style dishes are designed to mix, match and share with your table. So, naturally, that’s what I did! Ready to eat? First, we were whisked away to India for Indian Butter Chicken Samosas. The samosas, wrapped in a balance of crispy and flaky dough, are stuffed with chicken and veggies mixed in a flavorful curry sauce, with cucumber raita, which melts instantly in your mouth. The only downside is that you only get three samosas per order, so if you’re not dining alone, you will unfortunately not get to eat them all. Reminiscent of a tapas experience in the heart of Spain, the diverse selection of shareable dishes we decided on kept coming. We made a quick jump to the Caribbean, for the Jamaican patties appeared next. These patties, which reflect the island country’s authentic street food, are filled with habanerospiced grass fed beef, organic tomato and Monterey Jack cheese. The habaneros heat gives these pockets of goodness a perfectly balanced, hearty bite. While sharing is the only way you could possibly make your way around this global menu, be advised that some of the social plates are hearty enough for your own meal. For example, the Korean BBQ ribs, which come served over a green papaya Indian Butter Chicken Samosas.
salad, makes an ideal meal for one – if you can stop people from stealing from your plate, that is. The meaty ribs are basted in a sticky, sweet Korean BBQ sauce and arrive nestled atop a salad of julienned papaya, carrots, roasted cashews, scallions, cilantro, mint and Thai chili dressing. It’s so fresh and light that you’ll seriously contemplate ordering a second round (which I almost did). Next up was the baked gnocchi and meatballs (from the wood-oven plates section of the menu). I closed my eyes and took a bite of the house-made mascarpone gnocchi and felt like I was in Italy. The texture is light and pillowy, as it should be, but has a delicious crispness to the outside, thanks to the Forno Bravo wood oven. The tender meatballs, which arrive mixed in with fresh, crushed organic tomatoes, mozzarella and garden-fresh oregano, are absolutely a must-try. What can I say? Too many delicious options and not enough sharing. By the time this meal came to an end I found myself taking notes on the items I have to try on my next visit – which will most certainly include a work of art by pastry chef Audrey Enriquez. While MATCH has an incredibly diverse menu, not a single corner is cut when it comes to quality. The food isn’t just tantalizing and tasty – it’s good for you and the local farms, too. The burgeoning restaurant takes pride in choosing the best ingredients available locally, even going so far as to hand pick the lettuce they use in their salads. Sustainable and organic ingredients are highlighted on the menu, and the proof of the quality is always in the taste. This new Phoenix eatery is a perfect destination for quick lunch (ask about the “Light Rail Express” option), for starting a night out or for brunch on the weekend. Basically, any occasion where you’re up for a unique culinary experience, MATCH Cuisine & Cocktails is waiting to take you on a journey you won’t soon forget.
Dining out dining
at the box office
By Hans Pedersen
Being 17 Available on DVD March 14 | 116 minutes | Unrated
The Watermelon Woman Now playing on iTunes | Unrated | 90 Minutes
This 1996 indie, written and directed by Cheryl Dunye, is a rare gem that was restored by the Outfest Legacy Project. The first known work by a black lesbian director, it’s about Philly video store worker and budding filmmaker Cheryl, who’s enamored of 1930s film actress Fae Richards. Uncovering Fae’s secret affair with a female director, Cheryl faces challenges as she explores black film history and documents its lost lesbian chapters. Deserving of wider distribution than it received, this indie remains a fun nostalgic glimpse into the 1990s as well as the 1930s (albeit Richards is a fictitious character), and includes a cameo by cultural critic Camille Paglia.
From acclaimed French director André Téchniné (Wild Reeds, Girlhood) comes this welcome representation of interracial intimacy that develops between two teens in conflict. Damien lives with his mother, a doctor, while his dad is overseas. Thomas, whose mother is pregnant, spends three hours traveling to school each day. When Damien’s mom ends up caring for Thomas’ mom, the lives of these teenagers are thrown together and tensions continue to mount when Thomas is invited to live with Damien and his family. Fist fights soon break out, but their relationship evolves and deeper passions eventually bubble to the surface.
This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous Now Playing on YouTube Red | 91 minutes
Departure Available on DVD March 7
Unfolding in the span of one week in a southern French town, this coming-of-age drama focuses on a strange teenager and a family that’s embroiled in conflict. Elliott’s parents are preparing to break up, and his mother, Beatrice, is anticipating the sale of their vacation home. Elliott feels a burgeoning and undeniable sexual attraction to guys, and a local teen, Clément, forces him to face his desires. Andrew Steggall makes his directing debut with this drama that stars Alex Lawther, who played a young Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. 46
Two-time Academy Award-winning documentary director Barbara Kopple helms this film about a YouTube celebrity who demonstrates love and strength to millions while coming out as transgender. The documentary chronicles how Canadian diver Greg Lazzarato began sharing fashion and makeup tips on his YouTube channel, came out as gay and stood up to homophobia. Lazzarato amassed legions of fans and, in 2013, ultimately announced plans to transition to female. Kopple shows how a loving family and supportive community helped launch the meteoric rise of Gigi Lazzarato, aka Gigi Gorgeous, so it certainly seems appropriate the acclaimed filmmaker is premiering her latest work on YouTube.
Hans Pedersen is a freelance writer based in Phoenix. movies
A Celebration of Style, Fashion, and Compassion benefiting the care services, prevention programs and LGBTQ
Sunday March 19, 2017 Tucson Convention Center Grand Ballroom
initiatives of the Southern Arizona
AIDS Foundation (SAAF).
Art Garfunkel: In Close-Up Saturday, March 11 · 7:30pm
The Doo Wop Project
Saturday, March 18 · 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 19 · 3pm
Sunday, April 9 · 7pm
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble Friday, March 24 · 7:30 p.m.
The Story of Lena Horne Starring Mary Wilson
Saturday, March 25 · 7:30 p.m.
Full season listing
ChandlerCenter.org 480.782.2680 EchoMag.com
Finding Neverland March 14-19 ASU Gammage 1200 S. Forest Ave., Tempe Tickets: $20-$207; 480-965-3434 asugammage.com
opening nights By Richard Schultz
Kevin Kern as JM Barrie and Tom Hewitt as Captain Hook and Cast of the National Tour of Finding Neverland. Photo Credit Carol Rosegg.
Hal Halbrook in Mark Twain Tonight
Leading Ladies March 10-26
Bullets Over Broadway March 8 - April 2
Kinky Boots March 14-19
Fifty years ago, a young actor took the stage in a tiny off-Broadway theater and introduced the world to the portrait of a man they would never forget. Hal Halbrook, one of the greatest character actors, presents one of the most acclaimed and enduring performances in the theater history. Three new numbers have been added to its revolving repertoire of material: one on the Christian Bible, another from the feuding clans in Huckleberry Finn killing each other off and another on the fate of the laboring class in America. “Mark Twain never stops surprising me,” Holbrook said. “He keeps firing me up and asking questions.”
In this hilarious genderbender comedy by the author of Lend Me A Tenor, two English Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, find themselves so down on their luck that they are performing “Scenes from Shakespeare” on the Moose Lodge circuit in Pennsylvania’s Amish country. When they hear that an old lady in York is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her beloved relatives and get the cash. Upon their arrival, they find out that the relatives aren’t nephews, but nieces! Romantic entanglements abound, especially when Leo falls head-over-petticoat in love with the old lady’s vivacious niece, Meg, who’s engaged to the local minister.
Based on the screenplay of the acclaimed 1994 film by Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath, this hilarious musical is a love letter to the golden age of Broadway. David Shayne, played by Valley favorite Toby Yatso, is a straight-arrow playwright who plans to stand firm against compromising his work, but quickly abandons that stance when his producer finds a backer to mount his show on Broadway. There’s just one catch, however: the backer is a mobster who sees Shayne’s play as a vehicle for his dizzy, talent-free girlfriend. Throw in an aging diva, a savant hitman and a bevy of beautiful chorus girls and this is show will knock ’em dead. Look for a powerhouse production featuring some of the Valley’s most talented performers.
With an outstanding score and a heartwarming message, Kinky Boots explores the challenges that shape our journey, the joys that keep us going and the shoes that lift us up along the way! Based on true events, this upbeat musical tells the story of Charlie, a factory owner struggling to save his family business, and Lola, a fabulous entertainer with a wildly exciting idea. With a little compassion and a lot of understanding, this unexpected pair learns to embrace their differences and creates a line of sturdy stilettos unlike any the world has ever seen! With hit songs by Grammy- and Tony-Award winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper, this joyous musical celebration is about the friendships we discover and the belief that you can change the world when you change your mind.
Hal Halbrook in Mark Twain Tonight Feb. 24 Mesa Arts Center 1 E. Main St., Mesa Tickets: $30-$60 480-644-6500 mesaartscenter.com
Leading Ladies March 10 – 26 Fountain Hills Theater 11445 N. Saguaro Blvd., Fountain Hills Tickets: $30; 480-837-9661 ext. 3 fhtaz.org
Bullets Over Broadway March 8 - April 2 Phoenix Theatre 100 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix Tickets: $36-$91 602-254-2151 email@example.com
Kinky Boots March 14-19 Broadway in Tucson Centennial Hall 1020 E. University Blvd., Tucson Tickets: $19-$100; 520-903-2929 broadwayintucson.com
Finding Neverland March 14-19
This Broadway musical tells the fascinating story of how Peter became Pan. Based on the Academy Award-winning film of the same name, this breathtaking show follows playwright J.M. Barrie as he summons the courage to become the writer, and the man, he yearns to be. Barrie finds the inspiration he’s been missing when he meets the beautiful widow Sylvia and her four young sons: Jack, George, Michael and Peter. Delighted by the boys’ hilarious escapades, Barrie conjures the magical world of Neverland and writes a play unlike any the high-society London theatergoers have ever seen. It’s a tremendous risk, but as Barrie himself has discovered: when you believe, you can fly.
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Native Son March 10-25
On the south side of Chicago in the 1930s, a world exists where opportunity is elusive for people like Bigger Thomas. After landing a job in the home of a wealthy family, Bigger unwittingly unleashes a series of events that violently and irrevocably seal his fate. Using W.E.B. DuBois’ theory of double consciousness as a grounding point, Nambi E. Kelley’s adaptation of Native Son focuses on the landscape inside Bigger’s mind, bringing the power of Richard Wright’s novel to life for a whole new generation. Native Son March 10-25 Stray Cat Theatre The Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center 1333 E. Washington St., Phoenix Tickets: $30; 480-227-1766 straycattheatre.org
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READ THE REST For more productions heading Arizona stages this month, visit echomag.com/opening-nightsmarch-2017.
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Richard Schultz is a playwright, actor, director and freelance writer based in Phoenix. theater
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The Icing on The Cake East coast rapper Cakes Da Killa heads to the Valley after dropping debut album By KJ Philp
edonism: a) the pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence; b) the debut full-length studio album by rapper Cakes Da Killa, which dropped last October. Cakes, formally Rashard Bradshaw, described his new album as “retrospective,” because it embodies elements of all his past projects. “On The Eulogy I didn’t give any f*cks,” he told Echo via a phone interview. “Hunger Pangs was electronic infused with a European style … #IMF was about a boy who broke my heart. People like that side of me, so there are some of those narratives on this album. I definitely wanted it to be retrospective, I didn’t want anyone to think I was forgetting them or that I was being too sugary.” And, picking up right where he last left off with his loyal listeners, “Hedonism (Intro)” sets the tone for this next chapter in the young MC’s career:
And while he promises “quality rap music, fast beats and a good ass show,” the level of creativity he’s referring to transcends his music. From furs and fake eyelashes to platforms and flower petals, you can never be too sure what level of creative inspiration Cakes will bring to the stage on any given night. But don’t interpret any of these aesthetics for a gimmick. On the mic, Cakes is savage. And he pairs such topics as gay sex, lust, heartbreak and rage with his unmistakable in-your-face aggressive style. And we can’t get enough. Having been slapped with the “gay rapper” label so early in his career, Cakes said he’s been able to turn it into a form of activism. “[The gay rapper] is how people are introducing me, which is amazing for visibility, but it’s two-dimensional,” he said. “People have read that interview and they know not to treat me like that.”
“Previously on IMF, we find our protagonist sinking, in a deep pool. Drowning, in his emotions and pleasures … Cakes been the baddest, without no filters // so, how you f*ck around and play yo meters // switched it up, when I dead you like R.I.P. // had a really cute thing but couldn’t let that be // beggin’ for another shot, I said let’s wait and see // cause I’ma keep it classy, pull my briefs up // so Krispy Kreme’d up, cold shoulders, minked up // spit that gospel, make a doubter believer … Yeah, let’s take it to the clubs.”
Wise beyond his years and “extra out” since long before his days volunteering at the LGBTQ center in high school, Cakes understands the responsibility that comes with the visibility that his music has provided him.
And that’s precisely what he’s doing, one show as a time.
“It’s important that everybody tell their stories,” he said. “We’re all a community, but we don’t have the same experiences … and reality can become white washed and erased.”
At part of The Stunt Queen Tour, both Cakes and long-time friend and fellow artist Mykki Blanco, will take the stage at Crescent Ballroom March 8. “My shows take it back to where rap started: fashion, comedy and drinking,” Cakes offered as a preview. “I’m bringing New York flavor and I do a small DJ set before my performance set, so I’ll be bringing some music they’re not used to.” He cites his inspirations as “people who are creative,” specifically Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Bette Midler, Joan Rivers and countless others. 50
“It doesn’t really offend me,” he said. “[I’m going] through all this annoying bullsh*t so the next person doesn’t have to go through it.” And yes, he’s teaching people – fans and otherwise – significant lessons along the way.
When asked, he said he’d offer the same advice to aspiring artists who defy genres and labels, but don’t see a space for their flavor in the current music landscape. “I feel like those artists don’t exist anymore, the internet made that obsolete,” he said. “But, if they are out there, I’d say ‘you just have to do it. You can’t be afraid of failure or public ridicule.’” These words of wisdom come from years of experience.
The Stunt Queen Tour 8 p.m. March 8 Crescent Ballroom 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix ticketf.ly/2hnrhtE
“You have to be yourself, 100 percent,” he said. “What I’m doing is its own unique thing. Maybe the next person will be like ‘this is so Cakes.’” Cakes’ authenticity is what makes his music and his collaborations so relevant. On Hedonism, he teams up with Rye Rye, Calore and Josh Dst and features beats from LSDXOXO, Noah Breakfast, Jeremiah Meece and others. But it’s “Up out My Face,” a track with Peaches, that has so many people talking. “Working with Peaches was special because we are both unapologetically ourselves in life,” he said. “Two badass bi*ches who have so much to say and make [tracks] that are cool and interesting.” Don’t take our word for it, you can listen to just about his entire discography at soundcloud.com/cakesdakilla. And through the end of March, he’s bringing his new music to 30 stages across North America. “I’m just excited to be in a [tour] van doing stupid sh*t,” he said. “Go get the album and come have a drink with me.” For more information, visit cakesdakilla. com or find Cakes Da Killa on Facebook.
KJ Philp is the managing editor of Echo Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. music
between the covers
The Gay Preacher’s Wife By Terri Schlichenmeyer
he flowers were a very nice touch. They greeted you from the kitchen counter just as you got home. They were followed by a romantic dinner, candlelight conversation and a quiet evening at home.
life but Lydia was lonely, and she prayed to God for someone to love.
It was a gift from your spouse, who often has surprises for you. But, as in the book The Gay Preacher’s Wife by Lydia Meredith, some surprises aren’t so welcome.
That was an odd notion, since Lydia had had little contact with her church’s youth pastor. He was a charismatic preacher and she wasn’t sure she liked the way he spoke from the pulpit. She’d barely even acknowledged that he existed but from then on, she says, “I could not take my … mind off this man … ”
Born into a large southern family, Lydia had a “strict Christian upbringing” that kept her somewhat sheltered until she went to college. Her first year at Vanderbilt, she says, was “a real culture shock,” in part because she’d had little experience with dating and no experience with sex. That changed at college, and so did Lydia. Gone was the scared little mouse, replaced by a confident young woman who landed a high-paying job, bought her own home and, unfortunately, dealt with racism in the workplace. Still, it was a good
God, she says, told her that Dennis Meredith would be her husband.
She was not, therefore, surprised when Dennis asked her out. Their romance was not without its problems. Lydia says he was not her type, that she wanted someone to whom she could “marry up.” She didn’t want to be a preacher’s wife like the “miserable” First Lady of her childhood church. Still, Lydia married Dennis, settled down and things got better before they got worse. Shortly after their third son started school, Lydia began “to see some changes in Dennis … but I couldn’t put my finger on it.” He seemed preoccupied, and she blamed their harried life until she found a gay porn video and Dennis admitted to her that he was bisexual, maybe gay. He was sleeping with men – lots of them – and Lydia began practicing “denial, suppression and avoidance!” Until she couldn’t any longer … There’s a really good story inside The Gay
The Gay Preacher’s Wife by Lydia Meredith. Gallery Books, 2016 | $16.
Preacher’s Wife. Somewhere. Lydia goes off topic so often that readers will need to be light on their toes, so to speak. When her (not altogether unusual) story is told chronologically, it’s very good – Lydia can be outraged and outrageous, all in the same paragraph – but random, seemingly irrelevant bits found between those linear parts can ruin the mood imparted. Worse, it takes a minute to get back into the spirit of what was being said, somewhat like trying to make sense of three simultaneous TV shows. Which leads to this: there’s a lot of drama in this book, which is tiresome. If you can overlook all that, you’ll like The Gay Preacher’s Wife. Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm, lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 13,000 books. She’s been reading since age 3 and, to this day, she never goes anywhere without a book. EchoMag.com
To Say Adieu By Richard Schultz
will be the first to admit that I am no good at saying that dreaded word when it comes time to depart. Saying “goodbye” is just not my forte. I always hope for a flash of inspiration leading to a memorable quote. Yet, emotions overwhelm me. I find myself trying not to turn into a quivering mass of tears while half-mumbling sincere and hopefully, not incoherent sentiments. It’s definitely not a Kodak moment. As a writer with Echo Magazine since 2009, it is truly amazing to me how something that started as a sideline became such a vital and pivotal part of my time in Phoenix. The opportunity to cover so many wonderful stories about stellar productions, gifted artists, impactful organizations and memorable events has been a gift that I will cherish for many years to come. These treasured stories affirmed my belief in the arts as an essential component to the quality of life of every community. It is my contention that the arts entertain, educate and enlighten. My work with Echo has been my way to reinforce those core values. Yet, as we all know, change is a constant in life. This past Christmas Eve’s eve, I was offered an opportunity to impact the arts for an entire community. In what I consider to be a career-defining opportunity, I accepted the position of cultural arts manager for the City of Carlsbad, California. As a child growing up in Chicago on a steady diet of television sitcoms and variety shows set out west, I dreamed of living in California. As they say, watch what you wish you for. Of course, as a child, I assumed it would be sooner rather than later in life, but fate can be funny that way. During my tenure with Echo, I focused on feature stories rather than reviews. My goal was to support
and help further the arts in the Valley. I hope those feature stories elevated the importance of the inspired local work in theater, dance, music and visual arts. It’s my heartfelt belief that the arts needed all the support possible. For me, these stories spoke to the artistic heart and soul of the Valley, a community filled with dedicated and talented artists striving to share their vision with an audience and speak to our times. This career change also reflects my steadfast belief that there comes a time when some of us, as artists, need to step up and lead the way. My training as a director provides me with a skill set to create new pathways for both emerging artists and eager audiences. It is essential that we pay it forward and strengthen the role of the arts in everyday life. So, in the midst of a whirlwind move with a blur of packing boxes and making all the necessary arrangements to relocate, I’m confronted with the need to say farewell. A special thanks to KJ, Bill and the entire Echo team, it has been my honor to share this platform with all of you. To the local artists, please stay so committed and so wonderful. To Echo’s readers, thank you for the privilege to serve as a connector between you and the arts. As I make a hasty exit west, Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie provides me with that memorable quote that I now borrow: “Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” Quite simply, please know that I shall never forget.
Richard Schultz is a playwright, actor, director and freelance writer based in Phoenix.
Western Symphony – a joyous ballet featuring cowboys and dance hall girls with the backdrop of an old-west saloon Square Dance – a Ballet Arizona premiere combining the spirit of American folk dance with the techniques of classical ballet
May 11 – 14, 2017 at Symphony Hall Tickets: balletaz.org | 602.381.1096
Ballet Arizona Dancer Nayon Iovino in Western Symphony. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor.
An evening of works by the father of American Ballet, George Balanchine, in one exhilarating show.
Three tips to maintaining a healthy lifestyle By Tia Norris
here are three aspects to all fitness programs: exercise, diet and lifestyle. As you all know, most of my columns hammer on the exercise and the diet aspects. Still, it’s almost too common to hear, “fitness is a lifestyle.” In my experience these two aspects are quite different and need to be addressed separately. So, you ask, “what is the lifestyle, exactly?” My best answer for you is that “the lifestyle” is everything you do outside of the gym and the kitchen, that helps to make you the best version of yourself. Here are three points for maintaining a healthy lifestyle that complements all your hard work in the gym and the kitchen:
1. Sex. Safely. Now that I have your attention! Obviously, sizzling sex is a staple for the vast majority of the population. In the words of Madonna, it’s human nature. You and I both know that I don’t need to detail the benefits of a sensational sex life to prove my point her, so I’ll summarize by listing: increased energy, better sleep, hormone balance, feelings of connection and pure, unbridled happiness, to name a few. On one hand, yes, you should be having great sex, often! However, on the other hand, let’s not be dumbasses about it, people. Use your head, you know, the one with the actual brain inside of it. According to gettested.com, 20 million people in the United States are infected with STDs every year. Add in the fact that the LGBTQ community is disproportionately affected by STDs and the stigma and shame that’s commonly associated with STDs, and you’re looking at a very real risk. 54
The bottom line is that you should be practicing safe sex! It is NOT worth rolling the dice with your health for a few moments of pleasure. No matter what, you must talk about it, get tested regularly and protect yourself accordingly. You know this, now do it. No excuses!
2. Treat Yo’self. As an athlete, as a human being, you must give your body as much as you take from it. This means that you need a solid selfcare routine. You must learn to take care of yourself first, if you ever expect to take care of other people. Everyday, I make myself as strong as I can so that I can help make others strong. If you are low, overworked, injured, underfed or under nourished (for some examples), you’re not only going to render yourself unable to make progress, but you’re going to have the same effect on those you extend your care to, whether it’s your partner, family, pets or clients. For me, since I push my body to the absolute limits on a regular basis, this means regular doses of deep tissue massage (two hours per week), chiropractic work (a few hours per month), acupuncture (an hour per month) and stretching with meditation (daily). From an athletic standpoint, I highly recommend that you follow a similar routine. Because an imbalance in the give/take from your body will eventually cause an injury. My recommendation is always this: for every hour of weightlifting, you’ll need 20 minutes of soft tissue work or stretching; for every hour of cardio, you’ll need 30 minutes of the same work. Taking care of yourself will help you avoid injury and setbacks down the road. But what about therapies that aren’t just for your muscles? How about a facial, or a
spa day, a shopping spree, a spontaneous weekend getaway or a day of nothing but video games? Too often the demand is to be constantly on the go, fixated on progress and output but forgetful of what we need for ourselves. Just stop. Ditch your schedule, ditch your obligations. You have my full permission to skip that social outing or call into work, to do whatever you need to do that makes your soul happy (but use this hall pass sparingly). Again, any imbalance – even just mentally – will eventually run you into the ground. Treat yourself with whatever feeds your soul!
3. F*ck Everybody Else. No, this is not tied to discussion point No. 1. Seriously, one of the best things you can do for yourself, and your life as a whole, is to stop giving a f*ck about what everyone else says, thinks and does. As long as what you’re doing doesn’t hurt anyone else, you should be free and confident to do whatever the hell floats your boat. Other people’s assessments of you are just a projection of themselves. Too many people in this world are paralyzed with worrying about what other people will think. F*ck that. Skip the insecurity, stop wasting time, and just be yourself, unapologetically. Of course, diet and exercise are the bedrocks of any fitness program. But ultimately, the lifestyle is what will cause your full success or your failure. By having safe sex, treating yourself, staying balanced and keeping the focus on what’s important to you, I guarantee that the you’ll find the journey to your fitness goals will be that much easier. Tia Norris is the president and head trainer at FitPro, LLC, a local fitness company. Find out more at fitprollc.com. health & fitness
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The Power of Your Story By Liz Massey
hose of you who know me well – OK, anyone who knows me at all – know that I’m rarely at a loss for words. Imagine my surprise, then, the first time I sat down to write down some personalexperience essays, in hopes of melding them together into a memoir. I was 34, had just left my position as managing editor of Echo, moved to the Sedona “suburb” of Cottonwood, and my partner and I were just kicking off what would turn out to be 18 months of (mis)adventures, filled with melodramatic plot twists, positive and negative reversals of fortune, and the kind of wisdom that only comes after getting kicked in the proverbial can a couple of times. By the time it was over, my partner and I had experienced enough during that year and a half to fill at least one volume
of our collective autobiography. And yet, when I sat down at the computer to record what I recognized as significant memoir material, I hit a patch of insurmountable writer’s block. I couldn’t think of anything to write about. I was wrong, of course. There was plenty to write about, even if I had skipped writing about the details of my juicy then-current situation. I had grown up in a Democratic-leaning family in a heavily Republican county in the Midwest; had a lifelong love affair with creativity; started my writing career at age 14 and had the opportunity to interview everyone from LGBTQ spiritual author Mel White to sexologist Annie Sprinkle; learned to shoot safety videos in an aluminum factory and dangled off a cherry picker 70 feet up to get an “aerial” shot. The assumption that my life stories weren’t worth collecting was wrong at age 34, and that feels even more true nearly 15 years later. I’ve always been drawn to writing about how ordinary people live their lives. In my early years as a writer, I expressed that interest by writing human interest features and profiles; more recently, that passion has morphed into helping people tell their own stories as a personal historian. What I’ve discovered along the way is that every life, including my own, contains extraordinary moments – ones that are important to us, as well as to those around us. Collecting and sharing our life stories can be profoundly empowering, especially if we belong to the LGBTQ community. Here are three basic reasons why: 1. First and foremost, understanding our stories helps us to make sense of our lives. We can experience epiphanies related to how our life has unfolded at any age; also, how we tell key life stories to ourselves or to others often changes over time. Making the effort to record our stories is an important step in this “figuring out” process. 2. Expressing our life stories, even the sad or unpleasant ones, makes us more resilient and better able to cope. About 20 years ago, Emory University researcher Marshall Duke measured the
resiliency skills of children and found that those who could answer the most items on a list of family history questions scored highest. He also discovered that the family storylines that helped kids cope the best were the “oscillating” narratives, the stories that told kids that family members have made it through both bad times and good times, which helped them realize that they can overcome setbacks in their own life, too. 3. The process of personal storycatching can connect us to something larger than ourselves. This may be the greatest advantage of “owning our story” for LGBTQ people. So many of our community members have been rejected by their families, churches or geographic peers, which can make one feel lost and alone. And we have all lived through historic queer milestones such as the LGBTQ marches on Washington, D.C., the AIDS crisis, the women’s music movement, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in the military, the advent of marriage equality and much more. As we retell our life stories, including the ones that touch on sexual orientation and gender identity, we get a sense of how ALL our various identities and their intersections make us who we are, and connect us to others. There are many ways to share your personal stories once you’ve collected them. You can start a blog, attend poetry slams or live storytelling events, contribute to an online video initiative like “It Gets Better,” or provide an oral history for the Arizona LGBT+ History Project (arizonalgbthistory.com). All it takes to get started is an open notebook, the willingness to dig deep into your memories and the belief that your stories matter. I know the next time I decide to write about my life, the blank page won’t get the best of me. Because I’ve seen it happen with others, I know that when it comes to discussing my own memories, I believe, along with Mark Twain, “There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy and a tragedy.” Liz Massey has been involved in LGBTQ community-building activities in Kansas City and the Valley of the Sun, and is a former managing editor of Echo Magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com. COMMUNITY
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phoenix bar map Thunderbird
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8 p.m.-close: $2.50 Bud family products
Underwear night: $1 off all drinks if in skivvies! 8 p.m.-close: $2.50 Miller family products. 4 & 6 p.m.: Free-to-join
Tatum 32nd St.
2-8 p.m. 2-4-1 well & domestic bottles, $3 pitchers; 8 p.m.-close,
2-8 p.m. 2-4-1 well & domestic bottles, $3 pitchers; 2-4-1
2-8 p.m. 2-4-1 well & domestic bottles, $3 pitchers; $3 Three
2-8 p.m. 2-4-1 well & domestic bottles, $3 pitchers; 2-4-1 drinks
2-7 p.m. 2-4-1 well & domestics, $3 pitchers;
Super HH 4-7 p.m., $3 pitchers; $3 Long Islands open to close
cocktails & beer 8 p.m.- close Olives vodka, 8 p.m.-close
open-close HH 7-9 p.m.; $1 well & domestics, $1 drafts 10 p.m.-
Noon-7 p.m. 2-4-1 well & domestics; HH 7-9 p.m.; $1 well & domestics, $3 Absolut & Bacardi 10 p.m.-midnight
4 Van Buren
9 p.m. Karaoke
McDowell 13 2
21 22 15 23 3 9 19
8 24 20 28 6 25 17
7 & 10 p.m.: Free-to-join poker. HH prices for participants.
1/2 off drinks for wearing underwear, $3 Jack Daniels
40th St. 44th St.
T W T F
6, 8 & 10 p.m.: Free-to-join poker. HH prices for participants.
Lincoln 24th St.
C Northern 7th St.
Glendale 18 Bethany
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HH, 4-8 p.m.; $3 charity shots ALL DAY; $2 Kamikaze shots ALL
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HH & $1 draft pint, 4-8 p.m.; $1 draft pint & wells, 8 p.m.-midnight; live DJ, top 40 & dance, 8 p.m.-close DAY; live DJ, top 40 & dance, 8 p.m.-close DAY; live DJ, top 40 & dance, 8 p.m.-close
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ANVIL 2424 E. Thomas Road
M, D, L 602-956-2885
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MF, R, N 602-795-7881
AQUA NIGHT CLUB 1730 E. McDowell Road
F, N, E, D 602-253-0689
NU TOWNE SALOON 5002 E. Van Buren St.
M, N, L 602-267-9959
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M, N, E 602-266-9001
OFF CHUTE TOO 4111 N. Seventh Ave
M, A 602-274-1429
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N, R 602-795-1792
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M, N, L 602-200-9154
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F, N, E 602-265-3233
THE CASH NIGHTCLUB & LOUNGE 2140 E. McDowell Road
F, C, D 602-244-9943
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THE CHUTE 1440 E. Indian School Road
M, AO 602-234-1654
DICK’S CABARET 3432 E. Illini St.
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MAP CODES: A Adult Retail & Entertainment M Mostly Males F Mostly Females MF Mixed Male/Female
N R D C
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