Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 2, January 26, 2018

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Top Row: (L-R) Stuart Garvey, Max Alrez, Marc Carter, Jon Davidson, Stuart O’keeffe, Marco Peliusi, Kit Winter, Patrick Jensen, Deb Hughes, Brad Lamm, Anthony Vulin, Bottom Row: (L-R) Erika Partida, Ximena Martinez, Laraysha Harmon, Oscar Casas, Jose Ramos, 6. Shane Ivan Nash, 7. Enrique Hernandez 8. Barry Bowman, 9. Roxy Wood, 10. Amiya Wil. Photo by Jon Viscott.

J A N U A R Y 2 6 2 0 1 8 • V O LU M E 0 2 • I S S U E 0 2 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M


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LA Women’s March draws more than 600,000 #WMLA2018 emphasizes women of color By REBEKAH SAGER This year’s second annual Women’s March in Los Angeles on Jan. 20 brought together more than 600,000 people to demonstrate against President Donald Trump and his policies and rouse enthusiasm for the 2018 midterm elections in November. But if last year’s march was an effort to rally hope and resistance in the face of shock and despair after the election, this year’s march used Trump’s one-year anniversary to include a diversity of other issues such as the intersectional #MeToo and #TimesUp movements — the explosive and moving grassroots efforts this past year to fight back against workplace sexual harassment and sexual abuse, as well as against the administration’s reversal of Obama-era progressive policies. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, a leader in the “sanctuary cities” movement, gave a spirited speech that included a personal nod as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve toward the city’s transgender community. “Our president tried to shut down our military to patriots who are transgender. And I, as a proud service member, and with so many of you—and we said, ‘no,’ and started the first big city transgender advisory commission in the history of the U.S.,” Garcetti said. “While our so-called ‘leader’ denied science, we marched for it. When he got out of Paris, we didn’t cry in the corner. We picked up the phone and LA pledged to implement the Paris Climate Accord along with 391 other cities [that] followed suit.” Since Trump announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on March 5, immigration advocates have been fighting to at least extend DACA’s protection of DREAMers, undocumented immigrants brought to America as young children, even as congressional Republicans argue to end so-called “chain migration,” which has for decades been the U.S. policy of family reunification. “Last year I asked you to stand with us because we knew harm was coming, and you did. You stood up with us at the airports with the Muslim ban. You spoke up against

Viola Davis speaks onstage at 2018 Women’s March Los Angeles at Pershing Square on January 20. Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images for The Women’s March Los Angeles

ICE raids and deportations. And now you’re standing with these beautiful power immigrant women fighting for the DREAM Act,” said Angelica Salas, Executive Director for Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and a strong LGBT ally. Actors Constance Wu, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson focused their speeches on the tidal wave of anger over harassment and sexual assault bursting on the shores of silence. Portman cited her experience of being a young girl, coming into her womanhood while working in her first major film role in “The Professional.” “I understood very quickly, even as a 13-year-old, that if I were to express myself sexually, I would feel unsafe. And that men would feel justified to discuss and objectify my body, to my great discomfort,” Portman said. “If you didn’t try to do bitch-ass things to us, then we wouldn’t have to be bitches back to you,” Wu said bluntly.

Scarlett Johansson said the Women’s March and movement gives her hope that the country is moving toward a place where a woman’s sense of equality can truly come from within. Many marchers and speakers talked about the powerful role played by black women in the defeat of anti-LGBT Republican extremist Judge Roy Moore in Alabama’s special Senate election last December. And not all of the messages were easy to hear. Dr. Melina Abdullah, professor and chair of Pan-African Studies at Cal State LA and an activist with the Black Lives Matter movement, used her speech to call out white people for electing Trump. “Last year we were all in shock that white folks—and I’m putting it on your shoulders, white folks—elected a raving, white supremacist, misogynist, capitalist, heterosexist fool in the damn White House. So it’s on you to fix this shit! Today, we are here because we have power. Despite the

fact that he currently occupies the White House, we are winning. We are winning because of black women!” Abdullah said. The Los Angeles Blade interviewed several women at the event who underscored the unsung power and under-appreciation of black women, especially in the Democratic Party. “I’m out representing black women who didn’t come to the march because they felt alienated last year,” said one marcher. “I feel we’re excluded from the conversation when it comes to feminism. When it comes to politics and race relations, we are left to stand on our own.” A white woman, holding a sign that read “Black Women Saved America from Roy Moore, Now Vote Them Into Office,” said she was marching to thank black women for their service. “I’m very grateful for all the AfricanAmerican women who are organized and CONTINUES ON PAGE 06

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Celebs, politicos rally crowd at second Women’s March CONTINUED FROM PAGE 04 came out saved us from Roy Moore. I find that my black sisters do a lot of the heavy lifting in the Democratic Party and I wanted to say thank you and I appreciate it.” But Trump’s election was also a jarring awakening, too. An African-American woman in her early 20s admitted to the Los Angeles Blade that she didn’t vote in the presidential election last year and now regrets it. She pledged to vote in this year’s midterms, her first time voting. Actors Eva Longoria, Alfre Woodard and Viola Davis took to the stage to inspire those at the march to increase turnout in the midterm elections in the Women’s March theme #powertothepolls. All 435 seats in the House and 33 of 100 seats in the Senate are up in the Nov. 6, 2018 election. Political gerrymandering suggests a number of elected officials are safe but there is a chance Democrats can win back control of Congress to put a check on Trump’s destructive policies. “You will decide who fills these positions. Your vote is the most powerful tool you have to decide what kind of community you want to be a part of. Don’t forget, there are a lot of people in this country who won’t get that say, like the DREAMers…and your vote will determine policies that will impact their lives too,” Longoria said. “If you want to be a voice for those who don’t have one – vote.” Alfre Woodard insisted action is needed now. “We can’t wait until October. We know what happens when we sit one out,” she said. “Old folks in the South used to say, ‘freedom ain’t free. It’s got to be fought for and protected every day.’ Those who are against equality and justice for all are committed 24/7 to chipping away at our laws, revoking protections that have been paid for in blood by the people who stood before us. We have to reach out to our sisters who wear red baseball caps. This is also about their rights and protections. Women together can stop this slide to the bottom.” Viola Davis talked about her own #MeToo sexual assault story and that’s her motivation to vote. “I’m always introduced as an awardwinning actor. But my testimony is one of poverty; my testimony is one of being sexually assaulted and seeing a childhood

(L-R) Rowan Blanchard, Alfre Woodard and Jurnee Smollett-Bell speak onstage at 2018 Women’s March Los Angeles at Pershing Square on January 20 Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images for The Women’s March Los Angeles

robbed from me. I know that every single day when I think of that—the trauma of those events are with me today and that’s what drives me to the voting booth,” she said. “We have to bring everyone with us. My hope for the future is that we never go back. That’s not just about clapping your hands and screaming every time someone says something that sounds good, but about keeping it rolling once you go home.” Lori Jean, CEO of the LA LGBT Center, also gave a powerful speech, stressing the power of continuity in action. “We are here today marching for women’s lives. Marching for our country and our world,” she said. “We are marching for truth and integrity and treating our fellow human beings with dignity and respect. We have spent the last year enduring and resisting the leadership of those who do not believe in truth and compassion; who do not understand that a strong nation requires liberty and justice for all. “So we march again,” Jean said. “We must vote regardless of party; we must vote our values. Until we see the change we need in Washington, it is our duty, our obligation to do much more than simply hunker down and weather the storm. We must be the storm! We can be the storm. Be the storm!”

Marchers at 2018 Women’s March Los Angeles. Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images for The Women’s March Los Angeles



Improving the lives of LGBTQ youth across LA

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl with foster kids and staff at a Board of Supervisors meeting. Photo Courtesy of Office of LA County Supervisor Sheila Keuhl

County supervisors OK effort to provide better services to fight discrimination By DAWN ENNIS LGBT youth living in Los Angeles County who are traumatized by rejection and mistreatment because of who they are will benefit from stepped-up services to address their unique challenges, according to a new plan approved 5-0 by the board of supervisors. “There are approximately 1,400 young people who self-identify as LGBTQ in our child welfare system,” Sheila Kuehl, the first out LGBT person to serve as board chair of the LA County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement. “Often these children have been doubly disadvantaged by bigotry and ignorance as well as neglect and abuse.” Last week’s unanimous vote greenlights a motion that its proponents say will “lay the groundwork” to better provide for the needs of LGBTQ youth, according to Kuehl, who represents the 3rd district that includes West Hollywood. And it’s not just physical violence that’s

the problem, according to Kuehl, who was lead author of the motion. Verbal harassment, imposition of personal beliefs, and denial of services on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression also need to be addressed, she wrote. “While we have made some deeply positive gains in achieving equality for LGBTQ people, LGBTQ youth – especially those in the child welfare or probation systems – still face discrimination, bullying, violence, and ignorance from people in their lives,” said Hilda Solis, the 1st district co-author of the motion. Kuehl said she expects that after an assessment by agencies that include the Department of Children and Family Services, the next step will be to develop what she termed “tailored services delivered by well-trained and culturally competent staff, and identification of supportive, affirming caretakers.” The motion calls for a review of existing services, programs and training and recommendations to improve those systems as well as review innovations in this field. In addition, a report is to be commissioned that examines foster family recruitment and

family finding efforts. Right now nearly one in five foster youth in Los Angeles County identify as LGBTQ, according to the board, which they say is a much higher percentage compared to the rest of the U.S. While these children and teens wind up needing social services for many of the same reasons as non-LGBTQ youth, such as abuse, neglect and suffering because of one or more parents abusing substances, they carry the added burden of bigotry, bullying and discrimination. Their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression makes them additionally vulnerable, and the board’s effort is to target those youth directly. “(The) motion will ensure the delivery of more sensitive and supportive services to this population of young people,” Solis said, “who both deserve and need affirming care to help them thrive.” In addition to DCFS, the Probation Department, Departments of Mental Health, Public Health and Health Services are now directed by the board to report back in 90 days with an inventory of their current methods that directly assist LGBTQ youth, including those in the welfare and juvenile

justice systems as well as the county’s young homeless population. The agencies are also tasked to provide relevant statistics on the LGBTQ population they serve and recommendations to improve data collection. Also of note, the motion calls for suggestions on how to add specialized recruitment efforts that until now haven’t been either considered or utilized, and recommendations for improving existing recruitment and searches for foster families. Housing issues will also be examined. The bottom line, according to the board, is to find new and better ways to support these agencies’ staff, their contractors, the relative caregivers, and foster families who work to combat LGBTQ discrimination and the harassment of young people. “All the young people in our foster care system face incredible challenges,” said Kuehl, “but the nearly 20 percent who identify as LGBTQ are in great need of targeted support to ensure they’re properly cared for, valued and respected.” Visit Kuehl’s Facebook page to see a video of young people testifying before the LA County Board of Supervisors.



Karger: LGBT people should reach out to Trump

Fred Karger says he’s ‘entertained’ by Trump. Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb

Gay Republican says president is not homophobic By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Real estate developer and Reality TV star Donald Trump “did a hostile takeover of the Republican Party” and, says gay political activist Fred Karger, the LGBT community should find a way to deal with him as president of the United States. “Donald Trump is the greatest selfpromoter in the history of the universe,” Karger, a self-described Establishment Republican, half-jokingly tells the Los Angeles Blade. “He’s a salesman. And he loves 11th hour drama—that’s what he did for 11 years on ‘The Apprentice.’ TV gave him moxie and turned him into a big celebrity. He’s masterful. He would not be president if it wasn’t for those 11 years.” And while Karger knows it sounds “crazy and embarrassing,” he is “entertained” by Trump. “I don’t take him that seriously,” he says. “I know he’s president. But he’s Donald Trump first,” a political P.T. Barnum. “We’re living a reality show. He is the star of this reality show and the world is all now participating.” Karger explains that not all LGBT people absolutely abhor Trump, a point Democrats and “never-Trump” activists should note. “I’m a fighter and a rabble-rouser and

I love taking on the establishment,” says Karger. “So I admire him. I don’t like him. I’d much rather have Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan—a president that fights and does things but still treats the office with respect and who people respect. But that’s not Donald Trump.” Karger admires Trump’s ability to get elected when no one thought he had a chance and surviving scandals that would have sent any other politician packing. “I know it’s scary but you have to hand it to him. Everything is upside down,” Karger says. “It’s a unique situation. Good thing we have term limits.” Karger is not unhappy with Trump’s “mine is bigger than yours” twitter contest with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un over nuclear weapons. “I like some of the crazy foreign policy like the war of words with that guy because he’s playing his own game,” says Karger, noting that North and South Korea are now talking and even teaming up for the Olympics. “I’m the establishment. But I think in some of these situations, like North Korea, we’ve tried negotiating, we’ve tried usual back channel approaches and nothing’s worked. Who knows—it could backfire. But I think Trump has a unique approach to this where people are afraid of him because he is very unpredictable,” he says. Though he didn’t vote for Trump, Karger has accepted the results. “I resolved in my

own mind the fact that Donald Trump is president and it’s going to be a wild ride. We just have to hold on tight and see what happens and hope for the best,” he says. “As far as the LGBT community goes,” Karger continues, “I thought resistance was a mistake, initially. Now we’re a year later— and we’ve dodged several bullets: what he could have done; what [anti-LGBT Vice President Mike] Pence would do or what [anti-LGBT Texas Republican Sen.] Ted Cruz could do, if either of them were president. “But I think there should be an outreach,” Karger continues. “I know Log Cabin does it but it’s a very small organization and even they didn’t endorse him. So we need a couple of people in the game. That’s just smart politics. The Human Rights Campaign needs to step up. They need build a bridge so we won’t be another Trump victim.” And, Karger stresses, “Trump’s certainly not homophobic. Some other charges might be true. But this is a guy who’s owned three beauty pageants, which are made up of gay men and women. He’s a New York social guy with gay friends. I know some. That’s the world he’s lived in. He’s not homophobic and so that is a plus for the LGBT community,” Karger says. “We need to work with this president because he’s there. He’s not Obama, he’s not Bill Clinton, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. But he’s also not Mike Pence.” Karger, a former Republican political operative, notes that if Democrats win back

Congress in 2018, “it’s trouble for Trump” who is trying to bully House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell into essentially working for him. “It’s less ideological. It’s more about getting his way,” Karger says. In fact, Trump has taken bullying to new heights so now everyone from Cabinet members to corporate CEOs are “afraid to cross him. They are afraid that if they stand up, they’ll get smashed in Trump style— total humiliation,” Karger says. “And then he’s able to mend fences.” Despite the applause former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney received for briefly speaking out against Trump, don’t expect Romney to have a backbone and be the GOP “savior” who rescues the country, says Karger, who ran against Romney for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. “There’s zero chance of that. Knowing Romney, he just doesn’t have the gumption. He took Trump on a couple times—but as soon as Trump fires back, he cowers,” Karger says. “Romney will tow the line. He doesn’t want to be targeted by Trump or [white nationalist Steve] Bannon. He’s going to roll over,” if he’s elected to the Senate from Utah, as expected. What is not entertaining about Trump’s presidency—and Karger’s greatest fear—is the president’s orders to the military and law enforcement should the “tinder box” country “blow up,” an ugly reality on every TV.

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Mytesi (crofelemer): • Is the only medicine FDA-approved to relieve diarrhea in people with HIV • Treats diarrhea differently by normalizing the flow of water in the GI tract • Has the same or fewer side effects as placebo in clinical studies • Comes from a tree sustainably harvested in the Amazon Rainforest What is Mytesi? Mytesi is a prescription medicine that helps relieve symptoms of diarrhea not caused by an infection (noninfectious) in adults living with HIV/AIDS on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Important Safety Information Mytesi is not approved to treat infectious diarrhea (diarrhea caused by bacteria, a virus, or a parasite). Before starting you on Mytesi, your healthcare provider will first be sure that you do not have infectious diarrhea. Otherwise, there is a risk you would not receive the right medicine and your infection could get worse. In clinical studies, the most common side effects that occurred more often than with placebo were upper respiratory tract (sinus, nose, and throat) infection (5.7%), bronchitis (3.9%), cough (3.5%), flatulence (3.1%), and increased bilirubin (3.1%).

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• Upper respiratory tract infection (sinus, nose, and throat infection) • Bronchitis (swelling in the tubes that carry air to and from your lungs) • Cough • Flatulence (gas) • Increased bilirubin (a waste product when red blood cells break down) For a full list of side effects, please talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


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Classmate charged in Blaze Bernstein’s murder Orange County attack not designated as hate crime By JAMES MILLS The family of a murdered pre-med college student from Orange County believes he may have been the victim of a hate crime, though prosecutors did not include that charge in their announcement. The murder of Blaze Bernstein, 19, made national headlines after his body, with more than 20 stab wounds, was discovered in a shallow grave in a park in Lake Forest on Jan. 9, a week after he disappeared. Bernstein’s high school classmate, Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach, was arrested on Jan. 12 after DNA evidence found at the grave and in Woodward’s car linked him to the slaying. No murder weapon has been found. At a news conference, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced that Woodward is being charged with one count of felony murder with sentencing enhancement for “personal use of a knife.” If found guilty Woodward could face anywhere from 26 years to life in state prison. Woodward has not yet entered a plea. The arraignment was postponed to Feb. 2. Orange County District Attorney’s office spokesperson Michelle Van Der Linden told the Los Angeles Blade that Judge Sheila F. Hanson “granted the people’s request for no bail.” Woodward is being held at the Orange County jail. According to a search warrant affidavit, which the Orange County Register obtained before it was sealed, Woodward claimed that Bernstein tried to kiss him on the lips. During questioning, Woodward told investigators the kiss was unwanted and he pushed Bernstein away, according to the affidavit. Detectives noted that Woodward clenched his jaw and fists when recounting the incident, telling them he wanted to call Bernstein a “faggot” and tell him to get off him. Rackauckas has not filed any hate crime charges against Woodward, saying the case is still under investigation. The description in the affidavit suggests Woodward might want to use the disreputable “gay panic” defense, positing the killing as an act of rage as the result of the victim trying to kiss him.

Lincoln Woodward and Blaze Bernstein Photos via Facebook

“As we discover more in our investigation, or if anyone comes forward, we are always able to amend the charges to include a hate crime,” Van Der Linden told the Blade. Upon learning that the murder may have been an act of rage, the result of so-called “gay panic,” Equality California called for a thorough investigation. “We are saddened by the horrific loss of Blaze Bernstein, who lived his life as a proud member of the LGBTQ community. We extend our deepest condolences to his family,” said Rick Zbur, Equality California executive director in a statement. “We expect a thorough investigation into the claims that this was a hate crime motivated by ‘gay-panic.’” The “gay panic” defense was banned in California in 2014. Saying Bernstein and his family deserve justice, Equality California added: “We are horrified by the details emerging that this senseless act of violence may have been motivated by homophobic sentiments, and if this is in fact the case, we hope this hate crime is prosecuted at the full-extent of the law.” Although information indicating Bernstein was gay did not come out in initial reports, his parents appeared to confirm it once the Orange County Register reported the details of his death. “Our son was a beautiful, gentle soul

who we loved more than anything,” Gideon Bernstein and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein wrote in a blog posting. “We were proud of everything he did and who he was. He had nothing to hide. We are in solidarity with our son and the LGBTQ community.” They added that the investigation was continuing, writing, “There is still much discovery to be done and if it is determined that this was a hate crime, we will cry not only for our son, but for LGBTQ people everywhere that live in fear or who have been victims of hate crime.” Bernstein, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, was home for the winter break visiting his parents in Lake Forest. After arranging via Snapchat to meet for a late night visit, Woodward picked up Bernstein at approximately 11 p.m. on Jan. 2 and drove to the parking lot of a Lake Forest Hobby Lobby store, near Borrego Park. Bernstein’s parents reported him missing the next day when he missed a dental appointment and they found his wallet and glasses in his bedroom. His body was discovered a week later in Borrego Park in Lake Forest after rains exposed parts of the remains. Bernstein, who weighed 135 pounds, and Woodward, who weighs 185 pounds, both attended high school at the prestigious Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana.

Last summer, Bernstein indicated to friends via text messages that he thought Woodward was sexually interested in him, but that “he made me promise not to tell anyone.” Blood found on a sleeping bag in Woodward’s rental car matched that of Bernstein. Woodward’s hands and arms had scratches and abrasions and there was dirt under his fingernails. Woodward told investigators the scratches were from a “fight club” and the dirt came when he fell in a muddy puddle. Woodward told detectives Bernstein got out of the car after the attempted kiss and went to the nearby park. Woodward said he drove to see a girlfriend in Tustin, but could not tell investigators the girlfriend’s address or last name. Gideon Bernstein reported that his son was a pre-med student who intended to major in psychology and minor in chemistry. Blaze Bernstein had recently been named the managing editor of Penn Appétit, a student-run food magazine at the Ivy League university. More than 500 people attended Bernstein’s memorial service at a synagogue in Irvine. There, he was eulogized as a personable, sensitive and innovative young man with a passion for gourmet cooking and writing.


3 quotes that capture this moment’s zeitgeist Pioneers, CEOs and a book that shook a nation

Dr. Mathilde Krim with icon Harry Belafonte, 1960s Photo Courtesy amfAR

Dr. Mathilde Krim, a wealthy, straight, scientific researcher who co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research and devoted her life to fighting HIV/AIDS, died Jan. 15 at her home in Kings Point, N.Y. She was 91. AIDS activist Peter Staley called Krim “my greatest AIDS hero.” Often overlooked was her passion to fight for civil rights in the 1960s alongside her close friend, singer Harry Belafonte. Read more about Krim’s consequential life at losangelesblade.com.

u o y k n Tha g n i t o v r fo CONGREGATION KOL AMI

QUOTES “Right now, in a number of states, the laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month. It is wrong. It has to change.” — President Trump addressing the “March for Life” rally in D.C. via satellite Jan. 19

“As my buddy said, why would I hang out with a bunch of ladies and fags?” — LA Times CEO and publisher Ross Levinsohn on leaving a 2013 fashion show early, according to NPR.

“There are back doors? Oh, it’s a gay liaison!” — HBO “Real Time” TV host Bill Maher to “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff who intimated President Trump is having a secret affair in the White House.

Senate Bill 1 Offers Opportunities for California’s Small Businesses Senate Bill 1 (SB1) will provide $54 billion in transportation funding over the next 10 years for both state and local roads. This is an opportunity for small business participation on planning and public works projects with local and state transportation agencies. Caltrans is hosting workshops throughout the state on “How to Do Business with Caltrans”, “Prime Contracting”, and“Subcontracting” as well as hosting Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification workshops. Roughly $5.4 billion will be allocated annually for projects on the State Highway System, Local Roadway repair, State Bridges and Culverts, Active Transportation, Trade Corridor Enhancements, Congested Corridors, Local Planning Grants, Matching Funds and Public Transit. Small Business is Big Business for Caltrans Contracting. Don’t miss your chance to learn of bidding and certification opportunities. Follow this link for workshop information: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/bep/calendar2.htm and f or more information on SB1 – rebuildingca.ca.gov.



Record level of LGBT hate violence in 2017 Coalition denounces hostile climate in new report By DAWN ENNIS Never in its 22-year history has it been this dire, this dangerous, to be LGBT, says the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs in its latest report. On Monday, Jan. 22, the group released its annual national research report, detailing 52 cases in 2017 in which members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIVaffected communities were targeted and killed for who they were. The record number of LGBT hate violence homicides—the equivalent of one homicide of an LGBT individual for every week of last year—represents an 86 percent increase from 2016, according to the report. “A Crisis of Hate: Report on LGBTQ Hate Violence Homicides in 2017” squarely places the blame for the spike on what Anti-Violence Project executive director Beverly Tillery called “the escalation of violence” across America. “This report is a wake-up call for all of us,” said Tillery in a statement. “Our communities live in an increasingly hostile and dangerous climate, after a year of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies coming from the White House, federal government agencies, state and local sources and in our communities across the country.” The NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, a national coalition of local programs and affiliate organizations dedicated to creating systemic and social change. Among the findings: Transgender women and queer, bi, or gay cisgender men made up the overwhelming number of victims. Researchers noted a significant increase of reports of homicides of queer, bi, or gay cisgender men, from 4 reports in 2016, to 20 in 2017. Since 2012, NCAVP records show what the report called “a consistent and steadily rising number of reports of homicides of transgender women of color.” NCAVP collected information on 27 hateviolence related homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2017, compared to 19 reports for 2016; 22 were of transgender women of color, Of the total number of homicides in 2017, 71

Beverly Tillery, executive director of the Anti-Violence Project, addresses a crowd in New York City. Photo Courtesy of AVP

percent of the victims were people of color: 31 (60 percent) of the victims were Black 4 (8 percent) were Latinx 2 (4 percent) were Asian 1 (2 percent) was Native American Nearly 60 percent of the total number of homicides in 2017 involved guns, including three people who were shot and killed by police. Who were the victims who lost their lives because of hate in 2017? The report shows 67 percent of the victims were age 35 and under, and an equal number (32 percent) either knew their attacker or were killed by a stranger or someone who sought them out for sexual companionship. Violence for these victims comes in many forms, and is often intersectional. Recently, one woman thanked the endangered Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which so far has protected her from deportation, in giving her the strength to come out as a victim of sexual violence. She did so in a video tweet posted by the Human Rights Campaign on Jan. 19. “’It wasn’t until I had DACA that I felt human enough to walk into a police station and report my abuser.’ - Yuridia, a queer sexual violence survivor, credits DACA for bringing her out of the shadows,” the

HRC tweet says. “The stakes are too high. Congress must pass the #DreamActNow.” More than half of the 52 anti-LGBT homicides were committed in five states, with the majority in Texas (7) followed closely by New York State (6), Georgia (5) as well as Louisiana and Florida, with four each. Two victims were from California: Fresno and San Francisco, and both were cisgender men. Imer Alvarado was shot multiple times in Fresno last May. He was 34 and active in the drag community. Anthony “Bubbles” Torres was murdered in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district in September. The 44-year-old was known as an activist and gender nonconforming performer. Of the 22 transgender women of color named in the report, Mesha Caldwell was a 41-year-old beautician whose body was found along a dirt road in Canton, Miss. in January; the body of Ciara McElveen was discovered in February after being stabbed to death in New Orleans. She was 25. Both women were misgendered in the news media following their deaths. Savyon Zabar was a 54-year-old cisgender gay man who was well-known on the club scene and considered a leader in New York City’s gay Latinix community. He was found

strangled to death inside his Manhattan apartment a little more than a year ago; a man identified as a massage therapist was arrested and charged with his murder. And there are 47 more stories just like theirs. Since the report documents violence in 2017, it does not include the two trans murders so far in 2018, one of whom, young Viccky Gutierrez from Honduras, was found murdered in her Los Angeles apartment on Jan. 10. As suspect has been arrested in her case. The NCAVP report profiles each victim of hate violence homicide, featuring photographs and the stories of these 52 individuals lost to fatal, anti-LGBT crimes. “NCAVP will continue to say their names and re-commits to doing all we can to prevent hate violence and support survivors,” Tillery added. “We must bring more attention and action to deal with this epidemic of violence and work across all of our diverse communities to protect those most vulnerable and stand up to the hostile forces that have created this unacceptable climate of hate.” “The time for addressing this crisis of violence,” said Tillery, “is now.” Read the full report at https://avp.org/ Crisisofhate



America needs more LGBTQ mayors Local officials are on the front lines pushing equality

Annise Parker, former mayor of Houston, is president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, which trains LGBTQ leaders to run for office.

While the biggest news out of Washington the week of Jan. 22 will either be the government shutdown or the latest presidential tweet, a far more consequential event is unlikely to make major headlines. Mayors from across the nation will converge on the capital to work on critical issues affecting our nation: tackling the opioid epidemic, combating climate change or ending homelessness in our communities. These issues – more than any offensive nickname Donald Trump can come up with – is what will improve or hinder the lives of millions of Americans. It is the leadership of mayors, as well as their colleagues in local governments, that have the most significant impact on people’s everyday lives. Local government ensures roads are built and repaired, trash is collected, and that law enforcement is properly protecting communities. The winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors is an opportunity for mayors to exchange ideas and brainstorm solutions, knowing they are more accountable to constituents than any politician at the federal level. While all mayors have a broad array of responsibilities, LGBTQ mayors in particular take on additional duties – ensuring equality remains on the agenda and representing our community to the people they serve. When I became mayor of Houston in 2010, I heard from dozens of parents of LGBTQ children who were overwhelmed about my election. They may or may not

Annise Parker speaks at the 2012 Conference of Mayors for marriage equality. Blade File Photo By Michael Key

have agreed with all my policy positions, but my presence alone proved their children could pursue their dreams regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. They understood I would block attempts to harm our community, push forward pro-equality legislation and be a voice for the voiceless in a state that desperately needed it. Mayors have more impact on daily life than any other elected official. LGBTQ mayors are champions for equality, but their agendas are much broader. Javier Gonzales was one of the first mayors in the country to declare that Santa Fe will continue to protect its immigrants despite federal threats to withhold funding. Jenny Durkan created a program to provide two years of free community college to any high school graduate in Seattle – and did it less than 24 hours after taking office. And in Long Beach, Robert Garcia is championing the creation of a world-class rail system that can transform the region. These are bold leaders with bold ideas. And it was their ideas – not their sexual orientation or gender identity – that helped them win elected office in the first place. During my first two City Council campaigns, media outlets branded me the ‘lesbian candidate,’ focusing on my sexual orientation

at the expense of covering my vision for the city. Two losses were the result. Before my third campaign, I sat down with editors and explained their failure to report on my policy agenda despite regularly covering the issue positions of my opponents. The coverage changed, and so did the results. I won my next nine elections – three each for city council, city controller and mayor. With a constituent-focused agenda our people can win anywhere. Yet only 27 openly LGBTQ people are serving as mayor anywhere in the country. America needs more valuesdriven LGBTQ leaders who can advance equality and tackle the issues that matter to people’s lives. We need more LGBTQ people to run for office and be the change we want to see in America and the world. The first office held may not be as sexy as governor or as powerful as big city mayor – maybe it’s a neighborhood commission, school board or city council. But these positions are vital to improving the lives of people across the nation, and are the stepping-stones to positions in state legislatures, the governors’ mansions and the U.S. Senate. Are you ready to run? America and our community need you.

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Trump’s anti-LGBT first year It’s worse than you imagine By NATIONAL CENTER FOR TRANSGENDER EQUALITY President Trump’s first year in office culminated with a government shutdown on Jan. 19. Here’s a list of his anti-LGBT moves, compiled by the National Center for Transgender Equality: January 18, 2018: The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights opened a “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” that will promote discrimination by health care providers who can cite religious or moral reasons for denying care. December 14: Staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were instructed not to use the words “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “fetus,” “evidencebased,” and “science-based” in official documents. October 6: The Justice Department released a sweeping “license to discriminate” allowing federal agencies, government contractors, government grantees, and even private businesses to engage in illegal discrimination, as long as they can cite religious reasons for doing so. October 5: The Justice Department released a memo instructing Department of Justice attorneys to take the legal position that federal law does not protect transgender workers from discrimination. September 7: The Justice Department filed a legal brief on behalf of the United States in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing for a constitutional right for businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and, implicitly, gender identity. August 25: President Trump released a memo directing the Defense Department to move forward with developing a plan to discharge transgender military service members and to maintain a ban on recruitment. July 26: President Trump announced, via Twitter, that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” July 26: The Justice Department filed a legal brief on behalf of the United States in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, arguing that the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or, implicitly, gender identity.

Blade file photo by Michael Key

June 14: The Department of Education withdrew its finding that an Ohio school district discriminated against a transgender girl. The Department gave no explanation for withdrawing the finding, which a federal judge upheld. May 2: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a plan to roll back regulations interpreting the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provisions to protect transgender people. April 14: The Justice Department abandoned its historic lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s antitransgender law. It did so after North Carolina replaced HB2 with a different anti-transgender law known as “HB 2.0.” April 4: The Justice and Labor Departments cancelled quarterly conference calls with LGBT organizations; on these calls, which have happened for years, government attorneys share information on employment laws and cases. March 31: The Justice Department announced it would review (and likely seek to scale back) numerous civil rights settlement agreements with

police departments. These settlements were put in places where police departments were determined to be engaging in discriminatory and abusive policing, including racial and other profiling. Many of these agreements include critical protections for LGBT people. March: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) removed links to four key resource documents from its website, which informed emergency shelters on best practices for serving transgender people facing homelessness and complying with HUD regulations. March 28: The Census Bureau retracted a proposal to collect demographic information on LGBT people in the 2020 Census. March 24: The Justice Department cancelled a long-planned National Institute of Corrections broadcast on “Transgender Persons in Custody: The Legal Landscape.” March 13: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that its national survey of older adults, and the services they need, would no longer collect information on LGBT participants. HHS initially falsely

claimed in its Federal Register announcement that it was making “no changes” to the survey. March 13: The State Department announced the official U.S. delegation to the UN’s 61st annual Commission on the Status of Women conference would include two outspoken anti-LGBT organizations, including a representative of the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM): an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. March 10: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it would withdraw two important agency-proposed policies designed to protect LGBT people experiencing homelessness. One proposed policy would have required HUDfunded emergency shelters to put up a poster or “notice” to residents of their right to be free from anti-LGBT discrimination under HUD regulations. The other announced a survey to evaluate the impact of the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative, implemented by HUD and other agencies over the last three years. This multi-year project should be evaluated, and with this withdrawal, we may never learn what worked best in the project to help homeless LGBTQ youth. March 8: Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) removed demographic questions about LGBT people that Centers for Independent Living must fill out each year in their Annual Program Performance Report. This report helps HHS evaluate programs that serve people with disabilities. March 2: The Department of Justice abandoned its request for a preliminary injunction against North Carolina’s antitransgender House Bill 2, which prevented North Carolina from enforcing HB 2. This was an early sign that the Administration was giving up defending trans people (later, on April 14, it withdrew the lawsuit completely). March 1: The Department of Justice took the highly unusual step of declining to appeal a nationwide preliminary court order temporarily halting enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. The injunction prevents HHS from taking any action to enforce transgender people’s rights from health care discrimination. February 22, 2017: The Departments of Justice and Education withdrew landmark 2016 guidance explaining how schools must protect transgender students under the federal Title IX law.




LA Mayor Eric Garcetti speaking at Women’s March 2018 Photo Getty Images for the Women’s March 2018

‘Best Ally’ Garcetti may run for president in 2020 LA mayor says it’s a patriotic duty to oppose Trump By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com

“Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was a crowd favorite” the Hollywood Reporter wrote about the young Jewish, Mexican-American mayor’s appearance among top celebrities and activists at the massive Women’s March and rally Jan. 20 in Los Angeles. LGBT Angelinos understand the reaction well, having voted Garcetti Best LGBT ally over a strong list of reader-selected candidates in a recent Los Angeles Blade survey. Though he has steadfastly denied he is considering running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020—Garcetti’s changed his mind. “I think every patriot is called on to act right now,” Garcetti told the Los Angeles Blade by phone Jan. 19. “I hope we never have a moment like this again—but yes, I’m thinking about it because I’m worried about this country and I want to make sure there’s a perspective and successes we’ve showcased in America’s cities and Los Angeles, in particular, of a model of what we could do nationally. But whether I run or not, I’m going to be incredibly involved at the national level in trying to retake this country.” Late last year, Garcetti launched a 501(c)3, 501(c)4 and PAC, “Accelerator for America,” with his out friend and political adviser Rick Jacobs, founder of the Courage Campaign and chair of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in California. “With Washington broken, cities and local governments are the only places of innovation and successful delivery of services to Americans,” Jacobs told the Blade. Accelerator for America “brings practical solutions to cities across the country as we address the insecurity Americans feel about their jobs, education, housing and healthcare.” It’s an effort already at the forefront of discussions among the nation’s mayors at events such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, starting Jan. 25 in Washington, D.C. “Mayor Garcetti has become one of the most important leaders in America today because he quietly, deliberately gets things done,” Jacobs said. “Other mayors see that and want to work with him. At our first meeting hosted by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Nov. 7-8, 2017, we agreed to help other cities create Measure M-type successes—funding for transportation, which also creates 700,000 new, great jobs. In Columbia, South Carolina next month, we’ll tackle other related issues.” “It’s not a think tank, it’s a do-tank,” Garcetti says. “We’re going to help people run campaigns to create jobs, that solve problems of housing, health, and education in America. And we’ll do that in a way that promotes the civil rights agenda at the same time.” While early 2020 political bets are focused on highly visible Senate Democrats such as California’s Kamala Harris, New Jersey’s Corey Booker or Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren, Garcetti, the jazz-loving, Rhodes Scholar, Naval Reserve officer with a serious immigrant story, is contributing to the national political fight against harmful Trump administration policies while also constructing a progressive movement that engages people where they live. “I’m going to help flip the House,” Garcetti told the Blade. “I’m very involved in supporting people who are running in the seats that we can reclaim. And I’m going to remind people that most politics is local. Don’t keep crying in the corner. Don’t keep yelling at your Twitter feed. Get up, go do something. And recognize that even if we had a Democrat in the White House, most of the action is where you live. Local communities make this country. Washington doesn’t determine our fate. We determine Washington’s fate.” Garcetti says it is “an incredible honor and surprise” to have been voted Best LGBT Ally. “I just have a core philosophy: We are all strongest when we get as many people included in the progress of our city, our nation, and our world,” Garcetti said. “And it’s a very simple premise that cities are usually more tolerant places. They are usually more successful places because of that tolerance. And more than tolerant—that sort of inclusion demands that we fight. Each one of us has defining struggles in our life and our generation. And for me, LGBTQ equality has probably been one of the defining struggles of our generation and the one I’ve probably been as deeply in as any one else,” especially as a crusader for marriage equality with his close out friend, Marc Solomon. “I know a lot of people are depressed out there. I couldn’t be more excited and empowered. I think this kick in the rear end in the last year is not the way we would want to come to activism. But this is a level of activism I haven’t felt in over a decade,” Garcetti says. “There’s never been a single issue in the polling that I’ve seen in America that has changed as quickly as something like marriage equality. African-American civil rights took many more decades. The women’s rights struggle took many more decades. And we can’t lose that momentum. So don’t think just about playing defense. Let’s continue to be on offense and let’s continue to lead.”

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All of your favorites, from bartenders to activists and more

Welcome to the inaugural Best Of Gay LA Awards presented by the Los Angeles Blade. There were hundreds of nominations in 25 categories and thousands of votes. Here we present your picks for the best LA has to offer along with editors’ choices in most categories.



JON DAVIDSON Jon Davidson has been fighting for the rights of the underdog for most of his adult life. An attorney focused on the LGBTQ community and people living with HIV, virtually since graduating from Yale Law School in 1979, Davidson has fought and won some of the most important cases facing LGBT Americans. But, as he says, ultimately it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the long game. “What I’ve learned is that one of the realities of doing the LGBT rights litigation that I’ve spent most of my career doing, is that sometimes you can lose the case, but still win. Because those sorts of cases end up educating people about the things that are wrong,” Davidson told the Los Angeles Blade. He became interested in politics in high school, around the time of Stonewall. He was boycotting grapes and lettuce in support of California farm workers and he protested the Vietnam War. He says he was excited about political change. He started taking cases pro bono. His first big case was no small potatoes. He sued the city of Los Angeles on behalf of homeless people. Not long after, he says, in 1985 a lot of his friends started to get sick. He started looking for a way he could help. Davidson teamed up with attorney and activist Susan McGreevy, who was at the ACLU at the time. She enlisted his help in writing the first brief to the U.S. Supreme Court about AIDS. It was about whether people with contagious diseases could be considered disabled and protected against discrimination under a law called the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The goal was to convince the courts that AIDS was a disabling condition. “At the time, the Reagan administration was arguing that contagious

diseases couldn’t be considered disabilities because that would mean that people with AIDS would be protected from discrimination,” Davidson says. Another local case got a lot of attention when Davidson was working with a gay rights organization that no longer exists, on behalf of a man threatened with eviction for hanging a gay Pride flag off his apartment’s balcony. The building’s argument was that people would think it was a “gay building.” Davidson argued that people put American flags on their balconies, so why not a Pride flag? Davidson left private practice in 1988 to work for the ACLA of Southern California. He was there for eight years, and then joined Lambda Legal, where he worked for more than 20 years. It was Davidson’s work on a case against the Boy Scouts of America that brought much national acclaim. He was the lead lawyer on the Curran v. Mount Diablo Council of the Boy Scouts of America, a case that went to California Supreme Court. He lost the case, but it was part of the fight to get people to understand that the Boy Scouts were engaging in discrimination. Davidson also helped out on the Dale case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the constitutional right to freedom of association allows a private organization like the Boy Scouts, to exclude a person from membership when “the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints.” In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that opposition to homosexuality is part of BSA’s “expressive message” and that allowing homosexuals as adult leaders would interfere with that message. It reversed a decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court, which had determined that New Jersey’s public accommodations law required the BSA to readmit James Dale, who the BSA expelled after Dale went public about being gay. Davidson says despite losing those cases, the suits against the Boy Scouts outed the organization as discriminatory and ultimately led to a lot of pressure on them to change their position – both social and financial pressure. “I used to joke that I’ve spent the bulk of my career fighting for LGBT people to serve in the military, get into the Boy Scouts, serve in the Los Angeles Police Department, and to get married, but I didn’t want to do any of those things. But those are four of the most conservative institutions we have in this country and they all in many ways epitomize being an American citizen,” Davidson says. He and his longtime partner celebrated their 13th anniversary this year, which they count from the time they moved in together. “I believe that an attack on any member of this nation or the world is an attack on all of us. But I decided more than 30 years ago I wanted to put my professional energies into and work on behalf of my community, which I define as the LGBT community and those living with HIV. That’s what spoke to me and where I felt there was a need,” he says. But, he adds, “A big part of the battle is also to remember that our community also includes several other groups who’ve been targets of the Trump administration – poor people, people of color, Muslims, people from other countries, you name it – it’s frightening. Our community needs to address the fact that many of the gains we made didn’t really help those most marginalized in our community.” (REBEKAH SAGER)

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1/19/18 6:02 PM



ANTHONY SALDANA He prefers to be called a bartender rather than a mixologist, but Anthony Saldana is Micky’s top man behind the bar. “We are more fine-tuned for speed and agility than mixing fancy drinks, because it’s always so busy,” Saldana told the Los Angeles Blade. Born and raised in Ontario, in the inland empire, Saldana has lived in LA for the last 10 years, and worked at Micky’s for most of that time. His first job after finishing UC Riverside was at Target as an executive manager. He says he was making $70,000 but on his first visit to Weho, a friend came running out of Micky’s with his shirt off, and told him they were hiring. “I went in and spoke with the manager, who tore my shirt off in the office. He takes one look at me, and says I can start Monday. I told him about my Target gig and what I was making. He laughed at me and said I’d make double that,” he says. Saldana waxes poetic about the days before the straight crowd discovered Weho. He explains that straight guys come in to hit on drunk girls, but they don’t drink as much. Trained using YouTube videos, this is the fourth year he’s won a Best Bartender title. In 2013, Grindr awarded him Best Bartender. He was flown to Vegas to receive the award. “I don’t know why I keep winning, because I’m kind of an asshole,” he admits sheepishly. He adds, “If you come into my bar, and you act shitty I’m going to call you out on it. I’m very protective of my customers. I’ve jumped over the bar and thrown people out. I take shots with all of my customers. They literally love it.” Saldana left home at 17 to “do his own thing.” Now fairly distant from his family he says people don’t get to choose to be born into a family. “I want to choose who I love. I don’t want to be forced to love people I don’t even get along with. I travel a lot, and I take my friends wherever I go.” His family found out about his being gay via social media. He almost married a girl. He has some complicated views on being gay, and says he gets pretty deep with customers about them all the time. “I was born a straight man. I was in love with this female, it wasn’t until my sophomore year I had my first gay experience. I think as a child something very small could alter your thought process. I feel like the

gay community always says ‘oh, you’re born gay,’ but if 10 percent of the community is born different than the other 90 percent, then that would make it a disability. I would hate to think that being gay is a disability. Personally I don’t want to be thought of as born gay… But, I’m gay now. “I definitely appreciate a beautiful female though… and have this girl Natalie in my life that I call my wife. We’re inseparable and we do everything together, and I swear she would get married in a heartbeat, but sexually I just can’t do it. I associate with being gay,” Saldano says. Single and dating, he has a staunch rule about never dating customers. He’s pressured a lot by men, and says he’s had to tell people he’s straight because it’s easier than telling men he’s not interested. Despite turning a few guys away, Salgado gets gifts — lots of them. At Christmas he received a Cartier love band worth $10,000. “I mentioned that I’d always wanted one, and the next thing you know it’s getting screwed on my wrist,” he says. He’s been given a Mercedes, taken on trips, and even had someone give him money for his sick father. “I mean people will give 10 to 20 percent to a church, whereas in the gay community they’ll give 20, 30 or 40 percent to the bars,” he says. Although he’s known by the tattoo inked on his flat stomach, complete with washboard abs, the days of bartending shirtless are over. A gym rat, Saldano says to keep his liver from completely failing, he only does shots of tequila, and his favorite is Don Julio anejo – always with a slice of orange. (REBEKAH SAGER)

MICKY’S 8857 Santa Monica Blvd. 310-657-1176 mickys.com



Bartender and star of “What Happens at The Abbey,” Cory Zwierzynski is the editors’ pick for Best Bartender. For nearly 25 years, The Abbey has dominated gay nightlife in West Hollywood. And Cory is almost as famous, thanks to his starring role on “What Happens at The Abbey.” “When you start working at The Abbey,” Corey told the Los Angeles Blade, “it’s like joining a big family. We don’t just work together; we have a good time together. We have so many regulars at The Abbey that they are all part of the family too.” Corey’s favorite moment at The Abbey so far? “People dancing to Diana Ross’ music on the dance floor with Diana Ross. It doesn’t get more memorable than that.”

THE ABBEY 692 N Robertson Blvd. 310-289-8410 theabbeyweho.com


STEVE AOKI Steven Hiroyuki (Aoki) is one of the world’s most influential DJs. He certainly has the whole EDM circuit world jumping at venues around the world. But he’s really just an ordinary guy who grew up Newport Beach and attended USCB. He holds degrees in feminist studies and sociology. But while in college, a spark captured his imagination when he produced a do-ityourself record and began running underground concerts at Isla Vista, a section of residential land adjacent to UCSB. The venue became known as The Pickle Patch and it changed Aoki’s life. In his early 20s, Aoki built his own record label, which he named Dim Mak – a reference to his childhood hero, Bruce Lee. Aoki has won and been nominated for a number of industry awards, both in annual competitions and in magazine rankings. In 2007, he

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was named Best Party Rocker DJ by BPM Magazine, Best DJ of the Year by Paper Magazine, and Best Set of the Season at the Ibiza Awards. Several years later, in 2012, he was named #15 in the Top 100 DJs in DJ Magazine, and was named America’s #2 Best DJ. Also in 2012, he won an EDM Effect Woodie Award by MTVu, and the following year he was nominated for his first Grammy. In 2014, Aoki was awarded two Guinness World Records, one for the “longest crowd cheer,” and also for the “most amount of glow sticks for thirty seconds.” Aoki performed at the 2015 Ultra Music Festival in Miami Beach on May 21. He also earned the Guinness record for “most traveled musician in one year,” with 161 shows in 41 countries in 2014. To say he has been successful is an understatement. He is the founder of the Steve Aoki Charitable Fund, which raises money for global humanitarian relief organizations and medical research. In 2015, he was named Global Ambassador for the Best Buddies program, a non-profit devoted to young people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Learn more at steveaoki.com BEST DJ, EDITORS’ CHOICE


As a transgender activist and talented musician, Nash has consistently shared his story and his music, helping to inspire others. When asked what he loves most about DJing, Nash said, “Your profession requires you to party, dance and create a collected consciousness. The nightlife is the release from life—we’re all on the same beat, in the same moment.” Of his work with the LGBT community, Nash said, “I’ve helped countless people in the community start their endeavors including Trans Chorus LA and as a board member for LA Pride, I fought for the trans representation.” Learn more at ShaneIvanNash.com. BEST CHEF


If you haven’t heard of chef Stuart O’Keeffe, then you clearly haven’t been invited to the right A-list Hollywood dinner parties. A small town Irish hottie, who now lives in West Hollywood, O’Keeffe made a name for himself on the Food Network’s “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills.” “I was always obsessed with America and always wanted to be on TV,”


O’Keeffe told the Los Angeles Blade. His first gig in the U.S. after culinary school in Ireland was in Napa Valley working at Meadowood Napa Valley. But restaurants didn’t suit him. He says he didn’t like the way people were treated. “I knew I was destined to do what I wanted without the stress. I thought there must be another way, and I kind of started doing dinner parties in my apartment for friends, and they’d tell people about them. I was also working as an executive assistant, and started getting hired for private parties. O’Keeffe can’t talk a lot about who he works for, but will mention a few celebs he says have “eaten at his tables” – stars such as Sharon Stone, Jennifer Aniston, Justine Bateman, Harrison Ford, Cindy Crawford, Jane Fonda and Christina Aguilera. O’Keeffe has been at his job long enough and has become well known enough that he doesn’t suffer fools and although his clients tend to be high-maintenance, he lives to cook for others. “I want people to be nice. I’m not going to bow down to people. I’m well equipped to do this. I won’t stand for people being rude. I’m fair. I mean, how much do you value yourself really,” he says. So, why do celebs keep calling him back? He says straight up, it’s the way he looks. “I’m a cute guy from Ireland. A lot of women, I overhear them asking if I’m straight or gay. It can be funny in a really sweet way,” O’Keeffe says laughing. He’s currently single and dating. He likes to meet guys through friends or at a bar. He says his favorites are the Abbey, Revolver and Chapel. He meets people through friends mostly, and doesn’t do the app thing. He says he’s tried it, but it’s not personal enough and he’s too old school. O’Keeffe says the “power gays” don’t hire him much. “They have their set people they use… I think people think that I don’t do this anymore because I do so much TV, or because they think I’m above it. But, if I have time in my schedule, I’ll do it. I don’t really turn down things. I like to keep busy. I’d like to do more things,” O’Keeffe says. His goal is to have his own TV show on the Food Network. He has another cookbook coming out later this year, and he wants to open a restaurant in the next year or two. He envisions a show where he can travel around the U.S. — a kind of Irish guy fish out of water. He says he loves rural America, and thinks the people are funny and sweet. They remind him of the small town he grew up in — Nenagh, not far from Limerick.

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He says Irish food is different than people think. “We have some of the best meat and fish in the world where we are,” he says. His signature dishes are chicken cacciatore, short ribs, individual baked Alaska, and a killer flourless cake – “Jennifer Aniston told me my cake was good, so it must be badass.” For a guy that makes his living off people who don’t cook for themselves, O’Keeffe believes a major problem with Americans in general is that they don’t cook at home enough. “People need to get back in the kitchen and start cooking. There’s so much joy in that. And it’s healthier,” he says. He adds though that he actually hates to shop. “One of the most annoying thing about cooking is going to the store and shopping for the ingredients. I tell people to go shopping one day, and cook the next day. Cooking can be stressful if you don’t know how to do it.” When O’Keeffe isn’t cooking for actors and Hollywood executives, you can find him on Mondays at the farmer’s market, on Gardner and Fountain streets, or at his local Whole Foods. He lists Jar, Rossoblu, and Cecconi’s as his favorite restaurants in LA. As for his TV aspirations that dream has certainly come true, if you count Food Network, “Stuart’s Kitchen” which aired in Ireland and New Zealand, appearances on Marie, CBS’s “The Talk,” “The Home and Family Show,” and Republic of Telly and Asiana Airlines featured Stuart in its national “Fly with Color” campaign. EDITORS’ CHOICE, BEST CHEF


Chef and owner of the critically acclaimed Jar Restaurant, Suzanne Tracht has won international praise for her culinary adventures at Jar. Her countless appearances on the “Today” show, Food Network, and Extra, as well as her multiple awards led her to be inducted into the Fine Dining Hall of Fame and participating in Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit. “Relating to people and making them feel warm and welcome isn’t hard and you can do it in many ways, which is why I cook,” Tracht said. “I like feeding people and making them happy.”

JAR 8225 Beverly Blvd. 323-655-6566 thejar.com


BRAD LAMM, BREATHE LIFE HEALING CENTER Fifteen years ago Brad Lamm was a self-proclaimed total mess. He was bulimic. He smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. He was an alcoholic, addicted to meth, and he supplemented all of this by taking Xanax. In 2002, he got clean. Lamm’s journey to help others grew into an empire with two treatment centers that have helped numerous people in the LGBTQ community get clean and sober. “I knew I was gay at 5 years old,” he says. “When I took my first drink at 15, I was deliciously soothed. By the time my first partner died in 1989, I was 19 years old and convinced not only was I going to die, but we were all going to die.” He added, “We were part of this sad infected class with no upside… Gay men in my generation, pre-HIV cocktail, it was more than a death sentence, it was a shame sentence. It was a downward spiral. It was a grizzly and gruesome death. And I’d already been cast out of my family.” ACT UP became Lamm’s upside. Although he was still getting


high at the time, he fell into a clan he calls “purposeful,” working to make progress and trying to save his life. “I found a place for my rage, but I thought I was going to die from alcohol and drugs, so when I didn’t, it was an amazing ‘ah-ha’ coupled with helping others, and it was all congruous with my trauma survival and being a gay man,” Lamm says. It was in Lamm’s search for what to do with his life after getting clean that he found doctor Dr. Judith Landau, a South African psychiatrist focused on “invitational intervention,” a trauma-informed approach to helping families help their families. “Essentially you invite your family to an intervention and the work starts from there. It suited me and it coincided with enormous energy I had around, never thinking I’d stop this litany of things that were killing me,” he says. Lamm’s entre into the work Landau was doing eventually led to starting an intervention practice himself in New York, 13 years ago, and it really took off thanks to contacts he’d made in his former life as a TV weatherman. “Some of the same skills I had as a journalist and some of the people I grew up in that industry with were now in TV running shows, and they knew about my remarkable turnaround. “The ‘Today’ show said come and do a show on recovery, and Oprah said come and do a docu-series on food and that became “Addicted to Food,” an eight-part series produced for her. Then Dr. Oz said come help launch the show. And I did like 30 stories. That was the rocket fuel to this mission of helping my recovery community and their families reduce its suffering,” Lamm says. Five years ago, Lamm opened a trauma-informed treatment center that would accept health insurance, Breathe Life Healing Center in Los Angeles. “Meth and alcohol was my struggle, drug and hurt, so to see treatment in my community is powerful,” he says. He and Scott Sanders, a Tony, Grammy and Emmy winning television, film and theater producer (Sanders produced the musical “The Color Purple” for Broadway), were married and it was the first gay wedding Oprah attended. He says he sees so much of himself in the Celie character from “The Color Purple.” “You’re at the end of the rope and you’re so beaten down, and then all of a sudden instead of cutting Mister’s throat, you choose grace and find your way. And part of that is forgiveness. But forgiveness doesn’t mean I need to live up to anyone’s version of who I need to be,” Lamm says. Lamm says the headline of his life continues to be defined by

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something famed author, Alice Walker said to him 13 years ago. “She told me that ‘the power of you is not your story, but that you’re a ‘bodhisattva.’ I was like, what’s that? She told me to go and look it up. It means, the one who goes into the lake of fire to help another out. That’s the beauty of every person to help another. The very wreckage of my past becomes the crown jewel of my ability to help another,” Lamm says.

BREATHE LIFE HEALING CENTER 8730 Sunset Blvd. 800-929-5904



When asked what inspired the business venture that led to the opening of this premier gay bar in DTLA, Oliver Alpuche said, “I’ve lived downtown for eight years and noticed that the LGBTQ community was growing, but we had nowhere to go and meet each other. Downtown deserves a dedicated queer space 365 days a year.” That paved the way for the DTLA Proud Festival, which Oliver created. “DLTA Proud is committed to celebrating everyone’s story, to spreading optimism, to growing our community and to expanding our definition of diversity,” he said. “I love Los Angeles because of how diverse it is.”

REDLINE 131 E 6th St. redlinedtla.com



S. CHRISTOPHER WINTER S. Christopher (“Kit”) Winter didn’t always want to be a lawyer. “I wasn’t one of those kids who had a clear idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up,” he said. “I could envision myself doing a lot of different things. It all seemed interesting.” That curiosity is reflected in his varied career in New York between graduating from Yale in 1987 and starting law school at UCLA in 1994. “I had a little bit of career ADD after college,” Winter said. “I worked in advertising sales, graphic design, desktop publishing – and I always had a side gig.” Those side gigs included promoting parties at Limelight, Sound Factory and other New York nightclubs featuring DJs such as Frankie Knuckles, Little Louie Vega, and Junior Vasquez; bartending at various restaurants in the West Village and Chelsea; and working catering jobs

for clients including Madonna. “I think people were surprised when I decided to go to law school,” Winter laughs. “It wasn’t something that you would have necessarily thought was in my future.” Surprising or not, Winter excelled at law school, graduating UCLA law in 1997 in the top 10 percent of his class and winning numerous academic honors. For more than two decades since then, Winter has been practicing law in Los Angeles, in settings ranging from large national law firms to his current solo practice. “I don’t believe in fighting for the sake of fighting,” Winter says about his philosophy. “My goal as a lawyer is to help my clients navigate their legal challenges as quickly and affordably as possible.” Winter’s practice is focused on serving as outside general counsel to small-to-medium sized companies, encouraging his clients to take a proactive approach to avoiding legal problems and crafting effective strategies to address problems. His legal background includes experience in litigation, intellectual property and general business law, and he has authored portions of treatises relating to privacy law and technology transactions. Winter doesn’t specifically target his practice to the LGBT community, although he says he represents a diverse group of clients. “I’m a ‘gay lawyer’ because I’m gay and I’m a lawyer,” he jokes. “I’ve been out of the closet since I was a teenager.” Indeed, Winter has a long history of LGBT activism extending back more than 30 years. As an undergraduate at Yale, he was the co-chair of the Gay & Lesbian Co-op (with the late Sarah Pettit, a founding editor of OUT magazine), and part of a group of students who successfully lobbied the Yale Corporation to include “sexual orientation” in the university’s non-discrimination policy in 1986. “I was sort of a big gay on campus,” Winter recalls, “writing op-eds in the Yale Daily News, arranging protests, that kind of thing.” Asked whether he contributed to the environment that led the Wall Street Journal to label Yale the “Gay Ivy” in 1987, Winter laughs, “I’d like to think so. I definitely left Yale a gayer place than I found it.” Winter moved to New York City in 1987, in the middle of the AIDS crisis and shortly after the founding of ACT UP. “It was a terrifying time,” Winter says. “While my straight friends from college were starting their careers or heading to graduate school, gay men were trying to survive an apocalypse.” Winter became involved in ACT UP and found a home in gay publishing, working first at the New York Native, New York’s gay newspaper, and later serving as the founding advertising director of Outweek magazine. He later served as the production manager of QW, a gay newsweekly (Troy Masters, Los Angeles Blade publisher was a founder and publisher of QW) for which he also briefly penned the advice column under the moniker “Queer Abby.” “I don’t think we thought much about trademark law back then,” Winter laughs. After working as a freelance desktop publisher at various Conde Nast titles including Mademoiselle, Allure, and Details, Winter decided to pursue the challenge of a career in law, and hasn’t looked back since. “I love being a lawyer,” Winter says. “Legal issues can be overwhelming to people, and can be fatal to businesses. Helping my clients get through that successfully is very rewarding.” Winter is married to Patrick Jensen, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. They live in Silver Lake and have two dogs and two cats. This year will mark Winter’s fourth time riding in AIDS/Lifecycle to raise money for the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

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RING IN THE NEW YEAR IN STYLE Get 15% Off Something Sexy With Code: Blade

7733 Santa Monica Blvd. WEHO


LAURA W. BRILL, KENDALL BRILL & KELLY LLP A lifetime focus on cases that promote equal rights, make Laura Brill a force in the fight against discrimination. “One of my briefs in the early 1990s argued in the case of Lawrence v. Texas (a challenge to a state anti-sodomy statute) that discrimination based on sexual orientation was a type of sex discrimination and that the statute should be ruled unconstitutional on that basis. That same argument has been made many times over the years…this theory is now gaining recognition by courts and administrative agencies, including most prominently, in cases relating to employment discrimination.” In the case Colin v. Orange Unified School District, Brill helped pave the way for Gay Straight Alliances. Brill discussed this significant moment: “We got the first preliminary injunction requiring the school to allow the club to meet and use school facilities just like any other club. One of my favorite moments since then has been going to gay Pride events more recently and seeing the huge numbers of wonderful high school students marching with their Gay Straight Alliance banners. I’m so happy to have had a part in helping kids have a safe environment at schools.” “My New Year’s resolution is to do all I can to increase voter registration rates, especially among young people and especially in the LGBTQ community. Many people don’t know that young people can pre-register to vote when they are 16 or 17. Then when they turn 18 they will be automatically registered to vote,” Brill said. “Most people don’t know about pre-registration, but we need everyone registered so we can make sure government policies reflect our priorities, instead of the opposite.”




Beautiful drag queens, fantastic food, money, charities...Bingo! Legendary Bingo at Hamburger Mary’s is not just a great drag show, it’s a fantastic and sometimes wild night out. Jeffery Bowman is almost as legendary as Hamburger Mary’s.

HAMBURGER MARY’S 8288 Santa Monica Blvd 323-654-3800


LYRIC HYPERION, GREEN EGGS AND GLAM Lyric Hyperion Theatre & Café 2106 Hyperion Ave. 323-928 2299

Kendall Brill & Kelly LLP 10100 Santa Monica Blvd 310-556-2700 kbkfirm. com/attorneys/laura-w-brill/



As an entrepreneur, avid activist, author, television personality, and restaurant owner of LA staples such as Pump and SUR, Lisa Vanderpump is an LA icon. She has consistently stood up for the LGBT community, having worked as a spokesperson for GLAAD, led the AIDS Walk Los Angeles, served as grand marshal of 2017 Long Beach Pride, worked with Desert AIDS Project, The Trevor Project, the LISA VANDERPUMP LA Gay & Lesbian Center and more. In addition to advocating for the LGBT community, Vanderpump created The Vanderpump Dog Foundation, working to help end animal abuse. She somehow also found time to produce “Vanderpump Rules,” the smash reality TV show. She’s the ultimate philanthropist who really does it all. Vanderpump has a love for all living creatures that shines through in her humanitarian efforts, making her a model ally.




Where else are you going to see Diana Ross or Elon Musk tear up the dance floor? The Abbey is arguably the best-known gay bar in all of the U.S. and always a fun night out with your besties. It’s a treasured LA icon and so is owner David Cooley.

THE ABBEY 692 N. Robertson Blvd. 310-289 8410



WeHo loves the oversized drinks and darts in the back at this famous video bar.

REVOLVER 8851 Santa Monica Blvd. 310-694 0430

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SUR RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE “Real Housewives” star Lisa Vanderpump’s SUR is a great place for people watching, and the upscale food is, well, impressive. It’s definitely a see-and-be-seen scene that can’t be missed.

SUR 606 N. Robertson Blvd. 310-289 2824




SHORTY’S BARBER SHOP Whatever level of service you require for your coif, Shorty’s is the place to go. It’s the very best place in West Hollywood for a drop in fade. People travel from all over Los Angeles to the unmistakable storefront on Fairfax.

SHORTY’S 755 N. Fairfax Ave. 323-297-0554

The Northern Italian cuisine is spectacular, the decor a kind of elegant retro Roman-chic with outdoor seating. True luxe.



Quite simply, the best place to go shopping for unique, curated food brands.

Celebrity hairstylist Marco Pelusi has the best tips for looking great. “Ask your stylist to do a gloss or a shine treatment when you’re next at the salon,” he recommended. “Your hair can often dry out and look dull, lifeless, and frizzy during winter months; the added shine treatment will boost the condition of your hair and make it look healthy.”



Extensive selections of the highest-quality foods. And, at least in WeHo, it’s where the boys are.

One reader commented, “At Beverly Hills BMW, I walked through and decided what I wanted and with no pressure at all I left with the $90,000 ride of my dreams. No hassles, no pressure. Just great service and a brilliant ride.”

CECCONI’S 8764 Melrose Ave. 310-432 2000


TRADER JOE’S 7310 Santa Monica Blvd. 323-969-8048


PAVILIONS 8969 Santa Monica Blvd. 310-595-1730


THE COLLECTIVE REALTY Experienced real estate agents who negotiate well for their clients. One reader said, “The Collective is the concierge service of boutique realty. And Andy Vulin is the best real estate investment teacher I ever met.”

THE COLLECTIVE REALTY 8278 ½ Santa Monica Blvd. 310-569-1335



Find the most luxurious West Hollywood or Beverly Hills home of your dreams and call Berkshire Hathaway, because no one can close it faster or more fairly. Readers praised their attentiveness to detail.

BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY 131 S. Rodeo Dr. 310-844-6434


MARCO PELUSI 636 N. Robertson Blvd. 310-967-0999


BEVERLY HILLS BMW 5070 Wilshire Blvd. 877-794-4678



Honda of Hollywood has one of the best full-service shops of any dealership in Los Angeles. Our favorites are the 2018 CRVs and HRV. Great quality SUVs at a realistic price.

HONDA OF HOLLYWOOD 6511 Santa Monica Blvd. 323-466-3247


CEDARS SINAI URGENT CARE World-class urgent care from one of the world’s leading medical institutions.

CEDARS SINAI 8501 Wilshire Blvd. #150 310-248-7000

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Sunny With a Chance of Puppies. Follow @WeHoCity for alerts on local freebies from pet care to bike share.

City of West Hollywood

Two New Dog Parks Now Open at West Hollywood Park!

California 1984



Doctors you can talk to and advice that’s easy to take because they are just like you. Comprehensive, fully loaded and state of the art.

Some say it has one of the highest-grade selections of any store in Los Angeles. Its edibles and medicinal choices are outstanding.


ZEN HEALING WEST HOLLYWOOD ZEN HEALING 8464 Santa Monica Blvd. 323-656-6666


24 HOUR FITNESS One of the busiest places in WeHo, 24 Hour Fitness is as much a family for some as it is a gym.

24 HOUR FITNESS 8612 Santa Monica Blvd. 310-652-7440



A little bit of luxury goes a long way during a hard workout. Outstanding, modern and clean facilities are what make Equinox worthy of Editors’ Choice.

EQUINOX FITNESS 8590 Sunset Blvd. 310-289-1900



WALDORF-ASTORIA One of the world’s leading hotel names is now at home along Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Unprecedented luxury is just the tip of the iceberg of the Waldorf experience. After watching it soar skyward during construction, you know you want to spend the weekend there. Staycation!

WALDORF-ASTORIA 9850 Wilshire Blvd. 310-860-6666



Soon to experience a name change — think One Hotel — The Jeremy, as everyone now calls it, is an astounding architectural gem and gorgeous hotel overlooking Rainbow City. It’s not only a great place to stay, it’s also a destination. BEST HOUSE OF WORSHIP

JEREMY HOTEL 8490 Sunset Blvd. 310-424-1600




Since Jan. 1, MedMen has experienced lines down the block and its fans are true believers in the almost Apple Store experience of boutique weed products of every kind. Founder Andrew Modin, almost overnight, has become a business sensation in West Hollywood and is now ramping up to take it national.

MEDMEN 8208 Santa Monica Blvd. 323-848-7981

The house that MCC founder Troy Perry built is a rollicking, down home gospel of faith and a beacon in the fight and one of the most consequential cornerstone establishments of LGBT history in LA.

FOUNDERS 4607 Prospect Ave. 323-669-3434



One of the most significant Reform synagogues in America is also one of the most innovative. A powerhouse of Jewish tradition and thought, Rabbi Denise Eger is devoted to community and social justice.

KOL AMI 1200 N. La Brea Ave. 323-606-0996

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IMPULSE GROUP LA Impulse Group is an international group that advocates change toward healthier sexual lifestyles among gay men in 18 cities around the world, based in Los Angeles. Founder Jose Ramos felt stronger community bonds and family building among peers can reduce HIV rates and save lives. Turns out he was right. IMPULSE GROUP LA impulsegrp.org/los-angeles/



California’s largest LGBT recreational sports league is celebrating 10 gay years! A robust and well-organized calendar of Kickball, Dodgeball, Bowling, Tennis, Soccer and Volleyball. Who says gays don’t do sports? Will Hackner and Andrew Miller want to know. VARSITY GAY LEAGUE varsitygayleague.com


Founded by Morris Kight in 1969, LA’s LGBT Center is now the world’s largest LGBT social service agency and community center and is in the middle of an expansion that will revolutionize its reach. Lori Jean, its CEO, has become one of the most important LGBT non-profit leaders in the U.S. LGBT CENTER 1625 N. Schrader Blvd. 323-993-7400


LAUREL PET HOSPITAL A truly empathic provider of outstanding medical services for generations of LGBT community members in West Hollywood.

LAUREL PET HOSPITAL 7970 Santa Monica Blvd. 323-654-7060


VETERINARY CARE CENTER A state-of-the-art Hollywood experience with some of the finest veterinarians in Los Angeles. Dr. Mark Nunes is a go-to doctor, known for going the extra mile to save your pet.

VETERINARY CARE CENTER 6455 Santa Monica Blvd. 323-919-6666



LACMA is a world-class museum and with its expansion, including an incorporation of Hollywood movie and Oscar history, it’s unrivaled. Many outstanding collections and community events, like outdoor films, make it a treasured institution.

The go-to place for all family visits and the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood offers views that just can’t be beat.



One of the most important modern museums in the western United States is also one of the most iconic landmarks in DTLA. Eli Broad’s massively important contemporary art collection almost wound up in a building that would have been where the new Waldorf is today.

The iconic outdoor theater celebrates everything about Los Angeles and features some of the greatest names in music, under the stars.

LACMA 5905 Wilshire Blvd. 323-857-6000


THE BROAD 221 S. Grand Ave. 213-232-6200


AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION AHF provides services to more than 600,000 HIV+ individuals in 15 U.S. states and 36 countries worldwide and is the largest AIDS service organization in the world. Michael Weinstein founded the agency as a hospice when no hospital would care for AIDS patients and since then has grown it into a billion-dollar non-profit.

AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION 6255 W. Sunset Blvd. 323-860-5200





HOLLYWOOD BOWL 2301 N. Highland Ave. 323-850-2000



The Human Rights Campaign brings out the star power each year in Los Angeles and is famous for an exuberant red carpet experience. On March 10, 2018 you have your next chance to take a walk. EDITORS’ CHOICE, BEST RED CARPET



The world’s most important LGBT film festival is also becoming one of LA’s most anticipated events. outfest.org

Mary Jo De Silva contributed to this article

3 4 • V O L U M E 0 2 • I S S U E 0 2 • A me r i c a ’ s L G B T Q N e w s S ou r c e • L O S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M • J A N U A R Y 2 6 2 0 1 8



queery JULIO SALGADO How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I came out to my mother back in 2001 and a couple of years later to my father. It was definitely harder on my dad but he has definitely come a long way.

Photo by Miles Sager


Artist Julio Salgado creates work that challenges the usual undocumented immigrant narrative and encourages activism. Inspired by what he calls Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s ‘selfies,’ Salgado’s self-portrait illustrations are whimsical, but controversial. Salgado, a journalism major, says he fully understands the power of words. “I use words like ‘illegal’ or ‘faggot,’ because they are used against me. I’m going to make art out of it. Something you don’t want me to do,” Salgado told the Los Angeles Blade at the opening of Into Action, a large-scale popup exhibit where his work was featured. Salgado came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1995, when he was 11 years old. He and his family were visiting Los Angeles, when his younger sister developed a deadly kidney infection. The family stayed so she could be treated, and never returned. In 2010, Salgado began creating portraits of other queer undocumented immigrants, using the phrase, “I am UndocuQueer,” a marriage of his identity as a gay, undocumented person. He also co-founded the undocumented youth media group Dreamers Adrift, and he is currently the project manager for CultureStrike, an organization that collaborates with artists to challenge anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. Salgado’s work has inspired a legion of young activists, rallying around the Dream Act. Although the legislation would have given undocumented minors also known as “dreamers” a pathway to citizenship, it never passed. It would eventually pressure President Obama to issue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, in 2012. Obama’s executive action allowed 800,000 undocumented young people, including Salgado, to temporarily stay in the U.S. Trump announced the end of the program last year. “I’m supposed to be scared because they might take away my DACA or deport my parents, but art is a powerful tool,” Salgado says. Salgado’s work and activism encourages undocumented people to come out of hiding. “Coming out and saying ‘I’m undocumented and I’m unafraid’ is important. If we keep hiding, people can talk about us without us having an input. It’s like coming out of the closet. A lot of organizers have stopped deportations, because we’re telling our stories,” Salgado says. Salgado says he hopes his work can paint a more three-dimensional picture of the undocumented community. He’s currently working on a video series in the vain of the popular HBO Issa Rae hit, “Insecure.” It’s currently titled “Lo Sito,” or the site in English.

Who’s your LGBT hero? If I had to choose I would say that it’s my ‘Undocuqueer’ community. Not only do we fight homophobia and transphobia but we also deal with being undocumented in times when immigrants are seen as enemies. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? Circus nightclub was the place to be! I was so heartbroken when I heard it was demolished. So many memories of that place. It was my first 21+ club I attended. Describe your dream wedding. I don’t really have a dream wedding. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? I would say immigration. But calling it non-LGBT is not fair because I’m a queer immigrant. It automatically makes it a queer issue. If you think about it, many of our current movements are LGBT issues because we exist in intersectionality. What historical outcome would you change? After DOMA was deemed unconstitutional, many in the LGBT community felt we had arrived with all the gay rights. But that’s not true. Many of us queers are dealing with issues of deportation, racism, trans women of color are being killed, black queers are being targeted by the police. There’s so much more to do. While the historical outcome was great, I wish more gays that benefited from the gay marriage fight would have stayed and continued fighting along with us. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? When I first saw Ricky in reruns of My So Called Life. Even though I didn’t catch the show when it was on the air, I was able to see reruns as a young queer teenager. We owe so much to Wilson Cruz!

On what do you insist? Intersectionality. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? A video about kids talking about Trump. It was sweet and hilarious. It gave me hope for the future! If your life were a book, what would the title be? #IllegalsInTimesOfCrisis. With the hashtag and all because I’m a millennial. If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Run away from it! Being queer is amazing, why would you want to change that! What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I believe in a higher being. I’m a very hopeful person and I have to believe that there’s a reason why we are put on earth. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? That they take care of themselves. What would you walk across hot coals for? My family. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That we’re all gay white men. Just Google the word “gay” and look at the images that pop up. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Mosquita Y Mari,” by Aurora Guerrero. What’s the most overrated social custom? Dress codes. What trophy or prize do you most covet? My degree in journalism! It took me nine years to get that prize due to the limited opportunities for undocumented college students. What do you wish you’d known at 18? That even though it doesn’t always get better, the challenges that come your way make for a heck of a great story. Why Los Angeles? Bacon-wrapped hot dogs baby!


with Pink Martini’s Thomas M. Lauderdale

Fri, Feb 2 at 8pm The Theatre at Ace Hotel

“devilish funny bones and heavenly vocal chords” —Evening Standard UK

cap.ucla.edu 888-929-7849 #CAPUCLA



Clunky ‘Freak Show’ falls short Ripped-from-the-headlines tale of gender-bending non-conformity By JOHN PAUL KING

Laverne Cox, AnnaSophia Robb, Alex Lawther, and Abigail Breslin in ‘Freak Show.’ Photo Courtesy of AMC Film Holdings

Not so long ago, there was a tremendous need for movies that told the stories of LGBTQ young people. The need is still there, of course, but in recent years, as queer moviemakers have emerged from the shadows of a cultural landscape that had long suppressed them, we have seen a bountiful crop of such films. The latest is “Freak Show,” the directorial feature debut of Trudie Styler. Adapted by screenwriters Patrick J. Clifton and Beth Rigazio, from the book of the same name by James St. James, it’s the story of a fabulously nonconforming teenager named Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther). Raised under the sheltering wing of his glamorous and supportive mother (Bette Midler), Billy has grown up comfortable in his own gender-bending skin; but when she sends him to stay with his no-nonsense father (Larry Pine), he finds himself thrust into the deeply oppressive world of an ultra-conservative high school where his confrontationally androgynous fashion sense and ever-ready Oscar Wilde quips are not only out-of-place, but dangerously unwelcome. Though he’s not without allies (including, surprisingly, “Flip,” the popular quarterback of the football team) – he finds himself the target of relentless ridicule and bullying. Making a stand against the school’s power elite, he declares his candidacy for the coveted title of homecoming queen – drawing the ire of head cheerleader and “queen bee,” Lynette. It’s a story ripped right out of the pages of any number of small town newspapers; there have been countless real-life iterations of this tale, and in our current era of emboldened homophobia there will doubtless be many more. Despite its relevance to modern times, though, “Freak Show” comes across as oddly dated, even a bit nostalgic. It may be the movie’s tone; reminiscent of a John Hughes-esque teen adventure from the eighties, in which the painful politics of high school life provide the backdrop for a heart-tugging saga of youthful self-actualization, it feels like the product of a bygone era. It might also be that, in the still-churning wake of the 2016 election, the premise of the film – that proud selfexpression is enough to overcome ignorance and bigotry within a culture where it thrives – feels a little naïve, like a painful reminder of a dream that, while perhaps not crushed, has certainly been deferred. It may also simply be a function of the script; though Clifton and Rigazio hit all their marks, the execution is a bit clunky and more than a little slavish to formula. Revelations are too predictable, reconciliations too easy, resolutions too perfunctory – it all seems to be taken by rote, and consequently it feels like something we’ve seen before. Likewise, Styles’s direction, polished as it may be, does little to inject freshness. She provides a safe, standard cinematic structure for the story; and when flights of fancy are called for, though she delivers them with style and flash, they never quite connect us with the kind of visceral human experience that would make them truly relatable. One standout exception comes with the harrowing sequence — brilliantly accompanied by the defiantly brash Perfume Genius song, “Queen” — in which Billy, dressed like a ghost bride at a midnight wedding, is savagely attacked by a gang of masked bullies. It’s suitable that this moment should be delivered with such potency – but one can’t help but wish the rest of the film vibrated with more of that same creative vision. That doesn’t mean there is nothing here to surprise or delight us – indeed, St. James’s original story has a powerful voice and a lot of heart, both of which come through in the little moments that pave the way between the “big events” of the story – and especially through its charismatic hero. Billy is bigger than life and twice as fierce, a character that demands an actor up to the task of bringing him to life. Lawther is a perfect match for the part; he exudes the blend of confidence and fragility needed to make his journey believable, embraces the high theatricality of his personality, and infuses him with the humanity that allows us to love him. It’s a performance that would shine in any film; in “Freak Show,” it positively glows. There are some nice turns from the rest of the cast, too, though they have less to work with. Midler, in what amounts to little more than a cameo, is an appropriately strong presence as Billy’s mother; it’s hard to imagine a less on-the-nose choice of actress for the role. Also notable is the less showy Celia Weston, who, as dad’s longtime housekeeper, provides a more down-to-earth kind of nurturing presence for Billy. Nelson is likable but unremarkable as Flip, and Breslin delivers a sly caricature of toxic femininity as Lynette. Lastly, there is a much-appreciated appearance by Laverne Cox as a news reporter who comes to interview the candidates in the controversial homecoming campaign. It’s obvious that “Freak Show” is a project undertaken with a strong sense of purpose. Its message of empowerment – not just for queer young people, but for all those who are marginalized by the cookie-cutter ideal of conformity that pervades our society – is presented with sincerity and conviction, no matter how clumsily it may sometimes be delivered. It addresses the issue of bullying with unflinching honesty. It promotes the ideal of a diverse and inclusive society, while still extending compassion – mostly – to those who have not yet evolved enough to embrace it. With such good intentions behind it, one can’t help but wonder how great a film this might have been with a more expert set of hands to guide it to the screen. That, of course, will be a moot point to the movie’s target audience; LGBTQ teens, thirsty for a story and characters that reflect their own experiences, will be unburdened by comparisons to older material or quibbles about cinematic structure. For them, the story of Billy Bloom is likely to be a wonderful thing, and rightly so. “Freak Show” may not be a great film, but it’s a good movie; and for a world badly in need of its message of acceptance, that’s good enough.

Thank you for choosing Pavilions as your favorite grocery store! Congratulates all the winners of the 2018 Los Angeles Blade Best of Gay LA Reader’s Choice Awards!





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Palm Springs Modernism Week is worth trip to the desert America’s gayest city spotlights mid-century features, architecture By WINSTON GIESEKE

Imagine what’s inside. Photo by Winston Gieseke

While Palm Springs seems to have a never-ending supply of cool goings-on — from White Party to The Dinah to the planet’s best weather Pride weekend — few events are as anticipated as Modernism Week. For 11 days every year, nearly 100,000 people from all over the globe flock to the desert as the Coachella Valley celebrates hip mid century modern architecture, fashion, art, and culture through a series of events that include unique home tours, walking and bus tours, informative lectures and films, an exhibition of vintage trailers and much, much more. Highlights from this year’s festival — which runs Feb. 15-25 and offers more than 350 ticketed events — include a fundraiser at the rarely-open-to-the-public former home of entertainer Dinah Shore (designed by Donald Wexler and now owned by Leonardo DiCaprio), which benefits Save Iconic Architecture, a non-profit foundation dedicated to preserve significant architecture as art, as well as a new documentary on famed architect Albert Frey. Another showstopper is this year’s Modernism Week Showcase Home, a unique custom build from 1975 designed by Hal Lacy. Boasting distinct Moroccan elements throughout, the ’70s glam style house has been renovated to modern luxury by owners Jackie Thomas and DeeAnn McCoy of Thomboy Properties, whose business philosophy is to “respect the beauty and simplicity of design from the past and re-imagine it for the way people live today.” This mustsee property can be toured at various times throughout the day on Feb. 16. Be sure to check out the property’s tour de force: the casita/pool house with its bold color palette. Also on the schedule are the always-crowd-pleasing double decker architectural bus tours — a 2.5-hour guided, open-air experience that shows off the exteriors of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner’s former home (if walls could talk!), architect William Krisel’s House of Tomorrow (where Elvis and Priscilla Presley honeymooned), and the famed Richard Neutra– designed Kaufmann House (once owned by Barry Manilow and immortalized in Slim Aaron’s 1970 photograph Poolside Gossip), among others — and the Illuminated Modern Sunset Bus Tour, which takes architecture enthusiasts past lit-up midcentury structures along Palm Canyon Drive and nearby. And if you enjoy butterfly rooflines attached to classic postand-beam houses, head on over to Desert Park Estates — once part of the original Ranch Club, developed in the 1950s and ’60s — for a Hugh Kaptur home tour. Showcasing the architect’s affinity for what he referred to as the “desert style” — thick walls, inset windows, and wide overhangs — the tour also includes an informative walking tour and a trip to the famed Monkey Tree Hotel, which in the 1990s was known as the Terra Cotta Inn, one of the best reviewed nudist resorts in the United States. Designed by Albert Frey, the Monkey Tree is probably best known for its two-bedroom suite boasting a private entrance (#34, in case you’re wondering), where President John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe were rumored to have spent time together. Upping the cool factor even more is the fact that Modernism Week is also a charitable organization that provides scholarships to local students pursuing degrees in architecture and design as well as contributing to many preservation organizations, both locally and throughout California. For more information and to buy tickets for events — be advised that many sell out quickly — visit ModernismWeek.com.

626-356-PLAY | pasadenaplayhouse.org

The biggest musical beach party of the year!

Jan 23–Feb 18 Written by Gilbert & Sullivan Reimagined by The Hypocrites




TV ready to unleash array of LGBT themes, characters Prominent critics on their most-anticipated new shows By SUSAN HORNIK

At the recent television critics press tour, there were many new gay-friendly television shows intriguing critics. The Los Angeles Blade’s Susan Hornik talked with LGBT journalists about their take on the new shows.

Trish Bendix Managing editor at INTO Most excited about “VIDA,” from queer Latinx playwright-turned-TV writer Tanya Saracho. Not only does the show have an all Latinx writers room and Latinx actors, but the plotline and several major characters are LGBTQ. Rarely do we see Latinx leads on TV, and this is a Starz show which means it will be gritty, sexy, and boundary-pushing. Also, Alan Cumming-starrer “Instinct” will also be of interest, though I’m concerned with CBS’s not-so-great track record on LGBTQ inclusion. Still, having an out bisexual man playing a gay lead on a primetime network show is pretty exciting.

Jim Colucci author of the 2016 NYT best-seller “Golden Girls Forever” The depictions of LGBT characters are more plentiful and more well-rounded than the days of “The Golden Girls,” which was a LGBT favorite at that time. Back then, the occasional guest character would be gay or lesbian, or there would be a gay-themed joke — and certainly there was a gay sensibility about any show that starred a Broadway legend like Bea Arthur. FX’s’ “Pose,” a recreation of the late ‘80s Harlem drag ball era from the prolific gay TV mogul, Ryan Murphy. Trans portrayals are still in short supply on TV, but “Pose” brings us a wide variety of queer characters and it’s both fun and fearless. Even on network TV, the most mainstream you can get in America’s entertainment universe, gay characters are now not just being accepted, but are featured as lead characters. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing more of NBC’s “Champions,” about the philandering owner of a Brooklyn gym who is suddenly presented with the son — half Indian-American and all fabulously gay — he never knew he had. Other shows have featured gay teens before — memorably, “Glee,” again from Ryan Murphy — but I love how “Champions” capitalizes on the fabulousness of its funny and appealing teen actor, J.J. Totah. NBC’s drama “Rise,” set in the drama department of a working-class Pennsylvania high school, is worth checking out. Although in adapting their source material, the book, “Drama High” by Michael Sokolove, “Rise’s producers changed Josh Radnor’s lead character of drama teacher Lou to be straight rather than gay, the series does feature several students facing issues with being trans and coming out. Even though I’m still wary of the change, I realize this series, set in the gayestfriendly of places a high school can offer, its drama department — has the chance to say something really interesting, meaningful, and ultimately, entertaining.

John Griffiths executive director, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics “Instinct,” with Alan Cumming as network TV’s first gay character to top an hour drama, should be a kick, given the star’s unique charms (and he was more than good on “The Good Wife”). Should be a cheeky kick — he tracks serial killers, teaches at a university and writes books (Whoopi Goldberg plays his editor!). He also rides a motorcycle. How butch! Curious to see how the new Paramount Network’s reboot of the Winona Ryder/

Christian Slater cult classic, “Heathers” turns out. In this series version of the teenhorror comedy, one of the three titular cliquish high school meanies happens to be gay. The snark is played by out newcomer Brendan Scannell, who, judging by the witty banter he tossed at the show’s TCA panel, has a serious future in comedy. Another potential standout here: Lilli Birdsell, hilarious in clips as the super-pert white mom to a black Heather (Jasmine Mathews). It’s not rife with LGBTQ characters, but “American Woman” (also on Paramount, formerly Spike TV) with Alicia Silverstone has lots of allure. Silverstone was adorable in “Clueless,” sure, but also terrifically weird in the recent Colin Farrell/ Nicole Kidman thriller, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” And her role here — a dutiful wife and mom who ditches her cad of a husband to belatedly join the feminist movement in the early ‘70s — is irresistible. Gay heartthrob Cheyenne Jackson (“30 Rock”) co-stars as the love interest of Silverstone’s BFF, played by Mena Suvari. The show comes with an authentic vibe and cinematic look, surprising considering it’s created by “Real Housewives” fixture, Kyle Richards (it’s based, in fact, on her mom’s own life trajectory).

Steve Gidlow TV, MediaVillage In an age where all that is old is new again, it’s refreshing to see the upcoming new installments of ABCs “Roseanne” tackling a sensitive issue like gender fluidity. With Darlene back at home caring for Dan and Roseanne, her parents are faced with Darlene’s young son Mark (Ames McNamara) who his experimenting with his fashion style and outward appearance — all much to grandpa Dan’s chagrin. Even in its heyday, “Roseanne” was never a show that shied away from big social issues so it’s refreshing this reboot is tackling the issue of letting a young person explore what makes them happy head on, even though it might make those closest to them less than comfortable. #beyourself

Malcolm Venable TVGuide.com, Senior Editor, West Coast “Pose”—Only Ryan Murphy could sell a network on a story that juxtaposes the NYC 80s ballroom scene with the uptown upper crust elite of the Reagan era, while hiring a record number of trans talent in front of and behind the camera! It looks gorgeous and the first footage we saw at TCA included scenes that looked like note-for-note recreations of moments from “Paris Is Burning,” which — no joke — made my heart flutter. “9-1-1”— Angela Bassett’s husband coming out to her as gay (in the first episode!) but the high camp that Murphy’s team, Brad Falcuck, Tim Minear and the uber fierce Alexis Martin Woodhall (seriously Google her) put together. That translates to seeing the emergency response team, which includes Peter Krause, Aisha Hinds and Kenneth Choi. “Versace”—Essential television. Lush, vivid, intensely terrifying and relevant for its messages. Great performances from Judith Light, Penelope Cruz and Edgar Ramirez but Darren Criss is life-changing. And, surprise: don’t expect much Versace. It’s about Andrew Cunanan. “2 Dope Queens”— Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson take their podcast to the stage for a limited-episode run on HBO. They’re authentic and revelatory to their experience as black women, but as the packed multi-cultural NYC audiences show, their stories are universal covering nerd life, boy troubles and of course Beyonce. It’s hilarious and they represent hard for their LGBTQ fam.

Tony Kushner & Sarah Vowell In Conversation The Lincoln Legacy: The Man and His Presidency Thu, Feb 22 at 8PM Royce Hall

cap.ucla.edu 310-825-2101 #CAPUCLA



Oscar nominees include some LGBT surprises James Ivory strong contender for ‘Call Me By Your Name’ By JOHN PAUL KING

The 2017 Oscar nominations have been announced, and while there are, as usual, a few surprises as to who was included and who was left out, most savvy film aficionados will find the list of competitors a close match to their expectations. It’s been an unusually rich year for “award bait” movies. In many (if not most) past Oscar races, there have been one or two clearly worthy front-runners and the rest of the crop has seemed like filler. Even so, the Oscars have never been about quality alone; politics have always played a part in determining nominations and especially winners. In this year’s contest, not surprisingly in a cultural context rife with polarizing controversy, that observation may be truer than ever. Categories that are traditionally all male include women. Greta Gerwig received a nod for her direction of “Lady Bird” and “Mudbound” garnered a nomination for its cinematographer, Rachel Morrison, the first female to be so recognized. Black talent has also been acknowledged. Jordan Peele earned well-deserved (and pleasantly surprising) nominations for both directing and writing his brilliant blend of horror and social satire “Get Out,” which was also included as a Best Picture contender. That movie’s star, Daniel Kaluuya, is also a nominee for Best Actor as is Denzel Washington, for his work in “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” a rare instance of two black performers included in the running for that prize. The most obvious area of improvement this time out, however, is the amount of recognition the Academy has given to LGBT-themed movies and performances. Most prominent, of course, is “Call Me By Your Name.” This gay coming-of-age story may have generated some controversy over the age gap between its two protagonists (especially after the revelations about Kevin Spacey’s long history of age-inappropriate sexual advances), but it overcame such concerns to become one of the best-received and most recognized films of the year. Its nomination for Best Picture is no surprise, nor is its presence in the categories of Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay, though its nod for Sufjan Stevens’ “Mystery of Love” in the Best Original Song category may have raised some eyebrows. What’s disappointing and telling is the exclusion of co-star Armie Hammer (considered as a likely bet for a Best Supporting Actor nod) and, even more shocking, Luca Guadagnino for the Best Director prize. The latter snub seems particularly pointed, considering that Guadagnino is one of the film’s few openly gay contributors, underscoring the not-unfair criticism that, though “Call Me” is an LGBT-themed movie, its participants (including both lead actors) are straight. On the other hand, James Ivory, who is also an out gay man, was nominated for his adaptation of André Aciman’s book; no stranger to Oscar attention (“A Room With A View,” “The Remains of the Day” and “Howard’s End”), he is considered a front-runner to take home the statuette. Unfortunately for fans of Timothée Chalamet, his chances of a win are far less likely. Though he grabbed some trophies early in this year’s awards season, he has since been

‘Call Me By Your Name’ landed nominations for Best Film, Actor and Song, but its gay director was snubbed, as was co-star Armie Hammer. Photo Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

eclipsed by Gary Oldman’s powerhouse turn as Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour,” which has dominated the Best Actor category at most of the recent ceremonies. Oldman is a well-loved performer who has been passed over several times for past work; on top of that, “Darkest Hour” proved its popularity among industry insiders by making a surprising show in the Oscar list, even grabbing an unexpected slot in the Best Picture roster. Both of those factors make it impossible to doubt that Chalamet, despite giving us one of the most unforgettable film performances in recent memory, will be going home empty-handed. There are other LGBT-relevant films singled out in this year’s nominations. Though not explicitly gay-themed, Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” does feature a tenderly handled subplot involving a gay character. That film is well represented in the competition, and stands a reasonable chance of winning any of its nods for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress (Saorise Ronen) or Supporting Actress (Laurie Metcalf). Likewise, Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” which leads the nomination tally with a total of 13, is not an LGBT movie but an exploration of “otherness” in a world dominated by straight, white, cis-gender male identity. It also prominently features a gay character, an older commercial artist whose happiness is blocked at every turn by homophobia and the psychology of the closet, played by actor Richard Jenkins. For his likable performance, he has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor; like Chalamet, though, his chances are overshadowed by a powerhouse front-runner — Sam Rockwell, whose work as an evolving racist cop in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is considered the clear favorite for the win. Finally, in the category of Best Foreign Language Film, the Chilean/German coproduction, “A Fantastic Woman,” secured a nomination. The story of a transgender woman fighting transphobia for the right to mourn after the death of her lover, it should also have gotten recognition for its star, trans actress Daniela Vega, who gave one of the strongest performances of the year, by any standard. As a foreign performer, and a relatively inexperienced and unknown one, she didn’t stand much of a chance. But the Academy missed a chance to show support and solidarity with the trans community by giving her a nod. Even so, the film’s nomination is a major step, although the omission of “BPM (Beats per Minute)” within the same category, is a disappointment. It’s too early in the race to make predictions. Though “Three Billboards” is currently considered the favorite to win (along with its star Frances McDormand and the previously mentioned Rockwell), controversy over its handling of racist themes (as well as some critical backlash over the contrivances of its story) may lower its chances as the big night draws nearer and “Shape of Water” made such a strong showing in the nominations that its popularity among Academy voters is impossible to ignore. Even given such causes for doubt, however, it seems certain that Oscar will not be duplicating the triumphant validation it delivered for queer awareness with its selection of “Moonlight” for Best Picture. This year, it looks like the LGBT community will be an also-ran.

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Andrew Modlin is a pioneer in California’s new Gold Rush Meet the CEO of MedMen By REBEKAH SAGER

‘A career as a cannabis entrepreneur was definitely not something in my plans,’ said Andrew Modlin. Photo Courtesy of Modlin

An unwitting MedMen customer who wanders into one of the dispensaries accidentally, may think they’ve come upon a Fred Segal or an upscale boutique in Beverly Hills — and that’s exactly what COO and founder Andrew Modlin and MedMen Co-Founder and CEO, Adam Bierman have in mind. Modlin studied Fine Art at UCLA and says he fell into the cannabis business by accident, but the unique design aesthetic of the stores has put it on the map. MedMen’s goal has been to re-envision the dispensary experience for patients, combining a clean, bright and innovative storefront that welcomes existing and new clients. “A career as a cannabis entrepreneur was definitely not something in my plans,” Modlin told the Los Angeles Blade. “I met Bierman at my first job and we hit it off immediately. We decided to combine our skill set and run our own marketing company in Los Angeles. We had a meeting with a local medical marijuana dispensary operator who wanted to hire us and that was our introduction to this industry. We immediately saw the business potential and jumped into the cannabis industry headfirst,” Modlin says. And MedMen has grown at lightning speed. With over 100 cannabis businesses, in a little over two years, MedMen went from 15 to more than 700 employees. Modlin says one of the biggest misconceptions about running this kind of business is that it’s all about the pot. “This is not about the pot. This is about running a successful business that adds value for consumers and the communities in which we operate,” he declares. Modin is a longtime supporter of Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), helping launch the Pledge 4 Growth campaign with the advocacy group in 2015. Pledge 4 Growth seeks to find common ground between business and advocacy interests in the industry to ensure patients and consumers have long-term access to high-quality, legal cannabis in the U.S. “I think one of the most surprising things was the fast pace of growth. We are the fastest growing company in the fastest growing industry in the country. In terms of treasured moments, earlier this year when West Hollywood welcomed adult sales, our store had lines of 150 people deep for days. I took a moment and realized how far MedMen had come and how excited I am about the future of our company and our industry. It was a pinch-me moment,” Modlin says. If you’ve missed MedMen, then you must live under a rock. The business is extremely active in the West Hollywood community, even sponsoring Pride events. But one of the most important contributions to Weho has been the “Being Alive” program, a project that has MedMen donating medicinal marijuana to HIV and AIDS patients. The business of the legalization of marijuana is not only huge for companies like Modlin’s, but for the state of California as well. “California’s progressive politics and diverse population make it a great model for the rest of the country. All eyes are on California. As the largest marijuana market in the world, it’s our job to show what’s possible,” Modlin says. The opportunity for what products to purchase in MedMen is endless. Modlin says the disposable vape pens are a customer favorite. The dosist pens vibrate after one dose, which is a great way for new users to get familiar with cannabis by calibrating their doses, and topicals and tinctures such as Papa & Barkley provide a great alternative for managing pain relief. Modlin says he’s an old-school head, and prefers to smoke flower. “I also love working out and Habit’s CBD-infused water is great for sore muscles,” he adds. Modlin and his business partner Adam Bierman were featured in the April 20, 2015 issue of Time magazine. The article written by Eliza Gray, titled “Dope Dreams,” covered the MedMen’s journey from yogurt to marijuana and the success they’ve had. The future of cannabis, according to Modlin, is to remove the “forbidden nature of weed and create an environment where people give themselves the permission to be OK with it.” He says he wants to take marijuana out of the shadows, and if they have their way, Modlin would like to create the first global brands of cannabis – not such small pipe dreams.

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