ERIC BAUMAN TAKES CHARGE OUT CA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR MAKES HISTORY AT CONVENTION, PAGE 06
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04 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Black AIDS Institute founder Phill Wilson is retiring Looked at HIV/AIDS through black lens By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org When the history of HIV/AIDS is written, Phill Wilson will emerge as a towering pioneer who fought to bring visibility to the ignored plight of HIV/AIDS in America’s AfricanAmerican community. On Feb. 5, Black AIDS Awareness Day, Wilson announced his retirement as head of the Black AIDS Institute, which he founded in 1999. “I have been involved in efforts to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic for more than thirtyfive years,” Wilson announced. “Today, I am announcing that later this year I will be stepping down as the Black AIDS Institute President and CEO, where I have had the privilege of serving for the last 19 years.” During that time, Wilson continued, “I have been saying ‘AIDS in America is a Black disease.’ No matter how you look at it— through the lens of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, level of education, or region of the country where you live—Black people bear the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this country— and the world for that matter. No path, no strategy, no tactic will end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America without ending the epidemic in Black America.” It was no small feat to make that case to the country that believed, especially in the early years, that HIV/AIDS was a gay white man’s disease. Indeed, when Wilson—a newly out 25-year old college graduate—and his beloved partner Chris Brownlie were first diagnosed with swollen lymph nodes in 1981 in Chicago, their doctor suggested they might have the mysterious new disease. Called “GRID” (GayRelated Immune Deficiency). But they didn’t meet the criteria publicized by the media, so they didn’t think it affected them. “Our doctor didn’t know much. No one had any information,” Wilson told The Blade. But after members of their gay softball team got sick and died in a matter of weeks, “That’s when it became real.” Wilson and Brownlie moved to Los Angeles in the spring of 1982 and got involved in the organization Black and White Men Together. “That’s when it got scary,” he says. “We had four or five friends sick at a time and we
Phill Wilson is retiring. Photo Courtesy Wilson
realized that nobody gave a damn. Either we were going to die or we were going to have to fight, and still we might die. Die or fight or both. I had just met Chris. I had just found myself. I wasn’t ready to let either go. So, we fought to make sure we did whatever we could to not die — and to make sure our friends did not die.” That gut-check drove Wilson, along with his personal experience of having made decisions based on misinformation. He and Brownlie worked with Brownlie’s best friend Michael Weinstein and others in founding the AIDS Hospice Foundation to give dignity to those dying of AIDS. Their first hospice was named for Brownlie, who died in 1989.
Wilson worked on two fronts—as the Director of Policy and Planning for the AIDS Project in Los Angeles (APLA) and as the co-founder of the National Black Gay & Lesbian Leadership Forum, which brought together black established and emerging leaders from all walks of life from Catch One’s Jewel Thais-Williams, Dr. Marjorie Hill and writer Linda Villarosa to filmmaker Marlon Riggs and poet Essex Hemphill and hosted speakers that included Angela Davis and Cornel West. Wilson leveraged that position to challenge media outlets, including Essence Magazine, to have better representations of black LGBT people and people with HIV/AIDS.
In Oct. 1990, Wilson was appointed the second AIDS Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles, following Being Alive’s Dave Johnson. In that capacity, he regularly corrected misinformation—including that HIV was an airborne disease like tuberculosis, a premise espoused by LA City Councilmember Nate Holden. But Wilson was not immune from the disease in his body, either. In 1996, he had to step down when he contracted pneumocystis pneumonia and Cryptococcus Meningitis at the same time. He was given 24 hours to livebut then his doctors put him on a new drug cocktail of protease inhibitors and his life was saved. But he was also keenly aware that he was privileged to be rescued, something not accessible to the vast majority of black people. So in 1999, he founded what would become the Black AIDS Institute to ensure the black community was not left behind. Since then, Wilson has pressed the recognition that since 1996, blacks account for almost half the new HIV infections each year, but to little regard. “We have made tremendous progress over the last two decades toward bringing about the end of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Today, we have the tools to end the AIDS epidemic in the United States. The question is whether we have the political and moral will to use those tools effectively, humanely, and in an inclusive manner,” Wilson says. “Are we are going to build on the remarkable advances we have made over the last two decades or are we going to go back to the dark days of despair and death?” Wilson says he is proud of his work with the Black AIDS Institute but “the time is right for this change.” The board has promised to continue in the spirit of Wilson’s legacy but will they bring their full-lived experiences to the job, as Wilson has done? Wilson’s legacy should also include his ability to reach people. What he told the LA Blade about his close friend, the late Dr. Mathilde Krim, co-founder of amfAR, applies to him, as well. “She was amazing in her ability to go everywhere,” Wilson said of Krim. She could maneuver easily among Hollywood stars and the politically powerful. “But she was also extremely comfortable with homeless youth, drag queens, the whole spectrum of humanity. She felt right at home.” Perhaps there’s time now for a memoir.
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06 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman takes charge
Sees California as ‘Big Blue Beacon of Hope’ By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com It’s been eight months since Eric Bauman won his historic but unexpectedly controversial campaign for chair of the California Democratic Party. But serving as the first openly gay chair is less of an issue in this deeply blue state than leading while also being responsive to noisy Democrats still squabbling over the 2016 election. Bauman is prepared to have his mettle tested at the California Democratic Convention, having already made significant internal changes to modernize the party. “I’m not the least bit shy about being the man I am,” Bauman tells the Los Angeles Blade. And, he adds, “my being a gay man is pretty matter of fact.” This convention from Feb. 23-25 while be the first time an openly gay man is in charge. And unlike when closeted chair Art Torres successfully pulled the party together after
Eric Bauman, center, aided in the state Senate campaign of current LA County Supervisor, Sheila Keuhl.
Photo Courtesy California Democratic Party
Photo Courtesy Bauman
the traumatic collapse of Howard Dean’s progressive presidential campaign, Bauman is dealing with several cultural movements colliding at the same time on social media and in real life, as well as having the onus placed on California to help Democrats win back Congress and put an accountability check on Donald Trump. Democrats, for instance, are facing their own “MeToo” struggles over incidents of sexual harassment allegations against three state legislators. As delegates decide how to deal with those three, Bauman decided to curtail the traditional alcohol-fueled parties and sign on with a 24/7 national rape and sexual harassment hotline, available to anyone who needs counseling, legal information or medical assistance. Additionally, Bauman added increased security at the convention to ensure that everyone walking around the convention feels safe. As a professional emergency room nurse, Bauman is no stranger to the effects of violence of word or deed. In fact, during his campaign for chair against Kimberly Ellis, a Hillary Clinton supporter who won the backing of Bernie Sanders loyalists, Bauman became the target of a vicious homophobic rumor pushed
on social media by the Ellis campaign. “What they’re accusing me of is being a child predator!” Bauman told the LA Blade at the time. He “lost it” until comforted by his husband, who produced an emotional video about Bauman and their relationship. Bauman also issued an email calling the rumor “despicable! This is not the Democratic Party! These are Trumpian tactics and it has to stop!” The next attacks were anti-Semitic. Ellis denounced the attacks but the divisive tone continued. “This is our Tea Party moment,’’ one leading Democratic strategist told Politico. “And it’s not going away.” And yet, Bauman says, the night he won the election, and the first time he spoke as party chair, he “planted one on my husband” and the throng of 3,400 convention delegates erupted into applause. “The place was on fire,” says Bauman. “Even those who voted against me—who hated me—came up and told me that it was a very bold thing to do.” Bauman says he’s not sure how his “gayness will manifest,” perhaps a pink skirt or high heels, he says jokingly. “I don’t feel the need to wear a flag on my shoulder. I don’t feel the need to carry
a signboard. But I do feel the need to represent. It was something to walk into the LGBT Caucus the first time after I won and speak to them as their chair,” Bauman says. “But you can rest assured that at meals, my husband will be sitting right next to me.” While being out is no longer unique, “it has to be that this is normalized. It has to be that it is not a big issue that I am the openly gay chair of the California Democratic Party.” Bauman’s been on that convention stage before, serving as vice chair to former chair John Burton since 2009 while also serving as something of a legislative “king-maker” for 17 years as chair of the powerful LA County Democratic Party (LACDP), with its 2.2 millions registered Democrats (2,662,109, as of Jan. 2018). Prior to that, Bauman built the local gay Stonewall Democratic Club into a statewide political powerhouse recognized at the national level. In 2000, for instance, VicePresident Al Gore chose a meeting with Stonewall as the place to announce his opposition to the anti-gay Prop 22 initiative. Also in attendance was Gov. Gray Davis, who Bauman helped get elected two years earlier over much richer gubernatorial candidates
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • 07
Eric Bauman and his husband Michael Andraychak. Photo by Karen Ocamb
Jane Harman and Al Checchi. Bauman severed as a senior advisor to Davis, which he followed with senior advisor positions to a succession of Assembly Speakers. It was through his work and visibility in all these high profile positions that Bauman made being an out gay man in a long term relationship with Michael Andraychak “matter of fact.” Last October, he passed the LACDP torch to his protégé, Mark Gonzalez, a 33-year old out gay Latino. With Democrats registering 8,471,371 (44.6%) of California’s almost 19 million registered voters, compared to 4,827,973 (25.6%) for Republicans, and 4,734,847 (25%) for No Party Preference, Bauman’s top priority helping Democrats win election should be a breeze. But these are California Democrats, who sometimes seem to have a penchant for making things difficult. In 2018, that ironically may be having so many Democrats running to be one of the top two votegetters in the June primaries, they weaken a possible winner’s chance in a Republicanleaning district, such as the race to fill retiring Republican Rep. Daryl Issa’s seat.
“My job is not to tell people they can’t run,” Bauman told the New York Times for a Feb. 14 story. “It’s not to push people out of races. But to try to help good candidates look to see if they have other options they could run for and make an equally important contribution.” Bauman is not a fan of the top-two system. “That denies people an opportunity to vote for a candidate who represents their interests,” Bauman told The Times. “It creates that danger that we could end up with so many Democrats that we split the vote so badly that we get aced out of a spot in November.” Meanwhile, Bauman says he and senior party officials also elected last year have “worked very hard to remake certain aspects of the party,” including modernizing how the party is run internally, modernizing systems of governance, information and communication, diversifying staff and changing how meetings and the convention are run. “Our entire team of officers come from activist backgrounds,” he says. Recently, Bauman agreed to a change in how the platform amendment process is handled, allowing “all amendments that were
submitted in good faith and which include the signatures of five DSCC members or five Registered Democrats from five different districts to be heard and treated with all due and regular consideration.” The convention will also be broken up into themes instead of an endless list of speaker after speaker. The convention will feature potential 2020 presidential candidates, include Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Sen. Kamala Harris and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer and the four gubernatorial candidates—Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Treasurer John Chiang and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and reelection opponent state Senate leader Kevin de León, will also speak. Women, African Americans, youth will all get their moments to shine. But of particular importance, says Bauman, is recognizing the labor movement which is facing frightening difficulties. The Monday after the convention, the Supreme Court will hear the Janus case. “The Janis decision is one that will most likely take away the rights of unions that
represent public workers to automatically have them enrolled as member or in they chose if they chose not to want to be represented, to force agency fees even though they benefit from the contract,” says Bauman. “And the Saturday of our convention happens to organized labor’s national day of action—in part because of the Janus case and in part because it’s the 50th anniversary of the ASME Sanitation Workers strike in Memphis where Martin Luther King spoke and where he was sacrificed.” And among the key speakers is former Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez who is running to be governor of Texas. “Much of the undertone of the Big Blue Beacon of Hope is that we know this is a year where we can actually reclaim America, not just California,” says Bauman. “We already claimed California. And having a Latina lesbian sheriff running somewhat competitively to be governor of a red state like Texas fits the red-to-blue model that we’re all recognize is essential for us to be successful. She’s a powerful figure and she’s running a pretty damn historical campaign.” Just chalk 2018 up to being an historic year.
08 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Equality California’s Rick Zbur on transgender military status Pence/Perkins up to new dirty tricks By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org Donald Trump seems to have a pattern: declare a progressive Obama-era policy dead then order someone else to deal with it. That’s what he did with DACA and Congress still hasn’t figured out a fix. And that’s what he did with former Defense Sec. Ash Carter’s lifting of the ban on open service by transgender members of the military—a policy much studied, agreed upon and embraced by the armed forces, and trained for by the troops. It’s a policy trans servicemembers and recruits are counting on in California, the largest state with the most military bases and servicemembers. Trump’s infamous July 26, 2017 tweet threw everything into chaos. “After consultation with my Generals and military experts,” he tweeted, the government would no longer allow transgender individuals “to serve in any capacity in the US Military.” Trump then dumped the upheaval in the lap of Defense Sec. James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to figure out how to ban trans people from serving. Mattis convened a panel of experts “to provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the president’s directive.” In the meantime, he said, “current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place.” Theoretically, if Mattis had a problem with the policy, Trump gave him cover to suspended it then and there. But instead he kept the policy and issued a memo reminding all members of the military to treat everyone with dignity and respect. It’s been a roller coast ride ever since, resulting in court-ordered injunctions from four lawsuits, including one from Equality California and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, saying the directive is discriminatory. But apparently Mattis did not meet his Feb. 21 deadline. “The secretary hasn’t made his recommendation to the president yet,” Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesperson, told the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson. The looming deadline for
Defense Sec. James Mattis Photo Courtesy Office of the President-elect
enactment is March 23. So while the collective holding of breath continues, a Feb. 20 Buzzfeed story lent speculation to the possibility that no matter what Mattis recommended—including following court orders—the White House would do what it wanted anyway. According to emails obtained by Buzzfeed, Dunford told his top brass the day after Trump “ban” tweet that he was “not consulted,” as Trump touted, and the abrupt directive “was unexpected.” In fact, as the LA Blade and others have reported, Vice President Pence and his Svengali sidekick, Family Research Council head Tony Perkins, orchestrated the whole trans ban in the first place—and Trump may decide to go with his loyal evangelical base. Then Mattis, ever the good soldier, would have to follow whatever presidential orders he’s given.
But what about that stumbling block of those court orders? It appears the Pence/ Perkins team has devised a new tactic to try to get around the injunction: if they convince the judge that the White House white paper is a “new policy,” the LGBT lawsuits against the ban would then be rendered moot. Except that’s blatant obfuscation, a version of “the fruit of the poisonous tree.” If the whole purpose of Trump’s directive was to find a way to ban trans people, anything short of total acceptance of trans people is tainted by the original bias. “It’s very clear the courts in four cases enjoined the president and the military from taking steps that harm transgender people who serve or enlist. It is not clear what the Trump administration may decide,” says Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. But the courts will enjoin any attempt by the administration to enforce the ban or
deprive trans servicemembers of medical care. “This president is erratic and it is unclear what kind of crazy action he might take,” say Zbur. “What we do know is that the policy to permit trans service was study by the military—which was a long process— and supported by the military hierarchy.... Nothing has changed since the military reviewed this policy during the Obama administration—that’s what we know. “I assume Gen. Mattis will continue to abide by what was the result of the military’s long process of studying this matter in detail,” Zbur continues. “There is no justification for treating trans servicemembers any differently from any other military personnel. And any special test applied to trans individuals or women is unlawful and the existing injunction would prevent implementation of anything like that.”
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • 09
Politicians told to pick a side: students or the NRA New efforts target lawmakers after latest mass school shooting By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com Once again the nation’s elected leaders offer “thoughts and prayers” and side-step action after the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Once again, an immobilized nation mournfully shrugs, as if the gun lobby is too powerful to be held accountable. But the nation once felt that about the tobacco industry and institutionalized racism and sexual harassment and equal pay—until cigarette warning labels, and the #TakeAKnee, #MeToo, #TimesUp movements started chipping away at such iceberg thinking. And now, America awakens to the #NeverAgain movement, started by surviving students motivated to save their own lives if the government won’t protect them. Political words ringing hollow are actually a threat to everyone’s survival. The antiterrorism message—“if you see something, say something”—failed to provoke local law enforcement and the FBI into investigating Nikolas Cruz, 19, whose scary obsession with guns and threats to shoot people at the school that expelled him went unheeded. On Feb. 14, Cruz strolled into his former school, loaded his legally purchased AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, pulled the fire alarm, and opened fire. Two coaches and 15 students were murdered, with more than 15 others injured. In the six minutes from his arrival at Stoneman Douglas to when Cruz tossed his gun and left alongside terrified fleeing students, Parkland became the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut where 20 children and six adults were killed. Perhaps more people would have been shot if Stoneman Douglas had not followed “active shooter” protocols—nine out of ten American schools practice lockdown or “active shooter” drills since the Columbine school shooting in 1999. But Congress is so enthralled to the effectively threatening National Rifle Association (NRA), not even the most
Emma Gonzalez’s clarity of mind captured the nation’s attention and galvanized a generation against anti-gun control forces. Screencapture MSNBC
sensible of gun safety laws have been passed. On June 20, 2016, for instance, the Republican-controlled Senate voted down California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposal to prohibit any individual who has been on the FBI’s terror watch list from buying a firearm. The proposal failed 47 to 53—despite the “thoughts and prayers” for the 49 mostly gay Latinos shot and killed and 58 others wounded by New York-born Omar Mateen, 29, at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida just 8 days before. The Senate also blocked a gun safety measure proposed after the killing of 14 people and wounding of 22 others on Dec. 2, 2015 at a workplace Christmas party in San Bernardino. And the Senate blocked proposals for new restrictions on gun sales after 20 year old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown three years earlier, on Dec. 14, 2012. Under pressure, Donald Trump announced on Feb. 20 that he wants a proposed ban on bump stocks, a device that turns guns into machine guns. Longtime gay gun control advocate Rep. David Cicilline introduced bump stock legislation on Oct. 1, 2017, three days after Stephen Craig Paddock fired on 22,000 concert goers in Las Vegas, killing 58 and injuring more than 515. The bill died. The NRA is not relegated to Congress. On
Feb. 20, just hours after dozens of Parkland students and allies headed in buses for the state capitol to talk to lawmakers—Florida House legislators voted against a motion to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Before they voted 36-71 to kill the motion, the legislators offered a prayer for the 17 murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But this time, legislators will have to face the pain and ire of high school students whose world changed that day they were almost shot to death like their friends. “We are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see,” surviving high school student Emma Gonzalez told a rally three days after the shooting. “They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS!” she said. “Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS.” Students who will be eligible to vote in 2018 or 2020 are becoming single-issue voters. “The reason we started March for Our Lives and the reason we are doing this [marching on Washington] on March 24th, we’ve been hearing a lot that this is not
the time to talk about gun control,” junior Cameron Kasky told CNN. “Here’s the time to talk about gun control: March 24. My message for the people in office is, you’re either with us or against us. We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around.” Adults are stepping up, too. Oprah and George Clooney have each donated $500,000 to the students’ cause. “Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country,” Clooney told USA Today. Nadine Smith, once a co-organizer of the 1993 March on Washington for LGBT rights, also stepped up. “California, Texas and Florida candidates must lead the way in rejecting support from the NRA. The majority of Americans want policies to stop gun violence but our elected leaders fear crossing the gun lobby. We have to show them that supporting the NRA’s irrational position will cost them elections,” Smith told the Los Angeles Blade after founding the #NoNRAMoney campaign asking voters to pledge to withhold support from any candidate of any party who accepts the backing of the NRA. “We have to demonstrate that we love our children more than they love their guns.”
10 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
An Olympic month for LGBT visibility
Gus Kenworthy and his boyfriend Matt Wilka embrace for a kiss seen around the world. Photo Courtesy Disney/Marvel
Figure skater Adam Rippon became a star at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea by publicly giving the middle ﬁnger to anti-LGBT Vice President Mike Pence, who led the official American delegation to the Games, and by becoming the ﬁrst out gay American man to medal in the Winter Olympics, taking home the bronze for Team USA. Rippon was one of 15 officially out LGB athletes at the Games, according to Outsports, with Canadian Eric Radford winning the gold with partner Meagan Duhamel in the pairs free skating performance. But it may be the shot captured live by NBC cameras of American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy kissing boyfriend Matthew Wilkas that sticks in the minds of millions of viewers long after the competitions become a faded memory. KAREN OCAMB
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“I can’t tone it down. I’m being me and being myself.”
— Out Olympic Bronze Medal winner Adam Rippon on the authenticity message sent to kids, on CNN Feb. 12.
“Yes, those are important scenes and I like the way they are done, but I don’t think they necessarily sum it up.”
— James Ivory on the love scene between the two men after winning Best Adapted Screenplay for “Call Me By Your Name” at the BAFTA Awards to Goldderby Feb. 18.
“They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS!”
— Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Emma Gonzalez, survivor of the mass shooting at her Broward County school at a Feb. 17 protest.
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12 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Army secretary: Soldiers unconcerned about trans service
State Rep. STEVEN WAYNE LONG (R-Spartanburg) is author and lead sponsor of the anti-gay bill in South Carolina. Photo Courtesy Twitter
S.C. bill would label same-sex marriages as ‘parody marriages’ Six members of the South Carolina House of Representatives last week introduced a bill calling for redefining same-sex marriages in the state as “parody marriages” and prohibiting the state from recognizing such marriages. “‘Parody marriage’ means any form of marriage that does not involve one man and one woman,” the bill states. “The State of South Carolina shall no longer respect, endorse, or recognize any form of parody marriage policy because parody marriage policies are nonsecular,” the bill declares. The legal director of the ACLU of South Carolina, Susan Dunn, called the measure “completely bogus” and said she doubts it would have any legal impact or authority to allow the state to circumvent the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared that state laws banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional and could no longer be enforced. “This is a feeble attempt to please somebody’s political base,” Dunn said. “It is thinly veiled sour grapes.” She was referring to the expressions of shock and anger over the Supreme Court ruling by anti-LGBT groups and individuals who had long opposed same-sex marriage. The bill in question, the Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act, was introduced into the South Carolina House on Feb. 15 and referred to the legislative body’s Committee on the Judiciary. In addition to prohibiting the state from “recognizing” same-sex or “parody” marriages, it includes two other main provisions: • “The State of South Carolina shall no longer enforce, recognize, or respect any policy that treats sexual orientation as a suspect class because all such statues lack a secular purpose.” • “The State of South Carolina will continue to enforce, endorse, and recognize marriages between a man and a woman because such marriage polices are secular, accomplishing nonreligious objectives.” The bill’s author and lead sponsor, State Rep. Steven Wayne Long (R-Spartanburg) couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. LOU CHIBBARO JR.
The civilian head of the U.S. Army said Thursday soldiers are unconcerned about serving alongside transgender people despite President Trump stoking fears about cohesion in his attempt to ban them from the armed forces, according to ABC News. Army Secretary Mark Esper said transgender military service “really hasn’t come up” as he’s traveled to U.S. bases at home and abroad when reporters asked if soldiers expressed concerns about transgender service. Esper, who’s already visited soldiers domestically and abroad in South Korea, Afghanistan and Europe, reportedly said troops are more likely to express concerns about food quality and pay. The Pentagon was expected to submit to President Trump recommendations on transgender service this week in accordance with his directive in August banning transgender people from the armed forces. It’s unknown what the recommendations will be, or whether Trump will alter his directive after that time. A federal court has issued a document asserting the Justice Department expects to defend a new transgender military policy in court after that time. Esper, who assumed office as Army secretary in November, said he met with “six or seven” active-duty trans soldiers in his first 30 days on the job and found their views “helpful” on the issue. Additionally, Esper said he talked with mixed-gender infantry and cavalry units on transgender service. Those soldiers, Esper said, told him the issue boiled down to all troops meeting the same standard. “Everybody wants to be treated with a clear set of standards,” Esper said, adding, “At the end of the day, the Army is a standards-based organization.” Trump’s policy banning transgender people from the armed forces is supposed to take effect on March 23. However, multiple courts have issued orders enjoining the military from enforcing Trump’s directive as a result of litigation filed by LGBT legal groups. CHRIS JOHNSON
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ producers sue user leaking spoilers World of Wonder Productions is suing an anonymous Internet user, who posts under the name “RealityTVLeaks” on various social media accounts, for releasing spoilers about “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” season three. “RealityTVLeaks” posts video, clips and still images on Instagram, Twitter and Reddit before episodes air on VH1. According to court documents obtained by Deadline, World of Wonder Productions has issued a lawsuit against the person behind the account. “Without WOW’s authorization, Defendants have obtained copies of episodes of All Stars … and have uploaded them to social media platforms including Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit using the username ‘RealityTVLeaks,’ prior to the airing of each Episode. … Defendants brazenly tout their posts as ‘leaks’ and ‘spoilers.’ Defendants have also removed copyright management information identifying WOW as the copyright owner and author of the Episodes, and added misleading copyright management information to the Episode clips they leak online, falsely identifying Defendants as the copyright owners and authors of the Episodes,” the lawsuit reads. The social media accounts have since been taken down. “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on VH1. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 10 will premiere on Thursday, March 22 followed by the after show “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked.” MARIAH COOPER
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • 13
Out Olympians steal the show Rippon, Kenworthy, others inspiring LGBT viewers around the world By MICHAEL K. LAVERS The out athletes who are competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang have become an inspiration for LGBT people around the world. Gus Kenworthy, a gay American skier who finished last in Sunday’s ski slopestyle on Feb. 17, kissed his boyfriend, Matt Wilkas, during the competition. NBC broadcast the moment during its Olympics coverage. “Didn’t realize this moment was being filmed yesterday, but I’m so happy that it was,” wrote Kenworthy on his Twitter account on Monday. “My childhood self would never have dreamed of seeing a gay kiss on TV at the Olympics, but for the first time ever a kid watching at home CAN! Love is love is love.” Brent Minor, executive director of Team DC, on Monday noted to the Washington Blade that gay American figure skater Adam Rippon is “certainly the breakout star” of the games. “He’s proud,” said Minor. “He’s unapologetic.” Johnny Weir, a former figure skater who is now an NBC commentator, on Feb. 16 wrote on his Twitter page after Rippon skated in the men’s free skate event that he “had to hold a press conference to defend myself against people questioning my gender” after he skated in men’s free skate program at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Weir then added he is “watching the world accept a vibrant and powerful hero in Adam Rippon.” “I am so proud and thankful to those who came before us,” wrote Weir. Canadian figure skater Eric Radford became the first openly gay man to win a gold medal at the Olympics when he and his teammates won the team figure skating event. Irene Wüst, a Dutch speed skater who is bisexual, has won a gold and silver medal in Pyeongchang. She is the first speed skater in history to win 10 consecutive Olympic medals. American speed skater Brittany Bowe is also among the 15 out athletes who are competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics. “Every out athlete is important,” Cyd Zeigler, Jr., co-founder of Outsports.com, an LGBT sports website, told the Blade on Monday in an email. “Each one inspires
Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy are among the 15 out athletes who are at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Photo Courtesy Twitter
someone else to live their life authentically.” David McFarland, founder of United for Equality in Sports and Entertainment, agreed. “Visibility matters,” he told the Blade. “Adam, Gus and Brittany showed up on the world stage shining a spotlight on the lack of inclusion, respect and equality for LGBT athletes in sport. We need to see more of these inspiring moments from athletes so young LGBT athletes know they too can fulfill their Olympic and athletic dreams without having to live in silence.” Zeigler pointed out Outsports.com’s tagline is “Courage is Contagious” because “we see the impact that every out LGBTQ athlete has on youth and adults alike.” He, like Minor, specifically singled out Rippon. “At these Olympics, though, Adam Rippon has done something special, something we haven’t seen before,” Zeigler told the Blade. “He is out there with all the flash and sass we’ve been told for centuries that male sports heroes can’t exhibit. Yet here he is, being his own true self, and America is falling in love with him.” “Brittany and Gus and Eric Radford and the rest of the out Olympians from around the world are all having a positive impact on the lives of countless people,” he added. “Adam is a breakthrough like we’ve never
seen before, not even with Johnny Weir.” Wüst won two gold medals and three silver medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Kenworthy won a silver medal in men’s freestyle skiing at the games, but he was not out at the time. Russia’s LGBT rights record overshadowed the Sochi games. The issue sparked global outrage, even though the majority of athletes who competed in the Olympics remained silent. The International Olympic Committee in 2014 added sexual orientation to the Olympic Charter’s anti-discrimination clause, known as Principle 6. The IOC also added an antidiscrimination clause to host city contracts. The U.N. General Assembly last November adopted a gay-inclusive “Olympic Truce Resolution” that calls for peace around the world during the Pyeongchang games. The U.S., France and Brazil blocked Egyptian and Russian efforts to remove a reference of Principle 6 from the resolution. The Pyeongchang Organizing Committee has adopted the IOC’s gay-inclusive antidiscrimination provisions. The Canadian Olympic Committee is hosting a Pride House the Korean Sexual Minority Culture and Rights Center, a Seoul-based LGBT and intersex advocacy group, and Pride House
International organized. “People now know that they shouldn’t discriminate (against people because of their) sexual orientation or gender identity,” Candy Yun, a bisexual rights advocate who is the Korean Sexual Minority Culture and Rights Center’s International Solidarity Manager, told the Blade earlier this month during a Skype interview from Seoul. “I hope at the Olympics or after the Pride House that people may try to understand that any person in the sporting community can be out.” Vice President Pence and his wife attended the Pyeongchang games’ opening ceremonies. Rippon in recent weeks has criticized Pence for his opposition to LGBT rights. Both he and Kenworthy have also said they would not meet with the vice president. Kenworthy on Feb. 15 posted on Twitter a picture of an X-ray that shows the thumb he broke during practice. He said it “won’t stop me from competing . . . but it does prevent me from shaking Pence’s hand.” “Silver linings,” proclaimed Kenworthy. Minor told the Blade that Kenworthy and Rippon are getting even more attention during the Olympics because they are “simply standing up for what they believe in.” “Everybody can appreciate them,” said Minor.
14 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 02 ISSUE 04
The dehumanizing DACA standstill Politics without reason
Navid Dayzad is an immigration attorney who can be reached through his website: www. dayzadlaw.com.
Millions of undocumented individuals currently live in the United States who struggle to live, work and provide for their families. Among these individuals are young people brought to the U.S. as children. These folks struggle to find their place in a country that has demonstrated a growing fear and distrust of immigrants. For young LGBT immigrants, this struggle only amplifies the issues they already face as an oftenmarginalized group dealing with their own sexuality, identity and gender. Yet, as the immigration debate rages on— now for over a decade—these young people find themselves as a political bargaining chip, leaving them feeling fearful of the future and their place in society. Due to a lack of bipartisan congressional support behind the DREAM Act, President Obama issued an executive order as a last resort in June of 2012, creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. DACA has provided nearly 700,000 individuals with work authorization and protected them against deportation. Immigration attorneys have long warned of the risks involved with DACA because the president rather than Congress created it. Yes, it provided young people with opportunities they would not have otherwise had, but with
no guarantee that it would last or that a less immigrant-friendly president would not use the information DACA recipients willingly provided against them. We now find ourselves in the DACA worstcase scenario: with a president who calls the home countries of these immigrants “shitholes” and ending DACA during his first year in office. Upon ending the program in 2017, the president kicked the can to Congress to create a permanent solution for DACA recipients. However, this request remains a tall order for a do-nothing Congress split on its approach to immigration. The battle wages on, but stuck in the middle are the people whose livelihoods and security are uncertain. LGBT DACA recipients feel this uncertainty even more acutely. The Williams Institute estimates that approximately 36,000 DACA recipients identify as LGBT and thousands more LGBT young people are eligible, but have not enrolled. In general, LGBTQ people of color are more likely to live in poverty as compared with their non-LGBT peers. DACA provided these individuals with the opportunity to become financially independent. The DACA program dramatically increased employment rates among LGBT young people, and allowed them to obtain higher paying jobs with health insurance. It also increased the number of people who sought higher education, overall lifting many undocumented LGBT individuals out of poverty. Beyond the loss of these financial and academic opportunities, LGBT recipients will also lose protection from deportation. Consequently, their lives would change from openly living, working and studying in their communities, to moving back to the shadows to avoid deportation. Deportation can be especially dangerous for LGBT individuals. The removal process alone can be harmful to LGBT individuals, as they are disproportionately victims of sexual assault and harassment in detention centers. Further, these LGBT individuals might be
sent back to one of the 72 countries where same-sex sexual acts are criminalized, or eight countries where it is punishable by death. Even in relatively progressive countries that have anti-discrimination protections on the books, authorities do not always enforce the laws consistently, and violence remains a threat. A far greater number of countries do not provide the basic right of marriage equality either. Sadly, the worst fears of many have come to fruition with the DACA program ending on March 5, 2018. The decision to end the program has faced court challenges, and advocates have had some success. As of this writing, both parties want a resolution for DACA recipients, but cannot agree on a deal. Conservatives seem amenable to an agreement, but also seek funding for a border wall and severe limitations to legal family-based immigration in exchange. Meanwhile, progressives refuse to tie a deal for DACA recipients to the border wall and other immigration proposals that would have dramatic effects on the immigrant community at large – many of whom are the parents of DACA recipients. Thus, the debate remains at a disappointing standstill. While all DACA recipients face challenges ahead, the future for LGBT DACA recipients is even more troubling. Not only will they lose the economic opportunities they have worked so hard for, but they also have the added fear of being forced to return to a country they have never known, which would be unaccepting of them, or worse. Without a permanent resolution, these young people face dire consequences for decisions adults made on their behalf in bringing them to the U.S. in the first place. We must continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform and for protections for these individuals. They are our community members, coworkers, activists, and friends, and to turn our backs on them now would demonstrate a tragic lack of humanity.
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LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • 15
Thoughts of donations, prayers for re-election Politicians in hot seat as children lead cries of ‘BS’ over gun laws
Jon W. Davidson has been a leading LGBT legal rights advocate and constitutional scholar for more than 30 years. He recently stepped down as the national legal director of Lambda Legal.
The next time you hear a politician respond with their “thoughts and prayers” to the next mass shooting, you should understand that they likely are expressing their “thoughts” of the massive donations they have received and hope to continue to receive from the powerful gun lobby and their “prayers” that their perpetual thwarting of reasonable gun laws will have zero effect on their reelection. That next time could well be tomorrow, given that the Parkland high school attack was the 1,624th time that four or more people were shot in one incident in the United States in the 1,870 days that led up to it since Jan. 1, 2013. I had given up hope that this ever would change, but I am sensing a new energy that is rekindling my belief that maybe it could. That energy is coming from American teenagers, many of whom have lost classmates in these tragedies. From press conferences to Sunday morning talk shows to White House lie-ins, they are calling BS on the deflections and excuses of those willing to continue to sacrifice our nation’s children to the altar of the NRA. BS to the politicians who say “now is not
GOP candidates received more than 98 percent of the $6 million in gun lobby campaign support in 2016 alone. the time.” As 17-year-old David Hogg told CNN, “I want to ask them: When is? How many more children need to die?” BS to the politicians who say, “We should not politicize these deaths.” Cameron Kasky, an 11th-grader at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, responded, “they don’t understand that if we don’t politicize it, no action is going to come from this. We need to start moving now…. We need action, and we demand it. And we’re going to get it.” Emma Gonzalez, a senior at the school, denounced gun defenders’ lies at a rally Saturday with these words: “They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.” Right they are. Study after study has shown that countries and states with stronger gun regulations have dramatically lower rates
of gun violence. The presence of armed guards has not stopped these tragedies. It’s incontrovertible that someone armed with an assault weapon can kill far more people at once than any knife or car could. Sensible measures like bans on assault weapons; implementation of background checks on all gun transfers, waiting periods, and gun permits; mandates on safe storage of weapons; and gun buyback programs repeatedly have been shown to result in double digit annual reductions in gunrelated homicides. Student organizers from Stoneman Douglas have announced that they will lead a nationwide demonstration on March 24 in Washington, D.C. and cities across the country. Cameron Kasky explained, “We are going to be marching together as students, begging for our lives.” Students also are planning walkouts. The first is planned for March 14th, one month after the Parkland shooting. Students and teachers are being urged to walk out of their schools at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes, in memory of the 17 people massacred in Parkland. Another is planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School killings of 13 people in Colorado.
More than 22,000 have already pledged to walk out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. that day. These kids do know what they are talking about. They are making their voices heard. Some of them can already vote. Most of the rest will be able to vote soon. If they can continue to keep front of mind the blood on the hands of politicians who have done nothing to stem the ongoing slaughter of our nation’s children, it will be bad news for Republicans: GOP candidates received more than 98 percent of the $6 million in gun lobby campaign support in 2016 alone. After the assault weapon attack that killed 49 mostly queer, Latinx people (and wounded 58 others) at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, dozens of LGBTQ organizations called for stronger protections against gun violence. It’s hard, amid all the many attacks on our community, to choose which to focus on, but it’s not an either-or situation. My thoughts are that we, and everyone else, need to listen to the young people who say enough is enough. My prayers are that we will join together to vote out the scoundrels and support only politicians who will vote for the laws we need to save our and our children’s lives.
16 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Don’t forget about Latin America in LGBT equality fight Overlooked region is at a delicate tipping point By DANIEL BEREZOWSKY LGBT advocates do not speak about Latin America very often. The region is home to 625 million people and yet, it is commonly disregarded in international conferences and reports on sexual orientation and gender identity. I think it has to do with the fact that, to many, Latin America seems to be doing “well enough.” To be fair “well enough” seems accurate to some extent. When compared to other regions of the world (primarily Africa and Southeast Asia), most countries in Latin America seem to be doing just fine in terms of liberties for LGBT people. Same-sex activity is legal in practically all the countries of the region (East-Caribbean islands aside). Same-sex marriage is recognized in Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil. Some countries, like Argentina, have some of the most advanced legal gender recognition norms in the world. And every summer, tens of thousands fill the streets of Rio, Santiago, Montevideo, Mexico City, and many others, with joyful marches of Pride. Behind this salubrious portrait, however, lies a lackluster reality.
The weak rule of law that persists in some countries renders their ultra-progressive legislation practically useless. In Brazil, a person is killed because of his or her sexual orientation every 25 hours. Mexico had over one thousand homophobic murders in only two decades. And the region as a whole has four out of the five countries with the highest trans and gender-diverse murder rates in the world. In practically all 33 countries, homophobia and transphobia continue to be widespread. In some cases, such as Barbados, Jamaica, Dominica, Granada and several others, it is encouraged de facto by the state. In the rest, it is allowed, and often perpetrated by police officers, judges, politicians and civil servants. LGBT activists in the region, however, are often left to put up the fight alone. With limited resources, multinational foundations and nonprofits often gear their international LGBT work toward Africa and Southeast Asia. The language barrier also limits the capabilities of small LGBT organizations in the United States and Europe that often do not have Spanish or Portuguese speaking staff. Regional organizations also lack the capability to support the work of LGBT activists. At the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, for example, the LGBT rapporteurship has one staff member, or
sometimes two, if they are lucky to get a fellow or an intern that year. Yet, they have 35 countries to cover (U.S. and Canada included) each of them with a drastically different reality. In the meantime, conservative organizations have mustered unprecedented resources and are orchestrating a powerful and coordinated backlash across the region. Earlier this month in Costa Rica, a campaign based solely on hate speech boosted evangelical candidate Fabricio Alvarado to the top of the first round, in the country’s presidential elections. In the past three years alone, anti-gay groups have also managed to stop a presidential reform to recognize marriage equality nationwide in Mexico; they derailed a proposed LGBT-inclusive curriculum in Peru; and most recently, they have used deceitful campaigns in Ecuador, Chile and Uruguay to launch a defense of the traditional family from the so-called “gender ideology.” LGBT rights were also under tough scrutiny in Brazil, last year, when a judge rolled back on regulations to ban “conversion therapy,” and in Chile, where the same-sex marriage bill remained stagnant in Congress. Latin America is at a delicate tipping point. The significant progress that was achieved over the last decade could easily be lost if the region falls into complacency. LGBT advocates are working hard to
impede setbacks, but they cannot do it alone. They have the courage, the will and the inspiration; but they lack the advocacy skills, the financial resources and the brand recognition that only international organizations can build and sustain. The timing is right. In early January, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights published a landmark advisory opinion that signals the possibility to acknowledge marriage equality and gender legal recognition under the American Convention of Human Rights. If the international LGBT rights movement supports the region and builds robust transnational networks to share information, resources and strategies, not only will the continent be able to deter possible setbacks; it can emerge as an example that may have a domino effect elsewhere in the hemisphere, and around the world. We have to start caring about Latin America. We have to stop thinking that “well enough” is good enough for LGBT people in the region. And we have to do so now, before it is too late. Daniel Berezowsky is an LGBT advocate from Mexico City. He is an HBO Point Foundation Scholar pursuing a master’s in international affairs at Columbia University. During his studies, he has interned at the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and at the LGBT Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.
In adults with HIV on ART who have diarrhea not caused by an infection IMPORTANT PATIENT INFORMATION This is only a summary. See complete Prescribing Information at Mytesi.com or by calling 1-844-722-8256. This does not take the place of talking with your doctor about your medical condition or treatment.
What Is Mytesi? Mytesi is a prescription medicine used to improve symptoms of noninfectious diarrhea (diarrhea not caused by a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection) in adults living with HIV/AIDS on ART. Do Not Take Mytesi if you have diarrhea caused by an infection. Before you start Mytesi, your doctor and you should make sure your diarrhea is not caused by an infection (such as bacteria, virus, or parasite).
Possible Side Effects of Mytesi Include:
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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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Should I Take Mytesi If I Am: Pregnant or Planning to Become Pregnant? • Studies in animals show that Mytesi could harm an unborn baby or affect the ability to become pregnant • There are no studies in pregnant women taking Mytesi • This drug should only be used during pregnancy if clearly needed A Nursing Mother? • It is not known whether Mytesi is passed through human breast milk • If you are nursing, you should tell your doctor before starting Mytesi • Your doctor will help you to decide whether to stop nursing or to stop taking Mytesi Under 18 or Over 65 Years of Age? • Mytesi has not been studied in children under 18 years of age • Mytesi studies did not include many people over the age of 65. So it is not clear if this age group will respond differently. Talk to your doctor to find out if Mytesi is right for you
What Should I Know About Taking Mytesi With Other Medicines? If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicine, herbal supplements, or vitamins, tell your doctor before starting Mytesi.
What If I Have More Questions About Mytesi? For more information, please see the full Prescribing Information at Mytesi.com or speak to your doctor or pharmacist. To report side effects or make a product complaint or for additional information, call 1-844-722-8256.
Rx Only Manufactured by Patheon, Inc. for Napo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. San Francisco, CA 94105 Copyright © Napo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Please see complete Prescribing Information at Mytesi.com. NP-390-26
• 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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Mytesi comes from the Croton lechleri tree harvested in South America.
LGBT critics make their Oscar picks Lots of love for ‘CMBYN,’ ‘Fantastic Woman’ in landmark year By SUSAN HORNIK
Thankfully, after 2017’s “Moonlight” Oscar victory fiasco, the nominations for 2018 Oscars reflect more LGBTQ diversity than ever before. But while this pleases some LGBTQ genre critics, the choices fall short with others. The Los Angeles Blade talked with film critics about their favorite films.
Daniel Montgomery, GoldDerby.com This has been an encouraging year for LGBT movies. Twelve years after “Brokeback Mountain” was the subject of so much debate and controversy, and one year after “Moonlight” broke new ground by winning Best Picture at the Oscars, the presence of “Call Me by Your Name” in the awards conversation has seemed almost matter-of-fact. And the fact that it wasn’t the only option for awards voters this year felt refreshingly ordinary. I thought the French film “BPM” and the British film “God’s Own Country” deserved a lot more awards attention — they’re both among my favorite films of 2017.
Beth McDonough, AfterEllen.com My favorite 2017 film was “Battle of the Sexes,” which I think was hugely overlooked this year during awards season. I did love “Call Me By Your Name” though. “Thelma” and “My Days of Mercy” were really great films that didn’t get enough attention. “A Fantastic Woman” was incredible!!!! and will hopefully win the Foreign Film award.
Jeremy Blacklow, GLAAD 2017 has been a banner year for LGBTQ representation at the Academy Awards, albeit mostly still relegated to limited release or independent films. Following the huge breakthrough moment of “Moonlight” winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards, we’ve seen a record amount of diverse LGBTQ inclusion among this year’s nominees. While a lot of the buzz has focused on “Call Me by Your Name” (and its nominations for Best Picture, for Timothée Chalamet for Lead Actor, for James Ivory for Adapted Screenplay, and for Sufjan Stevens for Original Song “Mystery of Love”), when you look a bit deeper, you’ll
see a tremendous amount of LGBTQ talent nominated for their work behind the camera. Some of the most exciting nominations are for women, transgender people, and people of color, showing the beginning of a concerted effort by activists and advocates, the film industry, and the Academy to be recognize more diverse nominees. For “Mudbound,” Dee Rees is the first black woman ever nominated for Adapted Screenplay, and Rachel Morrison is the first woman ever nominated for Cinematography (they are both out lesbians).
Trish Bendix, Into LGBTQ-themed films I would like to have seen recognized this year: “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women,” for its progressive queer take on polyamory, kink, and feminist themes from out director, Angela Robinson. “Thelma,” the lesbian-themed horror film, was one of the most overlooked offerings of the year, despite getting early Oscar buzz. I also liked the documentary, “Whitney - Can I Be Me?” an inside look at one of the most tragic stories of homo and biphobia as it related to one of the most talented pop stars of our time.
Frank J. Avella, GALECA I don’t think there are necessarily more gay characters/movies than last year. It seems that way because a few big name films (“Call Me By Your Name” in particular but also “BPM,” “God’s Own Country,” “A Fantastic Woman”) have been written about more than most LGBT fare most years. And “CMBYN” has been especially controversial for many because of the non-nudity clause in both lead’s contracts which many LGBT media writers have mixed feelings about, myself included. I personally feel it compromised Ivory’s brilliant script. “BPM” (Beats Per Minute) deserved to, at least have gotten a Foreign Language Film nomination. It’s a daring and startling depiction of LGBT life (something “CMBYN” is not) and far better than ANY of the five nominees in that category. Also “God’s Own Country” which BAFTA recognized, deserved some love. This was my favorite because it never compromised in hopes of reaching a larger audience. It’s real and resonant.
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Jim Farmer, film critic, Georgia Voice It was great to see so much LGBT visibility in theaters last year. I am happy to see the nominations for “Call Me By Your Name,” “The Shape of Water,” “A Fantastic Woman” and “Strong Island.” It was a tremendous year for LGBT films and film overall. I would have loved to see “Beats Per Minute (BPM)” nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category. It was one of my favorite films of 2017. And I really liked “Battle of the Sexes.” I personally think what Emma Stone did in that movie was more challenging than her work in “La La Land.”
Matthew Todd, author, “Straight Jacket,” former editor of UK’s Attitude
“CMBYN” is a love story and that always plays well with audiences and the great performances really ensure it’s a must see film this year. Saying that, despite it winning the Dorian award, and huge support from the LGBT community, it has also created some controversy. Some believe it doesn’t show the power of the gay identity that was emerging then, they believe it perpetuates the everlasting idea that gay people can’t have happy endings. It’s a reminder that LGBT audiences still don’t have a variety of stories to choose from from big studios. There is an audience for them who are keen for fresh stories and hopefully even more will be made.
Erik Anderson, AwardsWatch Every year we will see more and more LGBTQ characters who are their own, fully realized people and not just the props they used to be. This is both because of the positive progression LGBTQ rights have taken as well as a response to the pushback over the last year from the current regressive administration. Art and the voices that supply it will always stand up and speak louder when told to sit down and keep quiet. I wish “The Wound” had gotten a nod for Foreign Language Film. I was shocked and heartbroken that “In a Heartbeat” was snubbed in Animated Short. And I was really happy that “Strong Island” made it in Documentary Feature.
Remember last year when ‘La La Land’ won the Academy Award for Best Picture? Wait, did that happen? No, ‘Moonlight’ took home the gayest moment in Oscar history...didn’t it? Warren Beatty is pictured here trying to set the record straight. Photo Courtesy Disney | ABC Television Group
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QUEERY 20 GAY QUESTIONS FOR JOE LANDRY
20 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
queery JOE LANDRY How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? Well, my mother “sort of” caught me. I was 18. We had a long tearful talk on her bed. She offered to send me to therapy; I told her she should go herself.
By TROY MASTERS email@example.com
Photo Courtesy Sundance Now
In 1992, When Joe Landry walked into my offices on Broadway at Bleecker Street in New York City, I knew someone special had arrived. He was all brains, brawn and handsome with a Boston accent for days and that’s exactly what I thought an advertising salesperson should be. “Why would you,” I asked, “want to sell ads in a gay magazine?” Joe had been highly recommended by the art director of my magazine, QW, a glossy gay magazine that was the only LGBT media serving New York City at the time. “This is what I want to do. It’s the contribution I want to make,” I recall him saying earnestly. He was on the team and an instant hit. QW was heavy lifting and loads of turbulent, fabulous fun, yet we were in the thick of an epidemic and it seemed almost every day someone close to one of our 15 person staff was consumed by the AIDS crisis, either through their own illness, a partner’s illness, death or imprisonment (most of the staff was in Queer Nation and ACT-UP). We were naively determined to change the world. Joe, like me, has stayed the course with LGBT publishing and has done so for many of the same evolving reasons; fighting AIDS and gaining LGBTQ equality has been an all-consuming, near halfcentury struggle. Passion roped him in and has kept him here. Publishing has served as a way to lead, educate, listen, communicate, promote diversity and to advocate to the wider world the value of our community. “When I moved to Boston in the late ‘80s I was walking down the street and somebody handed me a brochure. It said gay people are “going to go to hell.” I was like, “this is wrong,” Joe said in a recent ad for Lexus posted on Out.com. “That’s how I got started in gay publishing. I wanted to change the world.” He has done so by skillfully navigating the world of publishing and has, since joining the Advocate in 1994, been key to its survival. The Advocate began as a newsletter for Los Angeles activist group Personal Rights in Defense and Education (PRIDE) in direct response to 1967’s police raid on the Black Cat Tavern. The magazine has gone through dozens of hands and many iterations, but Landry has survived at its helm longer than anyone in its history. Today it is owned by Pride Media and includes Out magazine, Here TV, and Pride.com. Management was recently backed by Oreva Capital, a Los Angeles-based investment firm that also owns cannabis magazine “High Times,” in a buyout of the company. Oreva Capital CEO Adam Levin told Reuters he was “looking for brands that have strong emotional ties with a community.” “To go from people getting beat up by the police for assembling as gay people to marriage equality in my lifetime, is something that is mind-bending to me,” says Landry. The world has changed a lot since Joe’s 1992 foray into LGBT publishing, not to mention the medium itself. “I was at a restaurant tonight in San Francisco and I watched as a gay couple discussed hashtags they should use for their food which, when it arrived, they were photographing with their phones to the web,” he told me in a phone interview from San Francisco. “Things have really moved along, haven’t they? Hashtag: “Who are these people,” and hashtag: “what do they want now,” I asked. “That always been our job,” he said in typical Joe fashion.
Who’s your LGBT hero? Larry Kramer unapologetically set the world on fire during the AIDS crisis and has bravely never backed down. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? I loved the Spotlight Lounge on Cahuenga. It was the only place my trans best friend and I could each pick up a man. Describe your dream wedding. Eloping to Iceland. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Travel. What historical outcome would you change? Hillary Clinton should be President. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? The HRC Equality Rocks concert during the Millennium March on Washington. Not only was I front row for Chaka Khan but George Michael sang a duet with Garth Brooks. On what do you insist? Honesty. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? My beloved dog cheetah. If your life were a book, what would the title be? “Sex, Lies and Videotape. Eliminate the scientist”
What do you believe in beyond the physical world? We have control over the energy we put out and therefore attract. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Find a way to work with your partners. You’re better off together. If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Roll my eyes. What would you walk across hot coals for? My loved ones. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? People that stand in judgement of anyone in our community bug me the most. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? Cabaret? Female Trouble? Basic Instinct? What’s the most overrated social custom? Valentine’s Day. Who needs a manufactured holiday to show someone you love them? What trophy or prize do you most covet? I don’t covet; I plan a course of action to accomplish or I move on. What do you wish you’d known at 18? That all of your feelings both bad and good pass without having to change them with mind altering substances. Why Los Angeles? You can live life in Los Angeles. My tenure in New York was not about living but about working. My life in LA is balanced. I have space to contemplate.
22 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
‘Panther’ proves Black Movies Matter Blockbuster film embraces and celebrates black culture Photo Courtesy Disney/Marvel
By JOHN PAUL KING
Created in 1966 by Marvel founder Stan Lee and artist/author Jack Kirby, Black Panther was the first black superhero in mainstream comics. It took 50 years – and the rise of Marvel to the level of multimedia powerhouse – for him to make his big screen debut in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.” Two years later, he has a movie of his own, and it’s a lot more than just another spin-off; it’s a watershed moment in the cultural narrative. It’s not that its story is anything unexpected; on the surface, the film largely adheres to familiar formula. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is heir to the throne of Wakanda, a fictional African nation that is secretly the world’s most technologically advanced society. Part of his role as ruler is to assume the mantle of Black Panther, a warrior-protector who defends the country with the help of superhuman powers bestowed through ancient tribal rituals. His transition to the throne is challenged by Erik Killmonger (Michael P. Jordan), who seeks to use peaceful Wakanda’s superior resources to dominate the rest of the world. It’s up to T’Challa and a handful of loyal supporters to defeat him and regain control over the country’s fate. This hero-versus-villain scenario – though executed with the cleverness, style and technical expertise that has become the well-established standard for these Marvel films – is typical fodder for blockbuster entertainment, which aims for thrills and not much more; but “Black Panther” has its eyes on a higher prize. Thanks to the screenplay by director Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, “Black Panther” is the vehicle for a wide-ranging array of cultural messaging. This is no safe, middle-of-theroad adventure; Coogler and Cole have made a barely concealed political allegory in which Wakanda becomes a stand-in for (among other things) America itself. Struggling between its self-preservationist isolationism and its role in the global community, it becomes a nation divided; its leadership, plagued by past failures and uncertain of future direction, is usurped by an outsider with an extreme ideology who seeks to subdue or silence any opposition to his agenda; and its citizens must choose between patriotic duty or resistance against the ominous course set by the new regime. Add to this the fact that the resistance is largely driven by smart, empowered females, and the parallels are hard to miss. More significant than the Trumpian overtones, yet profoundly complementary to them, are the ways in which “Black Panther” embraces and celebrates black culture. It’s reflected in every aspect of the film, from the colorful costume and scenic designs, which incorporate heritage and history into its imagination of an Afrocentric futurism, to the exploration of social themes that not only recur throughout but form the very basis of the story’s central conflict. T’Challa’s struggle is not just with an arch-villain; it’s a conflict between opposing ideas of social justice. Do we right the wrongs of the past with education and leadership, or do the subjugated strike down their oppressors and change the world by force? This is, of course, a superhero fantasy, so it’s no spoiler to say that the movie doesn’t end with an all-out race war; still, it’s significant to note that “Black Panther” does not oversimplify these questions, and that it takes pains to present all sides of the discussion in a sympathetic light. That all of this comes through so clearly is a testament to the talents of the movie’s creators and cast. Director Coogler navigates his way through the dense trappings of the sci-fi setting without ever losing track of the story’s heart and soul – or its big ideas.
Boseman brings the charisma and fire he displayed in Black Panther’s “Civil War” debut, and he deepens the character with a vulnerability that makes him a hero even more to be admired. Jordan’s turn as Killmonger gives us a complex, human antagonist who earns our empathy, instead of the kind of caricatured “bad guy” that would turn the movie into a one-sided parade of tropes. The rest of the cast is no less important, and no less impressive. Lupita Nyong’o, as Nakia, is no mere love interest, but a force to be reckoned with. Danai Gurira, as Okoye, general of Panther’s bodyguard, is a fierce and imposing presence whose wisdom is every bit as formidable as her physical prowess. Letitia Wright, as Shuri, T’Challa’s sister and chief technical mastermind, is impish and irreverent, providing a hip and youthful energy while establishing herself as a supremely capable and self-sufficient heroine in her own right. This is a trio of proud, smart, compassionate women that could fully support a movie of their own. Representing the older generation are Angela Bassett and Forest Whittaker, both regal and indomitable as T’Challa’s mother and adviser, respectively. Martin Freeman reprises his “Civil War” role as CIA agent Ross, using his much-loved deadpan befuddlement to great effect; though essentially serving as a “token white” character, his likable persona serves as an important reminder that unity in the cause of justice is not defined by race. Andy Serkis, the movie’s only other significant white actor, gives a gleefully colorful performance as the secondary villain, Ulysses Klaue. All these stellar contributions blend together into the whole; no one element outshines any other, and “Black Panther” shines all the brighter for it. As good as this film is, though, its importance does not lie in its quality. The movie’s opening weekend ticket sales in North America outstripped anticipated figures; its global take for the weekend shattered myths about the overseas performance of movies featuring non-white actors. It had the highest gross for a February opening in history, and the fifth highest of all time. Black audiences turned up at theaters in droves, sometimes as part of school and church groups, often dressed in clothing celebrating their cultural heritage. There has even been a campaign to register voters at theaters showing the film. The impact of such a film – one that fills an oft-lamented gap for mainstream movies featuring people of color – should have been a no-brainer. For a major studio release to be so unapologetically “black” is a major step forward that is long overdue. To be sure, Marvel’s film comes in the wake of such surprise successes as “Moonlight” and “Get Out,” and feels connected to last summer’s “Wonder Woman,” which delivered a similar shock to the system, and Pixar’s Latino-themed “Coco.” Even so, “Black Panther” feels like the crest of a wave. The Hollywood industry, like any other business, is motivated by money; this movie has made a lot of that, already, and will certainly make much, much more. The studios will receive that message, loud and clear, and if history is any indication, they will clamor to jump on the gravy train. Hopefully, at long last, that will mean more movies about and by non-whites. Whether or not it will also encourage a more inclusive atmosphere for other underrepresented groups – like Latino, Asian, or LGBT audiences – remains to be seen.
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24 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Making sense of our violent times Author Sarah Schulman talks about her new book ‘Conflict is Not Abuse’ By DARNELL MOORE
Sarah Schulman is a New York-based novelist, playwright, nonfiction writer, screenwriter and AIDS historian. Photo Courtesy HBO
There is no turning away from the stark consequences of violence in the U.S. and abroad in our current moment. We feel the effects of such horrors. We sense in our bodies, in our homes, and within our communities their consequences. But we often lack the language and analyses that can move us beyond a shortsighted focus on the after effects of violence and into a place of clarity in which we might collectively find resolve. Sarah Schulman, a novelist, playwright, nonfiction writer, screenwriter and activist whose three decades of work has established her as a distinguished and sharp cultural producer and critic, has written a book that brings relief, in the form of careful examination, for our conflicted times. Schulman’s “Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair” charts a course we might follow as we attempt to move from conflict to transformation. She argues, with impeccable clarity and insight, that “any pain that human beings can create, human beings can transcend.” To some, that line may read as too quixotic during times when so many vulnerable people in the U.S. face the real threat of imminent harm by the state or other people, but what is hope but a belief in the possibility of overcoming seeming impossibilities? DARNELL MOORE: The mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was committed by a 19-year old, Nicolas Cruz, who was accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, and is an alleged white supremacist. He killed 17 people. How might the central argument in “Conflict Is Not Abuse” help us to respond collectively? SARAH SCHULMAN: My book examines two different sources of abusive behavior: supremacy and the trauma (while recognizing that both can live in the same body.) Some people are raised with a sense of superiority that implies the right to never be opposed or questioned, and certainly to never question themselves. If anyone resists their
supremacy, they feel uncomfortable and falsely equate that with being under attack. They escalate against others, acting in ways that are not justified but feel reasonable because of the distorted thinking of entitlement. But sometimes when we are traumatized, it is so hard to just keep it together, that facing difference, or when not everything can go our way, feels threatening. Further self-interrogation feels impossible, and so- similarly to the supremacist, the traumatized person may feel under attack when they are simply facing difference, and act out in ways that are terrible for other people. I cite the work of Edith Weigert, a German psychiatrist who treated people during the rise of the Nazi Party. She and another refugee psychiatrist Frieda FrommeReichman, wished to treat Nazis to separate anxiety from the need to act on it. Racism is an interior anxiety that people falsely blame on other people. A fascist, a rapist, a school shooter, a brutal police officer, feel compelled to act out their internal conflicts on others. We need awareness, and responsible group relationships to help us separate anxiety and fear and grief from actions that destroy other people. Rather than expelling Nikolas Cruz and selling him guns, we needed to surround him with community, with acknowledgement of his pain, with help in separating his painful feelings from destructive actions, to avoid this kind of disaster. MOORE: “Conflict Is Not Abuse” could not have been written at a more appropriate time. Share a bit about the book’s timing and the ways it is in dialogue with so many of tremors shaking our world? SCHULMAN: I’ve been writing this book for years. It started with my book “Ties that Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences” (New Press), in which I examined the homophobic family. How they bond with each other to blame and exclude the queer family member. They give each other pleasure, in their bond of supremacy, by claiming that it is the queer in the family who is the problem. But
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actually, the reality is, that the real problem is the homophobia of the family. They are rewarding each other in a negative group relationship. I applied it more complexly in my book “Israel/Palestine and the Queer International” (Duke Press) as a Jew born 13 years after the Holocaust. The Israeli State and its supporters use abuse tropes and victim language to justify the grotesque subordination of an other people, the Palestinians. By the time I came around to “Conflict is Not Abuse,” I had already explored the negative group relationship, in which the people causing the pain describe themselves as victims, in both the family realm, and the geo-political realm. I was able to explore group relationships, like couples, and cliques, and communities, in which terrible behavior is justified and used as a springboard for supremacy. The book came out two weeks before Trump’s victory. And in many ways, he has proven my thesis. Every Trump tells us what a victim he is, that a witch-hunt is attacking him, and how “sad” it is. At the same time his supporters take their own real pain, and project it—through distorted thinking—onto immigrants, who have contributed nothing towards their confusion and pain. The real blame should be placed onto the white 1% who are behind the globalization of industry that has eliminated the social role of many white working people. But this is obscured by scapegoating. MOORE: The #MeToo movement has elevated a much-needed dialogue on sexual assault, sexism, misogyny and male domination. What are your thoughts on the present public call outs and responses? SCHULMAN: Women are being heard for the first time, saying something that we have been saying for fifty years that has been met with derision and mockery. And this is the most significant happening. I hope this gets extended to a broader conversation about the meaning of the revelation that so many men abuse power. What does that mean about our social standards of what is good or beautiful?
Corporate entities — entertainment industries, universities, companies — are firing, shunning, and even erasing people, not for ethical reasons, but because they fear legal liability. The people doing the firing are often behaving in the same manner as those they are eliminating. This may still help some victims, but it is not going to produce any real change. And there is corporate overreaction in some cases, in which people get crushed. We are also seeing a lot of confusion about what is actually wrong. Assault is one thing, and that executives go so far as to set up rape situations, or hire Mossad agents to harass actresses, reveals criminality at the helm of social institutions. But just because one person is uncomfortable does not necessarily mean that the other party has violated them. That is a grey zone that requires a lot more conversation. When I see people complaining “he invited me to his hotel room”—well, that is not a crime, nor should it be. We need more opportunities for connection and expressions of desire, not less. The solution is not more repression and punishment, but instead more freedom and options for everyone. If I am embarrassed by the potential for passion or sexuality or love between me and another person, that doesn’t mean that they are hurting me if they are bold enough to take the chance. MOORE: Give us Sarah Shulman’s quick take on the current state of national political affairs. SCHULMAN: We are in the middle of a national cataclysm and no one knows what is going to happen. But one thing I am sure about: we are never going back to the neo-liberal society that we lived in 14 months ago. There is no going back. We have to come out the other end of this terrifying moment, and we had better articulate our visions for what kind of society we want to live in when we get there. Darnell L. Moore is editor at large at CASSIUS and the author of the forthcoming, No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America.
26 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Price points Wallet-friendly cars don’t have to be bland econo boxes By JOE PHILLIPS
With recent market jitters, vehicles with affordable price tags are back in the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for bland econo boxes. These three wallet-friendly vehicles are priced below today’s $36,270 average sticker for a new vehicle, yet they still shine in design. HYUNDAI SANTA FE SPORT $28,000 Mpg: 21 city/27 highway 0-60 mph: 8.3 seconds
Ever since Hyundai debuted the Santa Fe in 2001, it’s been a go-to crossover for frugal buyers. This year, the automaker dropped the price and is offering a $1,900 Value Package with plenty of niceties. These include power driver’s seat with lumbar support, dual-zone automatic climate control, seven-inch monitor, heated front seats, keyless entry and ignition, roof rails, heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators and LED daytime running lights. Another plus: Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality, with three years of complimentary Blue Link services that can include automatic collision notification, emergency assistance and stolen vehicle recovery. Inside, the seats are mounted high for good visibility and there’s plenty of storage space. It’s a handsome, quiet interior that would look right at home in a higher-priced Infiniti or Lexus. But acceleration is tepid, fuel economy is so-so and the ride can be a bit bouncier than expected over deep potholes. Still, it’s hard to quibble with the overall value here.
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
LEXUS NX $36,000 Mpg: 22 city/28 highway 0-60 mph: 7.1
OK, so the Lexus NX barely squeaks below the average cost of a new vehicle. It’s still a good buy, thanks to high reliability and safety ratings, ample legroom and a swanky interior. Plus, the edgy styling is just as chiseled as Olympic athletes Gus Kenworthy or Brittany Bowe, take your pick. This is a mini version of the hugely popular midsize RX crossover, yet the ride, handling and braking are pleasingly tighter. It’s also faster than the Hyundai Santa Fe and has a long list of standard features, including rearview camera, LED interior lighting, automatic LED headlights, smartphone app connectivity, eight-speaker stereo and more. Fuel economy is mediocre and there’s a rather annoying touch-pad interface on the infotainment system. But luckily you can simply use the hand-free, voice-recognition software.
VW E-GOLF $31,000 Mpg: 126 city/111 highway 0-60 mph: 9.2 seconds
Why buy an e-Golf when an electric Smart car or Chevy Spark EV are about $2,000 less? Because the e-Golf is bigger, sexier and much more fun to drive than a dorky Smart or Spark. Performance and handling are just what you expect from VW: nimble and smooth. With EVs, the quick burst of power from a standing start is always a welcome surprise. So is the e-Golf’s well-insulated cabin, which is eerily quiet even though VW installed a low-speed sound system to alert pedestrians to the vehicle. Those flush-mounted, 16-inch aluminum wheels look like something out of Transformers and the faux-exhaust pipes are a wink-wink to those in the know that you won’t be stopping at a gas station. You also can choose between three driving modes to boost the range before recharging by shutting down certain features, such as climate control. While it’s easy to spot a Tesla on the road, that’s not really the case with an e-Golf. Yet they must be popular — VW is now doubling e-Golf production to satisfy demand.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • 27
Every so often, you stumble upon a new series that’s so unique, you have to watch. Such is the case with “This Close,” the first show being produced for the Sundance Now platform. Featuring deaf writers and actors, the series is based on a series of web shorts that debuted at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and stars Josh Feldman and Shoshannah Stern, who co-wrote and co-created the series. “I was the only director of all six episodes, which was such an honor,” said gay executive producer Andrew Ahn at the recent Television Critics Press Tour. “I think I was picked because I was really there to help Josh and Shoshannah’s vision come across,” said Ahn. “I really respected their authorship and the sense of authenticity that they bring to these characters.” Comprised of six, 30-minute episodes, “This Close” touches on universal and relatable themes of love and friendship and features an ensemble cast of recurring guest stars including Zach Gilford who plays Danny, Kate’s (Stern) fiancé; Cheryl Hines as Stella, a PR maven and Kate’s boss; Colt Prattes as Ryan, Michael’s (Feldman) ex; and Marlee Matlin as Michael’s mother, Annie, a recovering alcoholic trying to reconnect with her son. In the series, the deaf, gay graphic novelist, Michael (Feldman) is trying to move on, after having his heart recently broken by his (hearing) fiancé. Throughout the season, audiences find out what brought the characters together and what broke them apart. “I really wanted to show what’s a modern gay romance and the difficulties of figuring out marriage and family and intimacy,” Ahn told Los Angeles Blade in an exclusive interview. “All that stuff we tackled in the show in a super modern, really fresh way,” he said. “The intersection between gay and deaf is something Josh has talked about, in that you never see these characters (on television), and I think it’s why he felt so inspired to write and play this role himself.” Ahn loved about the way Josh and Shoshannah wrote the character of Michael. “He feels real, flawed...he totally has a reason to be hurt and betrayed but at the same time, maybe he gave up on their engagement too soon. So showing this relationship in reverse is really fun.” Look out for Michael to have some steamy sex, teases Ahn. “Michael, in this tailspin of emotion, hooks up with random guys, has an orgy, and acts out sexually as a way to express himself, as a way to make him feel something again. This is something gay men go through and we wanted to show the difficulty in opening up with someone and what happens when you get hurt.” During the panel, Ahn pointed out that working with deaf actors and writers didn’t pose a challenge. “As a hearing director working with Josh and Shoshannah, beyond some very superficial differences, like how you signal action and cut, which is kind of just big hand waving or, making sure you get their attention, it’s exactly the same work.” Ahn’s focus was more about the motivation of the character, versus the fact that the actor participating was deaf. “For me, analyzing a script, I never wanted the reason for an action to be because this character is deaf. Michael drinks because he has a family history of alcoholism and he’s heartbroken. Kate can’t ask for her promotion because she’s intimidated by her boss and she hasn’t found a client that she’s passionate about yet. He continued: “If Michael drinks and Kate doesn’t ask for a promotion because they’re deaf, it would be a really bad show, you know? We together created fully three-dimensional characters that make the show bigger and better. Ahn was interested in learning how to sign, and picked up a lot of the language by editing the series. “We also did have on our call sheet a sign of the day. So we’d learn things like ‘toilet,’ and ‘ready?’ and ‘actor.’ It was a way to show on set that we cared, and we wanted to try and learn.” Ahn is a Korean-American filmmaker born and raised in Los Angeles. His feature film “Spa Night,” premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and won a Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance. The film also won the John Cassavetes Award at the 2017 Independent Spirit Awards. Ahn participated in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, the Film Independent Screenwriting Lab, and the Film Independent Directing Lab for the film. In Ahn’s own life, growing up Korean and gay, was its own stigma to deal with. About his family accepting him, Ahn said: “It was a process. I was very fortunate my family wanted to have a conversation. I was also really inspired by my struggle and intersection of my identities. I had to express myself through film and I was really fortunate that the Sundance Film Festival screened my first feature. My parents saw that people liked the film and wanted to showcase it. That really helped my parents better understand who I am. I would love to continue making meaningful material.”
‘This Close’ touches on universal themes of love, friendship New series comprised of six 30-minute episodes By SUSAN HORNIK
Andrew Ahn is a Korean-American filmmaker born and raised in Los Angeles. Photo Courtesy Sundance Now
28 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
CALENDAR E-mail calendar items to firstname.lastname@example.org two weeks prior to your event. Space is limited so priority is given to LGBTspecific events or those with LGBT participants. Recurring events must be re-submitted each time.
After Parkland, Orlando and San Bernardino, #TimesUp for the National Rifle Association’s grip on our nation’s gun law and the leaders of tomorrow will make that happen. Photo Courtesy Facebook
SAT. FEB 24
4th Annual Truth Awards Presented by Better Brothers Los Angeles and The DIVA Foundation, Sat. Feb. 24 @ 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM at Taglyan Complex (1201 Vine Street). The Truth Awards highlights the contributions of Black LGBTQ community members and their allies, showcasing examples of individual courage, leadership and excellence.
SUN. FEB 25
A Celebration of Life: Muslims for Progressive Values, Sun. Feb. 25, 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM @ CBS Studio Center (4024 Radford Ave). Muslims for Progressive Values presents a diverse and colorful program of personal tributes, poetry readings, and live music, focusing on the tireless efforts of artists and activists from the Muslim world who have fought for equality and against human rights abuses. The Badshah Khan Beacon of Truth Award goes to the out gay founder of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, Kevin Jennings. Xulhaz Mannan, formerly an employee of the United States embassy in Dhaka and founder of Bangladesh’s first and only LGBT-themed magazine Roopbaan, will also be honored. Tickets vary in price. More info at facebook.com/mpvusa.
SAT. MAR. 3
Interview with the High Priestess: NINA! an original musical play, Sat., Mar 3 @ 8 PM to 10 PM @ World Stage Performance Gallery (4321 Degnan Boulevard). Nina Simone is a legend among a certain set of LGBT people. This original musical integrates music, dialog and poetry in a intimate way, focusing only on two characters, Nina Simone and a News Reporter sent to interview her for a national black magazine. It’s a romp through the Civil Rights years and unique way of presenting black historical events that shaped the world we live in today. $30 at the door.
SUN. MAR. 4
And the winner is.. Oscar Viewing Party at The Abbey, Sun. Mar. 4, 3:30 PM to 8:30 PM @ The Abbey Food & Bar (692 N Robertson Blvd). It may just be the gayest Oscar yet and while it won’t be as cliffhanging as last year’s Moonlight suspense, we might just witness the ascendance of a number of major LGBT film stars. Don’t just watch the awards, drink them and dance. That’s right, drink and view the Awards at the Abbey, Dance to them at the Chapel.
WED. MAR. 7
SAT. MAR 10
Los Angeles’ 18th Annual Diversity Employment Day Career Fair, Wed. Mar. 7 @ 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Doubletree Hilton Los Angeles (6161 West Centinela Avenue, Culver City). The 18th Annual Diversity Employment Day Career Fair for the Greater Los Angeles is the largest and most popular diversity and inclusion recruiting event anywhere. This event is free and open to the public 18 years of age and older. Multicultural, Women, People with Disabilities, LGBT, Veterans, Mature Workers and all qualified candidates are encouraged to attend. FREE.
HRC Los Angeles 2018 Dinner, Sat. Mar. 10 @ 5:30 PM to 10 PM @ JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE (900 West Olympic Boulevard). Los Angeles Blade readers voted this event “Best Red Carpet Event.” HRC Los Angeles’ Annual Gala Dinner and Auction brings together more than 1,000 HRC members, friends, family, and allies for an evening of celebration and inspiration. Featuring a cocktail reception, an extensive silent auction, an elegant dinner, live entertainment, and thought-provoking speakers and guests, the event attracts some of the nation’s top figures in politics and entertainment. This event brings out the stars.
FRI. MAR. 9
SAT. MAR. 24
Outfest Fusion LGBTQ People of Color Film Festival, Fri. Mar. 9 @ 5:30 PM to 10:30 PM, Egyptian Theatre (6712 Hollywood Blvd). Outfest, the largest and most influential LGBTQ film festival put Alumni Filmakers on display to host workshops and classes in screenwriting, storytelling, cinematography, editing and directing. It’s a great introduction to filmmaking focused on enhancing the important role of people of color in film. Space available basis, free.
#MarchForOurLives Los Angeles, Sat. Mar. 24 @ 10:00 AM @ Pershing Square. Join Florida school shooting victims along with the rest of the country in this historic nationwide call to action. The epidemic of school shootings must end now and the only way to make that happen is to put politicians who vote as directed by the NRA on notice that it’s #TimeUp. This is a nationwide event and will be lead by tomorrow’s leaders. If you would like to volunteer please send us a message @ MarchAndRallyLosAngeles
30 • FEBRUARY 23, 2018 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Child actor alleges #MeToo moment with Chachi And other highlights from Valentine’s Day By BILLY MASTERS
Scott Baio’s rumored homosexuality was an ‘80s obsession for some gay men. Photo by kathclick; Courtesy Bigstock
“I’ve been trying and I just can’t get pregnant.” Nate Berkus describes the efforts he and hubby Jeremiah Brent have had in providing a sibling for their 2-year-old daughter, Poppy. Thanks for playing another spirited round of “Who’s the Bottom?” Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black made a big announcement on Valentine’s Day - they’ve hired a surrogate and are having a child. To make it official, they posted the ultrasound on Instagram. And I say - with almost no trace of sarcasm - good for them. Alas, this news has led to many people online attacking the couple. Some of it seems to be homophobia and jealousy (let’s face it, both of these guys are pretty hot), but some are attacking them for bringing a child into a relationship destined for failure due to their less-than-stellar fidelity, and the diver not being much more than a child himself. And I say - in all sincerity - mind your own business! If we stopped every good-looking couple in a doomed relationship from having children, where would my future boyfriends come from? My Valentine’s Day was spent at The Wallis in Beverly Hills seeing BOTH shows by Patti LuPone and Seth Rudetsky. Patti was in spectacular voice in fact, she was even better the second show. Since it was days after the Grammys, she told the story behind her appearance in the tribute to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Before she started, she said, “Is there any press in the audience? I dunno if I should tell this story if there’s press in the audience.” After a bit of prodding, she said, “Just don’t print it … oh, go ahead, what the hell,” followed by “No, don’t.” So, I’m taking that as a yes. When “War Paint” was on Broadway, NY1 (a local channel) did a piece on their Sunday morning program about the show. When the interviewer asked Patti about Lloyd Webber, she said that she thought Andrew was mentally unstable. Within days, she got a cease-and-desist letter from famed lawyer Bert Fields - who has represented such sane people as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. She consulted with a lawyer who told her that she could legally express her opinion, so she was in the clear. Then Lloyd Webber got involved and said it didn’t bother him. Fast forward a month, and Patti gets a call from her manager saying the Grammys wanted her to sing “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.” Patti’s response was, “Does Andrew Lloyd Webber know? If he doesn’t, don’t tell him!” The manager said Andrew knows, and he’s thrilled! They had a nice rehearsal (she says when she said the word “détente,” she meant it would last one day - like a day-tente). After the show, Andy sent her a very nice note and also left her a complimentary voicemail. Why Andrew Lloyd Webber has Patti LuPone’s phone number and I don’t is a mystery of monumental proportions. Typically, Seth gets Patti to sing different songs when they do back-to-back shows. This time, there
was quite a bit of duplication. The exceptions tended to be the highlights. In the first show, we got “As Long As He Needs Me” from “Oliver,” and “Ladies Who Lunch” from the upcoming genderbender London production of “Company,” where Patti will play Joanne. Most people hoped for a surprise appearance from Mandy Patinkin since days earlier, Patti was a special guest when he got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Alas, Mandy was a no-show at the concert. But the swoonable Peter Gallagher joined Patti for “Old Fashioned Wedding” from “Annie Get Your Gun” (which they did in concert at Lincoln Center in 1998). In the second show, we got “Meadowlark,” “Anything Goes,” the Magaldi duet and “Buenos Aires” (assisted by Adam Hunter) and “Being Alive.” Since it was Valentine’s Day, many couples turned up for Patti. At the first show, Sean Hayes and Scott Icenogle were there, as were newlyweds Gary Janetti and Brad Goreski. For the second show, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his hubby Justin Mikita showed up, as were our soon-to-be West Hollywood Mayor John Duran and my husband, porn legend Kurt Young. After everything was over, I bumped into Noah Wyle with a woman on each arm. And all I could think about was when I first started writing this column, I talked about Noah taking a trip across Europe with his male friend and implied (in that innocent way that I have) that perhaps they were more than “friends.” In the National Enquirer, Noah called me “that gossipmonger.” So seeing him made my heart go pitter-pat. Seth returns to The Wallis on March 29 for two shows with Chita Rivera. Grab your tickets now at TheWallis.org. Now we get to the story of Alexander Polinsky, who is a former child actor. He was kinda the Danny Pintauro of “Charles in Charge.” Polinsky claims that he was on the receiving end of physical abuse, assault, mental torture, sexual harassment, and homophobic bullying by Scott Baio. The part I took special note of is when Chachi allegedly threw a cup of hot tea in the boy’s face and called him a “fag.” Now, I’m no expert, but I believe the very definition of the term “fag” is a person who throws hot tea in someone’s face! Some of Polinksy’s other allegations include Baio once pulling the 12-year-old’s pants down in front of a group of 100 bystanders. When Baio’s spilling tea, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. For more dish, check out www. BillyMasters.com – the site with more penises than the set of “Charles In Charge.” If you have any questions, send them along to Billy@BillyMasters.com, and I promise to get back to you before I get a cease-and-desist letter from Patti! Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.
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Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 4, February 23, 2018