Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 9, May 4, 2018

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A M E R I C A’ S





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Rep. Schiff on Pompeo, Pence and democracy ‘In innumerable ways, this administration is hostile to LGBT rights’ By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Just spotting Rep. Adam Schiff makes fanboys of the crustiest of curmudgeons. As Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Schiff stands in sharp contrast to his California Republican counterpart, Rep. Deven Nunes, who, as chair of the committee, appears intent on proving President Donald Trump was not involved in Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections. On April 27, Nunes released a redacted version of the Republicans’ final report generally clearing Trump and accusing the FBI and the intelligence community of “significant intelligence tradecraft failings,” according to the Washington Post. The report says investigators found “no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government”— despite detailing contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians. Committee Democrats released nearly 100 pages of their own report, finding that Russian intelligence “used intermediaries and cutouts to probe, establish contact, and possibly glean valuable information from a diverse set of actors associated with President Trump and his campaign,” adding that more work needed to be done. The GOP report, Schiff said, demonstrates “the Majority’s fundamentally flawed approach to the investigation and the superficial and political nature of its conclusions.” The conflicting House reports illustrate an erosion of trust in democratic institutions. “In the way this president denigrates the press, the independence of the judiciary, the independence of the Justice Department, trampling on any number of norms of office—we have had more backward moving movement in terms of our own democracy than at any point in my lifetime,” Schiff told the Los Angeles Blade April 21 before a California Women’s Law Center event in West Hollywood. The latest jerk backwards was the confirmation of anti-LGBT former CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Trump’s new

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) crititcized President Trump for, among other things, demonizing the media. Los Angeles Blade Photo by Karen Ocamb

Secretary of State. “I think that given the reactionary way this administration has conducted itself, probably anyone they put in that office—this is going to be a deep concern,” said Schiff. Schiff is not sure Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had a choice but to follow orders upholding the administration’s ban on transgender service members in the military. “Well, I don’t know, in the case of Mattis, whether he’s doing what he’s doing because he’s been told this is what you need to do by the administration,” Schiff said. “Ultimately, it looks like the administration insisted they go forward and Secretary Mattis just had to carry out the president’s instructions. But in innumerable ways, this administration is hostile to LGBT rights, hostile to civil rights, hostile to minority voting rights, you could pretty much go down the line.” Schiff said the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation has not looked at involvement by Vice President Mike Pence. “The issue in which the vice president has come up is that the vice president went on national TV to say that [former National Security Advisor] Mike Flynn had never discussed sanctions with the Russian

ambassador” Sergey Kislyak, said Schiff. “Now we know that’s not true and that was the subject of Mike Flynn’s guilty plea. “For that reason, I think the vice president would be a relevant witness [before the House committee], in terms of who within the administration knew that, in fact, there were these clandestine efforts to undermine the bipartisan policy of the United States,” Schiff continued. “In the Flynn documents, submitted by the Special Counsel, it reports that senior transition officials were made aware of these conversations in real time. Now we don’t know whether that was K.T. McFarland or it was others and we’ve endeavored to find out—but the Republicans have tried to stymy us.” Pence, Schiff told The LA Blade, “was one of the senior transition officials and so there is a significant question about what he knew.” The Human Rights Campaign issued a report on April 19 exposing “The Real Mike Pence,” focusing on his anti-LGBT positions. Not included is Pence’s link to Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort (now suspected of being a “back-channel” to Russians), who reportedly pushed Pence over Trump’s rumored pick for vice

president, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Additionally, Time reported last May that Pence met secretly in Washington with antiLGBT Hilarion Alfeyev, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a prominent official with the Russian Orthodox Church. The meeting was arranged by Trump evangelical backer Franklin Graham. Schiff said that investigators are aware of the evangelical-Russian connection. “On the issue of how the Russians sought to inveigle their way into our political process,” Schiff said, they appear to have “tried to make outreach through the religious communities and, of course, one of the ways Putin has tried to frame the ideological struggle against the United States is in terms of family values and conservative values. So the Kremlin has been pushing these anti-LGBT legislative initiatives both at home and in their near-abroad as a way of trying to insinuate themselves into other countries, including our own.” After speaking with Pence, evangelical leaders and State Department officials backstage at a Graham-organized event, Hilarion told Time he felt “very positive” about the future of the relationship between the U.S. and Russia. “We have many allies.”

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Nancy Pelosi: The famous Leader you may not know With midterms looming, the former — and future? — House Speaker talks impeachment, Equality Act, AIDS and more By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is the embodiment of the feminist adage “the personal is political.” She celebrated part of her 78th birthday at an LGBT equality weekend in Palm Springs, which she declared a “fabulous” fundraiser for the Democratic effort to “take away” the House from the Republicans in the November midterm elections. Pelosi is so confident of victory, she told the Los Angeles Blade that she would appoint out Rep. Mark Takano as the next chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Naming names for leadership positions has rankled some Democrats who do not want Pelosi to assume she will be re-elected House Speaker. But with her track record as a strategic political thinker and vote-counter, a prolific fundraiser and one of the most recognizable leaders of the opposition to President Donald Trump and the conservative Republicans who bow his way, Pelosi is frank and assured. “’We will win. I will run for speaker. I feel confident about it. And my members do, too,” the Boston Globe reported May 2 on Pelosi’s meeting with the Globe’s editorial staff. “It’s important that it not be five white guys at the table, no offense,” referring to the president meeting with the top two leaders from the House and Senate. “I have no intention of walking away from that table.” Pelosi’s track record includes passage of the profound change in healthcare. “The White House played a major role in getting the votes for ObamaCare, but it couldn’t have passed without Pelosi,” The Hill reported in February 2016. “Former White House deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle called her ‘a force of nature’ in convincing Democratic members to vote yes.” After the Affordable Care Act narrowly passed on March 21, 2010, Pelosi noted that women would no longer be charged more because of their gender—women were no

Rep. Nancy Pelosi sworn in as the first female Speaker of the House Jan. 4, 2007.

California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, 1996

Photo courtesy Pelosi’s office

Photo courtesy Pelosi’s office

longer a pre-existing condition. But the year before, she also predicted “fire and brimstone” and “shock and awe” from across the aisle. “They’re coming after us,” Pelosi told House Democrats in 2009. Many of the darts thrown at Pelosi over the years have been acid-tipped with LGBThatred. “One of the things the Republicans like to do around the country is to represent me as a LGBTQ first and foremost supporter. I represent San Francisco, which they caricaturize as being a gay haven and capitol. And that’s something we’re very proud of,” Pelosi told the Los Angeles Blade in a 30-minute interview on April 27. “But the fact is the country is going to leave them behind because people have a different level of respect because of the work the LGBTQ community has done in many areas to end discrimination and in the fight against HIV/AIDS.” Pelosi says HIV/AIDS and passage of the Equality Act are top priorities. “The Equality Act is something that really should be

appreciated in a very special way because it really is transformative,” Pelosi says. “It just changes everything. It says whether it’s credit or housing or job discrimination or you name it—you can no longer discriminate. Well, you shouldn’t discriminate to begin with. But it makes it a part of the Civil Rights Act to protect [LGBT] people.” Pelosi notes that when Equality Act sponsor out Rep. David Cicilline introduced the Equality Act, civil rights icons stood beside him. “It’s a priority for us. A day doesn’t go by that we’re not speaking out against discrimination in the workplace and any other place,” she says. “And we would hope that we could do something with the Republicans on that between now and January—but we know in January, we’ll be able to go forth with an agenda that is not only proactive in what it does but also removes all doubt that we won’t have any of these other bills that enshrine discrimination in our laws.”

But first there’s an election to win. “We are going to be focusing on the economy in our debate,” she says. “That is what elections are about across the board. And the success that we have had in recruiting candidates and we have the A-Team on the field, the very terrible numbers of President Trump means that they have over 40 retirements. The mobilization has never been bigger. People see the urgency. They want to take responsibility and that gives us opportunity.” While many of the energized youth are fans of Rep. Maxine Waters’ call for Trump’s impeachment, Pelosi thinks that is not a winning strategy. “Maxine and I go back well before we went to Congress. So count me as a Maxine fan. But I do say focusing on impeachment is a gift to the Republicans,” she says. “What we have to do is focus on the economic insecurity of American families and people. It’s about their apprehensions and their aspirations. And that’s what we need to be talking about.



Pelosi on AIDS, Equality Act, impeachment and more

Rep. Nancy Pelosi

Rep. Nancy Pelosi with friends fighting HIV/AIDS in the late 1980s.

Photo courtesy Pelosi’s office

Photo courtesy Pelosi’s office

“If there’s any movement to impeachment, it will have to come with data about what happened, vis a vis the law, and it will have to be bipartisan and we’re a long way from that,” Pelosi says. “So I do not think that talking about impeachment as our message for the election is a winning formula. Should people talk about it if they believe in it—that’s up to them. But in terms of our unifying message, it’s about the economy— our better deal. We think the American people have gotten a raw deal from the Republicans. We have a better deal—better jobs, better pay, better future. And we’re very proud of that economic message. It’s a message of unity in our party. It’s a winning message and that’s how we’re going forward.” While impeachment may not be a winning electoral strategy, the concern about the erosion of democracy is. Pelosi says she was pleased to see some senators challenge new Sec. of State Pompeo during his confirmation hearing, pointing out that some of his

negative LGBT public policy views “are not the views of the United States.” But, Pelosi notes with more than a hint of dismay, Pompeo is “an employee of the president of the United States. It’s about the president. This president has been a great showman. He’s done a good job in winning the election. He’s the president. But what he is doing is harmful to our country and even if you voted for him, you would have to see that this is not constructive. And it’s not unifying. Our founders gave us guidance. They said E Pluribus Unum—from many, one. They couldn’t imagine how many that would be but we had to be one. And these Republicans in power—they can’t say from many one, except some people we would exclude and discriminate against.” Though Pompeo’s record “is of concern,” she hopes “with new responsibility, he will act responsibly. We’ll see.” Pelosi also shares the concern of Rep. Adam Schiff, her appointee to the

House Intelligence Committee, about the “dismantling of our democratic institutions that President Trump is so set upon, whether it is dismantling and discrediting the press, which I think is the greatest guardian of our freedom—freedom of press, dismantling of our Justice Department and law enforcement, in terms of the FBI, ignoring the system of checks and balances that exists in our Constitution, which is the strength of our country.” Pelosi is also concerned about Trump getting rid of regulations. “They’re protections,” she says. “If he has an objection to something, let’s discuss that, make it better or not, if we think it’s the best it can be.” But it’s critical to recognize that “he is destroying the protections for clean air, clean water, food safety, consumer protections,” and the other protections, including the rollback of protections for LGBT people. “The president is anti-governance.

He doesn’t really believe in the role of government in improving people’s situations,” Pelosi says. “So it’s a comprehensive approach to dismantling democratic institutions. One of the reasons people should be very concerned is because the president is doing nothing to protect our electoral system, our democracy. The Russians have disrupted our election and he won’t look into it at all. And that’s a very, very bad course of action. Why not? We’re concerned about how he’s not dealt with sanctions on Russia,” among other issues. “But how does he explain not protecting our electoral system? That is the basis of our vote, our vote is the basis of our democracy, and the president is not upholding his constitutional responsibility to protect and defend our Constitution and our democracy that goes with it.” Continues on page 13



Calif. files motion opposing trans military ban ‘No justification’ for special rule targeting service members By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Attorneys for Equality California filed a new motion last week in opposition to the Trump administration’s request to dissolve the nationwide preliminary injunction preventing the government from moving forward with a ban on military service by transgender individuals. U.S. District Court Judge Jesus G. Bernal issued his ruling last December in Equality California’s lawsuit, Stockman v. Trump. There are currently four separate preliminary injunctions issued by four separate federal courts, blocking Trump’s ban from moving forward while the cases are being heard by the courts. Late last month the administration filed a motion to dissolve the injunction, telling the four federal courts that the government had issued a new policy on trans military service. In the filing last week, however, attorneys for The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) disputed that assertion, instead outlining that government’s “new” policy merely details the steps the military plans to take to implement the ban that Judge Bernal and the three other federal court judges had already blocked from taking effect. “There’s nothing new here, the supposedly ‘new policy’ excludes transgender people from military service. It is the same ban the courts have already enjoined,” GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi said in a statement. Shannon Minter, NCLR’s Legal Director concurred adding, “There is no justification for a special rule banning transgender people from military service rather than permitting them to serve on the same terms as everyone else. Transgender troops have already been serving their country with honor and dignity for decades.” The plaintiff’s case had widespread support opposing Trump Administration efforts to implement President Trump’s ban. That support has been further bolstered from the Defense Department itself as

Activists with Equality California are taking aim at President Trump’s proposed trans military ban. Photo Courtesy Equality California

the Chief of Staffs’ of the Army, Navy, Air Force along with the Commandants of the Marines and Coast Guard, have testified to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, along with public statements that allowing transgender people to serve in the U.S. armed forces, hasn’t resulted in any problems with unit cohesion or morale, undercutting a report from Defense Secretary James Mattis that raised fears about those issues without a transgender military ban. The service chiefs’ statements were further buttressed by six former U.S. Surgeons General, who have signed a publicly released statement disputing Defense Department assertions about the medical fitness of transgender troops. “We are troubled that the Defense

Department’s report on transgender military service has mischaracterized the robust body of peer-reviewed research on the effectiveness of transgender medical care as demonstrating ‘considerable scientific uncertainty,” the Surgeon General say. “A wide body of reputable, peer-reviewed research has demonstrated to psychological and health experts that treatments for gender dysphoria are effective.” The Surgeon General continue: “Research on the effectiveness of medical care for gender dysphoria was the basis of the American Medical Association’s 2015 resolution that ‘there is no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from service in the U.S. military.’” The lawsuit, Stockman v. Trump, was

filed on behalf of Equality California last Fall on behalf of its membership as well as individual plaintiffs Aiden Stockman, Nicolas Talbott, Tamesyn Reeves, Jaquice Tate and three unnamed current service members. Attorney General Xavier Becerra intervened as a plaintiff on behalf of the State of California in November 2017. ”Transgender Americans are guaranteed the same right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as any other American,” Becerra said. “We owe transgender service members, like all Americans who courageously serve our nation, our support and gratitude for putting their lives on the line. President Trump’s transgender military service ban is primitive. It is discriminatory, plain and simple. We will fight it in every form.”



Trans Wellness Center opens in Los Angeles The community’s new home for comprehensive services By AUSTIN MENDOZA The Los Angeles Trans Wellness Center (TWC) marked its grand opening on April 24 with a press conference and rapturous applause. The TWC is the first trans center hosting trans programs of six organizations, providing comprehensive resources and services for transgender and non-binary people under a single roof. “For the first time in the history of the transgender movement, trans and nonbinary individuals finally have a safe, friendly, and non-judgmental area where they can find a wide range of vital services under one roof created by – and for – the community,” said TWC Program Manager Mariana Marroquin. “I am honored to be part of this new and exciting effort to empower the transgender and non-binary communities.” The Trans Wellness Center is the culmination of a 10-year process of advocacy and development. Funded through a $1 million annual grant for three to five years from the LA County Department of Public Health, TWC was formed by six local community organizations: APAIT (Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team), Bienestar, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Friends Community Center, TransLatin@ Coalition, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which is leading management and operations support. “We value all clients having access to all the services needed as well as creating spaces that are welcoming and culturally appropriate for all transgender people,” Bienestar Director of Programs and Services Brendan O’Connell said in a press release. “With more than 21 years of experience providing health and wellness programs to the Latina transgender community, we are committed to providing comprehensive services to Los Angeles’ transgender community from the Trans Wellness Center’s one-stop, centralized location.” “This Center’s opening is a culmination of thousands of days of visioning, deliberating, debating, planning, and negotiating. The process has not always been easy, but in the end, your shared commitment to the health and wellbeing of our transgender sisters and brothers, your dedication to health equity and your fight for positive social change has outlasted any threats

Trans Wellness Center opening April 24, 2018 in Los Angeles. (From L-R) Cameron Varney, TWC Staff Member; Thea Eskey (member of TWC’s Community Advisory Board); Frankie Darling-Palacios (works with TWC’s Community Advisory Board); Mariana Marroquin (Program Manager of TWC); Kery Ramirez (member of TWC’s Community Advisory Board); and Dominique Guillermo, TWC Staff Member. Photo Courtesy Los Angeles LGBT Center

to a remarkable partnership,” Mario Perez, director of the Division of HIV and STD Programs at LA County’s Public Health Department, said at the news conference. The Center will provide hormone therapy and transition resources, HIV testing and care, mental and sexual health services and education, occupational training, housing and legal services, among other services. “We finally have a space that is dedicated to the overall well-being of transgender people,” APAIT Health Educator Jaden Fields said in a statement. “As a community partner, APAIT will be providing services and programming to address the economic empowerment of transgender people.” “The Trans Wellness Center is the firstof-its-kind in Los Angeles and in the nation, providing a safe place and resources for transgender and non-binary individuals,” said Friends Community Center HIV Outreach Educator April Saravia. The TWC’s Community Advisory Board, an eight-person panel comprised of transgender and non-binary people, pledged to ensure that these specific

community needs are met. “We walk our walk every day, we’re out in the community and we’re able to really identify from that what the community needs,” Board member Thea Eskey explained, “and what specifically the voices are saying back to us.” TWC is also “looking forward to creating more opportunities for people where they feel empowered to sit at a table and not just beg for crumbs under it,” Eskey said. Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean expressed enthusiasm for the board. “One of the exciting things about this Center is – we don’t quite know what it’s going to be because the Community Advisory Board is going to be key to figuring out which programs and services should be here,” Jean said. “I imagine it’s going to evolve, and we’re going to learn things once it gets going that we maybe didn’t know before.” Establishing the Trans Wellness Center, the speakers concurred, is not the end of the fight for trans lives and equality. “Our shared progress will require a disproportionately high level of attention and commitment to our residents whose social,

economic, and structural environment makes improved health outcomes including HIV- and STD-related outcomes, more challenging but not impossible, particularly among transgender women,” Perez said. “We expect that this center will offer that attention and commitment.” “Our society is rife with ignorance and bigotry,” Jean said. “Lots of folks don’t understand [gender] and you grow up not having any role models. One of the things that [the Center] will be able to do here is to provide more visible role models.” “We have been telling our stories, educating ourselves, marching along with other fighters for our rights, and it was about time to have our own Center,” said Marroquin. “We understand where you’re coming from, because this place was created by the community and for the community.” The Los Angeles Trans Wellness Center is located at 3055 Wilshire Blvd. It is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and can be contacted at 323-993-2900 or visit mytranswellness.org.



Pelosi speaks out as midterms draw closer Continued from page 7 While young people at the #ResistMarch in West Hollywood last year were stirred up by Leader Pelosi’s rhetoric, it was clear they knew she was important—but not really who she was and why she was so passionate about LGBT equality. Some of it is centered in Pelosi’s Catholicism, which is not the set of beliefs the Catholic Church espoused during Prop 8 and other political-religious battles. “As a Catholic, I was raised to respect every person. We’re all God’s children. In my family, there was never any question about that,” she says. “It didn’t teach me discrimination. It taught me respect. And so

it prepared me very well, my Catholicism, for being a representative in San Francisco.” Pelosi is guided by a moral imperative that young people may not understand today—the deep, personal impact of AIDS. “Some people criticized me for talking about AIDS on my first day in Congress and I realized that it was not just about getting funding for AIDS research and prevention and care but it was about ending discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS,” adding that California has been a “tremendous resource” throughout the years for intellectual, political and economic response to the disease. Pelosi responds viscerally when asked about losing friends. “Oh, my gosh. Oh, my

gosh. A little flower girl in my wedding. My dear, dear friends in the community in San Francisco. We were going to two funerals a day. I was visiting people in the hospital all the time and quite frankly, when I say losing people,” Pelosi says, “I lost friends because I just walked away from them because they were not treating people with HIV and AIDS with respect. They would say to me, ‘I don’t know why you hire that caterer – don’t you know that everybody there has HIV?’ And I’d say, ‘Don’t bother to come to my house any more if that’s your attitude.’ It just changed my whole view of them.” Within the span of her life and political career, Pelosi has personally experienced the heartbreak of HIV/AIDS and the political

battles to fund and find a cure. “I’ll never stop missing some of my dearest dear friends from then,” she says. “Of course we went from funerals to people saying help me make out my will because this is going to end soon, to those very same people looking for a job and then wanting to get married. So everything has improved but I would never have thought 30 years ago when I started all this in Congress that we still wouldn’t have a cure for AIDS. We’ve improved the quality of life, we’ve sustained life. Everything is better but it’s not over, not finished.” It appears that the quality of simultaneously never forgetting while always looking forward is what motives House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

QUOTES What better way for the Washington Blade to celebrate the First Amendment than to invite controversial comedian and longtime outspoken LGBT advocate Kathy Griffin to the April 28 White House Correspondents’ Dinner? Griffin has been on the Hollywood blacklist since posing with a mock severed head of Donald Trump last year, a free speech stunt that got her fired by CNN from her annual gig hosting the New Year’s Eve countdown with Anderson Cooper. Griffin was up-staged in the controversy department by the line-crossing keynote from comedian Michelle Wolf. But she still got to criticize the administration. When Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley tried to squeeze past the Blade’s table, Blade editor Kevin Naff reported, “Griffin stopped him and said, ‘How do you sleep at night?’ Gidley replied, ‘Very well, thank you.’ When Griffin expressed doubt about that, Gidley asked, ‘Are we really going to do this?’ That’s when things got interesting. Griffin, in her trademark style, retorted, ‘Yes we are, suck my dick! No, really, suck my dick!’” When Gidley said he was off to enjoy his Mexican beer “before we build the wall and you can’t get these anymore,” Griffin replied: “fuck you.” Meanwhile, Washington Blade White House reporter Chris Johnson was acknowledged for winning the honorable mention Merriman Smith Award for his story on Trump firing his AIDS advisory committee.

“This was done with the specific intent to cause humiliation and mental suffering because they are gay and because Bonilla is Hispanic,” reads a lawsuit filed against Siena Restaurant owner, employees and patrons for calling Angel Bonilla, Colton Moyer and Clement Serafin “faggots” and physically ejecting them from the Newport Beach bar on April 13.

“Ric Grenell’s confirmation is historic….He has now officially become the highest ranking openly gay official ever in a Republican administration,” said Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo after the Senate’s 56-42 confirmation of Grenell as U.S. ambassador to Germany on April 26.

“I am very proud to be a queer, young black woman in America. I think that representation is very important. I am proud of who I am.” – Singer, actor Janelle Monaé (“Hidden Figures,” “Moonlight”) to CBS Sunday Morning April 29.



‘Outstanding man’ wins confirmation Trump congratulates gay appointee Grenell, new U.S. ambassador to Germany By CHRIS JOHNSON The U.S. Senate confirmed Richard Grenell on April 26 as U.S. ambassador to Germany, making him the highest profile openly gay appointee in the Trump administration. Grenell — who faced Democratic opposition over mean tweets he made about the appearance of women and other comments downplaying the significance of Russia’s influence in the 2016 election — was confirmed by a largely party line vote of 56-42. Among the Democrats who joined Republicans in voting to confirm Grenell were Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Claire McCaskill (D-M0). All Republicans present voted for Grenell’s confirmation. Both of the senators from Grenell’s home state of California — Sen. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein — voted “no.” President Trump congratulated Grenell on his confirmation on Friday. Trump made the remarks at the start of his joint news conference at the White House with Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel after congratulating her on her re-election. “We’re also pleased to have our newly confirmed United States Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, outstanding man,” Trump said. Pointing to Grenell in the audience during the news conference, Trump told his new appointee, “Congratulations. Do a great job, and I know you will. Thank you.” Trump said the delay from Democrats in confirming Grenell is happening with many of his nominees. “This confirmation was long overdue,” Trump said. “We’ve been waiting a long time for Richard to get his clearance, and he got it, and it’s going to be special, but we have a lot of people that are awaiting approval — and the Democrats have treated us extremely unfairly and they’re going to have to move it along.” First nominated by President Trump in September, Grenell’s confirmation means an openly gay person will take a high-profile seat in the administration and serve as U.S. envoy

United States Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and President Donald Trump Photo Via Twitter

to the world’s fourth largest national economy. But it’s a not a first or the most high-profile gay appointment of all time. The first openly gay U.S. ambassador was James Hormel, who served as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg during the Clinton administration. President Obama had no fewer than seven openly gay U.S. ambassadors who served at various times in his administration. Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, said Grenell’s confirmation was “historic,” dubbing him “the highestranking openly gay official ever in a Republican administration.” “Despite the interminable delays of Democrats hell-bent on standing on the wrong side of history, today the United States Senate confirmed a gay nominee not ‘in spite of’ Republicans, or ‘with Republican support,’ but because of Republican support,” Angelo added. Angelo said the vote on Grenell would have consequences in the upcoming congressional mid-term elections, noting Log Cabin stood alone among LGBT groups in pushing for his confirmation. “Log Cabin Republicans will not forget the votes of the Democratic senators who voted against Grenell’s confirmation, nor

the roaring silence from LGBT advocacy organizations who did nothing to achieve this tremendous milestone in LGBT history,” Angelo said. Grenell is a foreign policy expert who has served in various roles as a public communications adviser and a Fox News commentator. Under the George W. Bush administration, Grenell became the longest serving U.S. spokesperson at the United Nations, working under four U.S. ambassadors. Grenell, who has described himself as a gay conservative Christian, has a same-sex partner of 15 years, Matt Lashey. Lashey himself is a conservative Christian who graduated from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. For a period of less than two weeks, Grenell served during the 2012 presidential campaign as a foreign policy spokesperson for Republican nominee Mitt Romney, but resigned amid pressure from social conservatives over his sexual orientation. Grenell never had the opportunity to speak publicly in the role. Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) filed cloture on the nomination on April 25, the cloture vote was withdrawn the next day, paving the way for a confirmation vote.

The Democratic opposition holding up Grenell’s confirmation lasted for months. At one point, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders slammed Democrats on the obstruction. When McConnell tried to move forward with the nomination late last month, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the chief sponsor of the Equality Act, blocked the nomination from moving forward. The primary reason for the hold on Grenell purportedly was comments he made years ago on Twitter about the appearance of women, including Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Callista Gingrich and Rachel Maddow. Although Grenell years ago apologized and deleted those tweets, they stand out in the context of the #MeToo movement in which women are coming forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. One 2011 tweet directed at Maddow, a lesbian news anchor on MSNBC, said she “needs to take a breath and put on a necklace” and another compared her look to that of pop singer Justin Bieber. One tweet directed at Gingrich questioned whether she “snaps on” her hair. At around the same time, Grenell tweeted “Hillary is starting to look like Madeleine Albright.” (Those tweets echo comments he reportedly made in 1992 as a young aide for the re-election campaign of George H.W. Bush, according to a Washington Post article. A fellow staffer recalled Grenell telling a female aide wearing red shoes and a flowery dress, ‘Didn’t your mother ever tell you only whores and very small children wear red shoes?’”) In a now deleted tweet, Grenell told MSNBC reporter Katy Tur in 2016 “calling yourself a journalist is offensive to real ones. Did u intern for @KeithOlbermann or date him? Either way doesn’t make u a reporter.” Grenell faced immediate criticism from other women on Twitter over the remarks. Also cited as concerns over Grenell were tweets he made in 2016 downplaying the impact of Russian hacking on the election. In one tweet, Grenell wrote, “There’s a difference between hackers from Russia and hackers from the Russian government.” In another, Grenell objected to the Obama administration’s U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul’s criticism of Wikileaks, stating, “McFaul tells Wikileaks to not publish?!” Continues at losangelesblade.com


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Activist: Pence wants gays in ‘conversion camps’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 1 delivered his first speech at the State Department. Blade Photo by Michael Key

Pompeo praises diplomats in first State Dept. speech Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday used his first speech at the State Department to praise U.S. diplomats and other members of the Foreign Service. “I have a great deal to learn about the State Department and how we perform our mission, but as people, I’m confident that I know who you are,” he said in remarks that he gave while standing on one of the staircases above the State Department’s C Street lobby. “I know that you came here. You chose to be a Foreign Service officer or a civil servant or to come work here in many other capacities and to do so because you’re patriots and great Americans and because you want to be an important part of America’s face to the world. My mission will be to lead you and allow you to do that, the very thing you came here to do.” The U.S. Senate on April 26 confirmed Pompeo by a 57-42 vote margin. He succeeds Rex Tillerson, who President Trump fired in March. Former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius is among many senior diplomats and State Department officials who resigned during Tillerson’s tenure. Tillerson also faced criticism over his management style and efforts to restructure the State Department. President Trump has proposed steep cuts to the budgets of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Pompeo was the director of the CIA when Trump nominated him to succeed Tillerson. Pompeo represented Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011-2017. Pompeo co-sponsored a bill that would have allowed states to refuse to recognize the marriages of gays and lesbians. He also opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and has long-standing ties with the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a hate group. Pompeo during his confirmation hearing reaffirmed his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples. He also did not specifically answer U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)’s question about whether he thinks “being gay is a perversion.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS

Under fire from the right-wing media for comments he made about Vice President Mike Pence wanting gays in “concentration camps,” one of the survivors of the 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub now says he “misspoke.” Brandon Wolf — who’s now head of the Dru Project, an organization that supports GSAs in schools — told the Washington Blade via email on Monday he intended to say Pence wants gay people in “conversion camps” to subject them to the widely discredited practice of “ex-gay” conversion therapy. “I misspoke on Joy’s show,” Wolf said. “What I meant to say was that Vice President Pence would have us in conversion camps. Which, of course, is a reference to Pence’s tacit support of the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. The psychiatric community has overwhelmingly condemned this form of torture on children while Pence and the modern GOP stubbornly stick by their support of it.” Wolf added Pence, who had a long anti-LGBT history as a U.S. House member and governor of Indiana, should speak out against conversion therapy. “I stand by my view that Vice President Pence is wildly out of touch with the realities faced by LGBTQ youth today and should publicly denounce the dangerous practice of conversion therapy,” Wolf said. Wolf invoked the ire of right-wing media on Saturday during an appearance on Joy Reid’s MSNBC show when he said the focus should not be on the controversy over blog posts she wrote years ago now deemed homophobic, but the Trump administration. Asserting the Trump administration is filled with “homophobic psychopaths,” Wolf took drew particular attention to Pence. “If Mike Pence, God bless him, ended up in the White House, sitting behind that desk in the Oval Office, he would have us all in concentration camps hoping to pray away the gay,” Wolf said. LGBT advocates maintain Pence supports conversion therapy and sought to transfer federal funds intended for HIV/AIDS program to the practice. That’s based on a statement from his 2000 campaign for the U.S. House that stated he supports HIV/AIDS funds on the condition that resources are directed to institutions that “provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” CHRIS JOHNSON

Kenworthy to headline DNC’s LGBTQ gala Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy will attend the Democratic National Committee’s 19th annual LGBTQ gala as a special guest on June 25 in New York City. “I couldn’t be more excited to join the DNC at their LGBTQ Gala this Pride season,” Kenworthy said in a statement. “Over the last year, the Trump-Pence administration has pushed our community to the sidelines, attacking us for who we are and who we love. It’s time we take a stand against this administration by electing representatives this upcoming November who actively support and believe in equality for everyone.” DNC Chair Tom Perez added, “Gus has been a tireless advocate for his community, standing up to hate and a Trump-Pence administration that has repeatedly attacked and demeaned LGBTQ people. The 2017 elections were a landmark moment for the LGBTQ community. Not only did we elect the first openly transgender state legislator, but LGBTQ candidates broke barriers from Palm Springs and Seattle to Minneapolis and New York. This year, we want to celebrate that success and refocus the LGBTQ community on just what is at stake in the coming 2018 midterms. With the help of people like Gus, Democrats will win up and down the ballot, from the school board to the Senate.” Kenworthy, along with fellow out Olympian Adam Rippon, declined to attend the April 27 athlete reception at the White House. “All US Olympians and Paralympians are invited to visit the White House and meet the President after the Games. Today is this year’s visit and USOC spokesperson says he’s never seen so many athletes turn down their invites. The resistance is real,” Kenworthy tweeted. MARIAH COOPER

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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Enough is Enough Get relief. Pure and simple. Ask your doctor about Mytesi.

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.


Mytesi comes from the Croton lechleri tree harvested in South America.



Joy Reid apologizes for old homophobia Will this be enough to satisfy critics?

KAREN OCAMB is the California Editor for the Los Angeles Blade. She can be reached at kocamb@losangelesblade.com

Perhaps this is what is meant by the phrase “standing in your truth.” MSNBC anchor Joy Reid’s opening to her popular AM Joy Saturday morning show on April 28 was riveting. No frills, no fanfare, no histrionics. Just JoyAnn Reid looking into the camera for four minutes addressing the tornado of controversy whipping around her after the revelation of 10-year-old homophobic and transphobic tweets and blog posts. “Good morning and welcome to AM Joy. A community that I support and that I deeply care about is hurting because of some despicable and truly offensive posts being attributed to me. Many of you may have seen these blog posts circulating online and on social media. Many of them are homophobic, discriminatory and outright weird and hateful. When a friend found them in December and sent them to me, I was stunned, frankly. I couldn’t imagine where they’d come from or whose voice that was,” she said. Reid had apologized late last year for a slew of blog posts from her days as a Florida radio morning talk show host and blogger. But, as the Los Angeles Blade reported, the second batch of posts and tweets were construed as considerably more homophobic and transphobic than the first batch—and Reid said she did not recognize them. She hired a cybersecurity expert and turned the matter over to federal law enforcement—the FBI is now investigating whether or not her old posts were somehow digitally manipulated.

Because of her strong support as an ally, some LGBT people accepted her surprise and reluctance to automatically apologize while others insisted the Wayback Machine that archived the old posts couldn’t be hacked and that she was lying to cover up her humiliating homophobia to save her career. Saturday morning, Reid stood metaphorically naked to explain the truth as she sees it and apologize for the hurt her words have caused. “In the months since [December], I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make sense of those posts. I hired cybersecurity experts to see if someone had manipulated my words or my former blog. The reality is, they have not been able to prove it,” Reid said. “But here’s what I know. I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things, because they are completely alien to me. But I can definitely understand based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past why some people don’t believe me. I have not been exempt from being dumb, or cruel, or hurtful to the very people I want to advocate for. I own that, I get it, and for that I am truly, truly sorry.” Reid noted how an LGBT advocate and friend from Florida called her out for transphobia in tweets about right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, who she had mocked using transgender stereotypes. “I apologized to my friend and I want to apologize to the trans community and to Ann,” Reid said. “Those tweets were wrong and horrible. I look back today at some of the ways I’ve talked casually about people and gender identity and sexual orientation and I wonder who that even was. But the reality is that like a lot of people in this country, that person was me.” Reid talked about growing up in a household with conservative views on LGBT issues and people, which she reflected. “I’m heartbroken that I didn’t do better back then,” she said, acknowledging how difficult it is to come out, “to just walk around in the world, especially for trans people. And I feel like I should have known better than to ever write or tweet in a way that could make fun of, or make light of, or make light of that pain and that experience. Even a decade ago, when the country was in a very different place. But I cannot take any of that back. I can only say that the person I am now is not the person I was then,” Reid said.

For about 36 commercial-free minutes, Reid and a panel of LGBT friends and community representatives—who she invited to “feel free to grill me, you have absolutely the right to do that”—talked about how words hurt and matter, especially in this era where LGBT rights are being rolled back and hate crimes are going up. Noting Reid’s growing popularity and what’s at stake for her reputation, Variety suggested the segment was strategically aimed PR crisis management. Reid borrowed “a play that appears to have worked for HBO host Bill Maher, who faced a similar imbroglio in 2017 after he uttered a racial epithet on his ‘Real Time’ program,” Brian Steinberg wrote. “In the aftermath, Maher convened guests like Ice Cube and Michael Eric Dyson to call him to task for using the slur and explore the issues about its use.” What bled through the television was not sharpened stinging criticism but a heartfelt response, closer to home, with longtime LGBT friends like Jonathan Capehart seeming to choke back tears in pauses that seemed eternal. Those seconds of real dead air on TV were deeper than any pause in a profound Harold Pinter play. “The beauty of what you did at the open was put into context where society was,” Capehart said. “I wouldn’t even be talking to my own mother if she had not evolved…. Only a stone cold heart could not change.” Capehart also chastised Reid’s critics as “people out there watching because it’s like the Coliseum for them—I mean they want to see you eviscerated. But for those who have not evolved, for those who have not changed, for those who are waiting for you to crumble and for everyone to reign down condemnation on you – good luck with that. Change your hearts. [To camera] Evolve. Just like the rest of the country.” Will this apology be sufficient to silence Reid’s critics, at least until the FBI concludes its investigation? Who knows? An Internet feeding frenzy does not require starvation for subject matter to consume. But for many in the LGBT community, for friend and advocate JoyAnn Reid to lose her media platform over past homophobia and transphobia for which she has spectacularly publicly apologized would be a greater loss for the cause of LGBT equality.

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Queer and trans Muslim realities in America Living under constant fear and threat of violence By ALMAS HAIDER (Editor’s note: The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of President Trump’s third attempt to ban nationals from five majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. “The court will have to decide whether the travel restrictions are rooted in anti-Muslim animus and are discriminatory, whether the case can be considered for judicial review and whether the lower courts injunctions on enforcement of the travel ban where too sweeping,” says NPR. Below is an argument about why the Muslim ban is an LGBT issue.)

There should be a name for the particular depression of living as a queer trans Muslim of color in America. A specific PTSD of walking the streets in constant fear of being racialized as Muslim and have your gender and sexual orientation questioned. The pleasure of not just having one day a year, September 11th, to expect extra harassment, but surprise holidays like “Punish a Muslim Day.” The joy of calling your mother and father, asking them their plans for the day, and telling them to “be mindful, keep your phone charged, and go home and call me if you don’t feel safe outside today.” Because to be a queer trans Muslim of color in America means to live in a state of anticipation of what hate violence we can expect next. In the past two years since Trump’s campaign and subsequent election, there has been a surge in anti-immigrant legislation and hate violence. According to a study conducted by South Asians Americans Leading Together (SAALT), from Election Day 2016 to Election Day 2017 there have been “302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities in the United States.” 82% of these incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment, a “45%

increase from the year leading up to the 2016 election cycle, levels not seen since the year after September 11th.” [SAALT]. This rapidly escalating level of hate violence was not created in a vacuum. This cycle of violence is directly tied to the racist and xenophobic legislation and systems of the United States. The latest manifestation of this has been the Muslim Travel Ban which will be heard by the Supreme Court on April 25th. The executive order, “bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, suspends the entry of all refugees for at least 120 days, and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely,” creating yet another form of institutionalized Islamophobia in the U.S. [ACLU]. In response, on March 26th the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and seven LGBT South Asian and API groups submitted an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Donald Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban. The brief showed how the ban has a direct impact on the lives of LGBTQIA people and tears families apart. This brief is in part a direct response to an attempt to pinkwash the Muslim Travel Ban. Language included in the Ban says it will protect Americans by barring entry to “those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation” [Human Rights First]. This insinuates that people living in Muslim-majority countries are queerphobic and transphobic, a marketing and political tool most infamously being used by Israel to justify Palestinian genocide. How quintessentially American: the Ban would bar queer and trans immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from seeking a complicated form of “safety” in the U.S., while claiming that the ban will help keep queer and trans people safe. This will in turn further the narrative of queerphobic and transphobic tyrants reigning in Muslim majority countries, justifying ongoing U.S. imperialism and intervention in the Middle East and creating more refugees. And the amount of physical and verbal violence

queer and trans Muslims of color experience within the U.S. will continue to increase. As the policies of the state become normalized in our everyday lives, the next turn in this cycle of queer, trans, and gendered islamophobia is the increase in hate crimes against our communities. For queer and trans Muslims of color, these attacks target multiple identities that we hold. According to the 2016 FBI Hate Crimes Statistic report, hate crimes against racial and ethnic minorities drastically increased in 2016. 25% of incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim bias alongside 18% anti-queer and anti-trans bias incidents. This makes queer and trans Muslims of color disproportionately likely to be victims. [FBI report] Through our organizing as queer and trans Muslims, we aim to change that. For the last two years, on September 11th, we have been crafting actions across the U.S. The purpose of these actions has been to educate, empower, and hold our community who experience the nuances of being profiled as queer Muslims of color. Our actions, drawing inspiration from Black Lives Matter and the movement for Palestinian liberation, have ranged from mock “security” checkpoints to guerilla performance art. We are questioned and detained not just because of the languages we speak, our ancestral homes, and places of worship and communal gathering, but also because of how we express our gender and sexual identity through our appearance and the political movements we align with. Through these actions we have focused on the ways that Islamophobia and transphobia reinforce each other, how Black Muslims are particularly impacted by queer and gendered islamophobia, and building solidarity internally within our LGBTQIA community. On the 15th anniversary of September 11th, we spearheaded 20 local organizations to create “checkpoints” in high-traffic areas of Washington, D.C. The Washington Post showed how we aimed to replicate various “checkpoints” and experiences that Muslim Americans and those perceived

to be Muslims have to go through every day, including being stopped by the Transportation Security Administration, being verbally and physically harassed in businesses, and routinely called terrorists. In 2017, after a year of direct and blatant attacks on our communities by the Trump administration, we focused on creating spaces of not only resistance, but also of healing and safety. We named the Muslim Travel Ban and other forms of state violence as the root cause of queerphobic, transphobic, and Islamophobic hate crimes. We drew connections between queerphobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, xenophobia. We questioned how we show up for one another. And we committed and successfully created spaces for all of our communities to mourn both the lives and the safety that has been taken from us since the election. Through this work we as queer and trans Muslims of color have recognized and grown our power in a country that seeks to alienate, imprison, and murder us within and outside its borders. And as we wait in anticipation for the the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Muslim Ban, we begin our plans for an annualized and formal nationwide series of actions on September 11th. We now look to September 11th and every day, not with fear, but with the resolve and strengthened ability to create a different world. And ask our accomplices to be ready to join us. Almas Haider is the Racial Justice and Immigrants’ Rights Committee Chair of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance and Community Partnerships Manager at South Asian Americans Leading Together. You can learn more about and get involved with the work of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance to combat Islamophobia, transphobia and queerphobia at www.nqapia.org.

Almas Haider is chair of the Racial Justice and Immigrants’ Rights Committee of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA).

Vivacious ‘Vida’ New STARZ dramedy features Latinx diversity By BRIAN T. CARNEY

On Sunday, STARZ breaks down some serious barriers with the premiere of “Vida.” Set on the Eastside of Los Angeles, the series was created by a queer Latinx woman who also serves as showrunner, features a nonbinary actor in a lead role and has a writer’s room where the entire staff is Latinx and most of the team is LGBT and/or female-identified. The series got started when executives at STARZ called Tanya Saracho in for a meeting. Saracho is a Chicago-based writer who has written for “Devious Minds,” “Girls,” “Looking” and “How to Get Away with Murder.” Her plays include “Mala Hierbe” and “Fade,” which was inspired by her experience as a “diversity hire” for a television studio. “They asked me if I know what a ‘chipster’ was, and I said, ‘Of course. It’s a Chicana hipster,’” Saracho says. “Then they asked me if I knew what gentrification was. Then they asked, ‘Can you do a pilot about it?’ and I said, ‘yeah.’” Saracho recalls that the outline of the series came quickly. “It’s all very simple really,” she says. “It’s about two girls who come home and find out a secret about their late mother. Using this area of L.A. as backdrop, everything just kind of filled up around them. These girls are very much my children now.” A novice showrunner, Saracho learned that time is money in television. “The first scene I turned in was seven pages,” she says. “My producer said, ‘You know, it costs $100,000 to shoot a page of dialogue. Do you think you have a $700,000 scene here?’” She didn’t and she cut the scene in half. She also noticed TV is more diverse. “I do think there is something happening in TV that is really cool and I want theater to catch up,” she says. “I’ve been in the theater for 17 years. We’ve been talking about diversity and inclusion and LGBTQ narratives

Tanya Saracho says TV has evolved more quickly than theater. Photo Courtesy STARZ






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The cast of ‘Vida.’ Photo Courtesy STARZ

and brown narratives and Latinx narratives for years. But, the theater seasons still look the same as when I started.” Things have happened more quickly on TV, she says. “From my lived experience, I feel very supported in the conversations I’m having with STARZ,” she says. “They might not have the right terminology all the time, but they’re being active. It’s not just talk.” This commitment to tackling complex social issues is embodied in the plot of “Vida.” When Lyn (Melissa Barrera) and Emma (Mishel Prada) return to their childhood home for their mother’s funeral, they discover that their mother has come out as a lesbian. As they deal with their grief and anger, they must also deal







with their own sexual identities, childhood memories, new and old lovers, suspicious neighbors and saving their mother’s bankrupt bar from developers who are trying to gentrify the neighborhood. The sisters must also come to terms with their mother’s lover Eddy Martinez, played by non-binary actor Ser Anzoategui who uses the pronouns they/them/their. They are a LosAngeles based writer and performer whose work as an “artivist” brought them to the attention of fellow theatre artist Saracho. Anzoategui is proud to bring this character to life. “Eddy is this beautiful soul who looks intimidating,” Anzoategui says. “I think Eddy will break stereotypes and expectations and reach everyone’s heart. This character lives in


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truth, where a lot of the other characters are trying to avoid the truth. It’s really fantastic to show viewers who Eddy is because Eddy reflects a lot of LGBTQ-plus people in Los Angeles.” Anzoategui says the time is right for a show like “Vida.” “We need this show right now,” they says. “The word ’vida’ literally means life and this show is literally a lifeline. ‘Vida’ may not leave you with answers. It’s not like this nicely wrapped-up beginning, middle and end and here’s the resolution. It’s real, like you’re living a life with these people. This amazing show opens up the eyes and the mind to what else is possible when you honor the communities you are telling a story about.”






queery SAMUEL GARRETT-PATE How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I first came out 11 years ago. I think that question is tricky though because we all come out every day. Every time I mention my husband to the grocery store cashier or explain what I do for a living to a waiter at a restaurant, I’m coming out. Those, for me, are the hardest conversations because I never know what to expect.

Photo Courtesy Garrett-Pate


I first met Sam Garrett-Pate at our communications firm’s June birthday party, which he had turned into an annual Pride Month celebration. He was rushing through the halls of our office, meticulously instructing the staff on where and how to hang the rainbow decorations and making sure everything looked spectacular — no detail was too small. This wasn’t just a party for Sam. This was a history lesson, and he made sure that everyone in the office understood the meaning and significance of Pride. In order for his colleagues to be true progressive leaders and change-makers, he knew we needed to fully understand both the oppression the LGBTQ community has faced and its resilience. Because that’s who Sam is. He’s made a career of pushing people to be the best versions of themselves. He doesn’t accept mediocrity and always gravitates toward the underdog, the marginalized or the underestimated in order to help pave a path toward success. Sam started his career in Washington, DC, working on anti-bullying and safe schools initiatives under Assistant Deputy Education Secretary Kevin Jennings and later serving as an aide to Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York. From Capitol Hill to the campaign trail, Sam helped drive the openly gay Congressman’s advocacy for LGBTQ civil rights — including the fight for marriage equality. “Sam was a fighter for the LGBTQ community here in Washington and he’ll be a fighter for the community in California as well,” said Congressman Maloney. “He knows the challenges we face together, and he’s got the experience in public policy that’s needed to make an impact – Equality California is lucky to have him.” When Sam’s husband Matthew got an opportunity to attend the law school of his dreams, the two packed up their lives and moved to Los Angeles. Having never lived or worked on the West Coast, Sam relished the challenge of a new environment and quickly worked his way up to being a well-respected communications strategist. That’s when we met and eventually became officemates. Two months ago, Sam left our firm to join Equality California as the organization’s new communications director and spokesperson. Somehow I always knew — from the moment I saw him running around at that June birthday/Pride party — that Sam would find his way back to the LGBTQ civil rights movement. And I know the movement is happy (and as Congressman Maloney said, lucky) to have him back. “With so much at stake for the LGBTQ community right now, we’re thrilled to have Sam join our dynamic team of civil rights advocates,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “Sam has years of deep experience, not only in crafting strategic messaging and political communications campaigns, but also serving the LGBTQ community in various leadership roles. He’s a great asset in our fight for a world that his healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people.”

Who’s your LGBT hero? Edie Windsor. I really admire the fact that she never stopped fighting for love. What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? I’m a bit obsessed with Bar Mattachine. It’s downtown, has great cocktails and I’m pretty sure Pickle hosts the best drag trivia in Southern California. Describe your dream wedding. I married my husband on a boat in Newport Harbor, which was pretty dreamy. But I think if I could do it all over again, I’d opt for a taco truck and great wine in someone’s backyard. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? I’m really passionate about education — about every child having a shot at success at a safe and supportive public school. But that’s an LGBTQ issue, too (as are most issues in some way or another). What historical outcome would you change? Bobby Kennedy should have been president. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? I’ll never forget the day Michael Jackson died. I’m not entirely sure why, but I know I’ll never forget it. On what do you insist? Loyalty. Not to a person, but to a cause.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? I thanked Joy Reid for her apology to the LGBTQ community. No one is perfect. The most we can ask of anyone is acknowledgment of past mistakes and growth. If your life were a book, what would the title be? How old are you? If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Start recruiting. (Kidding.) In all seriousness, I love being gay and would never change that about myself — even if it were an option. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I’d like to hope that Hogwarts is real. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Facts don’t change hearts and minds — stories do. What would you walk across hot coals for? My cats, my nephews, my sister and my husband. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That gay men don’t like football. Fight on! What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Call Me by Your Name.” What’s the most overrated social custom? Meal times. I think everyone should feel free to eat what they want when they want it. What trophy or prize do you most covet? Nothing compares to winning an election. What do you wish you’d known at 18? I was living in DC at the time — I wish I’d realized sooner that winter is overrated. Why Los Angeles? Because winter is overrated.



Matt Bomer tackles trans role in delicate ‘Anything’ Should the part have gone to a transgender actress? By JOHN PAUL KING

Matt Bomer in ‘Anything.’ Photo Courtesy OneZero Films

In an entertainment culture largely barren of transgender-inclusive narratives, the arrival of a movie like “Anything” is always a welcome surprise – but one that comes with the potential for being a powder-keg in the arena of identity politics. Written and directed by Timothy McNeil, this unorthodox indie romance – which debuted at last year’s Los Angeles Film Festival and is receiving official release later this month – is the story of Early Landry (John Carroll Lynch), a middle-aged Mississippian whose beloved wife dies in a car crash after decades of happily married bliss. Despondent and suicidal, he is persuaded by his sister (Maura Tierney), to sell his insurance business and relocate to Los Angeles, where he eventually finds a small apartment right in the sleazy heart of Hollywood. Though his polite Southern manners make him a fish out of water in his new surroundings, he begins to connect with his neighbors – one of whom is a transgender prostitute named Freda (Matt Bomer). As they spend more time together, their friendship begins to blossom into something more – but objections from Early’s over-protective sister and skepticism from Freda’s friends on the street threaten to put an end to their unexpected love story even before it begins. Looking at its bare bones, “Anything” is standard material; damaged boy meets outsider girl and finds romance. What makes it different, of course, is that the boy is an overweight, over-the-hill “cracker” (as he is dubbed by one of his jaded, initially hostile neighbors) and the girl is a trans streetwalker. That difference is likely enough to prevent the movie from enjoying a long run in theaters across a wide swath of the country. It’s also enough to invite criticism from some members of the trans community or their advocates, who may believe that a film about trans experience written and directed by a cis-gender male cannot help but be problematic, no matter how well-intentioned it may be – especially when that film gives us yet another big screen depiction of a trans woman as a sex worker. The biggest point of controversy, though, might be the casting of decidedly male Matt Bomer in the starring trans role – particularly at a time when the movie industry is buzzing with talk about appropriate representation and inclusivity. To be sure, Bomer is a talented actor and here gives a sensitive, heartfelt performance (more on that below); in addition, he is not only a star, he’s a “gay heartthrob,” which lends his presence a certain degree of box office power. Still, it’s impossible not to wonder what “Anything” might have been like had it used an actual trans star in its key role. There may not be a trans actress – at least not yet – that could be considered as much of a draw, but for a movie to take a chance on such a performer would be a major step forward. “Anything,” unfortunately, is not that movie – but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. McNeil’s gender-bent twist breathes new life into an otherwise familiar formula, transforming what might have been just another indie yawner about too-cute tragic hipsters into a paradigm-challenging tale featuring fully formed human beings. Early is uncomfortably real; he’s an innately good guy, you sense it from the start – but he is broken, numb, and on the brink of a lonely slide into depression and alcoholism that is all-too-common for men like him in the real world. Freda, though ostensibly a stereotype, is just as authentic; struggling to stay above the dirty, dog-eat-dog world on which she depends for a living, she presents the obligatory mask of caustic humor and defensive anger to protect herself from the growing fear that her aspirations for a better life will be forever be out of her reach. Though the screenplay occasionally cuts corners, eliding a bit of development in the interest of setting up the central relationship, it still manages to create a tangible bond between these two characters. Even better, it gives them each the individual dignity they deserve; neither exists solely to serve as a counterpart for the other, which gives us a much greater investment in their story than we might have in any number of the “normal” romantic movies that perennially come our way. None of that would be possible, though, without the performances of the two leads. Lynch, a seasoned character actor who has lent his familiar face to countless roles over the last few decades, is truly wonderful as Early; his seemingly effortless underplaying of the character’s grief in the first part of the film provides much of the gravitas needed as a foundation for the delicate story it will later tell, and his tenderness, throughout, is genuine enough to infuse him with a nobility that never seems false or saccharine. As for Bomer, he quickly defies skepticism to prove that he is not interested in giving a “stunt” performance. His Freda is much more than a display of affected mannerisms, and he dedicates himself to showing us the person underneath them; hard-edged but fragile, bold but insecure, cynical but deeply romantic – she may be an embodiment of clichés, but the actor portraying her makes them all ring true. There are other praiseworthy contributions as well. The supporting players, particularly Tierney, are equal to the stars in presenting their roles with integrity, which goes a long way in the film’s sensitive delivery of its life-and-love-affirming message. McNeil’s direction is restrained, never veering too far toward the kind of cloying sentiment that could easily have plagued such a story, but not afraid of allowing a little sweetness to creep in during the bleakest moments. He provides some visual treats as well, particularly for those Angelenos who delight in seeing their beloved local landmarks prominently featured on the big screen. Ultimately though, it’s the performances – and the chemistry – of the two stars that hold it all together. They make the love between these seemingly mismatched misfits not only understandable, but entirely believable. Their work provides a lovely core for a movie full of lovely moments, and more than anything else, it’s the reason for seeing this film.


The documentary “Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami” has been a long time coming. Director Sophie Fiennes (yes, she’s the sister of actors Ralph and Joseph) spent five years following the legendary diva with crew and camera, and that was even before she began the process of raising finances to assemble the footage into a film and get it released. After a debut at last year’s Toronto Film Festival and a UK release in October, the finished product has finally hit screens in the United States – and the wait has been well worth it. From its first moments, the movie arrests our attention simply by showing us its remarkable subject doing exactly what she does best – being Grace. Fiery, fierce, and fabulous, this pop culture icon has made her indelible mark simply by being herself, and Fiennes’ film wisely focuses on allowing her to do just that. There are no on-screen interviews here with friends or associates, no protracted sequences of archival footage, no career retrospective; Fiennes assumes her viewers will already know the history, or be readily able to find it elsewhere, and concentrates instead on giving us nearly two hours of Grace in the here-and-now. As a result, we get to discover Jones as we have never really seen her before. The first introduction we get to her on the screen is in the role with which we are arguably most familiar – Jones onstage, performing one of her signature songs, “Slave to the Rhythm,” while sporting an ornately theatrical Death’s Head mask. It’s an apt metaphor for the persona long inhabited by this Jamaican-born preacher’s daughter – powerful, primal, intimidating, but also majestic and resplendent – but Fiennes is quick to undercut that image by splicing in footage of Grace at another performance, sans mask, singing the same song while spinning a hula hoop on her hips. It’s a perfect portrait, right up front – Jones the dark goddess vs. Jones the playful child at heart. It’s the dynamic between these two sides that is explored throughout the film, and exposure to the seeming contradictions between them both illuminates her public image and makes it even more enigmatic. It’s not a calculated effort, either, shaped by the director’s intent to create or enhance an existing mystique. We are treated (and that is most definitely the right word), to plenty of Grace onstage, courtesy of a special concert staged for the film in Dublin’s historic Olympia Theatre, but these are interwoven with scenes of offstage life that give us a much more intimate portrait of the singer’s private side. The concert sequences are highlights, of course, revealing a performing artist whose mastery remains undiminished by maturity; her age and experience only serve to heighten her commanding presence, and her unmistakable voice seems to ring with a deeper richness than ever – but anyone who has been a longtime fan will be unsurprised by that. It’s in the other footage that we get the opportunity to know this remarkable woman better, perhaps, than we did before. Much of the film shows her during a family trip to her native Jamaica, where she reminisces with her siblings (and mother, Marjorie, who has passed away since participating in the film) about their childhood experiences – and growing up under the shadow of “Mas P,” their austere and abusive step-grandfather. These scenes, juxtaposed with Jones’ performances of songs clearly inspired and influenced by her family background, lend tremendous insight without the need for discussion or analysis; the stories, the relationships, and the emotions speak for themselves. Likewise, the scenes in which we see Grace’s dealings in her professional life – discussing “creative differences” with a director during a guest-starring gig on French television, wrangling with longtime collaborators Sly and Robbie over the phone about their commitment to an upcoming recording gig, or throwing a tantrum over unsatisfactory contractual dealings in a hotel room before a concert – give us a glimpse at facets of her personality that we might well have imagined, but never seen in action. To say these moments confirm her as every bit the diva we expect her to be would hardly be a spoiler. Then there are the moments, brief and fleeting, where we see her at her most private, perhaps – such as when she spends time reminiscing with former collaborator (and romantic partner) Jean-Paul Goude at a photo shoot, or when she shares a precious moment with her infant granddaughter. This is Grace at her most human, her most accessible. Even so, by the time we reach the end of “Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami,” this near-mythic woman has created an indelible impression of just how human she really is, no matter which “mask” she may be wearing at any given time. She carries herself with supreme confidence and savvy; it’s obvious that, even in her “offstage” moments, she is supremely aware of her image, and how it is affected by every word she says and decision she makes. Just as she’s never shied away from revealing her nude body (which she does, here, too), she is not afraid to show us her anger, her ego, her vulnerability – all the qualities which might be considered, by some, as unattractive aspects of her personality. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that she shows them to us despite being afraid – a fine point, but one that makes her candor even more inspiring. To put it another way, the woman we see in “Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami,” is a woman who doesn’t give a fuck. That’s the Grace we’ve always loved – and though she explicitly says in the film that she “never wanted to be a role model,” that’s what makes her a hero. In an era when strong, outspoken, empowered figures – especially female ones – have become increasingly important in our public consciousness, it’s what makes her a hero we need more than ever.


Grace Jones doc reveals a star who still shines Two intense hours of the icon as never seen before By JOHN PAUL KING

Grace Jones in ‘Bloodlight and Bami.’ Photo by Kino Lorber; Courtesy Blinder Films



Telling a story of black queer experience Darnell Moore talks to author Sarah Schulman about his new book By SARAH SCHULMAN

Darnell Moore’s memoir, “No Ashes In The Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free In America,” is a lyrical conversation with the world. I first met Darnell when he was making the bold, visionary proposition that one of the best places for real AIDS education was in the family, if parents could tell their queer sons that they love them and care about their lives. I found this so inspiring that I invited him onto the first LGBT delegation to Palestine (along with Los Angeles Blade publisher Troy Masters), where he was a bridge builder and a leader. To celebrate this publication, I asked Darnell to detail exactly how this book came to be, not only spiritually, but materially, so that other people with important stories to tell could understand and be motivated. SARAH SCHULMAN: You have had a long life as an activist and in social services work, and you have distinguished achievement in academics. What was the emotion that began your process of writing this memoir? DARNELL MOORE: When I began writing “No Ashes in the Fire” I felt challenged. I had a vision of a memoir that could be shaped into something of a novel—a form that relied less on linear time, one that also combined personal narrative/social history/cultural criticism. I am not sure how well I achieved that goal, but I knew that I wanted readers to engage an honest book about a black life, a black family, a predominantly black city, black boyhood/manhood, and black queerness that did not leave them thinking that I am an exceptional black person from the “hood” who overcame challenges to achieve success. I wanted readers to see how the makings of disenfranchised cities, communities, and peoples is a consequence of the work of many hands—theirs and mine included. I also was writing through immense life changes and grief. My father passed suddenly at the start of my writing. His death inspired me to think more critically about human complexity. It inspired me to write about the lives of family members, and other people in my life, with much more nuance, care, and love. SCHULMAN: But for people out there who want to write a difficult memoir. What were the nuts and bolts of getting through a first draft? MOORE: I spent a lot of time thinking about the structure that would best shape the narrative. I worked through several outlines with my brilliant and patient editor, Katy O’Donnell. I read other memoirs to get a sense of the ways other writers crafted their stories. And I also did plenty of research—combed through family histories and news archives that contextualized parts of my life story. I wrote, revised and tested the strength of my drafts by having my writing community, comprised of close friends and family, offer honest suggestions. It was the hardest, and most rewarding, writerly work I’ve done. I’m better for it. SCHULMAN: Oh, you skipped a lot of steps here. Most first timers don’t start off with an editor already in place with whom they can develop their outline. How did you get a contract at Nation Books? MOORE: Well, I actually did skip a few steps in my last response. The book I initially conceived is not the book that I completed. I wanted to write a book—something theoretical and impersonal—about black queer and trans youth. But the more I played around with and shared my ideas with others the more I began to understand the critical importance of stories. My mentor, Beryl Satter, challenged me to consider a book that paired analysis and personal narrative a few years before I wrote a formal book proposal. And my agent, Katie Kotchman, who I met through my friend Kiese Laymon, said the same. I feel really fortunate to have had a smooth writing and publishing experience. I landed a contract at Nation Books by way of my friend, Mychal Denzel Smith, whose first book Nation published. I read a chapter in progress at one of his book events. It was a draft I wrote frantically the day of the event. I was so nervous to share my work, but Katy, my editor, was there. We met soon after to talk about the book. And now here I am, on the other side of a blessed process that was serendipitous and communal.

Darnell Moore’s book ‘No Ashes In The Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free In America,’ published by Nation Books, will hit bookshelves nationwide on May 29. Photo Courtesy Nation Books

SCHULMAN: Wow, Darnell, you are very connected. You got an agent without a book and an editor without a proposal. What would you say to people with important stories to tell, who don’t have that kind of access? What would you advise them? MOORE: I went for a long time only desiring an agent—several years actually. I felt disconnected from the big world of publishing, which appeared white-centered and straight-oriented, for the longest time. I empathize with writers like me who write from the edges of the margins in the face of an industry that is not always welcoming. I developed friendships and a writer’s community over time. We’ve made it a habit to support one another. I’d tell other writers to: 1. Write because the world needs their words. Write because they love it. 2. Try to publish their works in places that cater to the audiences they are in conversation with. If publishing appears to be an impossibility, forge a path by publishing on platforms like Medium. The point is to develop an audience/ conversation partners. 3. Study writers you admire. Research the editors of books you love and agents of writers you love. And reach out to them. Some may not be communicative but some may respond. Take a chance. Continues at losangelesblade.com



RuPaul’s DragCon rules a world of wonder in downtown LA ‘Drag Race’ fans can expect the largest gathering yet By REBEKAH SAGER

The three-day event celebrating pop culture, art and all things drag comes to LA this month. Photo Courtesy Fenton Bailey

Thousands of drag fans are expected to pour into downtown and the Los Angeles Convention Center (1201 S Figueroa St., Los Angeles) May 11-13, to attend the fabulous event known as RuPaul’s DragCon Convention. Whether attendees are there to celebrate the art of drag, take a few selfies with one of their fan favorites, pick up some fabulous merch, listen to panelists, watch the runway shows or catch a glimpse of the man himself, RuPaul, DragCon has gotten bigger every year since its launch in 2015. Spearheaded by RuPaul and World of Wonder Productions, the 210,000-square-foot exhibitor space, with more than 200 vendors selling drag merchandise, has morphed into the Comic-Con for drag queens. Last year’s event saw over 15,000 drag fans and allies in attendance, and with the addition of a Kid Zone, offering art projects for even the youngest drag lovers, the crowds are expected to be bigger than ever. “I think young parents know how important it is to expose their children to this diversity, especially in this current political climate. This is a place where they can go and expand their lives and see that there is more than one way to live a successful, abundant life. It doesn’t have to exist in this box, and it involves all the colors of the crayon box. We are so proud of this because it give our queens an opportunity to meet them, fans that wouldn’t necessarily go to a nightclub to see them,” RuPaul told the Los Angeles Times before last year’s event. Additionally, for the first time this year, producers have added three performance nights to the weekend-long extravaganza: “Battle on the Runway,” “World of Queens,” and the first annual “RuPaul’s DragCon Pageant.” The festivities kick-off Friday night with a unique interactive experience, with “Battle on the Runway,” drag fans will have the opportunity to sashay around the custom built runway, that runs through the center of the historic Belasco Theater (1050 S. Hill St., Los Angeles, Calif.). Then they will watch a legendary battle of “Looks versus Dance!,” as the entire cast of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 10 takes the runway for an unforgettable show combining fashion and high-energy dance performances; all hosted by Shangela. On Saturday night, after the convention, drag fans will travel the globe at “World of Queens,” taking off at the Orpheum Theatre (842 S Broadway., Los Angeles, Calif.) with stops at the favorite countries of Acid Betty, Detox, Kim Chi, Kennedy Davenport, Latrice Royale, Violet Chachki and Valentina. Doors open at 8:00pm and performances start at 9:00pm. Then on Sunday, it’s the premiere of the first annual “RuPaul’s DragCon Pageant,” at the Orpheum Theatre featuring eliminated queens from various seasons of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” -- including Coco Montrese, Jaymes Mansfield, Naysha Lopez, Pandora Boxx, Porkchop, Tempest Dujour, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo and Venus D-Lite. The ladies will display their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to earn fan votes. The event will be hosted by Michelle Visage. But there’ll be no kiki, or autograph signing for one “Drag Race” queen. Ms. Tyra Sanchez, winner of season two, is banned from DragCon all together. Sanchez has been locked out of the convention, after posting a video on Instagram attacking fellow season two queen Tatianna and season four’s Phi Phi O’Hara with threats of violence. “But when you see Ms. Phi Phi and Ms. Mother F*cking Tati’s ass stretched out on the motherf*cking ground, you will know it was me. Yeah, I may not have physically did it, but it will be my doing. Remember that sh*t, bi*ch,” Sanchez is quoted as saying in the video. As reported by Queerty, Sanchez initially would have been given a pass for her video outburst by World of Wonder, if she recorded a “sincere public apology” denouncing violence. World of Wonder reportedly emailed Sanchez back with: “We received your video, but unfortunately the apology is not clear.” According to Queerty, Sanchez wrote back to World of Wonder: “I will not be apologizing again for something that happened last month. I apologized then for my anger, my temper, my behavior and my choice of words. Multiple times I have stated that violence is not the answer and that queens of my upbringing sometimes express ourselves different than most. I understand you may not understand this as you have only appropriated our lives, our attitudes and our mannerisms.” In one of Sanchez’s latest Facebook posts, just in case you thought she might pull her threats back in, she stated: “You can continue to push your narrative that I’m some angry black queen, but you and I know that is simply untrue. If you want to remove me from DragCon because of some drag queen drama then by all means remove me.”



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E-mail calendar items to tmasters@losangelesblade.com 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.

On May 16, the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Lifeworks will celebrate LGBT youth and their achievements at the LGBT Youth Awards with a red carpet event. Photo Courtesy Lifeworks


Evening Under The Stars, the signature gala for the AIDS Assistance Program — Food Samaritans, is tonight from 5:30-10 p.m. at O’Donnell Golf Club (301 N Belardo Rd., Palm Springs). Take the midnight train to Palm Springs and meet the magnificent Gladys Knight. She will deliver a tour de force performance against a backdrop of the iconic San Jacinto Mountains in support of Evening Under the Stars, one of the world’s oldest and largest LGBT and AIDS fundraisers. AIDS Assistance Program — Food Samaritans helps provide nutritional support for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. It’s the A-list celebrity event’s 25th year. Tickets cost up to $2,500. Call 760-3258481for details.


The Mazer Lesbian Archives holds its grand re-opening at the Werle Building (625 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood) today from 1-5 p.m. If there was a foundational historic place for early Los Angeles’ lesbian culture, it was the Sisterhood Bookstore in Westwood. When it closed in 1999 after nearly 30 years, it left behind a changed community and a legacy as one of the most important and diverse bookstores in the nation. Now, in celebration of the place, you can view relics and archives as culled together by hundreds of lesbians and feminist donors. The event is free. For more information, visit mazerlesbianarchives.org. The Mimosa Girls present a drag brunch show at Bosscat Kitchen and Libations (4647 Macarthur Boulevard, Newport Beach) today from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Orange County’s most entertaining drag brunch features world class talent from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and the local drag scene including April Showers, Jessica Wild, Judas Joe Manson, Lineysha Sparx, Roz Drezfalez and Xotica Erotica. Wilhelmina Caviar hosts the event. Tickets range from $20-$35. For details, search “Mimosa Girls drag brunch” on Eventbrite.


Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic - A Conversation is tonight from 7-9:30 p.m. at West Hollywood City Council Chambers (625 North San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood). Richard A. McKay, author of “Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic,” will be in conversation with Steven Reigns, poet and educator. Remember the tale of Gaétan Dugas, the French-Canadian flight attendant who was once widely blamed for initiating the spread of HIV in the United States. Randy Shilts used his example in “And The Band Played On,” though it was a widely misunderstood one. McKay and Reigns unpack the myth of HIV patient zero, in wide-ranging conversation with the famous academics. The event is free of charge. For details, search “Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic - A Conversation” on Eventbrite.


Quick Dates: Femme For Femme is tonight from 7:30-9 p.m. at Redline (131 E 6th St., Los Angeles). Downtown LA’s Redline becomes a little more glamorous as love-seeking lipstick lesbians get together for Three Day Rule and GRRRLNIGHT’s lesbian speed dating event for femmes

who love femmes. Enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the monthly DLTLA Queer Womxn event. Lady Soul, Kellye Kell and Funky Caramelo will host the party.Tickets range from $20-$30. The Central American Resource Center and UCLA Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Immigration Policy host a legal resource workshop on DACA at UCLA today from 4:30-7:30 p.m. The workshop will address questions family members may have about their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) cases, and/or need assistance with renewal of employment authorization. Appetizers and refreshments will be provided. The exact location will be provided to those who RSVP. Free. For more details and to RSVP, search “Legal Resource Workshop for UCLA Staff with DACA, TPS or DED” on Eventbrite.


Desert AIDS Project partners for Life May Mixer “Home of Hope,” tonight from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Home of Hope (1188 E El Alameda, Palm Springs). Brian Douglas and Jim Hodgkins are hosting a uniquely wonderful fundraiser at the former Bob Hope residence, a mid-century classic original estate in Palm Springs’ magical Movie Colony. The evening will include a special performance by Modern Men, the Coachella Valley Men’s Chorus, light bites and cocktails. For details, search “Home of Hope” on Eventbrite.


The Comedy Store (8433 Sunset Blvd.,

Los Angeles) hosts its West Hollywood Brunch tonight from 7:30-10 p.m. Laugh your queer ass off with some of LA’s best stand-up comedians. These fresh, funny, LGBTQ comedians will be joined by a surprise superstar queer icon. Zach Noe Towers, Eric Hahn, Arisce Wanzer, Brooklyn Lena, Kyle Shire and Thomas Dale are just a few of the performing comedians. Tickets are $12. For more details, visit thecomedystore.com.


LGBT Pride Prom 2018 is at the Palm Springs Air Museum (745 N Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs) tonight from 8 p.m. until just before midnight. The Pacmanthemed prom is a safe LGBTQ and genderqueer space for teen kings and queens of every stripe. Bring your loved ones, send the kids, dance and have a great time. It’s a traditional prom with a twist, presented by DJ Ornelas featuring desert drag and club personalities. Tickets are $30 at the door or $25 at safeschoolsdc.org.


RuPaul’s DragCon Pageant, the finale presentation event of RuPaul’s DragCon, is at the Orpheum Theater (842 S Broadway, Los Angeles) tonight at 9 p.m. Your favorite “Drag Race” stars display their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to earn your vote in the first annual DragCon Pageant. Michelle Visage hosts runway and talent competitions to help you choose a winner. Lineup to be announced closer to the event. All ages welcome. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $49-$69. For more information, visit rupaulsdragcon.com.


“You know what? You have no sense of humor. That’s your problem.” - Joy Behar to Megan McCain on “The View” after the conservative spawn criticized a joke about Melania Trump spouted by Shecky Behar. The next day, McCain was curiously absent from the table. I’m counting the minutes until the next split-screen! “Can I bum a fag?” I’ve had my share of propositions, but this seemed more forward than most. Turns out, the gent simply wanted a cigarette. Well, excuse me for hearing the words “bum” and “fag” and conjuring up a terrifying image. That got me thinking - in these days of rampant political correctness, should I be offended that the Brits call cigarettes “fags?” Typically, hearing the word “fag” might elicit at least a raised eyebrow. However, since the word in this context had nothing to do with gay people, I wouldn’t blink if he screamed it in Leicester Square. Most people aren’t as laissez-faire as moi. Broadway was buzzing with news that Actors’ Equity would be renaming the legendary “gypsy robe” in “response to the cultural implications of the term” (so as not to offend the Romany people). Have I missed a huge outcry about this relatively private Broadway tradition? A Broadway “gypsy” is someone in the chorus who goes from show to show, city to city. The tradition of the “gypsy robe” dates back to the Broadway production of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” in 1950. A male chorister put on a robe and let everyone touch it. He then sent the robe to “Call Me Madam”, where the choristers did a similar thing, except they attached a feather from Ethel Merman’s costume. They passed it on to “Guys and Dolls”, etc. The current tradition dictates that the robe goes to a Broadway show on opening night. The chorister with the most Broadway credits wears it. That chorister circles the stage three times while cast members touch it for good luck. The robe wearer blesses each dressing room. Finally, a memento from the show is affixed to the robe. When a robe is filled with mementos, it is retired and exhibited in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian, or at Actors’ Equity. That’s the history. Somehow, this use of the term “gypsy” has been mixed up with the derogatory term for the Romany people - as if the chorister in the robe is shaking a tambourine and reading palms! The “gypsy robe” has as much to do with the Romany people as the “wandering Jew” has to do with Israel. But, you know some people want to sanitize anything that could offend two people. Petra Gelbart, a curator at RomArchive, said, “The fact that the term ‘gypsy’ is so often used to denote free-spirited or traveling lifestyles has real-life repercussions for actual Romany people.” Yes, I’m sure people often look down on freespirited travelers! I wondered where this would end. Days later, Tom Viola from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS announced that they would not change the name of “Gypsy of the Year,” an annual fundraiser where choristers and dancers raise millions of dollars to help those in need. “Words have different meanings depending on the context in which they are used. In our theatrical community, ‘the gypsy’ is beloved.” Bravo! Personally, I refuse to get behind any “gypsy” ban that hasn’t been officially sanctioned by Miss Mitzi Gaynor! As I mentioned, I’m in London to see some plays, visit the baby, get ready for the wedding...you know, the usual. You know who else is planning a trip to London? Donald Trump. Although he’ll be meeting with the prime minister and, perhaps, some members of the royal family, it is not an official state visit. So no banquet, no carriage procession, and probably no hookers. One of Trump’s previous overseas jaunts was confirmed by a member of our community. In his capacity as host of the Miss Universe Pageant, Thomas Roberts met Trump in Moscow on Nov. 8, 2013, and interviewed him the next day. “During the after-party for the Miss Universe event, Mr. Trump offered to fly me and my husband back to New York. He said he would be leaving directly from the party. We were unable to accept the invitation. That was the early morning hours of November 10th.” Now, I don’t have my sundial handy, but it sounds like Mr. Trump spent at least two nights in Moscow - despite saying that he “didn’t stay overnight in Russia for that.” I’m starting to smell something...and it smells a whole lot like cheap whore piss! Continues at losangelesblade.com


Gypsys, fags and queens Dispatches from a gossip in London By BILLY MASTERS

Taron Egerton will star in Elton John biopic ‘Rocketman.’ Photo by kathclick; Courtesy Bigstock

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