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Joe Wilson & Dean Hamer

12

november 2013

Find Love and Happiness

Volume 5 Issue 4

President

Jade Le

4 religion

Advertising & Marketing

William Fernandez: (ph) 808-281-4084

Production

Kamele Eskaran Linda Giang

12

6 workplace

Technical & Web Development Brandon Valdez

Chris Azzopardi D’Anne Witkowski Flavia Francesquini Mickey Weems Pride at Work Hawai’i

Mickey Weems

10

Ana Medina Kamele Eskaran Kimo Orlando PJ Delanoza Tiffany Sabado

Letters and unsolicited content may be sent to: E-mail: info@expression808.com Mail: Letters to the Editor eXpression! Magazine P.O. Box 22487 Honolulu, HI 96823

eXpression808.com // Entire contents copyrighted 2008–2013 eXpression! Magazine is a registered trademark. All rights reserved. eXpression! Magazine is published monthly in Hawai‘i and welcomes manuscripts, original works and various forms of expression for publication. eXpression! Magazine reserves publication rights to submitted materials. eXpression! Magazine assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials unless otherwise pre-agreed in writing. eXpression! Magazine does not take any financial or libel obligation to the content of its columnists. All materials submitted are consent to be original. All views and opinions are those of the writer and bear no implications on the opinions of eXpression! Magazine. Registered trademarks used within are hereby acknowledged, images and contents released and permitted. No implication regarding sexual orientation or preference is made in connection with any person, contributor, and or advertiser appearing in this publication.

Vladimir Putin: Saying No to the Rainbow

10 style

Copy Editor

Public relations

Dating in the Digital Era

9 Anti-gay

Contributing Writers

Legal & Research

Public Display of Affection

8 relationships

video & multi-media

Ana Medina Brittney Nitta-Lee Tina Ludewig

Glenn Honda, Esq.

Robert Fitzpatrick: What a Bishop Should Be

Ari South: Project Runway: All-Stars

16 politics

Kathryn Xian: The Politics of Spiritual Healing

19 entertainment

YouTube Sensation Eli Lieb

22 community

16 facebook.com //

19

Boycotts: Why They Work

twitter.com/expression808 Mission Statement

to inspire Hawai‘i’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community by featuring people contributing positively to society.

eXpression! Magazine welcomes letters that are concise (up to 150 words). eXpression! Magazine reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Letters and unsolicited content must be signed and include a daytime telephone number.


// November 2013 | 3


Religion

What a Bishop Should Be By Mickey Weems Photo JTL

Too many religious leaders around the world attack the LGBT community. Hawai’i has seen its fair share of them: From plaindressed storefront ministers who pound out sermons filled with the rhythms of hate, to a powerful silk-bedecked bishop who, just this year, wrote a letter of intolerance disguised as a message of love. In the midst of all the negative wind, quake and fire, there remains a still, small voice, but a strong voice still, bringing the good news of unconditional support from our Christian allies: Robert Fitzpatrick, spiritual leader of the Episcopal Church (also known as Anglican) in Hawai’i and Micronesia. Bishop Fitzpatrick has worked in soup kitchens and homeless shelters, helped congregations reorganize in hard times, and partnered with secular organizations to right social wrongs: including homophobia. Unlike others of his rank, he is everything a bishop should be.

1982 and almost immediately loaded a U-Haul trailer to move to New York City for me to attend seminary. I had classmates who were gay and became an important part of our family. As a registered nurse, Bea worked in home health care in Chelsea and Greenwich Village during the early days of the AIDS crisis. Unfortunately, some of our friends died in the ‘80s.

We spoke in his office beside Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, across Beretania Street from the State House. A stained glass image of Saint Columba, the Irish missionary who confronted the Loch Ness monster and tamed it in the spirit of love, cast amber light beside the chair in which the bishop sat. The glowing saint listened to us as Fitzpatrick outlined his vision of inclusive Christianity.

Being Episcopalian must have made it easier for you as a bishop to be so accepting of gay people, unlike the situation you might have been if you were a bishop in a different denomination, such as Roman Catholic. I always try to keep in mind that my own cultural and religious context has given me the opportunity to engage LGBT people for decades in my churches. For more than 30 years, the Episcopal Church, including the Diocese of Hawai’i, has been responding to the call to seek and serve Christ in its members who are gay and lesbian.

What in your background gave you such compassion for the LGBT community? As I finished my time in college, the priest asked me if I had ever considered ordination... Bea [Beatrice Elizondo Fitzpatrick] and I married in

In 1976, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church affirmed that homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the church. Since then, we have See Bishop on p27

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Religion

// November 2013 | 5


W or kplace

I’m a lesbian. My boss saw me kiss my girlfriend when she picked me up from work. The next day my boss told me I wasn’t allowed to kiss her in front of our office building. Can she do that? By pride at work hawai’i Your boss can’t tell you that you can’t kiss your girlfriend, all the while allowing heterosexual co-workers to kiss their partners. There can be a “No PDA (Public Display of Affection) Rule,” but that rule must treat all employees the same. If your employer has this rule, but only enforces it with gay workers: your employer is breaking the law. Hawai’i Revised Statutes (HRS) Section 378 states, “It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice ... because of sexual orientation for any employer to discriminate against any individual in compensation or in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.”

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Need advice on any workplace matter? Contact Pride at Work Hawai‘i: prideatworkhi@gmail.com

If you feel comfortable doing so, inform your boss that such a reprimand was discriminatory, and that it should stop. If you don’t get a favorable response, then consider a discrimination claim. The first step for dealing with a discrimination claim is dusting off your employee handbook and finding out the procedures for such a claim. Many employers require employees to report these kinds of incidents to the human resources department or to a higher-level manager. If there is no official procedure, you should report the incident to management with whom you feel most comfortable.


No matter what you decide to do, keep a record of significant dates and incidents.

Once you properly report discrimination, it is the company’s job to correct the situation. If the company doesn’t correct the problem, think about branching out. The Hawai’i Civil Rights Commission enforces HRS § 378 on behalf of workers at no charge (www.labor.hawaii. gov/hcrc). No matter what you decide to do, keep a record of significant dates and incidents. Times are changing. You should not put up with discrimination: you deserve better.

// November 2013 | 7


relationships

Dating in the Digital Era:

I Liked Your Profile Better Than Your Personality By Flavia Francesquini, certified life coach and wellness counselor

My experience in the area of digital dating hasn’t been fruitful, but it has provided me with great insight.

I recently went on a date with someone who had told me a great deal about herself: height, weight, musical preferences, last book she read, favorite movie and profession. But until I was sitting in front of her in some trendy coffee house, I had not grasped the meaning of the word “embellishment.” The point is, anyone can look pretty good and seem compatible: from afar. Internet dating has been an excellent tool for a lot of people in the LGBT community, but it can bring more disillusions than pleasant surprises. Here are 8 |

// November 2013

some basic tips on internet etiquette: We all want to look our best, but using a profile picture that is more than a year old is not necessarily being honest. Neither is subtracting pounds and adding inches (to height or other areas). Deceiving is never a good way to start a relationship. You may be able to lose a couple of pounds before we meet in person, but you are not going to be any taller. Or longer. If you say that you enjoy long walks on the beach and you don’t, you are destined to spend a lot of time doing some-

thing you dislike. Don’t claim to be an intellectual if the last book you read was The Cat in the Hat. Don’t assume that the things you already don’t like about people you met online will be somehow more pleasant in person. Being yourself can be a little embarrassing at times, but it’s the easiest role you can choose, and one that will eventually lead you to the person who will love you just as you are. As more and more people rely on virtual sites to meet potential mates, take the time to actually think about the image you are projecting. Who do you want to attract? What qualities would your ideal mate possess and what qualities are you bringing to the table? In a perfect world, where would this person live? How important is it to you that

they like kids? Do you envision your future self jogging with your beloved, or laying around with the Sunday paper? Knowing what you are looking for will help you to screen out the perpetual singles when you are looking for something more serious than a few dates. Or vice-versa. So before logging on to upload that Photoshopped version of yourself, think about how wonderful you are even with bed-hair, no makeup, when you don’t feel great or haven’t gone to the gym in years. Think about the good in your heart and the wisdom you have picked up along the way. The person you pretend to be will crumble under the pressure of trying to please someone else who pretended to be compassionate. The person you truly are will shine through for the one you are meant to meet.


Anti-gay

Vladimir Putin:

saying

to the Rainbow By D’Anne Witkowski

While Russia has never been known as a progressive place, life for LGBT people has become considerably more dangerous after the passage of a strict law banning “gay propaganda.” The law was intended to keep impressionable children from hearing that homosexuality is anything but evil. Not surprisingly, the law is very broad and basically makes it illegal to be openly gay in Russia. Rainbow flags are, literally a crime now. Needless to say, gay people who are either planning to attend or compete in the 2014

Winter Olympics in Russia are a little worried. A lot worried actually, that they will be fined, or put in jail or kidnapped and tortured by anti-gay thugs because that’s a legitimate hobby in Russia now. “The latest laws against socalled gay propaganda ... have essentially legalized violence against LGBT people, because these groups of hooligans justify their actions with these laws,” Igor Kochetkov (head of the Russian LGBT Network) told the Guardian earlier this month. “With this legislation, the

Russian journalist and lesbian activist Masha Gessen recently fled the country in order to protect her family. She doesn’t trust Putin one bit and she’s been watching him closely for years. Her advice to LGBT people is to “get the hell out” of Russia. See Putin on p26

// November 2013 | 9


style

Ar

i

S

o

u

t

h

:

Making It Work – Again

By Mickey Weems Photos Patrick Eccelsine and David Russell

He was Andy in Season 8 of Project Runway 2010 and then she went back this year as Ari on Season 3 of Project Runway: All Stars. South talks with eXpression! about transformation, success, the sandbox and Chinatown grit. So much has happened in such a short time. Ari South’s spacious atelier on 12 South King Street in Chinatown was half workspace/half showroom when it opened last year. Now it is almost all workspace: a sure sign that production is booming. Sewing machines, once banished to the back of the loft, have multiplied and expanded their turf – they’ve invaded the front of the space, threatening to conquer all. More than ever before, South means business. “I’ve created this line for Neiman Marcus,” Ari said, and showed an assortment of tops with tiny black Swarovski crystals embedded in a vertical black stripe down the middle of the blouse. The effect: soft, feminine fabrics with a sharp touch of nononsense. The style has an element of the hard edge that South, then known as “Andy” instead of “Ari,” had when appeared on Project Runway for the first time. S e e

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Ar i

S o u t h

o n

p 2 4


// November 2013 | 11


cove r story

(L-R) Joseph Wilson and Dean Hamer

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// November 2013


& cover story

JOSEPH WILSON DEAN HAMER b y Flavia Francesquini / i m a g e s JTL

I recently helped a five-year-old find Hawai’i on the map. As she ran her little fingers over the Pacific Ocean and almost missed the islands, her face became doubtful. “Is it really a place?” she asked, not sure if she was being tricked into thinking that those tiny dots in the ocean could possibly be a place one can actually visit. joseph wilson and dean hamer have traveled the world and found a home on these tropical rocks in the middle of a big blue sea. They started coming to Hawai’i a decade ago, and as their love grew for each other and for the islands, it was only natural that they would want to spend more time here. Two years ago, they decided to simply stay. This charming couple has no regrets. Hamer said he loves the mix of cultures here, and nonchalantly adds that he’s been learning Japanese and Chinese – as if learning an Asian language were something we can all do next time we have a chance. They are very happy and have eased into their new roles as residents on the North Shore of O’ahu. If you see them walking on Sunset Beach or in line for shave ice in Haleiwa, you may not guess that they are Emmy award winning producers whose decision to announce their marriage led them on a heartfelt and unexpected journey. Before they became directors and co-producers, they were Dean and Joe: two guys who fell in love while living in Washington, DC. Hamer is a Harvard grad who was deemed “scientist turned author” in 1994 when one of his books, The Science of Desire: The Search for the Gay Gene and the Biology of Behavior became a New York Times Book

of the Year. His early work as a geneticist transcended from the lab to the pages of his books, and his new path as a film maker is also aimed at provoking thought. Wilson is one of these guys who immediately evokes the desire to pull a chair and chat for a while. He has dedicated his adult life to activism and worked for several years for nonprofit organizations in defense of human rights in the DC area. He took his dedication and talents all the way to Africa with the Peace Corps. In 2004, after five years together, Hamer and Wilson wanted to get married, so they headed to Canada. Upon returning, they spread the word. “Dean decided to put an announcement in his hometown’s newspaper, which happens to be the New York Times. I thought I’d do the same,” Joe recalled. Dean interjected, “He’s from Oil City, Pennsylvania!” Some folks from Oil City did not take to the news of a gay couple announcing their marriage in the local paper as well as one would have expected. The outpouring of hateful responses that a simple newspaper clip caused was enough to make any sane person wonder just what the heck is wrong with some people. For months, they received negative feedback until one day, a different letter came to their home address. // November 2013 | 13


cove r story

understand what moves people to behave in the ways they do, and what happens when they find the courage to change. Wilson is nonchalant about their success, but passionate about the project. “You can’t help but to become emotionally involved with the people you film,” he said. “Sometimes it was good, sometimes it was frustrating. There were a lot of emotions! But it was also one of the greatest experiences of my life.” Their next project, Kumu Hina, follows one of Hawai’i’s own, hinaleimoana wong-Kalu, in her quest to offer children a safe space to be their true selves. Wong-Kalu, or Hina as she is better known, is a Kamehameha grad who transitioned from male to female over 20 years ago and has become a beloved teacher to children and adults alike. Both Hamer and Wilson decided that she would indeed be a great subject. Hamer admits that Hina was one of the factors leading to their decision to move to Hawai’i permanently, adding, “Hina caught our attention because she is so good at what she does. She is a well-known activist who knows who she is and encourages others to find their own space. She embodies kumu: she is a true teacher.”

it was from a mom whose child was being bullied in school for being gay. Wilson remembered it well: “This woman was very concerned and told us that she didn’t know other gay people, so she had looked us up after she saw the wedding announcement.” Hamer and Wilson could have reacted in many ways to the outburst of hate they experienced, but they chose to pick up their cameras and head to Oil City to show that when life gives you lemons, share your lemonade with thirsty people. They started by talking to the people who had taken the time to write to the newspaper. They also met the mother who had written to them about her gay son, C.J. Springer. For the next four years, Hamer and Wilson followed the folks in Oil City, recording their struggles, their victories and ultimately the path they took towards their goals. The result of that footage, is the documentary, Out in the Silence. This is not a one-sided report on bigotry, neither is it a single account of grief, but a genuine attempt to 14 |

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cover story

Wilson smiled as he recalled one particular moment: “One day, she mentioned that she was going to Fiji to pick up her husband! I couldn’t resist it. I had to go with her, and that was just the beginning of our journey.” Kumu Hina explores mahu culture and what it means to the transgender community in our islands. “Hina has a great way of explaining those who don’t really fall into any one particular gender,” explained Wilson. “She calls it a place in the middle, of the gender spectrum that is, and she uses Hawaiian history to help her students find their place in the middle, to claim their places in life.” Wilson is more than a producer and director: he is also an enthusiastic pupil. “Hina has introduced us to Hawai’i and challenged us to think about who we are, what we do, and how we impact others.” Hamer spoke of his love for the islands. “A lot of times we get to a new place and ask why they don’t do things the way we do where we come from, but Hawai’i is so different. Others should learn from this beautiful culture.” For Wilson and Hamer, Hawai’i is more than a dot on a map: it’s home. // November 2013 | 15


politics

K a t h r y n

X i a n :

The

Politics of

Spiritual Healing By Mickey Weems Photo JTL

Some people talk about injustice. Some of them dedicate their lives to stopping it. Still others find ways to love their opponents. Kathryn Xian is all about expressing love through action. She wears a tiny golden cross on a thin chain around her neck, her moral compass more so than a fashion statement. For years, she has worked hard to end human trafficking here in Hawai’i, an issue that she took to Democrats, Republicans and religious leaders, all uniting with her to stop this atrocity. Ken Franzblau, Director of the Equality Now Trafficking pro-

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politics

K a t h r y n

gram, said the following about Xian: “No anti-trafficking activist anywhere has been more singly responsible in any U.S. state for a change in laws, provision of services to survivors and increasing awareness and education of this terrible human rights

of the causes in which Xian put her considerable energy. She brought together politicians and religious leaders to address the harm caused to LGBT youth by homophobic churches, and her efforts have once again led to positive change.

“If we think and act as though we are second-class citizens, oppression wins” violation. Her range of skills, her commitment to the cause and her ability to communicate have made Hawai’i a much tougher place for pimps and traffickers, and a much better place for their victims.” Human trafficking is, but one

Her secret weapon? Not a weapon at all, but a deepseated compassion taken from the Gospels. For Xian, “Love your enemy” is a workable tactic, one that does not defeat an opponent, but rather wins over a friend. In order to do further positive change, Xian

X i a n

is running for U.S. House of Representatives for District One in 2014. She granted eXpression! an exclusive interview, giving us a glimpse of the woman who is willing to take on the dirty game of politics, so that she can better implement a lifelong dedication to the common good. General background. How did your family react to your coming out? Most of my family has been very accepting of my identity. Some are not, but that doesn’t exclude them from being family. So many people in the LGBT community have families that do not support them. Part of the reason I am running for Congress is to provide an ex-

ample that it is entirely possible to be gay and be happy, and accomplish great things. If we think and act as though we are second-class citizens, oppression wins. Your work dealing with human trafficking got you support from churches and both sides of the aisle. Will you be able to bring unity despite the chasms that divide us? We have successfully passed laws with bipartisan support, and I will continue to establish this unity in every part of my work. I’ve spent over 10 years working with lawmakers, law enforcement, and the general public to raise awareness about modern-day slavery in Hawai’i and enact public policy changes

// November 2013 | 17


politics

K a t h r y n

X i a n

to address that issue. When I began my anti-human trafficking work, the opposition I encountered was overwhelming. Yet I’ve turned opponents into stalwart allies through education and collaboration. After successfully working on human trafficking legislation, I welcome the challenge that other issues would present.

contrary to the message of the Gospel. Scripture and spirituality are powerful healing forces. Unfortunately, they can also be used to oppress and condemn. The choice to do either, is in our hands. It is not God’s will to condemn anyone based on sexual identity, just as it was not his will to condone slavery. Yet, people have used their own interpretation of decontextualized scripture to justify such oppression in God’s name. That is a tragedy of modern spirituality.

You made the statement, “I don’t see it [the struggle for LGBT equality] as a war against homophobes.” Please explain. Our journey toward recognizing same-sex marriage is not a war against homophobes. Rather, marriage equality provides an opportunity for open dialogue about the implications and root causes of religion-based oppression.

The field in which you are running - how will you position yourself in the pack? I am a policymaker, not a politician. There’s a difference. Hawai’i doesn’t need more politicians.

I have found that many who staunchly oppose equality for members of the LGBT community are driven by unaddressed personal pain. As a Christian, I believe that God encourages us to seek the truth. Challenging times such as this provide an opportunity to see people’s true colors. In the end, truth and justice will prevail. So those in pain perpetuate a cycle of suffering. Tell us about one of your key concepts: spiritual wounding.

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Spiritual wounding, is what happens when religious groups or individuals use scripture out of context, to justify discrimination against certain members of our community. This has happened

throughout history to justify slavery, racial segregation, class oppression and homophobia. Discriminating against individuals based on their sexual identity is

I am the only candidate whose most recent experience extends beyond the political establishment. At the same time, I’ve spent years crafting public policy. I believe in political solutions that put people first: Like ending discrimination against gay couples trying to adopt and lightening the burden of rising gas prices on Hawai’i residents by increasing tax credits for clean energy upgrades. We think outside of the box and focus on helping people overcome the challenges of everyday life.


Entertainment

>> YouTube sensation talks Steve Grand, being a heartthrob and his gay competition YouTube’s been good to Eli Lieb. The Iowa-born, boyishly handsome musician, who has amassed a faithful following with his own distinctive twist on radio songs, recently dropped his new intoxicating pop single, “Young Love.” It’s sweet, liberating, and it features two lovers who just happen to be men (who happen to be cute, and who also happen to kiss). The video premiered just days after “AllAmerican Boy,” in which out country-music hunk Steve Grand falls for a straight boy, became a viral hit. The two, however, couldn’t be more different. In this chat with Lieb, he opens up and how happiness was the key to his success. How did you learn to sing? Singing was always something that came naturally to me. I started when I was 12, and that’s when I was in my first musical theater show when I first discovered singing.

// November 2013 | 19


Ente rtainment

At 16 you picked up a guitar for the first time. What was the first song you learned to play? I don’t remember the first song, but I know it was an Ani DiFranco song. At that age I learned guitar by listening to her songs. I don’t know how to read music. I never could learn. I don’t know any chord names, but if I can hear something, I can learn how to play it. Why did you decide to move back home to Iowa after living in New York for so many years? My decision to move back didn’t have anything to do with my career. I reached this point where I’d been in New York for 11 years and I just wasn’t super happy there. Every time I went home to Iowa, I was just beyond happy. I told myself that if I went to Iowa, I wouldn’t be able to have a career. I let go of the fear and went back and became so happy. Where would you be without YouTube? I have no idea. I’ve been making music since I was 16 and YouTube didn’t really become a huge platform until the last few years. I would’ve found another way of doing it, but thank God for YouTube and the internet because it’s so much more accessible. Now YouTube is a massive machine and everybody is trying to make it their stage. Would you consider reality TV shows like American Idol? I’m never closed off to anything. If it’s something that feels right, I’ll go for it. If it’s something that doesn’t feel right, no matter what it is, I won’t do it.

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I don’t get how you haven’t been signed to a major record label yet. How has that not happened? [Laughs] I can’t answer that. What’s going on with the sophomore album? A lot of stuff in my life right now is changing for the positive careerwise. I recently moved to L.A. and I’m doing a lot. There’s a lot of change happening. I’m never gonna stop making music, that’s for sure. But I can’t be like, “My next album is coming out in a couple of months,” you know? But I’m making music everyday - let’s just say that. It sounds like things are in the works that you can’t talk about right now. [Laughs] Yeah. Why more of an acoustic approach to the upcoming album? I’m writing a lot on guitar. It doesn’t mean the songs will end up on guitar, but my first album was experimenting with sound and learning to use all the programs. Now I’m more into the swing of things and my writing has changed a lot in terms of the music that I release. Now it’s pop music, which I love. I love a straight-up pop song. And that’s definitely my sensibility. It’s just the evolution of me as an artist. After hearing “Young Love,” I have the sense you’re inspired by ’80s music and Taylor Swift. Yeah, it’s funny the way that I write music... I just don’t sit down and


Entertainment

listen to stuff that’s going on, so a lot of times I think there’s a lot of energy in the air and ideas keep passing through. If a song I write sounds like something, it’s a coincidence, I guess. Was it a coincidence too, that “Young Love” was released just days after Steve Grand’s “AllAmerican Boy,” or was that released in reaction to his video? I released this a week after his got released, and there’s no way I could’ve made that in a week. But people are accusing me of trying to ride his coattails. I’ve been planning this video for a long time so it’s the most bizarre coincidence. The even more bizarre, some of the shots in the videos are similar. That’s what blew my mind more. The reality is, it seems like a shocking thing when people release a video that has same-sex partners in it, but if you were to take away the firework scene or the car scene, it’s just the same as Rihanna and Adele putting out videos and both having love stories. But because it’s two guys, it seems like it’s trying to be the same thing. And not just two men ... two gay men. Does that change things? What I’ve noticed with the comparisons to Steve and I: When I set out to make this video, I specifically did not want it to have a “gay theme.” I just wanted to be authentic to who I am, and who I am is this very comfortable human being in my own skin. My sexuality is just one part of who I am. It’s not something I focus on and I definitely don’t want to make it a big deal. So, when I was going to shoot this video, I knew it had to have a love interest, and it just was not an option to me to not have a guy. I also wanted to shoot it in a way that was no different than any other video, where you just feel the love rather than being hit over the head with an agenda or a point of view. I find a lot of gay stuff does have sort of a gay theme to it, which isn’t bad – I just didn’t want to do that. And Steve’s story is a different story than mine. I guess I can say that we have different points of view, we’re at different places in our lives, and different people respond to different things. Some people, who are very free in their love and who they are, might relate to mine more because they see it as a celebration – about not having to hide who you are. But then there’s other people who might be struggling more and aren’t at that place in their life. They still feel

that struggle and seeing Grand’s version, they can relate to that more. Obviously there’s something in the air if he and I both release a video this close to each other with, I almost don’t want to say, similar content. It’s just our people speaking out for who they are and showing who they are in the world, regardless of where they are in their life. I’m very happy to be able to show my story and the lack of fear with who I am. I feel very fulfilled that I can help people feel better about themselves. As an openly gay man, I definitely want to represent the community in a positive way. Are you at all bothered by comparisons between not just you and Steve Grand, but with other gay artists? That’s something you get used to and understand. I actually have been really happy about the response to the video. Most people are saying it’s not grouped into this “gay” category. It’s just a video about people in love. Has being out affected your career in either direction? I think being independent and calling my own shots has helped. When you’re being your authentic self and you are free with who you are, you will gravitate an audience. There’s a big part of the gay community who admires your music as much as your looks. Have you thought about yourself as a heartthrob in the community? And how do you deal with that flattery and attention? Oh man, I don’t even know how to answer that. [Laughs] We all are human beings, we all have our insecurities, and people see you in a different way than you see yourself. But I don’t think of myself as a heartthrob. I don’t really know how to answer that question. It’s a really difficult one. Because you have to talk about how good you look? And it’s arrogant. There’s a very common misconception about me. People think I’m standoffish, but I’m not. I’m just shy. I am a super grounded, down-to-earth person. Nobody sees themselves as other people see them. I don’t know anybody who does. And if they do, a lot of times they’re a person you don’t want to be around. [Laughs]

// November 2013 | 21


Community

By Mickey Weems

Why They

The LGBT community has been all a-flutter about various media stunts done in its name, such as the boycotts of Russian vodka, Chic fil-A, Salvation Army and Barilla pasta. But not everyone agrees that boycotts are the way to go. In one corner, we have hardcore activists who go crazy when somebody issues a homophobic statement. Opposing them, are the jaded gay pundits who mock the activists. Boycotts are silly – say the pundits – boycotts are worthless and, worst of all: tacky. Both sides contribute to LGBT rights. As they bicker, they draw attention to the haters. It is important to look at the efforts of anti-gay activists as well. Some of them call for boycotts of LGBT-friendly businesses, while others support homophobic businesses being boycotted, as in the case of Chic fil-A. In every situation, pro-gay, anti-gay, or jaded-gay: we win. When Unions Became Civil The pro-LGBT boycott movement began in 1977 when gay businesses joined the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) trade union for a boycott of Coors Brewing Company. The bad press for Coors resulted in a dramatic change in Coors’ treatment of its employees and eventually inspired the company to change its image from gay-foe to gay-friendly. But we could not have done it alone, not yet. In 1977, gay-bash-

ing was perfectly acceptable in the eyes of many Americans. The Coors boycott only worked because LGBT activists worked with labor unions, a partnership that has been more recently replicated here in Hawai’i with unions such as Local 5. And those partnerships are only possible because in 1969, gay people fought back in the Stonewall Rebellion and made headlines in newspapers around the world.

Attempts before the Coors boycott to form partnerships with straight organizations were largely unsuccessful: Homophobia was too strong and the voices of gay folk were too weak. An alliance with us was considered harmful to the potential partner’s cause. But Stonewall showed unions that gay people could draw serious attention, so they began to treat us as allies. Straight Does Not Mean Narrow It’s all about media. Homophobia can only thrive when straight people cannot hear us. As Gay Liberation became louder, more straights proudly identified with their LGBT sisters and brothers. Our causes became theirs, and they voted with their wallets. The threat of losing the Pink Dollar is not what makes boycotts effective. LGBT buying power does not, by itself, carries that much economic clout. Rather, negative media coverage that everyone, gay and straight can see, is the crucial factor. Corporations are addicted to advertising with a fervor approaching superstition. That same addiction however, makes them react with

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panic at the possibility of bad press, which is seen as advertising gone terribly wrong. Even the long lines of conservatives flocking to Chic fil-A in support of the company did the fast food chain more harm than good. Large groups of ignorant haters in the news did nothing but call more attention to the ignorance and hate. Many straight people have grown weary of bigots equating heterosexuality with homophobia. Companies began to realize this in earnest after Proposition 8 in California (defining marriage as exclusively between one woman and one man) struck down marriage equality in that state. Among the corporations that took notice was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Despite a recent statement from its sainted president against same-sex marriage, the Mormons have launched a PR program to mitigate the damage done to their brand, as have Stolichnaya, Barilla and Salvation Army.

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Even Francis I, CEO of the Roman Catholic Church has gone into damage control mode and opened dialogue with the LGBT community. Whether or not Francis does so out of true compassion is inconsequential. The result of his good will is good for the gays because he is no longer scapegoating us to distract the public from the spectacle of abusive priests. As long as boycotts, anti-boycotts, catty gays and loudmouth bigots keep us in the public eye: we will continue to move forward.

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From Farm Boy to Woman of Consequence “That was me living in my shadow,” said present-day Ari about the Andy of her past life. We sat in the atelier’s much-reduced guest area in the company of her many Buddhist images. “When I began in Season 8, I was a Wai’anae farm boy.”

The Buddha teaches us that impermanence is an immutable characteristic in this world. Rarely do people see such rapid outward change in the course of so few years as Ari South. Since Season 8, she has transformed into so many things: her journey from man to woman is just one of them.

It was Season 8 that presaged the woman she is today. At the start of the series, South’s clothes had a whip-and-leather S&M sensibility. By the time South showed the collection at Fashion Week, clothes and self became more feminine, softer. “I did not consciously try to change,” Ari said. Looking back however, that movement in her life became apparent as each episode unfolded. “I remember seeing glimpses of my female self in the mirror while I got ready as Andy. That is really how I knew what I had to do.”

No longer is she the starving artist that typifies a Project Runway contestant: “I was able to take my third place success [in Season 8] and turn it into a first place win.” As an established businesswoman as well as designer, South is making a place for herself in the history of Hawai’i fashion. It was no accident that she was chosen to create a line inspired by internationally acclaimed designer, Alfred Shaheen during the gala opening of an exhibition dedicated to his work at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum last November.


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Back to Project Runway There was really no need for South to do it. Surely she had enough to do at home. But she did it anyway. South packed her bags and headed for Manhattan once more, leaving behind the comfort and prestige of her position in Honolulu to become one of many contestants in the Project Runway: All-Stars series, this time with the poise and confidence of a seasoned professional. “It’s like jumping back into the sandbox,” she said, using the humbling image of becoming a child again to describe how she felt in Season 8. “I often refer to the competition as a sandbox because generally, we were all young, new designers who have never had any experience like Project Runway before. This time [All-Stars], it was like going back to play a game.” Her other metaphor for that first experience is circus. The stakes, of course are not the same as the regular Project Runway. Many of the most

beloved personalities, including Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, are not part of All-Stars. “Without Tim Gunn, it is not the same show.” But there was one thing that pleased her to no end, and that was the general attitude concerning her trans status: “I was happy that they treated me with respect,” she said. A simple statement that encompasses a lifetime of doubts, anxiety and finally acceptance. This time having her identity positively recognized on national television by some of the most respected people in the design world. Coming Home Although she loves NYC and was glad to be there again, there was no way she would swap it for Honolulu. “Living in New York City is like constantly being rubbed with sandpaper.”

Even the less abrasive grit of town can be a bit much for South. The island of O’ahu has one significant advantage over Manhattan island besides weather and beaches: town is just minutes away from country. “I always miss the country. It is the only place I feel completely safe and peaceful. It is a great reminder that all we really need is healthy land and open air to be happy... forgetting that, is forgetting who I am, and where I have come from.” In less than an hour (traffic permitting), she can return to Wai’anae if she needs a breather. “I can always go back,” she said, naming one thing in her roller-coaster life that has not changed. Stay tuned! Ari has promised eXpression! an insider scoop on Season 3 of All-Stars, once all the episodes have aired.

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government said that, ‘yes, gays and lesbians are not valued as a social group.’” Kochetkov described the law as “an action to terrorize the entire LGBT community.” This nightmare could have never come true had it not been for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signature. But not only did Putin sign it, he also had the audacity to claim that gays are not discriminated against in Russia. According to the Associated Press, Putin claimed only “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors” was banned under the law. There is “no infringement on the rights of sexual minorities,” he said. Tell that to the young gay man kidnapped and raped with a bottle after being tricked into a meeting on a gay social media site. Tell that to Dmitry Isakov, a 24year-old man arrested for standing outside with a sign that read, “Being gay and loving gays is normal. Beating gays and killing gays is a crime!” Tell that to the 17 activists arrested in St. Petersburg, the proving ground for the law that became nationwide in late June, for wear-

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ing rainbow suspenders and waving rainbow flags last year. Tell that to the parents in Russia who risk having their children taken away, should Putin sign a bill currently advancing in the parliament. If the bill passes, LGBT people would have their parental rights terminated just for being gay. Russian journalist and lesbian activist Masha Gessen recently fled the country in order to protect her family. She doesn’t trust Putin one bit and she’s been watching him closely for years. Her advice to LGBT people is to “get the hell out” of Russia. “Historically this kind of scapegoating is used by politicians to solidify their bases and draw attention away from their failing policies, and no doubt this is what’s happening in Russia,” wrote Harvey Fierstein in a July 21 op-ed in the New York Times. “Mr. Putin’s campaign... is one of distraction, a strategy of demonizing a minority for political gain taken straight from the Nazi playbook.” Comparing anyone to Hitler is usually ridiculous, but Putin is truly a dangerous man. It’s not hard to imagine him with a small rectangular mustache under his nose.


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been in a church-wide discernment process about how we live out that resolution. Some congregations and their clergy have welcomed same-sex couples and offered liturgical blessings of their relationships, and some dioceses including Hawai’i, have developed guidelines for such blessings. Unlike other Christian leaders, you don’t have a problem with different religious points of view. I come from a Christian tradition that values scripture, tradition and reason. I try to express in a positive way that I value the scripture as central narrative of the Christian faith. But that faith is lived through history in the tradition of the church, and that faith must be reinterpreted and lived through reason: the learning and experience of the current age. It is a lively conversation grounded in prayer and mutual respect. So how do we deal with those who hate and refuse to talk with us as equals? Don’t they deserve a good scolding? I recognize many don’t want to even enter into such a conversation. What we can do is continue to engage with those with whom we disagree: Make connections on the personal level, work together where possible for justice and the care of the rejected, but certainly never sacrifice care

and inclusion of our brothers and sisters for the sake of the conversation. I am serious here – pray for those with whom we disagree, but especially for those who are the most angry and hate-filled. I think the essence of the Christian faith is the experience of the love of God. In prayer, we seek to hold the other in that love.

The King and Queen dedicated their marriage to serving the health, educational and spiritual needs of their people. To these ends they founded The Queen’s Hospital (now The Queen’s Medical Center), several schools, including St. Andrew’s Priory School for Girls and St. Alban’s School (‘Iolani School), and were instrumental in bringing the Anglican Church to the islands to provide access to a form of Christian spirituality that the King felt was eminently suited to

“Faith is lived through history in the tradition of the church, and that faith must be reinterpreted and lived through reason: the learning and experience of the current age.” The Anglican Church has its roots here in the islands since at least Kamehameha IV. How do these roots affect your ministry? As Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Hawai’i, I walk in the path prepared by King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma as the shepherd and pastor of the only Christian Church invited into these islands by a king. I have on my desk a quote from Queen Emma: “Our beloved church regards her children as having bodies as well as souls to be cared for, and sanctions the consecration of these and all that is beautiful in nature and art to the service of God...”

the character and temperament of his people. In recognition and commemoration of these deeds, the Episcopal Church of the United States honors King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma throughout the church on November 28, the anniversary of their Confirmation in 1862. What does it mean to be a leader? We need leadership that embodies another value I am beginning to understand as important to the first people of these islands – “Ka la hiki ola.” We are called to look to “the dawning of a new day.” The courage it took the Polynesians to sail into unknown waters guided by the stars, the

clouds, the seas and the rising sun is needed today as well. By the gift of love and with guidance of God, we can live together with respect, dignity, honor, justice and peace. Such a world is possible. Some would say, that peaceful coexistence is just a trap that leads people away from the truth of Christianity. Bishop Fitzpatrick, what do you say? We can forgive and honor one another without denying our own faith and identity. We can be reconciled for the welfare of our children. I think we can affirm the words composed by Queen Lili‘uokalani, on March 22, 1895 when she was under house arrest in ‘Iolani Palace after the illegal, unjust and immoral overthrow of her government. In her “Queen’s Prayer,” this noble Queen who was confirmed in the Cathedral of St. Andrew and sat, I am told, in a pew under the pulpit, offering words of forgiveness and trust in God: Your loving mercy Is as high as Heaven And your truth so perfect I live in sorrow imprisoned You are my light Your glory, my support Behold not with malevolence The sins of man But forgive and cleanse And so, o Lord protect us beneath your wings And let peace be our portion Now and forever more.

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